SPANISH rail firm Renfe has been inundated with applicants for 30 train driver jobs advertised exclusively for women.
Over 28,000 women applied for the roles which will see successful applicants drive trains to and from the holy cities of Mecca and Medina after a year of training.
It is the first time women have been permitted to apply for train driver roles and follows a drive in the kingdom to liberalise some laws which have traditionally made it hard for women to enter the workplace.
The jobs are part of the Haramain Project, in partnership with Renfe and the Saudi government.
Renfe forms part of the consortium behind the Middle East’s first high speed rail project running around 20 trains a day on the 450km track between the two cities. The bullet trains reach a speed in excess of 300km/h.
Renfe, which said it was keen to create opportunities for women in its local business, currently employs 80 men to drive its trains in Saudi Arabia, and has 50 more under instruction.
The proportion of women working in the kingdom is around half that of men and the unemployment for women was well over three times higher than for men, at 22%.
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