Saudi Crown Prince, Egyptian president sign deal to activate $16 billion investment fund

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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman arrives in Cairo. (SPA)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman arrives in Cairo. (SPA)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman arrives in Cairo. (SPA)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman arrives in Cairo. (SPA)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman lands in Cairo and is received by President El-Sisi. (SPA)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman lands in Cairo and is received by President El-Sisi. (SPA)
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman lands in Cairo and is received by President El-Sisi. (SPA)
Updated 05 March 2018
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Saudi Crown Prince, Egyptian president sign deal to activate $16 billion investment fund

CAIRO: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman landed in Egypt on Sunday where he was received by Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi on the first leg of his maiden foreign tour as heir to the throne.
Within hours of arriving, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding to activate a 60-billion Saudi riyal ($16 billion) investment fund.
They also signed agreements to continue cooperation in resolving political crises in the Middle East, and a commitment to environmental protection.
Prince Mohammed, the Saudi deputy prime minister and minister of defense, was greeted by El-Sisi as he landed at Cairo International Airport.
During meetings, the two sides reviewed “strategic bilateral relations and discussed developments in the region “especially issues related to security and stability” and “fighting terrorism,” Saudi Press Agency reported.
The Crown Prince’s visit to Egypt was his first since he became crown prince in June of last year.
“The Egyptian president reaffirmed that the security of the Gulf is an integral part of Egyptian national security,” Egypt’s presidential spokesman, Bassam Rady said.
"President El-Sisi expressed Egypt's keenness to enhance bilateral cooperation with Saudi Arabia in all fields, in a way that reflects the level of strategic partnership between the two countries", Rady said.
Rady also highlighted the significance of the visit's timing in light of the "great challenges currently taking place in the Middle East, which require mutual coordination between Egypt and Saudi Arabia."
Ahead of the visit, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said the Crown Prince and El-Sisi would “discuss the political situation in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Libya.”
Prince Mohammed will also meet Prime Minister Sharif Ismail, the parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal, the grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Tayeb and Pope Tawadros, the head of the Egyptian church.
The crown prince is expected to visit Ismailia today where he will tour some of Egypt’s national projects including the new channel of the Suez Canal.
In preparation, the Ismailia Governorate has decorated the route along which they will travel with flags.
Later they will attended a performance of the show “Salem Nafsak” (Surrender Yourself) at the Cairo Opera House. 
The Coptic Orthodox Church announced that Prince Mohammed would visit the main St. Mark’s Coptic Cathedral in Cairo. 
Pope Tawadros II met King Salman at his residence during his visit to Cairo in April 2016.
Also on Sunday, US President Donald Trump called El-Sisi to discuss with him “regional issues” and “ways of combating terrorism,” a statement from the Egyptian presidency said.
Prince Mohammed stressed that his keenness to conduct his first foreign visit as Crown Prince "reflects the depth and strength of relations between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which are bound by common history and one destiny".


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.