First Saudi cycling championship crowns four female winners

Time: 25 August, 2020

  • The rider started gym training with a personal coach 7 years ago

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s first female cycling championship has crowned the event’s four fastest riders.
Ten cyclists from throughout the Kingdom took part in the time-challenge competition staged on Sunday in Al-Mahalla district of Abha, under the supervision of the Saudi Cycling Federation.
Ahlam Nasser Al-Zaid was quickest to complete the 13-km course with a time of 22 minutes and 18 seconds. Anoud Khamis Al-Majed came second covering the distance in 25 minutes and 39 seconds, with Alaa Al-Zahrani taking third place in 26 minutes and 57 seconds, and Noura Al-Sheikh racing to fourth in 27 minutes and 4 seconds.
The federation’s program was resumed following the approval of health protocols related to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak issued by health authorities in cooperation with the Ministry of Sport.
Abdullah Al-Mizyad, director of operations and technical adviser at the Saudi Cycling Federation, told Arab News: “We have resumed our championships including the fifth and sixth championships for youth and adults, which were held in Al-Bahah for the first time, followed by the Kingdom’s champion event for youth, adults, and women in Abha. This return was the conclusion of the Saudi cycling championships for the Kingdom’s champion.
“The participation of youth and adults and the category of males and females was open for all to register, which was special in terms of the enthusiasm of the women that took part.”
Al-Zahrani said: “There were about seven female contestants in the female category who were from my team.”
The rider started gym training with a personal coach 7 years ago. In 2018, she met with the captain of the Rawasi team, Sherine Abu Al-Hasan, who introduced her to hiking. “We have hiked the Sabha and Souda mountains in Saudi Arabia and Shams in Oman.
“In 2019, I wanted to practice a new type of sport since I love discovering new things. I have friends who love riding bicycles as a hobby, and they encouraged me to do the same.
“I then met someone in 2020 who introduced me to the captain of cycling time, and I started practicing with them professionally. We started a month ago before the championship and we completed it (the practice) successfully,” Al-Zahrani added.
She said that the Saudi Cycling Federation had given female riders the chance to achieve their dreams and goals in the sport.

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

This article was first published in Arab News

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10 women given senior positions at Two Holy Mosques

16/08/20

This picture taken on July 24, 2020 ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage season in Saudi Arabia’s holy city of Mecca shows a view of the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest shrine, at the centre of the Grand Mosque complex. (AFP)
  • Appointments cover all specializations and services

MAKKAH: The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques has appointed 10 women to senior leadership positions in the authority.

Announcing the appointments, the presidency said that “empowering women to assume leadership positions is an important subject that will reflect on development and the economy.”
The appointees “will support the process of creativity and achieving the principles of quality and the highest standards of excellence in order to achieve the generous aspirations of the wise leadership,” according to SPA.
“These appointments cover all specializations and services provided in the Two Holy Mosques, whether guidance, directive, engineering, administrative or supervisory services,” Kamelia Al-Daadi, assistant undersecretary for service and administrative affairs at the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, told Arab News.
“They are also included in the departments of the King Abdul Aziz Complex for Holy Kaaba Kiswa (cover), the Two Holy Mosques Building Gallery, the Holy Mosque Library, and other areas with the aim of empowering youth and investing their energies and capabilities in the service of the pilgrims,” she added.

They are also included in the departments of the King Abdul Aziz Complex for Holy Kaaba Kiswa (cover), the Two Holy Mosques Building Gallery, the Library of the Holy Mosque, and other areas.

Kamelia Al-Daadi

Abdul Hamid Al-Maliki, deputy president of the King Abdul Aziz Complex for Holy Kaaba Kiswa, exhibitions, museums and assistant undersecretary for the affairs of the Grand Mosque, said that almost half of visitors to the Grand Mosque are women, and the presence of Saudi women leaders will ensure high-quality services.
“The General Presidency of the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques accords great attention to young people of both sexes by empowering them to be leaders at young ages,” he added.
Al-Maliki said that promoting women’s role in the presidency and supporting them to lead development in the country is part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform program.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi anti-corruption authority probes 218 cases

Time: 11 August, 2020

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Control and Anti- Corruption Authority (Nazaha) has initiated 218 criminal cases in different sectors.

According to a report posted on its official Twitter account, the cases are related to fraud, bribery, and financial and professional corruption.

One of the cases involves the arrest of a businessman in the Eastern Province and 10 citizens, including a current member of the Shoura Council, a former judge,

a current notary, a former bank employee, a former district police chief, a former customs director for an airport, and several retired officers (who were not arrested due to their health conditions).

The businessman bribed them during their period of services
to the tune of more than SR20 million.

Other cases involve the arrest of a director of a port and several employees, a commander of one of the security sectors with the rank of a major general, four
of his subordinates, and the financial representative of the Ministry of Finance. A former governor has also been held
on graft charges. The anti-graft body seeks to activate measures aimed at preventing, combating, and exposing corruption in all its forms, as well as all related crimes and prosecuting perpetrators.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi artist reimagines Jeddah through ’80s pop art

Time: 09 August, 2020

Photo/Supplied
  • Zaina Hassan feels that love and belonging we feel toward the coastal city are very real and deserve to be illuminated
  • Deep Blue is an artwork that portrays a girl walking along the new Corniche with the sea as her background. It speaks of moments when you feel melancholic or blue for reasons unknown to you

JEDDAH: Every Jeddawi has an obsession with their city; the elderly reminisce about historic Jeddah in the old days, while the youth romanticize the modern city through photography and social media.

One Saudi artist, Zaina Hassan, 23, who goes by the name ZHA on social media, chose to express her attachment to Jeddah by reimagining it through ’80s pop art.
“To many of us, Jeddah is a city too familiar for words, for beautiful odes and formal praise. Yet, the love and belonging we feel toward it are very real and deserve to be illuminated,” she told Arab News.
She added: “My deep affection toward the city only grew while I was away, and all its beauty that was previously hidden in plain sight became visible to me in my nostalgia.”
The artist has completed eight pieces; the first artwork, shared on Instagram is called “Show You the World” and portrays two people walking toward the Globe Roundabout in northern Jeddah.

FASTFACTS

• Re-Imagine Exhibition opened on July 27 at Medd Cafe, and will continue until August end.

• Zaina Hassan’s artwork will be available for purchase.

“This piece is dedicated to people who dream of seeing the world but find themselves stuck in one place. A gentle reminder that there is much to see and feel, even without getting on a plane and traveling thousands of kilometers,” she said.
The other pieces follow the same idea, where the location reflects certain feelings or emotions of the characters in the artwork.
“Deep Blue” is an artwork that portrays a girl walking along the new Corniche with the sea as her background. “It speaks of moments when you feel melancholic or blue for reasons unknown to you,” Hassan said.


“Rosie” is another artwork that shows a couple standing together lovingly, with the old Saudi airplane monument behind them. The monument symbolizes how every relationship is a journey, she added.
Hassan chose ’80s pop art as her medium because it combines youthful content with a vintage appearance, which she is very fond of.
“For the love of everything vintage. Comic book art or ’80s pop art has a nostalgic yet youthful and modern look to it, so it was the perfect artistic style to merge the old with the new.”
The artist began sharing her work on Instagram during the difficult period of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown.
“I first thought of the theme behind the first few pieces in the midst of the COVID-19 avalanche, when isolation and uncertainty were still unexplored territories to most of us; the main incentive behind the theme was homesickness,” Hassan added.
She said it was not artwork by other artists that inspired her, but things from her daily life such as songs, movies and stories.
“I found that listening to certain songs inspires me so much more vividly than looking at or studying actual art pieces. Obviously, comic book illustrators have inspired me enough to use this specific style and guided me with regard to colors and composition, but I believe that the real inspiration behind my artworks’ ideas come from songs, as well as movie scenes, pictures and stories,” she said.
“Basically, anything that is able to transport you to an alternative reality for a period of time. So many things inspire me and influence me daily, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact source.”
Hassan said the illustrations were figments, romanticizing the streets people know well, but they exposed the genuine fondness Jeddawis carry in their hearts for this coastal city.
To many people, she said, the landmarks portrayed in Hassan’s artworks carry many memories of their youth — their favorite childhood place, where they used to hang out in their teenage years, or even a place they used to pass by on their way to their loved ones’ old houses. “It’s amazing how memories connect people to places on such a deep level.”
The main theme of her collection is not solely romantic as much as it is soulful, and it encompasses romance, friendship, adventure, and even melancholy.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Young Saudi woman takes pioneering role in male-dominated engineering industry

Time: 08 August, 2020

Rawan Abukhaled. (Supplied)
  • Rawan Abukhaled, 23, keen to provide digital solutions that help cut costs

JEDDAH: A young Saudi is setting the pace by becoming the only woman working at a manufacturing plant as a digital transformation consultant for GE Digital in the Kingdom.

Rawan Abukhaled, 23, has paved the way for hopeful young Saudi engineers to not be afraid of being the only woman in the room.

“I’m probably one of the first women to join the industry in the Kingdom,” she said. “I want to be the best representation of a female Saudi engineer in this field, so everyone around me thinks, ‘Hey, we need to hire more women.’ I’m constantly trying to get that idea through,” she added.

She is aware of how male-dominated the industry is, not just in Saudi Arabia but around the world. “When I got my first job in the US as a software developer, I was one of the very few females in the room as a software developer and now there are sometimes no other women in the room.”

Abukhaled is passionate about making change, and her job depends on it. She is keen on providing companies with digital solutions that help them to cut costs and raise productivity.

“Today, I’m learning in the field hands-on, rather than in an office. And for soft skills, this is a client-facing job. So, I am in situations that challenge me to grow, especially in my interactions with customers. I’m the only local or regional person on the ground, so the (GE Digital) team in the US relies on me to go to customer sites, and that helps me grow both my technical and soft skills.”

HIGHLIGHT

She is aware of how male-dominated the industry is, not just in Saudi Arabia but around the world. She has paved the way for hopeful young Saudi engineers to not be afraid of being the only woman in the room.

The industrial and systems engineering graduate gained a sense of how much she could do for women when she studied at Virginia Tech, US. She took part in a campaign to become the vice president of the Saudi Student Club and succeeded in becoming the first woman to be elected to the role in 80 years.

Abukhaled said that she was flabbergasted at the number of women approaching her to ask what it was like and the impact it left on female students around her. “I was the vice president of a student club. Even something that small inspired women.”

When she was growing up, Abukhaled wanted to get into medicine. “As I got older, I realized I wasn’t that great in biology and I was more interested in physics and math, so I knew engineering was a better fit for me.”

Her current job with GE Digital allows her to work in the two areas she feels strongly about: Technology and people. “There’s a geek side to me that likes the math and problem-solving, and the other side of me that loves the social network and interacting with people.”

Her father has supported her throughout. He was an industrial engineer, which ended up being a great asset as the two of them shared common interests. “We are a lot alike. He became an influential leader in a multinational organization, and I want to follow in his footsteps. He’s supported me every step of the way, ever since I was a little girl.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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UK Ambassador welcomes appointment of first Saudi woman as cultural attache

Time: 07 August, 2020

Britain’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia on Thursday welcomed the appointment of Dr. Amal bint Jameel Fatani as cultural attaché to the UK. (Supplied)
  • Fatani was appointed as one of the Kingdom’s first female cultural attaches
  • She holds a doctorate in pharmacology and toxicology from the University of Strathclyde

RIYADH: Britain’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia on Thursday welcomed the appointment of Dr. Amal bint Jameel Fatani as cultural attaché to the UK.

Fatani was appointed as one of the Kingdom’s first female cultural attaches by the Saudi Minister of Education Dr.Hamad bin Mohammed Al Al-Sheik earlier this month.

Ambassador Neil Crompton tweeted Thursday: “#Congratulations to Dr Fatani @FataniAmal for her appointment as Cultural Attaché to the #UK. Delighted she is a UK alumni herself. Wishing her the very best in her new role and looking forward to strengthening the people to people links between the UK and Saudi Arabia.”

Fatani holds a doctorate in pharmacology and toxicology from the University of Strathclyde. She obtained her master’s and bachelor’s degrees in pharmacology and toxicology from the College of Pharmacy at King Saud University (KSU), where she is currently an associate professor.

She has previously worked at the Ministry of Higher Education and KSU, and was among the first female pharmacy graduates in the Kingdom.

After receiving her doctorate she was appointed vice chair of the pharmacology and toxicology department. She is the first female dean of the nine scientific and medical colleges, and has worked with the rector, deputies, and deans of male colleges to build a unified strategic plan for gaining accreditation, a higher global ranking, and implementing best international practices in higher education.

Saudi Arabia and the UK have an important and long-standing relationship, strengthened through the strong individual connections that Saudis enjoy with the UK through their attendance at academic institutions. Hundreds of Saudi scholarship students have graduated from top UK educational institutions.

The two countries are key strategic partners in the Kingdom’s Saudi Vision 2030 reform plan, and have reaffirmed their commitment to building and developing trade and investment as well as achieving shared prosperity for their citizens.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Maha Al-Nuhait, general manager at Saudi Telecom Co.

Time: 07 August, 2020

Maha Al-Nuhait

Maha Al-Nuhait is the general manager of the sustainability program at Saudi Telecom Co. (STC). She is a board member of public and private institutions and a member of the Youth Business Council in Riyadh.

Al-Nuhait has over 20 years of working with the public, private and third sectors, in addition to being a full-time mother, working as an entrepreneur, and mentoring at nonprofit bodies.

She is a board member of the Saudi Archery Federation at the General Sports Authority and the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and a business mentor at the Dulani Business Center in addition to her work with STC.

She previously served as a corporate communications adviser at the Ministry of Energy in the field of mining. She co-founded Athar Consultancy, a Saudi firm specializing in building and operating social investment strategies, programs and initiatives. It was one of the first small and medium-sized enterprises in the region to specialize in social investing consultancy and impact measurement.

She used to work at Monshaat, the Small and Medium Enterprises General Authority (SMEA). She served as a governor’s adviser, consulting on sustainable development and excellence in community engagement with SMEA programs. She later went on to become the CEO of the Biban SME Forum and Exhibition.

Al-Nuhait holds a bachelor’s degree in English translation from King Saud University and a high diploma in business administration and management from the Institute of Public Administration.

She has a certificate from the Harvard Business School Executive Education program and a certificate from the Ashridge Executive Education Business School at Hult International Business School.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Hanan Al-Hamad, Saudi educator

Time: 07 August, 2020

Hanan Al-Hamad

Hanan Al-Hamad is a Saudi educator and quality and excellence management consultant. She is also a certified European Foundation for Quality Management trainer and model assessor, a certified Trainer of Trainers, and a certified KPI practitioner.
Al-Hamad has developed English language curricula and provided teaching strategy training for the Ministry of Education and has been a judge for some of the ministry’s excellence awards. She has also helped establish numerous international schools in the Kingdom in accordance with the International Baccalaureate (IB) program.
Al-Hamad is also a popular public speaker and has conducted various workshops at institutions including the King Fahad National Center for Children’s Cancer and King Saud Medical City.
Al-Hamad holds a bachelor’s degree in teaching English as a second or foreign language from the College of Education at King Faisal University in Riyadh, and received her master’s degree in management and planning from the College of Social Sciences at Imam Mohammad bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh.
As Saudi Arabia prepares for the upcoming academic year amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Al-Hamad said the debate over whether children’s education or health should take top priority has not been solved at a global level.
“The family’s education and financial status, as well as the parents’ technical literacy, will have an impact on each student’s experience with remote education,” Al-Hamad said in a recent interview on Al Arabiya.
“Moreover, not all parents have the freedom to devote their time to teach their children and follow up with them at home.”
She added: “I believe the educational experience should be flexible, and families should have the choice to send their children to school or not, while guaranteeing an equally efficient educational experience for both choices.”

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Dr. Amal bint Jameel Fatani, Saudi Arabia’s cultural attache to the UK

Time: 04 August, 2020

Dr. Amal bint Jameel Fatani
  • Fatani holds a doctorate in pharmacology and toxicology from the University of Strathclyde

Dr. Amal bint Jameel Fatani was recently appointed Saudi Arabia’s cultural attache to the UK. Education Minister Hamad Al-Asheikh issued a decision to appoint the Kingdom’s first women cultural attaches on Sunday. Other appointments include Fahda bint Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh as cultural attache in Ireland and Dr. Yusra bint Hussain Al-Jazairy as acting cultural attache in Morocco.
The three women are all educators and their appointments are part of a move to promote the Kingdom’s educational and cultural presence internationally.
Fatani holds a doctorate in pharmacology and toxicology from the University of Strathclyde. She obtained her master’s and bachelor’s degrees in pharmacology and toxicology from the College of Pharmacy at King Saud University (KSU), where she is currently an associate professor.
Her previous roles include consultant and general supervisor of female affairs at the Ministry of Higher Education after spending two years as general supervisor of female sections in all sectors at the ministry.
Before joining the ministry she held several positions at KSU and was among the first female pharmacy graduates in the Kingdom.
After receiving her doctorate she was appointed vice chair of the pharmacology and toxicology department. She is the first female dean of the nine scientific and medical colleges, and has worked with the rector, deputies, and deans of male colleges to build a unified strategic plan for gaining accreditation, a higher global ranking, and implementing best international practices in higher education.

This article was first published in Arab News

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