Saudi allows women at football game for first time

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In a first, women in Saudi Arabia attend a soccer match

Women in black abayas and fluorescent orange vests stood at the gates at King Abdullah Stadium, welcoming people into the family section that, for the first time in Saudi Arabia, allowed women to attend a men's football match.

Saudi Arabia has for the first time allowed women to spectate at a football match, part of an easing of strict rules on gender separation by the ultra-conservative Muslim country, a BBC News report said.

The stadium in the capital, Riyadh, will open to women on Saturday, followed by the western city of Dammam on Thursday. The women however had to enter through designated turnstiles for women and families.

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"I am proud and extremely happy for this development and for the kingdom's moves to catch up with civilised measures adopted by many countries", she said before the scheduled 8pm (5pm GMT) kick-off.

The result meant Al-Ahli closed the gap on table toppers Al-Hilal to one point.

The first stadium is to open its doors to women in the Red Sea city of Jiddah today.

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Construction teams had scrambled to build female toilets and line off a women-only parking lot ahead of the game.

The so-called "family sections" were created to keep women separated from the male-only crowds, while the stadium was also fitted with female prayer areas and restrooms.

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