‘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.”


Budding businesses make their case at Riyadh conferences

The event was attended by Commerce Minister Majid Al-Qassabi. (SPA)
Updated 13 December 2018
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Budding businesses make their case at Riyadh conferences

  • The event featured a number of dynamic initiatives to support entrepreneurs, including interactive workshops and pop-up stores for Instagram businesses

RIYADH: Thousands of start-up owners, investors and other visitors flooded into the capital for two events in Riyadh on Wednesday.
The ArabNet Riyadh conference, which focuses on digital businesses in the Gulf region, and ArabNet’s Monsha’at Startup Saudi, attracted regional and international digital business leaders and investors who came to share the latest trends and business opportunities with an audience of more than 4,000 up-and-coming entrepreneurs and students and 200 start-ups.
The event was attended by Commerce Minister Majid Al-Qassabi and Saleh Al-Rasheed, governor of the General Authority of Small and Medium Enterprises (Monsha’at), in addition to more than 300 global and regional leaders.
“At Monsha’at, we seek to support small and medium-sized enterprises and empower them in the drive for economic development,” said Al-Rasheed.
“This is a great addition to the Kingdom’s business community,” said ArabNet CEO and Founder Omar Christidis. “Thousands of attendees presented business plans to 100 investors from around the globe. Conferences like this bring together key stakeholders that are critical for the growth of the digital sector.”
“Here at this conference, we have regulators and corporations that represent some of the largest customer bases in innovation,” he added.
The opening ceremony was followed by a high-profile panel that discussed the components needed to make Saudi Arabia the region’s next Silicon Valley.
The panel featured prominent figures, including Careem Co-Founder Abdulla Elyas, Omar Al-Madhi, senior managing editor of Abdul Latif Jameel, and Khalil Al-Shafei, CEO and managing director at Saudi Aramco Entrepreneurship Venture.
The event also featured a number of dynamic initiatives to support entrepreneurs, including interactive workshops and pop-up stores for Instagram businesses. The event also allowed one-on-one meetings between executives and start-ups.