Saudi Gazette report
RIYADH — The number of Saudi women employed by the private sector has gone up from 48,406 in 2009 to 208,174 in 2012, an increase of about 330 percent, a local daily said this week quoting informed sources.
The sources said the number of Saudi men employed by the same sector has gone up by about 47 percent over the same period.
Meanwhile, Deputy Labor Minister Mufreh Al-Haqbani said the rate of unemployment among men and women in the Kingdom has reached 12.2 percent.
“About 35.7 percent of Saudi women are unemployed while the rate of unemployment among men reached about 6.1 percent. “This means the average level of unemployment among the Saudi population is now at 12.2 percent,” he said.
The total unemployment among Saudi and foreign male manpower was 2.7 percent, while it was about 21.3 percent among Saudi and foreign women, Al-Haqbani said.
Meanwhile, Sahar Al-Kaabi, chairperson of the human resources and labor market committee in the Federation of the GCC Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said Saudi Arabia was least likely among the six GCC members to provide women with opportunities to get involved in private business.
She said GCC governments have started establishing special funds and organizing free training to help young men and women start their own private businesses.
The Labor Ministry’s undersecretary for development Dr. Fahd Al-Tikhaifi said unemployment among women rose from 28.4 percent in 2009 to 35.7 percent by the end of 2011.
He told Arabic daily Al-Watan: “Unemployment among men came down from 10 percent to 6.1 percent during the same period.”
Al-Tikhaifi said the rate of Saudi men and women employed by the private sector was less than 20 percent. “This percentage should increase, especially as about 300,000 Saudi men and women annually enter the labor market after completing their education.”
The official expected a comprehensive study on finding suitable job opportunities for women in various economic sectors to be completed within the next six months.
The study is currently being conducted by the ministry and the Human Resources Development Fund. He said: “This study will help us find new work opportunities for women.”
Al-Tikhaifi said the study would particularly focus on the tourism sector with a view to find jobs for women in this sector.
“Women can work in the tourist sector as full or part time employees. They can also work from their homes,” he said.
The ministry, the official said, has formulated rules and regulations to organize the work of women in the tourism sector, including establishing special sections for them to separate them from men and providing them with enough rest houses, prayer places and toilets.
“In this sector women can work in the customer service divisions, accountancy departments and call centers, provided no males are present in these places,” he added.