Saudi Arabia has been taking steps towards empowering women as of late and the story of Ayesha Khaja is a bright example of that.

Khaja has been making headlines over the past few weeks, for daring to go where no woman has gone before.

By becoming the kingdom's first female tour guide, she is paving the way for other women in Saudi to enter the tourism industry, a space that has been solely dominated by men. 

Ayesha Khaja, first female Saudi tour guide
Ayesha Khaja- first female tour guide in Saudi Arabia Source: Saudi Gazette

Khaja has a background in English literature that led her to work in the education sector for 14 years. 

Despite building her career and reputation in education she decided to radically shift fields and pursue her true passion: cultural heritage. 

Khaja earned her certificate from the Islamic Studies and Research Center (ISRC), solidifying her fluency in Saudi Islamic heritage. 

It was only after this that was she able to be registered with the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), making her an official tour guide. 

"I demanded the commission (SCTH) to allow more and more women to become tourist guides. The number of tourists is increasing and tourism seasons are becoming all year round rather than for a few weeks a year,” Khaja told the Saudi Gazette.

Source: TouristMaker

Khaja's area of focus is Madinah, a city rich with both holy sites and significant religious buildings. It is already one of the most visited cities in the country, and with the steady increase in incoming tourists, its popularity will only grow. 

"There are many women who want to be accredited by the commission to become tourist guides. The commission will benefit greatly by offering women training opportunities,” Khaja added.