What you need to know about working in Saudi Arabia as a woman
16 October 2017| Last updated on 16 October 2017
Are you considering moving to Saudi Arabia for work or did your husband receive a job offer in the Kingdom? If you have started with your research, then you by now would have noticed that working in Saudi Arabia can be challenging for women.
You would be happy to know that women in Saudi Arabia are allowed to work, but certain criteria needs to be met before hand.
Firstly, your guardian (who can be your husband, father, brother or even son) needs to give you permission to work. If you do not get permission from your guardian then, unfortunately, you are not allowed to work in the country.
SEE ALSO: Single Women Working in Saudi Arabia
Men and women are allowed to work alongside one another, but your employer needs to adhere to specific criteria. According to Saudi Arabia’s labour law, women are allowed to work in the Kingdom but their office needs to meet specific criteria: There must be separate bathrooms for men and women, security system and private lunch rooms for women where they can pray as well. Companies who fail to adhere to these regulations will face penalties.
Many companies are reluctant to hire women because of these strict rules. Most office buildings in Saudi Arabia were constructed with the idea that only men are going to be working there. This means that a number of the buildings would require office revamps – an expense that many companies are unwilling to pay.
Women in Saudi Arabia can work in the health, education, dressmaking, childcare, and cleaning industries to mention a few. In 2014 it was announced that female lawyers in Saudi Arabia are also officially allowed to serve as attorneys in court. Women may also work in the retail sector which become an especially popular field for Saudi women to work in with more than 200,000 women in this sector.
Women are however prohibited from working in hazardous jobs or industries. This means that there are numerous areas that they are by law not allowed to work in.
Currently a third of women in Saudi Arabia are unemployed. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman does however seek to change this with planning to reduce the total unemployment rate in Saudi from 12.7% to 7% in the next 15 years. In addition to this, he also wants to increase female participation in the workforce to 30% from its current 22%. This is part of the countries Vision 2030 reform to lean the Kingdom off of their dependency on oil.
Women are also allowed to start their own companies in Saudi but this does prove to be rather challenging at times. Women often need male business partners or representatives as many male entrepreneurs refuse to work with or even talk to women.
Women being allowed to drive in the Kingdom will make a big difference in the female work force as they will now be able to drive themselves to work without having depending on someone to drive them around. New positions where women need to drive to visit clients should also start opening for women as they now have the means to come and go as they please.