UN commends Saudi Arabia’s promotion of disability rights

Dr. Bandar bin Mohammed Al-Aiban, president of the Saudi Human Rights Commission, speaks during the ‘Rights of People with Disabilities’ symposium in Riyadh. (SPA)
Updated 21 February 2019
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UN commends Saudi Arabia’s promotion of disability rights

  • Kingdom has made ‘remarkable progress’ in welfare for disabled people

JEDDAH: The president of the Saudi Human Rights Commission, Dr. Bandar bin Mohammed Al-Aiban, said on Wednesday that the Kingdom is committed to promoting the rights of people with disabilities.

Al-Aiban was speaking at the opening of the “Rights of People with Disabilities” symposium in Riyadh, organized by the commission in cooperation with the local office of the UN. The symposium focused on currently available services — and plans for their development — in Saudi Arabia for disabled people, and discussed the challenges facing this segment of Saudi society.

UN Resident Coordinator in Saudi Arabia Nathalie Fustier said the UN appreciates the Kingdom's efforts, citing the Kingdom's ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol in 2008 as an example of Saudi’s support for the cause.

Mayssam Tamim, the assistant resident representative of the UN Development Program, described the Kingdom’s progress in ensuring the rights of people with special needs as “remarkable,” highlighting the increase in the number of associations and centers dedicated to their rehabilitation; the improvement in health care services; the drive to monitor the health of children likely to develop disabilities; and the creation of support offices in health facilities to provide logistical assistance. 

Tamim also discussed the progress in education — pointing out that students with disabilities are being integrated into public schools, where they are provided with social service support and with special equipment including books printed in Braille, audio books, sign language courses, and support services — and in labor and social welfare, highlighting the establishment of the “Tawafuq” employment program in 2014. Tawafuq, which is the Arabic word for success, ensures equal employment opportunities within the private sector for Saudis with disabilities, she explained. 

The symposium featured several papers submitted by Saudi ministries. Dr. Walid bin Khalifa Al-Shumaimeri submitted a paper on behalf of the Ministry of Health, reviewing the services offered to disabled people around the Kingdom.

Al-Shumaimeri presented a number of challenges faced by the ministry, pointing out that some health facilities cannot be adapted to better serve disabled people due to a lack of space or inadequate infrastructure. 

“The statistical survey for people with disabilities may not be accurate enough, thus adversely affecting the geographical distribution of services,” he said. 

Al-Shumaimeri also bemoaned the lack of a unified training program on the rights of disabled people, and how best to handle them, for healthcare workers. At the moment, he explained, “each entity implements its own training programs.”


Riyadh book fair hears lecture on Bahrain culture industry

Updated 21 March 2019
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Riyadh book fair hears lecture on Bahrain culture industry

  • Professor Diaa Al-Kaabi presented a survey of all aspects of Bahraini culture, from the early 19th century until the present day
  • She also highlighted the role of prominent Saudis in the founding of major cultural institutions in Bahrain

RIYADH: Riyadh International Book Fair on Wednesday hosted Dr. Diaa Al-Kaabi, who gave a lecture on the role of culture in Bahrain, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The academic, who is a professor at the University of Bahrain, highlighted the role of prominent Saudis in the founding of major cultural institutions in Bahrain. She named Muqbel Al-Zukair, and the families of Al-Gosaibi, Al-Bassam, Al-Ajaji, Al-Mashari and others, as pioneers.
She also mentioned the cultural agreement that was signed in 1974 between the Kingdom and Bahrain as the first such agreement signed between the two Gulf states.
Al-Kaabi presented a survey of all aspects of Bahraini culture, from the early 19th century until the present day. She highlighted major trends in Bahrain’s cultural industry, and the role of societies, theaters and universities, as well as state institutions, in promoting the nation’s culture to an international audience.
She addressed the beginnings of the cultural movement under Sheikh Issa bin Ali, which she considered as the founding of the country’s cultural consciousness. 
It heralded the age of enlightenment in Bahrain, which was part of the modern Arab Renaissance starting from the early nineteenth century, she said.
Al-Kaabi concluded her lecture by stressing that culture, if nurtured, could be a pillar of economic development as it provided many job opportunities and its revenues were high. 
Bahrain is the guest of honor at the fair, which runs until March 23.
A Bahraini pavilion will host 13 cultural events including poetry nights, seminars and children’s programs over the course of the fair. In total, more than 900 global publishing houses are set to participate, with 500,000 books and publications on display, and up to a million visitors expected to attend.