In a move toward increasing gender equality in Saudi Arabia, girls in private school will soon be allowed to participate in sports.
The girls will be allowed to participate in sports as long as their dress falls within the bounds of sharia law.
The decision to allow girls to play sports “stems from the teachings of our religion, which allow women such activities in accordance with sharia,” said education ministry spokesman, Mohammed al-Dakhini.
From the Guardian:
“Women’s sport remains nearly an underground activity in the kingdom. Only the largest female university – Princess Nora Bint Abdul Rahman Unviersity – has a swimming pool, tennis court and exercise area for its students. No other university in Saudi Arabia has sport facilities for its female students and staff.
Women are also bound by strict rules when it comes to their attire, so they cannot, for example, be seen by men while jogging in trousers. Almost all women in Saudi Arabia cover their face with a niqab, and even foreigners are obliged to respect local culture and wear an abaya, a loose black dress.
Female athletes cannot register for sport clubs or league competitions. They are banned from entering national trials, which makes it impossible for them to qualify for international competitions.”
This announcement comes a month after Prince AlWaleed bin Talal announced that women should be allowed to dive, because the country’s reliance on foreign drivers was hurting the economy.