Minister of Islamic Affairs talks to the employee. Image Credit: Online

Cairo: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Islamic Affairs Abdul Latif Al Sheikh has ordered a young female employee be appointed as a media spokesperson for the ministry in the holy city of Mecca, replacing her boss due to their educational backgrounds, according to media reports.

A video circulated on social media showed the minister talking to a young employee at the media department in the ministry’s Mecca branch and asking her about her specialization and that of her manager.

On learning that the recently graduated employee holds a BA degree in media while her manager studied accountancy, Al Sheikh ordered the woman head the department while her manager be transferred to the minister’s office in the port city of Jeddah.

The reshuffle makes the employee, identified as Shahad Manshi, the first spokeswoman for the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, said Saudi news portal Sabq.

The minister’s decision has stirred controversy. Proponents said the replacement ensures putting the right employee in the right place while critics saw it as hasty.

Shahad, who graduated in 2020 with honours majoring in public relations, later defended her picking for the post.

“I have an experience in media coverage and writing reports for different newspapers,” Shahad said in an interview with Rotana Khalijia TV.

She added that she has participated in organising several events and media campaigns.

In recent years, Saudi Arabia has taken strides for women’s empowerment and further engaging them in public life.

In 2018, the kingdom allowed women to drive for the first time in its history, ending a decades-old ban on female driving.