Saudi women stand guard in Mecca for the first time

Saudi women are standing guard in Mecca for the first time

Location: Mecca, Saudi Arabia

Dozens of female soldiers have become part of the security services

that monitor pilgrims in Mecca and Medina, the birthplaces of Islam

(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) SOLDIER WITH THE SAUDI MINISTRY OF INTERIOR, SAMAR, SAYING:"I am soldier Samar, specializing in psychology. I joined the military with the encouragement of my family. I joined the military and I am now in the service of the guests of the merciful. This is a huge accomplishment for us and it is the biggest pride to be in the service of the religion, the country and the guests of God, the most merciful."

Women have been allowed more freedom under Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

His reform plan, Vision 2030, saw the lifting of a driving ban on women

Adult women are now also allowed to travel without permission from guardians

and have more control over family matters

But the reform plan has been accompanied by a crackdown on dissent

including on women's rights activists

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