Saudi Arabia Gets Its First Women-Only Car Showroom

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In Saturday's match Al-Hilal drew 1-1 versus Al-Ittihad. Numerous female fans wore face paint and colors of one of the two teams, Al-Ahli and Al-Batin.

The decision to allow women to attend a mixed public sporting event is one of many changes the country has undergone in recent months, hailed as proof of a new progressive trend in the deeply conservative Muslim Kingdom.

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.

"This event proves that we are heading for a prosperous future".

Image FBL-KSA-SPL-AHLI-BATIN
Saudi Arabia: Women watch football match in stadium for first time

Lamya Khaled Nasser, a 32-year-old football fan from Jeddah, said she was proud and looking forward to the match.

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

The move is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's ambitious project to modernise the Saudi society and boost its economy.

Social media was also abuzz.

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Yesterday's match was the first in a series that will be open to women: a second is due to take place on today and a third on January 18.

Some used the hashtag to share photos of female spectators wearing their team's colors in scarves thrown over their abayas.

On Thursday, Jiddah also held the nation's first vehicle exhibit aimed at women.

Ahead of the game on Friday, clubs took to Twitter to encourage women to attend, with some even offering the traditional abaya robe in team colours. They were seated in the special "family section", with their male relatives, but segregated from the all-male crowd. "With you, the scene is complete".

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In October, the kingdom's General Sports Authority announced that stadiums in Jiddah, Riyadh, and Dammam would be altered to allow for family visits. "The Kingdom wants to increase participation of women in the Saudi labor market and other aspects of life", wrote CNN.

And in June, as part of a reforms drive led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, authorities are lifting a ban that prohibited Saudi women from driving.

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