With sporting events for Saudi women moving forward, things are definitely looking up for female athletes.

Although many continue to criticize the country for being decades behind many other nations when it comes to women's rights, the kingdom has been making rapid changes in the sports sector. 

Here's a breakdown: 

First-time participation in the Olympics (2012)

London 2012 marked Saudi women's first time in the Olympics, in which all participating nations sent female athletes to compete. Brunei, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia made that happen by finally allowing females to take part in the global sporting event.

Saudi Arabia eventually succumbed to international pressure and agreed to send two female Olympians three weeks before the games, following threats of being banned from the event.

Saudi Arabia sent four female athletes to compete in Rio 2016 Olympics, twice the number of those who competed in 2012. Saudi sprinter Kariman Abuljadayel became the first woman from the kingdom to compete in the 100-meter race at the Olympic Games that year.

A female Saudi has even brought home an Olympic medal. Perhaps the most celebrated female Saudi athlete, show jumper Dalma Rushdi Malhas won a bronze equestrian medal at the 2010 Youth Olympics.

Allowing women to hit the gym (2017)

In 2017, the kingdom's sports authority announced that Saudi women will finally be able to hit the gym with plans to open a female-only gym in every district in the kingdom.

This came after a 2015 study revealed that 73.7 percent of Saudi women are physically inactive. The impact is evident in the disproportionate rates of obesity between males and females in the kingdom. Of the adult Saudi female population, 44 percent is obese, compared to 26 percent of the male population.

Still, both public and private institutions rarely include mandatory physical education classes - despite the fact that in 2013, private girls' schools were given the green light to hold sports activities for female students for the first time, under the condition of abiding by Sharia rules. In 2017, the kingdom's minister of education also issued a decree laying down a physical education program for girls' state schools.

In 2019, Saudi Arabia's Taif University announced it will be offering courses in football, basketball, and karate for its female students.

A women's basketball tournament (2017)

In November 2017, Saudi Arabia held its first-ever basketball tournament for women in Jeddah, which took place at King Abdullah Sports City. 

"The event demonstrated women's passion for sports and this game undoubtedly gives greater impetus to other events that will increase interest and calls among women to promote the concept of community sports," said Leena Al Maeena, founding member of the Jeddah United basketball team, according to Gulf News.

Appointment of Saudi Arabia's first-ever female head of sports (2017)

In October 2017, Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan became the kingdom's first-ever female president of a sports federation that manages activities for both men and women.

A week before the announcement, Bint Bandar was appointed as President of the Saudi Federation for Community Sports.

Bint Bandar, whose father is a former Saudi ambassador to Washington, was selected for the new role as part of the extensive reform in the kingdom's Olympic Committee and sports federations.

First-ever sports events for women (2018)

In 2018, Saudi Arabia held its first-ever women's run over the weekend. The event, which was held in Al Ahsa on Saturday, saw over 1,500 women from all across the kingdom take part.

This came just weeks after Saudi officials announced that women will be allowed to take part in the Riyadh International Marathon in 2019.

Previously, women were prohibited from running in the country's official marathons.

That same year, 47 women came together in Jeddah to take part in the kingdom's first-ever women-only cycling race. The 10-kilometer race was held under the governance of the Saudi General Authority for Sports in the King Abdullah City for Sports and coincided with International Health Day.

Welcoming women to sporting events in stadiums (2018)

Towards the end of 2017, Saudi Arabia announced that women will be allowed to attend sporting events in stadiums starting 2018.

In January 2018, women in the kingdom got the chance to attend a football match for the first time ever. 

"Female football fans wearing scarves and waving flags took their seats at the King Abdullah Sports City stadium in Jeddah for Al-Ahli's match against Al-Batin in the Saudi Pro League," wrote The Guardian at the time.