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 Arabia’s Red Sea project ensures protection of ecology

The project will provide visitors with a uniquely diverse, immersive experience while setting new standards in sustainable development and positioning Saudi Arabia on the global tourism map. (SPA)
Updated 16 min 15 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea project ensures protection of ecology

  • Master plan preserves 75% of the islands for conservation
  • The first phase of the development, scheduled for completion in 2022, includes 14 luxury and hyper-luxury hotels providing 3,000 rooms across five islands

JEDDAH: Plans to develop one of the world’s most ambitious tourism projects in Saudi Arabia, have been given the green light. The Red Sea Development Co. (TRSDC), which is leading the luxury leisure project, has received final approval from its board of directors for the program’s master plan.
The tourism project, drawn up in partnership with global design firm WATG and engineering giant BuroHappold, will incorporate state-of-the-art building design concepts from some of the world’s top architectural firms and is expected to create up to 70,000 new jobs.
The first phase of the development, scheduled for completion in 2022, includes 14 luxury and hyper-luxury hotels providing 3,000 rooms across five islands and two inland resorts on the Kingdom’s west coast. Phase one will also include marinas, leisure and lifestyle amenities and an airport to serve the destination.
As part of the planning process, major environmental studies were carried out to ensure that the area’s sensitive ecology was protected both during and after completion of the development.
The final master plan, which preserves some 75 percent of the destination’s islands for conservation and designates nine islands as sites of significant ecological value, required several redesigns to avoid potential disruption to endangered species native to the area.
John Pagano, CEO of TRSDC, said: “The design concepts that we have presented to the board will provide visitors with a uniquely diverse, immersive experience while setting new standards in sustainable development and positioning Saudi Arabia on the global tourism map.
“With the master plan approved, we are now identifying investors and partners who are interested in working with us on realizing the objectives of the project and who share our commitment to enhance, not exploit, the natural ecosystems that make the destination so unique.”
The approved master plan will steer the development of 22 of the 90-plus islands at the destination, providing up to 10,000 hotel rooms across island resorts, mountain retreats and desert hideaways. The location will also offer luxury residential properties and a wide range of commercial, retail and recreational facilities.
The master plan is underpinned by an extensive smart destination management system that will support a wide range of personalized products and services designed to appeal to the modern luxury traveler.
TRSDC employed the world’s first destination-scale computer simulation techniques, created in Saudi Arabia, to assess the impact of the development and future tourism on the environment. The resulting plan now targets a 30 percent net increase in biodiversity over the next two decades, a conservation equivalent to designating the site as a marine protection area.
Technology also underpins the destination’s sustainability initiatives, with a suite of sensors and monitoring devices in place to track and measure variations in environmental factors such as water salinity, temperature, visibility and tidal flows.
“The leadership of the Kingdom has shown great foresight in its insistence on balanced development of this pristine destination,” said Pagano. “Our plan not only envisions a stunning luxury destination, it also takes tangible, measurable steps to enhance that destination for future generations to enjoy and cherish.”