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Saudi women break youth monopoly of telecom sector

This file photo shows a woman using her mobile phone in a cafe in Riyadh. (Reuters)
RIYADH: Saudi women have broken the youths’ monopoly of the local telecommunications sector and have undergone training in sales and maintenance of cellphones in the wake of the Kingdom’s Saudization program.
“More than 5,000 have been trained and entered the labor market, either through small- and medium-sized enterprises or by doing business from homes,” said Fadwa Al-Atwi, a Saudi woman trainer.
The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) said that the local telecommunications sector is estimated at SR180 billion ($48 billion) annually. The women took up training courses prepared by economists to be the nucleus of work in the field of sales and maintenance of all mobile devices and help increase the employment rate among Saudi women. The Ministry of Labor and Social Development announced that the total number of Saudi female employees in the wholesale and retail sectors crossed 159,588 by the end of 2016.
They were also encouraged to be entrepreneurs and not wait for government jobs in accordance with the guidelines set forth under the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 program.
As a trainer, Al-Atwi — who runs courses in America, Jordan, and Egypt — told Arab News earlier that the courses in mobile maintenance and other technology skills began five years ago.
She added: “The Saudization of the telecommunications sector has increased the involvement of Saudi women in the labor market significantly.”
Al-Atwi said the demand for Saudi women in the telecommunications sector in the Kingdom is large and consistent with the challenges of the Saudi labor market.
On the other hand, Asma Al-Qurashi, who owns a shop selling mobile phones and offering their maintenance, said there is no doubt that the local telecommunications sector is undergoing a major transformation.
“The experience of Saudi women working in the field of maintenance and sale of mobile phones is a modern but fruitful experience and I benefited from training courses for a whole year,” she said.
She said that she was well-qualified to work in the maintenance of mobile phones and thankful that “I now have a shop specializing in this field. I have the ambition to expand my business. I have undergone a course for trainers and have been able to run girls’ courses in mobile maintenance.”
Al-Sharif Mohsen Al-Srori, a member of the investment committee of the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the telecommunications sector is attractive for both young men and women. “The entry of women in the maintenance of mobile phones has great advantages in terms of financial income and privacy that they are looking for,” he was quoted as saying in a report.
He added that it will contribute to the orientation of many girls to self-employment instead of waiting for lists of government or private employment.
Al-Jawharah Al-Qahtani exemplifies this. She was studying at the Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman University in the Saudi capital when she saw a need for a mobile repair shop tailored specifically for women.
Women in the Kingdom tend to dispose of damaged mobile phones. Instead of getting their phone sets fixed, they decide to buy a new one. They do so to maintain the confidentiality of the personal data on their phones. Seeking to fill that gap, Al-Jawharah opened a Twitter account in 2013 through which she offered phone and laptop maintenance services to her colleagues.
Seeing it was welcomed with great support, after one year, she established a store inside the campus to fix mobile phones and sell accessories.
As of 2015, her Twitter-fix and store turned into a startup called Fixtag. Operating under her entrepreneurial idea are an online store and two physical stores.

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