Saudi girls in gaming: Breaking the stereotypes

Saudi girls in gaming: Breaking the stereotypes
Updated 02 April 2013

Saudi girls in gaming: Breaking the stereotypes

Saudi girls in gaming: Breaking the stereotypes

JEDDAH: According to a study conducted by the US Entertainment Software Agency (ESA) for 2012, 47 % of players of any type of gaming devices are female. The study reveals that women 18 and older represent a greater number of the game-playing population, 30%, than boys aged 17 or younger who represent 18%. Moreover, women constitute 48%  of the purchasing power of these games, and the study concludes that 35 is the average age of buyers from both sexes.

Most girls agree that the beginning of their interest in the world of gaming was from childhood and the group play between siblings. For Reem Al-Rashoud, 15, a first year secondary school student, the game that attracted her to this world was “Crash Bandicoot.” which was published in 1996 for PS1.  As for Felwa Al-Swailem, 22, a translation specialist, the “Tomb Raider” series was and is still her game of preference. The types of games that attract Saudi women these days varies, from games that incorporate adventure and excitement, to those that feature elements of horror, RPG (role play games), war and strategic combat. More female gamers are determined to break stereotypes that restrict video games to a boy’s territory.

Nowadays, Reem enjoys games that require strategic planning and a wide imagination, such as “Battlefield 3” and “Assasin’s Creed”. Meanwhile, Farah Arif, 20, specializing in computer science pregers RPG games such as “Tales of Symphonia”. While Shaima Asslali, 22, a student of languages and translation, enjoys action and adventure games such as “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.” Tasneem Al-Salim, 22, also specializing in computer science, does not enjoy shooting games per se, and believes that the classic horror game, “Resident Evil 3” was the best and the last of the horror games she enjoyed playing, in addition to the hack and slash series, “Devil May Cry.”

Game development is known in the gaming industry as the process of developing gaming software. It can involve one person or an entire company, and requires extensive time and substantial funding. Independent games, however, can be produced for cheaper and less time.
Prince Sultan University in Riyadh hosted female players at the Girls Convention (also known as GCon) last year, which was organized by Felwa, Tasnmeen, and their friend Najla AlAraifi. The forum was the first of its kind in the Middle East, and aimed to attract support and attention to female gamers.
Tasneem informed us that they also sought, through GCon, to encourage girls to work in areas of game development, which incorporates drawing, story writing, and finally, programming. She considers the convention an opportunity to create jobs, especially due to the fact that females constitute only a small segment in the field of development, not only in the Arab world, but in the world-wide as well. “We have had workshops in which we were joined by some of the specialized speakers whom gave us lectures on the principles of game development, while others spoke about their experiences in the Arabization of games", Tasneem says. Stating that they’re planning of upholding these workshops over the course of the year.

Many girls interested in video games have complained of receiving negative feedback from society regarding their hobby. Reem wryly says, “When I talk with someone about gaming, I’m immediately viewed as a boy.” Shaima agrees adding, “Frankly, most people deem it a total waste of time, whereas for boys it is viewed as their natural right!”
Farah, joins her voice to the other girls stating, “Society thinks that this hobby is only for males, but GCon has proven the opposite.”
Dealing with society’s negative opinion is a price the girls are willing to pay in return for the pleasure they receive from gaming. Felwa, a self-proclaimed “Hardcore” gamer says, “Imagination is the main thing that attracts me to the games, as I feel I can live the experience, be the hero of the story, and enjoy venturing.”


UAE selects first Arab woman astronaut

UAE selects first Arab woman astronaut
Updated 10 April 2021

UAE selects first Arab woman astronaut

UAE selects first Arab woman astronaut
  • Dubai ruler said both astronauts were selected among over 4,000 applicants

DUBAI: The UAE has chosen two Emirati astronauts including the first woman in the Arab world to be part of the country’s astronaut corps, UAE Prime Minister and Vice President Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum tweeted.
“We announce today, thank God, two new Emirati astronauts ... among them the first Arab woman astronaut ... Nora Al-Matrooshi along with Mohammed Al-Mulla.”
He said both astronauts were selected among over 4,000 applicants.
“Their training will begin soon within the NASA astronaut program ... We congratulate the country on them. We count on them to raise the name of the UAE in the sky,” he added.
The total number of astronauts selected in the UAE so far has reached four with Hazza Al-Mansouri being the first Emirati man in space, and reserve astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi.


Mother of Koji: Saudis turn to social media and anime memories to welcome Japanese envoy’s wife to KSA

Mother of Koji: Saudis turn to social media and anime memories to welcome Japanese envoy’s wife to KSA
Ambassador Iwai Fumio. (Photo/Twitter)
Updated 10 April 2021

Mother of Koji: Saudis turn to social media and anime memories to welcome Japanese envoy’s wife to KSA

Mother of Koji: Saudis turn to social media and anime memories to welcome Japanese envoy’s wife to KSA
  • Iwai, who gained more popularity thanks to his fluency in Arabic, received many messages dubbing him as “Abu Koji” or “Father of Koji”

JAPAN: The Japanese ambassador to Saudi Arabia’s wife Mrs. Iwai, fondly nicknamed Um Koji, has been welcomed in Riyadh with humor and style.
After Ambassador Iwai Fumio posted a tweet welcoming his wife to the country, many Saudis responded with greetings and memes of anime character Grendizer, as her son’s name is similar to a famous character from the show.
The envoy’s tweet said: “My wife arrived in Riyadh safely last night. She and our daughter were staying with me in Saudi Arabia 10 years ago, and I am sure that she, like me, will admire the many remarkable changes that occurred in the Kingdom during her absence, and I wish for ‘Um Koji’ to enjoy her time in Saudi Arabia among kind people.”
In Arabic, “Um” means mother, and traditionally, mothers and fathers are called using the prefix “Um” or “Abu” and then the eldest son’s name, in this instance “Um Koji” or “mother of Koji.”

Iwai, who gained more popularity thanks to his fluency in Arabic, received many messages dubbing him as ‘Abu Koji’ or ‘Father of Koji.’

Iwai, who gained more popularity thanks to his fluency in Arabic, received many messages dubbing him as “Abu Koji” or “Father of Koji.”
One Saudi Twitter user, Dr. Naif, responded to the ambassador’s post saying: “Greetings to Um Koji” along with a picture of the animated character.
Another Saudi social media user tweeted Iwai to inform him that most people in Saudi Arabia were first introduced to the name Koji through “Grendizer.”

HIGHLIGHT

Koji is a popular anime character around the world, but especially in Saudi Arabia, where the animated series ‘Grendizer’ was a staple cartoon in Arab households during the 1980s and 1990s.  

The post said: “Praise be to God for the safety of Um Kuji, Mr. Ambassador, and I would like to inform you that the Saudis knew the name Koji for the first time from this character.”
Iwai replied to this tweet saying: “This person is more famous than my eldest son Koji.”
A third Twitter user, Mohammed Al-Fal, warmly welcomed Iwai’s wife: “Welcome to the Kingdom of humanity, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has is linked excellent relations with Japan based on fruitful cooperation to enhance international peace and security, away from interference in the internal affairs of both countries. Japan is a miracle that all the people of the East are proud of, especially the Saudis.”
Iwai responded with: “I thank you very much for your welcome and kind words about the distinguished relations between my country, Japan, and Saudi Arabia.”


Saudi FM invites Filipino minister to AlUla after Bocelli concert piques interest

Saudi FM invites Filipino minister to AlUla after Bocelli concert piques interest
Updated 09 April 2021

Saudi FM invites Filipino minister to AlUla after Bocelli concert piques interest

Saudi FM invites Filipino minister to AlUla after Bocelli concert piques interest
  • Prince Faisal bin Farhan explained that the concert was held in AlUla and invited the minister to visit the city
  • Bocelli serenaded a limited number of concert-goers at the heritage site due to social distancing measures on Thursday

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister has invited a Filipino minister to AlUla after the lawmaker tweeted asking how to access Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli’s recent performance in the historic city.
Prince Faisal bin Farhan explained that the concert was held in AlUla and said “It would be a pleasure to host your Excellency there during your next visit to Saudi.”
Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. serves as the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and is a former journalist.

Bocelli enchanted his audience in AlUla on Thursday in what is believed to be the first-ever performance within the walls of the ancient desert city.
It was the tenor’s third performance in the Kingdom, and Bocelli serenaded a limited number of concert-goers at the heritage site due to social distancing measures.


Mrs. World gives up crown after onstage melee in Sri Lanka

Mrs. World gives up crown after onstage melee in Sri Lanka
Updated 09 April 2021

Mrs. World gives up crown after onstage melee in Sri Lanka

Mrs. World gives up crown after onstage melee in Sri Lanka
  • Reigning Mrs. World took crown away from Sri Lanka pageant winner
  • Mrs. World 2020 Caroline Jurie now facing criminal charges

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka: The reigning Mrs. World on Friday relinquished her title while defending her decision to pull the crown off the head of the winner of this year’s Mrs. Sri Lanka, whom she falsely claimed to be a divorcee and unqualified to take part in the contest.
Caroline Jurie, the winner of Mrs. World 2020, has been accused of hurting Pushpika De Silva, who on Sunday was crowned Mrs. Sri Lanka at a televised pageant in Colombo. Jurie was arrested on Thursday and later released on bail.
In a statement Friday, Jurie said she stood against “injustice” and called the judging of the pageant “tainted.”
“My only intention was to stand up for the injustice caused to the competitors throughout this competition which was tainted with heavy politicization.”
Jurie said she wanted to ensure that every contestant had an equal opportunity, because she had seen “from the beginning” that the contest was corrupted. She stressed that she did not favor anyone.
“I am now ready to hand over the crown,” she said at at the end of the video, before removing the crown from her head.
Jurie, who is also Sri Lankan, faces allegations that she injured De Silva during Sunday’s on-stage melee.

Pushpika De Silva poses for photographs with her Mrs Sri Lanka crown after it was forcibly removed by the reigning Mrs World, Caroline Jurie at the Mrs Sri Lanka contest, in Colombo on April 6, 2021. (REUTERS)

Moments after De Silva won the title, Jurie came on stage and snatched the crown from her, claiming she is divorced and ineligible to participate in the contest. Jurie then handed the crown to the first-runner up, declaring that woman the winner.
De Silva denied being divorced.
“Being apart is one. Divorce is something else. I’m still an un divorced woman,” she said on Facebook.
But on Friday, Jurie said: “How I is see it, the purpose of Mrs. World is to celebrate all women who are married and still strive to conquer their dreams, despite the commitment and responsibilities a married woman strives to fulfill.”
She added that the pageant “was certainly not created to discriminate divorced women but to celebrate the dreams of the married woman.”
Sri Lankan police said they received a complaint from De Silva that she suffered injuries when her crown was removed. Police arrested Jurie and a model, Chula Padmendram, on Thursday on charges of “simple hurt and criminal force. The two women were later released on bail and have been ordered to appear in court on April 19.
The incident at Sunday’s pageant, which was attended by the prime minister’s wife, created a huge uproar in the Indian Ocean island nation. Organizers of the pageant on Monday said they would return the crown to De Silva.
Sri Lanka will be hosting the final Mrs. World contest this year.
Meanwhile, Jurie said she will stand for what she believes is right. “I stand for values, even if it means I have to stand alone,” she said.


Norway PM fined for violating coronavirus restrictions

Norway PM fined for violating coronavirus restrictions
Updated 09 April 2021

Norway PM fined for violating coronavirus restrictions

Norway PM fined for violating coronavirus restrictions
  • The head of government was fined 20,000 Norwegian kroner, or about $2,300

OSLO: Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg received a hefty fine on Friday for breaking the country’s virus curbs by organizing a family birthday dinner that she ended up not attending, police said.
Police concluded that the dinner organized in part by Solberg had exceeded the number of guests allowed at private functions.
For the infraction, the head of government was fined 20,000 Norwegian kroner (about $2,300).
“Even if the law is equal for everyone, everyone is not equal,” Commissioner Ole Saeverud told a press conference.
“Solberg is the country’s foremost elected official and has, on a number of occasions, been the leading figure in the government’s decisions on measures to counter the pandemics,” Saeverud added.
“It is therefore considered justified to give a sanction to maintain public confidence in the health rules,” he argued.
Public broadcaster NRK revealed in mid-March that Solberg celebrated her 60th birthday with her family at a ski resort under conditions that seemed to violate health guidelines.
On 25 February, 13 members of her family had dined at a restaurant in the town of Geilo, although rules limited the number of participants in a private event in a public space to 10.
Solberg herself had not attended the dinner as she needed to go to the hospital to deal with eye issues, but police still held her responsible for organizing the event.
After the event came to light, Solberg made a public apology and said she was prepared to pay potential fines.
On Friday, the prime minister reiterated her apology and said she wouldn’t appeal the decision.
“We should not have broken the rules and I want to apologize again,” she told broadcaster TV2.
The affair, which has made the rounds on social networks, has tarnished the image of the leader – who has generally been praised for the government’s handling of the health crisis – ahead of the parliamentary elections on 13 September.
Commenting for news website ABC Nyheter, journalist David Stenerud called it “a good day for Norwegian rule of law.”
“It’s remarkable that our own Prime Minister was investigated for breaking the rules she imposed on us. And even more incredible that she is now convicted,” Astrid Meland, editorial writer for newspaper Verdens Gang, wrote.