The league match between Al-Ahli and Al-Batin at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah on Friday night was a landmark one in more ways than one after Saudi Arabian women visited a football stadium for the first time.
It was the first time the entire families would be welcomed for any sport in Saudi Arabia though it must still be pointed out that the stands permitting women were still segregated from all-male sections.
The new development is part of the plan to ease restrictions on women in a series of social reforms orchestrated by the 32-year-old crown prince.
Another part of the social reforms is that women are allowed to drive as from June.
Female security personnel in bright orange vests were also deployed for the match to screen the first-time fans, the majority of whom wore black veils to cover their hair and face along with abaya, long black robes.
A sign in Arabic on the ‘family section’ stated that “Welcome to Saudi families” as women entered into the stadium through a women’s only car park and stadium entrance.
Other new additions include prayer areas and female toilets.
Al-Ahli defeated the visitors 5-0 after regulation time.