She’s got a background in archeology and speaks three languages.

We’ve been following Saudi Arabia’s recent changes with interest, and now, we’ve for another reason to go and check them out first hand.

The kingdom’s first female tour guide, Maryam Al-Harbi, has been named the best in the country, Arab News reports.

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Al-Harbi was recognised by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, which praised her efforts to make the kingdom more accessible for tourists.

It’s important work, Al-Harbi told Arab News. She’s very much aware of the impact she can have on people’s impressions of Saudi Arabia.

“The tour guide is an ambassador who conveys the country’s culture and heritage to tourists and acquires other cultures in return,” she said.

Al-Harbi, who speaks English, Arabic and Turkish and is working on her Mandarin, is a masters student at King Saud University studying antiquities, Arab News  reports. It makes her an obvious good fit for the industry.


“The profession at one time was reserved for men in Saudi Arabia, but some women’s delegations wanted to have female guides,” she said. “My university qualifications played a role in increasing demand for tour guides among Saudi women.”

Al-Harbi hopes to inspire other women to join her as tour guides, and there are moves afoot in the kingdom to get more women working.

These changes come as part of Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia’s ambitious post-oil economy plan which hopes to increase participation of women in the workforce and diversify the country’s industries.

The initiative, spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, aims to make Saudi a more modern, tourist-friendly destination.

The crown prince is also behind an initiative to turn 200 kilometres of the country’s Red Sea coast into a series of luxury retreats.

We’ll keep you informed as things develop.

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Images: Getty