Only Saudi women are now entitled to be employed in female clothing and accessory stores across the kingdom, as part of the government’s efforts to increase its female workforce.
The move comes after the third phase of the decision to ‘feminise’ such outlets began on Saturday, October 21, the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
The initiative’s first and second phases were earlier launched by the ministry of Labour and Social Development.
The latest ruling applies to shops selling women’s perfumes, shoes, bags, women’s socks, ready-made women’s clothing, kiosks selling women’s supplies, and department stores that sell ready-made women’s clothing with other accessories, the labour ministry’s spokesperson Khaled Abalkhail was quoted as saying by the SPA.
It will be imposed on shops in shopping malls, outdoor markets and standalone locations.
The new rules also apply to smaller shops selling soiree gowns, weddings dresses, abayas, accessories, jalabiya traditional dresses, mother-care products and pharmacies selling accessories and cosmetics.
The Saudi government aims to increase the number of women as a proportion of the workforce from 23 per cent to 28 per cent by 2020 and to quadruple the number of women in senior civil service roles to 5 per cent.
Last month, Saudi’s ministry of Labour said that the number of female workers in the retail sector alone had climbed to 200,000.
The kingdom is also easing the driving ban that women face – King Salman has ordered authorities in the kingdom to implement policies to allow women to drive by June 24, 2018.
However, the lifting of the ban will not mean transport jobs for female workers from abroad, officials have said.
Public Transport Authority president Rumaih Al-Rumaih said the country “will give this opportunity to Saudi women only”, according to Saudi Gazette.
The kingdom has already banned ride-hailing companies like Uber and Careem from recruiting foreign drivers.
Al-Rumaih said in August that the policy had created more than 150,000 jobs and saved the kingdom hundreds of millions of riyals.
Saudi is aggressively promoting the employment of nationals by cracking down on firms that fail to employ enough Saudi workers under a government categorisation system.
It is also planning to increase the percentage of Saudis in the workforce in some sectors by imposing stricter limits and closing off others to foreigners completely.
Jobs in mobile accessories shops can now only allowed to be filled by Saudi workers with similar plans for grocery shops, shopping malls, car rentals and other industries.