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A Rescue Plan: Female Engineers for the MENA Region

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Saudi Arabia called the Middle East construction sector "the sleeping giant" due to its conservative pace of development. But population growth, surging oil revenues, planned government investments to expand the country's water supplies and electricity network, and other economic factors have emerged as some of the key dynamics contributing to acceleration in the construction projects there. Multi-billion dollar construction projects are under way and many more are in the planning stage by both the public and private sectors. Public construction plans include building four new cities and 600,000 new homes to accommodate five million people by 2020. On the other hand, there is a huge lack of local Saudi engineers compared to this huge market size, and most engineers are from abroad. Due to the new government policy called "Sa'wadah," which means Saudization (i.e. employment of Saudi National People in all sectors), the construction sector is stuck and will need a rescue plan to handle its "construction development revolution" and fit in the new policy.

Looking at the other half of the Middle East region, towards Africa, we see Libya, that huge Arabic country, which had lived in dark decay for decades with almost no infrastructure in most of its cities. In the coming years Libya will witness booming development in the construction sector from almost nothing, but due to unstable situations and unsafe conditions there, it will face employment complexity, since most employees may refuse to work physically there, much like what happened in Iraq in the past years. Again a rescue plan is needed to have the work done with minimum risk.

Midway between Saudi Arabia and Libya there is the kingdom of Jordan, a small, stable and highly educated country. In the engineering field, Jordan produces more than 7,000 engineers each year. Thirty-five to 40 percent are female engineers, who in general are restricted with a different kind of Arabian social rules, which force them either to quit their field or be burdened by their chosen field. But looking deep into the construction engineering field, we find that most of its tasks are routine and systematic and the important thing is that they don't require a presence at the office. Again we say... a rescue plan may be needed here!

Handasiyat.net is trying to be part of the rescue plan!

I'm the founder of Handasiyat.net, which represents a virtual engineering company aiming to offer engineering services -- via a remote platform -- for engineering companies in the MENA region, which will reduce employment need and cost in some countries and solve part of the employment complexity in crisis areas. This will offer the opportunity for hundreds of Arab female engineers to activate their certificate while respecting their traditions. I'm a Senior Mechanical Engineer and I have lived and worked in KSA for more than 10 years as a freelance engineer, where I have dealt with many leading companies there and participated in executing tens of projects. I have also been involved in the translation field, where I translated many engineering topics and it is a field that I'm aiming to heavily participate in, since there is a huge lack of Arabic content in the Internet. At Handasiyat.net we are aiming to do our part by translating engineering topics.

The Internet is a transformative opportunity. It will allow us to remotely deliver the work needed, with the perfection level the client deserves, with the most cost effective approach at the time they require. It enables women to work and prove their efficiency while respecting social customs.

For more information about our services please visit our website: www.handasiyat.net.

Nermeen is a 2012 Cartier Women's Award finalist. For more information, please visit http://www.cartierwomensinitiative.com/editions/2012/.