Where to spend New Year’s Eve in Saudi Arabia

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During the celebrations, food trucks, coffee stands, fashion and handicrafts will be on offer, as well as theatrical performances at many places across the Kingdom. (Photos/Supplied)
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During the celebrations, food trucks, coffee stands, fashion and handicrafts will be on offer, as well as theatrical performances at many places across the Kingdom. (Photos/Supplied)
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During the celebrations, food trucks, coffee stands, fashion and handicrafts will be on offer, as well as theatrical performances at many places across the Kingdom. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 31 December 2018
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Where to spend New Year’s Eve in Saudi Arabia

  • A suspense-filled storyline will be narrated during a series of acrobatic performances, including tightrope walkers, swinging displays and synchronized acrobats
  • Alkhobar will embark on a five-day outdoor food and entertainment expo that will also begin on New Year’s Eve

JEDDAH: New Year’s Eve falls on a Monday this year, which is reason enough for jubilation. Thankfully for residents across the Kingdom looking for a bit of action, entertainment options are aplenty.
Western Sky Aviation in Jeddah will host a festival for families, which will include a fine arts section, a horror maze, a Hello Kitty-themed children’s corner and an Alice in Wonderland-themed theatrical play.
Food trucks and carnival treats will also be on offer throughout the night. This festival will run on Monday and Tuesday from 5 p.m. to midnight.
Along Jeddah’s waterfront, “X JED,” an outdoor concert-like event, will include live musical performances, light shows, a children’s play area and plenty of good food.
In addition, an internationally acclaimed circus act will perform at Jeddah’s Jungle Land Theme Park.
A suspense-filled storyline will be narrated during a series of acrobatic performances, including tightrope walkers, swinging displays and synchronized acrobats.
This show will be held on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day from 8:30 p.m. in Jeddah’s Mersal Village.
Riyadh’s street walk, meanwhile, will host an outdoor art festival in which visitors can marvel at the artistic accomplishments of talented local and international artists.
Talent shows will also run and artistic merchandise will be available for purchase, along with food and beverages, throughout the night.
Marine enthusiasts in Dammam can visit an aquarium that will showcase the marvels of the marine world at Dareen Mall on New Year’s Eve. Audio and visual guides will be available.
Neighboring Alkhobar will embark on a five-day outdoor food and entertainment expo that will also begin on New Year’s Eve.
Food trucks, coffee stands and fashion handicraft will be on offer at the festival, as well as a theatrical performance and traditional music stall.
Doors to the event open at 4 p.m. in Alkhobar’s main park along the corniche.
In Jeddah’s Khalediya district, singers will perform live at The Courtyard, while Ghazal cafe in Rawdah is hosting a week of live singing performances beginning from Monday.
Noor Al-Omar, Abdullah Al-Rifai and Mohammed Al-Sultan will perform on Monday, Sameh Al-Sadeq on Tuesday, Ammar Al-Shami on Wednesday, Zakaria Kharoub and Maher Al-Marstani on Thursday and Mohammed Bassam and Mishari Al-Hamad on Friday.
A Ghazal manager, Amro Mohammed, said singers would perform between 9 p.m. and 1:30 a.m. every night.
“Sameh Al-Sadeq will perform Levantine, Egyptian and Khaleeji music,” Mohammed told Arab News. “The musical atmosphere will be unique, as it offers both classical and modern music.”
Finally, the annual Winter Wonderland Festival at the Aja amusement park in Hail will include makeshift snow pits, an ice skating ring and live musical and theatrical performances, among other winter-themed activities. This event will also run on New Year’s Day from 4 p.m. onwards.


How Saudi women are getting ahead of men as STEM graduates

Dr. Fatima Alakeel, cybersecurity expert. (AN photo)
Updated 20 March 2019
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How Saudi women are getting ahead of men as STEM graduates

  • ‘Securing a job after the degree remains the challenge,’ says Dr. Fatema Alakeel of King Saud University in Riyadh
  • ‘Saudi women are ambitious,’ says one graduate. ‘We are acquiring high degrees and seeking successful careers’

DUBAI: More and more girls in Saudi Arabia are opting for an education in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), and now the challenge is finding them employment, said Dr. Fatima Alakeel, a cybersecurity expert and faculty member at King Saud University (KSU) in Riyadh.
“In the Kingdom, STEM-related jobs are limited at the moment, as the economy is primarily oil-based and there are few technical jobs available,” said Alakeel, who is also the founder and CEO of the non-profit Confidentiality, Integrity & Availability Group (CIAG), which focuses on information security training and research in Riyadh.
According to a government report on the labor market situation in the third quarter of 2018, more than 30 percent of Saudi women aged between 15 and 65 are unemployed.
Among them, the highest rate of unemployment is among 20-24-year-olds (more than 70 percent) and among 25-29-year-olds (55 percent).
According to the report, there are 923,504 Saudi jobseekers, of whom 765,378 are women (82.2 percent).
“We have more girls in STEM education compared to Western countries,” said Alakeel, who completed her doctoral degree in computer science in the UK at the University of Southampton in 2017.
According to a report prepared by the Saudi Education Ministry, girls accounted for 57 percent of undergraduates for the year 2015-2016 in the Kingdom.
That same year, women outnumbered men in graduating with a bachelor’s in biology, information technology (IT), mathematics and statistics, and physics.
According to a survey Alakeel recently conducted on social media, “almost 80 percent of (Saudi) girls were keen to study STEM, but securing a job after the degree remains the challenge,” she said.
Maha Al-Taleb, 22, graduated earlier this year with a degree in technology from KSU, specializing in IT networks and security.
“It’s common for girls in the Kingdom to opt for STEM education,” said Al-Taleb, who now works in a public sector company in Riyadh as a junior information security analyst.
“Saudi women are ambitious. We’re acquiring high degrees and seeking successful careers. I don’t know why the world assumes that Saudi women are a backward tribal species who have no say in these matters. This entire perception is flawed.”
Al-Taleb got a job offer immediately after university, but realizes that not all her peers are as fortunate. Women “are facing problems in securing jobs, not because companies don’t want to hire us, but because employment for Saudi youths is a major challenge,” she said.
“In today’s Saudi Arabia, parents are encouraging their daughters to get a degree not just in the Kingdom; they also want them to go to Western universities. It has become a common phenomenon. Things have changed. Women are a crucial part of the nation’s development process.”
Not all women graduating in the Kingdom are as lucky, among them Razan Al-Qahtani. “It has been several months since I graduated, yet I haven’t been able to find a job. It has been a struggle so far,” said the 25-year-old IT graduate. “We have more talented and qualified girls, especially in the field of technology, but there are few jobs available. It’s a difficult situation, but we’re hopeful things will change very soon.”
Al-Qahtani expressed confidence that the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan will bring opportunities for qualified Saudis.
As part of Vision 2030, the government has committed to raise employment among Saudi women.
Alakeel said the government is working hard to find a solution, and it is only a matter of time until more such jobs are on offer.
“As per Vision 2030, there will be more jobs, including technical jobs, available in the country. Once we have more jobs, women will eventually get their due share,” she added. According to Alakeel, female empowerment and promotion to leading roles have made huge progress in Saudi Arabia, and this may affect existing STEM job opportunities.
“We’re glad to see Her Royal Highness Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud becoming the first female ambassador of the country. It only suggests change is on the way,” Alakeel said.
Al-Taleb expressed pride in the way her parents have supported her, saying: “My father isn’t educated and my mother has basic literacy, but both provided me with the education I desired. They want their daughters to be as successful as their sons.”
Like women in any country, the transition from university to the workplace is not always easy, even for young Saudi women with technology degrees. Yet they are not losing hope.
“We realize these are difficult times in terms of employment, especially in technology-related fields, but things will change,” Al-Taleb said. “Saudi women will soon be ruling the fields of STEM all over the country.”