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Social media users praise first-ever female-led Hajj security briefing

13/07/21

Saudi soldier Abeer Al-Rashed conducts the first ever female-led security briefing for Hajj
LONDON: Saudi soldier Abeer Al-Rashed conducted on Tuesday the first ever female-led security briefing for Hajj in which she presented security and traffic plans for the pilgrimage.

The female-led briefing was met with positive reactions on social media in Saudi Arabia and the region.

Twitter user Mohamad Matoua praised the soldier saying “God willing, may God bless you… what a confidence and a wonderful voice that distinguish the daughter of our nation, the soldierAbeer Al-Rashed, may God protect her from all evil” in a tweet.

Meanwhile, Saeed Almordi, said that women constitute half of society, “and we are proud of her and of the women in our nation in all fields.”

Another twitter user, Um Loulou, said: “God praise, may Allah her and give her health and wellness, we are proud of her”

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia revealed on Monday the launch of a smart card for pilgrims this year.

The card will facilitate access to pilgrims’ medical history and will be used to purchase necessities and goods during the Hajj season.

It will be the first time the technology is used to aid the pilgrimage journey.

According to the Hajj security commander, no one will be allowed to enter holy sites without a valid security permit in an attempt to curb the spread of coronavirus.

This article was first published in Arab News

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OIC chief stresses women’s role in economic, social, cultural fields

Time: 09 July 2021

OIC Secretary-General Yousef Al-Othaimeen. (SPA)

Al-Othaimeen commends the unprecedented attention and time given to women issues in Saudi Arabia
OIC seeks to deliver a message to the world that the moderate Islam religion extremely values women, Al-Othaimeen says
CAIRO: OIC Secretary-General Yousef Al-Othaimeen commended the unprecedented attention and time given to women issues in Saudi Arabia during the eighth session of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Ministerial Conference on Women.

Egypt hosted the conference on Thursday under the patronage of President Abdelfattah El-Sisi.

Al-Othaimeen said the conference was held at a time where women’s empowerment to take part in political, economic, social and cultural fields has become a must.

He praised the Kingdom for unlocking the full potential of women as a driving force for development across all areas of Saudi Vision 2030.

Al-Othaimeen thanked Egypt for hosting the session, which reflected the country’s concern to promote the comprehensive objectives of the OIC and strengthen the foundations of the joint Islamic work in women empowerment and other fields.

He added that the OIC seeks to deliver a message to the world that the moderate Islam religion extremely values women and considers them as an effective partner in different fields.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Female workers help Saudi Arabia jobless rate hit five-year low

Time: 03 July 2021

The decline in the unemployment rate was helped by an increase in female participation in the workforce. (Supplied)

Economic and social reforms, pandemic response praised as experts hail rapid jobs growth
RIYADH: A rapid Saudi government response to the coronavirus pandemic, women’s active participation in the workforce and Vision 2030 economic reforms have been cited by experts as major factors in the Kingdom’s unemployment rate falling to its lowest level in almost five years.

The decline in the jobless rate comes as the Saudi economy begins to rebound from the pandemic and women join the workforce in record numbers.

The overall Saudi unemployment rate fell to 11.7 percent in the first quarter of 2021 compared with 12.6 percent in the last quarter of 2020, the General Authority for Statistics (GASTAT) said on Wednesday.

According to GASTAT, the joblessness figure is the lowest since an 11.6 percent rate in the second quarter of 2016.

The decline in the unemployment rate was helped by an increase in female participation in the workforce, which rose to 33.6 percent from 32.1 percent in the previous quarter.

The Kingdom is benefiting from a surge in investment as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman seeks to diversify the economy under the Vision 2030 reform plan.

Economic reforms since 2016 have created millions of jobs, with plans to reduce unemployment to 7 percent by 2030.

Speaking to Arab News, economist Talat Zaki Hafiz said that unemployment in Saudi Arabia has fallen to its lowest level in almost five years for many reasons, including rigorous efforts by the government to Saudize most of the commercial sectors in private businesses.

HIGHLIGHT
The overall Saudi unemployment rate fell to 11.7 percent in the first quarter of 2021 compared with 12.6 percent in the last quarter of 2020, GASTAT said.

“Empowering women in the labor market and offering them a wider chance to work and participate more actively has reflected positively in unemployment sliding in the Kingdom,” he said.

“Today we have more and better Saudis to work in the private sector from the point of view of qualification or even willingness to accept the kind of jobs that were not appealing to them.”

Hafiz said that he was confident the Kingdom will reach its Saudi Vision 2030 target of 7 percent unemployment.

Dr. Osama Ghanem Al-Obaidy, adviser and law professor at the Institute of Public Administration in Riyadh, said: “Saudi Vision 2030 highlights the importance of raising the employment levels of Saudis. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Saudi Arabia managed to lower its unemployment rate, while other countries suffered huge job losses.

“Policies implemented by the government were effective in avoiding an increase in unemployment rates,” he said.

Al-Obaidy said that employment programs and initiatives for young Saudis, especially women, and investments by the Saudi Public Investment Fund as well as economic reforms undertaken by the Saudi government have led to a lowering of the unemployment rate.

This is in addition to the support and incentive packages that the government provided to businesses and business owners to help avoid mass job losses, he said.

“The lowering of the unemployment rate in the Kingdom is a testament to the strength and resilience of the Saudi economy and its labor market,” Al-Obaidy added.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Who’s Who: Moudhi Al-Jamea, VP at Saudi Telecom Co. and dean of STC Academy

Time: 01 July 2021

Moudhi Al-Jamea

Moudhi Al-Jamea was recently appointed vice president of Saudi Telecom Co. (STC) and dean of STC Academy, STC’s technology and leadership academy. Previously, Al-Jamea was the acting dean of STC Academy and acting vice president of STC between January and June this year.

Al-Jamea was also the general manager of digital technology at STC Academy from February 2019 until June 2021.

She has a bachelor’s degree in computer and information systems from King Faisal University, a master’s degree in information technology and e-business from the University of Greenwich, and a doctorate in computer security and informatics from King’s College London.

After graduating in 2006, Al-Jamea took on the role of CEO at Superior IT Services for seven years. In 2013, while studying in the UK, she became the vice president of the Scientific Society for Saudi Students.

From 2015 to 2016, she was a member of the board of trustees behind the first Innovation and Entrepreneurship Prize for Saudi Students in the UK, aimed at encouraging students to participate in creative thinking.

She then worked as a security consultant partner at Ibtkar Strategic Consultancy, liaising between its offices in the UK, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

Al-Jamea has retained a career in education while completing her studies and acting as CEO. She began lecturing in 2010 at Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University in Dammam. In 2017, she became an assistant professor while also serving as president of the entrepreneurship and incubator unit. She is certified in ethical hacking from the EC-Council and in 2017 completed the women’s leadership program at Prince Mohammed bin Salman College of Business and Entrepreneurship.

This article was first published in Arab News

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20,000 women benefit from Saudi Arabia’s Wusool program

11/06/2021

RIYADH: The number of Saudi female employees to benefit from the Human Resources Development Fund’s (Hadaf) transportation program has topped 20,000.

Under the Wusool program women can receive an 80 percent discount on the cost of each trip to work. The ceiling of support was increased to SR1,100 ($293) a month for those with a monthly wage not exceeding SR6,000, and SR800 for workers earning between SR6,001 and SR8,000.

The initiative aims to reduce transport costs for Saudi female workers in the private sector by providing them with subsidized high-quality, safe, and secure travel-to-work services, in partnership with taxi companies, through licensed smart apps.

The scheme, designed to increase the participation of women in the labor market and provide job stability, covers 13 regions of the Kingdom and women working in the private sector can visit http://wusool.sa to register.

This article was first published in Arab News

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KSA Fashion Commission backs luxury designs with 100 Saudi Brands program

04/06/2021

The program will help build 100 Saudi brands that are able to compete regionally and internationally. (Screenshot)

The authority invited those wishing to take part in the program to register before June 20
The program offers a one-year package of training and guidance programs

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Fashion Commission has launched the “100 Saudi Brands” program, which aims to support the business development of 100 Saudi designers and luxury brands, providing Saudi fashion products with international competitive standards.
The authority invited those wishing to take part in the program to register via the website https://saudi100brands.com before June 20.
The program offers a one-year package of training and guidance programs, and includes sessions for groups and individuals, along with virtual and physical training workshops to develop competitive business advantages in the Saudi fashion industry.
Course topics will include brand review and mentoring, training in defining brand concepts, sales performance strategies, public relations and marketing strategies, methods for finding and identifying particular clients, innovations, technology and leadership skills.
The program’s stages include activities presented to the consumer to encourage sales in the local market, the first of which will be held in Riyadh in December, the activation of electronic sales outlets in January, and a campaign targeting wholesales in order to activate international sales in February.
The program will help build 100 Saudi brands that are able to compete regionally and internationally, within the framework of the Fashion Commission to develop the fashion sector in the Kingdom in all its legislative and regulatory aspects, and to support and empower its workers, including creators and investors.

This article was first published in Arab News

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How Saudi Arabia pioneered the employment of women

Getting women into jobs is one of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s most important goals.

According to the Saudi statistics agency, the participation rate for women rose from 19% in 2016 to 33% in 2020.

It’s a phenomenon, from the big cities to the more conservative provinces, you see women working as cashiers, waitresses, shop assistants, and even policewomen.

In a few sectors, however, men still dominate. For example, for every Saudi woman, there are approximately 18 Saudi men in the mining sector.

However, in areas like health, arts, and hospitality, the ratio is now one to one.

The Ministry of Culture is a good example of the far-reaching change in recent years.

In 2016 only a few women worked there, now 49% of the 667 employees are women.

And the proportion of women in the Saudi labour market will continue to rise over the next few years.

Author: own staff

Arab world among top gender diversity improvers, survey shows

Time: 27 May 2021

Rania Nashar, Samba Financial Group CEO, was Saudi Arabia’s first female chief executive. (File/AFP)

71 percent of MENA companies made progress on gender diversity
MENA ranked last in female representation on boards

TEXAS: Organizations in the Middle East and North Africa are among those to have made the most progress in gender distribution over the past five years, according to a survey by CEO community YPF.
In the MENA region, 71 percent of companies have made progress in this area, second only to Latin America at 73 percent, and ahead of South Asia at 68 percent, YPF said in its first Global Chief Executive Gender Equality Survey of 2,079 CEOs from 106 countries.
YPF’s sample included 23 percent female CEOs, which compares with a global figure of 5 percent, it said.
The report showed that gender inequality increases with seniority. While 39 percent of employees at respondent companies were female, 30 percent of senior management were women and 20 percent of board directors.
However, there has been considerable progress on the measure in the past five years with 24 percent reporting a “somewhat more diverse” board of directors in that time frame and 16 percent “significantly more diverse.” Among senior managers, the respective numbers are 34 percent and 18 percent.


Companies in the Middle East and North Africa have the least gender diverse boards, the survey showed. However, while just 16 percent of directors were women in the MENA region, the figure was not much better in Europe (21 percent) and the US (20 percent).
“There are a lot of things to be done to encourage the empowerment of women,” Reem Osman, CEO of Saudi German Hospital Group, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “As the data shows, having more women in the C-suite is empowering more women, giving women more senior positions and recruiting more women.”
Companies globally with women on the board are more likely than their male-led counterparts (46 percent vs. 37 percent) to offer services that help women reach the top, such as female leadership and mentoring programs, the survey showed. Almost one third of female CEOs offered flexible work arrangements at their companies compared with 21 percent for male respondents.
The biggest obstacle for CEOs in the MENA region was a lack of mentors, with 51 percent citing that as the main challenge compared with 36 percent in the rest of the world.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Alwaleed Philanthropies & Princess Lamia launch brand to support female artisans

Time: 05 May 2021

SARAH JOSEPH

Alwaleed Philanthropies, founded by His Royal Highness Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, has launched a new homegrown brand in support of Saudi female artisans.

The project entitled Mizwada is also being spearheaded by Alwaleed Philanthropies’ Secretary-General, Her Royal Highness Princess Lamia bint Majed Al Saud.

While being known for her role as a philanthropist in society, Princess Lamia has previously shared her desire to change the world, and the newly launched brand, Mizwada aims to work with female artisans in order to promote the concept of locally resources materials, which reflect the Kingdom’s heritage.

From creating purposeful goods to handcrafted lifestyle pieces, Mizwada stands as an ode to revive Saudi Arabia’s ancestral past by using products such as leather goods, woodwork, and ceramics, to reflect the main cultural symbolism.

Discussing the launch of Mizwada, Princess Lamia explained that there were key challenges that need to be addressed.

“Two key challenges are clear among this sector, unemployment, and the lack of adequate skills training,” she said. “We must work together to overcome these through programs that place women and girls at the heart of their initiatives.

“Our artisans produce products of a high quality and standard, with each product going through a lengthy process of quality control, resulting in products with the best quality and perfect finishing. They are modern objects, but do, however, translate our history and heritage.”

The brand was born with the purpose to preserve its traditional heritage, making it the perfect partnership between Alwaleed Philanthropies and Teeb, as they are a pioneer in supporting women in the region by providing them with economic opportunities by reaching more than 1 billion beneficiaries globally.

By collaborating with the local app in Saudi Arabia – PIK, the products can be purchased and delivered to customers in Riyadh city along with the Teeb online platform.

This article was first published in Emirates Woman

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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

This article was first published in Arab News

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