First female signs up for board election

? Businesswoman Madhawi Al-Hassoun has signed up as the first woman in this ultraconservative Islamic kingdom to run in an election.

Her candidacy in a local chamber of commerce board election comes after the Saudi government intervened to allow women to vote and run in the contest.

“Saudi women candidates will prove that they are capable of being members of the chamber while at the same time adhering to religious rules, customs and traditions that govern our society,” al-Hassoun said after registering her name Saturday evening in Jiddah, the kingdom’s second biggest city.

She entered four days after Trade Minister Hashem bin Abdullah Yamani overruled a decision by the Jiddah Trade and Industry Chamber to reject the nominations of 10 businesswomen to run for positions on the chamber’s board

The intervention was an unprecedented move in a country where women are under heavy restrictions, including being barred from driving a car or traveling without a male guardian’s permission.

Women make up about 10 percent of the 40,000 members of the chamber of commerce in Jiddah, a port on Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea coast.