Saudi women allowed entry to stadium

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Saudi Arabia has allowed women to spectate at a stadium sporting event for the first time.

"Al-Ahli v Al-Batin match at Jeddah stadium makes history as first to allow women to sit in designated family stands", wrote The Guardian.

The kingdom, under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has launched a series of reforms on women's rights.

The order opened the previously male-only venues of King Fahd Stadium in Riyadh, King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, and Prince Mohammed Bin Fahd Stadium in Dammam to accommodate families.

One woman described it as a great experience, completely unlike watching at home.

The Saudi official also pointed out that a few of those being held on corruption charges are still refusing to reconcile with the government.

Women fans filed into a stadium in the city of Jeddah on Friday, through family gates into family seating.

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Women supporters, all wearing the traditional black abaya robe, arrived well ahead of yesterday's kick-off in the Jeddah stadium, some in sunglasses and others with loose-fitting veils.

"I think the message to say that nobody is above the law is a very important message to send to the Saudi people...and to foreign investors".

The kingdom, which has some of the world's tightest restrictions on women, has long barred them from sports arenas through strict rules that keep the sexes apart in public.

Jeddah resident Noura Bakharji was among those who patiently waited for her turn, and for a reason.

"Today, things have changed".

And a spokeswoman for the Saudi embassy in the United States tweeted her delight at the development. Soccer is very popular in Saudi Arabia, with many fans of global and local leagues, but female enthusiasts long had to content themselves with watching their favorite teams on television. "I'm rooting for the ladies - enjoy!"

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