Women to attend first football match as Saudi relaxes rules

Mohammad bin Salman Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. Bandar Algaloud  Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court  Reuters

Last month, an 80-year-old Palestinian billionaire businessman Sabih al-Masri was detained in Saudi Arabia where he was questioned over information relating to corruption.

Saudi women will for the first time be allowed to enter a sports stadium on Friday to watch a soccer match between two local teams - though they will be segregated from the male-only crowd with designated seating in the so-called "family section". The stadiums have also been fitted with female prayer areas, restrooms and smoking areas, as well as separate entrances and parking lots for female spectators.

Cinema 70 is the first cinema brand in Saudi Arabia to specialise in the production of Saudi film content, and the distribution of global films in the kingdom. The rest of the country's football grounds will be ready for female fans by the beginning of the next sporting season.

On Friday, Al-Ahli trounced Al-Batin 5-0 in the Premier League match, according to the Saudi Gazette.

In an interview with Al Arabiya.net, Dina Arif, the owner a breast cancer awareness initiative, organized the event in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and the General Authority for Sport to raise awareness among women about the importance of sport and healthy living.

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Hours before the game, Saudi clubs were encouraging women to attend through tweets on social media. The first movie theatres are expected to open in March.

Driver service apps are to start hiring women drivers in Saudi Arabia after the Kingdom announced in September that women would be allowed to drive starting from next June.

The exhibition focused on fuel-efficient cars and provided a team of saleswomen to help their new customer base. "With you, the scene is complete".

The law was revoked in September as part of a liberalization program led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32, and amid growing protests by women who were getting behind the wheel in defiance of the restriction. Previous year he pledged to modernise the kingdom and to scale back the power of its ultraconservative clerics, returning Saudi Arabia to what he described as "moderate Islam". The kingdom wants to increase participation of women in the Saudi labor market and and other aspects of life.

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