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Change brings opportunities in Saudi Arabia

Just got back from Saudi Arabia where I was working with training company LMD Learning Solutions on leadership skills for a couple of groups of very capable and enthusiastic managers working for a large family owned conglomerate. This set me thinking about how Saudi is changing.

 

There has been a lot of change since I was last there a year ago.  For the first time, women can now attend sporting events and by the middle of this year they will be able to drive on Saudi roads. Cinemas are beginning to open and there are hopes that a strong tourist economy can be built. Tourist visas are likely to be available soon.

 

All of this is likely to have a substantial impact on opening up a new world of work. For example, work for women is very limited at present, but there is every chance that women who can drive will also press for much better work opportunities. At the moment there is a fairly traditional view of work as being time bound with fixed breaks rather than results focused. But into this world the gig economy has arrived in the form of Uber.

 

What is often described as a conservative Saudi society could well change very fast. Crown Prince, Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) commissioned Vision 2030 setting ambitious targets for a new future only 18 years away. Technology, entertainment and tourism feature strongly as major areas of growth and will require changes in management and leadership style that have been described to me as both empowering and flexible.

 

Despite negative views of Saudi Arabia from outside what I saw offers a strong and exciting future for businesses and our levels of collaboration there. New ways of working are on the way.