Saudi Arabia has named Princess Haifa al-Mogrin as its representative for UNESCO, a rare female appointment to an international institution, as the ultra-conservative country works to improve its image. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is on a modernization campaign, seeking to project a moderate, business-friendly image to help boost investment and drive the economy away from oil.
The Saudi press agency officially said on Wednesday that King Salman has approved Prince Haifa’s delegation as a permanent representative in UNESCO. Almost a year after the announcement, the state appointed its first female ambassador to the United States, Princess Reema Bint Bandar.
Saudi Arabia has recently relaxed restrictions on women – including allowing them to obtain passports and travel abroad without permission from male relatives.
Under the de facto ruler Prince Mohammed, it has also opened up the country to sporting, cultural and entertainment programs. Part of the reforms, the oil-rich state, which has five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, is also working to expand its tourism sector.
It announced in September that it would offer tourist visas for the first time, with regulations being relaxed, prohibiting visits by large-scale business travelers and Muslim pilgrims.