Women In Saudi Arabia Allowed To Attend Football Matches For The First Time

Media reports have revealed that Women in Saudi Arabia would be allowed to attend football matches on Friday for the first time.

Female fans would enter major sports stadiums in the Kingdom to attend three football matches involving local sides as part of the Saudi Professional League competition, the government-run Centre for International Communication said in a statement.

The three fixtures are scheduled for Friday, Saturday and Jan. 18, the statement added without further details.

In October, the Saudi General Sports Authority, a state agency, said that as of early 2018 three stadiums, up to now male-only facilities, would be prepared to be ready for families, including allocation of special places for seating and entrances. They are King Fahd International Stadium in the capital Riyadh, King Abdullah Sports City in the western city of Jeddah, and Prince Mohammed bin Fahd Stadium in Dammam in eastern Saudi Arabia.

This would not be the first breakthrough for the women in this part of the world in recent times. Recall that in September, Saudi King Salman Abdelaziz issued a royal order allowing women to drive, breaking a longstanding tradition as social reforms in the conservative kingdom gather pace.

Powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is believed to have championed lifting the ban as he is seeking to open up the country and revamp its international image.

Mohammed, 32, has vowed that the kingdom would return to “moderate Islam’’ as he works on reducing the influence of the hard-line religious establishment in the country.

 

Returning Saudi Arabia To Moderate Islamic State Is My Goal, Crown Prince Says

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, has vowed to return the country to “moderate Islam” and asked for global support to transform the hardline kingdom into an open society that empowers citizens and lures investors.

Prince Mohammed bin Salman told investors gathered in Riyadh that his economic modernisation plans would go hand-in-hand with political reforms to guide the conservative kingdom away from severe reactionary Islam

He said the ultra-conservative state had been “not normal” for the past 30 years, blaming rigid doctrines that have governed society in a reaction to the Iranian revolution, which successive leaders “didn’t know how to deal with”.

Expanding on comments he made at an investment conference at which he announced the launch of an ambitious $500bn (£381bn) independent economic zone straddling Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, Prince Mohammed said: “We are a G20 country. One of the biggest world economies. We’re in the middle of three continents.

Changing Saudi Arabia for the better means helping the region and changing the world. So this is what we are trying to do here. And we hope we get support from everyone.

“What happened in the last 30 years is not Saudi Arabia. What happened in the region in the last 30 years is not the Middle East. After the Iranian revolution in 1979, people wanted to copy this model in different countries, one of them is Saudi Arabia. We didn’t know how to deal with it. And the problem spread all over the world. Now is the time to get rid of it.”

Earlier Prince Mohammed had said: “We are simply reverting to what we followed – a moderate Islam open to the world and all religions. 70% of the Saudis are younger than 30, honestly we won’t waste 30 years of our life combating extremist thoughts, we will destroy them now and immediately.”

The crown prince’s comments are the most emphatic he has made during a six-month reform programme that has tabled cultural reforms and economic incentives unimaginable during recent decades, during which the kingdom has been accused of promoting a brand of Islam that underwrote extremism.

The comments were made as the heir of the incumbent monarch moves to consolidate his authority, sidelining clerics whom he believes have failed to support him and demanding unquestioning loyalty from senior officials whom he has entrusted to drive a 15-year reform programme that aims to overhaul most aspects of life in Saudi Arabia.

Central to the reforms has been the breaking of an alliance between hardline clerics who have long defined the national character and the House of Saud, which has run affairs of state. The changes have tackled head-on societal taboos such as the recently rescinded ban on women driving, as well as scaling back guardianship laws that restrict women’s roles and establishing an Islamic centre tasked with certifying the sayings of the prophet Muhammed.

The scale and scope of the reforms has been unprecedented in the country’s modern history and concerns remain that a deeply conservative base will oppose what is effectively a cultural revolution – and that the kingdom lacks the capacity to follow through on its economic ambitions.

The new economic zone is to be established on 470km of the Red Sea coast, in a tourist area that has already been earmarked as a liberal hub akin to Dubai, where male and female bathers are free to mingle.

It has been unveiled as the centrepiece of efforts to turn the kingdom away from a near total dependence on oil and into a diverse open economy. Obstacles remain: an entrenched poor work ethic, a crippling regulatory environment and a general reluctance to change.

“Economic transformation is important but equally essential is social transformation,” said one of the country’s leading businessmen. “You cannot achieve one without the other. The speed of social transformation is key. It has to be manageable.”

Alcohol, cinemas and theatres are still banned in the kingdom and mingling between unrelated men and women remains frowned upon. However Saudi Arabia – an absolute monarchy – has clipped the wings of the once-feared religious police, who no longer have powers to arrest and are seen to be falling in line with the new regime.

Economically Saudi Arabia will need huge resources if it is to succeed in putting its economy on a new footing and its leadership believes it will fail to generate strategic investments if it does not also table broad social reforms.

Prince Mohammed had repeatedly insisted that without establishing a new social contract between citizen and state, economic rehabilitation would fail. “This is about giving kids a social life,” said a senior Saudi royal figure. “Entertainment needs to be an option for them. They are bored and resentful. A woman needs to be able to drive herself to work. Without that we are all doomed. Everyone knows that – except the people in small towns. But they will learn.”

In the next 10 years, at least five million Saudis are likely to enter the country’s workforce, posing a huge problem for officials who currently do not have jobs to offer them or tangible plans to generate employment.

The economic zone is due to be completed by 2025 – five years before the current cap on the reform programme – and is to be powered by wind and solar energy, according to its founders.

The country’s enormous sovereign wealth fund is intended to be a key backer of the independent zone. It currently has $230bn under management. The sale of 5% of the world’s largest company, Aramco, is expected to raise several hundred billion dollars more.

Source: The Guardian

Saudi Arabia: Women Can Drive But Are Still Restricted From…….

While the world celebrates with the women of Saudi Arabia who finally have been granted rights to drive, there’s still so much more than we wish the world could see about the conditions of the women there.

The recent good news is that Saudi women will reportedly be able to apply for their own driving licenses without having to secure the permission of their male guardians. However, rules that govern the guardianship of women continue to restrict many aspects of everyday life for the country’s female population.
Saudi Arabia, which adheres to some of the strictest interpretations of Sunni Islam in the world, has long prevented women from taking on a larger role in its society.
The 2016 Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum ranked the kingdom 141 out of 144 countries on gender parity. Trailing behind Saudi Arabia were Syria, Pakistan and Yemen.

What women in Saudi Arabia can do:

— Vote in local elections. In 2015 women cast ballots for the first time ever during municipal elections, a vote in which they were also allowed to campaign for public office. But female candidates weren’t allowed to speak to male voters and couldn’t have men and women mixing in their campaign offices.
— Be appointed to the Consultative Council. At least 17 women were elected during the 2015 municipal vote. The late King Abdullah issued a decree in 2011 that gave women the vote and two years later, ordered that at least 20% of seats in the Consultative Council be set aside for women.
— Attain a college education. In 2015 a government report found that there were more Saudi women studying in universities than men.
— Play sports and compete in the Olympics. Saudi Arabia sent two women to the Olympics in 2012. In 2016 it sent four.

What women in Saudi Arabia cannot do:

— Marry, divorce, travel, open a bank account, get a job or have elective surgery without permission from their male guardians. Women still are beholden to restrictive guardianship laws that govern nearly every aspect of their lives. In cases where a woman’s father is deceased or absent, her husband, a male relative, brother, or in some cases, even a son, must give his approval before a woman can obtain often basic entitlements.
— Mix freely with members of the opposite sex. Some exceptions include hospitals, banks and medical colleges. In 2013 authorities ordered shops that employ both men and women to build “separation walls” to enforce rules preventing the sexes from mixing together.
— Appear in public without wearing a full-length black abaya. The all-encompassing loose robe is meant to protect women’s modesty in public.
— Conduct certain business without a male sponsor. Women wanting to open their own business often have to call on at least two men who can testify to her character before she can be granted a loan or a license.
— Retain custody of their children in a divorce after they reach the age of seven for boys and nine for girls.
— Apply for a national identification card or passport without the permission of a male guardian.
— Eat at restaurants that don’t have a separate designated family section. Most restaurants have a “family” section with a divider that separates families from dining near all-male parties. Women are also required to use a separate entrance to the men. It is usually a side door.
— Get a fair hearing in court, where “the testimony of one man equals that of two women.”The legal position in Saudi Arabia of a woman is equal to that of a minor, and therefore she has little authority over her own life.
— Receive an equal inheritance. Under Sharia inheritance laws, daughters receive half what is awarded to their brothers. Critics say this is due to a misinterpretation of Islamic laws, sometimes sending women into poverty because they are left out of their fathers’ wills.
Whatever the reasons for these laws, we believe that eventually thing would get better and restrictions would be lifted, and the women in these part of the world can be free to live as much as they were destined to. We celebrate little beginnings and this is just the beginning of victories for our Saudi sisters.

Saudi Arabia: Hope For Women In Politics As First Spokeswoman Appointed

Saudi Arabia has again surprised the world as it appointed its first female spokesperson ever at its embassy in Washington, hours after Saudi women were granted the right to drive.

“Proud to serve the @SaudiEmbassyUSA as the spokeswoman. I’m grateful for the opportunity, the support, and well wishes,” the spokeswoman, Fatimah Baeshen, wrote on Twitter.

Baeshen previously worked at the ministries of labour and economy between 2014 and 2017, according to the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya broadcaster.
She also worked as a consultant at the World Bank and the Islamic Development Bank.

On Tuesday, King Salman ordered the Interior Ministry to give “licences to women and men equally.”

The move, which will go into effect in June, comes after Saudi women and international rights groups have for several years campaigned to lift the ban, which was condemned as a symbol of oppression.

 

King Salman recently ordered an end to the long-standing guardianship rule, which denied women access to government services if they did not have a male relative’s consent.

Finally Women Can Drive In Saudi Arabia

The joy of every Saudi Arabian woman would be immeasurable with the new development that allows them drive.  Saudi Arabia would be the last country in the world to do so, sparking euphoria and disbelief among activists in the ultra-conservative kingdom, where social restrictions are increasingly being loosened.

The longstanding driving ban was seen internationally as a symbol of repression of women in the Gulf kingdom and its repeal comes after years of resistance from female activists.

The shock announcement, which risks riling religious conservatives, is part of Saudi Arabia’s ambitious reform push aimed at adapting to a post-oil era and improving a global reputation battered by its human rights record.

“King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud has issued a decree authorising the issuance of drivers’ licences for women in the kingdom,” Saudi state TV said.

“The decree will take effect in June 2018.”

Saudi Arabia will use the “preparatory period” until then to expand licensing facilities and develop the infrastructure to accommodate millions of new drivers, the announcement added.

Conservative clerics in Saudi Arabia, an absolute monarchy ruled according to sharia law, have long justified the ban arguing that lifting it would lead to promiscuity. One of them claimed that driving harmed women’s ovaries.

Many women’s rights activists have been jailed for flouting the ban.

The surprise announcement was widely welcomed, both at home and abroad.

“A glorious day. Can’t hold back my tears,” tweeted Saudi shura council member Latifah Alshaalan. “Congratulations to the women of my homeland.”

Activist Manal al-Sharif, who led the 2011 “Women2Drive” protest movement, tweeted: “Today, the last country on earth to allow women to drive… we did it.”

“It is a testimony to the bravery of women activists who have been campaigning for years that… Saudi Arabia has finally relented and decided to permit women to drive,” rights watchdog Amnesty International said.

Saudi Arabia has some of the world’s tightest restrictions on women.

Under the country’s guardianship system, a male family member — normally the father, husband or brother — must grant permission for a woman’s study, travel and other activities. It was unclear whether women would require their guardian’s permission to apply for a driving licence.

After Tuesday’s historic announcement, the hashtags “I am my own guardian” and “Saudi Women Can Drive” began gaining traction on social media, while many openly lampooned conservatives who long favoured the ban.

One Saudi woman tweeted a picture of three women in a convertible going shopping, with the message: “Us soon.”

The policy could socially liberate women — heavily reliant on foreign drivers and ride-sharing apps — and also boost the economy at a time of low oil prices by increasing their participation in the workforce, experts say.

The announcement follows a dazzling gender-mixed celebration of Saudi national day at the weekend, the first of its kind, which aimed to spotlight the kingdom’s reform drive despite a backlash from religious conservatives.

Men and women danced in the streets to drums and electronic music, in scenes that are a stunning anomaly in a country known for its tight gender segregation and an austere vision of Islam.

Women were also allowed into a sports stadium — previously a male-only arena — to watch a concert, a move that chimes with the government’s Vision 2030 plan for social and economic reform.

With more than half the country aged under 25, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the king’s son and the architect of Vision 2030, is seen as catering to the aspirations of younger people.

 

Hajj: Nigeria Records 5 Death In Saudi Arabia

Five Nigerian pilgrims to this year’s hajj in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, have died.

The Chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, Abdullahi Mohammed, announced the passage of four of the pilgrims on Tuesday in Makkah, Islam’s holiest city.

Mr. Mohammed, who spoke at the 2017 pre-Arafat meeting with Hajj stakeholders, however, declined to disclosed the identities of the late pilgrims as well as the circumstances that led to their death.

He said such information could only be disclosed after their families had been appropriately informed.

The NAHCON chair pleaded with the media to withhold the details so as not to further devastate the families of the affected pilgrims.

Shortly after the chairman spoke, an official on the medical team of NAHCON announced the passage of another pilgrim from Kwara.

A total 81,200 Nigerian pilgrims are performing this year’s hajj, all of whom have converged on Makkah after some of them visited and prayed at the Prophet Mohammed’s mosque in Madinah.

A few other pilgrims came directly to Makkah after flying into Saudi Arabia through the nearby city of Jeddah.

All the pilgrims have performed the rites of Umrah, the lesser hajj, at al-Masjid al-Haram in which is situated the Kabah.

On Wednesday, the pilgrims, like their counterparts from other parts of the world, will move to the city of Mina to spend the eve of the 9th of Dhul-Hijah.

The pilgrims will then proceed to Arafat on Thursday praising Allah and reciting the Qur’an.

Trump Becomes First Sitting US President to Visit Western Wall

Donald Trump made by history by becoming the first sitting US president to visit the sacred Western Wall, vowing to try and secure peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

The President wore a traditional yarmulke as he pressed his right hand against the wall, highly sacred to Jews, and closed his eyes. Later, he said it had been a “great honour”.

But as Mr Trump posed for photographs with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying he felt a peace deal between the two sides could he achieved “eventually”, there was little indication that he had any sort of road map to hand on how to move forward a challenge that has vexed US administrations for decades.

“I thank the prime minister for his commitment to pursuing the peace process,” Mr Trump said of Mr Netanyahu, who stood next to him at a joint press conference in Jerusalem.

“He’s working very hard at it – it’s not easy. I’ve heard it’s one of the toughest deals of all. But I have a feeling that we’re going to get there eventually. I hope.”

For his part, Mr Netanyahu brushed aside the controversy over Mr Trump’s alleged leaking of sensitive intelligence material from Israel to the Russian foreign minister. He said cooperation between the two countries had never been better.

Mr Trump’s visit to Israel came a day after he spoke before more than 50 Muslim and Arab leaders at a summit in Saudi Arabia, where he denounced Shia Iran and called on the mostly Sunni audience to act against extremism.

His flight alone to Israel made history. Reports suggest no American leader has before flown directly between the two nations.

Independent UK

Buhari Condemns Missile Attack On Makkah

President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed Nigeria’s solidarity with the Kingdom of Suadi Arabia in the aftermath of the ballistic missile launched by Houthi militias targeting the holy city of Makkah.

The president made the expression when he spoke with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia in a telephone chat on Sunday.

Condemning the heinous act which he said targeted innocent people, President Buhari said “it is reprehensible and ignoble for terrorists to target a holy land, where millions of Muslims from around the globe gather for pilgrimage.”

The President however appreciated Almighty Allah that the Saudi defence forces intercepted and downed the missile 65 km from the holy city of Makkah.

President Buhari reiterated the need to strengthen international support and coalition in the fight against terrorism and violent extremism, noting that “when the world stands together, there is no way good would not prevail over evil.”

Buhari Makes Case For Hajj Stampede Victims

President Muhammadu Buhari has requested the authorities of Saudi Arabia to come out with the outcome of their investigation into the stampede at Muna in 2015 during which 274 Nigerians were believed to have died.

Buhari has also made a case for compensation for six Nigerians killed in the crane incident in the precincts of the Kaaba.

According to a statement on Saturday by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President raised the issues during the talks he had with Saudi rulers during his one-week official visit to the country.

Shehu said following the completion of talks with rulers of the Saudi Arabian Kingdom, Buhari directed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Hajj Commission to sit down with the Saudis to negotiate improved terms and conditions for Nigerian pilgrims performing the Umrah and the annual Hajj.

This, he said, followed the acceptance by the Saudi government to freely and openly discuss outstanding issues with Nigeria.

“President Buhari, among other things, requested the Saudis to conclude all issues with the Nigerian Hajj Commission, such as the undetermined outcome of their investigation into the stampede at Muna last year, where our officials believe that 274 Nigerian lives were lost.

“There is also the case of compensation for six Nigerians killed in the crane incident in the precincts of the Kaaba and 35 others from the stampede whose DNA profile is feared to be missing.

“President Buhari equally charged the Ministry and the NAHCON to seek a reduction of fees associated with the Umrah Visa,” he said.

Among the 17 issues tendered at the initial meeting between the officials of both countries, Shehu said Nigeria appreciated the increase offered for Umrah pilgrimage but asked that the 76,000 seats maintained for the Hajj be also increased.

The meeting was said to have been led by Nigeria’s Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Mrs. Fatima Abba Ibrahim and Chairman of NAHCON, Abdullahi Muhammed on the Nigerian side while the Saudi side was led by their Minister of Hajj Affairs, Dr.Bandar bin Muhammad al-Hajjar.

The two countries are expected to follow up on all the issues in the coming weeks.

Photonews: Day 2 Of President Buhari, Ogbeni Aregbesola Performing Lesser Hajj In Saudi Arabia

Osun Defender presents, photos of President Muhammudu Buhari, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, Governor Ibikunle Amosun, Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, National Security Adviser, Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (Rtd), among other others performing Umra, the lesser Hajj, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Find photos of the event below:

buhari aregbesola doing umrah buhari aregbesola doing umrah1 buhari aregbesola doing umrah2 buhari aregbesola doing umrah3

 

Buhari, Aregbesola, Others performs Lesser hajj Buhari, Aregbesola, Others performs Lesser hajj1 Buhari, Aregbesola, Others performs Lesser hajj2 Buhari, Aregbesola, Others performs Lesser hajj3

Photonews: President Buhari, Governors Aregbesola, Amosun, Others In Saudi Arabia

President Muhammudu Buhari in company of governors Shettima, Amosun, Aregbesola, Masari, Yari from Borno, Ogun, Osun, Katsina and Zamfara respectively today arrived Medinah for this year Lesser Hajj.

The five governors had accompanied President Buhari for his official trip to Saudi Arabia to negotiate on how to increase the price of crude oil that has reached an all-time low in ten years.

While in performing the lesser hajj, Osun Defender learnt that governor of the state of Osun, prayed earnestly for his state, just has president Muhammudu Buhari prayed for Nigeria.

See photos of President Buhari and the governors performing lesser hajj below:

Buhari, Aregbesola, Amosun In Mecca For Lesser Hajj Buhari, Aregbesola, Amosun In Mecca For Lesser Hajj1 Buhari, Aregbesola, Amosun In Mecca For Lesser Hajj2 Buhari, Aregbesola, Amosun In Mecca For Lesser Hajj3 Buhari, Aregbesola, Amosun In Mecca For Lesser Hajj4