Jiddah: Saudi Arabia had taken an important step towards women empowerment in April by enrolling women in the Army. Now, in a historic move, women soldiers were appointed to stand guard in Mecca and Medina.
A dozen of women have become part of the security services in Islam's holiest sites. The first group of women soldiers is in charge of monitoring pilgrims in the birthplaces of Islam.
The newly minted batch of women officers are seen dressed in a military khaki uniform, with a hip-length jacket, loose trousers, and a black beret over a veil covering the head, reported Reuters.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has been working towards social and economic reforms to modernise the conservative Muslim kingdom. His reform plan, Vision 2030, also led to lifting the driving ban on women. He also changed rules and regulations to allow adult women to travel without taking permission from guardians. The government has been giving women more control over family matters as well.
One of the officers, Mona, told Reuters that she is inspired by her late father and is following in his footsteps. She added that standing at the Grand Mosque in Mecca and serving the worshippers is a noble and honourable task.
Another soldier, Samar, said that her family encouraged her to join the military. She said that it is a huge accomplishment for women and "it is the biggest pride to be in the service of religion, the country and the guests of God, the most merciful".
Due to the pandemic, Saudi Arabia is limiting haj to its own citizens and residents for a second time.