Time for family bonding

Updated 12 July 2013

Time for family bonding

The holy month of Ramadan has begun and residents of the Kingdom’s capital have drawn up plans on what to do during the holidays, including family bonding.
“Saudi nationals keenly await the advent of the holy month of Ramadan. It gives them and their families the chance to leave the capital for other parts of the Kingdom or the option to travel to favorite destinations overseas for quality family time,” said Abu Abdulaziz who works for a publishing firm.
But while Saudis visit other parts of the Kingdom or travel to destinations like Dubai or Malaysia, many expatriates have traditionally headed for the Eastern Province for a break.
They either drive alone with their families or in a convoy to make the three-to-four hours’ drive on wide and smooth concrete roads enjoyable.
“Going out of the Kingdom on Ramadan holidays makes you feel free — free from work and free from the confines of the city where residents are cooped up, so to speak, the whole year,” said a Sri Lankan working for a local bank.
He said the fact that there’s not much to see, if any, on both sides of the road except vast expanses of desert does not matter.
“In fact, we’ve been seeing the long stretches of undulating desert on both sides of the road as we go to the Eastern Province during Ramadan holidays. Every time we look at them, there seems to be something elusively new in them,” said Nour Nodi, a Bangladeshi working for a local firm.
Once they are in Alkhobar or Dammam, they rent a flat or stay with relatives or friends. Either they eat at restaurants or cook their own food, which includes fresh fish they have bought from the market or caught at sea.
To many of them, the sea is the reason for taking the trip. In fact, those who intend to stay only for a day just pitch a tent beside their car near the seashore. They love digging for shells at the water’s edge while the children splash around with abandon.
“For the kids, it is great fun to experience being close to the sea. It’s there, where the idea of learning how to swim starts. I’m sure it will be one of their childhood memories, which they’ll look back to when they grow up,” said Eric. P. Asi, a senior Filipino electrical engineer at a local company.
For a change, expats also go to Manama, Bahrain. Aside from enjoying the drive along the King Fahd Causeway, which links Alkhobar with Bahrain, they want to try Filipino dishes at different restaurants owned or managed by compatriots.
There are also restaurants in the Saudi capital for the Filipino community but they are fond of trying their native food if available in other countries they visit.
Others visit the malls or markets for souvenirs to buy.

“Those who have more time on their hand go to Dubai for a few days and see the famed Al Burj Tower,” an Indian working for a Saudi corporation said.

Saudi businesswomen eye greater role in the economy with end to driving ban

The end of the driving ban is expected to help bring an economic windfall for Saudi women. (Shutterstock)
Updated 23 June 2018

Saudi businesswomen eye greater role in the economy with end to driving ban

  • The historic move is a huge step forward for businesswomen in the Saudi Arabia, says businesswoman
  • A recent survey by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce indicated that transportation was a major concern holding Saudi women back from joining the labor market

The end of the driving ban will boost women’s financial power and allow them to play a bigger role in economic and social diversification in line with Vision 2030, prominent businesswomen said on Friday.

Hind Khalid Al-Zahid was the first Saudi woman designated as an executive director — for Dammam Airport Company — and also heads the Businesswomen Center at the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 

She sees the historic move as a huge step forward for businesswomen in the Kingdom.

“Women being allowed to drive is very important; of course this will help a lot in sustainable development as the lifting of the ban on women driving came as a wonderful opportunity to increase women’s participation in the workforce,” she told Arab News on Friday, ahead of the end of the ban on Sunday.

She added that women in the job market are under-represented; they make up to 22 percent of the national workforce of about six million according to official estimates. Lifting the ban will help to take women’s representation in the workforce to 30 percent by 2030, she said.

“This is not just the right thing to do for women’s emancipation, but also an essential step in economic and social development as part of the reforms,” she said.

She said that there were different obstacles in increasing women’s participation in the workforce and other productive activities, and the driving ban was one of them. It was a strategic issue that needed to be addressed on a priority basis. With the issue resolved, it would help immensely in giving Saudi women better representation as they would help to diversify the Saudi economy and society.

She said that women could contribute hugely to the workforce and labor market as half of Saudi human resources were female, and unless allowed to excel in different sectors it would not be possible to do better, mainly because of restricted mobility.

A recent survey by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce indicated that transportation was a major concern holding Saudi women back from joining the labor market.

Nouf Ibrahim, a businesswoman in Riyadh, said: “It will surely boost female economic participation and help increase women’s representation in the workforce immensely. It will also help to reduce the overall national unemployment rate as most of the unemployed are women and many of them are eligible as university graduates.”

She echoed the opinion that the move would help to bring an economic windfall for Saudi women, making it easier for them to work and do business, and thus play a bigger and better role that would help economic and social diversification in line with Saudi Vision 2030.

“Being able to drive from Sunday onwards after the ban is lifted will be a wonderful experience. Earlier we were dependent on a male family member and house driver to take us to workplace, to the shopping center, school or other required places for some work, now we can drive and that will allow active participation in productive work,” Sulafa Hakami, a Saudi woman working as the digital communication manager with an American MNC in Riyadh, told Arab News.

“Saudi women can now share effectively the bigger and better responsibilities,” she said.