Saudi Arabia announced on Monday plans to build a new city exclusively for women entrepreneurs. The Gulf kingdom is working on the narrow junction between strict Sharia law and the aspirations of active females who wish to pursue their own careers.
The new plan is to combine women’s desire to work in the modern age and provide a job environment that would go hand-in-hand with the country’s Sharia law. The Saudi Industrial Property Authority (Modon) has been charged to lead the country into a new era.
The Authority of Industrial Cities and Technological Zones, also known as Modon, disclosed that it has started planning the development of the industrial city in Hafuf city, Ahsa governorate. The municipality city of Hafuf is expected to attract 500 million riyals (US$133 million) in investments and it will create around 5,000 jobs in the textiles, pharmaceuticals and food processing industries. There will be women-run firms and production lines for women.
Saudi Sharia law does allow women to work, given that her essential duties of homemaking should not be neglected. But in reality around 15 per cent of women are represented in the workforce, according to some estimates.
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.
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.
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.