Saudi women 'have $11.9 billion in cash'
Riyadh, August 2, 2010
The true potential of Saudi Arabia’s women has been undermined for many years due to religious, social and political constraints imposed on them by society, said a report.
A large portion of Saudi Arabia’s wealth is in the hands of its women, who are believed to be sitting on pure cash totaling $11.9 billion, said a report by Al Masah Capital, a leading alternative investment firm.
Women constitute almost 45 per cent of Saudi Arabia’s total population, and have a literacy rate of 79 per cent, it said.
However, only about 65 per cent of them are employed and 78.3 per cent of unemployed women are university graduates.
Saudi Arabia has the lowest national female labor participation rate (20.1 per cent in 2009) compared to its peers, such as Qatar, UAE and Kuwait, said the report.
The government is the largest employer of women in the country and their exposure to the private sector is minimal, at 0.8 per cent of total private sector employees.
Recognizing the large pool of human capital in women, the government built the King Abdullah Science and Technology University (Kaust), the country’s first co-educational university and announced plans to set up 17 technical colleges designed exclusively for women.
In 2007, the government also announced plans to set aside one-third of all government jobs for Saudi women.
Women in the Middle East controlled 22 per cent (or $0.7 trillion) of the region’s total assets under management in 2009. Consequently, the region ranked fifth among global regions in terms of AUM controlled by women, the report said.
Considering the significant human capital represented by Saudi women and the large pool of wealth in their hands, Saudi women could and should become a major growth driver for the country’s diversification policy, and reduce the Kingdom’s overdependence on oil, according to the report.
By tapping into this large potential, the Saudi public and private sectors have a new tool through which to develop and grow social and economic policies, the report pointed out. – TradeArabia News Service