Social media and apps are platforms for good deeds during Ramadan

Joy of Youth has expanded volunteer work to include free medical checks for people and projects during Ramadan. (Supplied)
Updated 13 May 2019

Social media and apps are platforms for good deeds during Ramadan

  • Holy month an active season for charity work
  • Social media promotes volunteering

JEDDAH: The holy month of Ramadan is seen as a time for giving and improving one’s moral character, leading to many charitable and volunteering activities taking place across the Kingdom.
Social media platforms and apps — despite being blamed for social ills and mental health problems among the younger generation — have a role to play in spreading the Ramadan messages of selflessness.
“Ramadan is definitely an active season for us. We prepare a special new campaign for Ramadan every year,” Saeed Azhar, founder of a volunteering non-profit, told Arab News. “The technology of today has greatly helped to define the roles of voluntary groups and to show their impact both locally and globally. Apps and social media provided better channels for communication among those interested in volunteering and raising awareness of its importance and positive impact in society.” 
His non-profit, Joy of Youth, has an Instagram account with more than 24,000 followers and a Twitter account of more than 9,000 followers. The group has distributed iftar food packages and handed out gifts to departing pilgrims — just two out of 55 campaigns successfully completed in the five years since it started.
“We have more projects in Ramadan, which means the opportunities we create increase greatly, and consequently the number of our volunteers also increases.”
Joy of Youth was started in 2013 by Azhar and a group of young Saudi students in the US. The group began by distributing iftar meals in Jeddah and then gradually expanded, its work reaching 10 cities in the Kingdom including Jeddah, Makkah, Tabuk, Dammam and Alkhobar.
Joy of Youth has developed the type of services offered, and this year launched a health campaign.
“Human Health” aims to raise awareness in poorer neighborhoods by distributing bulletins and brochures, and offering free medical checks for people.
Azhar said social media platforms helped Joy of Youth attract young people who wanted to contribute to improving the lives of others, as well as sponsors and charities wanting to play their role in Saudi Arabia’s social development.
“We have been able to spread our message and invite those who believe in it to join us. We saw the desire of many to leave a positive impact on their communities and their surroundings, which pushed us to expand outside the western region of the Kingdom in response to the increasing demand to participate in our initiatives,” he added.
Azhar said the downside to social media — as far as Joy of Youth was concerned — was that the group could not include as many “passionate volunteers” as it wanted to in its campaigns.
 “Twitter is the most interactive platform among volunteers and those who wish to join us,” he added.
The Khadoum app is another social initiative that was developed by a group of young Saudis driven by their sense of community responsibility - and taking volunteering to another level.
 “Khadoum was created in an effort to spread civic engagement and community participation among youth,” the app’s co-founder Dania Al-Masri told Arab News. “The iOS and Android app takes users on a journey that will later result in an increase in their overall empathy level and sense of leadership. It also motivates participants to acquire a higher sense of responsibility and honesty.”
She said social media had helped to spread the concept of volunteering in Saudi Arabia and inspire the public to do good. “It has been a very powerful tool used to shed light on certain causes that need intervention, and we are very happy to see more and more aware individuals use this powerful tool to advocate for a community challenge or a cause.”
Al-Masri and Khadoum co-founder Fidaa Al-Hassan started the app as a tech-based solution to civil society issues. Although the app began in Jeddah, the duo want to reach people across the Gulf.
 The app enables users to unlock a set of volunteer ideas and community challenges. People are encouraged to provide solutions to the presented challenges, or complete the volunteer ideas and provide proof of completion.
 The volunteer ideas and community challenges are updated on a regular basis through the app, and participants are encouraged to complete them and upload a verification photo or video. An app admin views the verification method presented, and either approves the completion of the mission or rejects it.
 Upon approval of the mission, the user gains points that are equivalent to community hours and can get certificates for their work. Khadoum certificates are issued by the Oyoon Jeddah Charity.

 Khadoum will be three years old in July. “Khadoum started out from the sole motivation of wanting to provide a window of opportunity to anyone who would like to volunteer. We truly wanted to make volunteering a daily habit that is convenient and accessible to all,” Al-Masri said.
She added that more people are looking to volunteer and do good deeds during Ramadan.
“We do notice an increase in the engagement level. We find Ramadan the perfect opportunity to partner up with brands and help them achieve their corporate social responsibility goals through collaborating with Khadoum,” she said.

Peace is our priority but the world must take a stand against Iran, says Saudi cabinet

Updated 22 May 2019

Peace is our priority but the world must take a stand against Iran, says Saudi cabinet

  • Saudi cabinet says the international community must take firm action against the regime in Tehran
  • Saudi’s king invites GCC leaders to hold Gulf and Arab summits in Makkah on May 30

JEDDAH: The Saudi cabinet on Tuesday said that while the Kingdom believes all people in the region have a right to live in peace, including the Iranians, the international community must take firm action against the regime in Tehran to prevent it from spreading destruction and chaos.

After a meeting of the Council of Ministers at Assalam Palace, presided over by King Salman, Turki Al-Shabanah, the minister of media, told the Saudi Press Agency that the cabinet reviewed reports on regional and global development, and the king invited GCC leaders to hold Gulf and Arab summits in Makkah on May 30. The invitation reflects the Kingdom’s desire to work with other nations to boost security and stability in the region, the minister said, especially in light of the Iran’s continuing aggressive actions. The regime’s recent activities threaten regional and international peace and security, and the supply and stability of international oil markets, he added.

Al-Shabanah reiterated the Kingdom’s commitment to peace and said it will make every effort to prevent war. The nation’s hand is always extended, he added, in the belief that everyone in the region, including the Iranians, has the right to live in a secure and stable environment.

However, the cabinet called on the international community to shoulder its responsibilities by taking a firm stance against the actions of the regime in Tehran, to prevent its disruptive and destructive activities throughout the world. It also called on Iran to halt the reckless and irresponsible behavior of its agents, to save the region from the dangers they pose and potential repercussions.

The cabinet also expressed the Kingdom’s hopes and expectations that the 14th Ordinary Session of the Islamic Summit Conference, will encourage unity of response to ongoing events in the Islamic world. The summit, chaired by King Salman, will be held in Makkah on May 31 under the title “Makkah Summit: Hand in Hand toward the Future.”

Ministers heard that the Kingdom has sent $250 million to the Central Bank of Sudan as part of a previously announced package of assistance in partnership with the United Arab Emirates. This latest demonstration of support from the Kingdom to the Sudanese people aims to help stabilize the country’s economy, and strengthen the Sudanese pound in particular, to help improve the lives of the nation’s people.

The cabinet also welcomed the decision of the 14th meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee to monitor an oil production reduction agreement concluded in Jeddah, which was headed by the Kingdom and Russia, and affirmed its commitment to balancing the oil market and stabilizing it on a sustainable basis.

Turning to local affairs, the Council of Ministers confirmed the generous support of SR 100 million ($26.7 million) from the king, and SR 30 million from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the Jood Housing platform. Launched a day earlier, and supervised by the National Housing Development Association, it aims to accelerate the development process through the introduction of a new model of social solidarity, in which government, charities and commercial entities work together in accordance with regulations designed to provide support for those in need.

The council also discussed the results of the 26th meeting of the region’s governors, and praised the king for his directives designed to preserve security and help people throughout the Kingdom.