Female Saudi guards at Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, 2021

It has been awhile since I have added any new posts. One reason is this fall has been one of change from moving out of Saudi this summer, to Europe this fall. The kids are now able to attend school in person, which is great for everyone’s mental health. I see a big difference in their energy levels, their ability to let things not get to them as much, joy of discovering new friends, and hanging out with kids their own age. At home as well there are less arguments between them, as they have more outlets outside the home. This may change depending on if the Covid numbers keep rising as they are now at end of October around the world. Some schools are already closing again. Saudi has maintained closed schools/virtual learning only for kids below 12 years of age. Those that are vaccinated from 12 years and up can attend in person learning at the school campus.

So, here I want to take a moment to discuss an important article that was written in Arabnews.com back in April 2021. It was posted one month after my family’s visit to Medina and the mosque there. I don’t know how I did not see this story before, but I think it is great in that it highlights yet more change in how women are advancing within the Kingdom within new regulations. Here are some excerpts from the article, “‘An honor and duty’: Meet the female Saudi officers guarding the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah”, written by Deema Al-Khudair, April 28, 2021 for Arabnews.com.

“Dozens of female officers are currently deployed both in Makkah and Madinah, where they are providing security and managing worshippers at the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque. The fact that their daily work is now considered a matter of course is a signal achievement of the Kingdom’s five-year-old Vision 2030.

The 113-strong all-female batch of military-trained officers stationed at the Prophet’s Mosque was created six months ago. It is part of the homeland security branch of Saudi Arabia’s Special Security Forces. The officers work round the clock in four teams of nearly 18 members each.”

“…Dressed in mocha-colored uniforms, black berets and with their faces partially veiled, the young officers oversee a section of the mosque to guide and assist female worshippers and enforce the government’s COVID-19 protocols.

They exude the confidence that comes from succeeding in a demanding career that was closed to them until recently. As part of their professional training, they learned self-defense, first aid and how to use firearms. They also had to enroll for courses in Arabic and English (to improve their communication skills), computer education and fitness.”

Personally I found the mosque very peaceful, however I don’t know how it is now with many female guards there. For sure during the month of Ramadan this is a welcome change, as so many people congregate in one spot. When we went, it had been a year of Covid restrictions, so less worshippers than normal were in Medina, and folks were still afraid of contracting the virus…you can imagine there was lots of space. You didn’t need vaccination, but were required to wear a mask (mandatory throughout Saudi), as well as have the Tawakkalna App with a green bar (no infection).

We may have been some of the last visitors like this, as a new mandate was made the next month (April), that visitors to Madinah needed to be vaccinated. Now you need to be vaccinated to visit most sites. So my thought is: Army personnel are always present outside in The Haram area as regular precautions, however is it necessary to have so many guards? What do my readers think?

Tap the link below to read the full article and also watch a great video that has the women speaking for themselves about their new role. @Arabnews. Let me know your thoughts if you like!

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1850621/saudi-arabia

The older article about new mandate for vaccination to enter mosque.

“Vaccine required to enter Prophet’s Mosque, permit needed for Umrah” by Rashid Hassan appeared in Arabnews April 9, 2021. Click link below to read.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1840371/saudi-arabia

Link to my blog about visiting the Prophet’s Mosque: https://datepalmsncamels.com/2021/03/27/al-masjid-an-nabawi-the-prophets-mosque-al-haram/

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