June 29, 2012

My Take This Week: How strong is the Saudi economy?


My Take This Week: How strong is the Saudi economy?


ABDULLAH AL ALAMI
Thursday 28 June 2012
Arab News
Saudi Arabia’s economic performance has been strong and its outlook remains positive. However, the country’s growth is expected to slow down from 2011 level. While everybody says the oil sector will remain a fundamental aspect of the country’s economy, I’m convinced that Saudi Arabia’s high reliance on the oil sector puts the country at risk from future shocks in the oil market. I hope to be proven wrong.
• The Riyadh Chamber of Commerce has submitted studies on setting up four industrial cities in Riyadh exclusively for women to the Ministry of Commerce for final approval. This is good news. However, I hope we don’t end up isolating women in industrial cities, malls, hospitals and maybe little towns exclusively for their own. We want women to be an integral part of society.
• Recent reports show that Saudi Arabia had 54.3 million mobile-phone subscribers at the end of the first quarter. I am not surprised; Saudi Arabia remains to be the Arab world’s largest economy. We also have 14.2 million Internet users and 4.6 million fixed-line phone customers. My concern is that the youth is becoming more addicted to websites containing inappropriate explicit images. Unfortunately the alternatives for the youth are limited.
• As the Red Sea basin is not without hydrocarbon potential, my friends who reside on the west coast will probably be more familiar in the near future with rigs and processing facilities that already crowd the country’s oil areas more specifically in the Eastern Province. How much hydrocarbon potential? Reports indicate that there are enough encouraging results from surveys to plan for drilling. The good news is that drilling would not start for at least another two years.
• Arab News published a report issued by a well respected consulting firm regarding women unemployment in Saudi Arabia. The astonishing part is that 78 percent of female university graduates are unemployed with more than 1,000 of these women holding a doctorate degree. That’s not all; the report also indicates that 300 Saudi graduates are already working in Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar. I can’t believe that we can’t find jobs for these ladies in their own country.
• Trade Arabia reported that career women are motivated professionally mostly by monetary prospects, Saudi women are no different. The interesting part in the report shows that women in Saudi Arabia prefer to work for a male boss, there must be a reason. I guess other reasons for working are opportunities for long-term career growth and retirement benefits.
Tweet: Saudi woman: “My father rode a camel, my son flies a jet airplane, I still have to ride with a driver!“

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