Offscreen Expeditions

Updated 19 August 2012
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Offscreen Expeditions

In a creative collaboration with Edge of Arabia, eleven young artists between the ages of 16-25 from Saudi Arabia were selected for The Most Competitive Youth award to attend Crossway Foundation’s Offscreen Expedition program in the UK.
The Most Competitive Youth award is an initiative of the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) to bring Saudi Arabia’s economy to the forefront of competitiveness by engaging youth in Saudi Arabia (Saudi nationals and residents) to improve their communities by teaching skills that inspire creativity and promote innovation.
In 2011, The Crossway Foundation (a London-based charity promoting creative and cultural collaboration between young people in the UK and Saudi Arabia) collaborated with SAGIA on their Arts and Creativity category of the Most Competitive Youth award.
The eleven winners: Salwa Ali, Sarah Mohanna Al-Abdali, Nasser Al-Salem, Mohammed Al-Ashoor, Mario El Khoury, Nora AlGosaibi, Nahla Khogeer, Tahani Al-Briki, Ahmed Kurdi, Basmah Felemban and Nouf Alhimiary, were selected amongst an overwhelming number of participating entries in the nationwide creative competition, “Most Competitive Youth,” conducted in December 2011.
The winning artists were awarded with a 16-day sponsored cultural journey last month to the United Kingdom that allowed them the chance to collaborate and work with professional artists, designers, museum curators, social entrepreneurs and filmmakers to develop skills in leadership, communication and creativity.
The artists mainly working in photography, painting and mixed media, toured London and Cornwall to work with leading creative establishments, which included Tate Modern and Tate St. Ives, The British Museum, The Delfina Foundation, The Victoria & Albert Museum, Penguin Books, The Barbara Hepworth Museum, White Cube Gallery and Mile End Community Project.
“The aim of the project is to give young people from the UK and Saudi Arabia the chance to communicate and learn from each other in positive and creative ways,” said Offscreen Expeditions Director Stephen Stapleton.
One of the winning photographer Mario El Khoury said, “This competition was about Haj, a journey to the heart of Islam — Makkah. Being part of the Saudi youth, knowing that I am not Saudi, but born and living among a multicultural and multi-religious environment pushed me toward participating and submitting my material to this competition.”
“And here we are, back, filled with nostalgia but gladly, thankfully and constantly having a different and completely new point of view when it comes to arts in general,” he added.
The tour also entailed engagement in creative workshops like developing the ‘Hash Tag’ project using a variety of media like photography, sculpture and video. The project was based on the exploration of online communications in Saudi Arabia, and how the digital platform is bringing changes in the country that is hugely becoming a social media reliant society at large.
Other highlights included a critical thinking workshop at Tate St. Ives, surfing, hikes along the English coast, and a workshop at The Newlyn Gallery with local students.
The artists were also allowed the chance to display their winning submissions in a special exhibition at the British Museum’s Addis Gallery, alongside the Museum’s star-studded and enormously successful exhibition ‘Haj: Journey to the heart of Islam,’ that was launched early this year.
The end of tour was also marked with another celebratory public exhibition of works that were created during the course of the journey by the selected winners.
Chairman of The Arab British Center remarked,“I have been associated with Saudi Arabia for 24 years, and have never come across this degree of exhilarating work before. I loved the energy and joy of the students, and the chance you have given them to release it. They really give me hope for the future of the Kingdom.”
Salwa Ali, another winning artist from Jeddah, said, “This expedition was planned to enhance my artistic abilities, but it went far beyond that. It has not only given me more confidence as a person, but it has encouraged me to try new things and to constantly look out for new opportunities. Best of all, I have acquired an extended family in the Offscreen Expeditions team.”
The works of the Create and Inspire winners will be on display in The Arab British Center, UK, until Nov. 2012.
You can follow their journey at: www.facebook.com/offscreenexpeditions and www.twitter.com/offscreenexped
Sign up for the Offscreen Expeditions newsletter and watch the films at: www.offscreenexpedition.com
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Email: [email protected]

 


’No place for a mother’: S. Korea battles to raise birth rate

(FILES) This photo taken on March 22, 2016 shows a child gesturing to a woman at Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul. (AFP)
Updated 18 December 2018
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’No place for a mother’: S. Korea battles to raise birth rate

  • Now 27, she has been rejected at several job interviews as soon as she revealed she had a child, and has given up seeking employment, trying to set up her own trading business instead

SEOUL: When Ashley Park started her marketing job at a Seoul drugmaker she had a near-perfect college record, flawless English, and got on well with her colleagues — none of which mattered to her employer once she fell pregnant.
Nine months after she joined, Park said, “They said to my face that there is no place in the company for a woman with a child, so I needed to quit.”
All the women working at the firm were single or childless, she suddenly realized, and mostly below 40.
Park’s case exemplifies why so many South Korean women are put off marriage and childbirth, pushing the country’s birth rate — one of the world’s lowest — ever further down.
Earlier this month Seoul announced its latest set of measures to try to stem the decline, but critics say they will have little to no effect in the face of deep-seated underlying causes.
Many South Korean firms are reluctant to employ mothers, doubting their commitment to the company and fearing that they will not put in the long hours that are standard in the country — as well as to avoid paying for their legally-entitled birth leave.
When Park refused to quit, her boss relentlessly bullied her — banning her from attending business meetings and ignoring her at the office “like I was an invisible ghost” — and management threatened to fire her husband, who worked at the same company.
After fighting for about six months, she finally relented and offered her resignation, giving birth to a daughter a month later. Aside from a brief stint at an IT start-up that did not keep its promise of flexible working hours, she has been a stay-at-home mother ever since.
“I studied and worked so hard for years to get a job when youth unemployment was so high, and enjoyed my work so much... and look what happened to me,” Park told AFP.
Now 27, she has been rejected at several job interviews as soon as she revealed she had a child, and has given up seeking employment, trying to set up her own trading business instead.
“The government kept telling women to have more children... but how, in a country like this?” she asked.

The South’s fertility rate — the number of children a woman is expected to have in her lifetime — fell to 0.95 in the third quarter of 2018, the first time it has dropped below 1 and far short of the 2.1 needed to maintain stability.
As a result of the trend, which has been dubbed a “birth strike” by women, the population of the world’s 11th largest economy, currently 51 million, is expected to start falling in 2028.
Many cite reasons ranging from the expense of child-rearing, high youth unemployment, long working hours and limited daycare to career setbacks for working mothers.
Even if women hold on to their jobs, they bear a double burden of carrying out the brunt of household chores.
Patriarchal values remain deeply ingrained in the South: nearly 85 percent of South Korean men back the idea of women working, according to a state survey, but that plummets to 47 percent when asked whether they would support their own wives having a job.
Employment rates for married men and women are dramatically different — 82 percent and 53 percent respectively.
Now nearly three-quarters of South Korean women aged 20-40 see marriage as unnecessary, an opinion poll by a financial magazine and a recruitment website showed. But almost all children in the South are born in wedlock.

Against that backdrop, the South’s government has spent a whopping 136 trillion won ($121 billion) since 2005 to try to boost the birth rate, mostly through campaigns to encourage more young people to wed and reproduce, without success.
Earlier this month it announced yet another round of measures.
They included expanding child subsidies of up to 300,000 won ($270) a month, and allowing parents with children younger than eight to work an hour less each day to take care of their offspring.
More daycare centers and kindergartens will be built, and men will be allowed — but not obliged — to take 10 days of paid birth leave, up from the current three.
But many measures were not legally binding and carried no punishment for firms that denied their workers the promised benefits, and the package met a disdainful response.
“The government policies are based on this simplistic assumption that ‘if we give more money, people would have more children’,” the Korea Women Workers Association said in a statement.
Seoul should first address “relentless sexual discrimination at work and the double burden of work and housechores” for women, it added.
The centrist Korea Times newspaper also questioned whether such “lacklustre” state policies would bring in real change unless the government tackled the real drivers of women shunning marriage and childbirth.
“Unless these harsh conditions for women change, no amount of government subsidies will convince women having children is a happy choice.”