Manama: Saudi Arabia will launch its first mixed-gender play on Thursday as the country moves forward with its series of firsts for women.
“Take Away” will be performed at the King Fahad Cultural Centre in the capital Riyadh.
The play is a parody that tackles a variety of situations and issues related to young people.
Reactions to the announcement on social media have expressed mainly enthusiastic support.
“This is great news that comes after the concerts by international performers,” Abu Ajram posted.
“We now look forward to international plays, a circus and a fashion show by Saudi designers. Let the people enjoy themselves. Keep up the pace and keep moving forward.”
Ziyad, another user, welcomed the announcement as a great breakthrough.
“I cannot fathom how some people see progress as a departure from our Islamic identity,” he said.
“People should know that Islam as a religion is open to development and progress. Unfortunately, some people are strangely resistant to any form of progress and become seriously concerned about it.”
For Omar, the play is a marker of just how much society has opened up.
“God created males and females to live in societies together. Isolating them is abnormal because interaction between them is a natural thing. We want a natural society like the rest of the world,” he said.
Those who opposed the play insisted that the mixing of genders should be avoided at all costs and warned it would lead to sin.
Saudi Arabia has launched an ambitious drive to overhaul its conservative society, introduce entertainment features and empower women politically, economically and socially.
Under the drive, led by Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, women have been allowed to drive, attend matches at stadiums, participate in sports competitions and go to movies.
The employment of women in supermarkets and other private sector outlets has become an acceptable fact that allows them to gain economic independence and be more self-reliant.
Performances have been scheduled for Thursday evening, Friday afternoon and evening and Saturday afternoon and evening, organisers posted on their website.
Tickets will cost between 85 and 350 Saudi Riyals.