Published: 2017-11-13 12:26
Last Updated: 2017-11-13 13:32
Saudi Arabia has hosted the first all-womens basketball tournament, in the latest advancement for women rights in the kingdom’s highly patriarchal and conservative society.
The stadium in Riyadh hosted the all-womens basketball tournament in support of breast cancer awareness.
“The tournament was a great incentive to encourage more women to participate in sports,” Shoura Council member and co-founder of Jeddah United Basketball Team Lina Almaeena told Saudi Gazette.
“The huge turnout of women spectators is a big encouragement for us to organize more such events in the future,” she added.
The winner of the first Mazda Women Basketball Tournament was UBT Basketball Team with 22 points against Dar Al-Hekma Basketball Team, which came second with 16 points.
“Women had been preparing for this event for many days. They were happy and excited to be there as it was the first all-women event in Al-Jowhara Stadium,” said Plus Runner Team leader and founder Rasha Al-Harbi said to Saudi Gazette.
However, only women and children were reportedly allowed into the stadium, ensuring that genders remained segregated at the tournament.
The tournament comes alongside Prince Muhammed bin Salman's recent pushed to modernize Saudi Arabia and improve its international image.
Last month, the Saudi General Sports Authority announced that women will be allowed to attend sporting events at three major stadiums in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam.
Under Saudi law, women still cannot mix freely with men, obtain a passport or leave the country without a male guardian’s permission. Women are also forced to wear an abaya that covers their bodies down to their feet, among other rules.