MAKKAH: The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques has appointed around 1,500 females in its different departments to serve female visitors to the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
A total of 600 women have been recruited in the Technical and Service Affairs Agency. The rest of the female staff will be deployed in other departments of the presidency such as electric vehicles, Zamzam watering unit, guidance and intellectual affairs, administrative affairs, public relations, media and communication and the General Department of Internal Auditing.
Dr. Al-Anoud bint Khaled Al-Aboud, deputy president for women’s development affairs, said the step is part of the presidency’s transformational initiatives 2024. It aims to raise the level of services provided in the Two Holy Mosques, she said.
Al-Aboud also said it also part of the Saudi leadership’s plans to empower women and ensure best possible services to female pilgrims and visitors to the Grand Mosque in line with Saudi Vision 2030.
The presidency is continuously taking measures to serve pilgrims and visitors in the best possible manner.
Maha Al-Wabel is the newly appointed general supervisor of the Municipal Innovation Center in the Eastern Province municipality.
She is a member of several prominent organizations, including the board of the Deanship of Community Service and Sustainable Development at Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University, the Al-Wud Charity, the Saudi Management Association, the International Public Relations Association (Gulf branch), the Dammam Cultural Center, and the International Women’s Contact in The Hague.
Al-Wabel is also a certified trainer in administrative development, an ambassador for social responsibility and an official of public relations and media.
She is known for her work as a prolific opinion writer for Al-Riyadh newspaper, as well as the author of multiple published books in both English and Arabic. She also has bylines in Saudi newspapers Al-Youm and Al-Watan.
She also founded the national, nonprofit initiative “Nisaa Al-Watan,” the first initiative to document the names, achievements and histories of Saudi women since 1999. The initiative also published a book in 2008.
Al-Wabel is committed to giving back to the community. In 2017, she established the “Shahrazad Al-Dhahran” book club, and from 2014-2015, she conducted a program to teach Arabic to expatriate students in The Netherlands.
She has also held several workshops for students and parents on how to write children’s books and offers free courses and workshops in business.
Al-Wabel holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from King Saud University and a master’s degree in public relations and mass media from Ahlia University in Manama, Bahrain.
Muneera Al-Touq has been on the Board of Directors of the Alnahda Society since 2014. As a board member, she sits on the Nomination and Remuneration Committee and heads the Initiative and Incubation Committee.
Prior to her serving on the board before 2011 she was a member of Alnahda Society. As an expert in community services, statistics, and epidemiology, she examined the foundation’s training programs, judged their efficiency, and considered how they could be improved. She has also participated in several of Alnahda’s educational and awareness programs.
She has been active internationally and represented Alnahda in Geneva in 2018 at the Civil Society Plenary Session to discuss the Fourth Saudi Report on the Convention on the Elimination of all Types of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
In 2016, Al-Touq was a member of the Alnahda team which attended the discussion on the Saudi Report on the Convention on the Rights of Children (UNCRC) in Geneva.
Previously she worked as a therapeutic nutritionist at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center. She is also a founder member of the Zahrah Breast Cancer Society.
“I’ve lived in Riyadh my whole life. As a child, I heard about Alnahda and I used to come and join fundraising events for different programs,” Al-Touq told Arab News.
“I saw the people who ran it and the people who founded it. It was always something different and pioneering. They were always ahead of their time. The quality of their programs and the quality of their work is truly of a high standard.”
Dr. Sara Al-Otaibi is the director general of the female branch of the Institute of Public Administration in the Makkah region.
Recently, Al-Otaibi won the Women Leader of the Year Award 2020 at the Gulf Cooperation Council level. It was announced during the GOV HR Summit held in Dubai.
She attributed her success to the “unlimited support” of the Saudi leadership.
Al-Otaibi received a bachelor’s degree in computer science from King Abdul Aziz University (KAU) in 2007. She also received a master’s degree in web technology from the University of Southampton in the UK in 2010. Four years later, she was awarded her Ph.D. in computer science from the same institution.
Her career with KAU began as a trained assistant to teach computer skills courses to freshmen in 2006. She then became a web developer in the e-learning and distance education deanship.
Al-Otaibi lectured at Taif University’s faculty of computer and information technology from 2011 until 2014. From then until 2018, she was a visiting researcher for the web and internet lab at the College of Computers and Electronics at the University of Southampton while simultaneously serving as an assistant professor at Taif University.
In 2015, she was appointed vice dean of e-learning and distance learning at Taif University until 2017. For the following year, she was promoted to dean of university studies.
In 2018, she served as the dean of library affairs for students and an associate professor in web technology at Taif University. Later that year she started teaching at the Institute of Public Administration as an associate professor.
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Al-Rammah is a commercial manager with GE Gas Power and said she had never felt inferior to her male coworkers despite being the only woman on the team. (Supplied)
JEDDAH: Nour Al-Rammah never expected to work for GE Power because she lacked an engineering degree.
But the Al-Yamamah University graduate managed to overcome this hurdle through perseverance and resourcefulness, as well as writing a 400-page manual for others like her who wanted to work for one of the world’s biggest companies but did not have the technical background.
“I never saw myself reaching there,” she told Arab News, reflecting on her accomplishment of breaking into and succeeding in a competitive and male-dominated environment. “When I studied marketing at university, I expected to land in a marketing company, doing some public relations, marketing and advertising. But I ended up in an engineering company.”
She was born and raised in France until she completed her schooling, returning to Saudi Arabia after 17 years and settling in Riyadh. She attended Al-Yamamah University to study for a bachelor’s degree in business administration, majoring in marketing and finance.
Her path to GE Power, which has been ranked in the Fortune Global 500, was not easy. She wanted to join the company’s elite leadership program, which only selects one candidate in the Kingdom every year. She was rejected the first time she applied. “It’s very difficult to join, and one of the major prerequisites is an engineering background.”
Before that she had taken up a sales and commercial internship with GE Power without really knowing much about the company and what it was offering in the market at the time, although she was familiar with its logo. She had several opportunities that presented themselves to her, but it was the GE Power internship that caught her attention.
“Today in Saudi Arabia, we have more than 500 GE turbines that generate over 50 percent of the Kingdom’s electricity. I could not reject such an offer. I wanted to explore the opportunity and I do not regret my decision.”
When I studied marketing at university, I expected to land in a marketing company, doing some public relations, marketing and advertising. But I ended up in an engineering company.
Once the internship ended she could not envision herself working elsewhere, adding: “Because of the amazing experience I got, my objective was just (there’s) no way out. It’s either I take a full-time job in this company or whatever way I could to stay in the company, like extend the internship.”
To secure her position she wrote “Nour’s Book,” a manual for everything GE-related made simple for people without an engineering background.
“What inspired me to write Nour’s Book was to join the elite and most competitive commercial leader program, known as the CLP (Commercial Leadership Program) in GE. I felt so much empowerment to not let this (lack of engineering background) stop me, or be an impediment to me. Instead, I used this 400-page technical handbook to accelerate the technical learning curve, and I made it through the program thanks to the success of this book.”
The book discusses GE’s portfolio, products, gas turbines, commercial terms and conditions, customer requests, and acronyms across four chapters.
It is not available for purchase nor is it available to anyone except GE employees. Now, her book is often given to new employees upon entry as a manual.
Another reason she wrote the book was to transfer her knowledge to company newcomers, from trainees to employees.
“I wanted to leave a legacy, a footprint. What did Nour leave behind her to help all these new employees join the power business without having an engineering degree? If I did it, then everybody can do it.”
She also wanted to show GE Global how Saudi women had an opportunity to join the energy sector, achieving her goal through compiling articles, simplifying technical language, and attending internal courses. Whenever she came across something confusing, she would consult GE engineering experts around her or across the globe.
Al-Rammah is a commercial manager with GE Gas Power and said she had never felt inferior to her male coworkers despite being the only woman on the team.
“I feel the equality with my peers. Going to GE for me feels like going to my second home. Believe it or not, I spend more time at the office than I do with my family. I feel empowered by my male colleagues. When I ask for help, they always give me (more) than what I ask. If I need any explanations, they share documents or connect me to the right person. In meetings, my points are always taken into consideration. When I make mistakes, they correct me without leaving me intimidated or they call me after the meeting and correct me. They make sure that I always do better.”
She said that today’s Saudi Arabia was capable of empowering and inspiring women. “We do live in a country that gives golden opportunities to ambitious ladies.”
Dr. Fatima Al-Hamlan is chair of the global health working group of the Civil Society 20 (C20).
She is a scientist in the Infection and Immunity Department at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Riyadh, as well as an assistant professor at the College of Medicine at Alfaisal University in Riyadh.
Al-Hamlan joined the center as a post-doctorate fellow and global clinical scholar in June 2013, and remained in that position until March 2016. She became a research scientist and head of the Scientific Information Office in April that year.
Al-Hamlan’s focus is on conducting research into women’s health and promoting the health and well-being of Saudi females.
She was a founding member of the Riyadh-based Rofaida Women’s Health Organization in 2016 and is its vice president.
In 2007, Al-Hamlan received a master’s degree in population genetics from Washington State University. Five years later, she obtained a Ph.D. in microbiology, molecular biology and biochemistry from the University of Idaho. She also completed executive education courses at Harvard Business School and Harvard Medical School’s Leadership Program to further develop cross-functional skills, lead organizational change and inspire high-performing teams.
She has received awards for her scientific contributions in her field, including the Princess Nourah University’s Women Pioneers in Health Sciences Research Award in 2018.
Al-Hamlan is currently developing a network to advance women’s health, women in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medicine), and CSOs (Civil Society Organizations) within Saudi Arabia and globally.
Rania Biltagi is the head of communication and partnerships at the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra).
Biltagi has over two decades of experience in corporate communications and marketing. Over the span of Biltagi’s career with Saudi Aramco, she has held multiple positions from heading corporate brand management and advertising to initiating and leading the development of Aramco’s corporate brand strategy and brand refresh that was launched in 2015.
In her tenure at Ithra, Biltagi has overseen communications for several key initiatives that include the royal inauguration of Ithra in 2018, the 29th Arab League Summit, the Tanween Creativity Season, the Eastern Province Season (2019), the 5th Saudi Film Festival and the FIKR17 conference.
Prior to her work with Ithra, Biltagi spent 17 years working in Aramco’s public relations department. Her titles during that time included brand strategist, project manager, art director and brand manager.
In honor of this year’s Saudi National Day, Biltagi also asked Saudi youth to consider what being Saudi meant to them, and spoke about how Ithra’s multicultural outlook could help Saudi youth work out what their identities meant to them.
“Our mandate involves igniting cultural curiosity, exploring knowledge and inspiring creativity, and it’s a task we don’t take lightly. ‘Saudi at heart, multicultural by nature’ has been our motto from the start, and the manifestation of this ideal means we’re continually looking inward even as we look outwards,” she said.
Biltagi holds a BA in communications studies from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, and an MA in marketing communications from the University of Westminster.
MADINAH: Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman has stressed the important role of the Modon Oasis project in Yanbu in empowering women and supporting their development.
The project looks to help women integrate into the industrial sector, assist entrepreneurs in the job market and promote small and medium-sized enterprises.
Prince Faisal’s comments came during an inspection tour of the industrial oasis in Yanbu where 20 plants are under construction, each covering a total area of 450 square meters. The governor was accompanied by Khalid Al-Salem, director general of the Saudi Industrial Property Authority (Modon).
Prince Faisal reviewed details and phases of the oasis, which is being developed as a model industrial city adapted to boost women’s role in the workforce.
Light and eco-friendly businesses under development include jewelry, accessories, cosmetics, fashion, fabrics, electronics and medical equipment. They are part of Modon initiatives within the National Industrial Development and Logistics Program.
Al-Salem thanked Prince Faisal for his support of Modon and said that several service and development projects are being implemented, including a potable water network, doors and fences.
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.
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.