Reforms pay dividends as Saudi women enter jobs market

The Kingdom has increasing women’s workforce participation as part of its Vision 2030 reform targets. (Supplied)
The Kingdom has increasing women’s workforce participation as part of its Vision 2030 reform targets. (Supplied)
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Updated 28 March 2022

Reforms pay dividends as Saudi women enter jobs market

The Kingdom has increasing women’s workforce participation as part of its Vision 2030 reform targets. (Supplied)
  • Labor experts point to women’s role as ‘key player in economic growth’

RIYADH: Women’s empowerment in the Saudi labor market is gathering pace with the ambitious aim of increasing the female contribution to the Kingdom’s overall economy to 28 percent.

The Shoura Council has enacted a number of laws and proposed amendments to other regulations in order to protect women’s rights, including initiatives to reduce unemployment, as well as increase female representation in positions of authority and decision-making.

Legislative efforts are expected to broaden employment opportunities, paving the way for women to work in different sectors.




Dr. Hala Al-Tuwaijri, Secretary General of the Family Affairs Council. (Supplied)

The objective is also to lift women’s participation in the labor force from 22 percent to 30 percent by 2030, as well as strengthen female economic involvement by encouraging remote and flexible work.

SPEEDREAD

• Legislative efforts are expected to broaden employment opportunities, paving the way for women to work in different sectors.

• The objective is to lift women’s participation in the labor force from 22 percent to 30 percent by 2030, as well as strengthen female economic involvement by encouraging remote and flexible work.

• Other goals include leadership guidance for female cadres, programs to support daycare centers, training to help women meet labor market requirements, and the improvement of job creation mechanisms.

Other goals include leadership guidance for female cadres, programs to support daycare centers, training to help women meet labor market requirements, and the improvement of job creation mechanisms.

Hala Al-Tuwaijri, secretary general of the Family Affairs Council, told Arab News that “accurate indicators” based on labor market data will help empower women economically and enhance productivity.

The Kingdom has increasing women’s workforce participation as part of its Vision 2030 reform targets, she said.

Legislative changes also have a positive impact on the Kingdom’s international indicators, and “this supports the continuation of resolutions, the launch of programs, and future plans and solutions to support the empowerment of women to access opportunities and services.”

She said that women’s economic empowerment will boost productivity, and contribute to greater economic diversification and income equity, as well as assist positive development outcomes and growth in gross domestic product.

Companies and institutions benefit from increasing employment opportunities and women’s access to leadership positions, enhancing the efficiency of the organization. As a result, according to Al-Tuwaijri, the Kingdom has paid special attention to women’s strong and active participation in social and economic development.

She said that an integrated system for empowering women in the labor market should be provided. Economic progress and encouragement of women to enter the labor market can help balance women’s lives and enhance their role in the family.

“A family-friendly work environment should be created through, but not limited to, various labor policies and patterns such as flexible work policies, part-time work, the provision of soft loans to women entrepreneurs,” Al-Tuwaijri said.

“It is important to support policies, programs, and initiatives that assist women in meeting the challenges of the labor market and that are provided by the Kingdom to facilitate women’s access to and promotion of entry into the labor market.”

Other experts also shared their views about women joining the labor market in Saudi Arabia.

Gareebah Al-Twaiher, supervisor of the Department of Female Students at Arab East Colleges, said that government resolutions in support of women had enabled them to become an effective player and partner in the region’s comprehensive and sustainable development.

These resolutions view women as strategic partners in driving comprehensive and sustainable economy across the country, she added.

Al-Twaiher, who also chairs the Future Women Society,) said: “Indicators are an important scientific tool for monitoring women’s participation in development and measuring progress toward Vision 2030 targets, and the Kingdom’s overall trends toward achieving women-related sustainable development goals, which will have a positive impact on women’s economic empowerment to participate in regional development.”

She said that for decision-makers and market policymakers, “accurate indicators” based on labor market data are critical.

“It assists in diagnosing challenges and assessing the current situation by understanding the structure of the current market, understanding the demographics of the labor market, identifying the main indicators of the market, in general, and of women in particular, and contributing to the Kingdom’s progress in global indicators, thereby supporting and strengthening efforts to improve the mental image of Saudi women.”

Al-Twaiher, who recently finished a joint study on “The Impact of Artificial Intelligence and Automation on Future Jobs in Saudi Arabia,” highlighted the importance of “carefully selecting qualified people and enabling women to develop their skills for future jobs by providing incentives that encourage them, enhance their technical capabilities, and increase their share in leadership positions.”

Saudi journalist Sukina Bu Haliqa believes that woman’s presence in the labor market has been modest and restricted to roles such as receptionists, cashiers and saleswomen, “but we haven’t seen women in executive positions or other senior positions.”

She hopes the rate of women’s participation in the labor market will rise, but said that “a lot is needed to achieve that.”

Bu Haliqa added that women’s independence in obtaining employment, including the ability to drive and choose whether to work, will have a host of implications for the national economy.

Independence will help women work in schools, nurseries and restaurants, for example, and increase their purchasing power, demand for basic services, and consumption of fuel and perfumes, for example — all of which have an impact on local economies.

Huda Al-Rasheedy, a specialist in scientific research, said that Saudi women’s empowerment has accelerated as a result of legislation to strengthen their position in society.

“They have become an effective partner in national development in all fields: Economic, social, scientific, cultural and others. Many decisions have been made that demonstrate the leadership’s faith in women and support their endeavors to hold leadership positions.”

According to Al-Rasheedy, author of “Innovation in Universities,” women are a major component of the Kingdom’s human capital, and constitute an important part of the economic value of human resources.

“Their integration and cohesion, as well as the effective investment of their skills and capabilities, are the basis for the demographic reconfiguration that achieves growth.

“The economy, as well as the belief in women’s pivotal role as a cornerstone in the development process and a flourishing economy, provided the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 with a great opportunity for their participation and enhancing their value in society,” she said.

 


Saudi, Costa Rican foreign ministers discuss ways to strengthen relations

Saudi, Costa Rican foreign ministers discuss ways to strengthen relations
Updated 10 August 2022

Saudi, Costa Rican foreign ministers discuss ways to strengthen relations

Saudi, Costa Rican foreign ministers discuss ways to strengthen relations

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan received a phone call on Wednesday from his Costa Rican counterpart, Arnoldo Andre Tinoco.
During the call, they reviewed bilateral relations and ways to enhance them in all fields to serve the aspirations of the two countries.
They also discussed the latest regional and international developments, and issues of common interest.


Authorities foil attempts to smuggle 70 tons of drugs into Saudi Arabia, 70 held

Authorities foil attempts to smuggle 70 tons of drugs into Saudi Arabia, 70 held
Updated 10 August 2022

Authorities foil attempts to smuggle 70 tons of drugs into Saudi Arabia, 70 held

Authorities foil attempts to smuggle 70 tons of drugs into Saudi Arabia, 70 held

RIYADH: Authorities in Saudi Arabia have arrested 70 people accused of trying to smuggle close to 70 tons of the stimulant khat and 618 kg of hashish into the Kingdom, news agency SPA reported on Wednesday.

Col. Misfer Al-Quraini, a spokesperson for the General Directorate of the Border Guard, said land patrols thwarted multiple smuggling attempts in the Najran, Jazan and Asir regions.

Of those arrested, 33 were Saudi citizens, 20 were Ethiopian and 17 were Yemeni nationals, he said.

Initial legal procedures against the suspects had been completed and the contraband had been passed to the relevant authorities, he added.

 

 


Bangladesh extends support for Saudi Arabia’s Expo 2030 bid

Bangladesh extends support for Saudi Arabia’s Expo 2030 bid
Updated 8 min 22 sec ago

Bangladesh extends support for Saudi Arabia’s Expo 2030 bid

Bangladesh extends support for Saudi Arabia’s Expo 2030 bid
  • The ambassador presented the letter to the Saudi minister during a meeting at the foreign minister’s office in Riyadh on Wednesday

RIYADH: Bangladesh Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Mohammed Javed Patwary delivered a letter from President of Bangladesh Mohammed Abdul Hamid expressing the country’s support for the Kingdom’s bid to host Expo 2030 in Riyadh.

The letter was delivered to King Salman through the Bangladesh ambassador and Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan.

The ambassador presented the letter to the Saudi minister during a meeting at the foreign minister’s office in Riyadh on Wednesday.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the Saudi bid in October last year and the formal application was submitted in December during a virtual meeting of the Paris-based Bureau International des Expositions.

The Kingdom has already won significant backing for its expo bid.

In November, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation pledged its support for the Saudi application.

Saudi Arabia’s bid is based on the theme “The Era of Change: Leading the Planet to a Foresighted Tomorrow.”

If the Kingdom is successful, the expo will take place in Riyadh from Oct. 1, 2030, to April 1, 2031.

Saudi Arabia has received a number of international endorsements and emerged as a strong contender.

There are five stages to the candidature process, which will culminate in a vote in late 2023.

During the meeting the Bangladesh ambassador and the Saudi foreign minister discussed cooperation between the two countries, and exchanged views on regional and international issues.

Patwary also reiterated Bangladesh’s fraternity and solidarity with the Kingdom.

The Saudi foreign minister voiced his satisfaction over the relationship between Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia, and said that he was looking forward to deepening the relationship further.


Rock stars: Saudi climbers chase a new high in NEOM

Rock stars: Saudi climbers chase a new high in NEOM
Updated 10 August 2022

Rock stars: Saudi climbers chase a new high in NEOM

Rock stars: Saudi climbers chase a new high in NEOM
  • The single-pitch routes, near NEOM, have become a favorite destination for a fast-growing and tight-knit group of climbers and adventurers
  • Wide variety of rock types in Saudi Arabia could play a huge role in attracting overseas climbers

JEDDAH: Saudi climbing enthusiasts in search of a “new high” have been gathering in the desert near NEOM to try out 100 new routes opened late last year as part of Rise 100, the Kingdom’s first climbing festival.

The single-pitch routes have become a favorite destination for a fast-growing and tight-knit group of climbers and adventurers.

Single-pitch climbing routes are up to a half-rope length (about 30 meters) with an anchor at the end, and are accessible to climbers of all abilities.

Rise 100 last December set the stage for NEOM’s diverse adventure sport offerings, which are designed to encourage greater environmental awareness, educating thrill-seekers beyond just the sport.

Now indoor climbing gyms are opening around the country, while a growing number of events bring international and local climbers together.

The result is a fast-growing community of young, but highly committed, climbers.

Abdul Rahman Abughazala, a 25-year-old mechatronic engineer, said that after developing an interest in the sport in college, “it took over my life.”

The young adventurer’s day now revolves around climbing.

New routes opened in NEOM “mean a lot to the climbing community,” he added.

“Newer climbers can experience different rock types and styles of climbing that are absolutely beautiful. And it is easier for Middle Eastern climbers from the north to visit Saudi and try climbing here,” he told Arab News.

Bolting more routes around the Kingdom will offer climbers more exposure and variety as they learn how to deal with different climbs and rock types.

Pioneering Saudi climber Faisal Al-Dosary said that hard granite rock gave Tanomah, a popular climbing destination in the Kingdom’s southwest, an advantage.

“Granite is stronger and more difficult to break,” he said.

“In NEOM, they are a bit closer to sandy rock, which makes them fragile. Fortunately, the routes are safe because they are bolted extremely deep. These kinds of differences will ensure that the climbers will be able to deal with any type of rock around the world.”

Abughazala agreed that the wide variety of rock types in Saudi Arabia could play a huge role in attracting overseas climbers to the Kingdom.

Al-Dosary, who was part of a team that worked together to open the first dedicated indoor climbing center in Saudi Arabia, said that it is encouraging to see so many younger climbers joining the sport.

“It is a skill that we need to develop at an early age, and it helps with flexibility and strength,” he said.

Follow this path, the climbing veteran said, “and we will have Olympic-level climbers.”

Abughazala said that he is excited about the future “because I know our potential, and I know that it is just a matter of time until our community thrives.”

Growth in the sport will also lead to greater environmental awareness and have “a big impact on the perception of nature,” he said.

“As climbers and nature lovers, leaving the place as it is, or in even better condition, is as important as the action of climbing. It is every single person’s job to care for it as much as the workers or the government body around the area.”

Climbers believe the NEOM routes are merely the start for Saudi Arabia, with the Kingdom’s desert areas and mountains destined to attract climbers from around the world.


Saudi water safety body launches new training programs

Saudi water safety body launches new training programs
Updated 10 August 2022

Saudi water safety body launches new training programs

Saudi water safety body launches new training programs
  • Water safety is a global concern, with one person drowning every two minutes around the world

MAKKAH: The Saudi Life Saving Federation has introduced two initiatives to help reduce drowning cases in the Kingdom.

The federation’s chief, Ahmed Al-Shammari, said that the programs will focus on training and qualification.

He said that the federation will introduce a six-day, 50-hour training program for men and women, after which trainees obtain an international rescuer certificate through which they can work in Saudi Arabia and in all member states of the International Life Saving Federation (ILS).

He added that another program will allow Saudis who qualify in international courses to submit them through the federation’s “rescuer” platform. A theoretical and practical evaluation process is then carried out. Once cleared, rescuers will obtain official certificates.

Al-Shammari said that the Saudi Life Saving Federation has provided its services to over 500 beneficiaries and works to increase community awareness on water safety through social and traditional media.

Water safety is a global concern, with one person drowning every two minutes around the world.

Al-Shammari told Arab News: “We regret the drowning cases occurring in several Saudi cities,” adding that avoiding these incidents is an integrated societal responsibility and everyone must join hands to prevent drowning cases.

He said that a society-wide response is what the federation works for through training, rehabilitation and a legislative calendar that benefits every rescuer, citizen, and resident, allowing them to obtain official certificates when they are available to train.

Al-Shammari said that the federation, established in 2019 by Sports Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, was certified by the ILS in 2020.

“We need a wide media mobilization to raise awareness about the importance of rescue and water safety. We aim to train the largest number of qualified lifeguards,” he said, noting that the federation has recently been granted seven seats at the ILS in Belgium.

Al-Shammari noted: “We focus on providing theoretical and practical qualifications by offering a range of courses for beginners working in water bodies, swimming pools and beaches, and contributing to the development of technical standards and regulations with all relevant authorities. We are currently working with the relevant authorities on forming a national committee to set national policies to prevent drowning cases.”

He stressed that work is currently underway to develop rescue sports competitions in various regions to prepare for the Kingdom’s representation in upcoming international forums.