Four athletes are set to make history this month as the largest group of women to represent Saudi Arabia in the Olympic Games.
And now, just days before the Rio festivities kick off, the Middle Eastern country has announced the long-awaited creation of a sports department for women.
Princess Reema bin Bandar bin Sultan has been appointed by the Saudi cabinet to head up the initiative, telling the country’s official news agency she is “honoured to serve my nation”.
What exactly the new General Authority for Sports section will do is unclear, but the country currently has a ban on female-only gyms and effectively forbids women from attending stadium events thanks to strict segregation rules.
Physical education is also not on the curriculum for female students in public schools.
However the royal’s appointment and the department’s creation seems to signal a move towards creating more rights for Saudi women in the sporting world.
Princess Reema, the daughter of former US ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan, was born in Riyadh but educated in America, earning a degree in museum studies from George Washington University.
She has worked as the CEO of luxury retailer Alfa International, is the founder of a creative talent initiative, and has also made a name for herself as an activist for female empowerment.
Her new role was announced days before four Saudi women compete in the Rio Olympics, joining a team of seven men.
Sara Al-Attar (pictured above), Lubna Al-Omair, Cariman Abu Al-Jadail and Wujud Fahmi will become only the second group of female Olympians to represent the country where women are banned from driving, interacting with men, or trying on clothes while shopping.
Al-Attar was the sole Saudi representative at London 2012, where she competed in the 800-metre sprint.
This year she will enter the 10K race, while Al-Jadail will take on the 100m dash. Al-Omair is a fencer, and Fahmi will compete in the judoka 52-kilogram division.