120% rise in female employees in Saudi industries

Time: 08 December 2020

This picture taken on December 18, 2018 shows a view of sky-scrapers along the King Fahd Road in the Saudi capital Riyadh. (AFP)
  • MODON reveals successful female empowerment strategy

RIYADH: Saudi women are finding more employment as private and government bodies strive to reach qualified women across the Kingdom’s economic sectors.

The Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technical Zones (MODON) revealed that the number of Saudi women working in the industrial cities it oversees increased by nearly 120 percent, reaching 17,000 female workers by the end of March this year.
Khalid Al-Salem, director general of MODON, said that the authority “has come a long way” and is still striving toward women’s empowerment in the industrial sector.
He added that MODON has made the industrial sector more attractive to women through innovative financing products, services and solutions that suit their important role in the national economy. Incentives for working women include the launch of industrial oases, which are characterized by the availability of nurseries, parking spaces and medical and recreational centers.
“These oases host clean industries such as medical and food industries, rubber and high-tech industries, as well as prefabricated factories supporting women entrepreneurs and small and medium enterprises,” he said.


• 12 industrial cities located in the Riyadh region have 11,750 female employees.

• 13 industrial cities located in the Western region have 3,500 women.

• 10 industrial cities located in the Eastern region have 1,750 female workers.

Al-Salem added that 2021 will see the launch of small prefabricated factories to enable women’s investments in the industrial city of Dammam, a first for the Kingdom.
“MODON continues to empower women both as an employee and as an investor by creating a model environment in partnership with the public and private sectors,” said MODON’s director general.
He added that an agreement was signed with an insurance company to provide comprehensive services for investors in industrial cities.
He said: “MODON seeks to support the productivity of women by providing an optimal environment for their work. Therefore, it signed a memorandum of understanding with a building development company to implement nursery and kindergarten programs in industrial cities and oases under the Ministry of Education’s guidance.”
Al-Salem said that the strategy to empower industry and increase local talent aims to activate the role of women in industrial development in accordance with the Saudi Vision 2030 aimed at enhancing their role in the national economy.
“MODON succeeded in increasing the number of Saudi women in industrial cities, reaching 17,000 female employees by the end of the first quarter of 2020, compared to 7,860 by the end of 2018,” he added.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi fund helps more than 73,000 women to own homes


Real Estate Development Fund helps women to own homes. (Supplied)
  • The policy enabled women to own housing in accordance with the subsidized mortgage loan scheme’s terms to achieve the goals of the housing programs

RIYADH: More than 73,000 Saudi women in the Kingdom have benefited from mortgage loans provided by the Real Estate Development Fund (REDF) as part of its efforts to enable women to own their first home.

The general supervisor of REDF, Mansour bin Madhi, said that enabling Saudi women to own housing had been part of the fund’s policy since its inception, as they constituted half of society and were the foundation of accelerating development.
He said that the fund worked on facilitating and simplifying real estate financing procedures to empower all citizens to receive subsidized mortgage loans through electronic and immediate procedures.
The policy enabled women to own housing in accordance with the subsidized mortgage loan scheme’s terms to achieve the goals of the housing programs — one of the Saudi Vision 2030’s initiatives — which includes raising the rate of citizens’ home ownership to 60 percent by the end of 2020 and 70 percent by 2030, he said.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Empowerment of women top priority of Vision 2030, says Council of Saudi Chambers head

Time: 20 November 2020

Khaled Al-Yahya

RIYADH: Khaled Al-Yahya, secretary-general of the Council of Saudi Chambers, stressed that the economic empowerment of Saudi women is among the priorities of Vision 2030 reform plan.
In his opening speech at the first meeting of the Coordination Council for Women Affairs at the Council of Saudi Chambers for the current session, Al-Yahya said: “The Council of Saudi Chambers seeks to promote women’s empowerment in all economic activities and fields, whether at level of the council or of the authorities that seek to support women’s economic empowerment.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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Turfah Al-Mutairi, first Saudi woman to obtain a license from GAMI

Time: 18 November 2020

Turfah Al-Mutairi

Turfah Al-Mutairi is the first Saudi woman to obtain a license from the General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) for a military outfit factory.
Al-Mutairi has a bachelor’s degree in arts and design from Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, where she majored in textile design. She has also attended training programs on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) at Leipzig University, Germany, and on promoting industrial innovation and technological facilities from the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). She has also received qualifications from UNIDO in industrial policies and planning strategy.
From 1999 to 2009, she worked as an educationalist at Al-Riyadh Schools.  She is now the founder and CEO of the Sondos Al-Dibaj Trading Co., the Sondos Advanced Manufacturing Co. and the Sondos Al-Dibaja Factory for Civil and Military Textile Industries. She also has a factory producing medical products and equipment.
Al-Mutairi’s military outfit factory is among the first of five companies to receive licenses from GAMI. The factory works with international companies specialized in localizing production of military equipment.
Al-Mutairi, who is the deputy head of the businesswomen’s committee at the Riyadh Chamber, is planning to build partnerships with more international companies to develop the field, quoting Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who said: “The sky is the limit.” She has had meetings with Chinese and Greek industrial companies, and said she will work with any company that wishes to enter the Saudi market.
According to Al-Mutairi, she employs some 170 workers in her factory, most of whom are women, and will hire a further 213 new employees as part of its expansion strategy.

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Women, youth major beneficiaries of Saudi G20 leadership: Experts

Time: 17 November 2020

Saudi women, wearing protective face masks, walk into the Taiba gold market in the capital Riyadh. (AFP)
  • Summit a chance to reiterate why KSA has been the West’s most enduring regional partner: Ex-US diplomat
  • Pandemic means Nov. 21-22 meeting, meant to take place in Riyadh, will instead be online

LONDON: Saudi women and youth have been heavily involved in the lead up to their country’s G20 Summit, and have thus been major beneficiaries of the chance for open dialogue and inclusive policymaking, according to experts.

The annual summit gives the Kingdom a chance to reaffirm the ties that have made it the West’s key partner in the Middle East for 75 years, experts said at an online event on Tuesday hosted by British think tank Chatham House and attended by Arab News.

Saudi leadership of the G20 has had a major impact on the Kingdom’s civil society, said Dr. Hanaa Almoaibed, research fellow at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies.

Despite the challenges of holding the summit online, the G20 is “definitely a capacity-building process for a lot of young Saudis,” she added.

“Being involved in the political process, in the policymaking process for the first time for a lot of young professionals, is a huge insight into the way international relations works.”

In addition to the flagship summit of world leaders, Saudi Arabia has also hosted over 100 smaller meetings and events addressing a range of topics including the coronavirus pandemic, digital access in the workplace and climate change.

One of the major areas that the Saudi G20 secretariat has focused on, Almoaibed said, is women’s empowerment and providing a space for Saudi women and others to voice their hopes for their country’s future.

Instrumental in this was the W20, a specific group of the G20 focused on fostering gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.

“The W20 was exciting because it really involved women from all over the country,” said Almoaibed. “It was led by a local organization that was able to bring women from all over the country to open a national dialogue, discussing the things they’d faced that had prevented them from achieving what they wanted to achieve or their own personal goals.”

The value here, she said, is that “there was a lot of trust in that format — they were able to develop an action plan for women in the country based on the challenges they face.”

The G20 has also given Saudi Arabia a platform to reiterate why it has been the West’s key regional partner for 75 years, said David Rundell, former chief of mission at the US Embassy in Riyadh.

He added that in the face of hostility from some American politicians, the Kingdom can use the G20 Summit as an opportunity to refocus global attention on what has made the US-Saudi partnership so enduring.

“Saudi Arabia has been a strong partner of both Britain and the US for 75 years. In counterterrorism cooperation, Saudi Arabia has saved American lives. In global energy markets, Saudi Arabia has frequently stabilized supply and demand when political or natural disasters disrupt things.” Rundell said.

“I think it’s fair to say in the recent past Saudi Arabia has promoted a moderate form of Islam. But most importantly for Britain and the US is that Saudi Arabia remains a power that values and promotes regional stability. Those are reasons for continued engagement.”

The flagship G20 Summit, hosted by King Salman, will take place online on Nov. 21-22.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Hossa Almutairi, Think20 Sherpa

Time: 28 October 2020  

Hossa Almutairi

Hossa Almutairi is a research fellow at KAPSARC. She is also the Think20’s (T20) Sherpa and leads the T20 Saudi Arabian secretariat.
She is also the lead co-chair of the T20 Saudi Arabian taskforce for sustainable energy, water and food systems.
Before joining KAPSARC, Almutairi was a faculty member at Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada.
Her research interests include developing energy and economic models to study the impact of environmental policies on economies, sustainable development and wealth accounting.
Almutairi’s work aims to provide policymakers with support and decision-making tools that help identify challenges, opportunities, and solutions associated with moving towards sustainable energy and business practices.
Her work has been published in many peer-reviewed journals.
She has a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in applied operations research from the University of Waterloo, Canada, and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from King Abdul Aziz University, Saudi Arabia.
The T20 was established in 2012 and is the G20’s policy recommendation engagement group responsible for connecting and collaborating with regional and international think tanks.
With Saudi Arabia hosting the 2020 G20 presidency, the T20 has led a series of events and webinars throughout the year. The talks have featured interesting and thought-provoking discussions on issues including cybersecurity, web safety, climate change, environmental safety and the coronavirus pandemic.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi female footballers excited about the upcoming league

Time: 13 October 2020  

Hala Mansouri says she has been playing football since childhood. (Supplied)

Amal Gimie
  • Players of other nationalities may not be participating but that has not dampened their enthusiasm

JEDDAH: As women across the Kingdom pursue their athletic dreams, including football, the No.1 sport in the country, anticipation for the Saudi Women’s Football League (WFL) is building.

The Saudi Sports Federation first announced the launch of the WFL in February, but it was postponed with the onset of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The wait has been long, but Saudi footballers have been training throughout the lockdown period.
Coach Bireen Sadagah told Arab News: “Jeddah Eagles (one of teams selected to play in the WFL) have been practicing very hard in preparation for the league on and off the field, in terms of enhancing our fitness and strengthening our football mentally.”
She added: “The lockdown did not stop us from wanting to improve ourselves. We continued training in our homes as best as we could with the space and equipment available. Workouts and football drills were sent to us. Then as soon as it was acceptable, regular training was resumed three times a week, as well as individual work for recovery and strengthening.”
Hala Mansouri, a 22-year-old Saudi senior advertising student, has been playing football since she was 6, while living in West Virginia in the US, where she joined the World Alliance of the YMCA and fell in love with the game.
Returning to the Kingdom years later, she played on and off but always knew she had a knack for it, and joined Jeddah Eagles as a goalkeeper as soon as the lockdown was lifted.
“I used to play soccer and basketball when I was living in the US, depending on the season, but I just loved playing soccer more when I moved back to Jeddah,” she told Arab News.
Explaining what makes being a goalkeeper different, she said it was not as hard as playing other positions, but the difference was that goalkeepers see the whole field, must keep a close eye on the ball, and concentrate while keeping their cool.

“We can speak to our teammates so they can know where to go but the difference is we have different training; they run more than us goalies. I use my whole body to block a ball and strikers are more terrified if they missed or not. As a goalie, my only worry is if the ball passed the goal line,” Mansouri added.
Although goalkeepers are sometimes the under-loved players, she said, training was still rigorous, long and essential. “Goalies are the last line of defense in football.”
The young athlete said that football provided her with a liberating feeling away from everyday distractions. “While in a game, I don’t think of anything; everything is muted and it’s just a break for a while. It’s the best feeling.
“I’m honestly very proud that women found a lot of support in pursuing their dreams in sports and our families can be proud of us for doing so,” she said. “It’s a good feeling, even though we’re a bit later than other countries, but at least we got to where we are now for women and I couldn’t be more proud.”
So far, only Saudi citizens will be allowed to play, but that has not dampened enthusiasm from other female footballers in the Kingdom.
Yemeni-Saudi 24-year-old marketer, Shahad Saif, who plays for Jeddah’s Miraas FC as left-back, said she had played the game with her family in Jeddah since she was 10.
“I have been playing football since I was a kid with my family and brothers. I didn’t get the opportunity to play with an all-women’s group. So when I grew up, I used to rent a field and play football with random girls who love the sport and play without coaches and no specific requirements to play or prepare anything,” she told Arab News.
Football has always been an important part of her life, and it influenced all her habits and decisions. “Finding a community for this was very important, the only thing we could do back then was go to the gym.”

Shahad Said plays for Jeddah’s Miraas FC. (Supplied)

Miraas was established in Jeddah a year ago, and the left-back was one of the founders. “We provided everything that’s needed for girls to play soccer.”
Sharing the same sentiment, Amal Gimie, 26, an Eritrean midfielder for Jeddah’s Kings United, has been playing soccer since she was eight years old. Although she will not be participating either, that will not stop her from pursuing her passion and bettering her skills.
“There was a match every weekend, the boys made us play as goalkeepers in the beginning, and in 2002, when I first saw the Women’s World Cup, it sparked my passion to learn more about this sport,” Gimie, who is also a management information systems graduate, told Arab News. She joined her first female football team “Challenge” in Riyadh in 2014.
“It was the first time I joined something organized. I was happy to be playing but at the same time, I felt like it was an unreachable goal (to become a professional athlete or join an official league) I felt like I was growing older without achieving anything,” she added.
The midfielder said the rules of football have influenced her character.
“I’m someone who needs passion to live. I can’t live without having a goal. Since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to be a soccer player,” she said. “There has always been a drive to pursue and achieve something. Soccer has changed my personality in determination, and to learn and this was a dream that I wasn’t sure it would ever come true but I had the determination to continue. And socially, I learned a lot about teamwork and how to maintain relationships with people.” Kings United coach Elham Al-Amri told Arab News that women, both athletes and coaches and anyone interested in the game, had finally been given the opportunity to show their love for the game.
“What’s even more exciting is the participation of Kings United players to represent the Saudi League,” she said. “We at Kings United offered our players the right set of techniques and teachings to increase their chances of participating in the league.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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Princess Reema: Mothers are grateful for what Saudi Vision 2030 will bring their daughters

Time: April 13, 2018

Princess Reema bint Bandar

Parents worry about their children going abroad to study and staying there because life was easier
The changes encompassed in Vision 2030 constituted evolution, not revolution
PARIS: Changes in women’s status may have come too late for some, but mothers in Saudi Arabia are thrilled that their daughters will benefit, says entrepreneur and philanthropist Princess Reema bint Bandar.
Princess Reema, who is deputy head of planning and development at the General Sport Authority, told Arab News: “Mothers say that even though they did not have the same chances, they are very glad that their children will.
“They may worry about them, but that’s a universal worry shared by any parent.”
At the same time, she said she was well aware that there was resistance to the reforms from some sections of the older generation.
“We held some forums with students in the US and they told us that they want to work and do things but their parents say no, and I have to admit we dropped the ball on that aspect. So then we had to sit and work out how to persuade and reassure the parent generation.”
The princess said young Saudis were now returning to their homeland after studying abroad.
“Parents worry about their children going abroad to study and staying there because life was easier. But nowadays they are coming back home because there are opportunities for them,” said the princess, who herself returned to Riyadh after graduating from George Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in museum studies.
One of the princess’s roles in the General Sport Authority is to work on long-term job creation and develop a career structure in sport.
“If you’re an athlete, then obviously your career is short. We are dealing with sport as an industry. We are able to show that sport can and does produce long-term jobs with a career structure and an income trajectory,” she said.
Princess Reema, a successful retail entrepreneur whose father was a former Saudi ambassador to the US, was one of the business leaders addressing the Saudi-French Business Forum in Paris on Tuesday. She has launched her own handbag brand and when she was CEO of Alfa International, which operates luxury store Harvey Nichols in Riyadh, she bought more women into the workforce and provided child care services.
At the business forum she spoke passionately about the untapped potential of women in Saudi Arabia.
“This is not a dream. Women’s inclusion is not happening because we want to get Americans to say Saudi Arabia is a great place. It is happening because it is our right,” she said.
Addressing a room packed with the CEOs of leading French companies; she continued: “What we need to learn from you is how to integrate sports into the economy, as you have done.”
Her mission, both abroad and at home, was not necessarily to change people’s views of women or of Saudis, she said.
“We are not asking you to change an opinion of us that you already hold, but to consider a fact: We are the future.”
The princess evoked the French tradition of the salon, “with scientists, artists and philosophers talking to each other.”
She stressed that the changes encompassed in Vision 2030 constituted evolution, not revolution.
“You had to have a revolution here,” she said, referring to the 1789 revolt that resulted in the removal of the monarchy in France. “We don’t have to have one because we have learned from the past. Freedom of speech, freedom of expression — without these you cannot have a creative society. It’s not about being more American or more Chinese or Russian. It’s about being the best Saudis we can be.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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Princess Reema vows to involve women in sports

Time: 09 August 2016

Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud

RIO DE JANEIRO: A US-raised Saudi princess freshly appointed to increase female participation in sports plans to help license gyms and modify outdoor spaces for women in the Kingdom, she said in an interview on Monday.
Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al Saud was last week tapped for the job at the General Sports Authority in a country where women are barred from driving and subject to a restrictive male guardianship system.
But as part of a sweeping economic reform and amid high obesity rates, Riyadh is also planning to make it easier for women to work out.
In her first interview with English-language media since her appointment, Princess Reema said there was “no turning back” on the plans, but warned the pace of reform may not be fast enough for a Western audience.
“We will not go and break societal norms and we will not go and create cultural clashes, what we will do is create opportunities,” said Princess Reema, 41, speaking in Rio where she has been supporting the four female Saudi athletes competing in the 2016 Olympic Games.
“Our biggest mandate right now is mass participation,” she said, adding she would have more details once she officially takes up her role next month.
Women in Saudi Arabia face significant hurdles to practice sports. They must wear head-to-toe garments in public, observe strict rules on gender segregation and obtain permission from a male guardian to travel, study or marry.
Women’s gyms are not eligible for licenses, so they are scarce or operate on the sly.
While US-based watchdog Human Rights Watch said in a report earlier this month there had been some progress in women’s rights to participate in sports, it called on Saudi Arabia to remove the “serious barriers” that remain.
“I’m glad that people are recognizing we’re moving,” said Princess Reema, who grew up in the D.C. area because her father was the long-time ambassador to Washington and has gone on to work in business.
“I understand that from an international point of view they might not think we’re moving fast enough. But one thing they need to absolutely understand in the Middle East is that it’s an elastic community. If we pull too fast, you break that elastic.”
As part of nurturing women’s participation in sports, she said her agenda would include pushing for female coaches, women’s bathrooms in public spaces, and Shariah-compliant workout clothes.
The female Saudi athletes at the Olympics — only the second group ever, in Rio with male guardians — are already inspiring their counterparts back home to put their sneakers on, Princess Reema said.
“The overwhelming majority, especially of young women, has essentially said: ‘if they can do it means I can’,” said Princess Reema, a basketball fan and skier.

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