‘More than 50%’: Saudi minister reaffirms government call for women’s central role in reforms

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih told Arab News women should be central to achieving Vision 2030.
Updated 09 March 2018
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‘More than 50%’: Saudi minister reaffirms government call for women’s central role in reforms

LONDON: Women should be “central” to achieving the nation’s ambitious Vision 2030, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih told Arab News on International Women’s Day.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Saudi-UK CEO Forum in London, the minister said that women being able to drive was “insignificant in the wider scheme of things.”
“What matters,” he said, “is making sure that they have access to skills training and access to jobs. What matters is they have access to investment opportunities so we ensure that the power of women is unleashed to represent their great capabilities.”
Al-Falih added: “There is great potential for all Saudi citizens … certainly women will have more than their share, which should be more than 50 percent.”
Saudi Arabia has announced a string of reforms in recent months aimed at improving opportunities for women in the Kingdom. Alongside being able to drive, Saudi Arabia’s women can now join the Shoura Council, license their own businesses and take part in sports, among many other new freedoms in a country that is in the throes of modernization and change.
Speaking at the same event on a panel, Princess Reema bint Bandar, vice president of the General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia, said that women joining the Shoura Council has allowed for the “escalation of women’s needs.”
Princess Reema added the creation of a sports ecosystem for women would be critical to job creation and female empowerment.
She said: “It will benefit women to be included in sports. We want to focus on the ecosystem – we are looking for females that are engineers in the stadiums or trainers which will enable the athletes, for example … which all leads to the end product of the ecosystem: The female athlete.”
Saudi Deputy Minister of Labor Tamader Al-Rammah told the audience that contrary to some global perceptions, women’s empowerment started in Saudi Arabia in the 1960s with the provision of extensive education for females.
“(Women’s empowerment) has been slow but steady,” she said. “Today we are ready for it and we can see the changes are happening rapidly.”
On the controversial subject of gender quotas, Al-Rammah said: “I think the best way to do it is to have the best person for each position. On the other hand, you should remove all barriers to that position.
“Perhaps after some time, we’ll decide that we need quotas. In the meantime, Saudi Arabian women are not shy and the men support us. I don’t think we will need quotas, we will get there.”
Al-Rammah added that the need to funnel women into the workplace was “urgent.”
“We are in a time where we don’t have time,” she said.
Al-Rammah added 95 percent of new Saudi jobs will require digital skills. She said: “It’s very important to set that online goal now. It’s important women get online. What’s making me not sleep at night is not whether women drive, it’s whether they are equipped for the future digitally.”


More than 1.25 million foreigners arrested in KSA for flouting residential, labor laws

In this file photo, expatriate workers are seen outside a Labor Ministry office in Riyadh to fix their status in the Kingdom. In the past seven months, Saudi authorities have arrested more than 1.25 foreigners for violating residential and labor laws. (AFP)
Updated 19 June 2018
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More than 1.25 million foreigners arrested in KSA for flouting residential, labor laws

  • Of the total arrested, 931,069 were violators of residential regulations,  218,897 for flouting labor laws and 102,000 tried to gain entry into the Kingdom illegally.
  • The crackdown started on November 16 last year and ended on June 14.

JEDDAH: More than 1.25 million people were arrested in Saudi Arabia for violating residential, labor and border security regulations during the Kingdom’s months-long campaign.

The crackdown, which started on November 16 last year and ended on June 14, saw the arrests of 1,251,966 people in the joint security field campaign across the Kingdom. Those arrested included 931,069 violators of residential regulations, 218,897 for flouting labor laws and 102,000 violators of border security regulations.

The total number of people arrested attempting to cross the Kingdom’s borders stood at 19,233 people. Of those arrested, 54 percent were Yemenis, 43 percent Ethiopian, and 3 percent from other nations. 

The Kingdom also arrested 790 people who tried to leave the Kingdom illegally.

There were 2,167 people who were arrested for harboring and transporting violators of labor and security border regulations, and 415 citizens were arrested for transporting and sheltering expatriates violating regulations. Regulatory measures were taken against 388 citizens who were subsequently released. 

The number of expatriates currently detained stands at 10,245, including 8,817 men and 1,428 women. Immediate penalties were imposed on 221,404 violators while 177,329 violators were referred to their respective diplomatic missions for travel documents and 327,034 were deported.