SEXUAL SEGREGATION in Saudi Arabia is built deep into the culture. So how does a fundamentalist country move into the 20th century, let alone acknowledge that women in the modern world want to attain financial independence?

They’re letting the Jeannie out of the bottle by creating city islands where women can work, but also still comport to Saudi Arabia’s Sharia law customs.

From the Guardian:

A women-only industrial city dedicated to female workers is to be constructed in Saudi Arabia to provide a working environment that is in line with the kingdom’s strict customs.

The city, to be built in the Eastern Province city of Hofuf, is set to be the first of several planned for the Gulf kingdom. The aim is to allow more women to work and achieve greater financial independence, but to maintain the gender segregation, according to reports.

Proposals have also been submitted for four similar industrial cities exclusively for women entrepreneurs, employers and employees in Riyadh.

Segregation of the sexes is applied in Saudi Arabia, where Wahabi sharia law and tribal customs combine to create an ultra-conservative society that still does not allow women to drive. Saudi women are said to make up about 15% of the workforce, with most in female-only work places. Although the number of mixed gender workplaces has increased these are still few.

Any woman will tell you that economics is the way to independence, equality and safety. It may not look like much, and by Western standards it’s positively bizarre. But this move by Saudi Arabia, given their Sharia tribal customs, is the easiest way to allow women to realize a tiny modicum of freedom without full scale revolution, which would clamp down women’s opportunities for another generation.

It has the possibility of illustrating to men the full potential of a woman, but the flip side of that is religious patriarchy is also very often threatened by this reality.

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