August 21, 2004

Rosie the Riveter Goes to Riyadh

From today's Arab News:

riyahd rosie the riveter.jpg JEDDAH, 21 August 2004 — Efforts are under way to establish women-only projects with the support of private and public agencies to employ70 , 000qualified Saudi women, according to Ahmed Al-Mansour, deputy minister for labor affairs.

He pointed out that Saudi businesswomen own about15 ,000companies, which account for 43 percent of registered businesses in the country. He estimated the number of registered businesswomen at2 ,400.

“The establishment of the new projects will help solve the growing unemployment problem among Saudi women,” Al-Madinah Arabic daily quoted Mansour as saying. At present only5 . 5percent of an estimated4 . 7million Saudi women of working age are employed.

Meanwhile, Labor Minister Dr. Ghazi Al-Gosaibi has instructed labor offices throughout the Kingdom to open special sections for women. The directive follows a Cabinet decision urging all government departments to open women’s sections.

Saudi Arabia now allows women to obtain commercial licenses, a move that would encourage businesswomen to invest their huge bank deposits in industrial and other projects. The government also allocated land for industrial projects to employ women.

Nahid Tahir, a senior economist at the National Commercial Bank, described the Cabinet’s decision as a pragmatic one. “This decision will certainly reduce social and economic pressures on men, who are no longer capable of meeting family needs due to a drop in personal income,” she said.

Hussa Al-Aun, vice chairperson of the Women’s Consultative Council in the Makkah region, said the Cabinet decision would encourage women to invest some of the at least SR 15billion which they have in bank deposits.

Al-Aun said a Saudi investment company has signed a deal with two Chinese and Malaysian firms to establish the country’s first women’s industrial city in Jeddah at a cost of SR 375million.

Covering an area of 600, 000square meters, the new facility will have 83 factories. The two foreign firms will operate the city and train10 , 000women for two years.

Al-Aun, who has been campaigning for the women’s industrial city for the past seven years, said the new facility would be launched with female Asian workers, adding that trained Saudi women would replace the Asians later.

Plans are under way to establish an industrial training institute for women in Jeddah at a cost of SR3.4 million. Fatma Al-Aidarous, director of the project, said the institute was planned to train Saudi women in manufacturing readymade dresses.

“At present most women working in this sector are foreigners because of the lack of qualified and trained Saudi women,” she pointed out. Aidarous described the institute as first of its kind in the Kingdom, adding that it will train12 , 000young Saudi women.

And I'm sure they'll be constructing time machines in the industrial city, so to make easier the trip back to the ninth century.

Posted by Steve at August 21, 2004 03:03 PM | TrackBack
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