Muneera Al-Touq, director at Alnahda Society

Time: 13 November 2020

Muneera Al-Touq

Muneera Al-Touq has been on the Board of Directors of the Alnahda Society since 2014. As a board member, she sits on the Nomination and Remuneration Committee and heads the Initiative and Incubation Committee.

Prior to her serving on the board before 2011 she was a member of Alnahda Society. As an expert in community services, statistics, and epidemiology, she examined the foundation’s training programs, judged their efficiency, and considered how they could be improved.  She has also participated in several of Alnahda’s educational and awareness programs.

She has been active internationally and represented Alnahda in Geneva in 2018 at the Civil Society Plenary Session to discuss the Fourth Saudi Report on the Convention on the Elimination of all Types of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).

In 2016, Al-Touq was a member of the Alnahda team which attended the discussion on the Saudi Report on the Convention on the Rights of Children (UNCRC) in Geneva.

Previously she worked as a therapeutic nutritionist at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center. She is also a founder member of the Zahrah Breast Cancer Society.

“I’ve lived in Riyadh my whole life. As a child, I heard about Alnahda and I used to come and join fundraising events for different programs,” Al-Touq told Arab News.

“I saw the people who ran it and the people who founded it. It was always something different and pioneering. They were always ahead of their time. The quality of their programs and the quality of their work is truly of a high standard.”

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Rasha Al-Turki, CEO of Alnahda Society


Rasha Al-Turki has been the CEO of Alnahda Society since 2013. Prior to this role she was the society’s chief projects officer for more than three years, overseeing the running, development and evaluation of projects in the fields of finance, education and social development, professional and vocational training, and employment.
She was appointed in 2016 by royal decree to the board of trustees at the Human Rights Commission where she serves on a part-time basis. Her career interests lie in positively contributing to Saudi Arabia’s development, with a particular focus on women’s empowerment.
Al-Turki is a founding board member of CellA+, a women’s professional network aimed at empowering professional women in the Kingdom.
She has a bachelor’s degree in history from Wellesley College and a master’s in Middle Eastern studies from Harvard. She has also done extensive research into the history of female entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia.
In 2019, Alnahda gained consultative status at the UN Economic and Social Council and was appointed by royal decree to lead the Women 20 (W20) Summit and its related activities as part of the Kingdom’s G20 presidency.
During an interview with Arab News, Al-Turki said that Alnahda provided a space to be creative, to try out new things and to come up with new solutions without the heavy burden of bureaucracy.
“I think for people who are dedicated to a cause, it’s important to be in such an environment that fosters new ways of thinking and encourages employees to be nimble and to react to changing realities or become proactive with solving issues,” she said.

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How Saudi women are becoming equal partners in progress


Saudi Rodina Maamoun, who employed 19 young women almost entirely replacing the men, sells jewellery at a retail store in Riyadh’s Hayat mall on February 19, 2020. (AFP/File Photo)

Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF) has put gender-inclusive practices at the heart of Kingdom’s industrial development
Noor Shabib, SIDF vice president, says achieving gender parity and promoting women to senior posts are two major priorities
RIYADH: Women’s participation in the workforce and the wider Saudi economy and having more women in leadership positions is one of the key goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform strategy. That is why the Saudi Industrial Development Fund (SIDF) has made achieving gender parity and the promotion of women to senior positions a top priority, according to its vice president of strategic planning and business development, Noor Shabib.

SIDF has already reached some important milestones, boosting the proportion of women on its staff from zero to 17 percent in less than three years, making it one of the most successful in this regard among Saudi government entities.

“Not only that — we have women employed in every single department, distributing women leaders and young talent to all departments and in various ranks and positions, ranging from vice president for strategic planning and business development, director of enterprise risk management and a director of the SIDF academy,” Shabib told Arab News. “So, we have women at the highest levels, which is something we’re very proud of.”

Shabib hopes the SIDF’s partnership with the Alnahda Philanthropic Society for Women at this year’s edition of the Women 20 (W20), virtually hosted by Riyadh, has encouraged more Saudi institutions to follow suit.

“The SIDF is an advocate sponsor of W20 and the Alnahda society, joining forces to support the advocacy of women’s issues in Saudi Arabia to empower women, diversity and inclusion in the workplace,” said Shabib.

Established in 1974, the SIDF was created to provide mid- and long-term loans to the private industrial sector. Today it commands capital worth SR105 billion ($28 billion). It is therefore in a strong position to promote change across a whole swathe of the economy.

One of the SIDF’s flagship programs is its Nokhab training scheme, which has been running for over 40 years, providing entry-level employees with advanced qualifications in business, human resources and engineering.

“Two years ago, the SIDF set a 50:50 gender target on the program,” Shabib said. “Our Nokhab program a few years ago was obviously 100 percent men because that’s all you had. We mandated that 50 percent of all fresh graduates coming into this would be women.”

When institutions open up to accepting more women on their staff, they become far more meritocratic, benefiting from a wider pool of talent and experience, Shabib said.

Women and COVID-19
* 22% – Women in G20 countries who lack access to formal bank accounts.

* 64% – Women-led firms’ share of business ops strongly affected by COVID-19.

* 30% – Job losses for women anticipated in COVID-19-affected sectors.

“It means that I can choose the best among men and women,” she said. “The women we have are not the best because they’re women — they’re the best because they worked hard and they earned their spot here. They are competing just like everybody else. We hire the best.”

The result has been a much more positive work culture. “Having women in the leadership team at the SIDF has positively impacted the aspirations of junior women working with us and set for them a good picture of what their career progression could look like,” Shabib said.

Shabib is perhaps a model example of women’s professional empowerment. After completing a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering, Shabib became Saudi Arabia’s first female field engineer with Schlumberger Drilling and Measurements in 2003.

In 2008 she earned an MBA at the University of Oxford and went on to work in Al-Khobar as deputy services manager at Rawabi Trading and Contracting Co. Then, between 2011 and 2017, she joined Saudi Aramco, working in multiple roles. During this time, she completed her second master’s degree in oil and gas leadership and in 2015 became an Eisenhower Fellow.

Shabib co-founded the Group (Qudwa) in 2012 to raise awareness about gender differences in the workplace. Its 5,000 members — 77 percent of them men — conducted over 60 events and workshops and established mentorship programs for young women, which were later handed over to Aramco’s diversity and inclusion division.

From here she took on a job at the Center for Strategic Development, a semi-governmental think tank providing decision-makers with evidence-based research on socio-economic development under the Ministry of Economy and Planning.

The panel also sought to highlight some of the best practices at a local and global level for bringing more women into manufacturing. (AFP/File Photo)

These experiences have clearly served her well since joining the SIDF in 2018. A key part of the fund’s mandate is enabling the National Industrial Development and Logistics Program (NIDLP), which is helping the Kingdom grow into a leading industrial power and international logistics hub through a range of lending and advisory products. Central to this is encouraging more women to launch and manage private sector ventures.

“For the past 46 years, the SIDF has witnessed some of the most successful businessmen that are now leading the industrial sector. Now, as we hire more talented women, we aim to support them and enrich the industrial sector with successful businesswomen,” Shabib said.

“All offerings apply a gender-neutral policy without discrimination on grounds of gender with regards to access to services and opportunities. The SIDF continues to innovate new, more tailored products and services that ensure the same opportunities are offered to both men and women investors to increase the private sector’s participation in the Kingdom.”

These initiatives and more were on show at the W20 summit earlier in October, where Shabib took part in a panel discussion called “Replicating success in inclusive manufacturing,” alongside Selina Jackson, senior vice president of global government relations and public policy at Procter & Gamble, and Mohammed Al-Mutlaq, head of strategy at Alfanar Group.

“The purpose of the session was to highlight the benefits of diversity. These benefits will reflect on the industrial landscape and shed light on reasons why there are fewer female entrepreneurs and industrialists,” said Shabib.

A picture taken on July 29, 2020 shows pilgrims circumambulating around the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest shrine, at the centre of the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Makkah, at the start of the annual Muslim Hajj pilgrimage. (AFP/File Photo)

The panel also sought to highlight some of the best practices at a local and global level for bringing more women into manufacturing — acknowledging where these efforts have been successful and identifying areas in need of improvement.

One success story is an Alfanar factory in Saudi Arabia, which has been operated by a staff of 650 women since 2004. “It is amazing. I visited the factory. It was so humbling and so inspiring because they love the place, they are so happy and empowered and they are growing in their careers. Some of them have been there for 17 years, so they love it,” Shabib said.

Procter & Gamble can also be considered a success story, having achieved 50:50 gender representation on its board of directors.

“One of the most important things that was mentioned is how important gender bias training was in shifting the culture to make the environment more welcoming and retaining of women,” Shabib said. “Selina was saying how eye-opening it was for men when they did the training.”

With these inspiring examples in mind, the SIDF is launching a new program in November, in association with the Council of Saudi Chambers devoted to empowering female entrepreneurs, titled “How to start your industrial project.”

“By hiring more women in the SIDF and investing in their development, whether it’s through our credit program or the programs that we have in partnership with Stanford, LBS, or Fitch Learning, we will be contributing to creating a good base for female industrialists who will contribute to the advancement of the country in the years to come,” Shabib said.

“It will also add to the level of awareness of what it takes to become an ambitious female industrial entrepreneur, which is our vision.”

Twitter: @LujainBenGassem

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Dr. Sara Al-Otaibi, director general at Makkah region’s Institute of Public Administration


Dr. Sara Al-Otaibi is the director general of the female branch of the Institute of Public Administration in the Makkah region.

Recently, Al-Otaibi won the Women Leader of the Year Award 2020 at the Gulf Cooperation Council level. It was announced during the GOV HR Summit held in Dubai.

She attributed her success to the “unlimited support” of the Saudi leadership.

Al-Otaibi received a bachelor’s degree in computer science from King Abdul Aziz University (KAU) in 2007. She also received a master’s degree in web technology from the University of Southampton in the UK in 2010. Four years later, she was awarded her Ph.D. in computer science from the same institution.

Her career with KAU began as a trained assistant to teach computer skills courses to freshmen in 2006. She then became a web developer in the e-learning and distance education deanship.

Al-Otaibi lectured at Taif University’s faculty of computer and information technology from 2011 until 2014. From then until 2018, she was a visiting researcher for the web and internet lab at the College of Computers and Electronics at the University of Southampton while simultaneously serving as an assistant professor at Taif University.

In 2015, she was appointed vice dean of e-learning and distance learning at Taif University until 2017. For the following year, she was promoted to dean of university studies.

In 2018, she served as the dean of library affairs for students and an associate professor in web technology at Taif University. Later that year she started teaching at the Institute of Public Administration as an associate professor.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Hossa Almutairi, Think20 Sherpa

Time: 28 October 2020  

Hossa Almutairi

Hossa Almutairi is a research fellow at KAPSARC. She is also the Think20’s (T20) Sherpa and leads the T20 Saudi Arabian secretariat.
She is also the lead co-chair of the T20 Saudi Arabian taskforce for sustainable energy, water and food systems.
Before joining KAPSARC, Almutairi was a faculty member at Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada.
Her research interests include developing energy and economic models to study the impact of environmental policies on economies, sustainable development and wealth accounting.
Almutairi’s work aims to provide policymakers with support and decision-making tools that help identify challenges, opportunities, and solutions associated with moving towards sustainable energy and business practices.
Her work has been published in many peer-reviewed journals.
She has a Ph.D. and a master’s degree in applied operations research from the University of Waterloo, Canada, and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from King Abdul Aziz University, Saudi Arabia.
The T20 was established in 2012 and is the G20’s policy recommendation engagement group responsible for connecting and collaborating with regional and international think tanks.
With Saudi Arabia hosting the 2020 G20 presidency, the T20 has led a series of events and webinars throughout the year. The talks have featured interesting and thought-provoking discussions on issues including cybersecurity, web safety, climate change, environmental safety and the coronavirus pandemic.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Arwa Al-Harbi, Youth 20 (Y20) community taskforce lead


Arwa Al-Harbi is the Youth 20 (Y20) community taskforce lead. She works with the Y20 community to bring together young people from G20 countries.
She was the first Saudi woman to earn an MBA degree from MIT Sloan School of Management in the US.
Al-Harbi is passionate about empowering youth and women. She is a mentor with the Global Shapers Community Saudi Chapter.
In 2012, she was selected from 1,700 applicants and was one of three women to consult with the Saudi Aramco Strategic Council as part of the Young Leaders Advisory Board.
Al-Harbi is experienced in strategy, venture capital and business development within Saudi Aramco and the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture.
She graduated from Prince Mohammed bin Fahd University in Alkhobar with a bachelor’s degree in finance in 2011.
She was an investment analyst between 2014 and 2015, after being promoted from economic analyst in 2013 and planning analyst between 2011 and 2012.
Al-Harbi was also a member of the Young Leaders Advisory Board on a volunteer basis between 2013 and 2014.
She also helped an undergraduate senior student make career decisions and prepare job applications through the mentorship program with the Global Shapers Alkhobar Hub, a World Economic Forum initiative.
Al-Harbi’s Saudi Aramco Energy Ventures team received the Saudi Aramco Excellence Award for 2014 after they transformed a low-performing department in five months, achieving the year’s full target.

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How a young Saudi female broke into male-dominated environment

Time: 25 October 2020

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Al-Rammah is a commercial manager with GE Gas Power and said she had never felt inferior to her male coworkers despite being the only woman on the team. (Supplied)

  • Nour Al-Rammah wrote a manual for everything GE-related made simple for those with no engineering background

JEDDAH: Nour Al-Rammah never expected to work for GE Power because she lacked an engineering degree.

But the Al-Yamamah University graduate managed to overcome this hurdle through perseverance and resourcefulness, as well as writing a 400-page manual for others like her who wanted to work for one of the world’s biggest companies but did not have the technical background.
“I never saw myself reaching there,” she told Arab News, reflecting on her accomplishment of breaking into and succeeding in a competitive and male-dominated environment. “When I studied marketing at university, I expected to land in a marketing company, doing some public relations, marketing and advertising. But I ended up in an engineering company.”
She was born and raised in France until she completed her schooling, returning to Saudi Arabia after 17 years and settling in Riyadh. She attended Al-Yamamah University to study for a bachelor’s degree in business administration, majoring in marketing and finance.


She was born and raised in France until she completed her schooling, returning to Saudi Arabia after 17 years and settling in Riyadh.

Her path to GE Power, which has been ranked in the Fortune Global 500, was not easy. She wanted to join the company’s elite leadership program, which only selects one candidate in the Kingdom every year. She was rejected the first time she applied. “It’s very difficult to join, and one of the major prerequisites is an engineering background.”
Before that she had taken up a sales and commercial internship with GE Power without really knowing much about the company and what it was offering in the market at the time, although she was familiar with its logo. She had several opportunities that presented themselves to her, but it was the GE Power internship that caught her attention.
“Today in Saudi Arabia, we have more than 500 GE turbines that generate over 50 percent of the Kingdom’s electricity. I could not reject such an offer. I wanted to explore the opportunity and I do not regret my decision.”

When I studied marketing at university, I expected to land in a marketing company, doing some public relations, marketing and advertising. But I ended up in an engineering company.

Nour Al-Rammah

Once the internship ended she could not envision herself working elsewhere, adding: “Because of the amazing experience I got, my objective was just (there’s) no way out. It’s either I take a full-time job in this company or whatever way I could to stay in the company, like extend the internship.”
To secure her position she wrote “Nour’s Book,” a manual for everything GE-related made simple for people without an engineering background.
“What inspired me to write Nour’s Book was to join the elite and most competitive commercial leader program, known as the CLP (Commercial Leadership Program) in GE. I felt so much empowerment to not let this (lack of engineering background) stop me, or be an impediment to me. Instead, I used this 400-page technical handbook to accelerate the technical learning curve, and I made it through the program thanks to the success of this book.”

The book discusses GE’s portfolio, products, gas turbines, commercial terms and conditions, customer requests, and acronyms across four chapters.
It is not available for purchase nor is it available to anyone except GE employees. Now, her book is often given to new employees upon entry as a manual.
Another reason she wrote the book was to transfer her knowledge to company newcomers, from trainees to employees.
“I wanted to leave a legacy, a footprint. What did Nour leave behind her to help all these new employees join the power business without having an engineering degree? If I did it, then everybody can do it.”
She also wanted to show GE Global how Saudi women had an opportunity to join the energy sector, achieving her goal through compiling articles, simplifying technical language, and attending internal courses. Whenever she came across something confusing, she would consult GE engineering experts around her or across the globe.

Al-Rammah is a commercial manager with GE Gas Power and said she had never felt inferior to her male coworkers despite being the only woman on the team.
“I feel the equality with my peers. Going to GE for me feels like going to my second home. Believe it or not, I spend more time at the office than I do with my family. I feel empowered by my male colleagues. When I ask for help, they always give me (more) than what I ask. If I need any explanations, they share documents or connect me to the right person. In meetings, my points are always taken into consideration. When I make mistakes, they correct me without leaving me intimidated or they call me after the meeting and correct me. They make sure that I always do better.”
She said that today’s Saudi Arabia was capable of empowering and inspiring women. “We do live in a country that gives golden opportunities to ambitious ladies.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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Amal Yahya Al-Moallimi, Saudi ambassador to Norway

Time: 23 October 2020  

Amal Yahya Al-Moallimi
Amal Yahya Al-Moallimi has been recently appointed as the ambassador to Norway — making her the Kingdom’s second female ambassador. Princess Reema bint Bandar was Saudi Arabia’s first woman to hold such a position when she was appointed as the Kingdom’s ambassador to the US. Al-Moallimi took the oath of office in an online ceremony on Tuesday, along with several others before King Salman and in the presence of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Al-Moallimi obtained a bachelor’s degree in the English language from Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, Riyadh. She then studied abroad, gaining a postgraduate degree in mass communication and media from the University of Denver in the US, as well as a fellowship from the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies in the UK. Al-Moallimi began her career more than 23 years ago in education, training and social development. She worked as a teacher for five years and as a mentor for eight. She also worked for one year in the Educational Training Department at the Ministry of Education. She  worked as assistant secretary-general at the King Abdul Aziz Center for National Dialogue. The ambassador also served as general manager of international cooperation and organizations at the Saudi Human Rights Commission (HRC). Earlier, she told Arab News: “The Kingdom’s journey toward empowering women has taken wider and quicker strides and continues to open up new doors every day.”

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Saudi King praises role of women at W20 summit

Time: 22 October 2020  

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has praised the exceptional role played by women during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a speech delivered at the end of the W20, the G20 women’s engagement group, on Wednesday, King Salman said: “I would like to express my gratitude to the Women 20 Engagement Group for their remarkable efforts and commitment to deliver their agenda during these unprecedented times caused by the COVID -19 pandemic.”
The Saudi king described women as the source of evolution for any society and said that without empowered women it is difficult to reform societies.
“Women are the main source of development for any society. Hence, without empowered women, it is almost impossible to implement any societal reforms given that women form half of the societies and they are the ones who raise up generations. Women has proven through history their remarkable role in leading change and in decision making.”
The king noted that Saudi Arabia’s presidency of the G20 has dedicated special attention to discussing policies related to women across different ministerial and working group meetings.

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Building Saudi Arabia’s B20 legacy for women everywhere

Time: 01 October 2020  

The Middle East and North Africa region is often categorized as a place where women have few opportunities, but we are breaking those stereotypes, starting at home. Our region has made huge progress in driving the economic empowerment of women, many of whom are leaders in the private and government sectors, as well as in their entrepreneurial ventures. But, as with the rest of the world, there is still a huge amount of work to be done to reach true equality.
The World Bank’s report “Women, Business and the Law 2020” ranked Saudi Arabia as the world’s top reformer in advancing women’s economic participation for 2019. This is recognition of the legislative policies the country established to boost female participation in the workforce, which it aims to increase from an average of just under 20 percent to more than 40 percent as part of Vision 2030. This also includes support to female entrepreneurs as they realize the dream of being business owners. Further, we have 35,000 Saudi women currently studying in 60 foreign countries on government scholarships, fulfilling the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 targets based on the roles of women and youth.
There has been remarkable progress so far and I am confident that this is just the beginning of our journey. However, as we work toward our goals, we also need to understand, and collaborate on remedying, the inequality issues many women still face.
The latest global research continues to paint an alarming picture of the gender gap in the workplace. A study commissioned by UN Women found that women still only earn 77 cents for every dollar earned by men, while the World Economic Forum found that only 55 percent of women (aged 15 to 64) are engaged in the labor market, as opposed to 78 percent of men. This picture only becomes more depressing when we look at the number of women in leadership or entrepreneurial roles. This year, there were only 37 female CEOs in the Fortune 500 companies list.
Making up 70 percent of front-line health care and service workers, women are currently demonstrating their critical role in addressing one of the largest crises in recent history. However, the coronavirus disease pandemic and subsequent recovery is expected to widen the gender pay gap even further.
But there is cause for optimism, as some countries, governments and businesses across the world are not only recognizing the need for equality, but are also seeing its very real and tangible rewards. New analysis by the Boston Consulting Group shows that, if women and men participated equally as entrepreneurs, the global gross domestic product could rise by between 3 and 6 percent, boosting the global economy by $2.5 trillion to $5 trillion. Given the economic crisis the entire world is currently facing, we cannot afford to ignore the benefits gender equality can offer.

As we work toward our goals, we need to understand, and collaborate on remedying, the inequality issues many women still face.

Rania Nashar

During this year’s G20 Presidency of Saudi Arabia, the B20 established the inaugural Women in Business (WIB) Action Council and it has been my honor to serve as chair. This role has refueled my optimism, as leveling the playing field for women in the workforce has been central to all our work across the B20.
The B20’s role, as the business voice of the G20, is to identify the most pressing priorities impacting all business — large and small — in the developed and developing worlds. It is important to note that the WIB Action Council is the first initiative of its kind in the history of the G20 and B20. And we have broken records too, with women constituting 33 percent of the overall task force and action council membership, and 43 percent of the chairs.
Over the past year, the B20 has engaged with more than 650 business leaders across the G20 and beyond through its six task forces and WIB Action Council in an effort to ensure an inclusive and action-oriented process. Together, we have developed 25 recommendations to make to the G20 that we believe will help restore and reinvigorate the global economy. These recommendations have now been submitted and will be considered at the G20 summit next month.
The WIB Action Council recommendations call on the G20 to take the necessary action to unlock the advancement and full leadership potential of women by driving reforms, fostering an inclusive environment, ensuring fair and equal pay and encouraging new methods of flexible working.
We also recommended promoting female business ownership by creating an enabling environment for female-founded startups and eliminating barriers to expertise and finance. We also asked for a comprehensive “Women in STEM” road map to be implemented to increase the number of women in high-skilled jobs.
Finally, we are calling for a diverse cross-section of women to be included in all stages of policy design, with national policies on equality to be evaluated and amended to ensure they protect the rights and equal opportunities of women, and the implementation of policies for employers that set goals and transparent disclosure requirements to increase women in leadership positions.
As Saudi women, we have made history and will undoubtedly leave a legacy for future B20s. To advance, we must collectively encourage and support the G20 to make these recommendations a reality and ensure we leave a lasting legacy for future generations of women, and men, across the world.

• Rania Nashar is Chair of the Women in Business Action Council at B20 Saudi Arabia, the voice of the private sector to the G20

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point-of-view

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