Saudi Allows Females to Compete in Olympics

May 19, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. conservative (adj.) 
[kuhn-sur-vuh-tiv] – very traditional
Example: Some conservative communities do not use electricity, telephones or cars because of religious beliefs.

2. up to par (idiom) [uhp][too, tuh][pahr] – on the same level with something
Example: Athletes who want to compete in the Olympics must be up to par with international standards.

3. small-scale (adj.) [smawl-skeyl] – something that is limited and not very well-developed
ExampleSmall-scale competitions usually have only few participating teams.

4. stepping stone (n.) [step-ping][stohn] – an event that helps someone or something  be in a higher level Example: Education is a person’s stepping stone to a good career.

5. aspect (n.) [as-pekt] – a part or a feature of something (used for non-objects)
Example: Sports involves both the mental and physical aspects of athletes.

Read the text below.

For the first time in history, Saudi Arabia may be sending women athletes to participate in the Olympic games.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei are the only countries that have never entered female athletes to the international competition.

But the case for Saudi Arabia may soon change because of a recent meeting between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) with Olympic officials from the Arab kingdom.  The IOC has asked Saudi Arabia to allow women to join this year’s Olympic games in London, as part of the international competition’s rules.

According to CNN reporter Rima Maktabi, many people in Saudi Arabia believe the idea of women playing sports goes against religion and tradition.  She adds that some women even wear their veils while playing sports, just to prove they are still very conservative.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s professional female athletes say they are not qualified to join the said event. Lina Al-Maeena, co-founder of Jeddah United Sports Company and captain of the Saudi women’s basketball team, strongly believes they are not yet up to par with other countries’ competitors.  

Al-Maeena suggests that her country’s women players start with small-scale events first, such as regional and national games, before thinking of taking part in international contests.

Nonetheless, Christoph Wilcke, of Human Rights Watch says the IOC meeting with Saudi officials is a good development. He believes allowing Arabian women to compete in the Olympics is a stepping stone for gender equality in Saudi Arabia, not only in sports but also in other aspects of society.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Which is more important: keeping cultural traditions or adapting to the changing world?
·         What kinds of traditions or beliefs do you think are no longer popular in your country? Why do you think people stopped doing them?

Discussion B

·         Do you think some jobs or careers can be done only by men or only by women? Please explain your answer.
Do you believe in gender equality in the society? Please explain your answer.


May 19, 2012