Women are ‘at the heart’ of Saudi Arabia’s evolution, says French author and entrepreneur Caroline Carpentier

DUBAI: Through numerous interviews and biographies in a new research book, French communication specialist and entrepreneur Caroline Carpentier finds that Saudi women are “at the heart” of the evolution of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

Carpentier, who has spent more than 20 years in the region, shared his experiences in the Kingdom with Arab News in French.

Her soon-to-be-published book contains a series of interviews with Saudi women and came about after seeing the impressive transformation the Kingdom is undergoing, led by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. After years spent in the Gulf, the director of 4C (Caroline Carpentier Consulting and Communication) identifies the enthusiasm of Saudi youth who express themselves by participating in the transformation of the Kingdom.

“What impressed me the most was the social side of life in Saudi Arabia and the relationship with the Saudi population compared to other Gulf countries like the United Arab Emirates or Qatar, where there are has more expats,” Carpentier said.

The author recounted her stay in the Kingdom after a recent visit and said those around her “were aware that for a woman to come to Riyadh alone might not be easy”, adding that she was “pleasantly surprised “by the genuine hospitality of the Saudi people.

The series of interviews sheds light on the evolution of the Kingdom. Carpentier said: “We in the West have no idea what is going on in Saudi Arabia.”

The rapid changes have motivated her to unearth and better understand the sources of inspiration and the vision that women have of their role in society.

“The burgeoning volume of qualifications and skills in different fields of study and sectors prepares young people to enter a vast labor market,” said Carpentier, stressing that “the most striking societal development in the Kingdom is the reinforced role of women, and in particular in recent years.”

Women “were already in the movement, contributing to development”, but “now there has been a real acceleration”, she added.

Carpentier stressed that this development is inspired by the political will, driven by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, to recognize the role of women and what they can achieve in all professions and all projects.

The number of women in institutions and companies has gradually increased since the early 2000s and more and more well-educated women are ready to take on more positions. These women interested Carpentier, and she devoted a gallery of portraits to them with narrative biographies based on interviews.

These biographies explore the stories, challenges and achievements of Saudi women.

In the Kingdom, statistics indicate that in 2019, 55.8% of university graduates are women, a figure that does not seem to surprise Carpentier, who attributes this success to “motivation”. According to her, young female graduates “are above all motivated, which leads them to succeed brilliantly in their studies”. She noted that young Saudi women are now specializing in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, with the possibility of working in sectors that were, for a time, traditionally dominated fields. by men.

Carpentier believes that Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 “emanates from a desire to empower the people, while giving them the tools to embark on professional and personal projects”, which can only lead to “the adhesion of the population, especially that in the last In a few years, a real middle class has appeared in Saudi Arabia, which has brought about a change of mentality on the one hand, and a new way of structuring society on the other go.

The openness observed in various sectors within the framework of Vision 2030 is accompanied by massive investments in several areas, including tourism. For Carpentier, who founded a tourism business in Saudi Arabia more than 20 years ago, “the groundwork for the groundwork had already been laid in the early 2000s. It is a five-year plan developed to promote local tourism .

The situation today is of another dimension, with the appearance of cultural sites, museums, artists’ residences and major tourism development projects such as AlUla, notes the author, adding that “the strengthening of partnerships cultural and commercial exchanges between France and Saudi Arabia benefits the tourism sector” and allows better development. Carpentier quotes the French Agency for the development of Alula, “which gives the Kingdom the possibility of relying on external expertise, in particular that of countries like France”, the world’s leading tourist destination.

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