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Saudi Arabia allows women to join armed forces

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has allowed women to join the country‘s armed forces, the latest profession in the kingdom to open up to female recruits.

The Saudi Ministry of Defence has issued a ruling allowing both genders to sign up through a unified admission portal. Women can join military ranks from soldier to sergeant in the Saudi Arabian Army, Royal Saudi Air Defense, Royal Saudi Navy, Royal Saudi Strategic Missile Force, and Armed Forces Medical Services.

All applicants must pass admission procedures according to specified conditions, have a clean record and be medically fit for service. However, additional criteria have been added for female applicants. Saudi female applicants must be between the age of 21 and 40 years old, have a height of 155 cm or taller, and cannot be a government employee.

They must also hold an independent national identity card and have at least a high school education. Applicants married to non-Saudi citizens will not be accepted. The age range for first-time male applicants is between 17 and 40 while their minimum height is 160 cm.

Many have been gradually opening up for Saudi women, whose increased participation in the workforce is part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plans to transform the Arab world’s largest economy.

The plan to allow women into the military was first announced in 2019, the same year when the conservative kingdom allowed women to leave the country without permission from a male relative, ending a restrictive guardianship system

This comes after Saudi Arabia in 2018 allowed women to drive and ended its status as the last country on earth to prohibit women from taking to the wheel. Last year, the Minister of Justice appointed 100 women as public notaries, and in January a government official said Saudi Arabia will soon start appointing female court judges.