Women’s Economic Forum opens in Riyadh

The forum brings together up to 1,000 business leaders, entrepreneurs, diversity champions and policy-makers from across the Kingdom to advance women in leadership. (AN photo by Khaleed Alkhames)
Updated 20 March 2018
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Women’s Economic Forum opens in Riyadh

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is opening a new page in its history, Sophie Le Ray, founder of the WIL Series, said as she opened the Women’s Economic Forum in Riyadh on Monday.
Le Ray said that the GCC countries were creating jobs and making it easier and more socially acceptable for women to join the workforce. Saudi Arabia was opening a new page in its history, making remarkable social changes and highlighting its determination to move forward to a more prosperous future, she said.
“The empowerment of women is one of the keys to the modernization objectives set out in the ambitious Vision 2030 and National Transformation Program,” she said.
“Economic performance, innovation, creativity and the economic landscape of the Arab world will be transformed by the skills, talents and labors of women.”
Ten years ago, this inaugural forum was held in Dubai, only attended by women, she said. “Ten years later, we have both genders from all over the world to discuss and champion diversity. It’s a community which is captivating everyone.”
“Empowering women and moving toward a more inclusive society is just smart economics. We are past the point of just conversation, today is about action,” she said.
With 900 people registered to the attend the forum, the attendees were looking forward to hearing from the panel of speakers. A student studying at Dar Al-Hekma University flew in from Jeddah to attend. “I’m very excited to attend and learn,” she said.
She said that she looked forward to finishing her B.A, then masters, and the hopefully would open her own company.
Hadley Gamble, a reporter for CNBC, said: “Men must be our allies; we can work together and change this dynamic and narrative.”
She added: “We can’t understate the importance of what Mohammed bin Salman did.”
Yasser Mufti, vice president, strategy and market analysis at Saudi Aramco, said: “Aramco has made much progress in gender diversity. I went back to marketing, in Aramco Trading, and became a CEO. There was a significant change, one third of the floor were women; we had 170 female employees in Dhahran in various sectors.”
“Seize the opportunity you are given” is the crucial piece of advice that he has given to women and also male counterparts. “With determination you will succeed, and inshallah make Vision 2030 a reality.”
“This can’t be about quotas, it’s about empowering women and hiring women and putting them in management positions. Hire the right people for your team. We have a lot of educated women and it’s going to be tough to choose. We are going to need our male allies to come to the floor and help us with that.”


Height of adventure: Treading the ‘Edge of the World’ near Riyadh

Updated 19 April 2018
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Height of adventure: Treading the ‘Edge of the World’ near Riyadh

  • Cliffs in Tuwaiq were formed as a result of the movement of the Arabian plate toward the northeast because of the spread of the Red Sea rift
  • Several prominent Saudi tour companies offer daylong excursions to the site

Thrill seekers and fitness gurus all over the Kingdom will be pleased to know that their choices for weekend activities have increased. 

Several tour operators in Riyadh have started offering trips to the area known as the Edge of the World, making the location more accessible than ever.

With the country’s obesity rates on the rise and many citizens growing more concerned about their physical health and stress levels, people are seeking ways to maintain their fitness without having to restrict themselves to the monotony of a gym routine.

One such solution that has steadily increased in popularity over the past year is hiking, which many have embraced as being much more exciting and fulfilling than spending hours on the treadmill. And most popular of all for hiking and other fitness activities in a natural setting is the magnificent landmark of Jabal Fihrayn, more commonly known as the Edge of the World.

Described as a “window framed by rock,” the Edge of the World offers stunning views of the valley below, a lush grove of acacia trees teeming with wildlife and vegetation. The spot is well-known for being a favorite of visiting picnickers.

Hikers can choose from several trails of varying levels of difficulty, making their way to the top of the Tuwaiq escarpment to take in the magnificent views at the top of the trail, where the colossal cliff faces drop off to reveal the dizzying height from the valley below. In addition to the rich wildlife unique to the location, you can also find samples of fossilized coral and raw mineral deposits in certain areas of the valley.

The cliffs in the areas were formed as a result of the tectonic movement of the Arabian plate toward the northeast because of the spread of the Red Sea rift situated 1,000 km to the west of Tuwaiq.

Due to the increasing popularity of the site, the authorities have built a hardtop that leads to the gates of the sites and arrangements are in place to protect the area and its natural treasures. 

Several prominent Saudi tour companies offer daylong excursions to the site. The more intrepid explorer also has the option to go alone; though past visitors recommend that solo travelers take an all-terrain, 4x4 vehicle and extra precaution. Visitors can spend the day at the site and leave before 6 p.m. (when the gates are closed for the night) or stay behind for a night of camping to enjoy the sunset and the breathtaking celestial views of a star-studded night sky.

Nora Alfard, amateur hiking enthusiast and two-time visitor to the location, was quick to offer praise about her trip. 

“The trip out there was a bit tiring, but totally worth it,” she said. “The views are stunning, and the hiking itself is not that difficult. Most people should be able to make it to the top without too much trouble.” She said she was likely to go a third time, and encouraged others to do the same.

The Edge of the World is roughly 100km northwest of Riyadh, about 1.5 hours’ drive from the capital. Visitors should be prepared for at least 30 minutes of hiking, possibly more depending on your trail and your level of fitness and experience. Previous visitors recommend bringing water and snacks, and stress the importance of dressing appropriately — hiking shoes only!

Decoder

What is hiking?

Hiking means a long, vigorous walk, usually on trails in the countryside. Day hikers generally carry at least food, a map or a GPS navigation device.