For the economic powerhouse that is Saudi Arabia, women are a conundrum. On one hand, the country's conservative religion precludes women from showing their skin or even driving a car. On the other hand, the country's leaders realize that women are a large portion of the population, and one that could help sustain its economy.
To that end, Saudi Arabia is planning an entire city that will be inhabited exclusively by women. It is part of an effort to appease ambitious females in the country while still adhering to Sharia law, which prohibits women from interacting with men in certain ways.
The Daily Mail is reporting that the Saudi Industrial property Authority (Modon) is designing the city, which will be built in the city of Hafuf. Construction on the project is set to begin next year, and officials estimate that 5,000 women will find jobs in the city working in the textiles, pharmaceuticals, and food processing industries.
The plans for the city are, not surprisingly, controversial in the west. Though some marginal women's rights progress is being made in the country, such as women being allowed to vote in Saudi Arabia's 2015 elections, they are still looked upon in that country as lesser than men. From the Daily Mail article:
"I'm sure that women can demonstrate their efficiency in many aspects and clarify the industries that best suits their interests, their nature and their ability," Modon’s deputy director-general, Saleh Al-Rasheed, told Saudi daily newspaper al-Eqtisadiah.
This year's Olympic Games were the first in which Saudi female athletes were allowed by their country to participate. They won no medals, and there was controversy about what clothing the athletes would be allowed to wear while competing.
(Photo by Ali Mansuri via Wikimedia Commons)