KSA female employment rate among lowest in MENA region

Updated 25 March 2013
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KSA female employment rate among lowest in MENA region

Saudi Arabia has one of the lowest female participation rates in the work force in the region, a recent World Bank report has found.
“The employment of women stands at less than 12 percent. This puts Saudi Arabia at the 11th position in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA),” Al-Riyadh daily reported, quoting a World Bank report on gender equality and development in the region.
While female participation in the work force grew to above 50 percent in the Africa, Asia and Pacific region, Europe, Central Asia, Latin America and Caribbean over the past 15 years, participation in the MENA region has lagged behind at 25.2 percent, the report said.
The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait topped the list with at least a 45 percent increase in women’s employment.
The report also noted that some governments in the Gulf pay allowance to men, which discourages women from seeking employment.
According to statistical reports, only 14.6 percent of women work in the public and private sectors in the Kingdom. When expatriates are also included in the calculation, the percentage of working Saudi women further drops to 6.1 percent, the daily reported.
The Labor Ministry strives to bridge the gap between genders with a mandatory ban on men or non-Saudi women working in lingerie and other stores where women’s garments and perfumes are sold.
The ministry has also appointed women inspectors to monitor commercial centers and markets and has ensured that only Saudi women work in such establishments. The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has ordered the issue of licenses to small establishments such as those of "productive families" in which women can engage in various trades while working from home.
One of the impediments that slow down women’s employment in the Kingdom is social apathy. The traditional view in Muslim societies is that a man should work while a woman should remain a stay-at-home mother.
However, the Ministry of Labor recently signed an agreement with the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, which also seeks to increase job opportunities for women.
Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheq, a Saudi thinker, wrote in a recent column that the chances of Saudi women finding work have slightly improved, but that improvement has been quite limited and that employment rates are still extremely low. “In 2012, there were 647,000 Saudi working women compared to 505,000 in 2009," the writer said.


Saudi Crown prince’s India visit will help expand ties beyond energy

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to India will boost robust interactions that New Delhi has established with Saudi Arabia over the last few years. (Supplied)
Updated 20 February 2019
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Saudi Crown prince’s India visit will help expand ties beyond energy

  • New Delhi’s participation in Kingdom’s mega projects a major aspect of renewed ties: Talmiz Ahmad

NEW DELHI: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s first visit to India is a landmark development in bilateral ties between India and Saudi Arabia, according to Talmiz Ahmad, a former ambassador to Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia is India’s largest supplier of crude oil, but since taking office in 2014 Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought to use India’s growing economy to attract more investment from Saudi Arabia beyond energy, and foster cooperation on trade, infrastructure and defense.

Ahmad, author of several books on the Arab world and twice India’s Ambassador to Riyadh, said that while the backbone of New Delhi’s relationship with the Kingdom is energy, the two sides had been discussing “how to give greater substance and longevity to the relationship on the basis of concrete projects.”

Reuters reported this week that India is expecting Prince Salman to announce an initial investment in its National Investment and Infrastructure Fund, a quasi-sovereign wealth fund, to help accelerate the building of ports and highways. Saudi Arabia has also suggested investing in India’s farming industry, with an eye on food imports to the Kingdom. 

Ahmad said Saudi Arabia’s NEOM project, a $500 billion smart city in Tabuk province on the Egyptian and Jordanian borders, would also provide great opportunities for Indian companies. 

He added that Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the crown prince’s blueprint to fundamentally transform Kingdom’s economy, presents another opportunity for Indian businesses to prosper from the relationship.

“India is extremely well placed,” said Ahmad. “We are world leaders in small and medium enterprises and in the services sector. Saudi Arabia also has proposals to develop its tourism and leisure sectors, and I believe India is also well placed in those areas too.”

He also discussed how the strategic partnership had been initiated by former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who visited Riyadh in 2010, but that Modi, who visited in 2016, had added “considerable substance” to the relationship.

He stressed, though, that Riyadh’s ties with India are independent of its relationship with Pakistan. He added India and Saudi Arabia were also working together to improve the security situation in Afghanistan, to resolve the 17-year conflict between government forces and the Afghan Taliban, as well as in the wider West Asia region. 

“India has excellent relations with all the countries in West Asia, and New Delhi is well placed to address some of the concerns that all the countries have with each other,” he said.