Saudi women attend football game for the first time

Saudi Arabia women watching football

Saudi women watch the football match between Al Ahli against Al Batin at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah

On Saturday, the national stadium in the capital, Riyadh, will open its gates for women to attend a soccer game.

Although only 20 riyals (£3.88) a ticket, the family section for Friday's match was still less than half full. "Some thought it wouldn't be very safe or organised", said Ms Swick, who attended the game with her Saudi husband and son, and her American mother. And for 22-year-old Al Hilal fan Ghadah Grrah, she can not contain her excitement as she is finally able to go and watch them play.

Women supporters, all wearing the traditional black abaya robe, arrived well ahead of Friday's kick-off in the Jeddah stadium, some in sunglasses and others with loose-fitting veils. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 32, has been hailed as the face of these changes.

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The General Sports Authority announced in October that stadiums in Jeddah, Dammam and Riyadh will be set up to accommodate families starting in 2018.

The university student was among around 300 Saudi women who thronged Pearl stadium in the Red Sea city of Jeddah after the ultra-conservative kingdom eases decades-old rules separating the sexes.

Over the years, though, there have been some exceptions for foreign women.

Previously women could watch matches on television only.

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