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Sat 31 Jul 2010 07:48 AM

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New reforms urged to support Saudi businesswomen

New report makes eight recommendations to Saudi Arabia's policymakers.

New reforms urged to support Saudi businesswomen
SAUDI BUSINESSWOMEN: The report compares Saudi women entrepreneurs with their counterparts in five Arab countries. (Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)

A new study on women’s businesses in Saudi Arabia has presented eight recommendations to give Saudi women the same opportunities as women entrepreneurs in other Arab nations, according to a report.

The Arab News daily said on Friday that the study ‘

Businesswomen in Saudi Arabia: Characteristics, Challenges, and Aspirations in a Regional Contex

t’, examines the business-enabling environment for women entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia and highlights the personal characteristics and business profiles of women business owners.

According to the Saudi-based daily, the report compares Saudi women entrepreneurs with their counterparts in five Arab countries: Jordan, Bahrain, the UAE, Lebanon and Tunisia.

The report is intended to strengthen “the understanding of the business and regulatory environment for Saudi businesswomen, to contextualise the situation of Saudi women entrepreneurs through comparison between them and other female entrepreneurs in the region and to identify and address the business challenges these women face in order to create a more supportive environment,” Arab News said.

The study made eight specific recommendations to Saudi policymakers to improve the situation of businesswomen:

The report urged policymakers to establish a Ministry of Women’s Affairs to monitor the implementation of related royal decrees and to devise a national strategy for women’s transition into the economy.

 

It suggested the appointment of female Shoura members to ensure that the interests of Saudi businesswomen and women in general are represented.

It called on to eliminate the requirement for women to appoint a male manager in businesses that serve both sexes.

 

The report also asked for ease in restrictions on mobility for women, in terms of public transportation, driving and international travel.

It suggested the creation of registration categories for the types of businesses that are in demand by businesswomen, such as beauty salons and day-care centres, and identify the  process for creating new registration categories in the future.

The report called on to commission further research on how to increase the effectiveness of businesswomen’s access to government services by improving female sections as well as the main centres in government agencies rather than a direct channel for them to receive government services.

It urged policymakers to launch a nationwide public campaign to promote women’s economic participation and support the implementation of existing Royal Decrees.

The report also suggested that Saudi policymakers ease hiring practices for businesswomen in areas that require international female expertise or that are unable to be met by Saudi female labour. This includes studying the possibility of granting work permits to non-Saudi women residing in Saudi Arabia on non-work visas.

The


68-page report

was co-authored by Noura Alturki and Rebekah Braswell and published by the Monitor Group and Al-Sayedah Khadijah Bint Khuwailad Businesswomen’s Center of the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

This was done with the support of the Centre of Arab Women for Training and Research (CAWTAR) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Arab News said.

“This focus comes at a time when we are witnessing a rapid and increased investment in our country’s human resources and economic development,” said Princess Adelah Bint Abdullah, president, Al Sayedah Khadijah bint Khuwailad Businesswomen’s Center.

“Fundamental to this investment has been the inclusion of regulations that encourage greater involvement of women in our work force. The impact of this support can be seen through the growth, productivity and innovation of Saudi Arabia’s women-owned businesses. My wish is that this report will highlight the progress and determination of these businesswomen and serve as a foundation for researchers interested in the socioeconomic development of our beloved country.”

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Frank Forsberg 10 years ago

Why are Saudis and Kuwaitis way behind the rest of the Gulf? I don't mean only women issues, as Kuwaitis made some strides, but just overall mentality. It takes two years for them to understand what takes 2 minutes for others to master. Go ask a Saudi person what year it is. They will tell you 1986. It is unbelievable. It is like Mississippi and Alabama.

Fahad 10 years ago

Dear Frank, you are absolutely right about that. it takes a lot of time for Saudis to understand anything. i have been to kuwait i dont know much about them but i do know they are progressing. the problem with saudi arabia is that they are not bothered at all for anything. having lived there 25 year of my life today i feel 1990 was much better than 2010. we all know progress but here you will find de-progress. the roads are awful , no one follows the laws , there is no set of procedures for anything , an expat doesnt know his right , between an expat and a local saudi the saudi is always right ! so next time if you a local bumps your car from behind then you are wrong its not his fault , bcoz he will come out of the car and first thing he will say to you is .. " if you were not in this country this accident would have not happened " but i dont see the saudis change in the coming decades. feel sorry for them. just look at other gulf countries how hard they working to make life better for their own people and for others.

Lee Xiang 10 years ago

Dear Frank & Fahad I agree with you as well. In 2006 I was in Jeddah and there was a six lane road with no single white mark, just black asphalt, open for the public. Who does that?. The rest of the world are use to complain a lack of law. There are many problems in UAE but as soon the law is learned the problem is gone. In Saudi Arabia there are every single law that is needed in every aspect of life. Just nobody is enforcing it.

Dorothy 10 years ago

Better to applaud the progressive forward Saudis, than judge them for their past customs. One must learn to walk before they can run! I can understand how hard it is to make changes in a culture that has lived their beliefs for years and years. Change is not easy for some, it (change) can be painful and slow. What works for another country may take time and thought and consideration for what will benefit their country and people. To walk in another's sandles, then you have a right to perhaps judge another. Just my humble opinion and I mean no disrespect to any person or culture. Thank you

AMERICAN IN KUWAIT 10 years ago

Frank, I have lieved in both Saadi and Kuwait and Saudi is light years ahead of Kuwait. Most of the Saudis I have worked with I would hire anywhere.

Chris J 10 years ago

Having recently left Kuwait, it is fair to say that Kuwait will never progress while the entrenched sytem of wasta is in place. Business is highly inefficient internally, being run by ethnic mafias determined to milk the system, and the country is run by a government that disolves on a regular basis and provides no forward direction. The family companies sell grey market product rather than sign agreements, and because of bloated infrastructure, have to charge prices that are between 30 and 80 % higher than Dubai....then blame it on freight. Saudi is learning and growing, but Kuwait has not learned and with the huge amounts paid to locals as support from the government, there is no internal drive in the country to succeed.

D.H.F. 10 years ago

When I stayed in Riyadh last year, I was always questioned by my wife & female colleagues and friends as well: "How is work for women in Saudi Arabia?". I wasn't able to give a answer. Therefore I can strongly recommend to read this report in detail: Beside the eight recommendations the given data (surveys, statistics,..) and the statements/citations gives an impression. My best wishes for the authors and their supporters.

Asaad 10 years ago

Saudi Arabia may be light years ahead of Kuwait or it may be stuck in the year 1986, but it is too harsh to judge a country's people based on experiences living mostly around a small district, let a lone a city or the entire country. Saudi, just like any other country, has its shames, much like any of the countries represented here by any of you. Rightly put, Ms. Dorothy, that while it is easy to focus on a nation's shortcomings, one must not forget to see the glass half full as well. Change is happening in Saudi Arabia in every aspect, whether the country likes it or not, change must be embraced. I am talking about the emancipation of women, educational progress, job prospects, higher living standard, etc. These are issues that concern your average Joe and Jane. It is inevitable that the future of the country will be quite different than how it looks today. Saudi has had enough of its share of the blame game. There is a trend of progress that is budding and it needs the world's encouragement. The point to be made is that Saudi has been wrong and is still wrong in some aspects; please be the wiser one and help instead of blaming. P.S I am a proud Saudi citizen and the year is 2010 :)

Frank Forsberg 10 years ago

The reason I mentioned Saudis and Kuwaitis (noticed I'm talking about the people?) is that they are the only two countries that its own people (not governments) are against their own societal developments. Others like African countries the problem is corrupted leadership. Current Saudi leadership is a God's gift but what good can it gonna do if nobody cares. For example, Can anyone mention any country without corruption? including Lichtenstein and Qatar, two richest in the world. From powerful USA to the poorest like Sierra Leone everyone is fighting against corruption, but have you ever seen a person that lives the most exclusive part in Jeddah, drives $150,000 BMW and yet asking for SR 40? If he demands 40,000 I can understand, where else can that happen? not even Zimbabwe. 4 am three cars were stopped by the traffic light in two lane road and there were no other cars, guess what they did? that is right, parked side by side all three of them? You go to bank, he shows up 10.30 am. While you're the only customer, you wait for another two hours, when he lets you in, he starts talking to his wife over the phone checking who else is the house, I swear because he didn't think I could understand Arabic. Because of that , 17 hospitals missed their inventory for two weeks. UAE and Bahrain were just like that before the reform but changed easily. NOT these guys. So that is why I was asking for help just to understand why. I'm complaining about the lack of infrastructures overall, but not using what is there.

Zaynab Abdulhakiim 10 years ago

Dear my countryman Asaad, what other people are saying is if we don't accept changes how can we move forward. There are male Saudi laws, female Saudi laws, the developed nations laws and the rest of the people laws. And I'm talking about even the way Islamic laws are implemented in our country. The question is when are we going to do the progress that you've mentioned? I'm between 20 and 30 yo. and I'm not expecting emancipation in my lifetime. So I understand when other people look down on us while we posses all the essential resources that can make us great. I'm proud Saudi woman and the century is 18. Thank you.