Women in Saudi Arabia have watched football in a stadium in the Kingdom for the first time as they filed into a stadium in the city of Jeddah on Friday, through family gates into family seating.
But even segregated as they were, their presence in the stadium marked a significant moment for the Kingdom.
It follows a series of reforms intended to modernise the country.
Earlier on Friday, ahead of the football game, there was another small sign of change: the country’s first car showroom dedicated to female customers was opened.
For the first time, women will this June be allowed to get behind the wheel, after it was announced in September that a ban on women drivers would be lifted.
Women at the car showroom milled around inspecting vehicles that they will be allowed to take out on the road when the ban ends.
At the stadium in Jeddah, female ushers were employed to greet the women fans and their families, who loudly cheered on the local team. Both ushers and fans wore the traditional black abaya robe.
A hashtag, translated as “the people welcome the entry of women into stadiums”, was used tens of thousands of times in two hours as the match took place.
Lamya Khaled Nasser, a 32-year-old football fan from Jeddah, told AFP 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 the AFP news agency.
Ruwayda Ali Qassem, another Jeddah resident, said it was 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.