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Saudi Press Roundup

Saudi sovereign wealth fund

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has announced Kingdom’s plan to create a $2 trillion sovereign wealth fund (SWF) for post-oil era.
Creating SWFs is an optimal method to protect the financial strength of a country in the face of crises that may hit its economy due to either global or internal conditions.
The latter conditions are related to the depreciation of the value of the main sources of a country income in the international markets, as is the case with the oil prices in these days. A number of countries, notably China, the second biggest global economy, and Norway, one of the oil-rich countries, took such measures.
The Kingdom’s plans to create such a fund reflects confidence and strength of our economy in light of discussions in the past six months on a crisis experienced by Saudi economy due to a sharp drop in oil prices.
However, Saudi economy began to stabilize and there is a sincere desire to open new doors for economic diversification, in a manner that will liberalize market and provide attractive investment environment capable of reducing unemployment rates and encourage young Saudis work in different areas.
Through enacting financial systems, increasing savings and diversifying income sources, the Kingdom could overcome some negative impact arising from drop in oil prices.

— By Aiman Al-Hammad


End of deception

After a long period of deception and support to the Syrian regime and Hezbollah, the Lebanese newspaper Assafir has stopped publication due to absence of financial support from its two key financiers: the Syrian regime and Hezbollah.
Its Editor-in-Chief Talal Sulaiman publicly announced this last week following his meeting with Hasan Nasrullah who did not show any desire to save the paper though it had been instrumental in making him a hero but only on paper.
Sulaiman met with Nasrullah carrying a copy of the newspaper containing a fake report on Saudi Arabia as a gift intended to show loyalty to Hezbollah but to no avail.
Sulaiman had been under the illusion that the alleged “resistance” (or Hezbollah) was indebted to the paper but this time the leader of the alleged “resistance” refused to bail him out, as did the president of the Syrian regime who refused to even meet him.
Lamenting the death of his paper, Sulaiman leveled accusations against those whom he called “thieves who worked hard to buy people of opinion and journalists...”
He marketed acts of evil to every regime he was working with but, eventually all collapsed; the Qaddafi and Syrian regimes while both Iran and Hezbollah were economically exhausted, a matter that forced him to announce the fall of his paper after being abandoned by his financiers.

— By Hasan Nasir Al-Dhahiri


People-friendly policies

Whenever I read an interview of the minister of water defending his new water tariffs, I find him repeating one statement: “Water was subsidized but people unreasonably consumed it.”
However, we would like to remind him that “water subsidies” is one of the pillars established by the founder of the Kingdom by digging wells at a time there was no oil or funds. His sons followed him.
Assuming that the raising of water tariff is a submission to decisions dictated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to correct a financial problem arising from the drop of oil prices, we wished our ministers would act like a dam (such as water dams) in not overburdening citizens and only allowing what is benefiting the state treasury and not destroying plants.
We call on all the ministers to “rationalize” their decisions as they are calling us to “rationalize” our spending in health, water and other areas.

— By Mohammed Marouf Al-Shaibani


Gradual Saudization

Despite the availability of huge numbers of qualified national cadres due to the expansion of education, training and scholarship programs, there is a continued drive to recruit foreign workers.
In my view, the problem here lies in the absence of a clear-cut strategy for a “gradual” replacement of foreign workers with Saudi nationals. The labor market is witnessing many variables and wages are experiencing remarkable changes at a time when our universities are producing large numbers of graduates irrespective of the market’s needs for years to come.
In such a situation, it is hard to get accurate data on jobs occupied by expatriate workers because most of them are working in jobs different from jobs mentioned in their visas on which they were recruited. The next stage is poised to witness a series of decisions on the limitation of more jobs and activities to Saudis but, however, with less pay.
It is very important to distinguish between “limitation” and “gradual replacement” of jobs and activities. There are so many local labor forces and in different specialties but the major obstacle of their employment lies in the presence of foreign workers in such specialties.
For example, there are big numbers of Saudi accountants, engineers, teachers and physicians in the list of unemployed despite the existence of foreign workers in the same professions for 10 of years.
There are certain business sectors where expatriate employees are given high salaries and commissions that allow them to transfer money to their respective countries.
The minister of labor has recently ordered the creation of a “guided localization” program, which is designed to determine future employment plans. We hope there will be a focus on “gradual replacement” at the beginning of the program before talking about “direct limitation” on jobs, which have been held by foreigners for long years.

— By Khalid bin Mohammed Al-Shinaibir


Social responsibility

Social responsibility as a comprehensive concept and in addition to its economic importance had been absent from our reality until recently.
In the early 1970s, the global companies started to realize that their workers were part of the community. In the Kingdom, social responsibility for companies and banks seems to be running on a voluntary basis meaning that there is no obligatory legal framework to regulate this behavior.
Additionally, social responsibility in the Kingdom is closely linked to the concept of sustainable development, which will bring competitive advantage and not just a secondary merit to a company if it adopts the concept, or social responsibility.
What invited me to write about this topic is the hesitation shown by some companies or banks in undertaking their social role despite their growing income.
To acknowledge their role, these banks and companies have to allocate at least a fraction of their revenues to the community but keeping it away from the concept of grant, donation and charity.
The contributions of banks and companies are supposed to come in the form of programs and activities on a continual basis conducive to benefit the community and promote the social mentality through belief in work, accomplishment and interaction.

— By Ruqiah Al-Huwairini


Quality education

The process of development is inevitably associated with the education process that includes four components: Teacher, student, curriculum and educational management.
Therefore, if there is a defect in one of these components, it will affect the efficiency and output of the overall education process and the development course as a whole.
If we track progress of the developed countries, we will find education as a base on which progress plans were built because education is the maker and composer of human minds and its potentials.
What invited us to talk about this are the alarming results announced by the general education assessment agency (GEAA) in which it said 66 percent of teachers have shown less enthusiasm after joining the profession, or an expression of frustration.
Based on the GEAA report, 75 percent of the teachers lacked supportive educational aids whereas 70 percent said they lacked appropriate places in schools that allow them work and plan for teaching.
This study has clearly shown that there is a deficiency in the whole education process and we, surprisingly, wait for high quality output to push forward the process of development in the country, which is a figment of imagination or false aspirations negated by the reality.
We should not wait for the final report of the study, as the initial results are shocking in terms of the level of students in math and science.

— By Abu Lujain Ibrahim Al Dahman