Saudi ministry planning special services for persons with disabilities

Visitors at the 2nd Health Festival for Persons with Disabilities at Alfaisal University, Riyadh. AN photo
Updated 17 April 2018
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Saudi ministry planning special services for persons with disabilities

  • The festival examined 300 children with disabilities
  • The ministry launched a service that allows persons with disabilities to electronically apply for financial assistance

RIYADH: The Ministry of Labor and Social Development has organized an event in Riyadh to increase awareness about people with disabilities.
Al-Hejab bin Ahmed Al-Hazmi, deputy minister for social care and family, said the ministry is keen on developing services for persons with disabilities.
Al-Hazmi said the ministry is taking measures to increase awareness among the public on ways to care for persons with disabilities in an effective manner. The ministry organized the second edition of the Health Festival for Persons with Disabilities in collaboration with the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC) at the Alfaisal University.
The main focus of the event was to discuss ways to ensure better integration of persons with disabilities in society.
A large number of children with disabilities attended the event with their families. Special arrangements were made for thorough medical checkups. Health specialists examined the children to ensure their mental and physical well-being are satisfactory.
Al-Hazmi thanked the sponsors, partners, and volunteers for their efforts in achieving the goals set for this initiative and serving their fellow humans who require special attention.
Khulood Al-Shaya, director of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Unit at the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, said the festival is part of her department’s efforts, made in partnership with the private sector, to ensure the mental and physical safety of persons with disabilities.
She said that the festival examined about 300 children with disabilities with the help of 200 male and female volunteers in the medical and organizational fields.
“They assisted health professionals to examine the children, as they cannot express what they feel because of their disabilities,” she said.
The children also had a great time with their families enjoying the recreational activities.
The ministry recently launched a service that allows persons with disabilities to electronically apply for financial assistance through the ministry’s e-services offered on its website.
The service aims to offer financial support to persons with disabilities as well as facilitating communication between the ministry and the beneficiaries.


Saudi startups win big with business incubator Oqal

The latest initiatives come amid efforts to increase the contribution of SMEs to the gross domestic product. (Shutterstock)
Updated 24 min 29 sec ago
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Saudi startups win big with business incubator Oqal

  • Currently, financial institutions only provide a 5 percent rate of funding to startups
  • SMEs in the Kingdom continue to bear the brunt of complex administrative procedures and funding challenges

RIYADH: An up-and-coming Saudi business incubator recently launched a new incentive program aimed at keeping the young and budding entrepreneurs it supports and advises focused “on the prize.”
Oqal, which merges the Arabic word “aqel” (mind) with the Arabic word “amwal” (financial resources), helps youth with business plans and capital make the most of their resources by creating economically viable startups.
The jury on the panel of this latest competition, which was for the Kingdom’s Eastern Province, narrowed down 10 emerging projects to three finalists. Five Saudi judges with experience in the business sector were tasked with selecting the finalists.
Educa, an education-related initiative, won SR50,000 ($13,329) and a car. Qosoor, which rents out wedding and events venues, also won SR50,000. The third-place prize went to a real estate valuation company, which won SR25,000. The winners will also have their businesses accredited.
Since its inception in 2011, Oqal, a not-for-profit online platform, has helped foster the talent and resources of more than 50 entrepreneurs whose companies are now thriving in the Saudi market.
Oqal is working with Monsha’at, Arabic for startups, a government initiative attempting to empower small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to contribute more significantly to the country’s national economy.
“These prizes are a motivating tool and big form of exposure for these businesses, which will need to keep up momentum on this huge initial boost,” said Yaser Al-Ahmed, one of the judges on the panel.
“These businesses will continue to be guided by Monsha’at, which recently announced that the financial pledges made by young owners will be matched by other high-net-worth individuals in order to encourage future investments in startups.”
The latest initiatives come amid efforts to increase the contribution of SMEs to the gross domestic product (GDP). SMEs only account for 20 percent of Saudi Arabia’s GDP, a weak figure compared with first world countries, some of which enjoy an up to 70 percent SME contribution rate.
SMEs in the Kingdom continue to bear the brunt of complex administrative procedures and funding challenges. Currently, financial institutions only provide a 5 percent rate of funding to startups. Monsha’at is trying to increase funding to 20 percent by 2030.
The authority responsible for SME performance is reviewing cumbersome regulations and increasing access to finance methods, as well as introducing more business incubators and helping local businesses export their products.