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Vision 2030

First woman appointed to lead Saudi football club amid increased roles for women

Published: Updated:

Abrar Shaker was appointed as Chairman of the FLIG Football Club at its first founding meeting in a move that made her Saudi Arabia’s first woman to lead a football club, Arabic news media Al Yaum reported.

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At the club’s first meeting, the Saudi lawyer and newly-appointed chairman Shaker said: “… Today, the meeting of the Constituent Committee was convened. God willing, we came up with and agreed on many recommendations. God willing, we will begin to see better results in the near future. This serves the people of Hafr Al Batin, serves Saudi football and serves both women and men.”

As part of an effort to expand the number of games in the future the football club - based in the eastern Saudi province of Hafar Al Batin - includes teams for both men and women.

Taking on more roles in Saudi society

On Tuesday, female soldier Abeer al-Rashed conducted the country’s first female-led security forces briefing for Hajj, the Kingdom’s media ministry reported. She constructed the security and traffic management strategy for the upcoming pilgrimage season which is set to take place from July 17 to 22. It has a limited capacity of 60,000 people in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Saudi Arabian soldier Abeer al-Rashed, conducting the Kingdom's first-ever female-led security forces briefing for Hajj on Tuesday, 14 July 2021. (Screengrab via Twitter)
Saudi Arabian soldier Abeer al-Rashed, conducting the Kingdom's first-ever female-led security forces briefing for Hajj on Tuesday, 14 July 2021. (Screengrab via Twitter)

Al-Rashed's role was met with a mass of positive comments on social media, from users in Saudi Arabia and across the region.

The defense ministry opened military recruitment to women earlier this year, enabling them to enroll in the Saudi Arabian Land Forces, Royal Saudi Air Defense, Royal Saudi Navy, Royal Saudi Strategic Missile Force, and Armed Forces Medical Services.

Many female police officers were also spotted supervising Umrah pilgrims during the holy month of Ramadan in Mecca, highlighting the advances women in the Kingdom have made in many fields under the Vision 2030 program.

Saudi female police officers are now supervising Umrah pilgrims
Saudi female police officers are now supervising Umrah pilgrims

Another major advancement is the growing number of industries that are hiring women for the first time in Saudi Arabia. With the relaxing of guardianship laws, women are now able to open up their own businesses too.

Some prominent Saudi figures who dominated Forbes’ Top 10 power list in 2020 included: Rania Nashar, the first female CEO of a Saudi commercial bank, currently leading Samba Financial Group, the Kingdom’s third-largest bank by assets; Sarah al-Suhaimi, the first Saudi woman to chair the country’s stock exchange; and Lubna Olayan, CEO and Deputy Chairman of multinational enterprise and investing firm Olayan Financing Company.

Another key milestone in this space was when Reema bint Bandar al-Saud was appointed as Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States.

Although women’s evolving roles in Saudi Arabia are changing fast, there have always been breakthroughs.

Saudi women walk in Abha High City, as the summer season kicks off with health precautions amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in an effort to boost internal tourism after the pandemic in Abha, Saudi Arabia. (File photo: Reuters)
Saudi women walk in Abha High City, as the summer season kicks off with health precautions amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in an effort to boost internal tourism after the pandemic in Abha, Saudi Arabia. (File photo: Reuters)

When talent shone through women were guaranteed to play significant roles. This included female rocket and spacecraft engineer, Mishaal al-Shamimri, who became the first Saudi woman to join the United States’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Since Vision 2030 was launched in 2016, it has become clear that women will continue to play instrumental roles in the country. In such a short period of time so much has changed, in terms of a woman’s place in society, and the realization that the skills and talent on offer will help Saudi Arabia diversify its economy seamlessly. It is safe to say that we will see more women empowered to take positive steps in their professional careers.

Read more:

Saudi soldier conducts Kingdom’s first female-led security briefing for Hajj season

Three held for violating Saudi Arabia’s Hajj season regulations

Saudi health ministry says it is safe to combine approved COVID-19 vaccine shots