Saudi Arabia intends to launch three initiatives to create nearly 400,000 for its women following a surge in local unemployment and demands by some female activists to recruit women in the world’s oil heavyweight.
Most of the jobs will be in lingerie shops which have just been told by the government to replace all their salesmen by Saudi women. The plans also involve part time jobs at the public and the private sector as well as work at home through a “productive family” initiative to be announced soon.
“The Ministry of Labour has plans to announce three major initiatives to create jobs for nearly 400,000 Saudi women in collaboration with the government and the private sector,” Fahd Al Takheefi, the Ministry’s assistant undersecretary said, quoted by Saudi newspapers on Monday.
Saudi Arabia, the largest Arab economy, is suffering from high unemployment rate among local women despite an extensive drive mounted by the Gulf Kingdom over the past decade to find jobs for all of its citizens.
Officials described the high female joblessness rate, estimated at 28.4 per cent at the end of 2010, as a disaster and blamed social restrictions and the presence of a large number of expatriates in the kingdom.
The problem is underscored among female university and high institute graduates as more than 78 per cent of them are unemployed, according to Deputy Labour Minister Abdul Wahid Al Hameed.
Like other Gulf oil producers, Saudi Arabia has been struggling to find jobs for its own citizens and replace the dominant foreign labour, which began to stream into the region when oil was discovered more than 50 years ago.
Last year, Riyadh launched its most aggressive job Saudization drive aimed at forcing the private sector to recruit more citizens in a bid to tackle its festering unemployment, which is officially estimated at 10.5 per cent.