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Saudi Arabia to Open Women-Only Mobile Phone Shopping Center

A women-only mobile phone shopping center is slated to open in Saudi Arabia as part of a nationwide plan to “re-nationalize” the kingdom’s cellular communications market, which currently relies almost entirely on a foreign workforce.

Saudi authorities have said they plan to replace the foreign workforce in the industry with a local one. Abdul Muneed Alshahri, the director-general of the Saudi Ministry of Labor, said that the “re-nationalization” of the communications market would create jobs, especially for Saudi women, “and enable them to work in a stable and appropriate environment.”

The new center will include more than 40 shops and will be funded by the government, which also funded the training of the future female workers. As part of the project, a transport system was built to take the employees to and from work.

The London-based Al Hayat newspaper reported that in recent months more than 34,000 Saudi men and women were trained as mobile phone technicians, salespersons, and service representatives.

The reform in the communications sector was announced in light of the rampant unemployment and financial crisis that have swept Saudi Arabia.

The Labor Ministry has stepped up enforcement and started handing out penalties to businesses that employ foreign workers. The Saudi media reported that hundreds of tickets were handed out within a few hours. In 834 shops inspected in one district, the officers revealed more foreign workers than local ones.

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