Saudi-funded SR100m epilepsy hospital opens in Colombo today

The 10-story hospital in Colombo is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities.
Updated 24 October 2017
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Saudi-funded SR100m epilepsy hospital opens in Colombo today

RIYADH: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena will open a 242-bed epilepsy hospital, which is fully funded by the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD), in Colombo on Tuesday.
The SR100 million ($26.7 million), 10-story hospital consists of a surgical theater, an intensive care unit, a high-dependency unit, 242-bed male and female wards, and an auditorium for capacity building for the country’s medical staff.
The SFD recently financed an additional SR48 million to buy all necessary equipment including a CT scanner, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) equipment, physical therapy devices and medical furniture.
A four-member SFD delegation has left for Colombo to take part in the event, which will also be attended by Health Minister Dr. Rajitha Senaratne.
The Saudi team comprises Fawzi Al-Saud, director general of operations; Abdulla Al-Shedokhi, adviser; Bandar Al-Otaibi, engineer from the technical department; and Meshal Al-Najashi, loan researcher at the legal department.
Sri Lankan Ambassador Azmi Thassim told Arab News that SFD's support helped fulfill a long-standing need of the island nation.
He recalled that the fund has been supporting Sri Lankan projects for more than three decades.
“We were able to complete major projects such as the Kinniya bridge with its assistance,” he added.


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.