King Salman holds talks with Russian Parliament speaker

King Salman holds talks with Russian Parliament Speaker Valentina Matviyenko in Riyadh on Sunday. (SPA)
Updated 17 April 2017
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King Salman holds talks with Russian Parliament speaker

RIYADH: King Salman held talks on Sunday with Valentina Matviyenko, speaker of Russia’s Federation Council, on “relations between the two countries and the prospects of bilateral cooperation,” according to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
“Besides King Salman, Russian Parliament speaker Matviyenko met separately with Shoura Council chairman Sheikh Abdullah Al-Asheikh and Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir and discussed a range of issues of common concerns,” said a spokesman of the Shoura Council.
The audience with the king was attended by Al-Asheikh, Al-Jubeir, Cabinet members Musaed bin Mohammed Al-Aiban and Ibrahim Al-Assaf, Adel Al-Toraifi, minister of culture and information, and Sergei Kozlov, Russian ambassador to the Kingdom.
Matviyenko’s talks with Saudi officials also focused on joint cooperation in fighting terrorism, according to the Russian News Agency (TASS). The two sides reaffirmed the need to hold dialogue, which will go a long way in narrowing differences between the approaches of the two nations on key regional issues affecting the Middle East.
The talks also focused on Russian-Saudi relations and inter-parliamentary cooperation. The Russian delegation assured its Saudi counterpart on the importance of unifying efforts to fight terror, achieve regional stability and settle disputes. Speaking here on Sunday, Matviyenko touched on regional issues.
“Russia does not accept use of chemical weapons, but before accusations are presented, an independent investigation should be organized,” she said.
Matviyenko said that “Russia is categorically against chemical weapons’ use, but we believe before accusing anyone, whatever party, it is necessary to have a thorough investigation by a specialized organization on prohibition of chemical weapons with involvement of independent experts from different countries.
“We already have the experience, when under artificial reasons of existing chemical weapons the Western coalition invaded Iraq, and we know what came out of it,” she said.
Matviyenko also said: “We do not want unproved scenarios of the kind to repeat, and we do not want anyone to invent reasons for invading sovereign countries.
“At the same time, we know that certain terrorist organizations are making chemical weapons and use them from time to time in different countries,” she added.
Matviyenko, who is leading a 15-member Russian delegation, arrived here Saturday night. The delegation includes eight members of Russian parliament besides seven officials. She will wrap up her three-day visit on Monday after paying visits to some historical places including the national museum.


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.