Re­gional Strat­egy Di­rec­tor of Leo Bur­nett KSA, talks about the chal­lenges Saudi young work­force will be fac­ing and the ob­sta­cles women need to over­come.

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Saudi is on its way to be­come the most dig­i­tally en­gaged so­ci­ety in the world…

Saudi has gone through ma­jor cul­tural shifts and dur­ing such shifts peo­ple are de­vel­op­ing new sets of dreams, as­pi­ra­tions, goals, anx­i­eties, wor­ries etc. It is in the pur­suit of fill­ing the gap be­tween how the peo­ple of the King­dom are liv­ing their lives to­day and how they ought to is where brands can iden­tify their hu­man pur­pose. Two seg­ments of­ten come to mind when think­ing about th­ese new sets of dreams and as­pi­ra­tions: Saudi youth and Saudi women.

The new gen­er­a­tion of Saudis makes up the ma­jor­ity of the pop­u­la­tion, as 51% of the King­dom’s pop­u­la­tion is below the age of 25. Th­ese youth have been highly ur­banised (in most cases they are the first ur­banised gen­er­a­tion in their fam­i­lies), and have been highly ex­posed to the out­side world. Saudi is on its way to be­come the most dig­i­tally en­gaged so­ci­ety in the world with the high­est per capita con­sump­tion on Youtube, the high­est Twit­ter pen­e­tra­tion and the third high­est smart­phone glob­ally. They have grown up with the mind­set that they be­long to one of the rich­est coun­tries in the world, where wealth and for­tunes are await­ing them, only to re­alise that, in re­al­ity, what is wait­ing for them is the strug­gle to find a job (five mil­lion young Saudis are ex­pected to en­ter the job mar­ket be­tween now and 2030, most of them are go­ing to have to make it on their own).

So, in brief, here is a gen­er­a­tion that makes up the ma­jor­ity of the pop­u­la­tion, which has been ex­posed to all of the pos­si­bil­i­ties out there and is full of pas­sion to ex­plore and to live life to the fullest. KSA is filled with in­di­vid­u­als who are con­fi­dent (and some­times over­con­fi­dent) of their po­ten­tials and who are ea­ger to achieve what they feel their coun­try ought to of­fer them. Yet, they grow up only to face one lim­i­ta­tion af­ter the other.

An­other seg­ment is the rel­a­tively newly em­pow­ered Saudi women. While they make around 43% of the to­tal pop­u­la­tion, through­out their past they have faced a long list of lim­i­ta­tions, and to­day, they have sim­ply had enough. They un­der­stand that – due to the fact that they are seg­re­gated from men, not able to legally drive, re­quire a male guardian to go out, and have to dress ac­cord­ing to a cer­tain code – their sta­tus in Saudi Ara­bia might give peo­ple the per­cep­tion that they are sup­pressed and in­ac­tive. Quite the con­trary, they are frus­trated with th­ese per­cep­tions; they be­lieve that many of them are highly ed­u­cated, in­tel­li­gent, and suc­cess­ful work­ing women who are grow­ingly play­ing more prom­i­nent roles in their so­ci­ety. How­ever, the so­ci­ety, along with mar­keters, do not seem to want to per­ceive them this way. Ac­cord­ing to a prom­i­nent Saudi jour­nal­ist, “We –Saudi women- are man­agers of multi-bil­lion dol­lar com­pa­nies, world-renowned sci­en­tists, univer­sity deans, bank CEOS, deputy min­is­ters, as well as the di­rec­tor of the UN Pop­u­la­tion Fund. We are gain­ing ground ev­ery day. Like other women around the world, achiev­ing in­de­pen­dence is an on­go­ing strug­gle for us, and one that de­serves to be recog­nised in the me­dia and else­where.”

Now for a brand aim­ing to play the above­men­tioned rel­e­vant and mean­ing­ful role, the list of how it can af­fect th­ese two seg­ments and truly in­flu­ence their lives for the bet­ter is re­ally end­less. This is in fact a pe­riod that brings a great amount of op­por­tu­ni­ties for brands in the Saudi mar­ket. Or­gan­i­sa­tions only need to have the right mind­set and an­chor all their ac­tiv­i­ties by a hu­man pur­pose, in the very same man­ner that most suc­cess­ful global brands have done.

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