Saudi Arabia appoints first female minister

February 14th, 2009 - 11:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Riyadh, Feb 14 (DPA) Saudi Arabia appointed the country’s first female cabinet official Saturday as part of a wide-ranging cabinet reshuffle.

Saudi King Abdullah appointed Nour Fayez as deputy minister for women’s education, in a move considered a milestone in Saudi Arabia, a country in which women only started to vote five years ago.

In the religiously conservative country, women are banned from driving, and rights groups have frequently condemned the legal status and treatment of women.

The country, governed via a strict interpretation of Islamic law, prevents unrelated women and men from mixing in public. Women only make up to five percent of the workforce in Saudi Arabia, the lowest proportion in the world.

The cabinet reshuffle included changes in economic, justice and information ministers. The reshuffle - a rare event in the Saudi government - is the first since the King took office in 2005.

Changes also included the appointment of Prince Faisal bin Abdullah bin Muhammad as minister of education and the appointment of Faisal bin Moamar as the deputy minister of education.

The king appointed Muhammad al-Jasser as head of the Central Bank replacing Hamad al-Siyyari. Former Saudi ambassador to Lebanon, Abdul-Aziz Khuga was appointed minister of culture and information replacing Iyyad Madani.

Among the changes was the appointment of General Abdul Rahman al-Murshid of as land forces commander. Sheikh Mohamed Essa was appointed as the new minister of justice.

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