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Saudi women attend sports event for first time

14 January 2018

The showroom was opened in a shopping mall in the western Red Sea port city of Jeddah to allow women the freedom to choose their own cars before they hit the road.

On Thursday, Jeddah held Saudi Arabia's first auto exhibition aimed at women, a few months after the Kingdom announced it would grant them the right to drive.

Glass panels were set up to separate men supporters from the women and family section of the stadium.

The stadiums have also been fitted with female restrooms and separate entrances and parking lots for female spectators.

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The Saudi government said last week women would be allowed to attend a second match on Saturday and a third next Thursday. "I am very proud to be a witness of this massive change", she told the AFP news agency.

Ruwayda Ali Qassem, another Jeddah resident, called Friday a "historic day in the kingdom which culminates (in) ongoing fundamental changes".

Among the first were a woman accompanied by a younger female and a girl.

Some used the hashtag to write that women's place should be in the home, focusing on their children and preserving their faith, and not at a stadium where male crowds frequently curse and chant raucously.

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Apply for passports Travel overseas Get married Open a bank account Start certain businesses Get elective surgery Leave prison The recent reforms are part of a gradual process of modernisation under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is attempting to make the Kingdom more moderate.

Still in place, however, are guardianship laws that prevent women from travelling overseas, obtaining a passport or marrying without a male relative's consent. Women will now be allowed to attend the matches, but will have to sit in segregated areas away from men, and must wear loose-fitting, full-length robes known as 'abayas, ' as well as a headscarf, if they are Muslim.

"Today, you brought happiness to every Saudi family and woman who attended the first game", Reema Bandar Al-Saud, a deputy at the General Sports Authority and part of the Saudi Royal family, told CNN.

Both clubs also reportedly offered shirts at discount prices to attract female fans.

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Saudi women attend sports event for first time