Shoura chairman thanks King Salman, crown prince for economic programs

The chairman of the Shoura Council thanked King Salman — seen here arriving at the Shoura Council session — and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for helping the country to thrive. (SPA)
Updated 20 November 2018

Shoura chairman thanks King Salman, crown prince for economic programs

  • Shoura Council Chairman Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Sheikh: There have many great strides and ambitious plans aiming to advance the country and provide a decent life for citizens
  • Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Sheikh noted the council’s pride in efforts to unify Arab ranks and promote Islamic solidarity to achieve security and peace in the region and in the world

RIYADH: Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Sheikh, chairman of the Shoura Council, welcomed and thanked King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for helping the country to thrive.
He said: “This country is thriving thanks to the wise leadership; there have many great strides and ambitious plans aiming to advance the country and provide a decent life for citizens.
“Citizens are overwhelmed by feelings of joy and happiness due to the success of economic programs designed to improve the national economic performance, diversify incomes, open fields of employment for citizens and settle business and economic activities,” he said.
“Our country has become the economics and international investors’ center of attention and an active member of the Group of Twenty (G-20).
“The announcement of the fiscal year 2018-19 is an example of the firm economic trend which represents an important part of Saudi Vision 2030. The Financial Sector Development Program is one of the programs that aim to achieve Saudi Vision 2030 with its development of the financial sector and enhancement of its efficiency in order to prepare the necessary environment to improve the citizens’ lifestyle and the country, promote investment opportunities and diversify the economic activity”, Al-Sheikh added.
“You have inaugurated the Haramain High Speed Railway project which represents a qualitative leap in rail projects, not only on the level of the Kingdom, but also on the regional level, and this mega project will contribute to serving the Kingdom’s citizens and visitors,” he said.
“The Saudi capital Riyadh hosted the second session of ‘The Future Investment Initiative 2018 (FII)’ where important agreements and investment projects were signed to build further strategic partnerships, in the presence of a large number of leaders, presidents, specialized ministers and distinguished people, pioneering decision-makers, businessmen, investors and other people who contribute to designing the future of global investment.”
Al-Sheikh added: “You have supported the national effort to maintain the Kingdom’s environment heritage through the establishment of the Council of Royal Reserves that embodies one of the national achievements to preserve the environment and restore it, in accordance with a system that sustains it. Cornerstones were laid in many major development projects.”
He noted the council’s pride in the wise leadership’s efforts to unify Arab ranks and promote Islamic solidarity to achieve security and peace in the region and in the world.
Al-Sheikh said: “At the end of each year at the Shoura Council, we have the honor to inaugurate the new year to be a motive for the council for achieving its tasks amid unlimited support from the king and crown prince, who believe in the Shoura Council’s message and its national role in the development, construction and progress process.”
He ascertained that the Shoura Council keeps pace with this support with more hard work to meet their expectations and note the citizens’ interests and their hopes which are the council’s constant concern, in accordance with their guidance for the country to be the center of action and attention.
He clarified that the council has in the past year reviewed many draft legislations, regulations and agreements and discussed government bodies’ performance reports.
The number of subjects the council discussed and reviewed last year was 244. The specialized council’s committee hosted tens of officials from many ministries and competent authorities to discover obstacles and hurdles in order to cooperate in dealing with them and finding solutions that guarantee work progress and achieving the desired goals.
In a number of its sessions, the council also hosted ministers who discussed the performance of their ministries and requirements that interest citizens in achieving an effective performance that meets their wishes and solves problems.
He said the council maintained its approach in communicating with citizens and noting their ideas and suggestions through interacting with them on media or studying petitions sent to the council via various means of communication, and in order to facilitate that, the council created a link for online petitions where any citizens can present their views and suggestions. These petitions are transferred to the council’s committees.
Al-Sheikh stressed that through its social media platforms, the council has kept pace with the citizens’ participation and interactions. The council also assigned a specialized department to communicate with society.
He said: “Your support of the Shoura Council included the role of the parliamentary diplomacy performed by the council through its affiliations with a number of unions and regional and international parliamentary forums when it hosted delegations and committees from brotherly countries’ parliamentary assemblies.
“These efforts contributed to enhancing communications with those parliaments, rectifying the distorted image of the Kingdom, its position and policies, exploring successful parliamentary experiences and reflecting the Kingdom’s positions on different international issues and events.”
Al-Sheikh thanked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was very cooperative in the process of the Shoura Council performing its role of parliamentary diplomacy, and enhancing that through establishing a special department concerned with Shoura Council affairs. The council also created a department for special relations.

Reaction amongst council members to the king’s speech was positive.

Dr. Alia Al-Dahlawi, an associate professor at King Abdulaziz University and a first term member of the Shoura Council, said, “The King’s inaugural speech this year set the roadmap to our duties at the Shoura Council, reflected on the Kingdom’s domestic affairs.

“The beauty of this year’s speech was that the King has given the public a view of the performance measurement and positive progress of Vision 2030, the results of which can be seen all over the Kingdom after just two years since its inauguration.
“The King also reiterated the fact that the Saudi citizen are the engine of development for the future of our country as well as asserting that Saudi women are partners in this development who have full rights according to Islamic Sharia. The King also shed a light on a new focus, to harness the potential of young Saudis and shape their talents for the jobs of tomorrow.”

Prof. Fawzia Abalkhail, former rector of Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman University, said, “In the King’s opening remarks, reconfirms that the roadmap to the Kingdom’s internal and domestic policies are a reflection of the Islamic Sharia constitution of the Kingdom since the Kingdom’s founder. On matters of foreign policy, the King’s speech to the public, spoke of the Kingdom’s stance on the Palestinian cause, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Iran. In doing so, he is giving the citizens of the country a given right to understand the country’s foreign policies on the regional scale and abroad.
“The King stated that for the future development of the Kingdom, there will be a focus on future investment projects such as advanced technologies and renewable energy that will provide job opportunities and develop human resources for the future of the country’s next generation of youth.”

Lina Almaeena, cofounder and director of the first Saudi private sports company, United Sports Co., said, “The King’s speech was a very powerful speech. His trust in the country’s youth and support coinciding with the fact that Vision 2030 has mobilized 50% of Saudi population, women, into the work force, opening many sectors for their employment in a short-period of time is a sign of great positive move forward. It was really interesting to see that 81% of the population is under the age of 45, we are a fairly young nation, and with that we are working on developing and creating jobs as well as support programs to reduce unemployment.
“In the matters of foreign policies, the King reaffirmed to us all that Jerusalem being the capital of Palestine and the Palestinian issue will always be the primary issue on our foreign policy agenda until their full legitimate rights are obtained. Refuting the claims of some regional and foreign media skeptics that try to divert the Kingdom’s stance on the Palestinian cause.”

Saudi women footballers set their sights on green goals

Updated 40 min 58 sec ago

Saudi women footballers set their sights on green goals

  • Eight female players have formed the Greens team to promote environmental causes across the Kingdom
  • The group is led by Rawh Alarfaj, who played football for 12 years

DUBAI: In the natural scheme of things, sports and environment are not easy to combine. But a group of eight Saudi women are attempting just that through their football team, the Greens.

The team’s members want to use their passion for sport to raise environmental awareness and bring about a mindset change across the Kingdom.

The Greens were established by the Saudi Sports for All Federation two months ago — specifically to promote environmental causes. The federation focuses on sports as a social, rather than professional, activity for women, men, adults, children, the elderly and people with special needs.

Leading the Greens is Rawh Alarfaj, 34, who played football for 12 years before deciding to become a coach.

“I am very passionate about sports overall, but my speciality is football and I feel I am good at it,” Alarfaj, who lives in Riyadh, told Arab News. “One of the things that keeps me going is that I am one of the founders of the Challenge Sports Club, which I manage right now.



• The Global Goals World Cup is an alternative sports tournament that creates a community and inspires and engages women from all over the world.

• A one-day football celebration was created for 30 teams in Copenhagen.

• All teams qualify by choosing and creating an action plan on how to work with one of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

“We were focused at first only on football. But from the beginning of 2017, we have also had a basketball team for women in Riyadh.”

“We run programs for everyone in society because our goal is to increase the level of public participation in sports in Saudi Arabia from 13 percent in 2015 to 40 percent by 2030, based on a study we did at the federation,” said Alarfaj.

“Today, we’re at 18 percent. The programs focus on all kinds of sports. Just days ago, in the Danish capital Copenhagen, we took part in the Global Goals World Cup, which promotes causes such as environmental ones.”

The tournament, better known as GGWC, frames the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a sport, with 30 teams worldwide competing to create the kind of world they would like to see. Each team creates an action plan with a particular global goal and strives to achieve it in their own country.

For the Greens, the focus was SDG 15: “Life on Land.” “We thought it would be a good global goal to choose right now because the issue has many sides,” Alarfaj said. “Awareness of the state of the environment is a very important topic now. So we organized a number of campaigns across the Kingdom.”

During a male professional football league game in Riyadh, Greens players distributed reusable bags as they educated the crowds about the benefits of using them instead of plastic bags.

After the event, the team — with the help of a number of young Saudis — cleaned up the stadium. They collected plastic bottles for use in building a “plastic art work” — due for completion in June — which highlights the harm they do to the planet.

The Greens promoted their cause at a football match. (Supplied photo)

The environmental protection campaign was not confined to Riyadh alone. A clean-up drive was undertaken by the Greens at a public park in Alkhobar, in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province, while awareness talks were held in Jeddah about how plastic harms marine life.

“These campaigns are really important,” Alarfaj said. “A lot of young people volunteered to help us and it’s something that needs to be a part of the culture.”

Such campaigns gain the team points toward their final tournament score. “Global Goals isn’t just about football,” she said. “It’s about the SDGs and how to achieve them through sports, specifically female football. It’s very good to take part in sports for a cause and to have this culture in Saudi Arabia.”

Having taken part in the GGWC this year, the Greens hope to host the tournament in the Kingdom in a couple of years. “To win, you can’t just go out and play,” Alarfaj said. “You have to organize these campaigns and engage society in the goal you choose.

“Sports is the most peaceful activity which people can use to espouse a cause,” she said. “So I recommend that people get more engaged with sport and use it as a tool to spread awareness about different causes.”

Lujain Kashgari, 28, discovered she loved football when she was only 8 years old. She used to play the sport with her relatives as children. 

As she grew older, so did her passion for the beautiful game. “It’s my favorite hobby and biggest passion today,” said Kashgari, who was originally from Jeddah but lives in Alkhobar at present.

“My mission was to come up with an initiative that engaged the people of Eastern Province and also made a big impact on Life on Land through plastic recycling.”

A lot of young people volunteered to help – it’s something that needs to be a part of the culture.

Greens coach Rawh Alarfaj

To this end, Kashgari asked residents and communities to donate 10,000 plastic bottles to a recycling center. She also targeted children by organizing a fun learning day in the Altamimi public park, while teaching others in schools about the importance of recycling through playing a game.

“What I really liked about the GGWC is that it combines sports with humanities and a good cause,” Kashgari told Arab News. “I have learnt a lot about sustainability and simplicity, while enjoying every moment of the football tournament and scoring three goals. It was an amazing opportunity and an unforgettable experience.”

She said many Saudis lack awareness of ways to implement the specific goal of Life on Land.

“When I read about the Life on Land global goal, especially the concept of the three Rs (recycle, reuse and reduce), and looked around, even at myself, I realized that we might have known about it, but we needed a reminder,” Kashgari said.

their clean-up campaigns have attracted the interest of young Saudi volunteers. (Supplied photo)

“Even when we reached out to recycling centers, we found that they don’t really take plastic bottles unless it’s a massive amount. They don’t support communities or individuals, so I realized it’s very important that we do something about it and give it more attention.”

As a football club, the Greens were able to collect plastic bottles over a period of two weeks to recycle them. It also collaborated with five schools and two sports clubs in Alkhobar to collect 100 tons of plastic bottles, utensils and plates — the minimum required for recycling at the center.

According to Alyah Aboalola, a Greens player from Jeddah, more needs to be done for environmental protection in the Kingdom.

“I was focused more on raising awareness about the sea because local residents in Jeddah are into scuba diving as part of their interest in life under water,” Aboalola, 24, said. “There’s a lot of plastic being thrown into the sea, which affects the quality of marine life and coral life.”

Currently involved full time with a sports academy, Aboalola said she was thrilled as a Greens player to have reached the semifinals in Copenhagen.

“I’d like to do this professionally later on,” she said. “When you take part in sports, you build a community and, through it, we can do more for society. I’d like to always keep sports and environmental
causes connected.”