Saturday, May 11, 2013

Women's Sports in the Gulf

Earlier this week, I meant to blog about Saudi Arabia's decision to allow girls' sports in private schools, but was busy with the usual end of semester rush.  Today, however, AP reports on the growing trend of women's sports teams in the Gulf states:
As part of a new initiative launching sports leagues for women, Muneera and her team mates from Salwa Al Sabah club downed Qadsiya club 63-13 in a game that attracted several hundred men and female fans. The initiative to launch basketball, table tennis and athletic leagues for the first time in Kuwait illustrates how the landscape for women athletes is improving across the Gulf where hard-liners have long opposed women playing sports.
Several of the players, in deference to the conservative Muslim culture that is common across the Gulf, wore leggings and covered their heads with the hijab. Others, however, wore shorts and T-shirts...
Helped by government support, increased education and erosion of traditional values, football leagues for girls in the Gulf have started up in Qatar and the UAE. Saudi Arabia — which long barred girls from playing any sports — recently announced it would allow sports in private schools as long as they abide by the rules of Sharia, or Islamic law.
This issue is not only about women's rights to compete in sports for its own sake, but a matter of public health since sports are an important way in which physically active lifestyles are promoted in schools.

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