Yara al-Hogbani is a Saudi tennis player who defeated her Russian top seed opponent Tamara Ermakova to win the J5 Isa Town tournament in Bahrain in October, making her the first-ever Saudi Arabian woman to win a professional tennis event.
The above-mentioned examples are just some of the sports, cultural, and scientific achievements made by Saudi women, and there are several other awards and trophies won by Saudi women at the local and international levels that are too numerous to mention.
In the beginning of this year, Saudi Arabia increased the number of women ambassadors, including Nesreen Alshebel and Haifa Al-Jedea.
Alshebel is now the ambassador to Finland and Al-Jedea is the President of the Saudi Delegation to the EU and to the European Atomic Energy Community.
Al-Jedea and Alshebel were among 11 Saudi ambassadors who took their oath of office in the presence of King Salman.
Prior to her latest appointment, Al-Jedea worked as managing director at SRMG Think, one of SRMG's verticals which focuses on providing analysis about the Middle East and North Africa region.
Saudi women have also achieved remarkable success in entrepreneurship, small business enterprises, and the establishing and management of factories. Their boundless ambition has seen them excel in innovation and in the fields of cinematography, visual arts, music, fashion design, theatre arts, archeology, and linguistics.
This is, in large part, due to the cultural scholarship programme that is sponsored every year by the Saudi Ministry of Culture (MoC) at prestigious colleges, institutes, and universities worldwide with the aim of creating specialist generations in all such sectors.
Those generations are meant to make effective contributions to the future of a new Saudi Arabia. The number of female students in the MoC-sponsored scholarship programme now stands at 443, almost double of their male counterparts which stands at 240.
From steps to giant leaps
Researchers and academics interested in women issues and empowerment have noted that progress is an indication of women's ability to overcome various challenges.
Dr. Khaled bin Mohamed Baterfi, a political writer and researcher, in an interview with Al Majalla, blamed the lack of Saudi women's participation in business and public/private enterprises over the last decades on several factors — most notably their restricted access to education as a result of outdated beliefs and traditions and access to financial support.
Baterfi noted that, in the past, job opportunities for women were generally limited to teaching, certain healthcare services, self-employment, and female departments at government and private institutions.
Education and training programmes have certainly come a long way.
Indicatively, the numbers of students, graduates, and scholarship holders across national and international institutes and universities are now gender equitable. The government has also provided unprecedented support for women's training and qualification programmes, and female participation can now be seen in all fields including the diplomatic, security, and military fields.
The Saudi Vision 2030 was able to turn steps towards progress and women empowerment into giant leaps.
Saudi Arabia has achieved the highest female employment growth rate in a matter of few years, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF), which lists the country as one of the five most-improved countries in achieving gender-equitable employment.
Women-led businesses grew from 21% to 45% in 2016, and the female job market share increased by 13% in just three years from 20% in 2019 to 33.6% in 2022.