The three-kilometre run was a giant leap forward for women’s sporting opportunities in the kingdom.

More than 1,500 women pounded the pavement in Saudi Arabia on Saturday, as the kingdom held its first all-female race.

The three-kilometre al-Ahsa “marathon” was held in Al Ahsa over the weekend, with women from the kingdom, as well as the US and Taiwan, taking part.

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Mizna Al Nassar took out first place with her 15-minute run, and revealed her hopes to represent Saudi in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.


“I have a regimented food program and training schedule supervised by a professional trainer and I have participated in the Islamic Sport Games in Baku Azerbaijan in 2017 and in the Ladies Sport Games in Sharjah in 2018,” the 28-year-old graphic designer said, according to Al Arabiya.

The race was the first of its kind to be held in the kingdom, the publication added, with many participants competing in a hijab and abaya.

Sporting activities have been typically restricted for women in Saudi Arabia, however a reform in 2017 revealed that the kingdom will start offering physical education classes at girls’ public schools this year.

Classes will be introduced “gradually” and “in accordance with (Islamic) Shariah regulations”, AP reports, adding that it’s not yet known if they will form part of the curriculum.

The move comes after years of calls from activists to give women greater access to exercise, in a country where almost 50 per cent of women were found to be physically inactive in a government study.

The Ministry of Education revealed in a statement that the introduction of PE classes comes as part of Vision 2030, the kingdom’s post-oil economy plans to make Saudi a more modern, tourist-friendly destination.

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Last September, a royal decree revealed women will be able to secure driving licences from June 2018, with the news widely celebrated around the globe.

As part of the initiative, the government also aims to increase the percentage of women in the nation’s workforce from 23 per cent to 28 per cent by 2020.

Additionally, more Saudi females have been appointed to top jobsa royal directive allowed women to use certain government services without a male guardian’s consent, and recent approval was issued for the go-ahead of women’s gyms.

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Images: Almoosa Specialist Hospital/Twitter