Friday, October 30, 2009

Saudi Arabia is te Best Place to Do Business? Is Someone High?

So, I finally got hold of the October issue of Jordan Business and my funny bone was really, really ticked. The World Bank (which is apparently a bunch of old white guys) has ranked Saudi Arabia as the best place to do business in the entire Middle East North Africa Region. Does anyone besides me see the irony in this?

The article says that "the statistics reflect the country's major reform efforts over the last 5 years". The reforms that I somehow missed which make this article so ironic are those that allow:
  1. Women to enter the country (without their husbands or fathers that is)
  2. Women to drive
  3. Women to have meetings with men
  4. Women to move freely through the country unassailed

But, perhaps those reforms are unnecessary to do business. After all, as a business woman in the Middle East, surely none of those would trouble me when doing business, right? So, maybe what they mean is that Saudi is the Best Place for MEN to do Business in the region?

Happy Places!


At 1:47 PM , Anonymous kinzi said...

MB, you have this gift for seeing the obvious I miss. @@

BUT, one cannot discount the freedom to wear bras and socks without fear of caning. Saudi does allow women those!

At 1:17 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Oooh, I did forget those, but...

At 4:15 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The World Bank Doing Business Report is a measure of a country's reform per year. It is done so through a series of rankings in various sectors. Such index based approaches to measuring competitiveness are of course easily criticized. Even when recompiling these measurements with other benchmarks (UN, TI, EFI, etc) you are left with a murky conclusion.

In terms of the gender argument you propose, this falls to the national treatment clause of the GATT agreement. The obstacles or opportunities available for foreign females are just as competitive to domestic females. The outcome is a "liberal" market where there is no protective measures applied against the foreign entrant.

Nonetheless, I encourage you to support the robust changes undergone in the area of regulation and transparency in the Saudi economy. For without the public support of these recent changes, their will be no incentive to continue to change.

At 6:06 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

Anonymous, thanks for your comments. While the measure may be a year on year reform implementation measurement, by calling it the "Doing Business Report," it implies that being top ranked means you are the best place to do business. I stand by my tongue in cheek assessment of the fact that Saudi is NOT a good place for women to do business (any women). But, I will give them credit for reforms that they may have made. Perhaps someday soon they'll make the sorts of reforms that will make them a good palce to actally DO business...

At 11:37 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi MB:

I have perused your blog several times over the past several months and I would love to contact you via email. I'm Hope to hear from you!


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