Thirty-four women were appointed to leadership positions by Saudi Arabia in the mosques of Mecca and Medina, widely considered to be the two holiest mosques in Saudi Arabia and in Islam as a whole.
— Gulf News (@gulf_news) January 26, 2023
The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Mosques, the government agency responsible for caring for the two holy mosques, released a statement regarding the appointments. In the statement, the agency said that the move was aimed at "developing services for visitors to the two holy mosques."
In addition, the statement added that the move "is part of the qualitative changes the Kingdom is seeking for qualified Saudi women to serve female visitors to the two holy mosques."
Saudi Arabia appoints 34 women to leadership positions in 2 holy mosques https://t.co/o934Wcmn7s
— Middle East Monitor (@MiddleEastMnt) January 24, 2023
Although Saudi Arabia has appointed women to positions in the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques before, this would be the first time that the Muslim-majority kingdom appointed women to leadership positions in the agency.
Back in August 2021, two women were appointed by Saudi Arabia as assistants to the head of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques.
A few months ago, 32 women were appointed drivers under the Haramain Express Train Leaders Program for the Haramain train network serving Mecca and Medina. The Saudi press agency reported they completed the training a few days ago.
In recent years, Saudi Arabia has gradually relaxed restrictions against women in public life and even granted women some rights, such as the right to enter military service, apply for a passport, and travel without a male guardian for women above 21 years old.
The Saudi government also lifted a ban on female drivers in September 2017, which has been in place for decades, allowing women to drive. Other reforms initiated by Saudi authorities include allowing women in stadiums and allowing them access to healthcare and government services without a male guardian.