In a first, Saudi women make their way to a football stadium

Fans watch a match at the King Abdullah Sports City stadium in Jeddah

The kingdom has also announced that, starting in June, women will be allowed to drive, lifting the world's only ban on female drivers.

Glass panels were set up to separate men supporters from the women and family section of the stadium.

The stadiums were also fitted with female prayer areas and toilets, as well as separate entrances and vehicle parks for female spectators.

Friday's match was the first in a series that will be open to women: a second is due to take place on Saturday and a third on January 18.

The notorious driving ban on women was lifted in September 2017, and this week Saudi Arabia will host its first ever women's squash tournament.

Although only 20 riyals (£3.88) a ticket, the family section for Friday's match was still less than half full.

"I came with my father and my brother - we're fans of Al-Ahli", said university student Areej al-Ghamdi, adding that she had always cheered the club from home."This is the first time we'll be cheering for real, not just in front of the television", she told the Agence France-Presse.

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Ms Swick, who grew up in Maryland and has been living in Saudi Arabia for the past nine years, has attended football games in the USA and soccer matches in France, but said she was impressed with how organised Friday night's match was.

Among the first were a woman accompanied by a younger female and a girl.

The momentous occasion is part of the reforms being brought in by crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has pledged to "return Saudi Arabia to moderate Islam".

There are still many things women are unable to do without permission, such as applying for passports, travelling overseas, opening a bank account and starting certain businesses.

The country's large new stadiums were built with hundreds of millions of dollars when oil prices were almost double what they are now. Women will now be allowed to attend the matches, but will have to sit in segregated areas away from men, and must wear loose-fitting, full-length robes known as 'abayas, ' as well as a headscarf, if they are Muslim.

The university student was among around 300 Saudi women who thronged Pearl stadium in the Red Sea city of Jeddah after the ultra-conservative kingdom eases decades-old rules separating the sexes.

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