Getting more women into leadership positions top priority: CEO

18/01/20

  • Saudi Arabia is focusing on the Business 20 (B20), making this one of the key engagement groups. Women in Business will be Saudi Arabia’s signature topic

RIYADH: The boss of one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest banks says that getting more women into leadership positions is a top priority.
Samba CEO Rania Nashar chairs the action council for Women in Business created by the Business Twenty (B20), which is the official G20 dialogue with the business community. It represents the global business community across all G20 member states and all economic sectors.
She said the council was set up to boost women’s particpation not only in business but also in global leadership positions.
During the launch of the B20 in Saudi Arabia this week, Nashar highlighted the under-representation of women in the economy.
“There is a gap of 27 percent between male and female workers; 75 percent of males are part of the labor force while only 48 percent of females are working,” she said.
She said it was important not to just talk about women as workers but as business owners.

FASTFACT

Saudi Arabia will host the 15th G20 Summit in Riyadh on Nov. 21-22, 2020.

“That’s why entrepreneurship is very fundamental to our task force,” she said.  “The majority of the finance development programs have incentives for giving loans to females; however, despite the fact that many large borrowers are females, the amount of loans granted to them is far below what is granted to males,” she added.
Nashar said that two-thirds of female business founders feel that they were not taken seriously by investors when they pitch for investments. They also feel that they are treated differently from their male counterparts.
Saudi Arabia will host the 15th G20 Summit in Riyadh on Nov. 21-22, 2020. The Kingdom is focusing on the Business 20 (B20), making this one of the key engagement groups. Women in Business will be Saudi Arabia’s signature topic.

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Ivanka Trump applauds Saudi Arabia’s reforms advancing economic role for women

Time: 17 January, 2020

Prince Faisal bin Bandar (L) listens on as Ivanka Trump talks at the Royal Court in Riyadh on May 20, 2017. (File/AFP)
  • Saudi women in business have lauded the Vision 2030 strategy for being the key driver in helping them to realize their ambitions

The United States President’s daughter and advisor, Ivanka Trump, praised on Friday Arab states for the progress they have made in their reforms highlighted in a World Bank Report.

“Great seeing some big progress in countries with the most improved scores this year in the World Bank WBL (Women, Business and the Law) report,” she said, referring to several countries mentioned in the report, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Jordan and Tunisia.

Ivanka Trump
@IvankaTrump

Great seeing some big progress in countries w/ the most-improved scores in this yrs @WorldBank WBL Report: Saudi Arabia, UAE, Nepal, South Sudan, Sao Tome and Principe, Bahrain, DRC, Djibouti, Jordan, and Tunisia. See the reforms made & those that remain⬇️https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/32639/9781464815324.pdf 

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The World Bank’s annual “Women, Business, and the Law” report ranked Saudi Arabia top among 190 countries for its progress in bringing about reforms related to female involvement in economic development and entrepreneurship.

According to the World Bank’s figures for 2020, Saudi Arabia scored 70.6 out of 100 for progress achieved in the integration of women into the labor market. The report’s findings also placed the country first among Gulf states, and second in the Arab world for meeting the criteria.

Saudi women in business have lauded the Vision 2030 strategy for being the key driver in helping them to realize their ambitions.

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‘Everywhere in Saudi Arabia, you see a cultural revolution:’ Ex-French Minister Jack Lang

Time: 17 January, 2020 

Saudi Arabia and France are enjoying a ‘honeymoon in cultural cooperation,’ according to former French culture minister Jack Lang. (AFP)
  • ‘AUla: Wonder of Arabia’ exhibition at the Arab World Institute (IMA) in Paris extended until March 8 following growing interest
  • Extension should be seen in the context of reforms transforming Kingdom’s cultural landscape, says Jack Lang

PARIS: A major Paris exhibition showcasing the wonders of AlUla, Saudi Arabia’s archaeological treasure house, has been extended following “inspiring” media and visitor interest in the groundbreaking display.
The “AUla: Wonder of Arabia” exhibition at the Arab World Institute (IMA) was originally due to run from Oct. 9 to Jan. 19, but has been extended until March 8, 2020.

In an interview with Arab News, Jack Lang, the former French culture minister and current IMA president, said that the extension should be seen in the context of reforms that are transforming the Kingdom’s cultural, social and educational landscape.

“The exhibition is a big success on both fronts, media and visitors. We are witnessing a honeymoon in cultural cooperation between Saudi Arabia and France,” he said.

The IMA, or Institut du Monde Arabe, has a museum, library and auditorium, and seeks to provide a secular location for the promotion of Arab civilization, art, knowledge and aesthetics as well as the teaching of Arabic. It was founded in 1980 by 18 Arab countries with France to research information about the Arab world and its cultural and spiritual values.

Q: Why did you decide to extend the AlUla event?

A: The exhibition was covered extensively by media, both print and TV, from France, Europe, the US and the Arab world. It was a powerful world event for the press. Also, the visitor response has been inspiring. For example last weekend we received more than 3,000 visitors in a day.

Beyond the number of visitors and its media success, the exhibition seems to have produced a sort of joyful mood not only in Paris but elsewhere because it is largely commented on and admired.

It piqued the curiosity of a great number of visitors, encouraging them to visit AlUla. Visitors were dazzled by the photos taken by Yann-Arthus Bertrand and by the exhibition itself on 7,000 years of history.

People see that Saudi Arabia is a historical place that was traversed at one time by caravans and pilgrims, with civilizations, some unknown but brilliant, and others well known like the Nabataean civilization.

When visitors leave the exhibition, they are in a happy mood. And that is good thing for history and archaeology, and for the Arab world.

Q: Can you specify what good things it brings to the Arab world and Saudi Arabia?

A: Today, cliches and prejudices prevent some from seeing the deeper picture of a country like Saudi Arabia, which is witnessing drastic changes. I am not speaking about politics here, but culture. I tell many people that Saudi Arabia is in the middle of a cultural revolution. I had the privilege of visiting the Kingdom at least three times in one year, and during every visit I noticed a deep change. Women have more freedom about their dress and have acquired a number of new rights. The young are happy with this cultural freedom. Concerts are (being) organized.

Nobody would have imagined this was possible three years ago. Jean-Michel Jarre held a concert in Riyadh (on Saudi National Day in 2018) that was attended by 40,000 participants, both men and women.

Artefacts from the ‘AlUla: Wonder of Saudi Arabia’ exhibition. Below: AlUla’s dramatic landscape. (Supplied, Getty Images, AFP)

The Winter at Tantora festival, where the French violinist Renaud Capucon as well as the Toulouse orchestra are performing, will close in March with more concerts.

All this is being organized by (Saudi Culture Minister) Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan and his teams.

Then there is the Red Sea International Film Festival Jeddah Old Town, to which I have been invited as a guest of honor.

There are measures being taken to encourage film production and training of future film directors. There were contemporary art events in Jeddah a few days ago featuring Saudi artists, including remarkable female artists.

So everywhere in the country, you see a cultural revolution.

Q: How does this boost French-Saudi cooperation?

A: Of course, it does. If we talk only about AlUla, the French are involved. I am member of the consultative council. It is an agency headed by a Frenchman, Gerard Mestrallet, in agreement with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and French President Emmanuel Macron to conceive the main areas of its planning.

The AlUla exhibition was done under a joint commission of a French archaeologist Leila Nehme and a young Saudi, Abderahman Al-Suhaibani, a specialist in this civilization, who wrote his thesis in French at the Sorbonne.

Many young people working in AlUla have received their training in France. Furthermore, the crown prince has chosen French architect Jean Nouvel, who built the IMA, as architect designer of a resort at the entrance to the AlUla site.

So French artists are deeply involved in AlUla’s development. We are in a honeymoon phase of our cooperation with Saudi Arabia.

There is a spirit of openness of our Saudi friends that is touching. Prince Badr has asked many French friends of IMA to work in his ministry.

Q: How do you see the impact of this openness on Saudi youth given that you were a former culture minister in France?

A: The news I hear shows that a lot of the Saudi youth are happy with this change. It is a new atmosphere, not only in terms of culture but also in areas of education and sports. For example, two months ago, there was a mixed marathon of girls and boys along the seaside in Jeddah.

When Jean-Michel Jarre held his National Day concert, it was before a mixed audience. It is a wise move on the part of the Saudi authorities to bet on the Kingdom’s youth, culture, education, rights of women — that is the road to the future.

Q: What do you say about the AlUla site?

A: It is breathtaking, stunning. When you are at the site, you cannot believe how marvelous it appears. I was lucky to have been invited six years ago by Prince Faisal bin Salman, governor of Madinah. We spent three days and there was nobody there. I told myself then how wonderful it would be to organize an exhibition at the IMA on this stunning site and its great history. My dream has materialized.

Q: There are a lot of prejudices in France about Islam. Do you think this Saudi exhibition will help correct the perception of Islam and Saudi Arabia in the country?

A: It is obvious that the presence of artists and writers show that the Arab world is a world where there is refinement and creation. I am an optimist, of course. There are racists, they exist everywhere. But today Islam is well recognized and respected. Of course, I don’t mix Islam with terrorists, with fanatics guilty of violence and hatred.

France has known very well how to mix cultures, religions and civilizations, and I am an optimist. France has always respected and safeguarded its relations with different civilizations, notably with the Arab civilization.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi-hosted G20 to prioritize women’s empowerment

Time: 17 January, 2020 

Saudi Arabia is preparing to host the 15th G20 Summit this year. As the Kingdom is a member of the G20 and of its Troika — a three-member committee comprising the current, previous and next host countries — this will enable Saudi Arabia to fully engage in shaping policies to overcome the challenges confronting the global economy.

During last year’s G20 Summit in Japan, Saudi Arabia joined an initiative on women’s empowerment. It also signed a pledge to promote women’s participation in the workforce, enhance their education and economic opportunities, support their involvement in small and medium-sized enterprises, and overcome gender inequalities to enhance their skills in the digital age.

Saudi Arabia has declared women’s empowerment to be at the forefront of its G20 agenda, as it is crucial for achieving inclusive, sustainable development goals. The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 states that women are a great asset that should be utilized.

Under the reform plan, by 2030 women’s participation in the workforce is anticipated to increase from 22 percent to 30 percent, and the overall unemployment rate is expected to fall from 12.7 percent to 7 percent. To achieve these goals, policies and legislation should be in place to encourage collaboration between the public and private sectors to create new economic opportunities for women.

As such, the focus of the Saudi-hosted G20 Summit, and the Kingdom’s goals and policies regarding women’s empowerment, are steps in the right direction. These steps are important in terms of turning rhetoric into reality.

• Eaman Aman  is a freelance writer and researcher in Energy Affairs. She is also an advocate for sustainable solutions to tackle global challenges. #climate_change

Twitter: @aman_eamanii

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Dr. Nourah Al-Yousef, Saudi Shoura Council member

Time: 17 January, 2020 

Dr. Nourah Al-Yousef
  • In May 2017, she became the first Saudi woman to chair the Saudi Economic Association
  • Al-Yousef has also worked as an adviser to prestigious regional institutions including the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources

Dr. Nourah Al-Yousef has been a member of the Shoura Council since her appointment by royal decree in December 2016.

She is also a professor of economics at King Saud University in Riyadh where she served as the vice dean of the economics department and college of law and political science respectively between 2010 and 2015.

Al-Yousef has also worked as an adviser to prestigious regional institutions including the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources between 1999 and 2007, the Gulf Cooperation Council’s Secretariat from 2003 to 2008, and the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority during 2002 and 2003.

In May 2017, she became the first Saudi woman to chair the Saudi Economic Association.

Al-Yousef gained a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in business administration from Bellarmine University in the US city of Louisville. She also holds a master’s degree in economics from King Saud University and a Ph.D. in in the same subject from a university in the UK.

As an active researcher, she has conducted post-doctoral work at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, and the Secretariat of OPEC. Her main fields of research have been concentrated on macroeconomics, energy economics, and econometric applications.

Al-Yousef was named one of the top 10 Saudi women in the field of economics in the December 2019 issue of the leading Arab women’s magazine, Sayidaty, chosen for

her active contribution to the finance and business worlds locally and regionally.

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Riyadh Rocks! Highlights from Riyadh Season

17/01/20

It is Riyadh season’s first year. (Getty)
  • The Kingdom’s biggest entertainment season yet had more than 100 events taking place over the past few months

Saudi Arabia’s capital hosted the Kingdom’s biggest entertainment season yet, with more than 100 events taking place over the past few months, from international music legends performing live to local theatrical shows. It’s been an amazing first year for Riyadh season, as our selected highlights show.

MUSIC MANIA

Riyadh Season saw a multitude of music stars visit the capital city. From superstar Arab acts including Amr Diab to international artists including K-pop legends BTS, US rapper French Montana and Belgian DJ duo Dmitri Vegas and Like Mike. But the headline attraction was the three-day electronic festival MDL Beast, which will long be remembered as the biggest party Saudi Arabia has ever thrown. Local stars including DJ Dish Dash got their opportunity to shine in front of thousands, while legends such as David Guetta, Steve Aoki (complete with remix of tracks from Saudi singer Mohammed Abdu), Tiesto, Martin Garrix and Sebastian Ingrosso brought a Soundstorm to Saudi.

STAR SPORTS

October 31 saw the first female professional wrestling match to be staged in Saudi Arabia when WWE Crown Jewel took place in Riyadh. Natalya and Lacey Evans faced off in a match “clearly put in place to break barriers” according to Heavy.com. “And for that I have to give it the utmost props.” Elsewhere on the bill, British boxer Tyson Fury defeated Braun Strowman, Saudi wrestler Mansoor defeated Cesaro, and the WWE’s largest tag team “turmoil” match — with nine teams participating — saw The O.C. emerge victorious.

In November, the South American super classic football match between Brazil and Argentina was played in Riyadh for the first time, and local fans got to see Lionel Messi — arguably the greatest player of all time — up close and personal. And the Argentinian legend didn’t disappoint, scoring the only goal of the game to give his team bragging rights over their rivals.

FAMOUS FANS

Aside from all the talent on show at Riyadh Season’s myriad events, a whole host of famous names came over just to visit the country and take in some of the entertainment. US actors Armie Hammer, Wilmer Valderrama and Ryan Phillippe all visited the Kingdom’s capital, as did Egyptian-Jordanian actor Bassel Alzaro, Lebanese designer Eli Mizrahi, US singer-songwriter Teyana Taylor, and numerous well-known models including Megan Williams, Stella Maxwell, Neels Visser, Irina Shayk, Romee Strijd, Joan Smalls, Winnie Harlow, and many more. And sure, an all-expenses-paid luxury trip is rarely going to upset anyone, but they all seemed to be having a good time.

WINTER WONDERLAND

Riyadh had its coolest winter yet thanks to the importing (and expanding — according to the organizers, it was twice the size) of London’s Winter Wonderland — the famous Hyde Park Christmas attraction. The huge theme park proved a hit with visitors, thanks to its blend of simple kid-friendly shows, including clowns, and more thrill-packed rides and stands. It also included the Middle East’s largest ice rink.

AWESOME ANIMALS

The Riyadh Safari brought the African savannah to the heart of the Saudi capital. Visitors got to see elephants, giraffes, antelopes, wolves, parrots and a whole lot of other animals in the flesh, surrounded by lively animal-themed entertainment, rides and music.

HISTORY & HERITAGE

Nabd Al-Riyadh was the event to visit if you wanted a taste of some more-traditional Saudi Arabian culture. Every day, it showcased the cultural heritage of a different region of the Kingdom through a mixture of cutting-edge technology and old-school artisans. You could see folk dances and traditional music performances, handicrafts that have been passed down through generations, but also digital displays and laser shows. All based around the historically significant Al-Masmak Fortress.

STELLAR STAGESHOWS

There were some top theatrical performances during Riyadh Season too. The highlight was probably Cirque du Soleil’s “Bazzar,” inspired — as the name suggests — by the sights, sounds, colors and interactions of a bazaar. The performers wowed audiences with astonishing acrobatics, stilt-walking, dramatic fire-breathing and more.

“Thriller Live” brought the ever-popular magical music of Michael Jackson to the capital and was — as expected in a region where Jackson’s popularity remains sky-high — a huge hit.

The season closed with a performance of “Leila: The Land of Imagination” — a show in which a young girl dreams of travelling around the Kingdom in a single night. Elsewhere, Saudi comedian Nasser Al-Qasabi’s play “Al-Theeb fe Al-Gleeb” proved popular with audiences.

AMAZING AUTOMOBILES

The Riyadh Motorshow 2019 brought together some of the world’s most-remarkable cars in the Saudi capital — including the electric GFG Style 2030, which was bought at auction for almost $855,000. From vintage vehicles and classic muscle cars to the latest supercar models, the motorshow was a huge draw for petrolheads from across the region and further afield.

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Princess Haifa bint Mohammed Al-Saud, board member at the Saudi aviation authority

Time: 16 January, 2020

Princess Haifa bint Mohammed Al-Saud
  • She started her career at HSBC Holdings
  • She attained her master’s in business administration and management from the London Business School in 2017

Princess Haifa bint Mohammed Al-Saud was on Tuesday appointed as a member of the board of directors of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) as a representative of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH).

The appointment was made during Tuesday’s Cabinet session, and by a royal decree from King Salman stating promotions and restructuring of several government entities.

As part of the reshuffle, three more women were appointed to leading positions, including Haifa Al-Mogrin and Nada Alismail.

Princess Haifa attained her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of New Haven, US, in 2008.

She attained her master’s in business administration and management from the London Business School in 2017.

She started her career at HSBC Holdings as an analyst, progressing to senior associate of equity sales before leaving in 2012 to join the Ministry of Higher Education as a senior consultant.

She was also managing director of the General Sports Authority between 2017 and 2019, with a focus on developing the sports economy. She became secretary-general of Formula E Holdings in July 2018, a position she still holds.

Princess Haifa has been vice president of strategy at the SCTH since March 2019. She is also vice chairwoman of the Saudi Fencing Federation, and chairwoman of the women’s committee at the Arab Fencing Federation.

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Saudi Arabia named world leader for reforms advancing economic role for women

Time: 16 January, 2020

Women’s increasing role in society and contribution to business and nation-building has expanded in line with the Vision 2030 strategy. (Supplied)
  • World Bank report and Saudi women in business laud Vision 2030 for ‘turning dreams into reality’

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has been named as one of the world’s most transformative nations for advancing the economic role of women in society.

The World Bank’s annual “Women, Business, and the Law” report has ranked the Kingdom top among 190 countries for its progress in bringing about reforms related to female involvement in economic development and entrepreneurship.

And Saudi women in business have lauded the Vision 2030 strategy for being the key driver in helping them to realize their ambitions.

According to the bank’s figures for 2020, the Kingdom scored 70.6 out of 100 for progress achieved in the integration of women into the labor market. The report’s findings also placed the country first among Gulf states, and second in the Arab world for meeting the criteria.

The study revealed that Saudi Arabia made significant improvements on six out of eight indicators, namely mobility, workplace, marriage, childcare, entrepreneurship, and retirement, while maintaining its rank in the asset and property index.

The Kingdom made the biggest improvement globally in enacting reforms in six out of eight areas including women’s mobility, sexual harassment, retirement age, and economic activity.

On the number of women applying and being accepted into the Saudi workforce, Wadha Bin Zarah, the women empowerment director at the Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), said: “The number has increased sufficiently with rapid growth. I believe that inclusiveness and diversity are two key factors to any successful entity.

“Among the G20 countries, Saudi Arabia has scored the highest growth in the participation of women in the workforce. Moreover, recruitment and human resources practices have never shown any discrimination against women when it comes to wages. One scale is used for all, and any benefits are calculated on merit, not sex.”

Zarah added: “Vision 2030 targets stated a specific quota for female participation in the workforce, which is to rise from 22 percent to 30 percent by 2030, with all sectors aligning their key performance indicators and goals to achieve that target.”

FASTFACTS

• Saudi women in business have lauded the Vision 2030 strategy for being the key driver in helping them to realize their ambitions.

• The Kingdom, according to World Bank figures for 2020, scored 70.6 out of 100 for progress achieved in the integration of women into the labor market.

• Saudi Arabia received a maximum score of 100 in the categories of mobility, workplace, entrepreneurship and retirement.

In addition, Saudi Arabia received a maximum score of 100 in the categories of mobility, workplace, entrepreneurship, and retirement. This achievement was due to changes in laws and regulations related to women aimed at enhancing their role in economic development and boosting the Kingdom’s competitiveness at regional and international levels.

Included among reforms highlighted in the Kingdom were the granting of travel rights for women aged over 21, the renewal of documents for all family members, unifying the retirement age between men and women and aligning them with the work system, and new rules to protect women from discrimination in workplace, especially with regard to employment and salaries.

Bayan Barry, partner account manager at Cisco Systems, said: “In 2006 we started with the first batch (of female employees) which was limited to two or three. That number has increased to around 44 women, working alongside 170 male colleagues, with different experiences from technical, sales, operations, project management and marketing.

“Currently, we are having a phase of internship within our company locally in Saudi and are proud to say that 12 female interns have shown their outstanding skills, including nine technical and three project managers.

“Women have been striving to expand their growth and show their value but in the past, it was not always been that easy. Many were lucky to have a supportive family, but chances were minimal,” added Barry.

“It is a moment of pride being in the right era, where we have the great support of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in promoting more women in the labor force and believing in us to show our utmost value.

Vision 2030 targets stated a specific quota for female participation in the workforce, which is to rise from 22 percent to 30 percent by 2030, with all sectors aligning their key performance indicators and goals to achieve that target.

Wadha Bin Zarah, Women empowerment director, Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology

“Companies have started to race toward the national transformation aligning with Vision 2030. We are at a pace like never before of women empowerment, with many role models nationwide. We have started to penetrate more into segments we never thought of being in, while showing our impact and driving organizations onto more success.

“Percentage has shown how diversity has created new ideas and successful business results, and a high return on investments where inclusion and collaboration of both genders has been working hand in hand,” said Barry.

The bank’s report pointed out that Vision 2030 had contributed to boosting the implementation of these reforms, as it emphasized the importance of the role of women in ambitious plans to develop the country.

These have included the adoption of a range of initiatives and goals to support the empowerment of women, including raising the percentage of female participation in the labor market from 22 percent to 30 percent.

Nora Al-Kordi, a VAT manager with professional services firm Ernst & Young, said: “Every woman has the right to think that they are of value, to believe in themselves, and deserve every possible opportunity to achieve their dreams.

“Vision 2030 has turned dreams into reality, through empowering women and making what once was deemed impossible easy to reach through hard work and perseverance.”

The World Bank’s “Women, Business, and the Law” report is issued annually and aims at evaluating the level of gender discrimination in regulations related to economic development and entrepreneurship in 190 countries around the globe.

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