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Women start contesting election Chamber of Commerce

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Dubai (dpa) - Saudi Arabia on Saturday is holding its first election to the board of directors of a chamber of commerce where women willed allowed to be candidates.

All eyes are on the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) as the election to its board of directors begins with 17 women contesting alongside 54 male candidates.

Women's participation in the elections has grabbed attention worldwide amid reports that some female candidates might win. Saudi authorities gave the green light for women to run in the chamber elections in an unprecedented move in September.

Five coalitions and a number of independents are taking part in what is described as the most-hotly contested election in JCCI history.

On the 18-member board, 12 seats are up for grabs. Six members will be appointed by the Ministry of Commerce.

Women members will vote Saturday and Sunday and businessmen will vote on Monday and Tuesday at the chamber's Sheikh Ismail Abu Dawood Hall.

Saudi Arabia applies a strict interpretation of the Islamic law and males and females are not allow to mingle in public places.

Copyright 2005 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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