Saudi Arabia has announced plans for an industrial city in Jeddah solely dedicated to women, local media reported.
Built in an area spanning five million square metres, the industrial city is the first of its kind to be built in Jeddah, and the fourth in the Kingdom.
The industrial city will house female run businesses and factories and will help push up female employment rates, the Saudi Industrial Property Authority (Modon), the agency tasked with the development of the zones, said.
Authorities are planning to charge a rent of SAR3 per metre while the overall contract is valued at SAR50 million, Saudi Gazette reported.
Sources cited by the paper said Modon had already completed the first phase of the project, which includes basic infrastructure such as the roads, a sewage system and electricity cables.
“An entire city will need employees in various fields such as economic, industrial, medical and technical,” Saudi Gazette quoted the source as saying.
“The city will include facilities and services needed and used by women. A factory with an area of 10,000 square metres can be leased for SAR30,000. The authority also offers government loans reaching up to 50 per cent. The application for buying land is available online on the authority’s website.”
Saudi Arabia launched the first female-only industrial city in 2012 at Al Hufuf City. The country has since established three other industrial cities dedicated to women.
These initiatives are designed to push up the female employment rate in the Arab country, which has historically placed restrictions on travel and gender mixing in the workplace for women.
According to a Modon official, the number of female employees in women-only industrial cities reached 5,480 as of 2014.
Led by late monarch King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia has slowly adopted a more liberal stance on female employment as part of plans to diversify the economy and decrease unemployment, currently hovering around 11.4 per cent.
Recently, the country passed a law requiring women to be employed in all lingerie and cosmetic shops in the country.