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14 January 2018, 12:33 | Damon Campbell
Women showed up to their first public sporting event in Saudi Arabia after new reforms
The Saudi government allowed women to observe the game with other family members at the King Abdullah Sports City stadium, Al Arabiya local news reported on Friday.
Saudi women were in the stands to watch Al-Ahli versus Al-Batin face each other in the city of Jeddah on Friday, just months before the national team kick off the Federation Internationale de Football Association 2018 World Cup against host Russia, in the opening match of the tournament on June 14 at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
In September, Saudi King Salman bin Abdelaziz announced that women would be allowed to drive starting from June, a move that ended a long ban. This was the first time that women have been permitted to share a stadium with male spectators.
The stadium in the capital, Riyadh, will open to women on Saturday, followed by the western city of Dammam on Thursday.
Social media was also abuzz. The showroom offers a wide selection of vehicles from various makes and is staffed by women only.
"I am very proud to be a witness of this massive change".
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Ms Swick, who grew up in Maryland and has been living in Saudi Arabia for the past nine years, has attended football games in the USA and soccer matches in France, but said she was impressed with how organised Friday night's match was.
Some people used the hashtag online to write that women should stay at home to focus on children and preserving their faith, and not at a stadium packed with males.
The move is part of an easing of restrictions on women initiated by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the conservative Muslim country.
Despite the breakthrough, there are still a host of basic human rights denied to women without the permission of a man, including applying for a passport, travelling overseas, and getting married.
His reforms, which include allowing cinemas to open in March after a more than 35-year ban, are also aimed at creating more jobs and increasing local spending on entertainment as the country faces several more years of budget deficit amid continued lower oil prices.
The Saudi Ministry of Information confirmed last week that authorities had scheduled three professional league games in three different stadiums where women could observe live from stadiums in January.
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