Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat – During a press conference held yesterday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabian Labor Minister Adel Faqih announced a number of decisions with regards to the issue of female-employment, specifying 24 “dangerous” employment fields that women are prohibited from working in, although he did stress that Saudi Arabian women are not permitted from owning or managing businesses that operate in these fields.
Against the background of this press conference, Saudi Labor Minister Adel Faqih told Asharq Al-Awsat that the number of women seeking employment is far greater than the number of jobs available to them, and this is clear from the number of young Saudi women registered with the “Hafiz” programme. The “Hafiz” programme is a government project that provides financial assistance to Saudi men and women who are searching for employment.
During the press conference the Saudi Ministry of Labor issued a list of jobs suitable for female-employment, such as working in lingerie shops or other shops that cater to women, whilst banning women from working in 24 “dangerous” industries. Faqih announced new regulations that employment in lingerie and cosmetic shops are now exclusive to Saudi female employees aged between 20 and 35 years of age.
As for the issue of women working in factories and production lines, Faqih specified that the factories must not be part of one of the 24 banned industries. He added that all workers [in each particular factory floor or assembly line] must be women, and that no more than 10 women are allowed to work simultaneously on each shift.
Saudi Labor Minister Adel Faqih stressed that the Saudi Ministry of Labor is the sole government institute that oversees the issue of female-employment, in line with the royal decree issued by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz in this regard.
As for the 24 employment industries that Saudi women are not permitted to work in, these include physically challenging or dangerous jobs such as mining, sewage work, welding, manufacturing of explosives, loading/unloading goods, digging or laying concrete, among others.