Efforts are under way to establish the Kingdom's first women-only industrial city in the Eastern Province city of Hofuf. Saudi Industrial Property Authority (Modon) has initiated works for planning and development of the city, targeting women investors.
"We are now working on a second industrial city for women," said Saleh Al-Rasheed, acting director general of Modon. "We have plans to establish a number of women-only industries in various parts of the Kingdom," he added.
Al-Rasheed said Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs Prince Mansour bin Miteb, has already allocated land for the first women-only industrial city in Hofuf.
The move follows a Cabinet decision that urged authorities to create more job opportunities for women in order for them to play an important role in the Kingdom's development.
The Cabinet also instructed the relevant ministry to allocate lands within the city limits to establish industrial projects for women. The new industrial city in Hofuf is located near Al-Ahsa Airport.
Modon seeks to allocate land for industrial development and develop industrial cities in collaboration with a number of government agencies and the private sector to meet the requirements of investors.
Al-Rasheed highlighted Saudi women's ability to engage in various industrial activities, adding that the development of women-only industrial cities would help tap their energy to boost national development.
"I am sure that women can demonstrate their efficiency in many light and clean industrial sectors that suit their interests, nature and capabilities," the Modon chief said.
The industrial cities now comprise factories owned by women as well as companies with some production lines set aside for women.
Modon has initiated an Industrial Innovation Award and offers prizes worth one million riyals. Nominations for the award can be made through the website www.modon.gov.sa.
The award targets everyone, especially young men and women workers. "We value the important role being played by women in the business sector and their ability to manage industries and other sectors.
Established in 2001, Modon is responsible for the development and management of industrial cities. Currently it supervises 29 cities, including three each in Riyadh, Dammam and Jeddah. Other cities are located in Qassim (two cities), Al-Ahsa, Madinah, Al-Kharj, Sudair, Hail, Tabuk, Arar, Al-Jouf, Asir, Jazan, Najran, Baha, Taif, Zulfi, Shaqra and Hafr Al-Batin.
There are cities under planning and designing stages as well, Al-Rasheed said. They include Salwa, Dhuba, Baha-II, Military Industries and Jeddah-IV.
It is targeted that during the next five years, the number of industrial cities would reach 40 industrial cities with developed industrial lands of not less than 160 million square meters.
Modon recently signed two contracts worth SR 68 million to develop industrial cities in Qassim. The first contract (SR 32. 8 million) was to implement the first phase of the Qassim-II Industrial City, covering an area of 1.3 million square meters. The second contract (SR 35 million) was to build a road linking the industrial city with Riyadh-Qassim highway.
In a related development, the Industrial Development Fund has approved 14 loans worth SR 2.9 billion to establish nine new industrial projects and expand five existing industries. The new projects require a total investment of SR 6 billion, according to Ali Al-Ayed, director general of the fund.