Financial literacy is influenced by the initiatives taken to spread information about the various financial activities in the country. Saudi Arabia has been having very low financial literacy level despite projecting positive results in its economic trend. According to the Al-Attas (2011), a writer with Saudi’s local daily, the Gross Domestic Product is expected to grow by up to 7.5%, in the fiscal year 2010/2011. This means that there is more productivity among the citizens and if their finances are not managed properly, it would be hard for the country to progress.
To achieve the financial knowledge, the Capital Market Authority in Saudi Arabia embarked on an awareness campaign that was aimed at educating young people and especially children on the benefits of saving, fundamentals of finance and investments. The program, which is called “The Smart Investor”, is meant to start from the end of July 2011 (Wahab, 2011). This initiative is seen by the government as a better opportunity of enhancing the financial literacy level in Saudi Arabia and especially in children, who are bound to become future investors.
The Saudi government, through the capital markets authority, intends to establish a financial culture in the kingdom, through integrating normal education curriculum with financial fundamentals. Under this program, the young children are expected to learn about money management and saving techniques. The awareness campaign is meant to not only enhance understanding of financial activities, but also to encourage responsibility when carrying out financial activities and plans.
In the awareness campaign, which is expected to be launched directly in various private and public schools, the government intends to use social networking sites to fulfill its main objectives. While the awareness campaign is centered on increasing financial knowledge, the government intends to incorporate lessons aimed at upholding Islamic values and practices. When financial management is integrated with ethics and principles, there are better chances of having investment-conscious decisions and practices. This is therefore a program initiated by the government that wishes to approach the matter of financial responsibility from all angles in order to ensure that a financial culture is started in the kingdom.
According to the Capital Markets Authority, one of the fundamental benefits of financial awareness is in the understanding of the implications in decision-making processes in matters of investment and savings. Ina addition, banking was perceived as one of the issues that have been slowly embraced by the Saudis. For this reason, making the citizens aware about the benefits of engaging in productive financial activities would make the kingdom’s economy to grow, not only now, but also in the future.
Targeting the children aged between nine and fourteen was a strategy of ensuring that a culture is born in Saudi. While the adults require such knowledge in equal terms, the children are the best in terms of developing a culture of financial responsibility. One of the motivations behind the awareness campaign is a study conducted by financial institutions from different parts of the world. The studies showed that financial crises are avoided, if the youth are provided with the relevant information about handling financial activities. Within its strategies, the Capital Markets Authority had already embarked on producing financial magazines in the last two years (Wahab, 2011).
These magazines were then distributed into various schools and this strategy was meant to serve as a pre-awareness campaign on financial matters. Attitudes towards money and proper spending methods were some of the issues that were to be addressed. Misuse of money is perceived as one of the largest contributors to poverty. If the young generation was to be educated on better ways of managing their money, there would be lesser chances of misuse and this would lead to increased productivity in future.
The program aimed at educating children in Saudi Arabia was integrated with an already running program that targeted current investors. The Capital Markets Authority was also involved in educating the current investors about advancing in the capital markets. The training program constituted of the rules and regulations, as well as the conduct at the capital markets in terms of financial activities and the decision-making process. Although the youth awareness program is expected to commence in July 2011, the Capital Markets Authority had already embarked on other awareness campaigns of already existing investors in the capital markets (Wahab, 2011).
This was done through road shows across major cities in the kingdom. In addition to the road shows, the Capital Markets Authority of Saudi Arabia used publications and magazines and distributed them to various locations in the kingdom. This was meant to ensure that while some received the message direct from road shows, others received it from the publications. The wave of financial awareness has been perceived as one of the biggest in the country and considering its economic status, Saudi is expected to have stronger financial base.
The initiative was also started in special malls started by the capital markets authority and according to Khan (2011), a reporter with a Saudi Gazette; there were over 250000 individuals who visited the Capital Markets Authority’s malls in 2010. The awareness campaign can therefore be perceived as a strategy of ensuring that while the current investors increased their financial knowledge, the future investors were not left behind. In fact, the awareness campaign seems to be more focused on the young generation in order to ensure that the future economy will be stable and that the citizens will have better financial responsibility.
Other than the government, private investors are also concerned about the financial literacy level in Saudi Arabia. According to an article by AME Info (2010), Derayah Financial, one of the largest investment company started offering independent financial information to investors. The information that was being provided by this investment company pertained to essence of savings and venturing in business among the Saudis, especially in investment funds. The company, which established malls in various locations, made the citizens aware of the benefits and means of saving as well as mechanisms of investing. The company also modified its website to include various leads into better investments and saving behaviors as well as information pertaining investment funds.
According to Gulf Base (2011), the National Commercial Bank (NCB), signed an agreement with INJAZ-Saudi Arabia to start a financial awareness campaign among university students. This initiative is meant to ensure that students from universities in Saudi Arabia learn about the fundamentals of finance as well as opportunities in investment. In addition, the awareness campaign will focus on ways of protecting the students from credit identity theft. The initiative is therefore an integrated approach to enhancing the financial literacy levels in Saudi Arabia as well as establishing a financial culture through training the young generation. The approach of the government and other financial institutions in ensuring that Saudis understand the financial concepts is perceived as one of the largest and as a strategy of avoiding future financial crises.
The involvement of government agencies and financial institutions in the awareness campaigns is however received with mixed reactions. There are questions of whether the idea is the best for the kingdom. The research will therefore evaluate the feasibility of the process by looking at the advantages and disadvantages and the initiatives influence to the kingdom’s economy.
- Is the awareness campaign important to Saudi Arabia at the moment?
- Will the expected financial culture help Saudi’s economy in future?
Al-Attas, H. (2011). Kingdom enjoys healthy economic status – Turki. Web.
AME Info. (2010). Derayah Financial launches awareness campaign in malls of Saudi Arabia. Web.
Gulf Base. (2011). NCB Capital signed agreement with INJAZ-Saudi Arabia. Web.
Khan, S. A. (2011). Finance literacy program for children planned. The Saudi. Web.
Wahab, S. J. (2011). Youngsters learning ropes of finance. Web.