Saudi women to attend official football matches for first time

Three stadiums in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam will no longer be male-only.
Three stadiums in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam will no longer be male-only.PHOTO: AFP

RIYADH (BLOOMBERG) - Women in Saudi Arabia will be able to attend official football matches for the first time this year, as the kingdom relaxes rules on entertainment.

Women can attend three matches this month, after the General Sports Authority said in October that three stadiums will no longer be male-only. The facilities in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam will be "prepared to be ready for families, including allocation of special places for seating and entrances," the Centre for International Communication said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia is offering more entertainment as it strives to overhaul its economy. It said in December that it will allow public cinemas for the first time in 35 years, with the first multiplexes expected to open in March this year.

Conservative Saudis and the country's Islamic clerical establishment have typically frowned upon non-religious forms of entertainment, including cinema and music.