Olympics Begin In
Begin typing your search above and press return to search.


Saudi Arabian Women are now allowed in the football stadium

Saudi Arabian Women are now allowed in the football stadium

Nazrin Mather

Published: 16 Jan 2018 12:46 AM GMT

Saudi Arabia had embarked on its path of progressive evolution quite some years ago. Like the old adage, 'Slow and steady wins the race', the beautiful Arab women are seeing the fruits of this progressive evolution through their veils. Three days ago, for the first time ever, Saudi women were granted a bait to attend football matches in Saudi Arabia, as part of the positive reform series pioneered by the kingdom's crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. So, this is a very optimistic omen of loosening of the age-old Arabian barricades between the two sexes which have restricted and obstructed the lives of their veiled women beyond measures. Muslim women, particularly from the Middle-East do not form a major momentum in the sports circle, or any major public sphere for that matter. They have always been succumbed to the well defined so-called
'ideally feminine'
chores within the four walls of their homes. The positive and progressive step came right after Riyadh, long known for imposing harsh restrictions on women, announced that it was lifting a ban prohibiting them from driving, as well as reopening cinemas. Women supporters, all wearing the traditional black abaya robe, arrived well ahead of kick-off in the Jeddah stadium, some in sunglasses and others with loose-fitting veils. The female football fans wearing scarves and waving flags took their seats at the King Abdullah Sports City stadium in Jeddah for Al-Ahli's match against Al-Batin in the Saudi Pro League. However, the women had to enter through designated turnstiles for women and families. Women were allowed to sit only in the 'family section' and could not mix freely with the largely male crowd. But the moment was still hailed as a breakthrough in a country consistently ranked as one of the worst places in the world for women's rights. Many proud women of the Arabian continent spoke to the press regarding the glorious announcement which has embarked them on their path to liberation. Lamya Khaled Nasser, a 32-year-old from Jeddah, told Agence France-Press that she was proud and looking forward to the match. 'This event proves that we are heading for a prosperous future. I am very proud to be a witness of this massive change,' she said. Ruwayda Ali Qassem, another Jeddah resident, said Friday was a 'historic day in the kingdom which culminates [in] ongoing fundamental changes'. She said, 'I am proud and extremely happy for this development and for the kingdom's moves to catch up with civilised measures adopted by many countries.' As said by the Saudi government in the last week, women were allowed to attend a second match on Saturday and would be allowed to watch another match next Thursday. The rest of the country's football grounds will be ready for female fans by the beginning of the next season, including separate cafes and prayer rooms. Al-Ittihad, one of the country's top football clubs, played in a derby game in front of mixed spectators on Saturday. The team had prepared for the historic match by tweeting an image featuring a woman's face painted in gold, the club's colour. 'Ittihad fans, male and female, are the support of this club, and success is not complete without them coming together to serve this historic entity,' the club tweeted. 'With you, the scene is complete.' Hours before the game, Saudi clubs were encouraging women to attend through tweets on social media. Some clubs are offering special abayas -- traditional head-to-toe robes for Saudi women -- in team colours. State-owned Saudi Airlines announced prizes of free tickets for five families who want to travel between cities to watch games. Construction teams had scrambled to build female toilets and line off a women-only parking lot ahead of the game. An all-female team of stewards helped steer them to their seats. Around 7,500 seats in the 62,000-seat King Abdullah Stadium were made available to women and families, according to Saudi sports authorities. This historic footstep to open up stadiums to women for the first time was announced in October, 2017. 'The general sports authority has provided everything that would create an attractive sports environment for families and provide everything needed to ensure their privacy,' the country's sports governing body said. Last Thursday, women flocked to Le Mall in Jeddah to view the kingdom's first car exhibition aimed at them, a few months after King Salman issued a decree granting them the right to drive from June 2018 ' a move opposed by hardline clerics. The exhibition, focusing on fuel-efficient cars, featured a team of saleswomen to help their new customer base. The showroom carried signs emblazoned with the slogan 'Drive and Shop', a play on words in Arabic, using the female form of the verbs. The driving and football developments are the latest in a series of social reforms ordered by the crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who wields extraordinary power. Last 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'.
s tightest restrictions on women, has long barred them from sports arenas through strict rules that keep the sexes apart in public. But in September last year, hundreds of women were allowed to enter a sports stadium in the capital Riyadh, used mostly for football matches, for the first time to attend celebrations marking the country's national day. The easing of social controls comes as Prince Mohammed looks to repackage the oil-rich nation as more moderate and welcoming. The potent crown prince's "Vision 2030" programme for a post-oil era stems partly from an economic motive to boost domestic spending on entertainment as the kingdom reels from an energy slump. Saudi women still require a legal guardian for many matters, while years of oppression and appeasement of the top clerics have widened the gender gap and held women back from participating in the workforce and public life. Noura Bakharji, another Jeddah resident, said she always felt bitter when her brothers came back from stadiums to tell her about the excitement of watching football matches in person. "I always watched games on TV while my brothers went to the stadiums... I asked myself repeatedly 'Why I can't go?'" she told AFP. "Today, things have changed. It's a day of happiness and joy." Three days back, as the Saudi women happily entered the stadium to witness a match in real-time for their first time ever in their own birthplace, reminded me of an extremely innovative venture of one of the most well-reputed sports brands in the international market. In February 2017, Nike made a big limelight stealer title by broadcasting their Pro-Hijab Middle-East commercial advertisement. Nike announced that sports-friendly hijab would be out in the market by the time 2018 hits its spring season. When the advertisement was out, we all wondered if this new product which can be so efficient in its benefits and values would actually be even able to survive in its birth stage in the Arabian market. Surprisingly, jumping across all hurdles, Nike pro-hijab was out in the market in December 2017 itself. It has been a success so far. The advertisement saw the faces of successful Arabian sports-women like Emirati figure skater Zahra Lari and Amal Mourad who is an Emirati parkour athlete. The commercial was explosive of women empowerment and innovation. By 2018, the royal kingdom itself has sown seeds of progress in this path. The commercial was an eye lifter then itself. Image result for women in saudi arabia allowed to watch football
Be it any field, Muslim women, in particular, have faced a lot of discrimination and restrictions. Being an Islamic state does not mean that women empowerment needs to be barricaded. No religion has ever really truly set aside the female sex as a subordinate class of human species. Over time, many an interpretation has come forth to such inferences regarding the status of women in the society as well as inside the four walls of her home. In Saudi Arabia, it is mandatory for every woman, irrespective of her religion to wear an abaya that would cover her body from neck to toe. In such a place, if Nike could bring about such a product that would actually encourage women to come out of their domestic spheres, without violating any of the predominant laws of the Islamic state, then, such changes as to letting women attend sports matches or car expos in malls are changes that were to be predicted to come into light soon. King Salman's reform series are well astounding as it is coming to the world news from one of those parts of the planet, where even keeping hopes for seeing such reforms was seen to be of negative light and futile. History of the Arab world is seeing new glimpses of bright light falling on its pages; women of the Arab world are seeing rays of hope falling upon their veils; the world as such is seeing a grand and glorious evolution at one of its sub-continents.
Next Story