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Women buy national flags with a picture of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, marking National Day to commemorate the unification of the country as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Monday, Sept. 23, 2019. Image Credit: AP

Riyadh: Women in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to join the army as soldiers for the first time in yet another step to empower females in the country, Saudi newspaper Asharq Al Awsat reported Thursday.

The Saudi Defence Ministry has allowed women’s enlistment for military jobs with ranks from the private soldier to the sergeant in the army’s branches of ground, air, navy, air defence and missile forces as well as medical services, the paper added.

“Women’s admission into the most important ministry in the kingdom is a major step in the right direction,” Hassan Al Shihiri, an ex-official at the Defence Ministry, told the paper.

“There are vast prospects at the ministry that can absorb thousands of women who can make a difference in their positions,” he added.

Last year, Saudi Arabia allowed women to join security services including drug combat, prisons and criminal investigations.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has adopted a series of dramatic social and economic reforms, mainly towards women.

Last year, women were allowed to drive cars, ending a decades-old ban in the kingdom.

In August, Saudi women were allowed to travel without a male guard’s approval and to apply for a passport, easing long-time controls on them.