From STEM to STEAM: British Council seeks to broaden young Saudis’ horizons

British Council’s Chief Executive Sir Ciarán Devane during the interview with Arab News. (AN photo by Noor Nugali)
Updated 04 February 2019
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From STEM to STEAM: British Council seeks to broaden young Saudis’ horizons

  • Promoting culture and entertainment is part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan

RIYADH: The British Council wants to broaden the horizons of young Saudis by adding art to their education, the head of the organization told Arab News Sunday.
Sir Ciaran Devane, the council’s chief executive, said the body wants to give young people in the Kingdom different opportunities and turn STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, math) into STEAM with the introduction of art.
He was speaking at the Creative Futures Forum in Riyadh, where delegates debated how best to support the creative sector, notably through arts and culture education and the development of soft and technical skills for the next generation.
The forum, which ends Monday, is also aimed at helping people to understand the challenges and opportunities related to developing a creative sector workforce in the region.
“What we would like to achieve is by bringing some of the experiences and expertise, the successes and the failures that we have had,” Sir Ciaran told Arab News. “It will help the Kingdom and the people of Saudi Arabia with their own journey. That journey will be wherever the people of Saudi Arabia choose to take it. I don’t think anyone one of us from the outside should have a view of what that should be.”
Promoting culture and entertainment is part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan.
“We are well aware that the cultural and entertainment opportunities currently available do not reflect the rising aspirations of our citizens and residents, nor are they in harmony with our prosperous economy,” says the official Vision 2030 website. “It is why we will support the efforts of regions, governorates, nonprofit and private sectors to organize cultural events. Land suitable for cultural and entertainment projects will be provided and talented writers, authors, and directors will be carefully supported.”
Recent months have seen a boom in entertainment and cultural activities in Saudi Arabia, including pop concerts and sporting events.
Sir Ciaran praised Vision 2030, adding: “What is great about the approach is that it is focusing not only on the creative cultural side but also the technical and infrastructure side. For the creative sector to be sustainable you need both.”
He said the current conversation was about ensuring students had a variety of opportunities.
The Kingdom’s General Culture Authority, in collaboration with the council, would work on shifting students’ focus from STEM to STEAM.
Ahmad Al-Maziad, CEO of the General Cultural Authority, said the forum was a place for decision makers and industry players to exchange ideas and present their vision for the future of creative industries.
“We are delighted to collaborate with the British Council and look forward to witnessing how this forum will lead to some clear recommendations that can help shape and develop the visions and plans for the cultural sector in Saudi Arabia and in other Gulf countries,” he said in his opening remarks.


TheFace: Aghareed Abduljawad, supply chain director at Globe Group

Updated 29 min 19 sec ago
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TheFace: Aghareed Abduljawad, supply chain director at Globe Group

  • Aghareed Abduljawad is also the finance director at Abduljawad Holding Co.

It is a great honor for me to be featured in this space, not only to be representing the young women of society but also to be able to share my personal background story.

I am privileged to have been brought up in a home where both my parents did not discriminate between genders but rather promoted equality and equal opportunity and education among me and my siblings.

This shaped me into becoming the eager, persistent, determined, and some would even say competitive, person that I am.

My father has always been a role model for me in business. A well-rounded global engineer by education, a successful businessman by virtue, but more importantly he is my father.

He taught me always to remain strong, fearless, and brave but gave me all the opportunities to be successful by earning it rather than receiving it. This somehow constitutes the core of our business values at Globe Group.

Similar to every family business, boardroom discussions always somehow find themselves at the center of the dinner table, but this is where we can count on my wonderful mother to intervene.

As a graduate in English literature, she brings the arts and cultural side to our family which is always a nice break when we’re constantly thinking of how to grow a successful third-generation business. She is the motivation behind the enhancement of my language skills (truly capturing Arabic, French and English languages) and the hobbies we enjoy (such as playing the piano).

I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in finance from Prince Mohammad bin Fahd University in 2014 and currently hold the position of supply chain director at Globe Group, as well as finance director at Abduljawad Holding Co.

Abduljawad Holding is the investment arm of our business conglomerate, Globe Group. Globe is one of the most established logistics and transportation companies in the region and was founded by my late grandfather Fareed Abduljawad in 1976.

My journey at Globe started very early in my teens, when I enjoyed spending time with my father at the office and learning the trade. I realized with age that no matter how much corporate governance we tried to follow in the company, our code of ethics was very similar to values we were taught at home.

Nothing is given to you on a plate; you need to work hard and earn every merit. Globe is a company that was here before I was born, and we want to ensure it is around for the next generation, stronger and more successful than ever.

Because of our family nature, we tend also to treat our employees as family and end up being one big family running an operation. This goes back to how I was brought up with my siblings; we are much stronger as a team than as one.

Who do I aspire to be? An established, global and successful businesswoman leading the family name and business for the next generation to come, hopefully one day as the CFO.