‘More than 50%’: Saudi minister reaffirms government call for women’s central role in reforms

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih told Arab News women should be central to achieving Vision 2030.
Updated 09 March 2018
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‘More than 50%’: Saudi minister reaffirms government call for women’s central role in reforms

LONDON: Women should be “central” to achieving the nation’s ambitious Vision 2030, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih told Arab News on International Women’s Day.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Saudi-UK CEO Forum in London, the minister said that women being able to drive was “insignificant in the wider scheme of things.”
“What matters,” he said, “is making sure that they have access to skills training and access to jobs. What matters is they have access to investment opportunities so we ensure that the power of women is unleashed to represent their great capabilities.”
Al-Falih added: “There is great potential for all Saudi citizens … certainly women will have more than their share, which should be more than 50 percent.”
Saudi Arabia has announced a string of reforms in recent months aimed at improving opportunities for women in the Kingdom. Alongside being able to drive, Saudi Arabia’s women can now join the Shoura Council, license their own businesses and take part in sports, among many other new freedoms in a country that is in the throes of modernization and change.
Speaking at the same event on a panel, Princess Reema bint Bandar, vice president of the General Sports Authority of Saudi Arabia, said that women joining the Shoura Council has allowed for the “escalation of women’s needs.”
Princess Reema added the creation of a sports ecosystem for women would be critical to job creation and female empowerment.
She said: “It will benefit women to be included in sports. We want to focus on the ecosystem – we are looking for females that are engineers in the stadiums or trainers which will enable the athletes, for example … which all leads to the end product of the ecosystem: The female athlete.”
Saudi Deputy Minister of Labor Tamader Al-Rammah told the audience that contrary to some global perceptions, women’s empowerment started in Saudi Arabia in the 1960s with the provision of extensive education for females.
“(Women’s empowerment) has been slow but steady,” she said. “Today we are ready for it and we can see the changes are happening rapidly.”
On the controversial subject of gender quotas, Al-Rammah said: “I think the best way to do it is to have the best person for each position. On the other hand, you should remove all barriers to that position.
“Perhaps after some time, we’ll decide that we need quotas. In the meantime, Saudi Arabian women are not shy and the men support us. I don’t think we will need quotas, we will get there.”
Al-Rammah added that the need to funnel women into the workplace was “urgent.”
“We are in a time where we don’t have time,” she said.
Al-Rammah added 95 percent of new Saudi jobs will require digital skills. She said: “It’s very important to set that online goal now. It’s important women get online. What’s making me not sleep at night is not whether women drive, it’s whether they are equipped for the future digitally.”


Classical music trio delight Saudi audience with world premiere in Arabic

The musicians concluded their encores in Jeddah with upbeat classical versions of the German and Saudi national anthems. (Supplied)
Updated 12 December 2018
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Classical music trio delight Saudi audience with world premiere in Arabic

  • The musicians were the German Debussy Trio
  • The musicians concluded their encores in Jeddah with upbeat classical versions of the German and Saudi national anthems

RIYADH: Saudi audiences have been treated to a 10-day feast of classical music, including the world premiere of the Arabic translation of the lyrics of Schubert’s “Winter Journey” romantic song cycle.

The performances took place at the German diplomatic missions in Riyadh and Jeddah, the French Consulate General in Jeddah, the Goethe Institute in Riyadh and KAUST in Thuwal.

The musicians were the German Debussy Trio, comprising cellist Birgit “Cella” Erichson, violinist Ulrich Beetz and pianist Vasil Laghidze.

As founders of the Abegg Trio, Erichson and Beetz have over 40 years’ experience performing in concert halls worldwide. Their latest formation, with the young Georgian pianist Vasil Laghidze, is called the Debussy Trio after the French composer of the late 19th and early 20th century, who created the gateway to modern music.

The French Consul General El-Mostafa Mihraje hosted the trio’s performance of an all-Debussy concert, including the famous Clair de Lune, played under the stars. 

It was part of the worldwide centenary Debussy’s death that began in January in Paris with a concert for French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

For their German concerts the musicians performed Schubert’s “Winter Journey,” with the lyrics by Wilhelm Müller recited in German by Claudia Ziegeler and — in a world premiere — in Arabic by the Saudi poet Dr. Adel Khamees Alzhrani.

The musicians concluded their encores in Jeddah with upbeat classical versions of the German and Saudi national anthems, delighting the diverse crowd attending.