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Saudi Arabia allows women to join the army

Saudi Arabian armed forces seen during a training excercise [AHMED FARWAN/Flickr]
Saudi Arabian armed forces seen during a training excercise [AHMED FARWAN/Flickr]

For the second time, Saudi Arabia has begun to allow women to sign up for military service, the Anadolu Agency reported yesterday.

The decision, which comes as part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 social programme was announced by the General Directorate of Public Security.

Interested applicants from Riyadh, Makkah, Al-Qusaim and Madina can apply through the government’s electronic portal this week, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) quoted the directorate as saying in a statement.

Candidates must fulfil 12 requirements in order to be accepted, including being Saudi nationals who were raised in the Kingdom, unless their fathers had to live abroad because of a “government-related duties”.

They also must be between 25-35 years old, hold at least a high school education, and must pass a mandatory medical check-up. In addition, they must also be taller than 155 centimetres, with a suitable weight to height ratio.

Women married to non-Saudis, those who have a criminal record, and those with previous government employment history cannot apply.

Read: Saudi to invest $64bn in the entertainment sector

Last month, the government’s General Directorate of Passports opened 140 jobs for women in the air traffic control at the Saudi airports; an historic move which the government said drew 107,000 applicants. During the same month, the Kingdom allowed women to enter stadiums to watch men’s football matches for the first time.

In September, Riyadh removed the driving ban on women allowing them to freely apply for a driving licence from summer. Also, Saudi women can now open their own businesses without the consent of their husband or male relative, as the Kingdom pushes to expand a fast-growing private sector.

Since the launch of the Vision 2030 programme, the Kingdom has witnessed rapid social, cultural, political and economic changes. As part of the so-called “reformist” vision, the government has repeatedly stressed that it is determined to provide women rights which they haven’t had in the past.

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