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

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Updated 21 March 2018

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.

King of Latin pop Enrique Iglesias launches Ad Diriyah festival

Spanish superstar Enrique Iglesias performs at the launch of a three-day festival of music, culture and motorsport on Thursday in Ad Diriyah, near Riyadh. (Twitter)
Updated 14 December 2018

King of Latin pop Enrique Iglesias launches Ad Diriyah festival

  • Enrique Iglesias took the stage in an outdoor arena in historic Ad Diriyah
  • The cheers were deafening, the excitement electric and the performance magical

RIYADH: Spanish superstar Enrique Iglesias launched a three-day festival  of music, culture and motorsport on Thursday with a stunning concert at an outdoor arena in historic Ad Diriyah.

The king of Latin pop took the stage by storm and stole the hearts of thousands in the crowd, whose screams could be heard from a long way away. “I love you Enrique,” a group of girls in the audience shouted.

As he waved his hand back and forth in the air, the crowd started doing the same while jumping up and down. The cheers were deafening, the excitement electric and the performance magical. 

No theatrics were excluded as displays of fireworks and lasers wowed the audience. The singer asked the crowd if they spoke Spanish, and everyone screamed “Yes.”

While stage smoke poured into the arena a female performer sang a duet with Iglesias, who then delighted the crowd with some impromptu salsa dancing in front of the stage.

Fans waved their uplifted phones with their screens and flashes along with the music, while others tried to capture the performance.

“You can run, you can hide but you can’t escape my love,” sang Iglesias while the crowd screamed.

Earlier the R&B singer, songwriter and dancer Jason Derulo persuaded the crowd to put on their dancing shoes with an energetic set.

“Saudi, whassup! This is a dream come true for me! Since we are in Saudi Arabia I want to do things a little different,” he told the audience. He said his mother taught him to never visit empty handed, so his gift to Saudi Arabia was the debut performance of a new song.

Thursday’s entertainment will be followed on Friday by shows from Arab music star Amr Diab and the Black Eyed Peas. The climax of the festival comes on Saturday with the Saudia Ad Diriyah Formula E Grand Prix motor race, followed by headline performances by OneRepublic and the megastar DJ/producer David Guetta.