Saudi court overturns circular allowing men and woman to work together in shops


A Saudi court overturned on Wednesday provisions of a labor ministry circular that allowed saleswomen to work alongside men in shops, a lawyer told AFP.

The court in Riyadh “abolished part of the decision by the ministry of labor which allowed shop owners to employ men and women in the same place,” based on a law suit filed by businessman, lawyer Mohammed al-Zamel told AFP.

Zamel said the ministry had misinterpreted a 2011 royal decree in which King Abdullah limited work in lingerie shops to women only.

“The king’s goal from that decree was to allow women to buy their underwear from shops run by women to prevent embarrassment” and not to allow men and women to mix at work.

“Many women (working alongside men in shops) resign from work because of harassment and due to the late working hours,” he said.

In June 2011, the king issued a decree limiting work in lingerie shops to Saudi women in a bid to reduce high female unemployment in the conservative kingdom.

He also made employment at certain industrial facilities, including drug manufacturers, exclusive to women.

Unemployment among women in the oil-rich Gulf state is estimated at about 30 percent.