There goes the bride … off to Nepal to help underprivileged children

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Razan was part of a team of four men and four women from Jazeel, the Saudi skills-based volunteering platform set up in 2015. (Supplied)
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Razan was part of a team of four men and four women from Jazeel, the Saudi skills-based volunteering platform set up in 2015. (Supplied)
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Razan was part of a team of four men and four women from Jazeel, the Saudi skills-based volunteering platform set up in 2015. (Supplied)
Updated 22 February 2018
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There goes the bride … off to Nepal to help underprivileged children

JEDDAH: Like any young bride, Razan Sindi’s wedding day was the happiest day of her life. But unlike most brides, Razan decided to postpone her happiness so that she could help deprived children instead.
On the day she should have tied the knot with her husband-to-be, Anas Al-Harbi, Razan was in Nepal with a team of Saudi volunteers working with the Butterfly Foundation, a non-profit humanitarian organization that looks after poor and underprivileged young people.
The couple believe the foundation on which they should build their life together is that their “common interests should not conflict with their personal goals,” and Razan decided that the happiness of others was more important than her own. So, with Anas’s full support, off she went to Nepal.
Volunteer tourism is a unique experience, Razan, from Alkhobar, told Arab News. “You travel to discover the world and help those in need, carrying a message with you that represents the high values of your religion and culture.
“Volunteer tourism is a unique and completely different experience from volunteering in your city or hometown, because it introduces you to different cultures and environments, which will polish your personality and build your confidence.”
Razan was part of a team of four men and four women from Jazeel, the Saudi skills-based volunteering platform set up in 2015. In Nepal, the team opened a gift shop, the profits from which will support the Butterfly Foundation. They also established a library and a primary-care facility for the foundation.
Using their skills, the Jazeel team also developed a website for the Butterfly Foundation, translated into several languages, and created social media accounts for the foundation on Twitter and Instagram.
Razan’s mission for humanitarian work is inspired by her mother and her late father, and children's issues around the world are her main concern.
Nepal is one of the five poorest countries in the world, with nearly half the population suffering from hunger, two-thirds living below the poverty line and 60 percent illiteracy. Children are deprived of education because of poverty, underdevelopment, illiteracy and other socioeconomic problems.
Razan wants to change that reality, and she has been working as a training and activities manager with Jazeel since 2015.
“I am a person who finds pleasure in learning and benefiting from the cultures of other countries,” she said. “When you have a goal that you seek, you should work at what you believe in.
“I am sure that being part of a distinguished group of volunteers is a great platform for professional and creative volunteering. I am proud of being among all these professionals, and that encourages me to achieve a lot more with them.”
And those wedding plans? They were postponed, but not canceled. Razan and Anas married when she returned from Nepal, and the couple are now on honeymoon in New Zealand.


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.