Saudi women can now trade without guardian’s consent
The Saudi Ministry of Commerce has announced the application of the recent Royal Decree which allows women to obtain government services without having to get the consent of their guardian. The Ministry has already started registering and licensing commercial businesses under the new terms.
A women’s guardian is usually her father, brother, or husband.
King Salman bin Abdel-Aziz had previously issued an order obligating all concerned authorities to review the procedures in force and to eliminate any regulations that require guardian’s approval. Previously, in Saudi Arabia, a guardian’s approval was essential so that women could carry out any governmental dealings, including traveling, studyingand trading.
The Saudi Ministry of Commerce announced on its website that Saudi women are now free to start their businesses and benefit from governmental commercial services without this consent.
Mitigation of obstacles
The announcement was widely welcomed in various Saudi circles. It is an extension of a series of wide-ranging social reforms which have been announced in the last few months and are aimed at empowering women, granting them greater freedom in public areas and different activities.
Reem Asaad, an investment adviser at Saudi French company, Capital, welcomed the trade declaration, saying that it increases women's financial independence and ends some restrictions that were imposed on their business for years, saying, “There is no longer a need for a guardian to accomplish women's business, which now facilitates procedures, saves time and encourages free trade and investment.”
Asaad stressed that recently, Saudi women have taken many leadership positions in the financial sector.“This has not happened by coincidence, since the women appointed to these posts have the expertise and competence to be qualified for such positions. These appointments came about due to a series of demands to give women the opportunity to exercise their rights so that the country can benefit from their expertise and knowledge. “
Saudi businesswoman Nora Al-Karee said that Saudi women have been waiting for such a decree for years, since they started working in the field of finance and business. “They have proven their efficiency and skills. Tradition formed great obstacles to the development of women's business activities, and was the main reason for limiting their abilities to succeed. This decree is a great victory for women, and removes former bias against women and their rights that have been squandered for years.”
She went on to point out that the concept of “tutelage" was not enshrined in Islamic law, it was instead a law that humiliated women, by which some males were personally benefiting, thus leading to women’s exploitation.
Al-Karee said that she did not consider the Decree to be "rebellious", stressing that it was a decision that did not exceed Saudi values, but rather was fair and “returned to women their rights, which have beenhindered by old laws”.
Saudi Arabia's business community has witnessed several successful female role-models, including Sarah Al-Suhaimi, who has been appointed as the CEO of the Saudi Financial Market Company, Rania Nashar, Executive President of Samba Financial Group, the second largest Saudi bank. She was the first Saudi female to hold that position in a Saudi bank, and Khuloud Al-Dakhil, who has previously served as head of the Statistics Committee at the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry.