Eight in 10 Saudis want women to drive: Arab News/YouGov poll

Updated 24 June 2018

Eight in 10 Saudis want women to drive: Arab News/YouGov poll

LONDON: Almost eight in 10 Saudis who reside in the Kingdom agree with the decision to allow women to drive, with the majority of females saying they plan to apply for a license, an Arab News/YouGov poll has found.
The wide-ranging poll of more than 500 adults revealed the models of car favored among Saudi women and found that most think driving will “transform” their lives.
King Salman last month issued a decree that will allow women to get behind the wheel by June next year. The current “ban” is considered a social issue in the Kingdom, as there is no actual law or religious edict that prohibits women driving. 
The Arab News/YouGov poll, which was conducted in early October, found that 95 percent of Saudis are aware of the decision to allow women to drive, with a generally positive reaction to the move. The sample was representative of the online adult Saudi population in terms of age and gender. 
A total of 77 percent of Saudis polled said they agree with the decision to allow women to drive — although the move was more popular with women than men. Seven in 10 males agree that women should have the right to drive, compared with 82 percent of females.
Freedom of movement for women and the belief that driving “is a basic human right” were the top reasons cited by those in agreement with the decision to lift the driving ban.
But among those who disagreed with the move, 54 percent believe “it is not safe for women to drive,” while 36 percent said “it is against local cultural traditions.”
When asked about the impact of women driving, mainly economic factors were cited by the Saudi men and women polled.
Four in 10 said the move would help boost the economy, while 35 percent said it would allow more women to work.
The poll illustrates how the decision will have a huge impact on society, with two-thirds of women questioned saying that it will significantly “transform” their lives, and half saying it will allow them to get to work more easily.
Faisal J. Abbas, editor in chief of Arab News, said that the poll reveals the true significance of the “historic” decision for Saudi society.
“Lifting the driving ban is the latest step in a raft of reforms underway in the Kingdom, both social and economic. But this change will, arguably, have the biggest positive impact on the day-to-day lives of citizens,” said Abbas.
“One of the most revealing findings of the Arab News/YouGov survey was that most women who plan to get behind the wheel will do so in order to get to work.
“That will see more of the Kingdom’s highly educated women finding fulfilling employment, boosting household incomes, and helping to meet Saudi Arabia’s ambitious economic aim of shaking its ‘addiction’ to oil.”
The automotive industry can also expect a massive financial boost from the move to allow women to drive, with 85 percent of Saudi women who plan to drive saying they will buy a car, the poll revealed.
Budget models are favored, with 44 percent saying they expect to spend just SR40,000 ($10,666) or less on a motor.
Medium-sized sedans are the most favored among Saudi women, with Toyota, BMW and Jeep named among the top brands, the poll found.
The top car colors chosen were black (29 percent) and pearl white (12 percent) with the least popular being pink, grey and brown.

• For full report and related articles please visit: #SaudiWomenCanDrivePoll

Misk Global Forum hears that it’s all about skills

Updated 35 min 31 sec ago

Misk Global Forum hears that it’s all about skills

  • News has changed drastically, with audiences more digitally connected now getting their news through online platforms such as Twitter
  • The third annual Misk Global Forum, with the theme Skills for Our Tomorrow, is taking place place at Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Center on Wednesday and Thursday

RIYADH: As the moderator of the first session, “It’s All About Skills,” at the Misk Global Forum on Wednesday, Arab News’ editor in chief Faisal J Abbas began by holding up the morning’s newspaper: “Two years ago people used to read the news like this,” he said.

But as he pointed out, the news has changed drastically, with audiences more digitally connected now getting their news through online platforms such as Twitter.

With media tweeting out his comments, Abbas began introducing his guests: Ahmed bin Suleiman Al-Rajhi, Saudi Minister of Labor and Social Development; Shaima Hamidaddin, executive manager of the Misk Global Forum; Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN secretary general’s envoy on youth from Sri Lanka; and Sue Siegel, chief innovation officer for General Electric.

Abbas asked Al-Rajhi how the government was tackling the challenge of finding jobs for youth. “With Vision 2030 programs (that) are happening today, we have a lot of initiatives and there is potential,” the minister said. “We all need to work together and collaborate with the education system, employers that create the jobs and the ministry to give a clear direction of where we are going today.”

Asked whether job creation is considered a worldwide issue, the UN envoy on youth confirmed it’s not just a regional concern. “It is not a national or regional issue but a global one: Our world is younger than it has ever been before. I’d like to look at this as an opportunity to achieve sustainability.”

Wickramanayake said out that by 2030, South Asia and Africa will supply 60 percent of the world’s workforce. “We have a large majority of young people that are working but still live in poverty,” she said, and it’s important to invest in them. “If we are serious then this is the time to make those investments: to be productive citizens and employees and employers.”

One of the groups making those sorts of investments in Saudi Arabia is the Misk Foundation, the forum’s organizer, which was founded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2011. Hamidaddin pointed out that the foundation plays a complementary role, bridging gaps and working with partners to help equip young people with skills.  

Abbas asked the question that’s on everyone’s minds these days: Are machines going to take over our jobs? Siegel said everybody looks at artificial intelligence and thinks it means machines will take over our jobs, but it will actually enable productivity and create new jobs by taking over the more mundane ones. She pointed out that everyone thought computers would take our jobs, but they just augmented what we do.

When asked about the Arab world’s perception that international companies don’t care about the region, Seigel said that just isn’t so. “It’s inaccurate,” she said. “We have been in the Kingdom for over 80 years. Seventy percent of our business is out of the US. We have 4,000 employees here. The success of the country is the success of our company. We are pleased with the progress we have made here. “

When it comes to preparing Saudi youth for the jobs of the future, Al-Rajhi said a governmental committee formed by five ministers is looking at how well education is preparing them for it.

Speaking up from the audience, Saudi Education Minister Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Issa took the mic: “It’s the easiest thing to criticize the education system, but we can see that all the people here are from education,” he said. “In general, we are reviewing all the education aspects in terms of curriculum or skills that (they) should require. We are also reviewing the specification of the needs of the labor market and education system. “

Al- Rajhi said the skills youth need for the future are definitely changing, stressing the need for problem solving, conversational skills and teamwork.

Abbas asked panelists to describe in one word what skills were needed for the future.

“Agility,” Hamidaddin said.

“The ability to learn,” said Siegel.

Wickramanayake said it’s a holistic approach and that we need to talk about skills development as a package for human beings.

And Al-Rajhi went with innovation. “Try to be always innovative or at least adaptable to innovation - in my opinion this is key to success,” he concluded.

Taking it back to his opening remarks, Abbas wrapped up the session by telling the audience to read about it on arabnews.com, prompting laughter from the audience.

The third annual Misk Global Forum, with the theme Skills for Our Tomorrow, is taking place place at Four Seasons Hotel Riyadh at Kingdom Center on Wednesday and Thursday.