Thousands to benefit from extension of retirement age

Updated 21 May 2014

Thousands to benefit from extension of retirement age

The Shoura Council’s recent decision to extend the retirement age of civilian employees from 60 to 62 is expected to benefit an estimated 850,000 workers on the verge of retirement.
When passed, the bill will increase the revenue of the country’s pension fund, enabling the fund to provide greater privileges to pensioners.
“The bill, which was prompted by factors such as the increase in life expectancy and receding senility thanks to the country’s excellent health care system, aims to achieve several pragmatic social and economic goals that will benefit society members and the productive and service sectors,” said Hussam Al-Anqari, a Shoura Council member and architect of the bill.
Fuad Al-Boqari, former chairman of the National Retirees Association, said the extension of the retirement age will enable the government to benefit from existing manpower for the development of the country.
He added that the country would also vastly benefit from the extensive experience and expertise of long-standing employees.
The move will also make pensioners eligible for a higher pension amount at the end of their services.
“The Public Pension Agency (PPA) will also see a spurt in its revenue after this extension,” he said.
Fouzia Akhdar, chairwoman of the female National Pensioners Society, stressed the need for considering the interests of women workers alongside their male counterparts.
“A female pensioner should be aware of her legal retirement rights, which should be clear and transparent,” she said.
“Her legal heir should have the right to benefit from her pension in the event of her death, even if the heir were getting his father’s pension.”
“Female pensioners should also have their own special identity cards specifying qualifications, past jobs, age, social status and specialization, preferably in Arabic,” she said.
Akhdar demanded setting up service offices for women pensioners to obtain their rights hassle-free.
The PPA received 31,000 applications for early retirement in 2012, registering a 16-percent increase compared with the previous year.
She said that most of the workers who took advantage of the early retirement provision were women, while 8,000 women workers retired at the normal age.
Lt. Gen. Abdul Aziz Al-Henaidi, chairman of the National Retirees Association, said women accounted for nine percent of the 850,000 pensioners included in the private sector until the end of last year.
The highest number of retired women was registered in the Makkah and Madinah provinces, followed by the Eastern Province.
Around 76,000 women workers had retired in the Kingdom last year, he said.


Final straw: How Saudi youth are winning the war on waste

Taha Boksmati, 26, an environmental specialist, has teamed up with the British International School to source plastic materials that can be reused by the school’s artists. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 27 min 28 sec ago

Final straw: How Saudi youth are winning the war on waste

  • Reusable items surge in popularity as eco groups turn plastic trash into treasure

JEDDAH: Today’s generation of young, environmentally conscious Saudis is turning to more sustainable alternatives in a bid to reduce plastic waste in their everyday lives. Items such as reusable straws, cups and grocery bags are becoming commonplace at coffee shops and supermarkets in the Kingdom.
According to UN Environment, manufacturers around the world produce more than 300 million tons of plastic waste every year.
Taha Boksmati, 26, an environmental specialist at the Saudi General Authority of Meteorology and Environmental Protection, is the founder of Jeddah’s Hejaz Ploggers group, which has teamed up with the British International School to source plastic materials that can be reused by the school’s artists.
After discovering the growing worldwide trend of plogging, an activity that combines jogging and picking up litter, Boksmati and his team started combing the coastline near Jeddah.
“We found an enormous amount of trash covering our beautiful beaches and endangering marine life,” he said.
“We realized instantly the amazing number of plastic straws, caps and bottles that are consumed and thrown away every day. The awareness of reducing and reusing waste is low in our community.
“We are simply used to the luxury of single-time use followed by immediate reckless disposal.”

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300 million Tons of plastic waste each year

The ploggers’ group partnered with the British International School and helped plog for plastic material to be reused by the school’s artists, and also upcycled collected plastic into artistic designs suitable for display and sale.
“In return, our members were given reusable items as a token of appreciation for their distinguished efforts. Reusable gifts included a stainless steel water bottle, a ceramic coffee cup, fabric shopping bags, bamboo utensil sets and a zero-waste home guide book.”
Boksmati said that members of the plogging group already choose reusable items, and now he is seeking to raise awareness of the issue outside his environmental community.
“I always share the benefits of reusable items as well as remind people of the consequences if we do not adopt these reusing and reducing practices,” he told Arab News.
“Few people realize that plastic waste blocks the natural ability of our oceans to absorb carbon dioxide, further worsening the global warming problem, not to mention the dangers of microplastics, which are now found in almost everything we use, such as clothing and water bottles, and even in the fish we eat,” he said.

FASTFACT

PepsiCo. has pledged by 2025 to package its Aquafina water in aluminum cans rather than plastic bottles.

Boksmati said that his team hoped to establish a junior plogging group, as well as strengthen its collaboration with international and local schools.
“We want to engage with students of all ages to teach them about recycling and upcycling. We also aim to encourage alternatives to drinking water from plastic bottles as well as encourage people to reduce meat intake due to its environmental impact on water resources.”
He added: “We hope to strengthen our brand auditing activity during our plogs, enabling our international partner, Breakfreefromplastic, to pressure local and international companies to make their products without plastic packaging and transition to other eco-friendly alternatives.”
The food giant PepsiCo, for example, has pledged by 2025 to package its Aquafina water in aluminum cans rather than in plastic bottles, he said.
Tala Al-Marbai, an 18-year-old foundation student at King Abdul Aziz University, said the Kingdom’s approach to plastic waste reduction has been improving since 2016.
“Then not so many cared about our environment. But it’s the community’s job to spread awareness about the health of the environment. A video went viral on social media showing a plastic straw that was found inside a sea turtle’s nostrils. Many animals have been harmed because of our negligence toward nature,” she told Arab News
Al-Marbai said this alternative is cost-efficient as well.
“I bought a stainless steel cup and straw from an online store called Boutiqaat, which cost SR164 ($44) with delivery. It’s a bit expensive, but if you buy an iced coffee, that will cost SR24, so after seven times you would be spending the same amount of money,” she said.
Al-Marbai said that she is the only environmentally conscious person among her group of friends, and she hopes to influence her circle.

 

“One person will influence another and the message will spread. Imagine one person having reusable items and, bit by bit, people surrounding them might do the same. Eventually, even companies, markets and shops will produce more environmentally friendly items and products.”
She added: “I hope people remember every time they throw any plastic around, how many creatures they are going to hurt or even kill. Globally, it is estimated that more than 100 million marine creatures are killed each year by plastic waste.”
Bateel Al-Saleem, 21, who is studying French at King Saud University and is a part-time barista, said that she turned to sustainable alternatives after watching videos of the harmful effects of plastic on marine life.
“I was scrolling through social media one day and I saw a video of a turtle with a plastic straw stuck in its nose. It made me feel so sad. I started googling the effects of plastic on the environment and what I could do to help,” she told Arab News
Al-Saleem now takes her reusable items wherever she goes.
“I keep a bag of my reusable utensils in my backpack and I bring a cup with me if I’m going to a coffee shop,” she said.
“Some cafes refuse to use my cup because it has another coffee shop logo and sometimes they refuse because it’s not the same size as their cups. We definitely need to spread awareness about reusable items.”
She added: “My closest friends are environmentally conscious as well, but with my other friends I usually use my stuff in front of them so it can spark up a conversation.”
Al-Saleem is also part of a volunteer EarthUniTeam which promotes environmental awareness in universities.

Decoder

Upcycle

Reusing discarded materials to create something valuable or of further use.