Prince Sultan bin Salman praises philanthropy for the disabled

Prince Sultan bin Salman
Updated 21 February 2017
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Prince Sultan bin Salman praises philanthropy for the disabled

RIYADH: Prince Sultan bin Salman, co-founder and chairman of the board of trustees of the King Salman Center for Disability Research (KSCDR), said the center enjoys the patronage of a large clientele that is ready to assist a worthy cause.
He praised “the interest of philanthropists and members of the private sector to serve deserving people.”
He said the center’s founders include individuals, charitable associations, companies, government institutions, ministries and banks.
Membership also includes parties from outside the Kingdom, such as Abraaj Capital, Dubai, and HAMG Group.
Prince Sultan said the institution was the outcome of the philanthropic mind of King Salman, who wanted to serve Islam by helping the disabled by offering rehabilitation programs and the necessary education and skills for them to continue their lives like others do.
The prince said the idea to establish KSCDR came from the urgent need to confront, reduce and avoid the incidence of disability, as well as treat it and provide superior support services for the disabled to easily integrate them into society.
“Arab and Islamic countries suffer from a severe shortage in the field of scientific research into disability, which motivated us to establish this center,” said Prince Sultan.
“We at the King Salman Center look forward to establishing the best scientific applications… and achieving positive development for persons with disabilities and their families.”
He said King Salman’s interest in helping the disabled comes not only from his magnanimity, but also from his vision of the importance of investing in the development of all sectors of society, and providing equal facilities and services for all citizens.
The prince added that scientific research is the true criteria for the progress of nations, an urgent necessity and an important element for a decent life.
“The contemporary world is witnessing astonishing progress in all fields of scientific and technological developments,” he said. “Scientific research is the main ingredient in civilized society.”
The center’s achievements include introducing a care system and early screening program for new-borns, which the prince said has helped around 930 children.
In cooperation with King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, and others, KSCDR has organized programs to rehabilitate disabled people so they can enter the labor market.
The prince said there is also an economic integration program for the disabled in collaboration with the Islamic Development Bank, the Saudi Bank for Credit and Savings, the Health Ministry, King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, King Saud University, Harvard University, and the scholarship program of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques in collaboration with the Education Ministry.
On King Salman’s initiative, an endowment project has been set up that includes a five-star hotel and apartments on an area covering 7,264 square meters in the Diplomatic Quarter in Riyadh. It will include a number of restaurants, a swimming pool and a health club.


Shoura Council: We are the ears of Saudi society

Updated 19 November 2018
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Shoura Council: We are the ears of Saudi society

  • The Shoura Council that the King is addressing today has a vital role to play in government
  • Female Shoura Council members have played a major role in raising their voices over many issues concerning social development in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: When King Salman gives his annual speech that will open the third year of the Shoura Council’s seventh session today, it will set the tone for what lies ahead for the Kingdom, laying the groundwork for the consultative assembly to help to move the country forward.
“The King’s speech in the Shoura Council lays the road map to achieving Vision 2030,” said Lina Almaeena, one of its 30 female members. Women make up of 20 percent of the council, the same percentage of women who now hold seats in the US Congress.
While only midway through its seventh session, the roots of the Shoura Council date back to before Saudi Arabia’s founding. After entering the city of Makkah in 1924, King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud entrusted the council with drafting the basic laws for the administration of what was to become the future unified Kingdom.
In 1928, amendments were made as public interest grew. A new law consisting of 24 articles, which included the permanent appointment of a vice-president by the King, was issued to facilitate the council’s work.
In 1953, the council’s jurisdictions were distributed between the Council of Ministers and other government entities, reducing the Shoura Council’s power, although it continued to hold sessions until its mandate was once again broadened this century.
Its current format consists of a Speaker and 150 council members, among them scholars, educators, specialists and prominent members of society with expertise in their respective fields, chosen by the King and serving a four-year term.
The council convenes its sessions in the capital of Riyadh, as well as in other locations in the Kingdom as the King deems appropriate. Known as Majlis Al-Shoura inside the Kingdom, its basic function is to draft and issue laws approved by the King, as the cabinet cannot pass or enforce laws, a power reserved for the King to this day.
The Shoura can be defined as an exchange of opinions, and so another of its functions is to express views on matters of public interest and investigate these issues with people of authority and expertise, hence the 14 specialized committees that cover several aspects of social and governmental entities. From education, to foreign affairs, members assigned to committees review proposed draft laws prior to submitting them to the King, as they are able to exercise power within its jurisdiction and seek expertise from non-Majlis members. All requested documents and data in possession of government ministries and agencies must go through a request process from the Speaker to facilitate the Shoura Council committees’ work.
Female members are a fairly recent phenomenon. In September 2011, the late King Abdullah stated that women would become members of the council. In 2013, two royal decrees reconstituted the council, mandating that women should always hold at least a fifth of its 150 seats and appointed the first group of 30 female Shoura members.
Five years on, female Shoura Council members have played a major role in raising their voices over many issues concerning social development in Saudi Arabia. “It’s a golden age for Saudis and, as women, we’ve come a long way,” said Almaeena. “We’re living an era of historical change, and we’re making up for lost time.”
As part of their roles, members of the council have the right to discuss general plans for economic and social development, particularly now with the Vision 2030 blueprint. Annual reports forwarded by ministries and governmental institutes, international treaties and concessions are also within the council members’ remit, to discuss and make suggestions that are deemed appropriate.
“Many positive changes have taken place in the past few years, and the Shoura Council’s role has always put social developments first and foremost,” said Dr. Sami Zaidan, a council member of two terms. “The appointment of women diversified and expanded the discussions and has added value.”
Major achievements were chalked up in this term’s second year. Many of the draft proposals discussed received approval votes. On Nov. 8, a proposal with 39 articles to protect informants from attacks, threats and material harm was approved by the majority of the council. The draft law, suggested by the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Economy and Planning, would provide whistle-blowers with protection.
In May, the Shoura Council also approved legislation criminalizing sexual harassment in the Kingdom. The Cabinet, chaired by King Salman, backed the legislation, which required a royal decree to become law. Under it, perpetrators may face a jail sentence of up to five years and a SR 300,000 fine.
Draft regulations must go through a two-step process. The first, a chairman of a committee reads a draft of a proposal on the floor, and council members vote on referring the proposal to the designated committee. If members agree to the referral, each article is discussed thoroughly, studies are conducted on the aspects of the proposal, and after completing all the necessary checks, it reaches the second stage. The council then discusses the committee’s recommendations and a vote is set for each article proposed in an earlier session by the committee’s chairman.
Other proposals on the discussion table for this session include one that recognizes the importance of voluntary work in the community, in compliance with Vision 2030, which talks about one million volunteers in the Kingdom by 2030. The council has also asked the General Sports Authority to speed up the development of sports cities and to diversify its functions in different parts of the Kingdom to help the organizational level of women’s sports become an independent agency affiliated to the GSA chairman.
The council has also discussed a recommendation for women to hold leadership positions in Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic missions abroad, from a report by the council’s Foreign Affairs Committee. With approximately 130 women working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the report recommended the necessity of an appointment as an affirmation that Saudi women are able to take over leadership positions as ministers, ambassadors and Saudi representatives in international forums.
Almaeena pointed out that Shoura Council members are the ears of society, playing an important role in relaying the public’s message to the designated committees. “The Shoura Council’s doors are always open, although not many know this,” she said. “The public is always welcome and can attend sessions, scheduling ahead of time. The doors to the council have always been and will always be open to all.”