This post is part of a series examining women’s labor force participation in the Gulf Arab states, including areas of growth and challenges facing women in the Gulf.
As Gulf Arab countries seek to diversify their economies away from oil, they have made major investments in the manufacturing sector, which contributes on average around 11 percent of gross domestic product in the region. Favorable tax regimes and the relatively low cost of establishing and operating industrial facilities in the region are major factors attracting investors and driving growth in the manufacturing sector. However, Gulf Cooperation Council manufacturing is highly dependent on male foreign workers from South Asia and there is a lack of skilled labor in the field among Gulf nationals, both male and female. Recent economic diversification initiatives across the Gulf Arab states such as nationalization programs in the private sector have helped shape policies to support the training and hiring of nationals, and improve women’s education and increase their participation in the workforce. Furthermore, the need for dual income households has prompted women to seek work, and economic diversification initiatives have provided opportunities in sectors such as manufacturing.