A group of women whooped and cheered as they marked International Women’s Day by exercising a recently acquired freedom: the right to go for a jog in the streets of Jeddah.
Wearing big smiles and traditional full-length robes adapted for sports, they pounded through sleepy alleys past puzzled shopkeepers in Jeddah’s historic district.
Women in the kingdom are hopeful of huge changes. The government introduced physical education for girls last year and began licensing women’s sports clubs, but Saudis are still coming around to women running in public.
“This is just the beginning of a revolution for women in Saudi Arabia. In jobs, in our lives, in society, everything is going to change for Saudi women,” said one of the joggers, university student Sama Kinsara.
The biggest change yet will come in the summer when Saudi women will be allowed to drive.