Riyadh: A job advertisement in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia by Spanish railway operator Renfe to recruit 30 women train drivers has attracted 28,000 applicants.
Renfe said on Wednesday that an online assessment of academic certificates and English language skills had helped it cut the number of female candidates by about half, and it would filter the rest of the applications by mid-March.
Those selected will drive express trains between the cities of Makkah and Madinah after a year of receiving paid training.
Until recently, job opportunities for Saudi women were limited to jobs such as teachers and medical workers, where they had to adhere to strict gender segregation rules.
Since Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman came to power in 2017, he has insisted on opening up the kingdom by diversifying the country’s economy and relaxing many gender-based rules.
Female participation in the labor market has doubled in the past five years to 33 percent, and women are now beginning to get jobs that were previously restricted to men and migrant workers.
After the transition to allow Saudi women to travel in the kingdom, from 2019 onwards Saudi Arabian women can also travel abroad without permission and may apply for their passports, ID documents and all official registrations directly without requiring a male guardian (mahram).
In February 2021, Saudi Arabia opened up military posts for women for the first time which allowed them to report through a unified portal.
In a first, Saudi female officers were allowed to guard Islam’s holiest site not just that the women were allowed driving license, and even elected to councils, and so on.