Once again, Saudi women are smashing through the glass ceiling and soaring into male dominated industries, and well, dominating them. The professional sports industry in Saudi has been one that has belonged to men for as long as we can remember – but now women are storming in and aren’t going anywhere.
Over the past few years, Saudi female athletes have been highlighted as they were allowed the opportunity to participate in sporting events that were once off limits and society is taking notes. This year, the kingdom’s Taif University became the first Saudi college to offer up courses in basketball, football, and martial arts to female students.
The female athletes of Saudi Arabia aren’t just renowned on a domestic level – they have made headlines around the world for their sporting successes at international sporting events including the London 2012 Olympics and the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Making another mark in Saudi history, it was announced in the last week of February that Saudi TV presenter, Heela Al Farraj will become Saudi Arabia’s first ever female sports commentator. As part of a game that will be a part of Saudi Arabia's first Gulf Women's Football Tournament, Al Farraj will be commentating live.
This particular competition has been one that was on the cards in the kingdom for quite some time and will kick off on Friday 1st of March 2019, causing much excitement for women as they become pioneers within their chosen sport. The women’s football tournament will be the first of its kind following smaller scale female sporting events that have taken place in Saudi Arabia.
"I am thrilled and all the comments I am reading are positive, except a few. My people, country and leaders are supporting women empowerment and I thank them for that," Heela Al Farraj said on Rotana Khalijiya's Ya Hala TV program. Ecstatic at the opportunity to be the first ever female in the position of a sports commentator, she also noted that it is her experience as a TV reporter that landed her the chance at such a position. Making history, Heela’s announcement went viral on Saudi Twitter and despite some sexist criticism, Saudi people were elated at the news and thought it a positive move.