Jeddah Airport to hire 500 Saudi women

Ladies will be given jobs in passenger services, but will only interact with families as per custom

Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport is to hire between 300 and 500 Saudi Arabian women, it was reported, in the latest indication of increasing opportunities for female employment in the austere Gulf kingdom.

English language newspaper Arab News said that the Red Sea hub would provide jobs for women in the departments of passenger services over the next few months.

The airport’s director general Abdul Hamid Aba Al-Auri was quoted as saying that female staff’s work would see them interact with families only, as per the country’s customs on inter-gender mingling, and they will be required to wear an Islamic headdress at all times.

The positions will be posted on the airport’s website, the newspaper said.

Women’s rights in the Gulf’s most populous country, which practises an austere version of Sharia Law, are a frequent topic of discussion in the world’s media.

Females in Saudi Arabia are prohibited from taking up employment or leaving the country without a male guardian’s permission. According to official data, the unemployment rate among Saudi women stood at 35.7 percent at the end of last year.

In recent years though there have been indications that absolute monarch King Abdullah has pursued a reformist agenda in terms of women’s rights.

In 2011, it was announced that women would be permitted to vote and stand in municipal elections from 2015, while in January 2013 30 women were appointed to the country’s legislative Shoura Council.

Some female members of the Shoura Council have said they will lobby for the driving ban to be lifted, although there is not yet a timeframe for when the issue will be discussed.

It was also recently announced that women would be allowed to practice law in a professional environment for the first time.

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