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Saudi Girls Win Right to Play Sports
May 5, 2013

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Saudi Arabian girls attending private schools can now play sports, according to an announcement by the Saudi government.

In the latest in a series of small changes to boost the rights of women in the kingdom, SPA, the official press agency, said that girls' playing sports would be in accordance with Islamic law as long as the athletes followed approved dress codes and female teachers supervised all sports activities.

The decision did not apply to public schools or universities, SPA said.

Iin 2012, Saudi Arabia, by special dispensation after intense international pressure, sent female athletes to the Olympics for the first time. Earlier this year, women were given permission to form sports clubs. Still, women are banned from entering national trials or league competitions and only last year were allowed to ride bicycles and motorbikes in public.

King Abdullah has encouraged gradual expansion of the rights of women. Although Saudi women cannot drive or travel without male accompaniment and still must adhere to strict clothing rules when out in public (including on bikes and motorbikes), they will soon be able to vote and run for political office and can now have jobs as sales clerks.

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