Belgium becomes first country to make a woman its ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Belgium has become the first country in the world to appoint a woman as its ambassador to Saudi Arabia, in an apparent show of defiance to the oil-rich autocracy notorious for its abuses of women’s rights.

Dominique Mineur, who is currently posted in the United Arab Emirates, will move to the Saudi capital Riyhad to head up the embassy there from next summer, Belgian public broadcaster VRT reports.

The public broadcaster cites Belgian government sources saying Ms Mineur’s appointment sends a “clear signal” to Saudi Arabia, which has been slow to reform in comparison to its neighbouring countries.

In the restricted circumstances where Saudi women are allowed to work, they are not allowed to freely mix with members of the opposite sex, and they require signed permission from a male “guardian” to travel alone.

Women were also banned from driving and attending sports stadiums until a change of policy announced in October 2017.