Hajj is a great business opportunity for young Saudis

Saudi volunteers distribute water bottles among pilgrims near the Grand Mosque, ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, in the Muslim holy city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia, on Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018 photo. (AP)
Updated 21 August 2018
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Hajj is a great business opportunity for young Saudis

  • Serving pilgrims each year comes naturally to us, being from Makkah
  • There is no need for an office or store, and the size and maneuverability of motorcycles allow riders to easily avoid traffic jams — and security officials

JEDDAH: Each year, a large number of young Saudis head to Makkah during Hajj season to work and earn some money. Private companies and government agencies offer a variety of seasonal jobs, whether helping pilgrims directly or working for a company that provides services and facilities.
Some of the more popular choices of work among Saudi youths include transportation, serving food and drinks, and selling top-up cards and chargers for cellphones, which are essential services for many pilgrims due to their limited access to the usual marketplaces.
“Today, the Saudi authorities prevent many residents and citizens from entering the holy sites without the required licenses,” said Bader Alshereef. “Locals were selling water and cold drinks directly to pilgrims, for good returns.”
Alshereef used to sell water during Hajj. He now works with The Saudi Project for Utilization of Hajj Meat, also known as the Adahi Project.
“Adahi Project opens its doors for people to apply for seasonal jobs in Makkah, as do many other agencies and organizations, including Hajj-services companies that have been one of the season’s main employers over the years,” he added.
Businesses that provide services to pilgrims prefer to contract Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) because they tend to be cheaper options than hiring larger businesses. As a result, SMEs provide transportation, food and drink, among other services for pilgrims and the camps that host them.
“It is worth using part of your annual leave as an investment to go to Makkah and start your own small, seasonal business,” said Ahmed Albdulkhaliq. He was contracted by one of the providers of Hajj services to supply soft drinks and water to a pilgrims’ camp.
Although it is banned by the authorities, many locals still provide motorcycle transportation for pilgrims. Both Alshereef and Abdulkhaiq confirmed that this is one of the most attractive options for making money during Hajj. There is no need for an office or store, and the size and maneuverability of motorcycles allow riders to easily avoid traffic jams — and security officials. After an initial investment of less than SR1,500 for a bike, a good return can be made during the season, they said, after which the motorcycle can be abandoned to avoid checkpoints.
“Serving pilgrims each year comes naturally to us, being from Makkah,” said Ahmed Alattas who worked as a barber during the previous Hajj season. “In the past, shaving pilgrims’ heads was somehow exclusive to expatriates. Now you need a license to be a barber and to work legally.”
During last year’s Hajj season, all barbers were licensed by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, and trained at the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation.
This year, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development launched an electronic service to coordinate temporary and seasonal jobs during Hajj season, using the Ajeer portal.


Saudi Arabia’s Misk partners with UN on youth empowerment

Updated 48 min 39 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s Misk partners with UN on youth empowerment

  • The Saudi-UN partnership aims to reach and mobilize about 50 million young people around the world in support of the sustainable development goals
  • Saudi Arabia has a big youth demographic, with 60 per cent of the country’s population under the age of 25

NEW YORK: Misk Foundation, the not-for-profit philanthropic organization set up by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, has joined forces with the United Nations in a ground-breaking campaign to advance the cause of young people around the world.
The agreement was signed at a ceremony at the UN’s New York headquarters a day after UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres launched his own initiative to enlist young people in its strategy for global sustainable development.
The Saudi-UN partnership aims to reach and mobilize about 50 million young people around the world in support of the sustainable development goals (SDG), via a series of meetings and forums as part of the UN’s Strategy for Youth.
The UN’s SDG program is a set of targets for future development, ranging from the elimination of hunger and poverty, through education and gender equality, to action on climate change and energy. It coincides with Saudi Arabia’s own Vision 2030 strategy in many respects.
Misk is the first non-governmental organization to join the campaign. “Misk’s mission is to discover, develop and empower young people to become active participants in the knowledge economy both in Saudi Arabia and globally, through partnerships such as this,” said a joint statement from the Saudi organization and the UN.
“Under the initiatives, young people’s leadership, creativity and innovation skills will be harnessed to bolster their ability to be agents for positive change during the run-up to the fifth anniversary of the SDGs in 2020.
“Adding to the existing Young Leaders for the SDGs initiative, a ‘Youth Gateway’ central knowledge hub on SDGs is planned, including a platform to map existing initiatives and provide opportunities for engagement, aimed at motivating more young people to take action. Tools will be developed to measure and track global indicators on youth development and well-being,” the statement added.
Bader Alsaker, chairman of the board of the Misk Initiatives Centre, said: "The Misk Foundation is committed to helping as many young people around the world realize their potential in the future economy and to encourage active global citizenship. The strategic agreement that we are signing today shows our commitment to this mission.
“Partnering with the United Nations will greatly enhance its vital work around the world to help young people from all backgrounds to realize their potential and meet the SDGs,” he added.
Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN secretary-general’s envoy on youth, added: “This major contribution towards the UN Secretariat’s work on youth will be used to operationalize the new UN Strategy on Youth with a focus on advancing our collective efforts to support youth mobilization for the 2030 Agenda worldwide.
“It comes at crucial time, immediately after the public launch of the UN’s Youth Strategy, which shows the commitment and dedication of the Misk Foundation to supporting youth development globally,” she added.
Saudi Arabia has a big youth demographic, with 60 per cent of the country’s population under the age of 25. Many of the policies of the Vision 2030 strategy to reduce oil dependency focus on the need for more and better employment for young people.
According to a recent global poll for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, young people have a far more optimistic view of their own future, as well as that of their country, than older people. “Young people in these countries are more likely to believe they can affect the way their countries are governed and that their generation will have a more positive impact on the world than their parents' generation,” Gates found.
Sultan Al-Musallam, global ambassador of the Misk Foundation, told the UN: “The core belief held by youth, that our problems can only be solved together, in a way that is blind to race, religion or region, is also the bedrock of the UN.”