Saudi plans first industrial city for women

Gulf kingdom says it has started planning city for female entrepreneurs in Hofouf
Saudi plans first industrial city for women
By Andy Sambidge
Mon 06 Aug 2012 06:22 PM

Saudi Arabia announced on Monday plans to set up its first industrial city dedicated to female entrepreneurs.

The Authority of Industrial Cities and Technological Zones, also known as Modon, said it has started planning the development of the industrial city in Hofouf city, Ahsa governorate.

In a statement published by Saudi Press Agency, it said that Prince Mansour bin Miteb bin Abdulaziz, Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs, had approved the plan.

The Authority's acting director general, Saleh Al-Rashid, added that it was currently working to establish a second female industrial city elsewhere in the Gulf kingdom.

The move comes as Saudi Arabian women were allowed to compete in the Olympic Games in London - another first for the conservative Islamic country - although human rights groups still believe the Gulf kingdom needs to do more on equality. Currently, women are not allowed to drive and must be chaperoned by a male.

Last month, a poll revealed that nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of working women in Saudi Arabia were looking to achieve greater financial independence through their careers.

The survey conducted by YouGov and Bayt.com, found the second most-cited reason was being able to financially contribute to the household.

Among those polled aged 25-years or below, financial independence was followed by a desire to make use of educational qualifications.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Labour has also recently warned employers that it is illegal to discriminate against married or pregnant women.

Saudi media reports said that an increasing number of companies in the kingdom were insisting that women must be unmarried to qualify for employment, which violates the kingdom's workforce regulations.

“Some private companies are stipulating conditions such as a woman shall be recruited only if she is single or not pregnant if married,” said ministry spokesman Hatab Al-Anazi. "[That] is against the regulations approved by the ministry.”

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