Saudi Vision 2030 is positive move in global campaign: UK envoy for gender equality

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Updated 21 March 2018
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Saudi Vision 2030 is positive move in global campaign: UK envoy for gender equality

RIYADH: Women and men working together will drive social and economic change, Joanna Roper, the UK Foreign Office’s Special Envoy for Gender Equality, said in an exclusive interview with Arab News during the Women’s Economic Forum that opened in Riyadh on Monday.
"We talked earlier at the forum about working with men who are our allies and champions, and only together can we really see a change," Roper said.
"I think the changes we are seeing in Saudi Arabia with Vision 2030 are a positive move. I met a few of the delegation on the crown prince’s visit to London. That was my first encounter with Saudi men and women who are looking to change the economy. To bring more women in, and I think this is really positive."
Roper said that the UK was a firm supporter of Saudi Arabia "in whatever way it can be."
She said the UK's foreign secretary had made girls’ education a priority and this was an area of shared interest.
"In terms of specific things we are doing in cooperation with Saudi Arabia, with the British Council and in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, is the training of PE teachers for girls, so this is where international cooperation really comes in. Also, in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), there has been cooperation across the border, in supporting women in STEM and helping them become female STEM leaders. That’s something that we are all very passionate about in the UK Foreign Office."
Roper said that many families already recognized the value of education for boys and girls. "If we can build on that and continue to talk about the real value and benefit of education, then the case makes itself."
Roper, who took up her role in April last year, said she saw her job as supporting and helping the British government in its gender equality work. "For example, the Foreign Office has a whole lot of work for, let’s say, women’s peace and security, and international development. They do a lot on our program work: education, economic empowerment, political participation as well.
"What I try to do is support all their work when we are talking to partners overseas. My job is not to tell people what to do, it’s about where can we find a way to work together.


Saudi heritage body applauds citizen who returned rare artifact

Ali Saad Al-Shahrani returns rare artifacts to an SCTH official in Bishah. (AN photo)
Updated 9 min 28 sec ago
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Saudi heritage body applauds citizen who returned rare artifact

  • Aman named Ali Saad Al-Shahrani handed the rare pieces over to the SCTH office in the governorate of Bishah in Asir province.
  • A spokesman of the SCTH urged others to follow the fine example of Al-Shahrani and support the National Antiquities Recovery Campaign.

RIYADH: Six rare artifacts — some dating back to pre-Islamic times — have been handed over to the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) by a Saudi citizen.

Majed Alshadeed, SCTH spokesman, told Arab News on Sunday that a man named Ali Saad Al-Shahrani handed the rare pieces over to the SCTH office in the Governorate of Bishah in Asir region.

One of the objects is a stone piece which includes verses from the Holy Qur’an, written in the bas relief style.

He praised Al-Shahrani’s gesture of support for the National Antiquities Recovery Campaign and urged others to follow his example.

However, he added that the gesture was not uncommon as people on many occasions have returned artifacts, showing keenness in supporting the commission in preserving the beautiful heritage and the antiquities of the Kingdom. Not only citizens, but expatriates too, have returned artifacts in the past, he added.

Notably, the SCTH honored the then Portugal Ambassador Manuel Carvalho last December for returning a finely crafted Saudi artifact of the Neolithic era to the commission.

Acknowledging the great gesture, Abdul Rahman Al-Jassas, the Executive Director of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Cultural Heritage Initiative, delivered a certificate of appreciation from SCTH President Prince Sultan bin Salman to the outgoing ambassador.

Praising the move Mohammed Al-Omrah, director general, SCTH branch for Asir region, thanked the citizen for supporting the national initiative, calling for those who have artifacts to hand them in to the SCTH or its branches in the various regions and governates.

Al-Omrah added that the National Antiquities Recovery Campaign was launched by SCTH President Prince Sultan bin Salman.

The SCTH runs a campaign fostering awareness of the importance of returning heritage artifacts and has honored citizens and foreigners who have returned archaeological objects to the commission.

The SCTH held an exhibition for the recovered antiquities and holds a register of the people who give back relics and artifacts. Some of them were honored during the opening ceremony of the first Saudi Archaeology Convention in Riyadh last year.