JEDDAH // King Abdullah has issued a decree limiting work in lingerie shops to Saudi women only in a bid to reduce high female unemployment in the kingdom, state media reported yesterday.
The SPA news agency said the king also made employment at certain industrial facilities, including drug manufacturers, exclusive to Saudi women, and backed a programme to encourage production by families.
The issue of Saudi women working in lingerie shops was at the centre of a dispute three years ago between the labour ministry and the religious authority which issued a fatwa banning such jobs.
Saudi women have complained for many years that they feel uncomfortable having to buy lingerie from men and would prefer female sales assistants.
Fatima Garub, the founder of a campaign on Facebook called "Enough Embarrassment", welcomed the king's decision, saying it would create about 6,000 jobs for Saudi women.
"From now on, embarrassment will end. We thank the king," Ms Garub said.
The decree gave the ministries of interior and labour one month to implement the decision.
Unemployment among women in the kingdom is estimated to be running at about 30 per cent.