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Innovation policies and values of females from the Gulf: a qualitative study

Abstract : The Gulf region, which used to be considered as a land of conservatism and oil dependent economy, has decided to launch large and wide policy reforms during the past years. The most visible parts of those reforms are obviously the various national strategic plans drafted and implemented in order to modernize those countries and allow them to achieve sustainability in a post oil era. Most of those plans rely on robust consulting analysis, conducted by the best specialists in the world. As an example, the most relevant plan, Saudi Vision 2030, has been prepared in collaboration with Mac Kinsey consultants. Such plan makes the best of a lots of statistics encompassing both highly granular, and precise economic data and wide range surveys and draws from them a set of ambitious conclusions. Among those conclusions, the empowerment of national females appears as a priority for all the Gulf countries. Measures and regulations have purposely been taken following the finalisation of the plan and the most spectacular changes have occurred in Saudi and have been promoted in the international press. This momentum is rather unique in the world, especially in terms of speed of the change that could be compared to the Atatürk reforms in Turkey in the 1920s. Ignoring those national strong efforts, analyses and research papers recently published about the Gulf region do acknowledge neither the outcomes nor the successes achieved so far but rather stay over focused on religious and cultural issues. Most of western researchers observe change from afar or by doing short travels in those countries. They are therefore facing real challenges to perceive the materiality of change, ending up arguing that the main issue is the rigid and conservative mindset that prevent and curb the pace of change. As a scholar and MBA program manager based in the Gulf since 2017 in one of the only regional universities in the world, I decided to launch a long range qualitative research on one of the most important and claimed stake of the future of the GCC countries: the empowerment of women. This genesis of this research lies in the identification of a gap in the existing scientific papers between the global economic surveys and statistics used by the consultants assisting the local Government in the implementation of the reforms, and the papers dealing with women in the Arabian world. The latter studies are mainly based on two very different methodologies: qualitative and quantitative research in management science and ethnologic and anthropologic science in "feminist" studies. Both of them, despite their huge differences are really focused on religious aspects, claiming that they are shaping the values of local GCC women. During my first month embedded in this 100% Arabian university, my first impressions and observations were quite different, and I didn't find out that strong impact of religion in people's behaviour. On the contrary, although Islam is obviously very important in Arab lives, my first conversations and exchanges with my students and colleagues lead me to think that the previous studies were biased and too much religion oriented.
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Contributor : Arnaud Lacheret <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, March 11, 2020 - 8:17:28 AM
Last modification on : Friday, March 13, 2020 - 1:06:11 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Friday, June 12, 2020 - 1:05:59 PM

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Arnaud Lacheret. Innovation policies and values of females from the Gulf: a qualitative study. Women and society, Oct 2020, Riffah, Bahrain. ⟨halshs-02504723⟩

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