For the first time in Saudi Arabia, a government school has introduced sports for girls, after a call for the lifting of a ban on women in sports, press reports said on Sunday.
Girls at Amal Institute in Jeddah competed in a volleyball tournament last week after the school built new sports facilities, also for basketball, tennis and hockey, Al-Hayat Arabic daily said.
In April, the Shoura Council recommended after a heated debate that the longstanding ban, already relaxed in private schools last year, be scrapped.
The council cited a ruling the late Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Baz, a former mufti, that women were entitled to play sports “within the limits set by Islamic law.”
The topic of Saudi women in sport came under the spotlight at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, when the Kingdom bowed to international pressure and sent female athletes to compete for the first time.
The International Olympic Committee agreed to allow the two Saudi women — a judo player and a middle-distance runner — to compete with their heads and bodies covered in deference to the Islamic dress code enforced in Saudi Arabia.