Saudi initiatives empowering people with disabilities

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Tawafuq, Arabic for ‘success,’ ensures equal employment opportunities within the private sector for Saudis with disabilities. (Photos/Social media)
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Tawafuq, Arabic for ‘success,’ ensures equal employment opportunities within the private sector for Saudis with disabilities. (Photos/Social media)
Updated 12 January 2019
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Saudi initiatives empowering people with disabilities

  • About 10 percent of the Saudi population has some form of disability, according to a survey conducted by the General Authority for Statistics
  • The Labor Ministry also launched Mowaama, Arabic for “adaptability,” a program aimed at increasing the number of companies that can hire people with special needs, in July 2017

JEDDAH: Providing equal opportunities in education and employment are tantamount to achieving a thriving economy ahead of 2030.
Ensuring people with special needs are able to join the workforce is no exception. As such, government institutions have spared no effort in empowering people with disabilities to become more self-reliant, thereby improving their standard of living.
The Saudi Human Resources Development Fund, which is tasked with ensuring people with special needs can secure sustainable employment, launched Tawafuq, an employment program for people with special needs, in 2014.
Tawafuq, Arabic for “success,” ensures equal employment opportunities within the private sector for Saudis with disabilities.
Officials at Tawafuq liaise with other institutions to create a special platform for job seekers that takes into account capabilities, personal preferences and opportunities.
Services include helping the disabled overcome obstacles that can hinder their progress in the workplace. The program follows up with candidates after a period of six months.
The Labor Ministry also launched Mowaama, Arabic for “adaptability,” a program aimed at increasing the number of companies that can hire people with special needs, in July 2017.
Mowaama encourages private sector institutions to cater to this segment of society as part of their moral duty to their country, while also ensuring companies foster an inclusive agenda.
Savola Group, one of the country’s foremost industrial companies, launched the Makeen employment initiative, which has helped more than 1,000 citizens with disabilities find work over the past eight years.
Meanwhile, Qaderoon, Arabic for “we are capable,” is a national business disability network that provides guidance, advice, data, and training for employers to recruit, retain and include employees with special needs.
About 10 percent of the Saudi population has some form of disability, according to a survey conducted by the General Authority for Statistics.
According to the survey, 3.2 percent became disabled as a result of traffic accidents. Hassan Al-Zahrani, a Saudi paraplegic social media activist, was one of those victims.
He lost his ability to walk in a car accident when he was just 14 years old. He was in a coma for nine months after the accident.
Now 39 years old, he has worked with Saudi Arabian Airlines at King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah since 2004.
He obtained a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Al-Baha University.
“Finding work was challenging and taught me a lesson that I chose to share with my community, which sees me as a role model,” Al-Zahrani told Arab News.
“I believe that people with disabilities can be integrated in any field. We just need good social services and environments that are conducive to our progress.”
Al-Zahrani has more than 4,000 followers on Twitter and aims to ensure equal opportunities for all.
He was keen to shed light on the issues he faces in his daily life, and hopes people can respect special needs provisions.
Al-Zahrani’s story was told through a documentary.
“I have taken on diving as a hobby,” he said. “It was difficult imagining myself diving because I’m a paraplegic, but I find it easy now since I was well-trained.”
Hawazen Binzagr, a Saudi clinical psychotherapist who works at the Adult & Child Therapy Center in Jeddah, told Arab News: “The most important point is to focus on the needs of this segment of society and to help them to reach their aspirations.
“Every person with a form of disability will have different ways of coping and dealing with their situation. The lack of social services and awareness makes them see their difficulties as obstacles. They begin to feel sadness, anger, hopelessness and disappointment.”
Binzagr said that such negative thoughts could severely impact their mental health.


Saudi sisters’ deaths in New York ruled suicide

Updated 23 January 2019
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Saudi sisters’ deaths in New York ruled suicide

JEDDAH: The deaths of Saudi-born sisters Rotana Farea, 22, and Tala Farea, 16, in New York’s Hudson River last October were the result of drowning by suicide, said the office of the city’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Barbara Samson.
“My office determined that the death of the Farea sisters was the result of suicide, in which the young women bound themselves together before descending into the Hudson River,” Samson said in a statement.
The two bodies were discovered by a passer-by just before 3 p.m. on Oct. 24. The New York Police Department (NYPD) said police responded to a 911 call and “upon arrival, officers discovered two unidentified females unconscious and unresponsive with no obvious signs of trauma.” Emergency personnel declared them dead at the scene.
An official at the Saudi Embassy in Washington refuted an Associated Press (AP) claim that the mother of the sisters said she had received a call from the embassy requesting that the family leave the US because the daughters had requested asylum. 
“Any/all communications with the mother had nothing to do with a supposed asylum claim,” the Saudi official told Arab News. 
The NYPD denied releasing any information regarding an alleged asylum request. The family declined an Arab News request for comment.