Historic Hima Well reveals the journeys of Arabia’s ancient caravans

Time: 10 April 2021

The site is made out of a series of seven fresh water wells, which includes more than 200 sites containing rock inscriptions, graves and stone circles. (Supplied)

Archaeological excavations carried out by SCTH discovered that the city of Najran is among the oldest inhabited places
The site contains numerous rock inscriptions and drawings that date back to before 3000 BC
MAKKAH: Hima Well, one of the most ancient and significant stops along the ancient trade routes of Arabia, untouched and unaltered, continues to fascinate researchers and archaeologists.

The site, about 140 km north of the city of Najran, is well preserved, and with its largely intact rock art depicting humans, animals, hunting tools, bows and spears and more, shows a picture of what was once an ancient route for caravans traveling from the southern regions of the Arabian Peninsula to its north.

Saleh Al-Muraih, a historical researcher specializing in the tourism and archaeology of Najran, told Arab News: “Hima Well is one of the most important historical sites in the Kingdom and contains numerous rock inscriptions and drawings that date back to before 3000 BC.”

“The site is made out of a series of seven fresh water wells covering an area of 30 km, which includes more than 200 sites containing rock inscriptions and drawings, graves, stone circles and historical wells,” he said.

Al-Muraih added: “Hima was the starting point for commercial caravans that gathered at the wells before taking one of two main roads. The firsts of these roads used to lead to Mesopotamia after passing through Al-Faw (also known as Qariah, an ancient city on the outskirts of the Empty Quarter), which is the archaeological site of the Kindah and Al-Yamama regions, known today as Najd. The second road used to lead to the Levant and Egypt after passing through the Hijaz region.”

FASTFACT
To date, 1,293 human drawings, 5,121 animal drawings, 3,616 Thamudic inscriptions, 2,775 Ancient South Arabian script inscriptions and three Nabataean inscriptions have been found in the region, while search and excavation operations are continuing in the Kingdom in general, and the region in particular, to uncover more monuments and historical cultural heritage.

Its dense rock art engravings are the legacy of the hundreds of caravans, departing from Al-Okhdood in the south, that passed by the well over the years. Ancient South Arabian script (Musnad), the South Arabian language or the Thamudic language can be found on these engravings alongside depictions of flora and fauna.

“The Saudi government took care of Hima Well, and there are fantastic fencing works taking place. This is coupled with continuous scientific research that has studied the site and we hope for the completion of the procedures that would see the addition of the site to UNESCO’s World Heritage List,” Al-Muraih said.

“There has been numerous land surveys and protection efforts exerted in the area. Fortunately, Hima does not have any violations or anything that could harm these monuments, while the people of the region are highly cultured when it comes to protecting these sites and therefore preserving these significant historical monuments,” he said.

As one of Najran’s 86 historical sites, Hima Well combines heritage and tourism in one area. Tour guides, a cooperative local community and cooperative government bodies are all on hand to speak about the historic significance of the well.

Dr. Salma Hawsawi, professor of ancient history at King Saud University, told Arab News: “The Kingdom has a great deal of archaeological sites and historical cities that have witnessed construction works over the course of thousands of years. They are truly worthy of preservation and development so that they can cope with the current requirements.”

She added: “Historical cities, regardless of their history and origins, are many. Among those worth mentioning is the southwestern city of Najran, which was mentioned by numerous classical historians such as Strabo, in his book ‘Geography,’ where he called it Negrana, as he talked about the Roman campaigns in the Arabian Peninsula in the years 24-25 BC, and Ptolemy, who referred to it as Negara Metropolis.”

“In his book, Yaqut Al-Hamawi, a Muslim historian, said that the city was named after the first person that inhabited it, Najran bin Zaydan bin Sabaa. What also confirms how old this city was is the mention of its name in the inscriptions of Sabaean rulers such as Karib’il, Samah Ali Yanuf and Yitha’amar Bayyin,” she said.

According to Dr. Hawsawi, the geographical importance of the Kingdom’s southwestern region stems from its location between Africa and Asia. This is coupled with the importance of the coastal region in terms of migration, and some settlements are found to date back from the first century BC to the Islamic era.

“Archaeological excavations carried out by SCTH discovered that the city of Najran is among the oldest inhabited places. It did so through archaeological evidence found at various sites belonging to different periods in history, starting with the ancient Stone Age to the Islamic era,” she said.

Hawsawi said: “Rock art and inscriptions are the elements that most distinguish the region’s monuments, as they provided us with a lot of information regarding clothes, accessories, weapons, stone stoves, rectangular and conical structures and tanks, especially around the Hima Well area.”

Most of the region’s rock drawings showcase camels, cows, goats and geese, along with some predatory animals such as lions and wolves, Dr. Hawsawi said. “Ostriches were given special attention in terms of their decoration and size, in addition to them being drawn in various positions, highlighting the significance of this animal.”

The drawings show horse battles, where knights used spears, and limited hunting scenes, where dogs were used to hunt goats, she said, noting that “there are drawings of humans that are larger than the normal size, while some of them had their heads covered. Men’s beards were shown clearly. Humans wore necklaces and collars, while some men wore anklets to produce sounds that suit the dance moves and music. Outfits were made out of short gowns that were wrapped around the middle. Other drawings showed people dancing with musical instruments that resemble the rebab.”

Dr. Hawsawi said: “Thamudic writings were found in the region in large quantities, followed by the Ancient South Arabian script and the Kufic script, which dates back to the Islamic era. The multiplicity of scripts found in the region sheds light on the succession of civilizations. In addition, Ancient South Arabian script inscriptions found engraved on top of Thamudic inscriptions highlights how old the Thamudic script really is.”

“Most of the inscriptions consist of names such as ‘Saad,’ ‘Awathat’ and ‘Rafadat,’ and of deities such as ‘Al’ and ‘Kahl,’ while inscriptions were usually found next to drawings of animals,” she said.

Dr. Hawsawi said that “among the long inscriptions is a 12-line one belonging to King ‘Dhu Nuwas,’ in which he described his victory over the Ethiopians in 512.”

To date, 1,293 human drawings, 5,121 animal drawings, 3,616 Thamudic inscriptions, 2,775 Ancient South Arabian script inscriptions and three Nabataean inscriptions have been found in the region, while search and excavation operations are continuing in the Kingdom in general, and the region in particular, to uncover more monuments and historical cultural heritage.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi Arabia’s crown prince announces 7 solar projects as Sakaka plant opens

Time: 09 April 2021

Seven future solar plant projects revealed for the Kingdom
Mohammed bin Salman says Kingdom will achieve leadership in the field of renewable energy
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the opening of the Sakaka solar power plant on Thursday.

The crown prince also said agreements have been signed for seven new solar power projects across the country.

The projects are part of a push towards renewable energy under the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

“During the past weeks, the Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative have been announced, which showed that we, as a leading global oil producer, are fully aware of our share of the responsibility in advancing the fight against climate change,” the crown prince said.

“As part of our pioneering role in stabilizing energy markets, we will continue this role to achieve leadership in the field of renewable energy.”

The launch of the Sakaka plant in Jouf represents the Kingdom’s “first steps to utilize renewable energy in the Kingdom,” the crown prince added.

He said construction of the Dumat Al-Jandal wind energy plant was also nearly complete.

The seven planned solar plants, in addition to the Sakaka and Dumat Al-Jandal projects, would produce more than 3,600 megawatts. They would power more than 600,000 homes, and reduce more than 7 million tons of greenhouse emissions.

“Some of these projects have achieved new records, where we registered the lowest cost of purchasing electricity produced from solar energy in the world,” he said.

The crown prince last month announced the Green Saudi and Green Middle East initiatives to tackle climate change.

Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, who inaugurated the Sakaka plant during a ceremony in Jouf, said the new projects “will contribute to … shifting from liquid fuels consumption to gas and renewable energy, which makes them milestones in the development of the energy sector.”
The seven new solar projects will be located in Madinah, Sudair, Qurayyat, Shuaiba, Jeddah, Rabigh and Rafha.
They will be financed by five investment alliances made up of 12 Saudi and international companies.
Prince Abdulaziz praised the private sector’s “fundamental role” in the projects.
The Sakaka plant was developed by ACWA Power, which is 50 percent owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF).
He said 97 percent of the staff operating the Sakaka plant are Saudis, and 90 percent from the Jouf region.
“The completion of these projects, and others, and linking them to the national network, will contribute to strengthening the Kingdom’s capabilities in producing electricity to meet the national need, enhance the reliability of the electrical grid, and support the Kingdom’s ambitious plans to become one of the main countries in the field of producing and exporting electricity using renewable energy,” he said.

PIF said the Sudair project would be one of the largest solar power plants in the world and the largest in the Kingdom.
A consortium supported by the fund signed an agreement with the Saudi Power Procurement Company for 25 years for the project.
Construction of the plant, located about 130 kilomters north of Riyadh, is expected to start during the second half of 2022, and when complete, will have a production capacity of 1,500 megawatts. It will power 185,000 homes and reduce carbon emissions by about 2.9 tons per year.
PIF Governor Yasser Al-Rumayyan said the project “embodies our commitment to invest in the sectors that will shape the future of the global economy.”

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Saudi aid center launches ‘Learn and Contribute’ campaign

Time: 09 April 2021

KSrelief chief Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah on Thursday signed a cooperation agreement with the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority. (SPA)

KSrelief ‘only safe bridge’ to aid people abroad
RIYADH: The supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief), Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, on Thursday inaugurated the “Learn and Contribute” campaign aimed at raising donations for needy people around the world.

He also signed a cooperation agreement with the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA).

The inauguration was attended by Abdullah Al-Ghamdi, president of SDAIA, Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, president of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, and members of the Council of Senior Scholars through video conference.

Al-Rabeeah said that KSrelief is the sole entity to receive relief, charitable and humanitarian aid going abroad, whether from government or nongovernment donors.

This ensures accurate follow-up, and the highest governance and transparency standards to ensure the delivery of aid to those most in need.

KSrelief has carried out 1,556 relief projects worth more than $5 billion, benefitting more than 513 million people around the world. The projects were implemented by KSrelief directly or through its partners in targeted countries.

Al-Rabeeah said that the center is the only safe bridge to aid people abroad.

He added that donors have the right to define the projects they wish to carry out and the partners they trust. Donations are fully allocated to the determined project, without deducting any administrative fees.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Yemeni official thanks Saudi Arabia for clearing Houthi mines

Time: 09 April 2021

Al-Aqeeli called on the international community to pressure the Houthi militia to stop planting landmines. (SPA)

RIYADH: The director of Yemen’s National Mine Action Program on Thursday thanked Saudi Arabia for clearing mines set by the Houthi militia in Yemen.

Brig. Ameen Al-Aqeeli said mines and improvised explosive devices planted by the Iran-backed Houthi militia have so far killed more than 8,000 civilians in the country.

Al-Aqeeli called on the international community to pressure the Houthi militia to stop planting landmines, saying they have caused a humanitarian disaster in Yemen.

A total of 230,592 mines have been extracted since the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) began the Saudi Project for Landmine Clearance (Masam) in Yemen.

Masam’s engineering teams currently operate in nine Yemeni governorates: Marib, Al-Jawf, Shabwa, Taiz, Hodeidah, Lahij, Al-Bayda, Al-Dhale, and Saada.

Masam is just one of the many humanitarian and relief projects that the Kingdom offers through KSrelief to assist the Yemeni people and alleviate their suffering during the current crisis.

This article was first published in Arab News

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‘Just chase your dream,’ Farah Jefry, footballer and Adidas brand ambassador, tells Saudi girls

Time: 20 April 2021

Last December, the Kingdom held its very first Women’s Football League, with 24 teams from all over the Saudi Arabia competing for the honor of being the first side to take home the spoils of victory
RIYADH: Saudi sportswomen have come a long way in the past few years. Victories large and small have been hard-won in the past decade, and the Kingdom’s female population is showing no signs of slowing down.
Saudi women across the country are exploring new ways of being active, with some even choosing to take on their brothers at football, not knowing the opportunities that could arise from it.
One of the most notable names in Saudi sports is none other than the Kingdom’s current ambassador to the US, Princess Reema bint Bandar. Before her diplomatic engagement, Princess Reema served as the General Sports Authority’s (GSA) deputy of planning and development, where she led diversity and inclusion, the development of the Kingdom’s sports economy, and strategic partnerships.
Last December, the Kingdom held its very first Women’s Football League, with 24 teams from all over the Saudi Arabia competing for the honor of being the first side to take home the spoils of victory.
And last Monday, Saudi women in sport gained yet another victory as one of their own landed the sponsorship deal of a lifetime. Adidas announced that the company had signed Jeddah Eagles’ midfielder Farah Jefry as a brand ambassador, making her the first Saudi sportswoman to represent it in the Middle East.
Jefry, 18, who started playing football a decade ago, told Arab News she had always dreamt of playing professionally, and that being singled out by Adidas to represent the German sports brand was a great honor.
“Adidas is such a well-known company, and I’m happy to be part of the family. Hopefully, this will pave the way for other Saudi female footballers in the future,” she said of the appointment.

Don’t be discouraged by people or opinions — there might be some obstacles, but at the end it is all worth it.

Farah Jefry, Jeddah Eagles’ midfielder

For Jefry, reaching this point in her career was not always easy, even if she had known she wanted to play since she was a child.
“I have been training with the Jeddah Eagles Ladies’ Football Club for almost 3 years,” she said. “At first it was tough because I was one of the youngest members on the team and playing with people who were a lot more experienced compared to me.”
However, Jefry took the experience as an opportunity to learn from the team’s older members, in addition to practicing at home to improve her basic skills.
“It has become a lifestyle now, and walking around with a football all day is normal for me nowadays,” she said.
According to Jefry, the hardest part of being a professional footballer is maintaining consistency, another reason she believes it important to practice as much as possible.
Jefry also counts herself lucky to have a great support system in the form of her family and friends, and says that those closest to her have always known how badly she wanted to play football at a professional level, doing whatever they could to help her make that dream a reality.
However, she says that she has had to deal with her fair share of critics, particularly those who think that there is no room for women in the sport.
“Many people keep telling me that this sport isn’t for women. However, the way I view it is that this sport isn’t for a specific gender; just like any other sport, at the end of the day I’m doing what I love and I shouldn’t be judged based on the fact that I am a woman,” she told Arab News.
She also has advice for other Saudi girls who want to be part of what she calls a “beautiful” journey.
“Don’t be discouraged by people or opinions — there might be some obstacles, but at the end it is all worth it. If you’re passionate enough just chase your dream. Everything else will align with that sooner or later,” she said.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi Crown Prince launches ‘Journey Through Time’ vision for AlUla development

Time: 07 April 2021

The Journey Through Time master plan was developed under the leadership of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (AFP/File Photo)

Project aims to “responsibly and sustainably” restore and rehabilitate the main archaeological area in AlUla
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday launched a new design vision for AlUla to turn it into a leading global destination for arts, heritage, culture and nature.

The project, entitled “A Journey Through Time,” is a major milestone and aims to “responsibly and sustainably” restore and rehabilitate the main archaeological area in AlUla that has a unique cultural and natural environment in the northwest of the Kingdom, as part of the goals of the Vision 2030.

The project is being led by the crown prince, who is also chairman of the board of directors of the Royal Commission for AlUla Governorate, and followed up by the Minister of Culture, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, also governor of the Royal Commission for AlUla.

“Today, we embark on a journey to preserve the world’s largest cultural oasis and advance our understanding of 200,000 years of heritage,” the crown prince said. “The Journey Through Time master plan is a leap forward to sustainably and responsibly develop AlUla, and share our cultural legacy with the world.”

READ MORE
Over the next 15 years, AlUla valley, home to Hegra and a multitude of other historical sites, will be transformed into a living museum designed to immerse visitors in 200,000 years of natural and human history. Read more here.

It consists of three main stages, and the first stages are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2023 and is part of a comprehensive development program for AlUla supervised by the royal commission.

It will also include establishing five centers that extend along 20 kilometers from the heart of AlUla and in inspiring and essential stops along the “Journey Through Time” route inspired by the nature and heritage of the old historic city. The centers start from the old town center to the south, through the Dadan and Jabal Ikma Nabataean oasis trails, and the ancient city of Hajjar in the north.

Each of these centers will be a cultural landmark in its own right, and reflect the nature and terrain unique to this geographical region, with cultural centers and facilities to provide a unique experience for visitors to explore the ancient history of the region.

The development strategy, upon completion in 2035, aims to provide 38,000 new job opportunities, in addition to contributing SR120 billion ($32 billion) to the Kingdom’s GDP.

The program will provide a distinctive historical map of the civilizations that settled in the various oases of AlUla over more than 7,000 years of human history, a Saudi Press Agency statement said.

The plan involves investing in the heritage, cultural, natural and geological richness of the region, through community participation in the development process, to preserve AlUla’s legacy, and open new possibilities “to discover its undiscovered history and build a future to be proud of.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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Who’s Who: Dr. Reem A. Alfrayan, director at Soudah Development Company

Time: 07 April 2021

Dr. Reem A. Alfrayan

Dr. Reem A. Alfrayan is the newly appointed director of development and community partnerships at the Soudah Development Company, owned by the Public Investment Fund.

Previously, Alfrayan served as the executive director of G20 Saudi Secretariat, and in September 2014 was the first woman to be appointed as assistant secretary-general at the Council of Saudi Chambers.

Alfrayan received a bachelor’s degree in technical education and training, workforce development and education at Ohio State University in 2001.

In 2002, she earned a master’s degree in instructional technologies and media policy, and leadership from the same university.

Alfrayan obtained another master’s degree in educational leadership and organization, policy and leadership at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2013.

She completed a Ph.D. in educational leadership and organization at the same university in 2014.

After obtaining her first master’s degree, she joined the Arab Open University as instructional technology unit supervisor at its headquarters in Kuwait in 2003.

Between 2005 and 2006, Alfrayan served as a training specialist with a project launched by the General Authority for Tourism and Antiquities.

She then joined King Abdul Aziz Medical City as an administrative planning and processing development officer.

She also served as general manager of businesswomen’s affairs at the Council of Saudi Chambers from October 2007 to January 2010.

Alfrayan also actively participates in volunteer work.

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A Seat at the Table: In Conversation with H.R.H. Princess Reema bint Bandar, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the United States

Time: 07 April 2021

This article was first published in Calchamber Advocacy 

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Women politicians on the rise but more must be done

Time: 06 April 2021


The coronavirus disease remains a challenge for women health-wise, economically and socially. (AFP)

March is the month of women. Starting with International Women’s Day on March 8, the month also sees the annual session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the largest UN gathering on gender equality (March 15-26), during which the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) releases its “Women in Politics” report. This year, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also marked the month with a milestone achievement: The launch of its specialized Women Development Organization (WDO).
The reports and indications presented at this year’s CSW65 highlighted some progress for women, but also reflected great concern due to some setbacks, especially as a result of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The two-week virtual gathering — held under the theme “Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls” — ended with the adoption by UN member states of the “Agreed Conclusions.” These recognize the need to significantly accelerate the pace of progress to ensure women’s full participation and leadership at all levels of decision-making in the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government and in the public sector. They also recognized that temporary special measures, such as quotas and increased political will, are needed as an enabling pathway to this goal.
The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) remains a challenge for women — health-wise, economically and socially. The Agreed Conclusions acknowledge that the pandemic is deepening pre-existing inequalities that perpetuate multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, as well as racism, stigmatization and xenophobia. The data shows that women have been mostly absent from COVID-19 government task forces around the world (they make up only 24 percent of the 225 task force members examined across 137 countries). Such disproportionate representation will hamper women’s recovery from the pandemic, thus prolonging their hardships, considering that COVID-19 has had a staggering impact on women — from their roles as front-line healthcare workers to the loss of jobs, particularly as the informal sector shrinks, and the alarming spike in domestic violence and the unpaid care burden, which threatens to push 47 million additional women into extreme poverty.
Meanwhile, the IPU-UN Women map of women in politics 2021, which provides global rankings of women in executive, government and parliamentary positions as of Jan. 1, shows all-time highs for the number of countries with female heads of state or heads of government (up to 22 countries from 20 last year, with Europe being the region with the most countries led by women) and the global share of women ministers, especially in Europe and the Americas. While women ministers continue to dominate the portfolios covering social, family and women’s affairs, there has been a slight increase in their share of traditionally male-led ministerial portfolios such as defense (up from 11.9 percent to 13.5 percent) and finance (from 10.1 percent to 11.5 percent), plus a significant increase in foreign affairs (from 16.8 percent to 26 percent).
However, despite the growing number of women at the highest levels of political power, widespread gender inequalities persist. Progression among women holding ministerial portfolios has slowed, with a small increase from 21.3 percent in 2020 to 21.9 percent in 2021; the number of countries with no women in government has increased from nine to 12; and only 25.5 percent of national parliamentarians are women, compared to 24.9 percent last year. The ranking of the regions in terms of the percentage of women in parliament is: The Americas (32.2 percent), Europe with the Nordic countries (30.5 percent), Europe without the Nordic countries (29.1 percent), Sub-Saharan Africa (25.1 percent), Asia (20.8 percent), the Middle East and North Africa (19.3 percent), and the Pacific (18 percent). The countries that have the highest percentage of women in parliament are Rwanda (61.3 percent), Cuba (53.4 percent) and the UAE (50 percent).
Although Saudi Arabia is among the countries that have no women in government, and the percentage of women in the Shoura Council remains at 20 percent, the Kingdom has made tremendous progress toward women’s empowerment, including making laws that eliminate discrimination against women, protect them from violence and support their full and effective participation in development at all levels. Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 includes the National Transformation Program, which aimed to increase the rate of female participation in the labor market to 25 percent in 2020. This target was exceeded, with the country achieving 31 percent by the end of last year, with Saudi women assuming many leadership positions in various fields.
Meanwhile, the OIC has also gained traction on the road to female empowerment. On March 24, the Ministerial Council of the OIC’s WDO adopted its internal rules and regulations, thus setting it up to start operating. Taking off during an exceptional year, with circumstances that will have a long-term impact, the WDO has its work cut out for it. In addition to the factors highlighted in the CSW and IPU reports, women in many of the 57 member countries of the OIC (currently only 15 of them are members of the WDO) are also severely affected by conflict, instability, underdevelopment, terrorism and extremism, which not only hamper their participation in public life but also threaten their lives.

Despite the growing number of women at the highest levels of political power, widespread gender inequalities persist.

Maha Akeel

Numbers and percentages do not give the full picture and they can be misleading. More important than the number of women in parliament or their percentage in government and the portfolios they hold is the role they actually play, the contributions they make and their engagement in decision-making. Political, cultural, social and legislative barriers continue to hinder women’s full and effective participation in the development of societies worldwide. More concrete measures need to be taken at all levels of government and society that will enable women to play a more active role in decision-making.

Maha Akeel is a Saudi writer based in Jeddah. Twitter: @MahaAkeel1
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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Saudi Arabia plans e-learning portal for kindergarten pupils

Time: 06 April 2021

Saudi Arabia’s new kindergarten e-learning portal will feature attractive and interesting tools that enable teachers to evaluate and enhance students’ basic skill

Abu Dhabi: Saudi Arabia will launch an e-learning portal for kindergarten pupils in the next academic year, local media reported.

Minister of Education, Dr. Hamad Al Sheikh, said the new portal would feature attractive and interesting tools that enable teachers to evaluate and enhance students’ basic skills.

The remarks were made on Monday as the minister honoured officials of the Madrasati e-learning platform, including the Public Education Agency, the E-Learning and Distance Education Department, the Digital Transformation Department, and the Cybersecurity Department, in appreciation of their efforts to render successful the distance learning process.

An online nursery, where children can learn by taking part in activities and watching videos on smartphones, has already launched in Saudi Arabia.

Children between the ages of 3 and 6 can log in to their nurseries on mobile phones and learn Islamic studies, play games, read stories and submit projects.

Through the virtual nursery, which is open to Saudi citizens and residents, children can access age-appropriate educational content similar to what is provided at schools.

“The children do not get direct support from teachers but can upload projects and work on the platform, which is assessed by a teacher.

As children cannot be exposed to smartphones for long periods of time, the application automatically shuts the child out after they have used it for an hour.

This article was first published in Gulf News

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