‘Project Khayal’ to empower women & university students

21/10/19

Alfaisal University will collaborate with Detasad to develop courses in cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.

Detecon Al-Saudia (Detasad), Alfaisal University and WSB (Women’s Skills Bureau) have launched a new initiative to be a catalyst in enhancing, developing and growing entrepreneurship among women and university students in Saudi Arabia.
Project Khayal is a joint effort that aims to find hidden talents among women and university students living in the Kingdom, by giving them a platform and tools to make their technical/ICT ideas come to life.
During the program, the university students together with expat women will have the opportunity to present their technical ideas to a jury, which includes Alfaisal University, WSB and Detasad representatives. Selected ideas will be developed and implemented by the volunteering students and women using the right IT infrastructure, tools, office space and consultation, which Detasad will provide.
Detasad, which has 37 years of experience in the information, communication and technology industry, will also commercially support suitable products selected among the applicants. In addition, the ICT company will offer internship opportunities and permanent positions after graduation to Alfaisal students. Detasad will also provide lectures covering ICT/telecom and business subjects and collaborate with the university in developing courses in cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.
“Detasad, Alfaisal University and WSB believe in the potential power of entrepreneurship, which is aligned with Saudi Vision 2030. Students and young adults comprise the majority of our population, and they are the true resources that need to be refined, shaped and set for the future with a strong grip on digital transformation, especially in the upcoming IoT era,” a press release said.
“These students from Alfaisal University will be the engine behind Project Khayal as they will work closely with the women entrepreneurs and Detasad in developing the new ideas. Detasad, Alfaisal University and WSB are delighted to announce Project Khayal and welcome new, innovative ideas from all women to transform their dreams into reality.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi Arabia may allow women to perform Hajj without male guardian

Time: October 20, 2019  

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Mohammed Saleh Benten approved updates to Umrah services. (SPA)
  • Ministry exploring visa options for solo female pilgrims
  • The Maqam portal is an online platform, designed so that Muslims from around the world can apply for an Umrah package digitally

JEDDAH: Women could be allowed to perform the Hajj without a male guardian, Arab News has learned, with the government studying various visa options. Women are currently required to travel to Saudi Arabia to perform pilgrimages with a mahram (male guardian), or be met by him on arrival in the Kingdom, although women over the age of 45 may travel without a mahram if they are in an organized tour group.
If women travel with a group and without a mahram they must submit a notarised letter of no objection from someone who could be considered their mahram, authorizing travel for Hajj or Umrah with that group.
But Arab News has learned that the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is conducting studies to issue visit visas for both tourism and Umrah purposes, and that this process is expected to pave the way for allowing women to come without the need for a mahram.
It is one of a number of developments in the Hajj and Umrah sector, with Arab News also learning that the ministry was urged to intervene in the sector to save businesses.
Umrah firms have raised their concerns about the impact of regulations, saying they are losing out and warning around 200 companies will be leaving the market if authorities do not step in.
Marwan Abbas Shaban, head of the National Committee for Hajj and Umrah, said each Umrah company was obliged to have two branches, employ 20 staff and spend at least SR1 million ($266,666) annually even if it did not receive a single pilgrim. The majority of companies operating in this sector were small and could not bear such costs, he added.
“We always seek officials to interact with us and we call on higher authorities to consider our demands,” he told Arab News.
Shaban said there were about 750 Umrah and Hajj companies with licenses, but only about 500 of these were in the market and they were only running at 1 percent of their capacity.
The Umrah sector was more profitable than the industrial sector, he added, and pointed to the value of land in the holy city of Makkah.
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Mohammed Saleh Benten approved updates to Umrah services following a meeting with the National Committee for Hajj and Umrah to discuss updates to regulations and instructions for Umrah companies.
Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah Abdulfattah Mashat said after the meeting that the updates included allowing all IATA membership categories — including travel agencies, WTO certificates, or a certificate of membership of the World Travel and Tourism Council — as a requirement for the eligibility of an external agent.
The ministry updates also include giving pilgrims greater flexibility on transport options, Mashat added, and can be accessed on a portal that allows Muslims around the world to apply for an Umrah package digitally.
The Maqam portal is an online platform, designed so that Muslims from around the world can apply for an Umrah package digitally.
Almost 1.1 million people used Maqam in its trial phase last year, allowing them to choose between over 30 companies providing travel, accommodation and other necessities for trips to Makkah and Madinah.

This article was first published in Arab News

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International community must carry out joint efforts to eradicate poverty, says Saudi diplomat

Time: October 19, 2019  

Nadin bin Hamza Al-Awfi. (SPA)
  • Al-Awfi: Saudi Arabia has provided over $100 billion over the past three decades, where it ranked second in the list of the world’s remittance-sending countries

NEW YORK: Nadin bin Hamza Al-Awfi, second secretary and member of Saudi Arabia’s permanent mission to the UN, delivered a speech to highlight her government’s efforts in eradicating poverty and supporting development around the world.
Al-Awfi conveyed the Saudi delegation’s approval of the statement delivered by Palestine, on behalf of the Group of 77 and China.
She noted that achieving development and eradicating poverty are moral and human imperatives, and given the many challenges facing developing countries, Saudi Arabia attaches great importance to development issues.
Al-Awfi added that her country is a leader in prompt responses to all nations around the world, which made it among the world’s major donors. The Kingdom has assisted poor countries through supporting the establishment of the Islamic Development Bank’s fund to address poverty problems, and donated over $1 billion.
She noted that Saudi Arabia’s efforts are not only limited to assisting poor countries, but international institutions and organizations specialized in anti-poverty programs, such as several UN offices and the World Food Programme.
Al-Awfi said that the Kingdom has provided over $100 billion over the past three decades, where it ranked second in the list of the world’s remittance-sending countries.
She said: “The international community must carry out its responsibilities by joining efforts and dealing with the development of women and eradication of poverty as top priorities.”
Al-Awfi added: “The world celebrated the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. The Kingdom reiterates that development is not possible without achieving international community cooperation, world peace, equality, international legitimacy, committing to international law and resolving conflicts peacefully and diplomatically.”

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Saudi renaissance helping women lead ‘serious lives’

Time: October 16, 2019  

Since the announcement of the SaudiVision2030, the country has witnessed important changes in regards to women’s empowerment. (AN photo)
  • Saudi Arabia is living a true developmental renaissance that has enabled women to live a serious and productive life

BEIRUT: The Kingdom is living a “true developmental renaissance” that has enabled women to live a serious and productive life rather than a “grouchy and inactive one,” the general manager of international cooperation and organizations at the Saudi Human Rights Commission told delegates at a forum in an impassioned speech.
Amal Yahya Al-Moualami was speaking in Beirut, at a forum organized by the Kingdom’s embassy in Lebanon.
“I stand before you as a full-fledged Saudi citizen,” she said.
“Since the Kingdom’s accession to the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 2000, many gradual reforms have taken place. However, since the announcement of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 (reform plan) in 2016, the country has witnessed important changes in regards to women’s empowerment and the fulfillment of their rights.”
She cited examples such as the lifting of the driving ban, the enactment of an anti-harassment law and changes to laws regarding custody and alimony. Women were allowed to enter new fields such as aviation, state security, economy, entrepreneurship, tourism and entertainment, she told the forum.
“We were also delighted to see the appointment of the first Saudi woman as an ambassador, Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan. The Kingdom is living a true developmental renaissance that has enabled women to live a serious and productive life rather than a grouchy and inactive one.”

“We realize that women have become a true partner in development and leadership.”

Walid Bukhari, Saudi amassador to Lebanon

“Some challenges that remain to be solved for women to be able to fulfill their role are freedom of movement, residence and travel. A modern public transport network is underway, while billions of dollars are invested in public and private transport companies. Driving schools for women were built throughout the country after the ban on women driving was lifted, which had a central role in changing the general situation in the Kingdom.”
Rola Dashti, who is executive secretary of the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia, praised the achievements of Arab states but said there remained inequalities.
Violette Khairallah Safadi, Lebanon’s minister of state for economic empowerment of women and youth, said Vision 2030 originated from the present to build a promising future.
The Kingdom’s ambassador to Lebanon, Walid Bukhari, said: “We realize that women have become a true partner in development and leadership.”

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Zahra Al-Ghamdi, Saudi academic

Time: October 16, 2019  

Zahra Al-Ghamdi
  • Al-Ghamdi is also an artist whose works have been displayed at numerous exhibitions
  • Al-Ghamdi was born in Al-Baha in the southwest of the Kingdom

Dr. Zahra Al-Ghamdi is an assistant professor at the College of Art and Design at the University of Jeddah.

Al-Ghamdi is also an artist whose works have been displayed at numerous exhibitions held in the UK, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.

Her most recent solo show, “Streams Move Oceans,” took place this year at Athr Gallery in Jeddah.

Al-Ghamdi was born in Al-Baha in the southwest of the Kingdom. She moved to Jeddah for her undergraduate degree in Islamic arts from the King Abdul Aziz University (KAU), where she graduated with first-class honors in 2003.

After her graduation, she worked as a lecturer at KAU before she moved to the UK to pursue further education. She holds a master’s degree in contemporary craft from Coventry University in England, where she also obtained her Ph.D. in design and visual art.

Al-Ghamdi is inspired by her hometown and the history of Saudi Arabia. Most of her work reflects an element of the Kingdom’s history and evolving identity, but also her own history, acting as an expressive form of self-portrait.

She has also participated in numerous conferences, including “Art in a cold climate: A Turning Point, West Midlands,” in partnership with Birmingham City University and the University of Warwick, “Research Symposium” at Coventry University, and “Cutting-Edge Symposium: Lasers and Creativity” at the Loughborough University School of Art and Design.

Her work titled “After Illusion” is also on display at the 58th Venice Biennale 2019 Art Exhibition’s Saudi pavilion.

“After Illusion” consists of 50,000 pieces, which tackle themes of doubt and uncertainty, in an attempt to restore confidence and optimism.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Nidaa Abu Ali, first secretary of the Saudi mission to the UN in New York

13/10/19

Nidaa Abu Ali is a Saudi diplomat who is currently serving as the first secretary and member of the Kingdom’s permanent delegation to the United Nations in New York.

Abu Ali, who was born in 1983, has also worked as a journalist and researcher. She has written for prominent Saudi newspapers and authored four novels.

She began her journalism career with Al-Hayat, a pan-Arab newspaper that has been based in London since 1988 and launched its Saudi edition in 2005.

She has held several posts at the Kingdom’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs since joining it in 2009, and was an attache at Saudi Arabia’s mission in Singapore from 2009 until 2013.

Between 2007 and 2009, she worked as a researcher and analyst at the International Center for Political Violence and Terrorism, and at the Middle East Institute of the National University of Singapore.

She received her master’s degree in 2009 in strategic studies from the city-state’s Nanyang Technological University. Her bachelor’s degree is in management information systems from Jeddah’s Dar Al-Hekma University.

Abu Ali worked at Al Eqtisadiah newspaper between 2014 and 2016, and Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper from 2016 until the present day.

At the meeting of the UN General Assembly’s Sixth Committee, she stressed the Kingdom’s support for the rule of law. She said the Kingdom agreed with member states on the importance of concerted action by the international community and the need for international cooperation based on shared responsibility.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Female empowerment vital for Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reforms, says Saudi Human Rights Commission GM

Time: October 11, 2019  

Amal Yahya Al-Moualami has over 23 years of experience in education, training and social development. (Photo/Supplied )
  • Saudi Arabia’s positive accomplishments reflect a positive image in the Human Rights Council in Geneva

RIYADH: Amal Yahya Al-Moualami’s appointment as general manager of international cooperation and organizations at the Saudi Human Rights Commission (SHRC) is a huge step toward fulfilling the Vision 2030 reform plans in empowering women.

She told Arab News that it “clearly shows that the Kingdom’s journey toward empowering women has taken wider and quicker strides and continues to open up new doors every day.”

She was one of six women being appointed to the SHRC, representing 25 percent of its membership. They are the first women to participate on the commission.

Their appointments mark the beginning of an era where women are engaged in this field, “something that could not have happened without necessary support and patience,” she said.

“We were able to reach a stage where we could acquire the necessary expertise and gain the tools that would help us become more involved in the next stage, which is now.”

When she was appointed, Al-Moualami received an “avalanche of calls” from women congratulating her. Many of her male friends also reached out to support her in her new role. “I always say that Saudi men are the source of our national pride because they set a great example of support to their wives, daughters, female colleagues and families.”

Previously, Al-Moualami was assistant secretary-general at the King Abdul Aziz Center for National Dialogue and a member of the council of the SHRC.

A key part of the Vision 2030 reform plans is promoting the standing of women. “Today, women’s empowerment has been represented in appointing a woman leader in an important position, which is concerned with human rights in the Kingdom. It is a major issue that reflects the attention given to women,” she said.

She added that the Kingdom’s positive accomplishments should reflect a positive image in the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Al-Moualami is proud of Saudi Arabia’s legal accomplishments, such as the new Juvenile Offenders Act and the personal civil status laws, which have been developed substantially.

“These laws have helped a lot in empowering women within the context of a family. They mark the beginning of real change. When you empower a woman within her family and help her be a real mother to her children and not treat her as a child but as a fully legal and competent citizen, that is called empowerment.

“Today, women are in charge of their children, manage their affairs and apply for passports and finalize all transactions. These are great messages that should bring positive reactions at the local and global levels.”

Even with all these changes and accomplishments, she said that Saudi Arabia has “not received fair international coverage.

“We were always stuck in the position of defense and justifications. They would draw attention to certain issues and we would respond to them. This time, we will talk about progress and show our achievements to them. We will set the best practices and show them good reforms and we will say to them that we would love to know more about what they have accomplished in their own countries.”

She encourages “mutual dialogue” instead of being “stuck in a defensive position where they challenge us and we give justifications.”

Today, women are in charge of their children, manage their affairs and apply for passports and finalize all transactions. These are great messages that should bring positive reactions at the local and global levels.

Amal Yahya Al-Moualami, SHRC division manager

Her next role will be a difficult one, but she already has a plan in mind. Al-Moualami is seeking mutual dialogue on an international level through enhancing efficient interaction and engagement with all concerned organizations.

She hopes that Saudi Arabia will be successful in joining the Human Rights Council in the upcoming sessions as members and will contribute to developing the performance of the council.

“We might make mistakes and need to reconsider our approaches from time to time, which is a perfectly healthy and natural thing. If we discover at some point that a certain method has not brought about the desired results, we will reconsider and change it.”

Al-Moualami has over 23 years of experience in education, training and social development. On expanding opportunities for Saudi females, she said: “There have been great changes in the work environment and job opportunities for Saudi women as well as opportunities to complete college education.

“Education is instrumental to empowerment. The Kingdom has seen a boost in the number of young women in public education, colleges and those who go on scholarships abroad. The percentage of women studying abroad is higher than that of men and women study different, high demand fields. Female academic accomplishments are stronger.”

Al-Moualami said that Saudi men are supporting women in the country: “They are happy when they see any woman get to the top in her career. This is one of the characteristics of Saudi men, who are confident and capable of creating an environment that encompasses them and women.

“We all, as citizens, share the love of this country and the desire to build and develop it. We are capable of making a difference.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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Reem Al-Ghanim, Saudi Aramco executive

08/10/19

  • Al-Ghanim obtained a bachelor’s degree in English and Education from the University of Bahrain

Reem Al-Ghanim has been the head of human resources (HR) and support services at Saudi Aramco’s chemicals division since April 2019.
Al-Ghanim has also headed the diversity and inclusion department at the oil facility and remained head of the women’s development and diversity department.
She is a seasoned HR professional who has worked on several projects in key roles throughout her career at Saudi Aramco.
She has worked as a career counselor in the competencies development division and investor relations adviser for sponsored students. Her career started with her work in establishing the Competencies-Based Development Program. She also worked in the function that supported self-initiated development in the form of administering education and learning advice and support to employees and establishing the Hosted University Programs.
Al-Ghanim obtained a bachelor’s degree in English and Education from the University of Bahrain. She did her M.ED from the University of Minnesota in 2008.
She has participated in several global conferences and workshops that include GetEnergy, WPC, MEOS, NAFSA, IP Week, and others. She also served as a member of the advisory board and panel speaker for Women’s Global Leadership Organization in Houston between 2009 and 2010.
Recently, she took part in Saudi Arabia’s biggest jobs fair for women in Riyadh and highlighted the role of women in modern industrial sectors and their ability to keep up with job requirements in areas related to advanced technologies.

This article was first published in Arab News

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TheFace: Sarah Al-Jindan, Saudi software engineer

Time: October 04, 2019  

Sarah Al-Jindan. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
 
  • Sarah Al-Jindan is a senior front-end engineer at Seera Group, a leading Saudi travel, and tourism company

Empathy is much stronger than sympathy — it leads towards compassion. Where you do more than a donation, you give up your time to help others who need you. 

This is something I learned from joining the volunteering world at a young age. My sisters and I were part of a big community in the city of Alkhobar because of my mother’s charitable and philanthropic work. She is the director of the Orphans Sponsorship Department at Fatat Alkhaleej Society. This experience not only gave me a strong work ethic but also made me more understanding of others.

My father is a retired doctor and university director. Both of my parents are role models, and they planted robust ethics in our minds as we were growing up.

Most of my family members work in the health sector, and that set the bar high. Everyone assumed I’d follow in the footsteps of my family but I chose a different path for myself, finding a passion for computers.

Thankfully, I have been blessed with the best support system anyone could ask for, my parents and siblings. I am the youngest in the family, and I would not be where I am right now without them, they are my backbone. I consider myself very lucky and aim to always make them proud of what I do.

I would love to start a software solution business back in Saudi Arabia, because I know that there is definitely a market for it while there is a lack of providers.

Sarah Al-Jindan, software engineer

Driven by my passion for technology, computers, and design, I did my bachelor’s degree in digital media at the University of the West of England, in Bristol, UK. My field of study included creative technologies, I was involved in game development, software engineering, web design, and animation. After that, my interest became more multidisciplinary, and I did my master’s in human-computer interaction (HCI) at the University of Bath.

It is an exciting new field of study where psychology and other social and behavioral sciences unite with computer science and related technical fields; it attempts to understand the human experience of using technology.

Being exposed to so many different disciplines in computer science, and doing several internships and placements focused on software engineering, I totally fell in love with programming.

Currently, I am living in Dubai working as a senior front-end engineer at Seera Group, a leading Saudi travel, and tourism company. My position is connected with my field of specialization in HCI, but more focused on programming.

Working at the online unit for the travel agency, I am the middle person between the back end and the user. I’m learning a lot working alongside very supportive colleagues and mentors, definitely a fun environment to work in. 

As digital infrastructure grows in the Kingdom, people are becoming more creative, coming up with many creative ideas for businesses, websites, apps, which will need trusted software solution providers to bring them to life.

I would love to start a software solution business back in Saudi Arabia because I know that there is a market for it while there is a lack of honest providers.

Also, I feel this problem allows many people in the market to take advantage of clients, which slows down the whole market and ideas get lost. I want to establish a place to help people to bring their ideas to life, which will benefit all.

I am currently building my portfolio to begin my startup. I want to have a strong start and not enter the market prematurely. I want to take my time, preparing myself, searching and discovering local talents and building my team.

Working with startups has always been a fun, enriching experience for me. I worked in a lot of startups, and I know how much dedication someone needs to give.

The reward is a more intense and extensive experience because there is a lot of pressure on each individual to deliver. Having fewer people on the team means more responsibility on each person, which ultimately gives you a lot of insight.

I abide by the user experience guru Steve Krug’s motto “Don’t make me think.” It means that the most critical characteristic of any technical product is to make it self-evident, that users do not think about what they are doing while using it, everything has to be self-explanatory.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi women invited to join the ranks of the armed forces

Time: October 03, 2019  

Saudi women can now join he Royal Saudi Land Forces, Royal Saudi Airforce, Royal Saudi Arabian Navy, Royal Saudi Air Defense Forces, Royal Saudi Strategic Missile Forces and Armed Forces Medical Services. (SPA)

  • Women can now join as lance corporals, corporals, sergeants and staff sergeants
  • The initiative fulfills Saudi Vision 2030 and empowers women

DUBAI: Saudi women can now climb through the ranks of the armed forces the Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense has announced.

While women have been able to join the armed forces in Saudi Arabia, this is the first time they can be considered for more senior ranks, Arabic international daily Asharq Al-Awsat reported on Thursday.

“With these new laws supporting women’s capabilities and rights as citizens… naturally, they will enter new spheres of work, this is the reflection of a national belief in the equality between women and men,” Shura Council member Haya Al-Muni’i told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Under the scheme women can now join as lance corporals, corporals, sergeants and staff sergeants in the Royal Saudi Land Forces, Royal Saudi Airforce, Royal Saudi Arabian Navy, Royal Saudi Air Defense Forces, Royal Saudi Strategic Missile Forces and Armed Forces Medical Services.

The initiative is part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 to empower Saudi women and expand the role they play in society.

Saudi women have already been given the opportunity to climb the ranks in the front line of public security, including the General Directorate of Narcotics, General Directorate of Prisons, Criminal Evidence and Customs.

This article was first published in Arab News

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