Cairo: A group of female Saudis have set up a factory to produce an environment-friendly coal from date palm leftovers amid a vigorous drive to empower women in the kingdom.
The idea of the factory, considered the first of its kind established by women in Saudi Arabia, dates back to 2011 when Saudi woman Fatma Al Turki donated part of its house to set up the plant, the factory’s manager Sahar Al Salum said.
“The idea was inspired by the great deal of palm residues in Al Qassim region (in central Saudi Arabia),” she told Al Arabiya TV.
The co-founders sought to recycle the leftovers from date palms into environmentally friendly lead-free natural coal.
“It all started with simple equipment. Then, the project evolved and moved to the industrial zone in Al Qassim,” Al Salum added. The factory, manned by Saudi male and female employees, produces around 100,000kg annually, the manager said.
In recent years, Saudi Arabia has vigorously pursued a drive to empower women in different walks of life as part of dramatic changes in the kingdom.
Women accounted for 37 per cent of the kingdom’s overall labour market last year, Saudi Minister of Human Resources Ahmed Al Rajhi has recently said.
In 2018, the kingdom allowed women to drive for the first time in its history, ending a decades-old ban on female driving.
In another move enhancing women’s empowerment, Saudi Arabia allowed women to travel without a male guard’s approval and to apply for a passport, easing long-time controls on them.
Two female ambassadors were among 11 Saudi envoys, who took the oath of office before King Salman bin Abdul Aziz in January.