Boom in entrepreneurs expected after ban on Saudi women driving lifted

Sara Al-Madani said Saudi women are ‘graceful, smart and educated.’ (AN Photo)
Updated 08 November 2017

Boom in entrepreneurs expected after ban on Saudi women driving lifted

SVETI STEFAN, Montenegro: More local women are likely to become entrepreneurs after the ban on them driving is lifted in Saudi Arabia, according to a prominent Emirati fashion designer and businesswoman.
Sara Al-Madani, an entrepreneur and board member of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce & Industry (SCCI), said: “I’m so happy about this, the women in Saudi (Arabia) are a huge wealth and it needs to be properly invested into the economy.
“Imagine the effect it will have when millions of women can move and get to work. It will transform the country and it’s undeniable that force will have a big impact.”
Al-Madani, founder of Sara Al-Madani Fashion Design and the new British restaurant Shabarbush in Dubai, added that not being able to drive has never stopped women from setting up their own business ventures, but “this freedom opens up more opportunities for them so we will see more women on board.”
The entrepreneur, speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the recent Global Citizen Forum, said that the word “innovation” is now trending globally.
“I tell everyone, before you innovate in business or at your work, you need to innovate in yourself, you need to believe in yourself and break the stereotype.
“You need to stand up for your rights and believe in your dreams and accomplish them and, once you’ve done that, you can innovate externally … Women are strong, we just need inspiration.”
Al-Madani ventured into the business world at a time when very few Emirati women were doing so. Defying cultural norms, she started her fashion label Rouge Couture, now known as Sara Al-Madani Fashion Design, at the age of 15.
In 2014 Al-Madani, now 30, was selected by Sultan bin Muhammad Al-Qasimi, ruler of the UAE emirate of Sharjah, as a board member of the SCCI.
Al-Madani also runs the creative consultancy Social Fish, and is a brand ambassador for Nivea and Natura Bissé in the Middle East.
She said: “This is just the beginning (of freedoms) for Saudi women. I wish the Saudi women all the best — they are graceful, smart and educated.”


Automechanika Riyadh opens, featuring leading global suppliers

Updated 25 February 2020

Automechanika Riyadh opens, featuring leading global suppliers

  • Saudi auto deals grew 40 percent last year with influx of female buyers

RIYADH: Leading names in the global auto services industry are out in force at Automechanika Riyadh — which opened on Monday at Al Faisaliah Hotel — vying to increase their share of a growing market expected to reach a value of $10.15 billion by 2023.

Automechanika Riyadh is the regional arm of the world’s largest trade fair, congress and event organizer, Messe Frankfurt, which has licensed the Automechanika brand to event organizer Al Harithy Company for Exhibitions (ACE) Group.

Mansour Abdullah Al-Shathri, vice chairman of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce, inaugurated the trade event, which will run from Feb. 24-26.

It was revealed that Saudi auto deals grew approximately 40 percent last year, with female buyers accounting for between 10-15 percent of sales after the landmark decision to allow women to drive in the Kingdom for the first time.  

“International suppliers are stepping up their marketing for the resurgence in Saudi’s market, and this impacts the entire supply chain,” said Mahmut Gazi Bilikozen, show director for Automechanika Riyadh.

“While there is growth potential in the market, it is becoming a more competitive landscape and one which will also have to contend with evolving customer preferences. The conditions are ripe for new business relationships for those wishing to succeed in this transformative environment,” he added.

Zahoor Siddique, vice president of ACE, said: “Future vehicles will become more complex and challenging for the aftermarket industry. It is therefore imperative for manufacturers, local garages, technicians and mechanics to upskill and remain above the curve. 

 “Automechanika Riyadh is one such platform that can enable us to share and learn what the industry needs to unleash its potential.”

Two major US players — disc pad producer Giant Manufacturing and United Motors Mopar, the Kingdom’s sole distributor of Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Fiat cars — forecast a bullish market over the next few years.

Giant’s vice president, Eli Youssian, said he believed car sales in the Kingdom would grow by 9 percent annually until 2025, while United Motors District CEO Hassan Elshamarani expected another three million female drivers to be on the Kingdom’s roads by the end of the year.

Both Giant and United Motors launched new products at the show, with the former rolling out its new German-engineered Euro Premium Metallic Disc brake pads, and the latter introducing its Magneti Marelli spare parts.

The high potential of the new-look Saudi automotive landscape has also struck a major chord with South Korean suppliers.

The show’s Korean pavilion is hosting new-to-market entrants and existing suppliers all looking for business partners. With products from wiper blades to filters and air-conditioning parts to brake pads, the Korean contingent was positive about the Kingdom’s prospects.

One exhibitor, D Only Automotive, is looking to ring fence 10 percent of the Saudi brake market. “With more vehicles on the road, demand for brakes will increase, (so) we believe this is possible,” said President Jeon JaeWon.

Global research and analytics firm Aranca — Automechanika’s knowledge partner — has forecast that Saudi Arabia’s automotive spare parts and service market will grow at approximately 6 percent over the next five years to reach a value of $10.15 billion by 2023.

“The spare parts and service market for passenger cars alone is expected to eclipse $6.9 billion by 2023,” said Vishal Sanghavi, Aranca’s automotive practice head.