Saudis plan female-only city
Saudi women walk outside a shopping mall in Riyadh on June 22, 2012. AFP photoSaudi Arabia is planning to build an industrial city solely for female workers to provide a working environment for women that is also in line with the austere desert kingdom's rules.
The city will be built in the eastern province of Hofuf and will be followed by at least four such gender-segregated settlements, according to an article dated Aug. 12 by Caroline Davies of the Guardian.
The city will provide employment for around 5,000 women when completed while maintaining gender segregation, a practice enforced by Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi interpretation of Shariah and strict tribal customs, the report said.
The female-only city would offer jobs in textiles, pharmaceuticals and food-processing industries, with women-run firms and production lines.
The project was reportedly proposed by a group of Saudi businesswomen and was approved by Prince Mansour bin Miteb bin Abdulaziz, minister of municipal and rural affairs. The Saudi Industrial Property Authority said they hoped to open the city next year.
Women make up 15 percent of Saudi Arabia's workforce, according to the report, with most of them employed at women-only workplaces. Mixed-gender workplaces have increased recently, but there remain very few in the country.