Women Participate in Changing of Kaaba’s Kiswa for First Time

Women working for the ‘General Authority for the Care of the Two Holy Mosques’ in Saudi Arabia participated for the first time in the ceremonial changing of the Kaaba’s kiswa. Moreover, this development is part of a broader trend in Saudi Arabia of increasing women’s participation in various sectors of society.

For the first time in history, women have taken part in the ceremonial changing of the Kaaba’s kiswa, the black cloth adorned with gold and silver threads. This historic event marks a significant step in Saudi Arabia’s efforts to encourage female involvement in various sectors.

According to the General Authority for the Care of the Two Holy Mosques, female employees assisted in the preparatory phases of the kiswa changing ceremony on Sunday. They carried some components of the kiswa and handed them to other workers, who transported them to Makkah’s Grand Mosque.

The annual ceremony, held after the Hajj pilgrimage and at the start of the Islamic new year, involves removing the old kiswa and replacing it with a new one. Moreover, the team secures the new cloth on the corners and roof of the Kaaba, symbolizing a fresh start.

“Although the female employees’ roles were limited to the preparatory phases of the ceremony, this event marked the first known instance in history of women participating in the ritual,” said an official. “This development is part of the Kingdom’s ongoing efforts to promote women in various fields and industries across the country.”

The representation of women in the Saudi workforce has increased significantly in recent years, growing from 19% to 36% since 2016. This includes women participating in the production of the kiswa at the King Abdulaziz Complex for the Kiswa of the Kaaba.

Preparation Of Kiswa

A team of 159 skilled craftsmen, supervised by engineers and technicians, created and installed the new kiswa on the first day of the Islamic New Year. Moreover, the process of making the kiswa is intricate, involving the removal of the old cloth’s 53 gold-embroidered pieces and the creation of new ones, which takes between 60 and 120 days to complete.

The craftsmen used 120 kilograms of gold, 100 kilograms of silver, and 1,000 kilograms of silk to make the kiswa, which weighs 1,350 kilograms and measures 14 meters high.

A royal decree issued last year changed the timing of the kiswa replacement to Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, instead of during the Hajj season. This change aims to preserve the kiswa from damage or soiling during the busy pilgrimage period.

In addition, the inclusion of women in the Saudi workforce and their participation in significant religious ceremonies like this one represent a notable step forward. Saudi Arabia has already surpassed its goal of 30% female representation by 2030, highlighting the country’s commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment.

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