Sri Lanka’s MERS alert on KSA-bound flights

Updated 23 October 2013
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Sri Lanka’s MERS alert on KSA-bound flights

The Sri Lankan government is warning passengers heading to Saudi Arabia to take precautions against the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which has infected 119 people and caused 51 deaths in the Kingdom.
An official from the Colombo Ministry of Health told Arab News at Katunayake International Airport recently that the advisory was for all Middle East passengers.
The officer distributed brochures on the virus in Sinhalese, Tamil and English languages to all outbound and inbound Middle East passengers.
“We are discouraging people who have chronic problems such as diabetes, kidney, lung and cardiac diseases, from going to the Kingdom. These diseases will increase the risk of becoming victims of the virus,” he said.
“We are also telling outbound passengers to maintain personal hygiene such as washing their hands before food consumption, eating well-cooked food, washing raw vegetables and fruit before consumption, covering their noses while sneezing and avoiding unnecessary contact with farm, domestic and wild animals.”
He said incoming passengers are warned to watch for symptoms of the virus such as high fever, coughing, runny nose, shortness of breath and diarrhea.
A recent study on MERS-CoV conducted by the Ministry of Health showed that it is more complex than previously thought. The study suggested the virus could have come from humans or animals.
The study was conducted in collaboration with the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, the University of Edinburgh, and the University College London (UCL).
Researchers studied the genetic sequences of some samples of the virus taken from 21 patients in different parts of the Kingdom. Researchers linked the geographical location of patients and time of injury with the amount of genetic differences that were observed between the genomes of the virus. This gave a clearer image of how the genome of the virus changes and spreads over time.
The genome sequencing identified several infection chains of MERS-CoV in humans.


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
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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.