The Saudi government announced in October last year that women in 2018 will be allowed to attend sporting matches in national stadiums, from which they were previously banned.

Saudi women were allowed into a sports stadium for the first time to watch a football match between two local teams, following the second match and the third match too — though they were segregated in the stands from the male-only crowd with designated seating in the so-called "family section."

The first match was held in the capital Riyadh, the second in Jeddah on the Red Sea and the third was in the eastern city of Dammam. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman tested public reaction to the decision when he lifted the ban to allow women and families into the capital Riyadh’s main stadium for the National Day celebration.

Public reaction was positive. Hundreds of women went to the stadium for the first time to mark the country’s 87th annual National Day in September, donning national colours and cheering for their country.

The move was the first of Saudi Arabia's social reforms planned for this year to ease restrictions on women, spearheaded by the kingdom's 32-year-old crown prince. The kingdom has also announced that women will be allowed to drive, lifting the world's only ban on female drivers.

Easing restrictions on women, including the lifting of a driving ban, which is set to go into effect in June, is part of Crown Prince Mohammed's Vision 2030 to overhaul the country's oil-dependent economy and shed the kingdom’s ultra-conservative image.

Also as a part of the crown prince's reforms drive, Saudi Arabia announced in December it was lifting a decades-ban on cinemas with the first movie theatres expected to open in March. 

Saudi stadiums opens door for women.