Businesswomen take expo-planning market by storm

An estimated SR60 billion owned by Saudi women remains unused in banks due to their reluctance or inability to seize viable investment opportunities.

Saudi women have swept into the ever-expanding conference and expo-planning domain, now owning around 35 percent of these organizational companies.

“We expect to witness significant growth in this market, which is already expanding at a rate of more than 15 percent,” said Lamia Al-Ajaji, owner of Intilaq. “Such exhibitions are a marketing magnet for foreign companies wishing to promote their products in the area.”

“I think women are overtaking men in this domain because they have better organizational skills,” said Al-Ajaji.

“Women have invested more than SR60 billion the Saudi market, which accounts for more than 20 percent of investments in the private sector. Female participation is vital for enhancing the national economy. We have a lot of frozen wealth that must be activated and this is the perfect venue.”

“We often face objections in holding our exhibitions from the Commerce Ministry,” said Al-Anood Al-Fayez, the owner of another such establishment.

“We have certain restrictions imposed on us, such as being barred from engaging in buying or selling activity at the exhibition or face a SR10,000 penalty.”

“We are also forced to rent wedding halls or five-star hotels because there is no place for us to hold our exhibitions.”

“Another major problem we face is the lack of qualified Saudi personnel,” she said. “The majority of companies in this sector are managed by foreign staff.”

Al-Fayez suggests holding exhibitions every two months to attract female investors and motivate girls to take on this line of work. “We must find an entity to unify conference and exhibition organizers in the Kingdom and give it the attention it deserves,” she said.

Fadel Abu Al-Einien, an economist, said the exhibition and conferences market in Saudi Arabia provides varied outcomes.

“The strength of the Saudi market, which accounts for more than 65 percent of the volume of the Gulf market, is a magnet for production and marketing.

“As such, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is expected to play a prominent role in this industry in coming years because of the current expansion of these markets. In fact, this industry can serve as economic gateway to prosperity.”






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