Saudi to allow women into sports stadiums from 2018


The kingdom seems to be relaxing some rules as part of its “Vision 2030” plan for economic and social reforms.

Saudi Arabia will allow women to enter three sports stadiums for the first time since next year, authorities said Sunday, in a historic move that would open exclusive male-only venues to families.

The kingdom, which has some of the most stringent restrictions in the world for women, has long excluded women from sporting arenas by strict rules on the segregation of the sexes in public.

The announcement coincides with the ambitious reform plan of the powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which shook the ultra-conservative kingdom, including the decision to allow women to drive from next June.

“Start preparing three stadiums in Riyadh, Jeddah and Damman to be ready to accommodate families from the beginning of 2018,” said the General Sports Authority on Twitter.

Last month authorities allowed hundreds of women to crowd a sports stadium in Riyadh, used mainly for football matches, for the first time to commemorate Saudi Arabia’s national day.

Under the country’s guardianship system, a male family member – usually a father, husband or brother – must grant permission for a woman’s study, travel and other activities.