Saudi women form small percentage of work force

Updated 07 September 2016

Saudi women form small percentage of work force

JEDDAH: Saudi women make up only 10.1 percent of the Kingdom’s work force.
Overall women in the labor force constitute 16.8 percent, according to the Labor Force Survey for the second quarter of 2016, released by the Saudi General Authority for Statistics.
Men make up 83.1 percent of the work force; of that number, 35.6 percent are Saudi and 47.5 percent are non-Saudi.
The total work force in Saudi Arabia — Saudis and foreigners — is 12,385,279. The total population is 31,015,999.
The survey shows an 11.6 percent unemployment rate among Saudis; women are 64.1 percent of unemployed Saudis and they are only 16.6 percent of employed Saudis.
According to the survey, 54.9 percent of unemployed Saudis have a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Khaled Barboud, human resources manager at Saudi Research and Publishing Company’s Jeddah branch, said: “Transportation and the work environment are key reasons for the low numbers of women in the work force.”
“Some working women have to take a cab to work everyday because they have no alternative,” he said, adding that some women were not able to afford such a daily expense.
“Some work environments might not be comfortable for Saudi women for a number of reasons,” he said. “Some companies make no effort to make the work environment suitable for women; some companies prefer hiring men as they think men are better at handling long working hours and working under pressure.”
Riham Soliman, a Saudi woman who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in pre-school education three years ago, has been searching for a job since the day she graduated.
“I have applied everywhere, schools, banks and even some local government offices,” she said. “Most of the jobs that I have applied for have not even responded to my application. One school I applied to offered to allow me to work for free with no promise of getting hired.”
The only job Soliman got was at a private school that paid such a low salary that she felt she was being exploited so she left.
The school explained the low salary by saying that the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) did not support it.
Another Saudi woman, Nahla Al-Ibrahim, said she had graduated from university four years ago and had not found a job although she is a licensed nutritionist.
Al-Ibrahim said she had worked in three different jobs since graduation.
One job was as an auditor in a currency exchange office for three months. She said she had to leave because of “mistreatment from some of my co-workers.”
She also worked as a customer service representative in a construction company for a year, but she left “because they did not offer me a clear career path or job security.”
She is currently working on a contract basis for a bank as a customer service representative but for a relatively low salary.

$800bn plan to turn Riyadh into cultural hub for the Middle East

Updated 38 min 20 sec ago

$800bn plan to turn Riyadh into cultural hub for the Middle East

  • Saudi capital’s planning chief unveils ambitious strategy ahead of G20 urban development summit

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia is launching a SR3 trillion ($800 billion) plan to double the size of Riyadh in the next decade and transform it into an economic, social and cultural hub for the region.

The ambitious strategy for the capital city was unveiled by Fahd Al-Rasheed, president of the Royal Commission for the City of Riyadh, ahead of key meetings of the U20, the arm of the G20 leaders’ summit that deals with urban development and strategy.

“Riyadh is already a very important economic engine for the Kingdom, and although it’s already very successful, the plan now, under Vision 2030, is to actually take that way further, to double the population to 15 million people,” he told Arab News.

“We’ve already launched 18 megaprojects in the city, worth over SR1 trillion, over $250 billion, to both improve livability and deliver much higher economic growth so we can create jobs and double the population in 10 years. It’s a significant plan and the whole city is working to make sure this happens.”

About $250 billion in investment is expected from the private sector, with the same amount generated by increased economic activity from population growth, finance and banking, cultural and desert tourism, and leisure events.

“We must also ensure the growth is managed properly, so there will be a focus on transport and logistics, including the Riyadh metro which will open at the beginning of next year. The aim is to increase productivity,” Al-Rasheed said.

The plan involves the creation of a “mega industrial zone” focusing on advanced technology such as renewables and automation, and biotechnology and aquaponics. Another key feature is sustainability, with energy conservation, the circular carbon economy with its emphasis on reducing emissions, and water management, all priorities.

“You will see 7 million trees planted in Riyadh in the next few years, and King Salman Park will be bigger than Hyde Park in London,” Al-Rasheed said.


  • 18 megaprojects have already been launched worth over $250 billion.
  • 7 million trees planted in Riyadh in the next few years.
  • King Salman Park will be bigger than Hyde Park in London.

The city also aims to be a Middle East artistic and cultural hub. An opera house is being considered, as well as public art shows with 1,000 works commissioned from around the world. “We have not seen anything like it since Renaissance Florence,” Al-Rasheed said.

The plans will be discussed this week during online meetings of the U20 linking Riyadh with Houston. The Texas oil capital is suffering a new spike in coronavirus cases and pandemics will be on the agenda. “We want to deal with this one, but also be ready for the next one,” Al-Rasheed said.