Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat- The volume of women’s capital in Saudi Arabia has increased to 60 billion Saudi Riyals (SAR – the equivalent of US $16 billion), according to statistics compiled by the Khadeejah bint Khuwailed Center affiliated to Jeddah’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The figures revealed that the funds privately owned and managed by Saudi businesswomen have been boldly invested and profitable in return.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awqsat, Basma al Omair, the manager of the Khadeejah bint Khuwailed Center explained that most of the women’s funds are frozen in banks due to the necessity of the presence of a trustee and the absence of clear and specific titles for the majority of the women’s investments, such as ateliers, workshops and beauty centers, among others.
There are a variety of investment choices among Saudi women, each having her own viewpoint and interpretation of the market indicator. Businesswoman Amani Abdul Wasei believes that investing in real estate is the best option because she sees that, “it can suffer but it never dies,” while businesswoman Olfat Qabani says that investing in various fields is the rule that all women investors should abide by because she sees that experience has taught Saudi businesswomen that not placing all their eggs in one basket can prevent losses. Realty and shares remain the two most attractive fields according to Qabani by virtue of their fast and high profitable returns and the fact that their risk factors are significantly lower than in other fields.
Yet despite the large size of women’s investments, which might come as a surprise to some, there exist obstacles that hinder many from entering and expanding within the investment field, forcing them to keep their funds frozen in bank deposit accounts.
Statistical figures reflect the nature of women’s participation in economic activities in the kingdom in general wherein the rate of female university graduates is 56.5 percent of the total figure of graduates, 14.11 percent of the total workforce in Saudi and 30 percent of the public sector, 84.1 percent in the education public sector, 40 percent of doctors in the kingdom, and over 20 percent of the money used in joint Saudi investment funds belong to women.
Additionally, Saudi businesswomen own approximately 20,000 companies and small- and medium-scale establishments. Women’s investments are approximately 21 percent of the total volume of the private-sector investments in Saudi, while the total number of commercial registrations belonging to women makes up 43 percent of the total throughout the kingdom. Saudi businesswomen own over SAR 45 billion, while the size of female investments reaches approximately SAR 8 billion.