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Women in the workplace

Although teaching and medical occupations have traditionally been the most acceptable careers for women, the number of women working in telecommunications and banking as well as retail is growing. There are a number of women-only malls with stores owned and run by women, as well as women-only bank branches, which enable women to control their own money.

Entrepreneurism: In addition, a growing number of women are becoming entrepreneurs, especially in Internet-based companies. The Internet has provided a way for women to conduct business without leaving the home or having to interact directly with men. Businesswomen sometimes ask their male guardians or representatives (mahram) to attend meetings in their place.

Education: There are several all-women's colleges that accept women under conditions of strict segregation. Most of the newer universities have built both male and female sections side by side. Within some colleges, the girls and boys are taught by the same male professors.

Restrictions on interaction: between men and women can make it difficult for foreign women to conduct business in Saudi Arabia. Most office staff in Saudi Arabia is male, as women are typically segregated from men in the workplace. In more conservative areas of the country, a foreign woman eating at a restaurant with a man who is not her husband or brother might arouse suspicion.

In cities like Jeddah, many women work in multinational companies, but the eastern provinces tend to be more conservative.

Greetings: Saudi men traditionally do not shake hands with women, and the physical contact that is common in conversations between men is not acceptable with a woman. Women should therefore wait to see if the other person offers a hand rather than initiating a handshake. If the Saudi has had experience in other cultures, he will be more likely to shake a woman's hand. Likewise, foreign businessmen should wait to see if a Saudi female counterpart offers her hand.

Transportation: Women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia and should arrange to have a driver or limousine transport them. Taxi services are quite good within the country. Many offices or institutions provide transportation for the women.

Appearance: Foreign women should dress conservatively, taking particular care to cover their shoulders, arms, and legs. Long skirts and blouses with long sleeves and high necklines are the most appropriate. Bare shoulders in public are not acceptable. See also:Business Attire

Hair coverings: Foreign women should generally make some effort to cover their hair as well, but the practice of enforcing this varies between regions. In Riyadh, for example, it is expected that foreign women cover their hair, but in Al-Khobar this is not the case. Out of respect for the local culture, however, it is still a good idea to make an effort to cover your hair, especially if you have light hair, which might attract more attention. Although the hair may be uncovered, when outside the office it is best to follow the norm and wear the abaya (black cloak like garment) in order to cover one's clothes and avoid drawing attention to oneself.



*The rationale given for these rules of dress is that men and women are not to be viewed as sexual objects. Men are required to keep their guard up and women to protect themselves.

Business Ethics

Perception of corruption (index)

Transparency International, in its 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index, has rated Saudi Arabia at 46 on a scale of 1 to 100 (with 100 being a country with no corruption), ranking 63rd out of 177 countries listed.


Date: 2015-12-11; view: 100


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