Saudi Women Will Be Allowed In Sports Stadiums In 2018

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Saudi Arabia will allow women into sports stadiums as of next year, the kingdom’s latest step toward easing rules on gender segregation — but they will be seated in the so-called family section, an area separate from the male-only crowd.

Still, the decision, announced on Sunday, marks another incremental step toward greater women’s rights in the kingdom.

The General Sports Authority described the decision as one that will allow “families” into the stadiums — a term authorities use to refer to the public spaces that accommodate women.

These “family” sections are for women who are out on their own or who are accompanied by a male relative. Many restaurants and cafes, which often also have separate entrances for women, have similarly segregated seating arrangements.

The authority said the three major sports stadiums in the capital, Riyadh, and the cities of Jiddah and Dammam will undergo renovations to accommodate families.

The decision comes after the public appeared to welcome a decision to allow women to drive for the first time next year. Many also responded enthusiastically when women were allowed into the Riyadh stadium for national day celebrations last month.

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