Arab Women Are Told Saudi Is the Best Place for Them in the Region in 2020: How Come?

Published June 28th, 2020 - 09:15 GMT
Arab Women Are Told Saudi Is the Best Place for Them in the Region in 2020: How Come?
Oman came in second place (#91 globally), while Jordan came in third (#96). (Shutterstock: Victor Jiang)

In a report released last week, Saudi Arabia was ranked as the best country for women amongst Arab nations, an outcome that quickly came under fire by online commentators who disagreed with it.

In their annual report on the best countries for women, CEOWORLD magazine revealed that while Sweden is the #1 country in the world for women in 2020, in terms of gender equality and safety, Saudi, in the 89th rank, heads the list when it comes to the Arab world.

Following the conservative kingdom often criticized for its record of women's rights, Oman came in second place (#91 globally), while Jordan came in third (#96).

Social media commentators criticized the report's outcomes, saying that considering Saudi's controversial record of women's rights, Saudi can't be more progressive than Tunisia or Lebanon, two relatively more liberal Arab countries.

In the introduction to their report, CEOWORLD magazine clarified that their list is "based on a survey of nearly 256,700 women around the world" and not on a study of women's conditions in these countries, which explains the surprising results.

Commentators remembered several Saudi jailed female activists, who were arrested based on their calls for better human rights, including Loujain Al-Hathloul, Eman Al-Nafjan, Aziza Al-Yousef, and others, pointing at what they described as a "paradox" with what the report claimed.

However, the fact that the ranking was based on a survey and not on scientific research might be helpful to people still perplexed by its findings, as participating women could have answered, in light of recent changes that took place in the Saudi kingdom compared to the last few decades, such as allowing women to drive and take part in politics. 

The report's results could also be misled by being taken from a random sample that doesn't necessarily include the voices of women aware of the rights they are missing, in comparison with other parts of the world.

Meanwhile, a photo of a Saudi female royal security person triggered mixed reactions online, as some people condemned it saying that women can find "more decent jobs."

Translation: "This is ridiculous. Are there not enough men for you that you ask women to be in the royal security forces? Or maybe it's just a show-off? Stop this nonsense, God is watching you. Young men are unemployed and you're happy about hiring women more than men. At least make women the next in line."


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