With new reforms being undertaken in the capital city of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh is attracting a large number of single women seeking employment opportunities, Arab News reported on Tuesday.
“The idea of women moving to cities in search of work isn’t new, but it rarely happened on the scale we’re seeing today,” said Shahad Al-Hamdan, a communication officer in Riyadh.
“Women are now more educated than they were before, with many holding master’s degrees or PhDs,” he added.
Al-Hamdan, who used to live in Jeddah, spoke of the struggles facing people working in media in her former city.
Many receive low salaries with little to no career progression, making for an uncertain future. Increased opportunities and a higher salary at a better company led her to move to Riyadh.
He also spoke of how women in the kingdom are used to the idea of someone else helping them and taking care of them.
“One of the factors that made me decide to move to a new city is that I’m very attached to my parents and would like to be more independent,” she said.
Shahad Al-Harbi, a 28-year-old marketing officer who used to live in Tabuk, moved to Riyadh last year.
Her parents were initially opposed to the idea of her living alone in another city, until they saw her struggle for a year trying to find a job that would suit her major and her experience.
“I had to work remotely for an online startup in Dubai with a below-average salary of $800 per month.”
Al-Harbi, who has a master’s degree in marketing and business administration, said she felt as though the company was taking advantage of her because of her desperation in Tabuk. She was a student in the US, and so did not find it difficult to live in a big city.
Raghad Al-Juhani, editor of a political programme at news channel Al-Ekhbariya, also moved from Tabuk to Riyadh after graduating from high school in 2015.
Among her reasons for moving was that she wanted to study a major of her choice at a specific university, in an environment that would allow her to make her own decisions.
Accepting a job in a different city was a joyous moment for these women, but breaking the news to their families was no easy task.
Asma Al-Balawi, an event manager at Golden Scent, moved from Tabuk to Riyadh seven months ago.
She said she initially had no intention to move, but during her visit to Riyadh, she applied for a couple of jobs and received a quick response from one of the companies, which hired her only two weeks later.
“My family didn’t have time to react. It all happened so fast, but still they were supportive of my decision,” she said.