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 King Salman offers $1m to International Civil Aviation Organization

Updated 17 June 2019
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Saudi Arabia's King Salman offers $1m to International Civil Aviation Organization

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has provided $1 million to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the Saudi Press Agency reported Monday.

The announcement came as part of the “Kingdom’s efforts in supporting international organizations and bodies and the leadership’s keenness to play an important role in the most important international and regional organizations,” SPA said.

The aid will go towards supporting ICAO’s No Country Left Behind (NCLB) initiative, which aims to assist developing countries in applying the standards and recommended methods for the safety and security of civil aviation.

The aid will also contribute to the costs of translating the organization’s documents and publications into Arabic.

The President of the Kingdom’s General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA), Abdulhadi bin Ahmed Al-Mansouri thanked King Salman for his support to the aviation sector locally, regionally and globally, 

He said: “this contributes to the development of the aviation industry and to improve the safety and security of civil aviation in developing countries, least developed countries and island states.

The $1 million of financial assistance is an extension of the Kingdom's previous financial support in 2016 which “ the level of safety and security of civil aviation in the Middle East and Africa," Al-Mansouri said.

Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, the ICAO’s president, thanked the king for the support.