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Monday
June 2018
9:25 AM IST
News Headlines
Fresh FIR filed against Nirav Modi for possessing multiple Indian passports        Nigeria: 31 people killed in twin suicide blasts        1 dead, 20 injured in New Jersey arts festival shooting        Mexico shock World Cup holders Germany        World Cup: Serbia edge out Costa Rica in Group E opener        Messi penalty saved as Iceland hold Argentina        Pakistan SC bars Musharraf from contesting election        FIFA World Cup 2018: Russia stun Saudi Arabia in opener, substitutes shine in 5-0 win        India vs Afghanistan, one-off Test: Afghanistan fight back as India reach 347-6 on Day 1        Four killed, 10 missing after landslide in Kerala        Railways drop coach factory project in Palakkad        Vajpayee better, hopeful of full recovery in next few days: AIIMS director        Congress wins Jayanagar assembly seat in Karnataka        N Korea no longer a nuclear threat: Trump        Former president Maldives and chief justice sentenced for obstruction of justice        Hafiz Saeed-backed MML can’t contest Pakistan elections        Afghanistan not nervous about Test clash with India, says skipper Asghar Stanikzai        Amelia Kerr slams 232* to break 21-year-old record in Women's ODIs        Alappuzha and Thiruvananthapuram offer models of decentralized waste management systems        Bhaiyyu Maharaj, Spiritual Guru To Top Politicians, Commits Suicide        
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International News
Saudi women attend football game for the first time
 
( Jeddah, Jan 13, 2018):Saudi Arabia allowed women to enter a football stadium for the first time to watch a match yesterday, as the ultra-conservative kingdom eases strict decades-old rules separating the sexes.

The new measure comes after Riyadh, long known for imposing harsh restrictions on women, announced it was lifting a ban prohibiting them from driving, as well as reopening cinemas.

Women supporters, all wearing the traditional black abaya robe, arrived well ahead of yesterday's kick-off in the Jeddah stadium, some in sunglasses and others with loose-fitting veils.

The Islamic kingdom has announced a series of reforms initiated by powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman since last year.

The first football match women are being allowed to attend is a clash between Saudi Premier League clubs Al-Ahli and Al-Batin in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

Alone or accompanied by their families, many women sat in reserved seats in Jeddah's Pearl stadium.
Glass panels were set up to separate men supporters from the women and family section of the stadium.
Saleh al-Ziadi brought his three daughters to the game.

"My daughters still don't believe this is happening. They have not yet realised they will be cheering their favourite team inside the stadium," he said.

Enthusiasm for the historic encounter began well before the scheduled 8:00 pm kick-off.
Lamya Khaled Nasser, a 32-year-old football fan from Jeddah, said she was proud and looking forward to the match.
"This event proves that we are heading for a prosperous future.

I am very proud to be a witness of this massive change," she told AFP.
Ruwayda Ali Qassem, another Jeddah resident, called Friday a "historic day in the kingdom which culminates (in) ongoing fundamental changes".

"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.

The Saudi government said last week women would be allowed to attend a second match on Saturday and a third next Thursday.
The kingdom, which has some of the world's tightest restrictions on women, has long barred them from sports arenas through strict rules that keep the sexes apart in public.

But in September, hundreds of women were allowed to enter a sports stadium in the capital Riyadh, used mostly for football matches, for the first time to attend celebrations marking the country's national day.
The easing of social controls comes as Prince Mohammed looks to repackage the oil-rich nation as more moderate and welcoming.

The powerful crown prince's "Vision 2030" programme for a post-oil era stems partly from an economic motive to boost domestic spending on entertainment as the kingdom reels from an energy slump.

Noura Bakharji, another Jeddah resident, said she always felt bitter when her brothers came back from stadiums to tell her about the excitement of watching football matches in person.

"I always watched games on TV while my brothers went to the stadiums... I asked myself repeatedly 'Why I can't go?'" she told AFP.

"Today, things have changed. It's a day of happiness and joy."
Hours before the game, Saudi clubs were encouraging women to attend through tweets on social media.
Some clubs are offering special abayas -- traditional head-to-toe robes for Saudi women -- in team colours.

State-owned Saudi Airlines announced prizes of free tickets for five families who want to travel between cities to watch games.

And a spokeswoman for the Saudi embassy in the United States tweeted her delight at the development.
"This is more than women's rights: today's match between Al-Ahli and Al-Batin, and the ones to follow, are opportunities for families to come together and enjoy KSA's national sport -- soccer!" Fatimah Baeshen wrote on Twitter.


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NATIONAL NEWS
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