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Saudi Arabia to allow women in stadiums from 2018

Saudi Arabia will for the first time allow women to attend sports events, preparing special sections in three selected stadiums from early next year.

It is another step toward opening public spaces to women, a statement from the country’s General Sports Authority, and carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, has indicated.

The stadiums in Jeddah, Dammam and Riyadh will be set up to accommodate families from early 2018, it had added.

Last month, Saudi Arabia announced that, from June, women would be allowed to drive cars, ending the world’s only ban on female driving.

An economic and social reform programme led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman aims to open up cloistered lifestyles.

Such lifestyles have been shaped in part by a strict, conservative version of Sunni Islam which limits the role of women.

Mr. Mohammed also seeks to diversify the economy away from oil as part of his proposed reforms.

The crown prince will be the first Saudi leader since 1953 to hail from a new generation when he inherits the throne.

His father, Mr. Salman, is the sixth brother in a row to serve as king.

The kingdom adheres to an austere Wahhabi brand of Sunni Islam, which bans gender-mixing, concerts and cinemas.

Women are required to receive permission from a male guardian to obtain passports or leave the country.

Some of the social aspects of the reforms have been criticised by some clerics and Saudis on social media.

Saudi authorities are also starting to reform areas once the exclusive domain of the clergy, such as education, courts and the law.

They have promoted elements of national identity that have no religious component or pre-date Islam.

Mr. Mohammed told businessmen and reporters at a major investment forum last week that the country would cleave to a more open and tolerant interpretation of Islam.

 

-Reuters/NAN

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About Delia Innoma

Delia Innoma is a prolific writer, promoter, artist manager with full professional proficiency in English, German and Igbo languages. She studied accounting and computer programming at the Institute of Management and Technology Enugu and Germany respectively. Delia is also a devoted mother of two and she founded the Diamond Celebrities Magazine. Her sense of responsibility and commitment to the Christian faith are essential forces driving her daily activities.

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