Over 1.7 million to vote in civic elections

Updated 19 September 2015

Over 1.7 million to vote in civic elections

RIYADH: Over 1.7 million Saudis will participate in the country’s Dec. 12 elections, according to Abdul Lateef Al-Asheikh, municipal and rural affairs minister.
There were 791,411 voters in the first elections and 405,783 in the second one, Al-Asheikh was quoted as saying by a local publication on Wednesday. He thanked the leadership for organizing the elections and amending legislation that would ensure it takes place smoothly.
The third municipal elections was approved in a royal decree last year and will see two-thirds of the councils elected. The voting age has been reduced from 21 to 18 years to allow for the participation of young people in the country’s decision-making.
The first elections saw 179 councils set up with 1,212 members, with the second elections having 285 councils and 2,112 members. The upcoming polls would see 284 councils with 3,159 members, two-thirds or 2,106 elected, on condition that each council not exceed 30 members, and with one-third appointed by the minister of municipal and rural affairs.
There are now 424 polling stations for women out of 1,263 in cities and governorates across the Kingdom, with local election committees formed for all regions. These committees oversee the validation of voter’s rolls and the smooth administration of polling stations.
Election committees are making sure that all citizens have an opportunity to participate including those who are ill or have physical disabilities. These people are allowed to nominate a person to participate on their behalf. Their representatives must produce certified documents to do so. If a citizen cannot participate, like a prisoner or detainee, a representative must be given power of attorney to do so.
According to the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs, the Interior Ministry would be responsible for security at polling stations and not private firms.
The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs had turned down a request from various municipalities across the country for private security firms to be employed during the elections, said sources quoted by a local publication on Thursday.
It has urged all municipalities to coordinate all their security needs with the Interior Ministry inside and outside polling stations. Officials from the two ministries have already agreed to coordinate efforts on this aspect of the elections, the sources said.
The Interior Ministry has emphasized that the elections are important because the ballots of voters and other sensitive documents need to be secured, the sources said.
Meanwhile, the local election committees in the regions and governorates of Al-Ahsa and Taif will implement the national security plans in conjunction with local police. Police departments in each region have formed security committees chaired by senior officers to help election officials maintain security at polling stations.
Col. Ziad Al-Ruqaiti, spokesman for the Eastern Province police, said earlier that his department was working with local election committees and traffic officials to maintain law and order on election day.


Two new academies to boost Saudi arts, heritage and music

Updated 19 August 2019

Two new academies to boost Saudi arts, heritage and music

  • One academy specializing in heritage and traditional arts and crafts will start receiving applications in autumn 2020
  • A second academy dedicated to music will receive 1,000 students and trainees from 2021

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is to set up arts academies, including two in the next two years, offering a step toward academic qualification and enlarging the Kingdom’s footprint in heritage, arts and crafts, and music.

The initiative is part of the Ministry of Culture’s Quality of Life program. 

The minister, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan, said investment in “capacity building” was one of the most important elements in encouraging the cultural sector, which enjoyed unlimited support from King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Kingdom was rich in diverse arts, talents and artistic production, Prince Badr said, and the academies would be a first step toward academic qualification in the arts within the Kingdom.

One academy specializing in heritage and traditional arts and crafts will start receiving applications in autumn 2020, targeting 1,000 students and trainees in long- and short-term programs. 

A second academy dedicated to music will receive 1,000 students and trainees from 2021.

The music academy in particular will be “the core of music production and talent development in Saudi Arabia,” Saudi musician, composer and producer Mamdouh Saif told Arab News.

The music industry was a large and diverse field, Saif said, and education was crucial. 

“The academy is the right place to launch the music industry in Saudi Arabia, and it will have a significant impact on Saudi youth, and young people in surrounding countries,” he said.

He expects “a very high turnout” for the academy among young Saudis. 

“Due to my expertise in this area, I receive many questions from people who want to learn music, but through private lessons,” he said.

“But the availability of an academy for this purpose, that teaches music in a methodological way, will be the right start for those interested in music.”