Monday, October 10, 2005

Saudi Arabia and the Human Development Index

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayArticle.asp?xfile=data/middleeast/2005/October/middleeast_October189.xml§ion=middleeast&col=


Saudi Arabia ranks 77th among 177 countries in the world in terms of Human Development Index (HDI).

Saudi Arabia ranks 44th by GDP per capita which stands at $13,226.

Saudi Arabia's HDI, measured in terms of life span, healthy life, level of literacy, and standard of living stood at 0.772.

Qatar's HDI is 0.849 which makes it rank top among the Arab countries.

Yemen was the worst performer with an HDI of 0.489.

Saudi Arabia got 72nd ranking on the basis of life expectancy at birth (71.8 years).

Saudi Arabia occupied the 136th spot on the yardstick of primary, secondary and tertiary gross enrolment ratio, with 57 per cent of its population pursuing studies at various levels.

Dr El Mustafa Benlamlih, of the UN, said that even though the kingdom was investing heavily in providing education facilities to the Saudis, there was a problem with regard to the development of right attitude among students.

"It is much more than sticking to the curriculum. It has to do with how they learn and what attitude do they show to the learning process," he observed.

In terms of human poverty index (HPI), which focuses on the proportion of people living below a threshold level in basic dimensions of human development, such as life span, access to education, and a decent standard of living, the kingdom was placed 32nd among 103 countries with the HPI value standing at 14.9 per cent.

According to the report, the kingdom has to catch up with other Gulf states in terms of building the capabilities of women.

Of the 140 countries that were ranked in this category, Saudi Arabia was placed 65th in terms of gender-related development index, with a value of 0.749.

The gender empowerment measure (GEM) reveals whether women take an active part in economic and public life. It focuses on gender inequality in key areas of economic and political participation and decision-making.

Based on these parametres, the kingdom got a ranking of 78 out of 140 countries.

The best performer in this category among the GCC states was Kuwait and the worst Yemen.

Meanwhile, Dr Abdullah Maraa bin Mahfouz wrote in the Arabic daily Al Eqtesadeyah that Saudi women at present find it very difficult to get their rights in the Shariah courts. He stressed that the problem is not with the Shariah. But rather with the operational and bureaucratic regulations of the courts that stand in the way of women getting justice.

"The operational and bureaucratic regulations in the courts that delay or prevent women from getting justice should be done away with. Arrangements which include modern technology should be put in place so that women know the status of their cases from their homes or any place they happen to be," he writes.

"The demand for setting up civil law courts and appointing female judges or permitting women to be present in the court without a mahram (legal guardian) are ideas unacceptable to both religious scholars and society. Instead, creating a special division for civil matters with special judges could be done without delay," he adds.

According to Bin Mahfouz, women who are treated unjustly feel that men exploit the loopholes in the legal system and also physically and mentally harass women in order to take more than their rights while depriving women of theirs.

"Divorced women have rights given to them by Shariah and the law of the land but those rights are practically non-existent because of the meandering official procedures related to Saudi women in addition to the absence of elasticity of the regulations," he explains.




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