The Mayor of Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, Fahd Bin Mohammed Al-Jubair, appointed a woman as Assistant Mayor of Al-Khobar municipality on Monday. Iman Bint Abdullah Al-Ghamdi will have special responsibility for information technology and is the first woman to hold such a position in the Kingdom; the first Saudi woman to hold such senior position in the municipality; and the first woman to hold a leading position in her field.
Al-Ghamdi's new role comes within the remit of the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs. She is just the second woman to hold a senior position in any branch of the ministry, following the appointment of Arwa Al-Aamy as Assistant Secretary General for Information Technology at Jeddah Municipality in 2009.
According to Al-Jubair, the decision to appoint Al-Ghamdi came about as the municipality seeks to achieve Vision 2030 and give Saudi women leading positions in municipal roles. This, he said, is especially important given that they have also become members of municipal councils. He pointed out that Vision 2030 seeks to increase women's participation in the labour market from 22 to 30 per cent.
The Eastern Province introduced a women's department several years ago which employs young women as a means to strengthen women's role in municipal jobs.
After her appointment was announced, Iman Al-Ghamdi expressed her deep appreciation to Mayor Al-Jubair for his confidence in her ability. This, she said, will be an incentive to develop municipal work in Al-Khobar.
Saudi women were allowed to participate in municipal elections as voters and candidates for the first time in December 2015. Twenty-one female candidates won seats on local councils in the polls.