Some Saudi women are wedded to their careers

Updated 25 May 2012

Some Saudi women are wedded to their careers

For most Saudi women the thought of marriage conjures up fairy tale images reminiscent of childhood dreams of becoming a princess for a day, wearing the perfect dress, being drenched in jewels and then whisked away by Prince Charming.
However for some the thought of being wed is nothing short of a nightmare. An increasing number of Saudi women would rather marry their career than a husband.
“I have decided not to get married and have chosen my career because I do not agree with the way many Saudi women are treated by their husbands,” said Rowia Howaish, a 30-year-old Saudi woman who works in a government hospital in Jeddah.
Howaish said she had attempted to get married a few years ago, but did not go through with it due to her fiancé's behavior.
“Even before we were officially engaged he had already begun talking to me about giving him my pay check and had discussed with me about letting him use my credit cards. Due to this type of behavior it was apparent that he was only interested in money and in being a control freak. This really scared me,” she admitted, adding that this was the primary factor that led to her decision to remain devoted only to her career.
However, for some women opting out of traditional matrimony, pure job satisfaction and not social issues are the main reason they remain unwed.
“I have decided not to get married because I am already in love…with my job,” said 26-year-old Saudi marketer Samia Al-Ahmedi.
“Because I am so happy and satisfied with my position at work and at home, I do not see any reason to rush into marriage and become tied down,” Al-Ahmedi said.
She added that she also feels that through her career she has been given the chance to eradicate social stereotypes about Saudi women and that working her way up the career ladder is her current aim.
“I guess that part of me sees getting married as an obstacle and that I would not be satisfied with splitting myself between my job and family life because I prefer to give 100% of my energy to one aspect in life,” Al-Ahmedi clarified.
Still, some women have said that they are aware of the staggering divorce rate in the Kingdom and the devastating effects it can have on a family.
“I have seen the trauma that divorce can have on innocent children, who are caught in the middle of a failed relationship,” said Noura Al-Madani, a primary teacher at a government school in Jeddah.
She added that in many cases, fathers typically use their children as pawns in an attempt to hurt and control their mother after divorce.
“While the ex-wives are being labeled ‘divorced women’, which is a negative social stigma in Saudi Arabia, ex-husbands often times go on with their lives.
“They get remarried and drag their ex-wife and children through legal torture after divorcing for sometimes no real reason at all,” Al-Madani said.
She explained that rather than putting herself into a possibly negative position, she has decided to put her efforts into reaping the rewards of teaching and caring about her students each day.
Although it remains a personal choice, the question that still remains is what is causing the rising trend of women shunning marriage.
"I think the main reason is that higher financial burdens nowadays are causing more stress on families and creating interpersonal and psychological disturbances such as depression and anger that can eventually lead to marital discord and evolve in divorce.
The pressure is primarily being put on women, which could be motivating them to remain single," said Dr. Suhail Abdulhameed Khan, a psychiatry consultant and director of the Jeddah Psychiatric Hospital, adding that if such behavior is witnessed, especially by children, it could eventually lead to the development of phobias concerning marriage.
Khan said that the change in social roles concerning Saudi women over the last two decades is also a major factor.
"Currently more women are employed in high-ranking positions through the implementation of human rights bodies and increased women's rights in the Kingdom. This has allowed them more freedom and the ability to choose their careers over marriage, which was simply not an option for Saudi women in the past," he concluded.
According to a study released in February this year by the Kingdom’s Ministry of Social Affairs, the divorce rate in 2011 increased by 35 percent, making Saudi Arabia’s figure higher than the world average of 18-22 percent and the second-highest rate in the world.


Saudi health authorities ready to join trials of COVID-19 vaccines

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health is working with a different Chinese company to evaluate whether the vaccine it is developing is effective. (REUTERS)
Updated 22 September 2020

Saudi health authorities ready to join trials of COVID-19 vaccines

  • Ministry of Health and King Abdullah International Medical Research Center have been working with two Chinese drug companies

JEDDAH: King Abdullah International Medical Research Center (KAIMRC) in Saudi Arabia is preparing to take part in advanced trials of one or two COVID-19 vaccines.

About 40 potential vaccines are being tested on humans, nine of which are at the advanced stage of clinical trials to evaluate their safety and effectiveness in protecting people against a virus that has infected more than 31 million people around the world.

The center confirmed its readiness to cooperate with the Kingdom’s Ministry of Health and the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) and participate in tests of one or two of the nine vaccines that are in the third phase of clinical trials, during which large-scale testing on humans takes place.

Dr. Naif Al-Harbi, the head of KAIMRC’s drug-development unit, told Al-Ekhbariya TV news channel that it is unprecedented to have nine vaccines in stage three of clinical trials so soon, less than a year, after the emergence of a new virus.

“Approval or disapproval of any drug normally follows the third stage of its clinical trials, which is the last stage,” he added. “Since the pandemic, KAIMRC has been in continuous contact with a number of drug companies in four countries (that are developing vaccines).”

KAIMRC has been working with one Chinese pharmaceutical company in particular to help evaluate and accelerate the development of its vaccine, he said.

“Over the past two months, we have been in contact with Sinovac to scientifically evaluate its product, in term of the tests on animals and a study of the results of stages one and two on humans,” Al-Harbi said.

He added that the Kingdom’s Ministry of Health is working with a different Chinese company to evaluate whether the vaccine it is developing is effective. A number of factors are taken into consideration when reaching a conclusion.

“We examine the drugs and make sure they have caused no side effects when tested on humans, or that they just caused insignificant side effects,” said Al-Harbi. “We also look into the manufacturing company’s profile to ensure it follows the standards of the good manufacturing practices, and that the company’s products are consistently produced and controlled according to quality standards.”

He added that SFDA is also doing a great job in ensuring that vaccines are safe, to avoid any risks to the health of people in the Kingdom.

In a message posted on Twitter, KAIMRC said that some countries, such as Russia, China and the UAE, have given doctors the green light to use some vaccines on patients before that have been approved, but only in emergency cases and when the results of early clinical studies indicate that the vaccine is safe.

On Monday, Saudi Arabia announced 27 additional COVID-19-related deaths. The death toll in the country now stands at 4,512.

Meanwhile, 492 new cases have been confirmed in the Kingdom, bringing the total number of people infected by the virus to 330,246. Of those, 14,235 cases remain active and 1,133 patients are in a critical condition.

The Ministry of Health said Makkah recorded the highest number of new cases, with 58, followed by Jeddah with 53, and Madinah with 38.

A further 1,060 people in the Kingdom have recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries to 311,499. A total of 6,093,601 tests for the virus have been carries out in the country, including 43,652 in the past 24 hours.