The Unemployment Rate and Saudi Women

The fifth of November was the deadline for applying for administrative and technical jobs at the new Princess Nora University in Riyadh. There were 218 positions available and the number of applicants was 40000 women and according to the Alwatan news channel the number was closer to 46000. So that is an average of 211 applicants per vacancy! And this is only in Riyadh, although it is the biggest city in the kingdom. Still that is a large number considering the fact that there are over 5 and a half million expatriates in the country, many of whom were brought in to do the very same kind of jobs these unfortunate women applied for. So many women looking for jobs that exist but are out of their reach because of numerous issues. Some of these issues are:

  • One important problem is that expatriates are willing to do these very same jobs for a lot less and for longer hours.
  • Gender also plays a major role since segregation is imposed on almost all sectors.
  • The women might have the right credentials on paper but when you come right down to it they aren’t trained at all. To illustrate I will tell you of three incidents of many that I have come across. The first was concerning a newly appointed computer engineer at one of my workplaces. She was Saudi and had just graduated from a five year program from a major Saudi university. She did not know how to hook up a printer to a computer and had to have a secretary show her. Another very common issue is with the Saudi English teachers at our schools. There are so many times that I have come across quizzes and exams where I had to first correct the questions because they were so full of grammatical and spelling mistakes before I could look at how the students performed. And don’t ever bother asking a Saudi librarian for help, she’s probably just as lost as you are if not more so. Why is this? Because at many of our educational institutes, we only go through the act of teaching and not really teach and train our students for the real world. Unlike the other issues, this problem is being addressed currently and many of these institutes are going through significant changes for the better.
  • We have an overwhelming epidemic of passivity. Maybe it is the heat but it is so disheartening to see the number of young men and women who are not passionate about anything. They act like old men and women at a nursing home. All they care about is their immediate comforts, living day to day in a fog of hopelessness. When I ask them why not do this or that they simply shrug their shoulders. In other countries 46000 applying for the same jobs would cause an outrage and people would take to the streets. A craze of patriotism would take over and heads of companies who do not have a substantial number of Saudis on their payrolls would see boycotts of their products…etc.
  • The final problem that faces women here is mobilization. I know that many people especially Saudis say that this is only a superficial symptom and that there is no urgency in addressing it. I say otherwise. Driving and being able to get around is a major obstacle facing thousands if not millions of women all across the country. 46000 women who were able to reach the university to apply, I wonder how many sat at home begging a brother, father or husband to take them.


Filed under Culture, Education, Gender Apartheid, unemployment

11 responses to “The Unemployment Rate and Saudi Women

  1. If Saudi women rush to join the job force, the way American women do (where most American women MUST work to survive and do not have the luxury to stay home) how would you predict that the children of Saudi will do?

  2. Nader

    Interesting post, Saudi Woman. I agree with you, our society suffers from lack of social responsibility. Very few are those who are concerned about the well-being of their fellow citizens, and very rare are those who care for their nation and its development and growth. Is it bad parenting? Is it bad education? Is it bad environment? Or is it bad genes? These are some ideas for future posts! 😉

  3. saudiwoman

    Um Adam not all women are mothers and not all mothers have young children that need all day care. And even mothers with children at a critical age cannot be forced to take care of them in person 24/7. There are different parenting styles. Not allowing women opportunities will not magically make families perfect.

    • Ismail

      “Not allowing women opportunities will not magically make families perfect.”

      So offering them ””’opportunities””’ will?

      “Gender also plays a major role since segregation is imposed on almost all sectors.”

      Are you a Muslim?

  4. That is an amazing statistic about the number of applicants for those jobs at the new women’s university! I think you have made some very valid points. Obviously there are many women here who are ready, willing and able to work. Unfortunately Saudi Arabia is ignoring one of its greatest untapped natural resources – WOMEN!!!

  5. Well written!!

    I totally agree with every single word you wrote. Seeing Sauids with high certificates even PHDS when they are unable to pronounce or spell a word correctly is really disheartening. I encounter that every day at work and it saddens me that I can’t help it!!

    We Saudis are of great potential if used well!!

  6. Not all Saudi women have the luxury to stay at home, there are many women out there who would like to find a job because the financial independence would make a difference to their lives. There needs to be reform in the education and to recognise training as part of the education system. English teaching jobs should really be going to the Saudis, you do not need to get expatriates filling teaching jobs.

  7. My hubby is a Regionalmanager here in the EP and guess what, since he took over, he employed 5 Saudi Women. Very capable amazing women. They wanted to get trained, he found a solution and he even made the company pay for it.

    Every time I meet these women, they keep telling me, how fortunate I am to have a husband like this. It saddens me, that they think men like him are an exception, where in the ‘normal’ world it is normal. 😦

    And there is a Saudi Quota for Companies; you have to have a special % of Saudis employed (depends on the size of the company), so the government makes sure, that not only Expat’s will be employed.

    But when I was working in Riyadh, we didn’t need to fullfil this quota (Embassy related work) but we still liked to have Saudis – even if it was only as trainees. But they would show up the first day on time, maybe the second too, but latest one week later, they wouldn’t bother to come on time. They would come three hours later and immediately complain how tired they were. And after the prayer it would take them hours to show up – just to rest their head on the desk…

    Do you blame the companies, when they employs expats?

  8. Pingback: 14,300 applications per day « Saudiwoman’s Weblog

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