Complex Made Simple

Saudi takes 3 more steps forward toward modernization

Women in Saudi are becoming more and more empowered and at rapid fire pace. It seems the kingdom is bent on delivering on their promises to bring Saudi women into the workplace and offer them unprecedented levels of freedom towards bringing into fruition the aims of Saudi Vision 2030.

Look at happened just recently with three more giant steps towards a new look or softer side Saudi.

Earlier this month, Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan was appointed the first woman to head a federation covering sports activities for men and women.

Earlier this week, Saudi women attended the “Short Film Competition 2” festival, brining the arrival of movies in the Kingdom closer to reality.

Finally and on Saturday October 21, Saudi women were given the right to be employed in female clothing and accessory stores in the kingdom.

We thought that lifting the ban on Saudi women drivers was going to lead teh headlines for a while, but we were wrong.

AMEinfo takes a closer look at the latest developments, starting with the latter.

Read: How Saudi women are driving business forward

1 – Talking shop

The Saudi Press Agency reported on October 20th that “Saudi women, only, will be entitled to run females’ clothing stores, in all regions of the Kingdom, following implementation of the third phase of the decision to feminize such outlets.

Also, and according to the Saudi Gazette, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development (MLSD) will soon offer about 80,000 job opportunities for women.

“Job opportunities for women are open in all sectors as long as there are conducive and suitable work environment,” Fatin Al-Sari, director of the ministry’s program for women employment, was quoted as saying.

This will in all likelihood happen in an all-women workplace environment.

The director explained that the third phase of feminizing women accessory shops will also include shops selling perfumes, shoes, bags, stockings and mother care stuff.

“This phase will also include pharmacies in malls and shopping centers selling cosmetics,” she added.

Read: Saudi banking feeling the sting of low oil prices

More work from home jobs

Additionally, efforts to boost employment among women and graduates are still ongoing.

Saudi women currently occupy around 200,000 jobs in the retail sector.

According to the Saudi Gazette, there are projects that will offer women the option to work from home, which is likely to generate over 140,000 jobs by 2020.

2 – One to watch

The idea of launching movie theaters in the Kingdom is revolutionary, by Saudi standards.

According to AFP, Saudi women attended the “Short Film Competition 2” festival, at King Fahad Culture Center in Riyadh last week.

“The rare movie night this week in Riyadh was a precursor to what is expected to be a formal lifting of the kingdom’s ban on cinemas,” it said.

Saudi’s launching of movie theaters comes within the framework of the Kingdom’s Private Investment Fund plan to set up a $2.7bn company to invest in entertainment, including theatres at new mall construction, as reported.

Read: 3 big ways Saudi women will contribute to the economy now

3 – Sporting chance

On October 13, Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan was appointed the first woman to head a federation covering sports activities for men and women.

Princess Bin Sultan, who was appointed as President of the Community Sports Union, has also opened the newest Studio 5 gym in Jeddah, which is based on electronic registration and scheduling sport sessions.

Bin Sultan was quoted in a statement as saying that she sought to encourage women to exercise in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

According to CNN, the government began granting licenses for women-only gyms in February. Previously, women’s gyms unofficially operated under salon and spa licenses, it said.

Also, Public schools in the Kingdom will start to offer physical education for girls this year.

NYTimes quoted the Saudi Education Ministry as saying that P.E. for girls would start with the coming academic year, marking a slight loosening of the rules in the country.

Read: SURVEY: How many Saudi males agree women should drive?

More room for women

Several Saudi women succeeded in getting high rank positions in the Kingdom’s new reform program encouraging women to be more involved in work.

The Mayor of Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, Fahd Bin Mohammed Al-Jubair, appointed a woman as Assistant Mayor of Al-Khobar Municipality on September 25.

The Saudi Gazette quoted Al-Jubair as saying that the municipality needed the female element, with the rapid growth of malls and supermarkets, in which women are working.

In February, three other women were appointed to top jobs in Saudi Arabia’s financial sector in just one week.
NCB Capital Co. Chief Executive Officer Sarah Al Suhaimi became the first woman to chair Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange, the largest stockmarket in the Middle East.

Rania Nashar was named Chief Executive of Samba Financial Group on Monday, becoming the first female CEO of a listed Saudi commercial bank.

Latifa Al-Sabhan was appointed Chief Financial Officer of Arab National Bank (ANB).