Saudi Arabia's first female recruits graduated from the Armed Forces Women's Cadre Training Centre this week, the first time in the kingdom's history that women will begin service in frontline roles.
The change to allow women into the Saudi military came as part of the kingdom's Vision 2030, which seeks to reform almost every aspect of life and government. One aspect is women's empowerment and gender equality in all fields.
The female soldiers were inducted on Wednesday after completing a 14-week military training course.
Maj Gen Adel Al Balawi, head of the Armed Forces Education and Training Authority, said that the centre aims to provide the best training facilities for the female staff of the Defence Ministry, especially in areas where the ministry is most in need.
“The centre has an important mission, which is to provide distinguished training programmes and curricula and an ideal educational environment in accordance with international quality standards that meet the needs of the armed forces of female cadres. The centre aims to help realise the ministry’s goals in the future,” he said.
Chief of the General Staff Gen Fayyad Al Ruwaili, Chief Sgt Suleiman Al Maliki, acting commander of the Armed Forces Women’s Cadre Training Centre, Maj Gen Hamid Al Omari, director of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces, and several senior officers of the armed forces, all attended the ceremony.
Chief Sgt Hadi Al Anezi, assistant commander of the centre, accepted oaths by the graduates, which was then followed by results and prizes for outstanding performances.
Saudi women can now climb the ranks from soldier to officer in the Royal Saudi Air Defence, Royal Saudi Navy, Royal Saudi Strategic Missile Force and the Armed Forces Medical Services.
In February, Saudi Arabia opened posts in the military to women for the first time, allowing them to sign up through a unified admission portal.
Female applicants must be between 21 and 40 years old, four years older than first-time male applicants, who must be between 17 and 40. Otherwise, the conditions for all applicants regardless of gender will be the same – from admission procedures to medical checks and needing a clean record.