Saudi princess says gender balance key to reforming society

Princess Moudi bint Khalid during the Al-Nahda event. (Ziyad Alarfaj )
Updated 14 March 2019
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Saudi princess says gender balance key to reforming society

  • Princess Moudi bint Khalid spoke at a conference being held on the heels of International Women’s Day
  • Another speaker, historian and author Sultan Al-Mousa, described how women were once considered sacred and holy beings

RIYADH: Equality for men and women at home and in the workplace was key to achieving social and economic reform in Saudi Arabia, according to Princess Moudi bint Khalid.

The Saudi royal was speaking at a conference being held on the heels of International Women’s Day, during which she highlighted the importance of a gender-balanced society to the success of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan.

Princess Moudi was addressing delegates in her role as general secretary of the board of directors of conference organizer Al-Nahda, a nonprofit body which has been working to empower women for 57 years through education and financial support.

She said this year’s conference theme “Balance for Better,” should be a goal all year round and not just for one day.

“I pray that we work together to achieve a balance between both genders in all fields, whether at home or in the workplace,” the princess said, while also emphasizing Al-Nahda’s important role in empowering women and announcing that the organization will launch a book documenting its journey.

Historian and author Sultan Al-Mousa became the first man to speak at a public event at Al-Nahda’s headquarters when he gave a talk on the competition in ancient civilizations between men and women.

Al-Mousa described how women were once considered sacred and holy beings, before being persecuted, and he spoke about their different roles throughout history.

Dr. Moudhi Al-Jamea, a Saudi telecom executive and “ethical hacker,” spoke about the lack of women in the technology sector.

She told the conference that there were many reasons for this, such as the lack of female role models and many families viewing it as an unattractive career for women.

Al-Jamea said she was the only female Ph.D. graduate in cybersecurity. “We have lots of universities that have tech roles and subjects, but there is a disconnection in the industry.” 

During part of the conference, delegates were plunged into darkness following an electricity cut. However, with the audience using lights on their mobile phones, Maha Taher, VP of the Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Co., was able to deliver her speech on the challenges of being a working mother and finding a balance between her personal life and career.

“Take it slow and enjoy every phase of your life,” she said. “If you’re a mom, enjoy your children; if you’re a CEO, enjoy your success.”

Taher stressed the importance of equity over equality. “Women don’t want to be a façade. Don’t give us positions if we don’t deserve it. Give it for competency, not to fill a void.” 


Houthi threat to holy sites in Makkah condemned

Updated 21 May 2019
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Houthi threat to holy sites in Makkah condemned

  • Iran-backed militias have no qualms about attacking the holiest place in Islam, says analyst
  • This is not the first time that Houthi militias have targeted Makkah, having fired on the city in July 2017

JEDDAH: The Royal Saudi Air Defense Forces intercepted and destroyed two missiles launched from Yemen by Iran-aligned Houthi militias on Monday. 

The missiles were reported to have been heading toward Makkah and Jeddah. 

A spokesman for the Arab Coalition said that the missiles were destroyed over Taif in the early morning, and that fragments from the first projectile had landed in Wadi Jalil, a valley that extends toward Makkah.

Residents in Jeddah told Arab News that they heard a loud blast early on Monday morning.

This is not the first time that Houthi militias have targeted Makkah, having fired on the city in July 2017.

Videos circulating on social media reportedly show the second missile being intercepted and destroyed in the skies over King Abdulaziz International Airport.

Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry denounced the Houthi attack and commended the Royal Saudi Air Defense Forces for their vigilance. 

Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a Riyadh-based Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar, said: “This isn’t the first time that the Houthis and their masters in Tehran have fired missiles close to the holy city of Makkah.” 

They have no qualms about attacking the holiest place in Islam, he added. 

“They care nothing for the sanctity of the holy month of Ramadan. What they did today, and what they did in the past, clearly reveal their sinister designs to strike at the heart of the Muslim world,” Al-Shehri said.

“Now is the time for all Muslim nations in the world to come to the defense of the holy land. Our sacred places are under attack from Iran, the Houthis and their militias,” he added.

“Mere condemnation won’t do. Iran and the Houthis have crossed a red line, and this calls for deterrent action against Tehran,” he said.

Yemen’s internationally recognized government also condemned the Houthis’ attempt to target Makkah, calling it “a full-fledged terrorist attack.”

Monday’s aggression came as Saudi Arabia warned that recent drone attacks against its oil-pumping stations by the Houthis will jeopardize UN peace efforts in Yemen and lead to further escalation in the region.

Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, Saudi ambassador to the UN, said “seven explosive drones” directed by the Houthis attacked pumping stations on May 14 in the cities of Dawadmi and Afif “on the east-west oil pipeline that transfers Saudi oil to Yanbu port and to the rest of the world.”

He urged UN Security Council members, in a letter circulated on Monday, “to disarm this terrorist militia in order to prevent the escalation of these attacks which increase regional tensions and raise the risks of a broader regional confrontation.”

Al-Shehri said Monday’s attack is a reminder to Muslim nations about the clear and present danger from Iran.  “Tehran timed the attack just as King Salman has called for a meeting in Makkah to discuss the threat from Iran to the Muslim world,” Al-Shehri said.

Saudi security forces have intercepted and destroyed 227 ballistic missiles launched by the Houthis at the Kingdom since 2015.