“Women in Saudi Arabia today are excelling in Science and Technology. We see them in banking and finance sector. Young women participate much more in the public spaces today than ever before,” said Saudi Arabian Ambassador H.E Dr Mohammad Al-Sati at an event on Monday. He spoke largely on India-Saudi Arabia ties but he received many questions on gender equality and women’s empowerment in Saudi.

Al Sati, in his talk, mentioned the latest all-women tech park established in Riyadh and the speculation that it is going to create nearly 21,000 jobs for women by 2025. To prove the point of women’s empowerment in the country, he took the example of the recently appointed head of Cyber-security agency in Saudi Arabia who also happens to be the first one to take on the job.

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Saudi government recently appointed Nouf Abdullah Al-Rakan as the executive director of the Saudi Federation for Cyber Security and Programming (SAFCSP). She started her career at the age of 18 in the trading and importing of leather goods, and has worked in a broad range of industries, including education, journalism, publishing, information systems, banking and telecommunications. She currently has several professional roles one of which is CEO of an educational organization.

Earlier in Riyadh, the Indian Business Council had suggested a forum for women in entrepreneurship and we have accepted it. I think it is a very important area and we need to create opportunity for young women in India to have interaction with young women in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Rakan graduated from the George Washington University Project Management Program. She is also a Windsor Leadership Program Alumni.

Al Sati also stressed on how India and Saudi should have an exchange of culture and community among young women where both the countries indulge in sending them to the other country to have better exposure. “Earlier in Riyadh, the Indian Business Council had suggested a forum for women in entrepreneurship and we have accepted it. I think it is a very important area and we need to create opportunity for young women in India to have interaction with young women in Saudi Arabia.”

Recently Saudi Arabia allowed women to drive cars which have been banned for far too long in comparison to other countries in the world. They even allowed women drivers to drive in family transportation services however the Saudi government has come up with bylaws for women drivers that have some highly objectionable rules as the kingdom allows its men to freely drive cars. Though Al Sati’s view of women in Saudi Arabia may be that of progress which definitely is there but the pace is far too low even today to call it real empowerment.

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