Saudi businesswomen are voicing their approval of the latest plan by the Saudi Industrial Property Authority (MODON) to begin building the first of many women-only industrial cities throughout the Kingdom.
“The plan to create women-only industrial cities is a positive step that will mutually benefit Saudi women and the Kingdom,” Basmah Omair, executive director of the Khadijah bint Khwailid Businesswomen’s Center at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) told Arab News.
She said there are many talented women with no opportunity to show the world their potential, but with the creation of women-only cities, will have a chance to establish businesses in the greenfield industrial sector.
The creation of the first industrial city in Hofuf is expected to create between 3,000 and 5,000 jobs for women in the Eastern Province alone, with similar estimates for each of the cities that follow.
Many businesswomen agree the women-only industrial cities will help skyrocketing unemployment rates among Saudi female graduates.
According to a study published in June by Booz & Company, 78.3 percent of Saudi female graduates are unemployed, a number which includes as many as 1,000 graduates with Ph.Ds The employment rate for women is 14.4 %, the lowest in the GCC region.
“I see the establishment of women-only cities as a positive sign for the many Saudi women who have graduated over the past few years and have been unable to find employment and use their education,” Wafa Balubaid said. The new cities are expected to focus on developing manufacturing companies in clothing, cosmetics, perfume, carpentry, and furnishings.
The idea to create women-only industrial cities was first proposed in late 2003 by a group of prominent businesswomen and welcomed by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
“The aim is to provide jobs to Saudi women who have completed their secondary education, with admin positions going to university graduates,” Hussa Al-Aun, a cocreator of the project told Arab News previously. The new cities will also include training centers to teach women how to work in factories.
New women-only cities are to be established near Riyadh and Jeddah and be fully operational by 2020, according to Saleh Al-Rasheed, acting director general of MODON.