Gold merchants in Saudi Arabia have described the idea of employing women in jewellery stores as “failed” because “women cannot handle such responsibilities,” a Saudi newspaper reports.

If men face difficulty in handling jewellery worth up to a million Saudi Riyals and in protecting the stores from thieves, it would be significantly more difficult for women to do the job, male retailers have argued, according to the Saudi newspaper Al Riyadh.

The retailers said that crowding in the kingdom’s jewellery stores may also have the effect of scaring female shopkeepers which thieves could take advantage of.

The Saudi ministry of labour is currently studying the possibility of requiring staff at jewellery stores to be entirely female following the implementation of such a rule on stores selling women’s products.

The shopkeepers also warned of the negative effects of such a move on the Saudi economy since jewellery stores employ a number of male youths who have learned the skill of the trade. Such a move, they said, would create unemployment among men.

Khalifa Al Melhem, the head of the gold and jewellery committee at the Al Ahsa’ chamber of commerce, told Al Riyadh that the move would be “impossible” considering the large amount of money that is traded in such stores. “This would be extremely dangerous,” he said.