Dominique Mineur

For the first time ever, a foreign nation has appointed a woman to be its ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Belgium made the announcement this week, revealing that Dominique Mineur – who currently serves as the European nation's ambassador to the UAE – will transfer to Riyadh next summer.

A source at the country's foreign ministry called the decision "a clear signal," according to The Times.

The move comes as Saudi Arabia continues to undergo a series of rapid social reforms and progress. The lack of women's rights in the traditionally conservative kingdom has been a constant point of criticism from Western allies. 

However, just in the last few years, things have been changing dramatically. In 2015, women were allowed to vote and stand for election for the first time, with many women winning in their municipalities.

The kingdom has also eased restrictions on women's freedom of movement and their ability to make important life decisions without the permission of a male guardian. 

Most notably, the kingdom finally gave women the right to drive in October, as it remained the only nation in the world restricting women from obtaining driver's licenses.

It appears that Belgium is nodding to these positive steps and attempting to encourage the significant social progress for women in the kingdom.

Dominique Mineur
Mineur currently serves as Belgium's ambassador to Riyadh

While no women have served as a nation's ambassador in Riyadh, Georgia appointed Yekaterina Majering Mikadze as its ambassador to Kuwait back in 2010 which included responsibilities such as handling relations with Saudi Arabia. 

However, when the Eurasian country opened an embassy in the Saudi capital in 2015, it appointed a male ambassador, according to The Independent.

Although no nation has previously posted a women ambassador in Riyadh, female heads of government and female ministers routinely visit the kingdom to negotiate directly with their Saudi counterparts.