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.


Saudis enjoy pandemic jobs boost after public and private sector efforts

Ammar Al-Sabban, a creative director and puppeteer, benefited from the ministry’s platform. (Supplied)
Updated 19 October 2020

Saudis enjoy pandemic jobs boost after public and private sector efforts

  • The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development launched a platform for freelance work in February which aims to diversify work opportunities and increase job security and credibility

JEDDAH: Philanthropic bodies from the public and private sectors have helped Saudis affected by the coronavirus lockdown with part-time and freelance job opportunities.
Initiatives were launched in a nationwide effort to provide economic relief to those who lost their jobs or suffered a salary drop.
Bab Rizq Jameel, part of Community Jameel, has helped more than 15,000 people in the Kingdom find employment this year.
The male employment rate reached 96 percent. The results showed that most new jobs were created in deliveries through electronic platforms during the lockdown.
Tahseen, a program at Community Jameel, supports young people through seasonal and temporary employment opportunities. It has succeeded in achieving the largest number of jobs, helping to create 12,730 opportunities in the past nine months.
Rola Basamad, senior general manager of Bab Rizq Jameel, said: “2020 is undoubtedly an exceptional year, but the global health crisis has confirmed our ability to adapt to the current situation and address many operational challenges and obstacles.”
Naif Al-Rabee, marketing general manager at Bab Rizq Jameel, told Arab News that they carried out a campaign called “fazza.tech” during the lockdown. “Fazza” is Arabic slang for support.
The campaign provided support for two parties: The private sector — which includes delivery and maintenance applications — and people who have lost their jobs because of the pandemic or who were relying on part-time work.
“We searched for Saudi drivers to meet the needs of people who were requesting these services in large numbers,” he said.
“We connected the two parties as quickly as possible with additional working hours to fulfill the requests of the two parties all over the Kingdom.”
The “Fazza Tech” initiative brought together 27 private sector companies.
The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development launched a platform for freelance work in February which aims to diversify work opportunities and increase job security and credibility.
Arab News spoke to Ammar Al-Sabban, a creative director, screenplay writer, voice actor, puppeteer and freelancer since 2008 who benefited from the ministry’s platform.
“The issue was we never had any entity or legal representation or status in the Kingdom. So we either worked without any legal structure, and when I got that legal structure I had to actually apply to have my own establishment,” he said.
He said you need to pay certain fees when creating a company, and provide a location and complete specific registrations. Freelancing does not require these procedures.
“Since the ministry started this initiative, I immediately applied. When it first began, it had a limited number of professions but soon they added more and once I found my professions I registered.
“The process was fairly easy and I received my permits within a day or two. You can submit up to five different services to registered as a freelancer. It made my life so much easier.”