Saudi Arabia allows women to join military, promotes female to high-level post

Saudi Arabia is opening soldier rank positions to women for the first time ever in regions including Riyadh, Mecca and al-Madina.

In order to apply, Al Arabiya reports, women have to be of Saudi origin and between the ages of 25 to 35 with at least a high school education. The applicants also have to pass various tests and be interviewed and meet certain height and weight requirements.

The development comes amid a wave of reform efforts instituted by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that include allowing women to drive for the first time ever, opening soccer matches to female spectators and allowing cinemas to open for the first time in 35 years.

FILE - In this Nov. 26, 2017 file photo released by the state-run Saudi Press Agency, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaks at a meeting of the Islamic Military Counterterrorism Alliance in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.  Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was released on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018,  from the luxury hotel where he has been held since November, according to three of his associates, marking the end of a chapter in a wide-reaching anti-corruption probe that has been shrouded in secrecy and intrigue. The prince, 62, had been the most well-known and prominent detainee held at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, since Nov. 4, when his much younger cousin, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the surprise raids against prominent princes, businessmen, ministers and military officers.(Saudi Press Agency via AP)

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has instituted a crackdown on corruption and a number of reforms aimed at modernizing the conservative kingdom.  (Reuters)

On Monday, a number of military officers were removed and a woman, Tamadur bint Youssef al-Ramah, became deputy labor minister—in what is seen as a rare high-level post for a woman in the conservative Muslim kingdom.

Saudi’s 32-year-old crown price and heir apparent has said that he wants to slowly wean the kingdom off of oil exports, diversify its economy and create jobs while modernizing the country’s populace.

Although he has cracked down on some corruption in the country, the crown prince has also removed a number of his apparent rivals for the throne.

Reuters reports that Saudi defense contracts with the U.S. and Europe have been a longtime source of corruption and Prince Mohammed has said that it is “unacceptable” that high military spending has not translated into better, more efficient performance.

Christopher Carbone is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @christocarbone.