Female exclusion limits Saudi growth – economist

Saudi woman at workThe low participation of women in the Saudi work force is hampering the country’s economy, says an economist at a wealth manager operating in the region.

“Women represent 22% of the labour force and are unemployed nine times more frequently than men,” writes Paul Wetterwald, chief economist at Indosuez Wealth Management.

The lack of women in work is one of two main factors arresting the “dynamism” of Saudi Arabia, he writes, the other being youth unemployment. More than 30% of those between 15 and 24 years in the country are without a job, compared with a rate of 5.6% for those aged between 25 and 64.

Part of the problem, says Wetterwald, is that the petrochemicals industry that accounts for the majority of government revenues employs relatively few people, while many necessary but undesirable blue-collar jobs in the country are done by immigrant labour.

“Having invested in improving the education of its citizens, Saudi Arabia now has to develop the employment opportunities that its graduates crave, and more generally work on reducing the mismatch of skills to job openings that prevail in the kingdom,” writes Wetterwald.

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