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, UAE to attend US-led Palestine investment meeting

Updated 23 May 2019
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Saudi Arabia, UAE to attend US-led Palestine investment meeting

  • The Palestine Liberation Organization and Islamist group Hamas have called for an Arab boycott of the meeting
  • Saudi Arabia has assured Arab allies that it will not endorse any US plan that fails to meet key Palestinian demands

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia and the UAE will participate in a conference next month in Bahrain aimed at encouraging investment in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as part of US President Donald Trump’s long–awaited Israel–Palestine peace plan. 

The Peace to Prosperity conference, to be hosted on June 25–26 in cooperation with the US, has already been rebuffed by Palestinian officials and business leaders, who want their political demands met by any proposed solution to the conflict.

The Palestine Liberation Organization and Islamist group Hamas have called for an Arab boycott of the meeting.

The Saudi minister of economy and planning, Mohammed bin Majid Al–Tuwaijri, will attend, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said Abu Dhabi would also send a delegation.

The Palestinian Authority has boycotted American peace efforts since late 2017, when Trump decided to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognized the latter as the capital of Israel, reversing decades of US policy.

The Trump administration has sought to enlist support from Arab governments.

But Saudi Arabia has assured Arab allies that it will not endorse any US plan that fails to meet key Palestinian demands, which include affirming East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, the right of return for refugees, and a freeze on Israeli settlement construction.