Saudi Arabia to allow women into sports stadiums next year

By Sara Shayanian  |  Oct. 30, 2017 at 7:33 AM
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Oct. 30 (UPI) -- In its latest step toward reform in traditionally conservative Saudi Arabia, women there will be allowed to enter three sports stadiums starting next year.

Turki Al-Asheikh, chairman of the Saudi General Sports Authority, announced the decision as part of aims at supporting and stimulating the sports sector.

Al-Asheikh noted that authorities "will start rehabilitating the main stadiums in Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah to be ready to receive families starting in 2018."

The decision comes just weeks after Saudi officials announced that women will be able to obtain driver's licenses, after being forbidden to drive for decades.

Al-Asheikh Princess Reema bint Bandar, president of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports, Reema subsequently opened a gym in Jeddah and encouraged women to exercise in the city.

Women were recently invited with their families to a sports stadium -- a venue traditionally reserved for men -- for the first time to attend annual National Day celebrations.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman plans to advance the economy by reducing its reliance on oil revenue, a step that Riyadh wants to take by increasing women's participation in the workforce -- to 30 percent from 22 percent by 2030.

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