Women in Saudi Arabia attend football matches for first time

Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaks during the meeting of Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition defence ministers in Riyadh Saudi Arabia

It was a historic moment in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on Friday night at King Abdullah Sports City stadium, not because Al-Ahli F.C. beat Al-Batin F.C. 5-0, but because women could walk through the venue's doors. Women were allowed to attend the public event for the first time.

"The recent reforms are part of a gradual process of modernization under Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, who is attempting to make the Kingdom more moderate", wrote BBC.

In the stadium, keeping in mind the women spectators, a "family entrance" was created.

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One woman described it as a great experience, completely unlike watching at home.

The easing of the strict gender segregation was announced in October 2017 which also, for the first time, allowed women to drive. The "family section" is for female soccer fans and women accompanied by male family members.

A hashtag, translated as "the people welcome the entry of women into stadiums", was used tens of thousands of times in two hours as the match took place. Women will also attend a game today in the national stadium in the capital, Riyadh, as well as a game on Thursday in the city of Dammam. "I feel very proud because I am witness to this change".

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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. The kingdom's stadium had not been built with women in mind, so modifications were made so that they could attend matches.

In 2015, a Saudi woman who tried to attend a soccer game in Jiddah was arrested after local media said she was spotted by security officers "deliberately disguised" in trousers, a long-sleeve top, a hat and sunglasses to avoid detection.

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