4 things you didn’t know about Saudi women’s rights

Saudi women attend the Kingdom’s first jazz festival in Riyadh last month. (EPA)
Updated 26 April 2018

4 things you didn’t know about Saudi women’s rights

  • Since the launch of Saudi Vision 2030, the Saudi Justice ministry has addressed all flaws in the system that prevented women from living their lives securely and free from unnecessary hassles
  • No marriage agreement is accepted unless a woman provides a written approval, even if her guardian is her father

JEDDAH: Despite the great steps taken by the Saudi Ministry of Justice to give women a freer and more secure life, many Saudi women still do not have enough knowledge of their rights. 

Therefore, the ministry has started a campaign in cities all over the Kingdom to spread awareness among women of their legal rights. A female-only staff runs public exhibitions to enlighten them about how they are protected in different areas so they can lead their lives in a better way.

“We are using every possible channel to communicate with women to enlighten them about their rights, support them in all aspects to assure their ability to enjoy a secure rightful life,” said Majed Alkhamis, head of media and communication at the Ministry of Justice.

Since the launch of Saudi Vision 2030, the ministry has addressed all flaws in the system that prevented women from living their lives securely and free from unnecessary hassles. Despite all the obstacles, the ministry has succeeded in several areas.

A wife’s rights

The system not only grants the woman the right to sue her husband or ex-husband for alimony or acknowledgment of paternity, but it also allows any women legally living on Saudi soil, regardless of her citizenship or religion, to prosecute her current or former husband even if he is outside Saudi Arabia at the time of the lawsuit. Moreover, the new systems now support divorced women to a whole new level. For example, the system gives priority to a woman’s alimony over her husband’s personal debts.

Marriage agreements

No marriage agreement is accepted unless a woman provides a written approval, even if her guardian is her father. This arrangement grants a woman the freedom to accept a marriage proposal without any influence or coercion. In addition, if a woman is not happy with her marriage, she is free to leave the house of marriage and walk out of the agreement with no law to force her to come back. If she chooses to abandon the marriage her right to alimony will be dropped, but she is still entitled to custody of the children.

No delays

The Ministry of Justice has designed a full female service within its courthouses. 

These services include advisory people who provide free consultations on everything. In addition, these departments support women at all stages up until the execution of any court order to avoid delays and procrastination.

Speedy justice

The law emphasizes the speedy execution of justice in women-related cases.


Startup of the Week: Wayakit, the biotech firm helping travelers beat odors and stains

Updated 10 December 2019

Startup of the Week: Wayakit, the biotech firm helping travelers beat odors and stains

  • Wayakit leaves the clothes clean and fresh again

JEDDAH: Wayakit is a biotechnology start-up incubated by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

KAUST Ph.D students Sandra Medina and Luisa Javier are avid travelers who have come up with a pocket-sized product that deals with both odors and stains on fabrics, leaving the cloths clean and fresh again.

Wayakit is also gentler on fabrics because traditional laundry eventually damages them, said Javier, who first moved to Saudi Arabia from Mexico ten years ago.

Her business partner, Sandra Medina, who came from Colombia to study at KAUST, explained to Arab News how Wayakit works. “You just spray the smelly area twice and you’re good to go. In the case of stains, you spray twice and then pat dry it with a tissue and it will disappear,” she said.

The idea for the product came during a trip for a conference two years ago when the travelers realized their luggage was lost “We had to present with our dirty, seven-hours’ flight clothes,” Javier told Arab News.

“We started looking into the possibility then, because there’s not a proper solution to doing laundry while traveling,” she said.

 

They decided they needed to come up with a product that was not pricey, was easy to carry, and did the job by removing stains and bad odors “on-the-go.”

 

 

The duo began by interviewing more than 100 travelers of 23 different nationalities to find out if this was a common issue that travelers struggled with.

 

“From the Entrepreneurship Center at KAUST, we learned the importance of listening first to the customers before designing any product,” said Medina. From these interviews, Wayakit team got the product requirements and then moved into the lab to start working on the formulation of Wayakit. “The amazing facilities and labs in KAUST helped us to speed up the creation of our first prototype. After this, the same KAUST community was the people who first tried Wayakit and gave us feedback. “In KAUST we do not only have state-of-the-art labs, but also a whole entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Medina added.

Wayakit is different from its competitors in that it contains no toxic chemicals, and covers a broader spectrum in covering stains — it is two products in one. It also contains anti-bacterial properties, acting as a sanitizer that “removes all the stains that occur on a day-to-day basis as well as being an odor remover,” Javier said.

The pair went for a biotechnology-based formula that excluded the usage of oxidizers and focused on more organic compounds. “Even the anti-bacterial properties are not toxic as we incorporated these in an environmentally friendly formulation,” she said.

The Wayakit founders had to rigorously test their product, dealing with different types of sweat and stains to perfect their spray. “We had to give testers to travelers to try it out and had to listen to their feedback, then went back to the lab to improve it, in order to make sure the product was as promised.”

Medina said KAUST’s mentorship had also helped their company to develop. “KAUST for us is a catalyst of entrepreneurship and has given us a lot of room to grow our start-up Wayakit,” she said.

KAUST helped Wayakit by giving the advice and support from the start. From entrepreneurial courses to teaching the concepts of building a brand, KAUST encouraged Wayakit to grow from a scientific outlook and helped the founders to better understand the customer.

“As foreigners, it was difficult for us to understand the logistics and procurement of shipping and importing here in Saudi Arabia. KAUST has helped us to face that hurdle in order to be able to reach all our clients in the MENA region and worldwide,” Medina said. “Beyond helping travellers, our mission is to change the way how laundry is commonly done. We found a way to effectively wash clothes reducing water and energy consumption,” Javier said. 

Wayakit has recently began selling in Jeddah’s Homegrown Market, chosen because it is “a Middle Eastern brand store with unique ambience,” said Medina.