Proposal for women sports colleges to Shoura falls 3 votes short

A girl shoots baskets during team practice at a private sports club in Jeddah in this file photo. (AP)
Updated 26 April 2017
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Proposal for women sports colleges to Shoura falls 3 votes short

JEDDAH: Only three votes stood in the way of passing a proposal Tuesday at the Shoura Council to establish sports education colleges for women. The proposal won the support of 73 members, but was opposed by 57. The minimum vote count to pass the proposal was 76.
The rejection was a disappointment for those who were in favor of taking practical steps to promote sports among women in Saudi Arabia. But Shoura member Lina Almaeena, said: “It’s the majority of votes (that were in favor).”
Almaeena was not deterred.
“The fact that we’re discussing women sports colleges is a great evolution,” Almaeena, who is also a sports advocate and cofounder and CEO of Jeddah United Sports Co., told Arab News.
The proposal called for a joint venture between the Education Ministry and the General Authority of Sports. The goal is to educate Saudi women on fitness and sports-related sciences and to be able to hold positions at health and fitness clubs that are to be established in the following months.
Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan, vice president of women’s affairs at the General Authority of Sports, said in March at a meeting with owners of woman health clubs at the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce that more licenses would be granted for women’s gyms. The goal is to have a gym in every district and neighborhood in coordination with the labor, rural affairs and commerce ministries, local media reported.
Almaeena told Arab News the Kingdom needs female Saudi sports professionals to be able to participate in the burgeoning women’s sports industry.
The idea is to recruit more Saudi women in specialties that are usually filled by non-Saudi professionals, like women’s sports.
“It’s good to have Saudis that are aware of the religious and social identity (of the country) and are easier to communicate with,” she said. “I’m not against international expertise, but at the same time we need to have national workforce.”
Health and rehabilitation centers are struggling to find qualified Saudi sports professionals to train people and those with special needs. “There is a need (for Saudi woman sports specialists),” she added.
Gen. Ali Al-Tamini, a Shoura member supporting the proposal, said the government is supporting the idea of sports for women. Several fitness centers have already transformed part of their buildings into a women’s section that abides by the Shariah, he said.
The proposed introduction of sports sciences would include several areas — sports therapy, sports psychology, sports management, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and sports journalism.
Opponents of the proposal justified their votes by saying male sports colleges have not proven to be feasible and have not achieved their goals after years of their establishment. “So how will woman sports colleges achieve their goals?” Shoura member Adnan Al-Bar was quoted in local media as saying. “We have to agree that the proposal as an idea is correct.”
With Vision 2030 and the appointment of Princess Reema in August 2016, Almaeena said: “It’s really a matter of time” before women sports are better promoted in the Kingdom.
“I believe that the private Saudi universities will definitely take the lead. I’m sure that could be the start,” she added.
The sports sector could create 250,000 jobs for women, said Princess Reema during her speech at the MiSK Global Forum in Riyadh last November. Boosting women’s participation in the Saudi workforce from 22 percent to 30 percent by 2030 is a main goal in Saudi Vision 2030.
In an unprecedented move, six Saudi female athletes competed in the two previous Summer Olympic Games: Two in London 2012 and four in Rio 2016.


Saudi Arabia’s first ’smart’ pharmacy inaugurated

Updated 1 min 34 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s first ’smart’ pharmacy inaugurated

TABUK: Prince Fahd bin Sultan, governor of Tabuk region, inaugurated the Kingdom’s first smart pharmacy — operated by a robot — at King Fahd Specialist Hospital on Thursday, following his meeting with the province’s director general of health affairs, Ghurmallah bin Abdullah Al-Ghamdi.
It is hoped that the smart pharmacy — which can dispense 1,500 packages of medicine per hour, store over 20,000 packages of medicine, reject expired drugs, and deal with 240 prescriptions per hour — will save the time of patients and pharmacists, ensure better control of drug stocks, provide the highest safety standards, and reduce medication errors.
The pharmacy has six outlets, one of which is dedicated to serving disabled people.
Prince Fahd congratulated Tabuk Health Affairs on this achievement, which he said would contribute to better health care services.
He stressed that serving citizens was the main objective and praised the role of young men and women in meeting the requirements of the future.
He also thanked King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their support for the health care sector in Saudi Arabia.
Al-Ghamdi thanked Prince Fahd for his support for the health care sector in the province.