Saudi businesswomen eye greater role in the economy with end to driving ban

The end of the driving ban is expected to help bring an economic windfall for Saudi women. (Shutterstock)
Updated 23 June 2018
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Saudi businesswomen eye greater role in the economy with end to driving ban

  • The historic move is a huge step forward for businesswomen in the Saudi Arabia, says businesswoman
  • A recent survey by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce indicated that transportation was a major concern holding Saudi women back from joining the labor market

The end of the driving ban will boost women’s financial power and allow them to play a bigger role in economic and social diversification in line with Vision 2030, prominent businesswomen said on Friday.

Hind Khalid Al-Zahid was the first Saudi woman designated as an executive director — for Dammam Airport Company — and also heads the Businesswomen Center at the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 

She sees the historic move as a huge step forward for businesswomen in the Kingdom.

“Women being allowed to drive is very important; of course this will help a lot in sustainable development as the lifting of the ban on women driving came as a wonderful opportunity to increase women’s participation in the workforce,” she told Arab News on Friday, ahead of the end of the ban on Sunday.

She added that women in the job market are under-represented; they make up to 22 percent of the national workforce of about six million according to official estimates. Lifting the ban will help to take women’s representation in the workforce to 30 percent by 2030, she said.

“This is not just the right thing to do for women’s emancipation, but also an essential step in economic and social development as part of the reforms,” she said.

She said that there were different obstacles in increasing women’s participation in the workforce and other productive activities, and the driving ban was one of them. It was a strategic issue that needed to be addressed on a priority basis. With the issue resolved, it would help immensely in giving Saudi women better representation as they would help to diversify the Saudi economy and society.

She said that women could contribute hugely to the workforce and labor market as half of Saudi human resources were female, and unless allowed to excel in different sectors it would not be possible to do better, mainly because of restricted mobility.

A recent survey by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce indicated that transportation was a major concern holding Saudi women back from joining the labor market.

Nouf Ibrahim, a businesswoman in Riyadh, said: “It will surely boost female economic participation and help increase women’s representation in the workforce immensely. It will also help to reduce the overall national unemployment rate as most of the unemployed are women and many of them are eligible as university graduates.”

She echoed the opinion that the move would help to bring an economic windfall for Saudi women, making it easier for them to work and do business, and thus play a bigger and better role that would help economic and social diversification in line with Saudi Vision 2030.

“Being able to drive from Sunday onwards after the ban is lifted will be a wonderful experience. Earlier we were dependent on a male family member and house driver to take us to workplace, to the shopping center, school or other required places for some work, now we can drive and that will allow active participation in productive work,” Sulafa Hakami, a Saudi woman working as the digital communication manager with an American MNC in Riyadh, told Arab News.

“Saudi women can now share effectively the bigger and better responsibilities,” she said.


Spectacular shows celebrate Saudi National Day in style

Updated 21 September 2019

Spectacular shows celebrate Saudi National Day in style

  • Public will be treated to festivals, concerts and firework displays

RIYADH: With the celebrations for Saudi Arabia’s National Day is in full swing this weekend, there is no shortage of events taking place across the Kingdom.

Among the most interesting and spectacular are three international shows being staged in Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam, including a special performance by the world-famous Cirque du Soleil.

“Tariq Al-Himma” will take the audience on a unique and extraordinary artistic journey through the past, present and future of Saudi Arabia, in a show filled with national pride. You can catch the hour-long performance at the Green Halls in Riyadh from September 21 to 23, starting at 9:30 p.m. each night. Doors open at 7 p.m.

The Al-Hamra Corniche in Jeddah is the location for “Star Island” on September 23 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thousands of fireworks will paint the sky with dazzling colors, accompanied by sounds, light effects and laser beams.

The world’s most popular circus show, Cirque du Soleil, presents a specially created hour-long show for Saudi National Day at the Dhahran Expo in Dammam. Featuring 40 artists performing a variety of acrobatic routines, the show begins at 9 p.m. each night until September 23.

The season of events marking the celebration of the Kingdom’s National Day, which falls on September 23, includes more than 40 entertainment, cultural and sporting events and activities across the country. They include festivals, concerts, firework displays, youth forums and public celebrations.