Over 1,000 converge in Riyadh to shape a more sustainable economy


RIYADH — The inaugural Women Economic Forum KSA concluded its activities Tuesday here, having brought together more than 1,000 participants among them business leaders, policymakers, entrepreneurs, NGOs, artists and students for interactive discussions, inspiring keynotes and high-level networking.

Under the theme “Let’s talk about tomorrow”, the dialogues throughout the two-day event focused on the transformative role that companies, foundations and individuals can play to support the achievement of the Vision 2030 economic goals through focusing on five main pillars namely: Economic Empowerment, Innovation, Saudization, Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) and Entrepreneurship.

The forum agenda saw a number of keynote speakers that are leaders in their field, such as the first female Saudi Pilot, Hanadi Al Hindi, the first female attorney in KSA Bayan Al Zahran, the first female chemical engineer to work shifts and evenings in the field Adwa Al Harthy, the first Saudi female general manager in the hospitality industry Maram Kokandi and many more, who shared their stories, and proved that nothing is impossible if you have the will.

These women, paved the way forward for Saudi women in various fields of work, and showcased their commitment to investing in the empowerment of women and girls.

Prof. Samira Ibrahim Mustafa Islam, who was the first female to acquire a bachelor degree in KSA, believes that we live in a very exciting time, where Saudi women will prove what they are capable of. She said: “I always used to think Saudi women are just like its desert, it may look plain and dry, but with the first drop of rain, it flourishes and turns green. Women are now standing next to each other, and empowering one another and soon they will show the whole world that companies that invest in women, and support women’s leadership will outperform their competitors.”

Khaled Al Maeena, political and media analyst who also was a keynote speaker at the forum, expressed his happiness to see such a wide male participation in a women’s dedicated forum as he said: “I am thrilled to see so many men here at the Women Economic Forum KSA, all showing their support and backing up women here in the Kingdom. This opens up a whole new chapter for Saudi Arabia, where we see more collaboration between men and women in all fields.”

Sophie Le Ray, founder of the Women In Leadership Economic Forum, believes that this forum is of vital importance for Saudi’s future economy, she said: “The Women Economic Forum KSA is a timely opportunity to share good practices in implementing the Women’s Empowerment Principles at time of change here in KSA and to advance catalytic partnerships that help to fast-track women’s participation in the workforce and as entrepreneurs, and leaders in their field. This Forum is a chance to network, keep the ambition high and work together in multisectoral ways for a better, more inclusive economy for the Kindgom.”

Faysal El Hajjami, vice president-country general manager DHL Express Saudi Arabia, a sponsor of Women Economic Forum KSA 2018 said: “We participated in the Women Economic Forum 2018 to highlight DHL Express Saudi Arabia’s support to the efforts of women empowerment and enhancing their role in the social and economic development. Last year, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the very first female employee, which was followed by hiring more than 100 other females, including the appointment of the first batch of Saudi women in managerial roles. Today, we are proud of our contribution to the development of the Saudi economy and community through empowering women in the workplace.”

The Women Economic Forum KSA is held in sponsorship of Saudi Aramco, and supported by official bank sponsor Al Rajhi Bank, telecommunications sponsor STC and exclusive mobility sponsor Abdul Latif Jameel, in addition to DHL, GSK, Roche, Berkeley Research Group, EY, Johnson & Johnson, Zohoor Alreef, Apparel Group, Baker McKenzie, Merite, Medtonic and British Embassy Riyadh. — SG