6th Gulf Education Conference to launch in Jeddah

The conference will be held at the University of Business and Technology in Jeddah.
Updated 09 January 2017

6th Gulf Education Conference to launch in Jeddah

JEDDAH: The sixth Gulf Education Conference and Exhibition will be held in Jeddah on Feb. 22-23 at the University of Business and Technology.
The conference will be attended by Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Secretary-General Abdullatif Al-Zayani, other experts and officials in the education sector and representatives from the private sector.
The secretary-general of the Federation of GCC Chambers, Abdulraheem Hassan Naqi, highlighted on Thursday at the Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) the importance of exploring in-depth the challenges facing the type and quality of education in the GCC.
He said the number of students in the GCC is expected to grow annually at around 1.8 percent to 11.3 million in 2020. Saudi Arabia comprises 75 percent of GCC students due to its large population.
Hussein Alawi, director the University of Business and Technology, said the two-day conference will host 200 Gulf academics and experts and 60 international experts. He said this presents a real opportunity to emerge with important recommendations to improve education and overall development.
He added that the conference is being hosted at the university for the first time, after being previously hosted in Abu Dhabi and seeing tremendous success.
JCCI Secretary-General Hassan bin Ibrahim Dahlan stressed the importance of education in shaping young minds and guiding their interests.
He said the role of educational institutions in the GCC is critical to push forward development by graduating students with awareness of national issues and capabilities to uphold social responsibilities.
The transformation toward a knowledge society must start with reform of the education system in particular, he added.


New Saudi rules on hookah leave businesses, consumers confused

Arab News visited different restaurants in the town and found a few serving hookahs. (AP/File)
Updated 42 sec ago

New Saudi rules on hookah leave businesses, consumers confused

  • Manal Jafar: Everywhere in our city is polluted with smoke, you can hardly find a restaurant where you can safely take your kids

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Rural and Municipal Affairs has imposed new regulations on restaurants and cafes serving hookah. Although many were disappointed following the announcement to allow hookah inside cities, businesses were shocked to know about the fees imposed on them. Nonsmokers have also raised their concerns after they realized that bills will rise by 100 percent if they visit a restaurant that serves hookah.
Arab News visited different restaurants in the town and found a few serving hookahs. Some said that they will still serve it, but will not charge customers any extra fees.
Meanwhile, a trending hashtag in Saudi Arabia addressed the issue of fees on tobacco, with some customers sharing their bills online.
Michel Abou Assaly, director of operations at Shababik Restaurant in Jeddah, said that when they first found out about the new law they were surprised: “We were obliged to stop serving hookah and we had to send all our employees at the shisha department on a short leave until things became clearer.” He added they did not want their customers to pay double the price for the same product. He anticipates a 40 percent drop in sales.
“Thousands of restaurants and cafes will close down and at least 100,000 families will be affected,” Assaly said. He added that investors should ask the ministry to reconsider this law.
Halima Muthaffar, a writer, said that although she hates the smell of tobacco, she still sees this as an unfair decision. She added that it is not the right time, especially as Saudi Arabia is opening up for tourists.
Columnist Gassan Badkook said that the authorities will reconsider the way these fees are being calculated. He said that three groups will be negatively affected: Nonsmokers, who will have to pay fees for a product they do not use, investors who might close their businesses and employees who might lose their jobs.
Manal Jafar said she agrees with the fees: “A restaurant should serve food only. Everywhere in our city is polluted with smoke, you can hardly find a restaurant where you can safely take your kids.”
Mohammad bin Hamad said he rarely goes to a restaurant with his family, but they never ask for hookah. “Why should I pay 100 percent fees on top of my bill? We should wait for a few months, many restaurants will stop offering hookah because they will lose so many customers.”