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Saudi women to take up jobs as cleaners

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Dubai (dpa) - Saudi women will soon be working as cleaners in hospitals, a profession that was until now the domain of foreigners, the Saudi newspaper Arab News reported Saturday.

Hospitals and big companies in Al-Ahsa province have reported that large numbers of Saudi women are applying for jobs as cleaners.

In Saudi Arabia and other neighbouring oil-rich Arab Gulf states workers from Asian countries tend to fill menial, low paid jobs.

Al-Ahsa hospitals recently started to hire Saudi women to work as cleaners and to look after old and handicapped patients, said the paper.

A businessman who owns one of the hospitals in Al-Ahsa said that he was surprised when a Saudi woman job-seeker accepted a cleaning job when told that it was the only position available.

Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer and exporter, has been trying to lessen its dependence on foreign labour.

Women in the conservative kingdom are not allow to work in places where they have to be in contact with males. Neither are they allowed to drive or travel without a written permit from a male relative.

Copyright 2005 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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