Distribution of Zamzam water: A success story

Muslim pilgrims drink Zamzam water at the Grand Mosque in Makkah. (SPA file photo)
Updated 16 August 2017
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Distribution of Zamzam water: A success story

MAKKAH: Distributing Zamzam water to 2 million pilgrims in Makkah is not an easy task.
It is carried out by institutions established to provide water to pilgrims at their hotels every day.
Abdul Jaleel Zamzami, head of the United Zamzam Office, told Arab News that it will distribute 3 million bottles, or 14 million liters of water, to pilgrims during their stay in Makkah.
“We have a fleet of vehicles to deliver Zamzam water to pilgrims’ hotels throughout 10 service centers, two of which have been dedicated to greeting pilgrims at Makkah’s entrances from the Jeddah and Madinah sides,” he said.
The government provides financial and technical assistance to enable the United Zamzam Office to provide water to each pilgrim, said historical writer Saad Al-Shreef.
Last month, the King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Project for Zamzam Water supplied the Grand Mosque with 21,229 cubic meters of water, and the Prophet’s Mosque with 11,229 cubic meters.
More than 169,870 beneficiaries were served at the main distribution center in Kaddi with 1.35 million bottles of Zamzam water.

Courses held to ensure food safety among Arab pilgrims
The Institute of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for Hajj and Umrah Research in Umm Al-Qura University organized a series of training programs to ensure food safety among the 360,000 pilgrims from Arab countries.
The courses were held in cooperation with the General Directorate of Environmental Health and Health Affairs, and the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA). They included programs for safe food, protection of food from pollution, rules of food safety and hygiene in food establishments.
Bassam Mishat, a representative of the institute, said the courses reflect the concept of social responsibility during the Hajj and Umrah seasons, directed at those who supervise food safety in pilgrims’ camps.
Mohammed Khugair, director of the health supervision department at the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, said the initiative coincided with campaigns to reduce food contaminants.
The courses aimed to provide participants with scientific and practical experiences, and familiarize them with laws relating to food and inspection of kitchens, he added.
Mutawaf Abbas bin Abdul Ghani Qattan, chairman of the board of directors of the National Establishment for Pilgrims of Arab Countries, said cooperation between his organization and relevant government sectors is vital to consolidate the principles of food safety systems.
— With input from Rodolfo C. Estimo Jr.


How Saudi women are getting ahead of men as STEM graduates

Dr. Fatima Alakeel, cybersecurity expert. (AN photo)
Updated 20 March 2019
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How Saudi women are getting ahead of men as STEM graduates

  • ‘Securing a job after the degree remains the challenge,’ says Dr. Fatema Alakeel of King Saud University in Riyadh
  • ‘Saudi women are ambitious,’ says one graduate. ‘We are acquiring high degrees and seeking successful careers’

DUBAI: More and more girls in Saudi Arabia are opting for an education in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), and now the challenge is finding them employment, said Dr. Fatima Alakeel, a cybersecurity expert and faculty member at King Saud University (KSU) in Riyadh.
“In the Kingdom, STEM-related jobs are limited at the moment, as the economy is primarily oil-based and there are few technical jobs available,” said Alakeel, who is also the founder and CEO of the non-profit Confidentiality, Integrity & Availability Group (CIAG), which focuses on information security training and research in Riyadh.
According to a government report on the labor market situation in the third quarter of 2018, more than 30 percent of Saudi women aged between 15 and 65 are unemployed.
Among them, the highest rate of unemployment is among 20-24-year-olds (more than 70 percent) and among 25-29-year-olds (55 percent).
According to the report, there are 923,504 Saudi jobseekers, of whom 765,378 are women (82.2 percent).
“We have more girls in STEM education compared to Western countries,” said Alakeel, who completed her doctoral degree in computer science in the UK at the University of Southampton in 2017.
According to a report prepared by the Saudi Education Ministry, girls accounted for 57 percent of undergraduates for the year 2015-2016 in the Kingdom.
That same year, women outnumbered men in graduating with a bachelor’s in biology, information technology (IT), mathematics and statistics, and physics.
According to a survey Alakeel recently conducted on social media, “almost 80 percent of (Saudi) girls were keen to study STEM, but securing a job after the degree remains the challenge,” she said.
Maha Al-Taleb, 22, graduated earlier this year with a degree in technology from KSU, specializing in IT networks and security.
“It’s common for girls in the Kingdom to opt for STEM education,” said Al-Taleb, who now works in a public sector company in Riyadh as a junior information security analyst.
“Saudi women are ambitious. We’re acquiring high degrees and seeking successful careers. I don’t know why the world assumes that Saudi women are a backward tribal species who have no say in these matters. This entire perception is flawed.”
Al-Taleb got a job offer immediately after university, but realizes that not all her peers are as fortunate. Women “are facing problems in securing jobs, not because companies don’t want to hire us, but because employment for Saudi youths is a major challenge,” she said.
“In today’s Saudi Arabia, parents are encouraging their daughters to get a degree not just in the Kingdom; they also want them to go to Western universities. It has become a common phenomenon. Things have changed. Women are a crucial part of the nation’s development process.”
Not all women graduating in the Kingdom are as lucky, among them Razan Al-Qahtani. “It has been several months since I graduated, yet I haven’t been able to find a job. It has been a struggle so far,” said the 25-year-old IT graduate. “We have more talented and qualified girls, especially in the field of technology, but there are few jobs available. It’s a difficult situation, but we’re hopeful things will change very soon.”
Al-Qahtani expressed confidence that the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan will bring opportunities for qualified Saudis.
As part of Vision 2030, the government has committed to raise employment among Saudi women.
Alakeel said the government is working hard to find a solution, and it is only a matter of time until more such jobs are on offer.
“As per Vision 2030, there will be more jobs, including technical jobs, available in the country. Once we have more jobs, women will eventually get their due share,” she added. According to Alakeel, female empowerment and promotion to leading roles have made huge progress in Saudi Arabia, and this may affect existing STEM job opportunities.
“We’re glad to see Her Royal Highness Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud becoming the first female ambassador of the country. It only suggests change is on the way,” Alakeel said.
Al-Taleb expressed pride in the way her parents have supported her, saying: “My father isn’t educated and my mother has basic literacy, but both provided me with the education I desired. They want their daughters to be as successful as their sons.”
Like women in any country, the transition from university to the workplace is not always easy, even for young Saudi women with technology degrees. Yet they are not losing hope.
“We realize these are difficult times in terms of employment, especially in technology-related fields, but things will change,” Al-Taleb said. “Saudi women will soon be ruling the fields of STEM all over the country.”