Lifting of Saudi female driving ban to have positive economic impact

Published:  12 Apr at 6 PM
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Following the June 24 lifting of the ban on women drivers in Saudi Arabia, many more women are expected to join the emirate’s workforce.

Expat economists are not just viewing the move as a victory for women’s rights, they’re also predicting a significant boost in GDP growth as a result of vastly increased numbers of females in the Kingdom’s labour force. The kingdom’s recent acceptance of new roles for women has resulted in a number of Saudi women’s new-found prominence in a number of fields. Saudi now has an all-women law firm, started by the first female lawyer to be licensed to practice, and physician Khawla al Khuraya is now director of the King Fahad National Centre for Children’s Cancer and Research. In addition, international oil and gas company Saudi Aramco has a number of females in top managerial positions.

The impressive list also includes biotechnologist Hayat Sindi, now an appointed member of the Shura Council. It’s certain the stimulation of women’s rules in the Kingdom has beaten down traditional barriers, with business leaders now encouraging younger women to aspire to roles in both the commercial and economic sectors. There’s strong evidence that Saudi females are eager to have careers over and above their traditional place in the home, with the head of Saudi’s passport office saying it had more than 100,000 replies from women after it advertised 140 airport immigration-based jobs.

Statistics published by the McKinsey Global Institute reveal just 18 per cent of GDP in northern Africa and the Middle East is being produced by via women’s participation in the workforce. It’s estimated that bringing the number of working women in the Gulf States up to the best regional standard would benefit the emirates’ economies by as much as $180 billion by 2025, with full parity between the sexes giving an increase of some $830 billion. The benefits of women’s full inclusion wouldn’t just be financial as the moves would improve global perception of the Gulf States, leading to increased investment from international companies.
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