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Thu 1 Dec 2011 05:41 PM

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Saudi to send first female to compete in Olympics

Gulf state had been warned it would face ban if it failed to field female athletes

Saudi to send first female to compete in Olympics
VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 19: The Olympic rings are seen in Vancouver harbour during the early morning on day 8 of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics on February 19, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Saudi to send first female to compete in Olympics
Saudi equestrienne Dalma Rushdi Malhas

Saudi Arabia has agreed to send its first female athlete to the 2012 London Olympics in a bid to avoid being barred from the international sporting event entirely, it was reported Thursday.

The conservative Gulf state, along with Brunei and Qatar, was warned by the International Olympic Committee’s Women and Sports Commission that it faced being expelled from the Olympics altogether unless it failed to send a female representative, Saudi media reported.

The kingdom is likely to send 18-year old equestrienne Dalma Rushdi Malhas, who won a bronze medal in the 2010 Singapore Youth Olympics.

Her participation marked the first time a Saudi woman had officially represented her country in an international competition.

“I didn’t know whether I was allowed but when I got invited of course I didn’t think twice and went at my own expense. I didn’t care much about me being there as a representative of Saudi Arabia, because anyone could probably do that,” she told Arab News.  

“But getting a medal was the key, and that’s not easy for anyone, and I wanted that — and only that gives recognition to my country.”

The world’s largest oil producer, which strictly segregates men and women in public, is slowing making reforms to improve the status of women in the country.

King Abdullah in September granted women the right to vote for the first time in and said they would be allowed to run in future municipal elections.

“We refuse to marginalise the role of women in Saudi society in every field of work,” King Abdullah said during on state television.

“Women have the right to submit their candidacy for municipal council membership and have the right to take part in submitting candidates in accordance with Sharia.”

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Shirin Al Zebari 8 years ago

Bravo, hope more females will follow, Saudi women have excellent capabilities if trained, didn't like that she paid her expenses with her own money, hope also this to be resolved and they can get sponsorship.

procan 8 years ago

My comment is .Why no comments ?

Laila Al-Ali 8 years ago

First female, really, I can’t believe it, this is great news.