DUBAI: Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the US, Princess Reema bint Bandar spoke about the millions of talented women in Saudi Arabia who are motivated and eager to contribute to the growth of the country. On Tuesday, Princess Reema was talking in a keynote address to the Top CEO conference at the Palazzo Versace Hotel in Dubai
In the address that was via video conference, she said that there was a "profound and historic change for women in Saudi Arabia in the region". The Top CEO Conference and Awards was held in person for the first time after a two gap because of the pandemic, the Arab News reported.
"We know nations cannot keep half their talent on the side lines, and still expect to grow, transform," she explained, adding: "We have millions of talented, motivated women eager to contribute, and they are the key to social, cultural and economic progress in the Kingdom and, frankly, in the Arab world and around the world."
"As a business leader in the Kingdom, when the doors to women were just starting to open, I realized that opening the doors wasn't enough. Women had to be prepared to take advantage of those open doors, and we have to equip them with the skills."
Expressing gratitude to Julien Hawari, the CEO of the event, Princess Reema spoke about Saudi Arabia's strategy for economic diversification, environment sustainability, and gender diversity. She also spoke about the different approaches the country took to counteract any uncertainties that hampered the way of progress.
Princess Reema called the TOP CEO conference an event that brought together "remarkable group of business leaders".
She praised the Kingdom for taking proactive steps in tackling the global Covid 19 pandemic by bringing about public health and economic security measures, which according to her has helped the kingdom in emerging as a global leader when borders opened up. She stated that the country's young population is becoming more technological and innovative, educated and tech-savvy, thereby enabling the markets to grow and flourish. The country is still transforming itself, she said, with its metamorphosis that started seven years ago.
"Under vision 2030, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's bold plan to restructure Saudi Arabia's economy, we're diversifying from energy dependence. We're embracing technology and sustainable development and we're creating an inclusive society for all and opening opportunities for young entrepreneurs," she said.
"It'll be less reset and more restart," she said, "In part, because we've recently experienced profound and historic change for women in Saudi Arabia in the region".
She recalls the time when she was the CEO of one of the Kingdom's retailers and her workplace was the first in the country to provide day care — something that was unheard of.
"In Saudi Arabia, I've not only seen the change, I've lived it. I know how important it is to open the workplace to women, and not just to encourage and promote equality and equity, but to plan for it … Because we understood that even if the doors were open, we had to not just prepare the women, we had to welcome them," she said.
Apart from that, Princess Reema has actively been working with women by providing them with the necessary tools like training and financial literacy courses that will help them adapt to the work force.
She spoke about the all-women coding school in Riyadh that was launched by Apple. She said that the kingdom has more women with advanced degree than men, and that women were able to enter the workforce in under a generation, with more opportunities helping them grow.
The princess acknowledged that even though the country has made such profound changes, there is still more to do. Priority must be given to renewable, sustainable, tech-driven and green initiatives so that a more resilient public sector can be established while developing a robust private one.
"We 'reset' by championing innovation, by encouraging inclusion by creating an environment where young people have brighter futures than their parents. And that's the future. The future we must build together, harnessing creativity and ingenuity of all of our citizens, and rewarding business leadership that values diverse and inclusive workplaces and supports the creation of innovative and creative ecosystems where everyone can participate and contribute," she concluded.