Save Al-Aqsa from Israel

Updated 06 September 2014
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Save Al-Aqsa from Israel

Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, urged UNESCO on Thursday to take effective steps for protecting Masjid Al-Aqsa — the third holiest mosque in the world — from Israeli designs.
Prince Salman made this call during a visit to UNESCO headquarters in Paris before the conclusion of his four-day official visit to France. The crown prince later returned to Jeddah.
“UNESCO should activate all its international resolutions to protect Al-Aqsa and all other valuable cultural antiquities in Palestine from Israeli aggression,” the crown prince said while praising the organization for giving full membership to Palestine.
A final communiqué that was issued at the end of the royal visit emphasized the two countries’ desire to strengthen their defense cooperation.
“France has expressed its willingness to support Saudi Navy with speedboats in order to enhance its maritime capabilities,” the communiqué said, adding that it would back Royal Saudi Air Force with transport and refueling aircraft.
“The two countries also agreed to continue their fruitful cooperation in the field of air defense and development of new capabilities in the field of satellites,” the communiqué stated.
During his visit, Prince Salman held talks with President Francois Hollande, Prime Minister Manuel Valls; Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius and Minister Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian on major regional and international issues and strengthening bilateral cooperation.
In a cable sent to Hollande, Prince Salman said the visit would play a key role in strengthening Saudi-French relations in all fields. “Our talks have reflected the depth of our partnership relations,” he added.
Saudi Arabia and France expressed their grave concern over the ongoing events in the region, including the growing danger of the phenomenon of terrorism and extremism, hailing the call made recently by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to world leaders to accelerate the fight against terrorism and the importance of supporting the International Counterterrorism Center at the United Nations.
The two countries agreed to strengthen cooperation to combat terrorism, “which is a global phenomenon threatening all societies and is not linked to any race or belief.” They denounced the Israeli aggression on Gaza.
Saudi Arabia and France called for a just, comprehensive and lasting Middle East peace settlement on the basis the Arab Peace Initiative and UN resolutions.
The two sides expressed deep concern over the worsening situation in Syria, stressing that the Bashar Assad regime that has lost its legitimacy bears the responsibility for the situation. They called for an urgent peaceful and political settlement to end the Syrian crisis through full implementation of Geneva-1 Resolutions, including formation of a transitional governing body with all the executive powers.
The two sides called for extending humanitarian and relief assistance for the Syrian refugees and encouraging the international community to provide more support for the Syrians.
They expressed concern over the deteriorating security situation in Yemen in the light of the acts carried out by the Houthis and their supporters to undermine the political transition process and security situation in the country. The two sides reaffirmed their support for Lebanon’s unity, security and stability through its official institutions.
The two sides recalled the historical visit by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to France in 2007, and the visit of Hollande to the Kingdom last year, which resulted in the consolidation of the strategic partnership between the two countries.
“The two sides expressed satisfaction of the strong relations between Saudi Arabia and France and their progress in political, security, economic, financial, commercial, industrial, educational and cultural fields,” the communiqué said.
They stressed the importance of further strengthening strategic partnership between the two countries and implementation of this partnership in economic cooperation, particularly in finance, economy, trade and joint investments.
“In this regard, there will be a meeting between the Saudi minister of finance and the French foreign minister to complete necessary measures,” the communiqué said.
The two sides expressed their happiness over the success of Haj Exhibition held at the Arab World Institute in Paris, which was inaugurated by Hollande on June 22. They also agreed to enhance cooperation in the fields of culture and art, including organization of cultural events in both countries.
Referring to Iraq, the two sides welcomed the consensus of the Iraqis and appointment of the new prime minister, president and speaker, stressing the need to form a government of national unity that represents all Iraqi people. The two sides affirmed importance of preserving Iraq’s unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Riyadh and Paris called upon Iran to cooperate entirely with the group of 5 +1 on the Iranian nuclear file. This cooperation could resolve the Iranian file within framework of long-term agreement ensuring peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear program, leading to a significant contribution of the international efforts to make the Middle East free zone of weapons of mass destruction.
Prince Salman expressed his thanks and appreciation to President Hollande, Prime Minister Valls and the French government and people for the warm reception and hospitality they accorded to him and the accompanying delegation.
Meanwhile, Prince Salman received at his residence in Paris the President of French Council for Islamic Religion and head of Paris Grand Mosque Dalil Abu Bakr and a number of the council’s members.
The crown prince reiterated Saudi Arabia’s support for Islamic associations in various countries. He also noted the Kingdom’s efforts in the service of pilgrims who come for Haj and Umrah.
Prince Salman also met with Saudi scholarship students pursuing their higher studies in French universities and urged them to excel in education.


How Saudi women are getting ahead of men as STEM graduates

Dr. Fatima Alakeel, cybersecurity expert. (AN photo)
Updated 20 March 2019
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How Saudi women are getting ahead of men as STEM graduates

  • ‘Securing a job after the degree remains the challenge,’ says Dr. Fatema Alakeel of King Saud University in Riyadh
  • ‘Saudi women are ambitious,’ says one graduate. ‘We are acquiring high degrees and seeking successful careers’

DUBAI: More and more girls in Saudi Arabia are opting for an education in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), and now the challenge is finding them employment, said Dr. Fatima Alakeel, a cybersecurity expert and faculty member at King Saud University (KSU) in Riyadh.
“In the Kingdom, STEM-related jobs are limited at the moment, as the economy is primarily oil-based and there are few technical jobs available,” said Alakeel, who is also the founder and CEO of the non-profit Confidentiality, Integrity & Availability Group (CIAG), which focuses on information security training and research in Riyadh.
According to a government report on the labor market situation in the third quarter of 2018, more than 30 percent of Saudi women aged between 15 and 65 are unemployed.
Among them, the highest rate of unemployment is among 20-24-year-olds (more than 70 percent) and among 25-29-year-olds (55 percent).
According to the report, there are 923,504 Saudi jobseekers, of whom 765,378 are women (82.2 percent).
“We have more girls in STEM education compared to Western countries,” said Alakeel, who completed her doctoral degree in computer science in the UK at the University of Southampton in 2017.
According to a report prepared by the Saudi Education Ministry, girls accounted for 57 percent of undergraduates for the year 2015-2016 in the Kingdom.
That same year, women outnumbered men in graduating with a bachelor’s in biology, information technology (IT), mathematics and statistics, and physics.
According to a survey Alakeel recently conducted on social media, “almost 80 percent of (Saudi) girls were keen to study STEM, but securing a job after the degree remains the challenge,” she said.
Maha Al-Taleb, 22, graduated earlier this year with a degree in technology from KSU, specializing in IT networks and security.
“It’s common for girls in the Kingdom to opt for STEM education,” said Al-Taleb, who now works in a public sector company in Riyadh as a junior information security analyst.
“Saudi women are ambitious. We’re acquiring high degrees and seeking successful careers. I don’t know why the world assumes that Saudi women are a backward tribal species who have no say in these matters. This entire perception is flawed.”
Al-Taleb got a job offer immediately after university, but realizes that not all her peers are as fortunate. Women “are facing problems in securing jobs, not because companies don’t want to hire us, but because employment for Saudi youths is a major challenge,” she said.
“In today’s Saudi Arabia, parents are encouraging their daughters to get a degree not just in the Kingdom; they also want them to go to Western universities. It has become a common phenomenon. Things have changed. Women are a crucial part of the nation’s development process.”
Not all women graduating in the Kingdom are as lucky, among them Razan Al-Qahtani. “It has been several months since I graduated, yet I haven’t been able to find a job. It has been a struggle so far,” said the 25-year-old IT graduate. “We have more talented and qualified girls, especially in the field of technology, but there are few jobs available. It’s a difficult situation, but we’re hopeful things will change very soon.”
Al-Qahtani expressed confidence that the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan will bring opportunities for qualified Saudis.
As part of Vision 2030, the government has committed to raise employment among Saudi women.
Alakeel said the government is working hard to find a solution, and it is only a matter of time until more such jobs are on offer.
“As per Vision 2030, there will be more jobs, including technical jobs, available in the country. Once we have more jobs, women will eventually get their due share,” she added. According to Alakeel, female empowerment and promotion to leading roles have made huge progress in Saudi Arabia, and this may affect existing STEM job opportunities.
“We’re glad to see Her Royal Highness Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud becoming the first female ambassador of the country. It only suggests change is on the way,” Alakeel said.
Al-Taleb expressed pride in the way her parents have supported her, saying: “My father isn’t educated and my mother has basic literacy, but both provided me with the education I desired. They want their daughters to be as successful as their sons.”
Like women in any country, the transition from university to the workplace is not always easy, even for young Saudi women with technology degrees. Yet they are not losing hope.
“We realize these are difficult times in terms of employment, especially in technology-related fields, but things will change,” Al-Taleb said. “Saudi women will soon be ruling the fields of STEM all over the country.”