Saudi Arabia will for the first time permit women into football stadiums to watch matches, it has been reported.
According to English language Arab News, the president of the Saudi Football Ittihad Federation confirmed in a statement that it would create separate sections for women and families within stadiums.
At a meeting at King Abdulaziz University, the federation’s head Ahmed Eid said that the first family section in a stadium would be at the Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal Stadium in Jeddah.
The capital Riyadh’s King Abdullah City stadium will also see a 15 percent increase in capacity as a result of the initiative, with work to be completed in 2014.
All stadiums will also include separate booths for female photographers and journalists, the newspaper said.
Women’s rights in the Gulf’s most populous country, which practises an austere version of Sharia Law, are a frequent topic of discussion in the world’s media.
Females in Saudi Arabia are prohibited from taking up employment or leaving the country without a male guardian’s permission, while driving is banned altogether.
In recent years though there have been indications that absolute monarch King Abdullah has pursued a reformist agenda in terms of women’s rights.
In 2011, it was announced that women would be permitted to vote and stand in municipal elections from 2015, while in January 2013 30 women were appointed to the country’s legislative Shoura Council.
It was also recently announced that women would be allowed to practice law in a professional environment.
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