Business like other domains of life also remains overcrowded by men as humans started their struggle for life by confining the role and participation of women in different segments. Surprisingly, women are also ascertaining and ambitious, that they can compete with men in these elaborated fields of business like all other aspects of life.
The Term “business women” is comparatively more modern, not to say in the Arab world but also in the West. Broadly, Saudi women are opting the business as a field of work very enthusiastically – thanks to Abeer Salamah who broke the glass ceiling.
Nowadays, due to self-confidence and continued struggle, many Saudi women are remarkably managing and super-vising diverse kinds of business. One of these pioneer women who worked as a model for motivation is Abeer Salamah. She is a well-known Saudi business woman who is very resolute and proved practically that a woman can play a pivotal role in her country and society by setting up her own identity. Abeer Salama is one of most successful business woman in the Saudi Arabia and the region, being the best demonstration of the saying “where there is a will there is a way “proving that gender does not make any difference to accomplish your objective.
She started her business life by saving her pocket money, but that money was not enough for initiating her business and she had no assistance from her father. It was around 40-45 years ago, when she asked for a loan from Saudi Industrial Developmental Fund to open a bakery in Jeddah’s industrial estate. To her bewilderment, the employee at the ministry of finance hung her back because he was not sure about her eligibility for loan because of her sex orientation.
She did not give up, but started to contact the concerned officials until the loan was permitted. She spoke directly with the then HRH Crown Prince Fahad bin Abdulaziz (later King Fahad) and questioned him about her eligibility of loan, and he informed her that men and women were equally eligible for it, if they are Saudi nationals. And at that time, she was the only woman who succeeded to receive the loan. Then, she contacted a construction company whose contributions set up the bakery at Industrial state in Jeddah. Further, it was a fully established bakery for all types of sweets and bread. After 20 years, her projects were grown by days and nights, and she entered the business community. Shortly after, she set up a computer training center for men & women (making it the first of its kind in Saudi). She then entered more masculine industries by opening her own marine and pilotage company and won a government contract. She had over than 300 employees working on her projects at the time.
Islam is the first religion which has given freedom to women. Even, the first wife of prophet Mohammed (pbuh) was a triumphant business woman and he himself worked for her. Nowadays, there are so many Saudi women who are working alongside men, and their countries are making great strides by leaps and bounds. According to the point of view of Abeer, most of the women want to work in the business field but they just do not know from where to take an initiative. She further enunciates that one should take things slowly while initiating a startup and should be ready for the risks. While starting one’s own business, one should also be patient and take time to learn the business and let the business grow. Only in this way, one can achieve one’s goal.
Abeer’s basic field of work was engineering because of her interest, and at first, she set forth in the construction business. Later, she moved on and opened a bakery for which she requested to get loan
Women are also playing a pivotal role and liberating themselves from oppressed social and cultural shackles to empower themselves economically, politically, and socially. Being a successful and inspiring business woman, she has planned on making a society for Saudi women so that, they can have a better understanding of business and their country can flourish.
By Changezi Sandhu
Ø Member of American Bar Association, USA
Ø Human Rights Defender & Student of Legal Studies