UN cease-fire efforts for Yemen gain backing from Saudi Arabia

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman chairs the weekly Cabinet meeting in Riyadh on Monday. (SPA)
Updated 18 October 2016
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UN cease-fire efforts for Yemen gain backing from Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The warring parties in Yemen have agreed to a 72-hour cease-fire which is to take effect shortly before midnight Wednesday, the UN special envoy to Yemen announced Monday.
A U.N. statement said Special Envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed "welcomes the restoration of the Cessation of Hostilities, which will spare the Yemeni people further bloodshed and will allow for the expanded delivery of humanitarian assistance."
Ahmed said he had received assurances from all Yemeni parties to cease hostilities at 11:59 p.m. Yemen time on Oct. 19 "for an initial period of 72 hours, subject to renewal."
Earlier, Saudi Arabia welcomed a statement issued after the London meeting on Yemen, which expressed support for the efforts of Ahmed, the Cabinet said in a statement, following its weekly meeting.
The meeting was chaired by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, who briefed the Cabinet on the outcome of Ahmed’s meeting in London to discuss the situation in Yemen.
Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said, before the Ahmed’s ceasefire announcement, that Saudi Arabia is prepared to agree to a cease-fire in Yemen if the Iran-allied Houthis agree, adding that he was sceptical about efforts for peace after previous cease-fire attempts had failed. “Everybody wants a cease-fire in Yemen, nobody more so than the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the coalition members,” he told reporters in London.
He accused the Houthis of reneging on previous deals. “So yes, we come at this with a lot of cynicism. But we are prepared, the Yemeni government is prepared, to agree to a cessation of hostilities if the Houthis agree to it. The coalition countries will respect the desire of the Yemeni government,” Al-Jubeir said.
“The momentum is going against them in Yemen. They’re losing more territory, more people are mobilized against them. They are not paying their bills, businesses are not extending credit to them,” Al-Jubeir said.
Essam bin Saad bin Said, acting minister of culture and information, said in a statement to the media that the Cabinet confirmed the Riyadh’s support for the Asia Cooperation Dialogue Vision 2030 held in Bangkok, and the Kingdom's readiness to actively participate in most of the proposed initiatives meant to develop that vision into programs and put them into practice.
He also stressed the importance of respecting the principle of state sovereignty and immunity to the judiciary of another state, and said that the adoption of any unilateral item of legislation that undermines this principle is a clear violation of the principles of international law.
“The Cabinet commended KSRelief’s directive to coordinate with the Coalition Forces Command, the Yemeni government and the UN bodies to facilitate the transfer of the wounded in the Great Hall incident in Sanaa who need treatment outside Yemen,” said the minister.
The Cabinet welcomed the liberation of the town of Dabiq from the grip of the terrorist organization Daesh, praising the victory achieved by the “Free Syrian Army” supported by Turkish troops in the operation “The Shield of the Euphrates.”
The victory, it said, is an important step on the way to defeating terrorism.
The Cabinet also expressed the Kingdom's condemnation of the attack by Houthi militias on the US Navy destroyer Mason in the international waters of the Red Sea, saying that such terrorist acts pose great dangers the international navigation.
It also condemned the Houthi attack on an Emirati relief ship and the militias’ continuous attacks on civilians in the villages bordering the Kingdom and their firing of missiles on the Kingdom's territory.
The Cabinet denounced the terrorist acts in north Sinai, Gaziantep and Baghdad, which resulted in deaths and injuries, stressing the Kingdom's rejection of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
It offered the Kingdom’s condolences to the families of the victims in these countries and wished speedy recovery to the injured.
 
— With input from agencies


Saudi businesswomen eye greater role in the economy with end to driving ban

The end of the driving ban is expected to help bring an economic windfall for Saudi women. (Shutterstock)
Updated 3 min 43 sec ago
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Saudi businesswomen eye greater role in the economy with end to driving ban

  • The historic move is a huge step forward for businesswomen in the Saudi Arabia, says businesswoman
  • A recent survey by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce indicated that transportation was a major concern holding Saudi women back from joining the labor market

The end of the driving ban will boost women’s financial power and allow them to play a bigger role in economic and social diversification in line with Vision 2030, prominent businesswomen said on Friday.

Hind Khalid Al-Zahid was the first Saudi woman designated as an executive director — for Dammam Airport Company — and also heads the Businesswomen Center at the Eastern Province Chamber of Commerce and Industry. 

She sees the historic move as a huge step forward for businesswomen in the Kingdom.

“Women being allowed to drive is very important; of course this will help a lot in sustainable development as the lifting of the ban on women driving came as a wonderful opportunity to increase women’s participation in the workforce,” she told Arab News on Friday, ahead of the end of the ban on Sunday.

She added that women in the job market are under-represented; they make up to 22 percent of the national workforce of about six million according to official estimates. Lifting the ban will help to take women’s representation in the workforce to 30 percent by 2030, she said.

“This is not just the right thing to do for women’s emancipation, but also an essential step in economic and social development as part of the reforms,” she said.

She said that there were different obstacles in increasing women’s participation in the workforce and other productive activities, and the driving ban was one of them. It was a strategic issue that needed to be addressed on a priority basis. With the issue resolved, it would help immensely in giving Saudi women better representation as they would help to diversify the Saudi economy and society.

She said that women could contribute hugely to the workforce and labor market as half of Saudi human resources were female, and unless allowed to excel in different sectors it would not be possible to do better, mainly because of restricted mobility.

A recent survey by the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce indicated that transportation was a major concern holding Saudi women back from joining the labor market.

Nouf Ibrahim, a businesswoman in Riyadh, said: “It will surely boost female economic participation and help increase women’s representation in the workforce immensely. It will also help to reduce the overall national unemployment rate as most of the unemployed are women and many of them are eligible as university graduates.”

She echoed the opinion that the move would help to bring an economic windfall for Saudi women, making it easier for them to work and do business, and thus play a bigger and better role that would help economic and social diversification in line with Saudi Vision 2030.

“Being able to drive from Sunday onwards after the ban is lifted will be a wonderful experience. Earlier we were dependent on a male family member and house driver to take us to workplace, to the shopping center, school or other required places for some work, now we can drive and that will allow active participation in productive work,” Sulafa Hakami, a Saudi woman working as the digital communication manager with an American MNC in Riyadh, told Arab News.

“Saudi women can now share effectively the bigger and better responsibilities,” she said.