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What Would Be the Economic Effect of Letting Women Drive in Saudi Arabia?

During a pannel discussion to mark the establishment of the Fitch Ratings office in Riyadh, the participants talked about the recent lifting of Saudi Arabia’s driving ban on women and its impact on the Kingdom’s economy.

According to the national statistics, there are 1.3 million international in-house drivers in the Saudi homes. They are earning SR 33 billion on an annual basis. A great majority of the women are dependent on them for daily transportation to work or for their shopping needs. Furthermore, empowerment of women is an essential part of the Saudi’s Vision 2030. Among the main goals of the program is to diversify the Kingdom’s economy and make it less dependent on oil.

The moderator of the discussion was Ian Linnell, the president of Fitch Ratings. The global economics Tim Cooper and James McCormack supported, global head of the Sovereign and Supranatural Group at Fitch Ratings supported him as co-moderators.

During the opening ceremony of the office, Linnell commented it was the second Fitch Ratings office in the region, after the one in Dubai. The Capital Market Authority has given Fitch a license to operate in the Kingdom, confirmed the president and added that the agency would further expand in the Middle East. He also mentioned that Fitch was not new on the market as, during the past twenty years, it has bee covering Islamic finance actively. Asked about the personnel, Linnell answered he would hire local financial analysts for most of the open positions. Fetch also had a significant market presence in Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Qatar.

Before the official event, there was also a panel discussion on the “Saudi Arabian economy and the evolving debt capital markets in the Kingdom.” Many prominent speakers took part in it, including Fahad Al-Deweesh, CEO J.P. Morgan Saudi Arabia; Khalid Al-Hussan, CEO Tadawul; Jadwa Chief, Economist Fahd Al-Turki; and Ayman Al-Sayari, SAMA deputy governor for investment.

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