Youth in Saudi Arabia’s Jazan region dive into the world of roasting, selling coffee


The recent surge in coffee shops has created jobs for young people in Jazan who, despite their age, have transformed into barista coffee makers and providers. (SPA)
Modern cafe houses are one of the most developed commercial activities in the Jazan region over the past three years

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Alwaleed Philanthropies and the World Scouting launch first scouting units for women in Saudi universities


Alwaleed Philanthropies, chaired by HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Al Saud, signed two memorandums of cooperation (MoC), in collaboration with the World Scout Foundation to support women and youth involvement in scouting locally and internationally, and encourage greater participation in community volunteering within the higher education sector. The collaboration will support the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goal of rallying one million individuals to volunteer per year.

The partnership agreements aim to align volunteering programs in the Saudi universities with the framework of the World Scouting as well as prepare students to participate in non-profit development projects. Furthermore, the programs will work to improve community engagement by forging partnerships with third-party institutions within the community to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.

The newly launched initiative is the first in the Kingdom to build structured women and youth scout groups in Saudi universities. As part of the pilot phase, five universities are expected to be onboard in 2021, while further agreements will include more universities in Saudi Arabia as part of a broader scheme after this year. The first two agreements have been signed with Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University (PNU) and Prince Sultan University (PSU).

Emphasizing the importance of encouraging youth to participate in volunteering programs, HH Princess Sama bint Faisal Al Saud, Board Member of the World Scout Foundation and Head of the Saudi Girl Scouts Committee, said: “Our countries need to empower and encourage women and youth to contribute positively to the continuous growth and development of our societies.  Scouting is one of the most effective ways to develop the required skills, knowledge, and sense of responsibility to improve well-being of our local and global communities.”

HH Princess Sama bint Faisal Al Saud is the first Head of the Saudi Girl Scouts Committee, and has supported young women to participate in community engagement programs throughout the Kingdom.

Commenting on the announcement, HRH Princess Lamia bint Majed Saud Al Saud, Secretary General of Alwaleed Philanthropies, added: “Saudi women have a crucial role to play in the development of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the wider region. I strongly believe that empowering women and youth through volunteer programs has a ripple effect on families, communities, and countries, and can achieve long-lasting benefits and inspire other women, particularly young girls to participate in the society and drive environmental and economic progress in the Kingdom. We are proud to work with our partners to support the Kingdom in reaching 1 million volunteers per year, while simultaneously achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.”

For four decades, Alwaleed Philanthropies has supported and spent more than 4 billion dollars on social welfare and initiated more than 1000 projects in over +189 countries, managed by 10 Saudi female members, reaching more than 1 billion beneficiaries around the world, regardless of gender, race, or religion. Alwaleed Philanthropies collaborates with a range of philanthropic, governmental, and educational organizations to combat poverty, empower women and youth, develop communities, provide disaster relief, and create cultural understanding through education.

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Youth hold key to global future, experts tell Riyadh G20 summit

Time: 20 November 2020

‘Youth will shape the global future,’ Lauren Power, head delegate of the US Y20, top left, said during a roundtable entitled ‘Opportunities for Youth to Create a Better Future.’ (Supplied)
  • Minister: Authorities utilizing resources, making efforts to bring sports in KSA to required level

RIYADH: Panelists at the Riyadh G20 summit on Thursday described youth as “key stakeholders of the future” as they underlined the importance of expanding opportunities for younger generations.

“Youth will shape the global future,” Lauren Power, head delegate of the US Y20, said during a roundtable titled “Opportunities for Youth to Create a Better Future.”
She highlighted the importance of meaningful dialogue, knowledge sharing and the role of technology in enriching the experiences of youth.
Power also praised Saudi Arabia, saying that it has taken many initiatives to discover, develop and empower youth.
The coronavirus pandemic has caused distress across the globe, she said.
“In the US, it has hugely affected the mental health of people.”
Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, the Kingdom’s sports minister, said that sporting opportunities have a big role in creating a better future for youth.
The minister said that sports development in the Kingdom needs to be accelerated, and authorities are utilizing resources and making efforts to bring it to the required level.
“Our aim is to take our youth to a level where they can engage with their international peers (of athletes) and learn from their rich experiences, so in the future they can match the excellence,” he said.
Saudi Arabia’s first women’s football league started on Thursday with 24 teams across Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam competing for a championship cup and a $133,000 cash prize.
“It’s part of our youth empowerment program,” the minister said, adding that this is “one exciting step” toward new sports developments in the Kingdom.
He said that there has been a roughly 50 percent increase in number of sporting federations, while 20,000 jobs were created in sports in 2019.
Dr. Einas bint Suleiman Al-Eisa, Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University (PNU) rector, echoed the minister’s comments, adding that the university is creating the right ecosystem for women’s empowerment.
“Our empowerment includes the concept of global citizenship education with students and faculties, not only from the Kingdom but also various other nationalities being part of our academic program,” she said.
Y20 chair Othman Almoamar said that optimism is essential to overcome the pandemic. “Y20 has come up with a joint statement on youth empowerment that will help a lot in this area,” he said.
Anna Affranio, head of Italian Y20 delegation, said that mental health is key to overcome the challenges amid the pandemic.
She also highlighted the importance of technology and its key role in youth empowerment.
The session was moderated by Dr. Maha Al-Mutlaq, dean of the law college at PNU, who said that youth empowerment is “at the heart” of developments and reforms in Saudi Arabia.
“More than 30 percent of Saudi population are youth, with the crown prince, a young leader, as the youth icon,” she added.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi youth’s new-found focus on independence

Time: 19 August, 2020

Saudi people watch the concert for composer Yanni during the concert at Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 3, 2017. Picture taken December 3, 2017. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser – RC1A21D37EE0

The Saudi General Authority of Statistics (GASTAT) last week released a special report to mark International Youth Day, which is celebrated annually on Aug. 12. The report, “Saudi Youth in Numbers,” offered some interesting insights into the status, lifestyle and thinking of the 15 to 34 age group in Saudi Arabia, especially concerning employment and marriage.

GASTAT confirmed in its statistical report that this age group makes up 36.7 percent of the total population of Saudi Arabia, while children under 15 represent 30.3 percent, which means that the majority of the population is young. The divide between males and females in the 15 to 34 age group is very narrow, with males making up 51 percent and females 49 percent.

The data regarding marriage in this age group was an eye-opener and triggered widespread discussions on the changes in mindset and society. The percentage of young males and females who had never been married was 66.23 percent, those who were married made up 32.45 percent, divorced 1.27 percent and widowed 0.05 percent. This means the age of first marriage is rising, which has implications regarding fertility rates and population growth, and consequently economic and social aspects a few decades down the road.

The report points out that the fertility rate in Saudi Arabia is in line with the global trend, where Saudi females within the 30 to 34 age group registered the highest fertility rate with 124.4 births per 1,000 women in 2018. The Kingdom is on the lower side of the adolescent fertility rate (15 to 19 years) compared to other G20 countries at seven births per 1,000 women, higher only than Italy, France, Japan and South Korea.

In the 15 to 24 age group, the percentage of never-married males was 50.4 and females 43.1, which means that more and more Saudi youths are opting — most likely with the encouragement of their parents — to marry after completing their university education. The fact that the report indicates that Saudi youths’ (15 to 34 years) illiteracy rate decreased noticeably from 2007 to 2017, with a majority of decreases attributable to females becoming more literate (the female illiteracy rate dropped from 5.9 percent in 2007 to 0.6 percent in 2017), supports this argument.

However, there was still a small number of males (1 percent) and females (6.8 percent) who were married in the 15 to 24 age group, although the report does not indicate the percentage of those who were under 18, nor does it indicate the education or social level of this married group. Marriage under the age of 18 was prohibited last year, when the Ministry of Justice instructed official registrars not to register any marriage if a prospective spouse was below 18 and to instead report the case to the relevant court, which would decide if there was any risk to the person involved. Therefore, even though this law was introduced only last year, the small percentage of those married in the 15 to 24 age group indicates that early marriage was already declining.

On the other hand, in the 25 to 34 age group, 25.2 percent of males and 13.4 percent of females had never been married, but again the report does not indicate whether the majority of them are above or under 30 years of age or their education and social level. Meanwhile, those who were married in the 25 to 34 age group were 23.2 percent male and 34.4 percent female, which means that far less than half of our population that is in an age group that is expected to be married and with children are not.

We might also assume that, considering the much higher percentage of married females aged 25 to 34 compared to males, many females in this age group are marrying older males. This argument could be supported by the reasons given by youths for delaying marriage. Both genders cited the “high cost of living” as the main reason, followed by the “high cost of marriage,” which is related to youth employment and income.

According to the report, young Saudis aged 15 to 34 and working in the labor force represented 47 percent of the total Saudi workers in 2019 (69 percent male, 31 percent female). Only a fraction of the employed (3.8 percent males, 2.4 percent females) were in the age category 15 to 19 years, while the largest percentage were aged 30 to 34 (38.9 percent males, 43.6 percent females). It was interesting to note that there were more females employed than males in this age group, as well as in the 25 to 29 age group (35.5 percent males, 37.7 percent females).

The report points out that, over the past four years, the young Saudi (15 to 34 years) labor force participation rate has increased by 4.4 percentage points. This increase is due to the rise in the participation rate of females, which was 6.3 percent compared to 2 percent for males. This is credited to the Vision 2030 goal of creating more job opportunities for females. However, the participation rate of young Saudi females is still less than half the participation rate of young Saudi males.

During the past four years, the unemployment rate for Saudi youths (15 to 24 years) decreased by 11.5 percent. The decrease in female unemployment was even higher than males (13.9 and 11.6 percent, respectively). However, the unemployment rate for females is still more than three times that of males. Youths’ average monthly income is in favor of males, with the highest gap of almost 10 percent among middle income earners. Surprisingly, 63 percent of the Saudi youth find their monthly income sufficient to meet their financial obligations, which contradicts their most popular reason for delaying marriage. But the report did not indicate the distribution of youths earning low, middle and high income levels, especially as it found that the majority (55.3 percent) do not save from their monthly income.

The age of first marriage is rising, which has implications regarding fertility rates and population growth.

Maha Akeel

Another surprising result to note is that the largest difference between males and females in citing reasons for delaying marriage was the difficulty finding the right partner (1.9 percent males, 11.7 percent females). It would be interesting to know what the criteria are for Saudi males and females in finding the right partner and whether there is a mismatch between what each gender is looking for or expects.

Clearly there has been a shift in the Saudi youth’s priorities and lifestyle, with more focus on independence, whether financial or personal.

  • Maha Akeel is a Saudi writer based in Jeddah. Twitter: @MahaAkeel1å

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Training program launched for Saudi youth

Time: 09 June, 2020

  • Courses will begin on June 21 and continue until Aug. 13

JEDDAH: A new training program to support entrepreneurship among Saudi youth will teach participants important steps in starting a business.

As part of the Kingdom’s drive to increase the role of small and medium enterprises in the economy, Neom, a planned cross-border city that aims to use smart technologies for a sustainable ecosystem, and the Misk Academy, an organization dedicated to youth empowerment and investment in local communities, have launched SPARK, a program that aims to attract investment in human capital development and advance the non-oil economy.

Through a series of programs and initiatives endorsed by GEN Saudi, the global entrepreneurship network, SPARK, Neom and the Misk Academy will work together to teach young professionals skills for the new economy, support business growth in provincial regions, and increase business opportunities outside main cities.

The program was co-created with industry leaders and experts in entrepreneurship.


• The program aims to teach participants important steps in starting a business.

• It has been co-created by industry leaders and experts in entrepreneurship.

• It will include online classes to help participants refine their business plans.

SPARK will include online classes to help participants refine their business plans and expose them to winning pitches from some of the world’s most successful startups. Saudi youth participating in the six-week course will learn how to create strong business strategies and investor pitches.

Experienced executive coaches will guide students through the critical process of refining an idea, building a business model and articulating a pitch. At the end of the program, students will present their business idea to a panel of judges from Neom, the Misk Academy, and the Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority (Monshaat).

Registration for the program continues until June 13. Courses will begin on June 21 and continue until Aug. 13. Interested people can visit the Misk Academy’s website for details.

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YouTubers in Saudi Arabia attempt to set world record for largest virtual Iftar

Time: 18 May, 2020

Iraqi Noor Stars, American-Sudanese Omar Hussein, The Saudi Reporters and Saudi Mohamed Moshaya, Anasala Family and Asrar Aref are all taking part in the iftar. (YouTube)

DUBAI: Six Arab YouTubers in Saudi Arabia are set to host a virtual iftar from their homes on Tuesday, allowing friends, family and fans to connect online while adhering to social distancing restrictions in the Kingdom due to COVID-19.

The content creators —Iraqi Noor Stars, American-Sudanese Omar Hussein, The Saudi Reporters and Saudi Mohamed Moshaya, Anasala Family and Asrar Aref – will also attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for “Most Views for an Iftar YouTube Livestream Globally.”

The live stream, that will begin at 6 p.m. (Saudi time), is set to take place on Moshaya’s YouTube channel and will go on for an hour.

“Ramadan is usually a time where friends and family gather in mosques and homes to break the fast and pray together,” said Moshaya, who has been filming videos with his family since 2010, in a released statement.

“However with this global pandemic, Ramadan this year feels very different, which is why I decided to enlist a couple of my friends in the YouTube community to come together and turn this moment of isolation into celebration,” added Moshaya, the host of the virtual iftar.

For Abdullah and Abdulaziz Bakr, who make up The Saudi Reporters, YouTube “has always instilled the sense of togetherness in us.”

“As The Saudi Reporters we always love to make history and reach impossible goals, so we are very excited and honored to be a part of this experience,” the duo said.

“And as content creators and YouTubers we love entertaining people, and especially in these difficult times we feel it’s our duty to do whatever we can to help people get through this pandemic even with something as small as drawing a smile on people’s faces.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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How young Arabs are reacting to the COVID-19 crisis through art


Ruba Obaid

JEDDAH: Everything is changing as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) rages on. Humanity is facing the biggest global crisis of this generation, where the impossible has already happened and things have suddenly overturned.

The current crisis has imposed radical changes on the way people practice daily life. Even the simplest acts of love, compassion,and solidarity have taken new forms that are completely strange from what humans used to consider normal, whereas the greatest act of love is to stay away from your loved ones.

Saudi artist Lina Amer used her art to express sentiments of Muslims across the world who are unable to visit mosques due to COVID-19. She showed mosques’ prayer rugs printed on a human heart depicting Muslims’ longing for mosques and prayer gatherings.

Consequently, art and music production has also been affected. Arab artists are using their talents in different ways to enhance community connections, spread awareness, express appreciation and document history.
Saudi artist Lina Amer has used her art to document the effect of COVID-19 on the religious practices of millions of people around the world.
Saudi Arabia closed mosques for the customary five daily prayers as well as Friday congregations in March, many other countries took similar measures. Amer pictured mosques’ prayer carpets printed on the human heart with the caption “Pray at home, March 2020.”
Across Muslim countries, the call for prayer has partly changed, muezzins had to replace the penultimate part of the adhan — “Hayya Alasalah” (come to the prayer), with “pray where you are,” or “pray at home.”
Interpretations of sacred texts can change too in the time of the pandemic. Concept artist Yasmin (@yasmintoon) used a verse from the Qur’an that tells the story of the two sons of Adam, Able and Cain, to refer to the danger of handshaking as a greeting norm during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The verse reads: “If you will stretch forth your hand towards me to slay me, I am not one to stretch forth my hand towards you to slay you surely I fear Allah, the Lord of the worlds,” (5:28)
While Asma Khamis (@a0sma.k), Omani painter and graphic designer, chose to send more than one message in her work where she substituted a sanitizer for an engagement ring.

I hope that artists play a positive role in this difficult period because it is unfortunately very stressful and uncertain.

Amal Al-Ajmi

“First, I wanted to express how brides feel, whose weddings were postponed or canceled because of the crisis,” Khamis told Arab News, adding: “It is intended to console those women by reminding them that sacrificing their special day indicates a high sense of responsibility towards the health of the community.”
Khamis also wanted to say that sanitizers have become more important than jewelry because they help to preserve health. There is no more valuable gift than sanitizer because they are rarely available in the market.
Regardless of the obvious downside of this crisis, artists like Khamis see that it has given them two important things: “It has given us the time and a new problem, which is a new space for work and inspiration.”
Other artists used their work to express their appreciation to health workers, like Bahraini artist and art director Sayed Al-Majed (
Al-Majed pictured a medical staff member raising their hand with the victory sign using the line drawing technique, which he said “indicates interdependence, coalescence and unity between humankind, and the line ends with the heart symbol which indicates life, love, giving as well as gratitude to health workers.”
The circle represents Earth with its population under one roof.
Al-Majed said: “I believe that artists have an ethical and societal responsibility to devote their art in facing this crisis by spreading awareness and extending thanks and appreciation to the defenders of all humanity at this stage of our lives: Health workers.”

Sanitizers have become more important than jewelry because they help to preserve health.

Asma Khamis

Amal Al-Ajmi (@al.up2sky) from Kuwait agrees with Al-Majed that artists should use their art to spread awareness but she added that art has to be an antidote to the growing sense of alienation, isolation and anxiety.

“I hope that artists play a positive role in this difficult period because it is unfortunately very stressful and uncertain,” Al-Ajmi told Arab News. Al-Ajmi decided to use art as to declare an ironic statement, by drawing a Khaliji woman wearing niqab and a man covering his face with a mask adding the caption “it is the niqabi men era.”

Her work comes after a tweet by a Saudi influencer who wanted to promote niqab as obligatory for Muslim women said: “People are racing to buy masks to protect them from corona, while Islam discovered the treatment a 1400 years ago when it ordered the wearing of Niqab to as a protection against viruses.” The tweet went viral and was deleted days later after it received a lot of criticism.
Michelangelo’s legendary painting “The Creation of Adam” will always find its place in every trend and will forever inspire artists and internet meme creators. Ibrahim Al-Baker (@ibxrm) reconceptualized the painting by adorning one hand with henna as it reaches from behind the door to the hand of her lover who holds a sanitizer.
Al-Baker used a sentence from a popular Khaliji song and reworded it saying, “I stand at your door bewildered and sanitized.”
Similarly, collagist Razan Al-Naas (@razangryffindor) from Libya used the same hands from Michelangelo’s painting to place them under a huge sanitizer bottle, to resemble how suddenly sanitizers gained an existential meaning and an intrinsic value.

Artists have an ethical and societal responsibility to devote their art in facing this crisis by spreading awareness.

Sayed Al-Majed

In the same sense, designer Anas Al-Absi ( has placed the sanitizer in what Michelangelo depicted as God’s hand outstretched to Adam.
In another piece, Al-Nass explained how quarantine measures are not new for people living in war zones, “In Tripoli, you can’t spell quarantine without war.”
On the social impact of the pandemic, Moroccan artist Ichraq Bouzidi pictured how distancing has impacted society’s hospitable social habits, especially the Atay or Moroccan mint teatime, which is central to social life.
Bouzidi pictures two Moroccan neighbors continuing their teatime tradition though the windows, socializing while maintaining social distancing. One woman appears to pour traditional mint tea from her window to her neighbor’s cup reached out from the other window and the caption reads, “Confinement Story: So close no matter how far.”
The piece also reflects another important phenomenon that appeared during the crisis, which is the revival of the use of windows and balconies in different societies around the world.

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How online streaming is shaping Saudi pop culture — at the push of a button



JEDDAH: Ever since streaming services became available in the Middle East, leading online sites have been dictating people’s tastes and preferences, their mass media effect influencing Saudi Arabia as it does the rest of the world.

Sara Al-Rifai, an English instructor in Jeddah, believes that streaming services are gaining influence in mainstream culture simply because younger people are unwilling to watch cable TV and sit through ads, or wait a week or more for new content.
“Competition on quality and cost is another factor in favor of streaming services. Neflix’s monthly subscription is affordable. The quality of its shows is rapidly improving, and many of its films and series have won prestigious awards such as the Oscars,” she told Arab News.
Renad Flimban, 26, from Jeddah, said that movies and TV shows have the ability to set mainstream culture in areas ranging from food to fashion and even hairstyles long before streaming became available.
“New streaming services have just made it easier to consume the media and the culture behind it,” she said.
The popular HBO series “Game of Thrones” is perhaps the best example of pop culture “spread,” with local fans joining a global audience in their love for the show. Many viewers in the Arab world watched the series on OSN, while it was also available on HBO.

New streaming services have just made it easier to consume the media and the culture behind it.

Renad Flimban

“I think it blew up here even though it was on HBO, which isn’t that popular here, because people seemed to really like/dislike the characters and the writing. They had extremely strong feelings on both ends of the spectrum,” Flimban said.
Popular shows in the 1990s and early 2000s have been reinvigorated after streaming services acquired the rights to reshow them for viewers. Many popular shows that used to air on MBC2 and Saudi TV, such as “Friends,” “Full House” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” have won new fans following recent exposure.
“Most of these shows’ themes — friendships, families and relationships — are still relevant today, and having easy access to these shows on current media platforms certainly helped to introduce them to a new audience and reconnect with an established audience,” Flimban said.
Al-Rifai agrees, saying these shows have become more popular among a younger generation due to their availability and a desire to understand the hype surrounding them.
“‘Friends’ is still the most-watched show on Netflix, yet it has been criticized for tolerating sexism and body shaming,” she said. “The generation gap and viewers’ beliefs affect the way they perceive a show, no matter how popular it was in the past.”

• Fans of popular shows and films in Saudi Arabia behave just as worldwide fans do.

• Young Saudis collect merchandise and organize character-themed parties.

For Razan Sijeeni, a Jeddah university graphic design instructor, the pinnacle of pop culture in the Kingdom would be “Tash Ma Tash,” which aired every Ramadan for 18 years, often tackling conservatism and racism, among other controversial social issues.
“Unfortunately, there is very little authentic representation of our culture in our own media nowadays, and whatever there is, even when it’s well executed, it is being Westernized and viewed through a Western gaze,” she said.
However, Sijeeni has Netflix to thank for her favorite series, “Star Trek,” which she discovered on the streaming site.
“It was fascinating to me, watching the visuals of an explosion or space in the 1960s, and how the series progressed and improved considerably as the years went by,” she said.

Sijeeni said that online streaming also offers people from around the world an introduction to different cultures, languages and beliefs at the press of a button.
“I’ve seen a Saudi influencer meet the cast of “Money Heist,” and people were reacting to it — it’s like they know these people and it isn’t just a show.”
She said that in an age where the internet has a growing place in people’s lives, even individuals who don’t watch shows such as “Game of Thrones” and “Friends” still know who the characters are, and go as far as creating memes to help cope with the coronavirus crisis, for example.
Fans of popular shows and films in Saudi Arabia behave just as worldwide fans do, collecting merchandise, holding character-themed parties and recreating recipes from fictional universes.
Flimban’s favorite show since 2010 has been “Gilmore Girls,” and she admits to owning a few show-inspired items and attending a “marvelous” Gatsby-themed party.
Sijeeni had not been as lucky with her “Star Trek” obsession, however, and said that she was envious of fan events she saw happening worldwide. “My favorite mug was given to me by a friend,” she recalled. “It has the main ‘Star Trek’ six and they transport as you fill the mug with boiling water.”
Now she is on the hunt for a “Star Trek” pilot jacket. We recommend Etsy artists for fan-replicated items.

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How Saudi Arabia cares for girls who go astray

Time: December 11, 2019 

Saudi Arabia operates a modern and effective system of care and welfare homes for troubled girls and young women who are the subject of arrest or detention orders. There have been vocal complaints recently from a few of these young women, related to their social status, or alleged mistreatment. So what are their rights?

These homes are affiliated with the Girls’ Social Welfare Institution, established by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development; the ministry also oversees the mechanisms by which the homes function. The women they care for are no older than 30, and there is a separate section for girls under the age of 15.

Because of girls’ specific entitlement to privacy, the law requires that any investigation into their conduct must take place in the same institution, and include specialized psychological and social assessments.

Confidentiality is also crucial. By law, any information obtained by care homes in the course of an investigation is strictly confidential, and no authority may have access to it without specific permission from the interior minister.

On the issue of security, there is close cooperation between the Ministry of Labor and Social Development and the Interior Ministry. The two ministries work together to set regulations governing the conduct of guards appointed to protect the homes and their occupants, and of escorts who accompany the young women to court for trial and other legal procedures.

It is also important to focus on the role these homes play in rehabilitating girls and young women who have somehow gone astray, and preparing them for a return to society. Education, including religious teaching, is a key element, with the aim of developing the women’s culture and accustoming them to good habits through reading and thinking.

Self-reliance is also a goal, with vocational and technical training programs to equip the women with skills that will help them in the job market.

When can the occupant of a welfare home expect to leave? First, obviously, when the period of detention to which she has been sentenced ends, she is free to return to society.

This may also happen if investigations find she has committed no offense, or there is a court ruling to that effect. Finally, if it is proved to the satisfaction of the Minister of Labor and Social Development that her condition has improved, a judge may agree to release her before the end of her sentence.

It is important to stress that this social and psychological rehabilitation applies not only to the young woman who has lost her way, but also to her family; everyone benefits from these programs, including society as a whole.

• Dimah Talal Alsharif is a Saudi legal consultant, head of the health law department at the law firm of Majed Garoub and a member of the International Association of Lawyers. Twitter: @dimah_alsharif 

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We’ll turn the world green, say young Saudis



The Saudi team participating in the FIRST Global Challenge 2019 in Dubai. (SPA)

  • Saudis among more than 1,500 contestants from 190 countries taking part in the FIRST Global Challenge 2019 in Dubai
  • The challenge is to create robots to clean up the world’s seas by eliminating waste and pollutants

DUBAI: A young Saudi team competing in a major international robotics competition vowed on Saturday to play their part in creating a pollution-free world.

“We represent hope for the future not only for Saudi Arabia, but also humanity at large,” team leader Maysoon Humaidan told Arab News.

More than 1,500 contestants from 190 countries are taking part in the FIRST Global Challenge 2019 in Dubai, which focuses on creating robots to clean up the world’s seas by eliminating waste and pollutants.

Humaidan said the Saudi team was “strapped in” for the contest, and described the team members as “young enthusiasts for science and knowledge.” Their dream was to “motivate Saudi youth to enter the fields of science, technology and mathematics in order to find solutions to the problems and challenges facing humanity,” she said.

Team member Sulafa Al-Shehri, 14, said the robotics challenge had expanded her knowledge of technology, sustainability and environmental protection. Fadel Younes, 15, said modern technology could solve many of the world’s most pressing problems.

The team’s ambitions reflect the giant strides the Kingdom has made in involving youth in the tech sector and its applications across all walks of life.

Recently the Kingdom said it was introducing artificial intelligence and robotics applications in the Ministry of Education to improve customer service. Two years ago, Saudi Arabia granted Saudi citizenship to the robot Sophia, symbol of the Neom “smart city.”

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