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Driving licenses for women will boost economic growth in Saudi Arabia: Experts

A Saudi woman speaks with a taxi driver to get a ride in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in this September 28, 2017 photo. (REUTERS)
RIYADH: Introduction of driving licenses for women will steer economic growth and reduce dependence on foreign labor in the Kingdom, according to a panel discussion held at the Faisaliah Hotel in Riyadh on Tuesday to mark the opening of the new office of Fitch Ratings.
There are 1.3 million foreign house drivers earning salaries of SR33 billion ($8.8 billion) annually. Most women are dependent on these drivers for daily transport to their work places and for their shopping needs.
The discussions were moderated by Ian Linnell, president of Fitch Ratings, and supported by Tim Cooper, a global economist, and James McCormack, managing director and global head of the Sovereign and Suprarnatural Group at Fitch Ratings.
Empowerment of women is part of Vision 2030, which is a highly ambitious program designed to diversify the Kingdom’s revenue sectors and encourage developing non-oil products for necessary exports.
Linnell said the company’s Riyadh office is its second office in the Middle East after Dubai. “We got the license to operate in the Kingdom from the Capital Market Authority (CMA) to conduct credit rating activities in the Kingdom.
“We are delighted to be increasing our commitment in the region with an on-the-ground presence in the Kingdom,” Linnell said, adding that the company has had a solid footprint in the Kingdom for the past two decades covering Islamic finance. He also said that the company intends to hire local analysts to carry out its functions in the Kingdom.
With a leading global financial institutions franchise, Fitch Ratings has a leading market share in financial institutions in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.
Earlier in the day, there was a panel discussion on the “Saudi Arabian economy and the evolving debt capital markets in the Kingdom.” Besides Linnell, McCormack and Cooper, participants at the panel discussions included Fahad Al-Deweesh CEO J.P. Morgan Saudi Arabia; Khalid Al-Hussan, CEO Tadawul; Jadwa Chief Economist Fahd Al-Turki; and Ayman Al-Sayari, SAMA deputy governor for investment.

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