It’s another first for the kingdom in a year full of them.
Saudi Arabia will play host to its first-ever official women’s basketball tournament on Saturday, in another move towards increased freedom for women.
The games will be held at King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, Gulf News reports, and have the support of the General Sports Authority and the Ministry of Health.
Teams from Jeddah United, Dar Al Hekma University, University of Business and Technology, DFAC, Braves and Shoot for Cause will compete, and the matches will be attended by women only.
Organiser Leena Al Maeena, of the Shura Committee, told Saudi site Al Marsad the tournament was also aiming to raise awareness of breast cancer, Gulf News said.
“We are grateful for the approval of such special women’s sports championships… It is nice to participate in an important day for women and to educate them for the sake of eliminating breast cancer through a sports tournament held for the first time in Saudi Arabia,” Al Maeena said.
“I hope such tournaments will continue and I am confident that this one will be successful as the strongest women’s basketball clubs in Jeddah will be playing,” she continued.
The tournament comes after women were allowed into sports stadiums in the city for the first time, and amid calls for women to participate more in sports.
The changes come under Vision 2030, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ambitious post-oil economic plan which aims to make Saudi a more modern, tourist-friendly destination.
In 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.