JCCI election outcome — women fail to make a mark

Updated 12 January 2014
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JCCI election outcome — women fail to make a mark

Saudi women, who have been striving hard to make their presence felt in various fields including business, have failed to seize the opportunity offered to them in the just-concluded election to the board of directors of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI), putting up a pathetic show.
None of the eight women candidates who were in the fray managed to touch even the three-figure mark, leave alone winning a spot in the board. And they have their own kinfolk to blame as the voting trend suggests. Call it a failure of election strategy or banking on non-existent support, the woman candidates drew a blank, but they immediately raised the pitch for representation on the board as was done in the past.
“Yes, they did campaign with all enthusiasm but in the end, it didn’t pay off since the voting pattern reveals that many women members abstained from voting, an all important factor in such crunch situations,” said a poll observer. “Incidentally, JCCI has the distinction of opening the doors for women to contest elections, but Thursday’s poll results probably just fell short of proving their lack of preparedness for a direct fight.”
According to him, if all the women members had turned up to vote, there may have been something to cheer about in the women’s camp.
So, what went wrong for the women candidates besides the poor turnout of their kin? “They banked heavily on Lama Sulaiman, an influential businesswoman and vice chairperson of JCCI in the outgoing board, and other influential members, for support,” said another businessman. “Many women contestants claimed during the run-up to the election that they had Lama Sulaiman behind them. Besides Lama Sulaiman, they also counted on Nashwa Tahir, Abeer Qabani and Nadia Baeshen, who have considerable following in the JCCI, for support. It, however, didn’t translate into votes at the hustings.”
It is widely expected that the minister of commerce would appoint a woman member or two in the board among the six nominated members following their demand for representation.
Tracing back efforts to empower women, the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, for the first time in Saudi history, allowed women to vote in 2004, when it had 90 women on the rolls. In 2005, the JCCI allowed women to contest, the first time ever that the Kingdom allowed entry of women in election.
In the path-breaking election, Lama Sulaiman and Nashwa Taher won two of the 12 elected seats by contesting on panels headed by influential men from Jeddah’s leading merchant families. However, in the second term in 2009, only Lama Sulaiman made it from a field of seven women candidates.
Inspired by the Jeddah experiment, businesswomen in Eastern Province and Riyadh also fought in elections but ended up with dismal performances. And the reason in both places was the indifference on the part of women voters from turning up to cast their ballot.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has been encouraging women to participate in all societal activities, and as part of his vision, the Ministry of Commerce nominated women members to the Riyadh and Eastern Province chambers, as also in Jeddah.
Businesses owned by women in the Kingdom, both registered and unregistered, have been flourishing but they are mostly confined to fashion, jewelry, interior design, and photography. Other areas with a large presence are beauty salons, retail-wholesale, professional services such as consulting, marketing, public relations, event management and education.


Saudi Arabia FM: Khashoggi murder investigations will continue until all questions are answered

Updated 26 min 29 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia FM: Khashoggi murder investigations will continue until all questions are answered

  • Saudi Arabia is committed to holding those involved in the murder accountable through the judiciary
  • Al-Jubeir insisted that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had nothing to do with Khashoggi’s death

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s public prosecutor is still seeking answers to a number of questions in the investigation into Jamal Khashoggi's death, Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said on Thursday.

The Kingdom is committed to holding those involved in the murder accountable through the judiciary, and investigations into journalist’s killing will continue until all questions are answered, Al-Jubeir said.

Al-Jubeir added that the defendants and the victim in the Khashoggi case are Saudis and that the incident took place on Saudi land. He continued by saying that there has been an attempt to politicize Khashoggi’s case, and that this is regrettable.

Al-Jubeir insisted that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had nothing to do with Khashoggi’s death.

“The Qatari media have launched an organized campaign against Saudi Arabia and are exploiting Khashoggi’s case,” Al-Jubeir added.

He said there is a difference between imposing penalties on those accused and holding Saudi Arabia responsible for Khashoggi’s death.

Bahrain said Thursday that it rejects the politicization or internationalization of the Khashoggi case. 

The Secretariat General of the Arab League praised the seriousness of the steps taken by Saudi Arabia in the Khashoggi case, and said that the measures show the Kingdom's interest in identifying those involved in the crime. 

Hours after the public prosecurtor's statment, the US placed punishing economic sanctions on 17 Saudis allegedly involved in Khashoggi's murder.

"The Saudi officials we are sanctioning were involved in the abhorrent killing of Jamal Khashoggi," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. "These individuals who targeted and brutally killed a journalist who resided and worked in the United States must face consequences for their actions."

The Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani said the details of the investigation released Thursday “confirm the Kingdom’s commitment to complete the necessary procedures in order to continue the investigation away from the politicization sought by some malicious parties.”