A Saudi woman checks a car  at the first automotive showroom solely dedicated for women in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia January 11, 2018. REUTERS/Reem Baeshen     NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
A Saudi woman tries out a car in the first showroom dedicated for women in Jeddah / Reuters

Making the best use of Saudi's human capital is a game-changer

The pronouncements have been as frequent as they are transformative. In the most recent liberalising reform to be unveiled in Saudi Arabia, women no longer need consent from a male relative to open their own businesses. It marks a major move away from the guardianship system, in which women need permission to travel, study and run their own companies. And it is just the latest in a swift succession of necessary reforms introduced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in response to the needs of an increasingly dynamic, youthful population, whose voices will play a large role in the future of the country.

None of the economic and social reforms should be seen as disparate. They are part of the crown prince's greater Vision 2030 plan, which affects every aspect of how Saudis live, work and play. What is more, the inclusive changes encourage them to think about the role they will take in shaping society and the value placed on their contribution. The lifting of the cinema ban, which will see screens opening for the first time in 36 years, will be part of a number of entertainment options launching in the kingdom. Women will be able to take the wheel from June this year, when the lifting of the driving ban comes into effect. Visitors will be able to see the transformed landscape for themselves when tourist visas and unaccompanied travel for women over the age of 24 are introduced. The primary beneficiaries of sweeping reforms are the country's youth and among them, its women.

Women in the kingdom currently make up less than one-quarter of the workforce – yet there is an appetite among its female population to contribute and be useful, productive members of society. Tens of thousands flock to women-only careers fairs in Riyadh every year and there has been an increasing take-up of jobs in female-run industrial zones while better daycare facilities and chauffeur services like Uber have been giving them greater flexibility. The potential for many more women, particularly entrepreneurs, to deploy their skills, ideas and work ethic can only help society flourish and be more successful. The businesses they set up will in turn boost Saudi Arabia's coffers by increasing VAT revenue. Diversifying an oil-based economy in this way and making the best use of the country's human capital is not only a smart move; it will be a game-changer.


Cartlow: $13.4m

Rabbitmart: $14m

Smileneo: $5.8m

Soum: $4m

imVentures: $100m

Plug and Play: $25m

The specs: 2019 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera

Price, base: Dh1.2 million

Engine: 5.2-litre twin-turbo V12

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Power: 725hp @ 6,500pm

Torque: 900Nm @ 1,800rpm

Fuel economy, combined:  12.3L / 100km (estimate)

UAE v Gibraltar

What: International friendly

When: 7pm kick off

Where: Rugby Park, Dubai Sports City

Admission: Free

Online: The match will be broadcast live on Dubai Exiles’ Facebook page

UAE squad: Lucas Waddington (Dubai Exiles), Gio Fourie (Exiles), Craig Nutt (Abu Dhabi Harlequins), Phil Brady (Harlequins), Daniel Perry (Dubai Hurricanes), Esekaia Dranibota (Harlequins), Matt Mills (Exiles), Jaen Botes (Exiles), Kristian Stinson (Exiles), Murray Reason (Abu Dhabi Saracens), Dave Knight (Hurricanes), Ross Samson (Jebel Ali Dragons), DuRandt Gerber (Exiles), Saki Naisau (Dragons), Andrew Powell (Hurricanes), Emosi Vacanau (Harlequins), Niko Volavola (Dragons), Matt Richards (Dragons), Luke Stevenson (Harlequins), Josh Ives (Dubai Sports City Eagles), Sean Stevens (Saracens), Thinus Steyn (Exiles)

The biog

First Job: Abu Dhabi Department of Petroleum in 1974  
Current role: Chairperson of Al Maskari Holding since 2008
Career high: Regularly cited on Forbes list of 100 most powerful Arab Businesswomen
Achievement: Helped establish Al Maskari Medical Centre in 1969 in Abu Dhabi’s Western Region
Future plan: Will now concentrate on her charitable work

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.