With more than a decade left to achieve the objectives laid out in Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia is already reaping the fruits of this bold economic reform plan to diversify its economy and open up more industries to its women. The number of Saudi women today who work in the Kingdom’s various industrial cities has almost reached 8,000, following initiatives put forth by the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones to create a more conducive environment for women to work in.
The latest report issued by the Authority showed that Saudi women working in these cities reached 7,500 by the end of 2017 (its previous figure was 5,480), with 3,022 of them working in the central regions of Riyadh (2,986), Qassim (33), and Hail (3). In addition, around 1,120 women work in 43 industries in the Eastern Province while almost 3,360 women work in the western sector with industries in Jeddah (3,234 women), Madinah (102), and Abha (22).
Over the past year, Vision 2030, which is being spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, has been focusing on increasing female participation in the workforce from its current figure of 22 percent to 30 percent by 2030. Speaking to CNN earlier this year, Khaled Abalkhail, a spokesman for the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, explained that the number of women joining the workforce across various sectors is already on the rise, an indication that the country’s Vision is on track.
"There are now 600,000 Saudi women working for the private sector, 30,000 of whom joined the market last September and October," explained Abalkhail. "This figure stood at 90,000 Saudi women only back in 2011."
Prior to Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia’s laws were already being modified to ensure that women would have easier access to job opportunities. In 2011, for instance, a law was passed stipulating that all shops selling women-related products should only have female sales representatives. Today, the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones has created special working zones that follow international standards for women, providing them with the infrastructure, facilities, and services they need in these work places.