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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 11 December 2018

Saudi female workers increase 9% in the second quarter, government data shows 

The number of Saudis working in the private sector rose 5.7 per cent according to General Authority for Statistics

The Riyadh skyline. More Saudi women are joining the workforce as the kingdom works to boost female employment. Reuters
The Riyadh skyline. More Saudi women are joining the workforce as the kingdom works to boost female employment. Reuters

More Saudi women are joining the workforce as the kingdom presses on with its reform agenda to boost female employment by lifting a driving ban and opening positions in previously male-dominated sectors.

Employment among Saudi women increased about 9 per cent to 593,356 in the second quarter compared to the same period a year ago, according to government data from the General Authority for Statistics in Riyadh.

The total number of Saudis working in the private sector increased 5.7 per cent in the second quarter from a year earlier. The rate of total Saudi unemployment remained unchanged at 12.9 per cent.

The country aims to diversify its economy and reduce its reliance on oil with the Vision 2030 as a blueprint for its economic reform. Part of the plan is to lift women's participation in the workforce to 30 per cent by 2030, from 22 per cent. The world's biggest oil exporter lifted a driving ban on women in June. An estimated three million women are forecast to be driving in the kingdom by 2020, according to a PwC survey. The kingdom is opening opportunities for Saudi women in typically male-dominated sectors, including top banking roles, cabin crew and air-traffic controllers.

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The rate of Saudi women's economic participation reached 19.6 per cent in the second quarter compared with 18.7 per cent in the year-ago period, the data showed.

Education, health, social services and retail were the biggest sectors employing Saudi women in the second quarter, according to the report.

The kingdom’s economic growth is set to rise to 2.5 per cent by the end of this year and 2.7 per cent in 2019, up from 2017 when low oil prices squeezed state revenue and hampered growth, Moody’s Investors Service told The National last month. Higher oil prices and an increase in oil production underpin the credit rating agency's economic forecast.