Saudi Archaeology Forum calls for involving scholarship students in archaeological work

Participants share ideas at the first Saudi Antiquities Forum in Riyadh on Wednesday. (Photo by Ahmed Fathi)
Updated 10 November 2017
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Saudi Archaeology Forum calls for involving scholarship students in archaeological work

RIYADH: Saudi scholarship students at the first Saudi Archaeology Forum have said that involving them in archaeological work and enacting legislation to preserve the national heritage were key issues.
Cooperation between the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), the Ministry of Education and universities was the best way to achieve this, they said during a workshop on the second day of the forum.
Other recommendations from the workshop included a partnership between the SCTH, the Ministry of Education and universities to determine the needs of archaeology; sending scholarship students to study technical specialties such as painting, surveying and photography; and the formation of a higher committee to determine scientific needs in archaeology.
Khalid Fayez Al-Asmari, a Ph.D. student in Britain, called for finding ways to overcome the obstacles faced by scholarship students, notably language. He also called for “partnerships with foreign universities to develop programs of archaeology in the Kingdom and expand students’ perceptions and opportunities.”
Mesfir Hamad Al-Qahtani, a Master’s degree student in the US, said that language is also one of the main obstacles for archaeology scholarship students, as well as the lack of guidance for important disciplines.
Fahda Salman bin Afizan, a Ph.D. student in France, stressed that funding and language were among the most important obstacles she faced. “However, we are able to overcome these obstacles because of the importance of studying abroad and what it can add either through comprehensive preparation for study or qualification.”
She called for “the establishment of a higher education committee comprising the SCTH and specialized universities to organize the process of scholarship and identify the needs of the archaeological sector in the Kingdom.”
The workshop included experiences of Saudi students in the study of archaeology in scholarship countries; the development of scholarships programs for archaeology; and the development of relationships between Saudi universities, the scholarship agency and the SCTH to develop the path of research in archaeology.
Faisal Al-Fadhel, a member of the Shoura Council, called for all necessary protection for the Kingdom’s antiquities. He explained that this could be done through the identification of violations and penalties appropriate to these.
“The SCTH and judicial bodies will implement this according to competence, in addition to obligating the violator to repair the damage he causes, while ensuring his right to object to the decision or sentence issued against him,” Al-Fadhel said.


Saudi Arabia lifts ban on women driving

Updated 24 June 2018
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Saudi Arabia lifts ban on women driving

  • They start their engines and hit the roads throughout the Kingdom
  • End of driving ban is crowning achievement so far of Saudi Vision 2030

Women throughout Saudi Arabia waited for the stroke of midnight, turned the keys in the ignition, fired up their engines — and hit the road to a bright new future.

It was the moment they had waited for since King Salman issued the royal decree on September 26, 2017, to lift the driving ban on women. 

Just after midnight on Saturday and in the first minutes of Sunday, Samah Algosaibi grabbed the keys to her family’s 1959 Corvette C1 and drove out of the driveway of her beach house in Khobar.
“We are witnessing history in the making as we look toward the dawn of a promising future,” said Algosaibi, the first female board member of Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi & Bros.

“As a businesswoman in Saudi Arabia, I am grateful for the women’s empowerment movement taking place. Today, I am honored to be sitting behind the wheel of change.”

Another woman to hit the road after midnight was Lina Almaeena, a member of the Saudi Shoura Council. “It feels very liberating,” she said about driving her mother’s Lexus.
Almaeena, also the co-founder and director of Jeddah United Sports Co, had exchanged her UAE license for a Saudi one. 

“I am thrilled!” Sarah Alwassia, 35, a nutritionist in Jeddah, told Arab News. “I learnt how to drive 18 years ago in the States where I got my driving license. I can’t believe that the day to drive in my own home town has come.”

Alwassia obtained her first American license when she was 18 years old in 2000, and had it exchanged for a Saudi license on June 6 in Jeddah. She explained that she is a mother, and this change provided comfort for her and her family. It also comes with various benefits, such as taking quick action in emergencies, and economic benefits such as saving money instead of paying for a driver when she needs to run errands. 

“I will be driving my kids to school and picking them up in comfort and privacy,” she said.

Women in the Kingdom commented on how this event is changing the course of their lives. “Independence is a huge thing for me,” Alwassia said. “Driving is one small part of it. I am very optimistic of the change that our loving country has made.”  

Alwassia applauds the efforts the country has made to support women. “I am confident that driving in the beginning will be pleasant, since our country has made all of the effort to support women and to protect them.
“I think our society was looking forward for this change, and I am sure the majority will adapt fast.

“I feel safe, our country did everything to make this transition pleasant and safe for every woman behind the wheel. I am really thankful to witness this historic moment and I am so happy for all the women in Saudi Arabia, especially my daughters.”
Sahar Nasief, 64, a retired lecturer from the European languages and Literature Department at King Abdulaziz University, said: “Nothing could describe my feelings. I can't wait to get on the road.”
Nasief received a very special gift from Ford for this occasion.

“They gave me a 2018 Expedition to drive for three days, a Mustang California Special,” she told Arab News.

Nasief obtained her Saudi license on June 7. She also holds a British license and two American licenses. “Now, I have my national license too,” she said. 

She also said the lifting of the ban provided a sense of relief. “I feel that I can practice one of my rights, and I don't have to live at the mercy of my driver any more.”
Society has been demanding such a change for years, “as it will take the physical and economic burden off most men.”
Pointing to the anti-harassment law, Nasief said: “I feel very confident especially after announcing the strict harassment law.”
Joumana Mattar, 36, a Jordanian interior designer, exchanged her Jordanian driver’s license and obtained a Saudi one on June 11. 

“I had my Jordanian license since I was 18 years old, and the moment I heard about the opening of exchanging foreign licenses, I immediately booked an appointment,” she said.
Mattar said she looks forward to the change in so many ways. “I'm finally in control of my time, schedule and privacy.” 

Mattar said she is both confident and anxious about the event. “I'm anxious only for feeling that I'm part of a huge first step for women driving in the Kingdom, but I'm confident also because of the support that I'm getting from my husband and family.
“Every first step is the hardest. Society is facing a huge change, but I'm positive because this change is done and supported by the government and Vision 2030.”

Mattar said she feels secure now. “I'm in control of any case I'm facing.”

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