>> A traditional start to celebrate Saudi's Arabia's 87th anniversary of its foundation. But this year, there's a big difference. For the first time, women have been allowed to enter the King Fahd Stadium, to see a performance praising the kingdom's religious and marital past. Reuters correspondent Stephen Kalin, went to the festivities.
>> I spoke with a number of women today on their way into the stadium. And for all of them was there first time to enter this complex. They were all very excited. Most of them had there husband, or their brother or father with them, and they're are looking forward to coming back for football games.
And others are hoping for even more freedoms like being able to drive and taking on bigger roles in government.>> But some people have been critical, as Saudi Arabia adheres to the austere Wahabi brand of Sunni Islam, which bans gender mixing. The events of the latest entertainment sponsored by the government as part of the Vision 2030 reform program.
Its aim is to diversify the economy away from oil and open up Saudi sheltered lifestyles.>> It's the culmination of a lot of big changes over the past few years in Saudi Arabia especially for women, who have seen restrictions on them lifted in many ways. They're being pushed into the economy more.
They're getting more jobs. They're taking on a more public role. And this is the latest and clearest demonstration of women taking a bigger role in Saudi society.>> Celebrations are taking place across the country this year, and are bigger than ever. With the concert in the Red Sea city of Jedda, fireworks, air arobatics, and traditional folk dance.
It marks a change from previous years where celebrations of national identity were discourage by the religious establishments,