KSA, Sri Lanka to sign labor pact today

Updated 13 January 2014
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KSA, Sri Lanka to sign labor pact today

Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka will sign a landmark labor pact on Monday in a renewed bid to regulate hiring of domestic workers from the island nation and to ensure protection to all domestic help already employed in the Kingdom.
The labor agreement will be signed by Dr. Ahmed F. Al-Fahaid, deputy labor minister for international affairs on behalf of the Kingdom and the Sri Lankan Minister of Foreign Employment, Promotion and Welfare Dilan Perera.
Giving details of the pact, Al-Fahaid, told Arab News: “The agreement will have the same provisions including protection mechanism for domestic help like the one we signed with India earlier this month.”
He said the labor agreement for domestic workers recruitment was a joint effort by Riyadh and Colombo to create a unified and well-regulated system for recruitment with emphasis on monitoring the working conditions of workers. “The pact will cover 12 categories of domestic workers including housemaids, drivers, cleaners, and waiters employed by individuals,” Al-Fahaid explained.
Sri Lankan Ambassador V. Krishnamoorthy welcomed the joint initiative stating that it ensures rights and safety to domestic workers who travel to Saudi Arabia for jobs. “In fact, the new agreement will ensure that all job contracts entered into by domestic maids or workers traveling to the Kingdom are with the consent of the three parties concerned,” he said.
“All parties including the sponsor, the agent and the recruitment agency will have to be aware of the details of the contract,” a report explaining the clauses of the new pact said. Sri Lanka has been lobbying for the rights of the domestic worker since 2012, and the agreement would go a long way in preventing cases of abuse and in ensuring fair and humane treatment to domestic workers.
The pact also offers a protection mechanism, including insurance for domestic workers. At present, around 350,000 Sri Lankan workers are in the Kingdom, with domestic workers accounting for 80 percent of the workforce. Colombo is providing training courses for domestic workers prior to their departure to Saudi Arabia. Sri Lankan workers receive language training, hospitality training, lessons on how to run washing machines and home appliances, cooking lessons, and training on how to care for the elderly and children.
Saudi Arabia has plans to sign similar agreements with several other countries in the near future. Riyadh has already endorsed labor pacts with the Philippines and India, which greatly help to safeguard the interests of workers as well as employers. Major labor-exporting countries, such as Indonesia, Nepal, Vietnam and Cambodia, are working closely with Saudi Arabia to sign similar labor agreements in the near future.


Height of adventure: Treading the ‘Edge of the World’ near Riyadh

Updated 19 April 2018
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Height of adventure: Treading the ‘Edge of the World’ near Riyadh

  • Cliffs in Tuwaiq were formed as a result of the movement of the Arabian plate toward the northeast because of the spread of the Red Sea rift
  • Several prominent Saudi tour companies offer daylong excursions to the site

Thrill seekers and fitness gurus all over the Kingdom will be pleased to know that their choices for weekend activities have increased. 

Several tour operators in Riyadh have started offering trips to the area known as the Edge of the World, making the location more accessible than ever.

With the country’s obesity rates on the rise and many citizens growing more concerned about their physical health and stress levels, people are seeking ways to maintain their fitness without having to restrict themselves to the monotony of a gym routine.

One such solution that has steadily increased in popularity over the past year is hiking, which many have embraced as being much more exciting and fulfilling than spending hours on the treadmill. And most popular of all for hiking and other fitness activities in a natural setting is the magnificent landmark of Jabal Fihrayn, more commonly known as the Edge of the World.

Described as a “window framed by rock,” the Edge of the World offers stunning views of the valley below, a lush grove of acacia trees teeming with wildlife and vegetation. The spot is well-known for being a favorite of visiting picnickers.

Hikers can choose from several trails of varying levels of difficulty, making their way to the top of the Tuwaiq escarpment to take in the magnificent views at the top of the trail, where the colossal cliff faces drop off to reveal the dizzying height from the valley below. In addition to the rich wildlife unique to the location, you can also find samples of fossilized coral and raw mineral deposits in certain areas of the valley.

The cliffs in the areas were formed as a result of the tectonic movement of the Arabian plate toward the northeast because of the spread of the Red Sea rift situated 1,000 km to the west of Tuwaiq.

Due to the increasing popularity of the site, the authorities have built a hardtop that leads to the gates of the sites and arrangements are in place to protect the area and its natural treasures. 

Several prominent Saudi tour companies offer daylong excursions to the site. The more intrepid explorer also has the option to go alone; though past visitors recommend that solo travelers take an all-terrain, 4x4 vehicle and extra precaution. Visitors can spend the day at the site and leave before 6 p.m. (when the gates are closed for the night) or stay behind for a night of camping to enjoy the sunset and the breathtaking celestial views of a star-studded night sky.

Nora Alfard, amateur hiking enthusiast and two-time visitor to the location, was quick to offer praise about her trip. 

“The trip out there was a bit tiring, but totally worth it,” she said. “The views are stunning, and the hiking itself is not that difficult. Most people should be able to make it to the top without too much trouble.” She said she was likely to go a third time, and encouraged others to do the same.

The Edge of the World is roughly 100km northwest of Riyadh, about 1.5 hours’ drive from the capital. Visitors should be prepared for at least 30 minutes of hiking, possibly more depending on your trail and your level of fitness and experience. Previous visitors recommend bringing water and snacks, and stress the importance of dressing appropriately — hiking shoes only!

Decoder

What is hiking?

Hiking means a long, vigorous walk, usually on trails in the countryside. Day hikers generally carry at least food, a map or a GPS navigation device.