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 Arabia’s deputy defense minister welcomes agreement to operate Aden hospital in Yemen

Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister welcomes agreement to operate Aden hospital in Yemen
Updated 13 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister welcomes agreement to operate Aden hospital in Yemen

Saudi Arabia’s deputy defense minister welcomes agreement to operate Aden hospital in Yemen

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman on Thursday congratulated Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council and the Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen for signing a contract to operate Aden General Hospital for three years.

SDRPY on Wednesday signed the contract to operate and manage the hospital in the de facto capital and serve 438,000 patients a year, at a cost of more than SR330 million ($87.9 million)

“In continuation of the Kingdom’s efforts to provide support to the Yemeni people in the humanitarian, relief and economic aspects, we congratulate the Presidential Leadership Council in Yemen and SDRPY for signing a contract to operate Aden General Hospital for a period of three years, with a value exceeding SR330 million, to provide health care to the brotherly Yemeni people,” Prince Khalid said in a tweet.

Operations at the hospital will begin within 90 days of completing of staff preparations, taking delivery of medicines and medical equipment, and testing health care devices.

The hospital will operate at 50 percent capacity during its first year of responding to the urgent needs of the people of Aden and neighboring governorates, increasing to full capacity by year two.


Uzbekistan president meets with Organization of Islamic Cooperation head

Uzbekistan president meets with Organization of Islamic Cooperation head
Updated 18 August 2022

Uzbekistan president meets with Organization of Islamic Cooperation head

Uzbekistan president meets with Organization of Islamic Cooperation head
  • Officials discussed issues of interest, including supporting peace and security in the region and the world

RIYADH: The president of Uzbekistan met with the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation during an official trip to the Kingdom on Thursday.

During the meeting, Shavkat Mirziyoyev praised Hissein Brahim Taha for leading the OIC’s efforts to promote joint Islamic action and consolidate the spirit of Islamic solidarity.

The president stressed that the organization receives special attention from his country’s government which is looking forward to strengthening cooperation with the OIC.

Taha expressed his appreciation for Uzbekistan’s role in the OIC and its efforts to support the activities of the organization and promote joint Islamic action through various initiatives.

He stressed the OIC’s keenness to enhance cooperation with Uzbekistan in all areas of common interest.

The two officials also discussed issues of common interest, including supporting peace and security in the region and the world and taking care of the interests of the organization and its member states.


Saudi beauty brands champion sustainable, cruelty-free values

Saudi beauty brands champion sustainable, cruelty-free values
Updated 18 August 2022

Saudi beauty brands champion sustainable, cruelty-free values

Saudi beauty brands champion sustainable, cruelty-free values
  • Muzon Ashgar, founder and manager of Saudi brand MZN Bodycare, put together her own recipes for natural skincare products and packaged them herself
  • Managing partner Mama’s Alchemy Dina Horanieh: We wanted to offer vegan options in the bodycare category in Saudi and the region, as there are very few brands that cater to the cause

RIYADH: Muzon Ashgar, founder and manager of Saudi brand MZN Bodycare, has always had an interest in natural skincare products, which she sourced from the US.

But after throwing a recreational “spa party” for friends a few years ago, she realized there was no need to look abroad to be ethically conscious.

Ashgar put together her own recipes for natural skincare products and packaged them herself. She went from giving the products away as gifts at her at-home spa to selling at local markets and events, eventually establishing her own company.

Now her cruelty-free and sustainable products can be found at major pharmacy chains, premium retailers, and spas across Saudi Arabia.

“We are impressed that most of our customers actually care about MZN being a sustainable brand. There is a remarkable awareness within our community of the benefits of buying sustainable local brands,” Ashgar told Arab News.

But this awareness was not always apparent, and is nonexistent in some communities.

A report by business consultancy Mordor Intelligence found that the major players in the Saudi beauty industry are non-cruelty-free firms, including Beiersdorf AG (parent company to brands such as Nivea and Labello) and Estee Lauder.

When a brand is not cruelty free, the company either conducts individual testing on animals itself, through their supplier, or through a third party.

Ranked top in the huge global market is Procter & Gamble, which holds brands such as Herbal Essences, Pantene, Olay and SK-II. The consumer giant recently announced its commitment to #BeCrueltyFree throughout its 19 companies, highlighting moves by the industry to become more sustainable.

Coming in third is Avon, a brand that is completely cruelty free. While Estee Lauder is not, some of the brands in its portfolio, including Smashbox and Too Faced, both popular with Saudi consumers, have cruelty-free certification by the US-based animal rights group PETA.

The issue becomes complicated because some brands cannot fully develop a cruelty-free approach because they sell products in countries that require animal testing by law, such as China. Pulling their supply from such countries would result in a huge revenue loss.

However, Saudi Arabia does not insist on animal testing for skincare and beauty products. This creates an easy market for local sustainable and vegan cosmetics to step up and answer the demand for those items.

Saudi environmentalist Zahra Alqatari told Arab News that there is only limited awareness of sustainability as an issue in the Kingdom.

“That makes demand for cruelty-free and sustainable beauty products low. As a result, the beauty industry continues to produce products that harm us, animals and the environment.” 

However, this is changing as local brands, such as MZN Bodycare, champion natural, vegan and cruelty-free products for the everyday consumer.

The brand, established in 2015, believes in using local plants to create environmentally friendly products.

“Our region is full of plantations that have amazing benefits like the moringa, olive oils, rose and lavender essential oils, and date seed powder and oils. We found through published research that those oils are very high in antioxidants and vitamins which are beneficial to the skin,” Ashgar told Arab News.

The company has seen a growing interest among Saudis in developing sustainable and environmentally friendly living habits.

“We actually had some customers ask for a ‘return packaging’ program from us, where we take back the used packaging and refill it for them. Some call us to verify the source of our raw materials and that we are actually a cruelty-free brand,” said Ashgar.

Another cruelty-free brand, Mama’s Alchemy, is based on veganism as a core value and motivator.

“We wanted to offer vegan options in the bodycare category in Saudi and the region, as there are very few brands that cater to the cause. We believe veganism plays a vital role in keeping our planet clean and reducing waste,” Dina Horanieh, the firm’s managing partner, told Arab News.

The brand founders went on the hunt for vegan body products for their personal use, but were unable to find any — so they made their own. Mama’s Alchemy caters not only to vegan consumers, but also anyone looking for clean and sustainable body products.

 “The response (from the Saudi public) has been heartwarming. We hope to see more local suppliers offering sustainable options. We are continuously working to offer more vegan and sustainable products,” said Horanieh.


Rescue team saves life of man lost in mountains

Rescue team saves life of man lost in mountains
Updated 18 August 2022

Rescue team saves life of man lost in mountains

Rescue team saves life of man lost in mountains
  • Family alerted police and volunteers to the plight of the missing Sudanese man, who was located just in time
  • The man was located by the Wassem Volunteer Team, which has specially-equipped cars and gliders for use in the Wadi Al-Dawasir area

RIYADH: A Sudanese man lost in the mountains near the town of Al-Khasra, 320 kilometers southwest of Riyadh, has been rescued by the Wassem Volunteer Team.

The team, which has specially-equipped cars and gliders for use in the Wadi Al-Dawasir area, launched a large search for the missing Sudanese, managing to find and rescue him before he succumbed to heat exhaustion or dehydration.

“We were contacted about the missing man by his family, who provided us with an official letter from the police, and we headed to the site. Thank God, within an hour, we found the man, who was in (a) bad condition, and he was rescued and taken to safety,” Abu Abbas, a member of the team, told Arab News.

“We can consider this a good day, because (in) some cases (people) are found dead, like (a case we had) yesterday.”

The Sudanese man was rescued by the Wassem Volunteer Team.

The story and videos of the search and rescue were shared by people on social media and through mainstream news outlets, prompting praise for the volunteers.

Abbas advised people who want to go to the mountains or desert to download navigation apps on smart devices that operate outside mobile networks via satellites before travelling.

The Wassem Volunteer Team uses gliders.

“Prior to any outing, especially one that takes place outside of the (mobile) network, the person needs to let his family know where he is going and how long he will be in the desert. Then he checks his vehicle and everything he needs. By extending the number of days as a precaution, he must also bring food and water for a longer period of time than he will be staying.”

The team of volunteers was established two years ago, and so far more than 120 missing or stranded people have been rescued with their help and the help of other volunteers in the area.


Ksrelief chief meets Omani former conjoined twins 15 years after their separation

Ksrelief chief meets Omani former conjoined twins 15 years after their separation
Updated 18 August 2022

Ksrelief chief meets Omani former conjoined twins 15 years after their separation

Ksrelief chief meets Omani former conjoined twins 15 years after their separation
  • Al-Rabeeah met with Safa and Marwa Muhammad bin Nasser Al-Jardani and their parents in Riyadh
  • The twins were successfully separated 15 years ago

RIYADH: The supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center received on Wednesday a set of Omani former conjoined twins whom he operated on in 2007.

Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah met with Safa and Marwa Muhammad bin Nasser Al-Jardani and their parents at the KSrelief headquarters in Riyadh.

The twins underwent successful surgery to separate adhesions in their skulls, brain membranes, and intervening veins at King Abdulaziz Medical City in Riyadh fifteen years ago.

Al-Rabeeah said Saudi Arabia’s program to separate conjoined twins enjoys a high international status that would not be possible without the support of the Kingdom’s leadership.

The supervisor general of Ksrelief Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah talks to Omani former conjoined twins Safa and Marwa and their father in Riyadh. (SPA)

He added that the Kingdom has become specialized in performing complex surgical operations due to its advanced human and technical capabilities that make it a desired destination for anyone who requires treatment, whether from inside or outside Saudi Arabia.

He noted that the program embodies the humanity of the Kingdom, which transcends continents, borders and races to heal wounds and relieve human suffering.

The latest beneficiaries of the program are Yemeni twin girls Mawaddah and Rahma who were born conjoined at the lower chest and abdomen.

The baby girls from Aden were successfully separated in July.

The parents of the Omani twins expressed their gratitude to the Kingdom for facilitating the necessary efforts to separate and treat their daughters, adding that the kind gesture had had a great impact on their lives.