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Saudi appoints princess as Unesco representative

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Saudi Arabia has named Princess Haifa Al-Mogrin as its representative to Unesco, a rare female appointment to an international body, as the ultra-conservative country works to revamp its image.

[RIYADH] Saudi Arabia has named Princess Haifa Al-Mogrin as its representative to Unesco, a rare female appointment to an international body, as the ultra-conservative country works to revamp its image.

Crown Prince Mohammed Salman has been on a modernisation drive, seeking to project a moderate, business-friendly image to boost investment and help diversify the economy away from oil.

"King Salman has approved the delegation of Prince Haifa as permanent representative to Unesco," the United Nation's cultural agency, the official Saudi Press Agency said Wednesday.

The announcement comes almost a year after the kingdom appointed its first woman ambassador to the United States, Princess Rima Bandar.

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Saudi Arabia has recently eased restrictions on women - including allowing them to drive and receive passports and travel abroad without permission from male relatives.

Under de facto ruler Prince Mohammed, it has also opened the country to sporting, cultural and entertainment events.

As part of the reforms, the oil-rich kingdom, which has five Unesco World Heritage sites, is also working to grow its tourism sector.

It announced in September that it would offer tourist visas for the first time, relaxing rules that had largely restricted visits to business travellers and Muslim pilgrims.

AFP