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For First Time, Saudi Women Step into Haj Emergency Role

Mecca: Seven women sit in front of computer screens fielding distress calls from across Mecca ahead of the annual Haj pilgrimage this week, in a first for Saudi Arabia as it tries to expand participation in the workforce.

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The seven, almost all wearing the black niqab over their faces, form the first women\'s section of an emergency call centre in the kingdom, which has begun offering more education and employment opportunities to the half of the population that has traditionally stayed at home.

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