KSA female employment rate among lowest in MENA region

Updated 25 March 2013

KSA female employment rate among lowest in MENA region

Saudi Arabia has one of the lowest female participation rates in the work force in the region, a recent World Bank report has found.
“The employment of women stands at less than 12 percent. This puts Saudi Arabia at the 11th position in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA),” Al-Riyadh daily reported, quoting a World Bank report on gender equality and development in the region.
While female participation in the work force grew to above 50 percent in the Africa, Asia and Pacific region, Europe, Central Asia, Latin America and Caribbean over the past 15 years, participation in the MENA region has lagged behind at 25.2 percent, the report said.
The United Arab Emirates and Kuwait topped the list with at least a 45 percent increase in women’s employment.
The report also noted that some governments in the Gulf pay allowance to men, which discourages women from seeking employment.
According to statistical reports, only 14.6 percent of women work in the public and private sectors in the Kingdom. When expatriates are also included in the calculation, the percentage of working Saudi women further drops to 6.1 percent, the daily reported.
The Labor Ministry strives to bridge the gap between genders with a mandatory ban on men or non-Saudi women working in lingerie and other stores where women’s garments and perfumes are sold.
The ministry has also appointed women inspectors to monitor commercial centers and markets and has ensured that only Saudi women work in such establishments. The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has ordered the issue of licenses to small establishments such as those of "productive families" in which women can engage in various trades while working from home.
One of the impediments that slow down women’s employment in the Kingdom is social apathy. The traditional view in Muslim societies is that a man should work while a woman should remain a stay-at-home mother.
However, the Ministry of Labor recently signed an agreement with the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, which also seeks to increase job opportunities for women.
Abdel Aziz Aluwaisheq, a Saudi thinker, wrote in a recent column that the chances of Saudi women finding work have slightly improved, but that improvement has been quite limited and that employment rates are still extremely low. “In 2012, there were 647,000 Saudi working women compared to 505,000 in 2009," the writer said.


The Hajjana: heritage of Saudi Arabia’s camel riding border patrol honored

Updated 16 min 9 sec ago

The Hajjana: heritage of Saudi Arabia’s camel riding border patrol honored

The Hajjana — fearless camel riders who patrolled the Kingdom’s borders — helped pave the way for the establishment of the modern Saudi state.
Their story goes back almost 90 years when a Hajjana border patrol was established during the reign of King Abdul Aziz in 1933.
After the Kingdom’s founder reclaimed Al-Ahsa, he ordered sea and land patrols to be carried out to tighten security in the region’s border areas.
Patrols were led by camel riders, so a military sector was formed at that time known as Hajjana. Its name was derived from their means of transport — camels.
Now, nine decades later, the Camel Club has established the Royal Hajjana to commemorate the group’s distinguished cultural heritage.
Since its creation in April, the Royal Hajjana has been preparing to take part in official reception ceremonies for King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s guests as well as national festivals sponsored by the king and crown prince.
It will also perform in Saudi heritage shows and represent the Kingdom in local and international camel festivals.
Hajjana officers became famous throughout the country after acquiring their name from the “hejin,” or camel. They protected the Kingdom’s residents from the south of the Empty Quarter to north of the Nafud Desert.
One of the founding king’s priorities was to provide security and protect the nation’s borders, so the Border Guard was among the first military sectors created.
The Coast Guard’s budget also included allocations for Hajjana officers, known as the Hajjana patrol commanders, whose role was part of the Frontier Corps.
Patrols continued to operate in southern regions until recently. However, the memory of the Hajjana remains fresh in the minds of the Kingdom’s border guards.