Saudi Arabia is a country, rich in culture, history, and natural beauty, and it has recently opened up to tourism, making it an attractive destination for travelers from all over the world, thanks to a number of vibrant, youthful Saudi influencers playing a significant role in boosting interest in the country. In this new era of Saudi tourism, female tour guides are also playing an important role in showcasing the country's wonders to visitors.
Saudi female tour guides are breaking stereotypes and challenging societal norms by entering a field traditionally dominated by men. The guides offer a unique perspective on Saudi Arabia's history, culture, and traditions, and provide a comfortable and safe environment for female travelers.
A female tour guide named Abeer Abu Solaiman said that Jeddah was where the profession of tour guide first emerged in the Kingdom in 2011. At the time, she had founded an organization called "Heart of Historic Jeddah" to resuscitate the city's ancient architecture and promote the culture of preservation.
Another aspiring guide, Areej Falatah, claimed that she spent five years working in fields unrelated to her field of expertise.
In 2017, Ayesha Khaja, became the first Saudi woman to be approved by the Islamic Research and Studies Centre (ISRC) to supervise tour groups during theme-based trips.
This led to the issuing of licenses by The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) for the first time to female tour guides who participated in specialized tourist training. The tickets to guide were handed to Hiba Mohammed Al-Aidi, Nada Saleh Al-Enezi and Hanan Hatem Al-Humaidi.
Shahad Bedair is another pioneering guide in the ancient city of Alula. She has independently conducted more than 200 excursions and served as an example for many other women. Shahad has amassed extensive information throughout the years about the history of the town and the Ikmah Mountain, the first open library in the world, emphasizing the trade routes and legends of the ancient local communities.
Shahad Bedair, one of the very first female tour guides in Saudi Arabia, leads a group of tourists around Alula.
Additionally, Hessah Alajaji, who runs her own travel company and leads local and foreign tourists on adventures all throughout Saudi Arabia, is one of the popular guides. She has been a source of inspiration for both residents and visitors with her breathtaking images of the nation that for so long eluded many.
Since 2019, there have been more than 205 women working as tour guides throughout the nation. Around this period, the government started issuing driving permits to women and allowing them to drive. They also abandoned the requirement that female travelers wear an abaya or burkha.