Saudi Arabia Takes Another Big Step Toward Gender Equality

Oct 31, 2017

By David G. McAfee

It may seem like a minor change, but it’s actually a big step on Saudi Arabia’s road to gender equality. The country, known for restricting women’s rights in the name of religion, is finally allowing women to attending sporting events in stadiums.

The move comes a month after King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud issued an order allowing women in the country to drive, ending a longstanding policy that epitomized gender discrimination in the Middle East for years. Now they’re allowing women to attend sporting events in stadiums for the first time, according to the Washington Post.

Saudi Arabia’s General Sports Authority made the announcement Sunday, tweeting that preparations will begin to “accommodate families” in three stadiums in the major cities of Riyadh, Jiddah and Dammam. Two of the stadiums, the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh and the King Abdullah Sports City in Jiddah, hold the highest seating capacity in the kingdom.

“Sports stadiums in Saudi Arabia to open their doors to welcome women in 2018,” Princess Reema Bandar bint Al-Saud, the vice president for women’s affairs of the General Sports Authority, wrote on Twitter.

The change is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s “vision for 2030.″ 

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3 comments on “Saudi Arabia Takes Another Big Step Toward Gender Equality

  • @OP – It may seem like a minor change, but it’s actually a big step on Saudi Arabia’s road to gender equality. The country, known for restricting women’s rights in the name of religion, is finally allowing women to attending sporting events in stadiums.

    It may be a “big step” for them starting from their extremely low base, – and a move in the right direction, but in terms of world standards. they are still abysmal!

    Saudi Arabia will allow women to attend sports events in stadiums for the first time from next year, officials say.

    Families will be able to enter the stadiums in three major cities – Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam.

    It is another move towards giving more freedom to Saudi women, who face strict gender segregation rules, and follows the historic lifting of a driving ban.

    Saudi Arabia’s sports authority said that preparations would start in the three stadiums so they can be “ready to accommodate families from early 2018″.

    But analysts warn that the plan is not without risks.

    The kingdom faced a backlash from conservatives on social media after allowing women to participate in National Day celebrations in Riyadh’s King Fahd Stadium for the first time last month.

    Despite the recent announcements, women still face severe restrictions in the country, which enforces a strict form of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism.

    Women have to adhere to strict dress codes and must not associate with unrelated men. If they want to travel, work or access healthcare they must be accompanied by – or receive written permission from – a male guardian.

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  • There appear to be radical changes happening in Saudi Arabia!

    The heir to the throne in Saudi Arabia has consolidated his hold on power with a major purge of the kingdom’s political and business leadership.

    A new anti-corruption body, headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, detained 11 princes, four sitting ministers and dozens of ex-ministers.

    Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a billionaire with investments in Twitter and Apple, is among those held.

    Separately King Salman replaced the national guard and the navy chiefs.

    The new anti-corruption committee has the power to issue arrest warrants and travel bans.

    Attorney General Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb said the status of the detainees would not influence “the firm and fair application of justice”, AFP news agency reports.

    Analysis by Frank Gardner, BBC security correspondent

    The events of Saturday night in Saudi Arabia are nothing short of seismic for that country. In a bold, pre-planned move, the 32-year old Crown Prince has removed the final obstacles to his gaining total control over the world’s richest oil producer and home to the holiest shrines in Islam.

    Presented to the world as an anti-corruption drive, the arrests of princes, ministers and the billionaire tycoon Prince Alwaleed bin Talal have shocked Saudis unused to sudden change.

    The crown prince is largely popular, especially amongst young Saudis, but many older, more conservative citizens think he is moving too far too fast. He has started an unwinnable war in Yemen while still fighting the extremists of so-called Islamic State. He has also backed a damaging boycott of Gulf neighbour Qatar.

    But his supporters hail his efforts to modernise Saudi Arabia and, after decades of rule by old men, they welcome a fresh vision from a man who could well be king for the next 50 years.

    Prince Alwaleed’s connections are quite interesting!

    Who is Prince Alwaleed?

    The owner of London’s Savoy hotel is one of the richest men in the world, with a net worth of $17bn (£13bn) according to Forbes.

    Shares in Kingdom Holding, the investment firm owned by the prince, plunged 9.9% in early trade on the Saudi stock market after news of his detention emerged.

    The firm is one of Saudi Arabia’s most important investors. Apart from Twitter and Apple, it has shares in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, Citigroup bank, the Four Seasons hotel chain and ride-sharing service Lyft.

    The Saudi prince made the news in the past for employing women, who make up two-thirds of his staff.

    But he was also known for his hundred-million-dollar desert resorts, where he employed dwarves for entertainment purposes.

    Two years ago he offered luxury cars to fighter pilots participating in a bombing campaign in Yemen, where the Saudi-led coalition continues to bomb Houthi rebels, killing 26 people in an attack on a hotel and market on Wednesday.

    Prince Alwaleed once bought control of a hotel and a yacht from Donald Trump, when he had yet to enter politics, but clashed with him publicly on Twitter in 2015 over his decision to stand for president, the New York Times notes.

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