In recent months, Saudi women in sports have been striking big time and things won't be different this summer.
Earlier this week, it was announced that an all-female bowling team will compete at the Women's World Championship in Bowling which is set to take place in Las Vegas next month.
The team is making history given that it's the first female team to represent the kingdom globally. In February, a team of all-female bowlers also represented the kingdom at a championship held in Cairo, Egypt.
It's made up of women from across the country's regions, including Nahla Adas and Mariam Al Dosari from Al Khobar; Mashael Al Abed Al Wahed, Ghada Nemr, and Amani Al Ghamdi from Riyadh; Hadeel Tarmeen from Jeddah.
When they fly out for the tournaments they'll be joined by their Egyptian coach Sarah Jamal who will see them compete against the world's best female bowlers.
According to Al Riyadh newspaper, the move comes as part of plans rolled out by the country's National Bowling Federation.
Headed by Badr Al Sheikh, the sports organization launched several initiatives aimed at supporting local women who are interested in taking up bowling professionally. This came in line with the kingdom's Vision 2030 which aims at involving more Saudi women in sports.
Under these programs, Saudi female bowlers were able to compete at several local bowling championships for the first time in 2018 in addition to Cairo's tournament.
"We're glad Saudi sportswomen are being empowered"
In a statement on the news, Al Sheikh expressed his pride in the fact that women bowlers will be representing the kingdom internationally.
"We're glad Saudi sportswomen are being empowered and that opportunities are opening up for them to represent the kingdom at international championships. This will have a positive effect on the advancement of female sports in the kingdom," he said.
The bowling team is now training hard and getting ready to strike (yet again) in the next few weeks.
The news caused a stir on Saudi Twitter
News of the team's participation in the upcoming championship naturally made the rounds on Saudi Twitter and left people divided.
Some criticized the all-female team saying that sending women to take part in international events goes against the ultra-conservative kingdom's traditions and values. Some also tweeted out the most sexist and racist remarks, claiming the team members don't "look Saudi" and "belong in the kitchen."
But, there were many who hailed the move and expressed their pride in the kingdom for making advancements when it comes to women in sports.
"They honor us"
"Good luck, we're proud of you"
Saudi women have been making history in sports this year
Whether those who are sexist and misogynistic accept it or not, Saudi women have broken barriers in sports and proved their achievements matter.
Earlier this year, Al Anoud Al Khalifi and Afnan Sabbagh became the first Saudi women to take part in the West Asia and GCC Weightlifting Championship and won a total of 12 medals at the event.
In March, the kingdom's female basketball team participated in the Special Olympics World Summer Games for the first time and scored a gold medal there too.
In that same month, another Saudi woman, Zahra Al-Qurashi, made history after winning the kingdom's first gold medal in kickboxing at the Open International Tournament for Clubs in Amman, Jordan.
The kingdom has seen significant progress when it comes to women in sports
Saudi women have long been restricted from practicing sports and competing at sporting events, but the kingdom has seen significant progress in recent years.
Saudi Arabia sent female athletes to compete for the first time at the 2012 Olympic Games. The country had succumbed to international pressure and agreed to send two female Olympians three weeks before the games, following threats of being banned from the event.
In October 2017, the kingdom's current ambassador to the U.S. Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan became the country's first female president of a sports federation that manages activities for both men and women.