Women CEOs Take on Saudi-US CEO Forum

The women at the US-Saudi business forum were outnumbered by the men but the women executives were not sitting on the sidelines at the US-Saudi CEO Forum this year, one of the biggest gatherings of elite business executives under one roof.

Among the 200 business chiefs assembled in Gotham Hall, The CEO of consultancy firm Emkan Education, Mounira Jamjoom was one of about the 24 women present.

She told Arab News that she is a woman in business so it is important to associate with the men and the top companies in Saudi Arabia and the United States so as to gain visibility for the work that they are engaged in. She said as a female entrepreneur, she understands the hurdles female entrepreneurs face in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

This year’s CEO business forum comes as Mohammed bin Salman; the Saudi Crown Prince implements his Vision 2030 restructuring program. The Vision 2030 program is an ambitious program that intends to increase the participation of women in the kingdom’s workforce from its current 22% to 30% by 2030.

Officials say that women make up 56% of Saudi university graduates. Each year, about 205,000 female students receive grants to study abroad and women are bagging an increasing number of jobs in both public and private institutions.

Women executives such as CEO and president of NASDAQ, Adena Friedman, were featured at the forum.

The CEO of Olayan Financing Company and deputy chairperson, Lubna Olayan said that Saudi Arabia is a G-20 country that is undergoing massive reforms, both social and economic.

“An Era of Transformation: from Vision to Implementation” was the heading of this year’s meeting. Panelists were set to partake in an afternoon session called “Saudi Women Scale New Heights”.

For Jamjoom, reforms are varying the landscape although the kingdom is playing catch-up even with some of its neighbors in the Gulf regarding women’s rights. Jamjoom believes that it’s getting better for women but they have a long way to go still.

A consultant on the National Transformation Program of the Vision 2030 restructuring program, Deem Al-Hajjar was on-hand to describe how business is moving in the kingdom through some initiatives and female empowerment drives.

Jamjoom told Arab News that women need to be self-starters and that they can no longer afford to sit on the sidelines.

The CEO business forum was the 2nd installment in a chain of yearly occasions that started in Riyadh last May during President Donald Trump’s first overseas visit. That occasion resulted to deals worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

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