Women’s equality ‘to give Kingdom $400bn boost by 2030’

Dr. Khaled Al-Dhaher, country managing director for Accenture in Saudi Arabia and Dawn Metcalfe, an author and workplace culture advisor. (Accenture/Supplied)
Dr. Khaled Al-Dhaher, country managing director for Accenture in Saudi Arabia and Dawn Metcalfe, an author and workplace culture advisor. (Accenture/Supplied)
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Updated 05 December 2020

Women’s equality ‘to give Kingdom $400bn boost by 2030’

Dr. Khaled Al-Dhaher, country managing director for Accenture in Saudi Arabia and Dawn Metcalfe, an author and workplace culture advisor. (Accenture/Supplied)
  • Innovation, productivity benefit from workplace reforms, report says

JEDDAH: Establishing work environments with genuine equality between male and female employees will encourage innovation and productivity, and could boost Saudi Arabia’s GDP (gross domestic product) by up to $400 billion over the next decade, according to new research.

Saudi companies that have more equality for men and women perform better overall, according to a joint report published in November by global professional services company Accenture and the Riyadh-based Al-Nahda Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to the socioeconomic empowerment of women.

The “Women in the KSA Workforce” report found that the improvements that create a culture of equality between the sexes benefit not only women but also companies overall. This should encourage Saudi companies to invest more in training women and creating an environment that is welcoming and supportive, it added.

As part of the report, Al-Nahda observed that much has changed in the past decade for Saudi working women. In 2009, 14 percent of Saudi women over 15 worked mostly in the public sector, while occupying only 8.5 percent of private sector jobs. Today, they make up 32 percent of the private sector.

The research showed that in the past many obstacles stopped women from entering the workforce, including familial and spousal obligations and restrictions, unequal pay, and a lack of affordable child care services and transportation.

However, the Kingdom has been pushing women’s empowerment since announcing its goals for Vision 2030, lifting a ban on driving, introducing child care programs allowing women to travel without their guardian’s consent.

Khaled Al-Dhaher, country managing director for Accenture in Saudi Arabia, said that leadership needs to come from senior managers.

“In Saudi Arabia, a critical starting point for the career advancement of women is at the top. Our research concludes that a positive tone from the top of the organization goes a long way in setting out both the moral and commercial case for gender equality,” he said.

“Ultimately, a positive workplace culture facilitates a shift in the collective corporate mindset — and, in turn, enables a resilient economy that is less dependent on oil and more reliant on a young and emerging generation ready to seize the limitless opportunities of the future.”

Organizations that follow that module, where the top 10 percent are mostly equal, have female employees with ambition and confidence levels that are 23 percent higher than average and have a 62 percent likelihood of reaching managerial positions.

Such environments also encourage innovation among employees of both genders, Al-Dhaher said. Their ability to be creative is 50 percent higher than organizations that are seen as less equal for women.

In the past three years, Accenture has been working on redefining the cultural reset needed to boost the country’s economy. In a survey of 70,000 employees, the company found five major “cultural actions” that can help the Kingdom create greater equality.

“Our analysis highlights three areas of focus: Building more gender-diverse senior leadership teams; setting targets on gender diversity, measuring and sharing progress; and creating environments in which women ‘have a voice.’ In environments that pull these together, women are 33 percent more likely to advance to manager level and beyond — and their levels of ambition and confidence rise by 7 percent. Employee innovation mindset also rises by 4 percent,” Al-Dhaher said.

Protecting women against discrimination, harassment and unethical behavior, and creating an environment where they feel comfortable reporting such misconduct has boosted ambition and confidence by 21 percent in organizations where this is carried. Women employees’ likelihood of advancement soared by 15 percent.

Additional factors include providing employees with a flexible work environment, supporting parental leave for both genders, and investing in training programs for both genders. According to Accenture’s survey, 88 percent of Saudi women agreed that getting the proper training that helps advance their skillset was important to them, but only 25 percent of employers agreed.

The mistakes companies make in this area are similar around the world, according to author and workplace culture adviser Dawn Metcalfe, who has worked as a consultant with Saudi companies for more than a decade. Companies tend to consider a few successful cases as enough to set women up in the work environment, when there is much more to be done, she said.

“We (companies) don’t think about the systemic issues. We don’t do enough to remove obstacles, to make sure that all the people who could have an influence understand why this is in their best interest,” she told Arab News.

“We are not empowering women here. Women are fine. We’re empowering a country by making sure that 50 percent (51 percent globally) of its asset are being fully utilized,” she added.

Metcalfe said the challenges that companies face are also universal. In her words, history seems to be the biggest one.

“We have a long history of the same people always being in charge, and those have always been men. The whole system is set up for men,” she said.

Change can only happen once more women are seen at senior levels, Metcalfe added. Once women start taking leadership positions, they will hire more women, while men will begin to shift their misconceptions about women in a working environment the more they are exposed to working with female colleagues.

“Saudi companies need to do the same thing as every other company (in order to establish a workforce that is equal and creative for women). If something is important in business, then we put resources behind it, targets against it and hold people accountable.”

Empowering women will not be achieved by chanting the words. Metcalfe said companies need to invest in women and to increase the representation of women in the workforce by creating budgets that empower them. Only then will the $400 billion boost to Saudi GDP be achieved by 2030.


DIFC Courts sees 41% rise in cases during 2020

DIFC Courts sees 41% rise in cases during 2020
Updated 01 March 2021

DIFC Courts sees 41% rise in cases during 2020

DIFC Courts sees 41% rise in cases during 2020
  • The DIFC Courts’ Small Claims Tribunal (SCT) saw cases increase 47 percent to 466 cases in 2020

DUBAI: The Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) Courts saw a 41 percent rise in the number of cases it handled last year, with its technology and construction sector recording a 233 percent surge in disputes, it was announced on Monday.

Established in 2004 and based on the English-language common law system, the courts’ jurisdiction was expanded in 2011 to include all businesses from all GCC countries and beyond.

The number of cases at the main Court of First Instance rose last year by 41 percent, while the total value of claims increased 72 percent to AED9.95 billion ($2.71 billion), with the average claim across cases amounting to AED86.3 million. The cases covered a wide range of sectors, including banking and finance, construction, and real estate.

The courts also reported a 50 percent increase in the number of opt-in cases last year, meaning claims where the contracts do not specify the DIFC Courts as the location for disputes but both parties have elected to use it in order to find a resolution.

Zaki Azmi, chief justice of the DIFC Courts, said: “Undoubtedly, 2020 was a year that tested the resilience of every government service, private-sector business, and individual. It was a year that forced everyone to re-shift focus; to reprioritize, and, to adapt to rapid changes.

“Given the extraordinary circumstances that have emerged, all core services of the DIFC Courts have been fully maintained, whilst remaining true to our core values and dedication of public service.”

The DIFC Courts’ Small Claims Tribunal (SCT) saw cases increase 47 percent to 466 cases in 2020. The majority (51 percent) of cases were related to breach of contract, followed by employment (25 percent), property and tenancy (16 percent), and banking and finance (8 percent). The total value of claims related to SCT cases amounted to AED55 million.

Earlier this year, the DIFC Courts launched a new court which will rule on commercial space-related disputes, it was revealed on Monday.

The Courts of Space initiative, in partnership with the Dubai Future Foundation, will see an international working group of public and private-sector experts tasked with exploring space-related legal issues linked to such disputes, and brainstorming possible outcomes.


Start-up of the Week: Dokkan Joze W Loze

Start-up of the Week: Dokkan Joze W Loze
Updated 01 March 2021

Start-up of the Week: Dokkan Joze W Loze

Start-up of the Week: Dokkan Joze W Loze
  • Joze W Loze offers two kinds of talbeenah; the regular, traditional recipe, or the “golden” talbeenah, flavored with turmeric

RIYADH: A new Jeddah-based start-up has customers going nutty for its candied goods.

Dokkan Joze W Loze, which translates as “The Walnut and Almond Shop,” has the perfect products for those looking for a sweet treat to snack on without the guilt of overindulgence.

Owner Wid Sami Fayez began selling her candied nut creations to friends and family about two years ago. As her products gained popularity, she decided to set up shop officially and begin selling to the public.

“Since most of my products are made with walnuts and almonds, I decided to name my shop after the two ingredients I use the most,” she told Arab News. “To imbue the name with the spirit of traditionalism, I added the word Dokkan.”

Fayez started out with her most popular product, candied pecans made with cinnamon. To this day it remains the shop’s best-seller, with candied almonds coming in a close second.

“We also started adding new products recently. For example, for those who don’t have a sweet tooth we offer savory almonds with rosemary, an ideal snack for those on a diet or trying to eat keto,” she said.

Fayez also offers seasonal treats and gift boxes during Ramadan, perfect as gifts for the holiday or to pass around to guests visiting during the holy month. Some of the shop’s seasonal products include dates, stuffed with her signature candied nuts, a pecan cake, and one of the most popular products, a traditional drink called “talbeenah.”

“A year ago, we started offering talbeenah in our shop to celebrate the Prophet’s sunnah. It is a porridge made from barley flour, formed by adding milk and honey to dried barley powder. We then add cinnamon and cardamom to it for extra flavor,” Fayez said.

“The Mother of the Believers, the Prophet’s wife Aisha, narrated that the Prophet recommended talbeenah as “a companion to the heart of the sick,” and noted that it has a variety of health benefits,” she said.

Joze W Loze offers two kinds of talbeenah; the regular, traditional recipe, or the “golden” talbeenah, flavored with turmeric and a delicate blend of other spices such as ginger, cloves, nutmeg and fennel.

“The health benefits of talbeenah are almost endless,” Fayez says of the drink. “In line with the words of the Prophet, it relieves depression and grief, is very good for the heart and the liver, is a natural diuretic, helps with high blood pressure, helps with a cough, contains anti-oxidants, and so much more.”

For customers outside of Jeddah, Fayez also sells talbeenah as a dry mix, to which customers can add their own milk and combine at home.

The shop’s products can be purchased from Instagram by messaging them directly at @dokkanjozewloze, as well as from Jeddah’s community retail space Amkana, @amkanaksa on Instagram.


China’s Tencent Cloud to open data center in Bahrain

China’s Tencent Cloud to open data center in Bahrain
Updated 01 March 2021

China’s Tencent Cloud to open data center in Bahrain

China’s Tencent Cloud to open data center in Bahrain
  • The Middle East’s cloud market was expected to reach $4.5 billion by 2024

DUBAI: Chinese tech conglomerate Tencent announced on Monday its cloud division is to open a data center in Bahrain.

Tencent Cloud signed an agreement with the Bahrain Economic Development Board to launch the center later this year, marking the Chinese firm’s first milestone in the Middle East.

The Middle East’s cloud market was expected to reach $4.5 billion by 2024, growing at an annual rate of 17.5 percent, according to research by MarketsandMarkets.

In 2017, Bahrain introduced the region’s first nationwide cloud-first policy to enhance government information and communication technologies, driving the adoption of cloud across state entities and reducing IT costs by up to 90 percent.


Battery prices need to fall before Mideast motorists embrace electric vehicles says Nissan official

Battery prices need to fall before Mideast motorists embrace electric vehicles says Nissan official
Updated 01 March 2021

Battery prices need to fall before Mideast motorists embrace electric vehicles says Nissan official

Battery prices need to fall before Mideast motorists embrace electric vehicles says Nissan official
  • Middle East gearing up for transition to electric vehicles: Senior Nissan official
  • Drop in battery prices, improved infrastructure key drivers in move toward EVs

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is leading the regional push towards electric vehicle (EV) adoption but battery prices remain a worry for motorists, according to a top Nissan official.

Guillaume Cartier, senior vice president of marketing and sales at the Japanese motor manufacturer said that the speed of introduction would depend on a fall in battery prices to a level that made the cost of an EV equivalent to that of a regular car.

Speaking to Asharq Business, Cartier said that a comprehensive infrastructure for charging EVs was needed before a successful transition could happen.

He noted that there was an intention to switch to EVs and that the region was moving from a mentality of pioneering the adoption of EV technology to a real desire to provide it.

Saudi Arabia has already put itself on the path to adopting EVs and the Saudi Standards, Metrology, and Quality Organization has approved imported EVs and allowed local agents to start bringing the vehicles into the Kingdom.

Other initiatives taken by the government may contribute to the promotion of EVs.  These include Saudi Electricity Co.’s 2018 agreement with Nissan for the first EV pilot project in the country that included the development of fast-charger EV stations.
 


Oman orders partial commercial shutdown from March 4-20, state TV

Oman orders partial commercial shutdown from March 4-20, state TV
Updated 01 March 2021

Oman orders partial commercial shutdown from March 4-20, state TV

Oman orders partial commercial shutdown from March 4-20, state TV

DUBAI: All commercial activities in Oman will close from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. local time in the period from March 4 to March 20, as part of measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus, Oman State TV reported on Monday.