Saudi Arabia trains first women air traffic controllers

An air traffic control tower is shown in this file photo. Saudi women will soon be working as air traffic controllers, according to the Saudi Air Navigation Services (SANS).
Updated 20 September 2017

Saudi Arabia trains first women air traffic controllers

RIYADH: Saudi women will be trained to work as air traffic controllers, the Saudi Air Navigation Services (SANS) has announced.
SANS said it was offering theoretical and practical training to 80 women per year to prepare them for work in the air traffic control sector.
“The applicants began taking admission exams on Sunday for the Saudi Academy of Civil Aviation and will undergo a number of editorial tests,” the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said in a report.
Applicants must have a high school diploma with high marks and be between 18 and 25, it said.
Saudi Arabia seeks to create more jobs for women as part of a reform push to wean the economy off oil.
Its Vision 2030 plan aims to increase employment and diversify revenue sources.
Some of the planned changes, like increasing the number of women in the overall workforce to 28 percent from 23 percent and quadrupling their presence in senior civil service roles to 5 percent, would transform society.
Most employed women work for the Kingdom’s vast public sector, primarily in health and education, but authorities say they seek to encourage more hiring by private firms as part of the Vision 2030 plan.
Last year, a senior scholar said women should be allowed to work as paramedics and opticians, and last month women staffed an emergency call center at the Hajj pilgrimage for the first time.


Saudis, expats ready to restart their lives, vow to stick to health guidelines

Updated 47 min 7 sec ago

Saudis, expats ready to restart their lives, vow to stick to health guidelines

  • The restrictions will be lifted in three phases
  • People said they were excited to see their lives getting back to normal

RIYADH: Saudis and expats on Tuesday cautiously welcomed the government’s decision to ease lockdown restrictions, saying the risk was not over and people should strictly abide by the Health Ministry’s guidelines to keep the coronavirus at bay.

The restrictions will be lifted in three phases, during which the authorities will monitor and assess the situation and introduce changes if needed.

People said they were excited to see their lives getting back to normal after weeks of restrictions to stem the spread of the coronavirus in the Kingdom.

Abdulelah Hamed, a 28-year-old Saudi pharmacist, welcomed the new decisions, saying that strict measures were in favor of the public’s safety.

“Though it was a chaotic period, our government chose to help and educate us so that we emerge from this crisis unscarred and prepared citizens.”

Saudi journalist Nouf Al-Oufi, 30, said that the decisions depend on the awareness of society.

“The Kingdom has taken necessary actions since the beginning of the spread of the virus and was one of the leading countries in taking early measures to protect the health of its citizens.”

She said: “The past three months have served as lessons for citizens on how to take care of their health, the health of their families.”

Shahana Parveen, a teacher at the New Middle East International School in Riyadh, said: “We are very happy that the lockdown will end soon and things will get back to normal.”

She said, however, that risk remained. “It is of utmost importance to comply with the ministry’s health and hygiene guidelines. We should continue maintaining social distance, avoid gatherings, wear masks and sanitize hands and utensils.”

Murshid Kamal, convener at the India Islamic Cultural Center, Middle East region, told Arab News: “It’s a welcome move by the government. Saudi Arabia has done pretty well compared to other countries in the world. I urge community members to take care while going out in terms of hygiene and maintain the highest degree of social distancing norms to combat COVID-19.”

Mohammed Aslam Jameel, a travel supervisor at Global Travel Solutions in Riyadh, said: “It is highly appreciated that the government is taking measures in an excellent way to ease the curfew in phases and allowing reopening of workplaces, mosques and other essential businesses.”

“It is commendable that they have analyzed the situation and taken appropriate steps to boost public morale,” he said.

Since domestic air operations will resume on June 1 as announced, Jameel hoped international flights would also begin soon. 

M. Arshad Ali Khan, a schoolteacher in Riyadh, said: “The whole world is facing a challenging time due to COVID-19. This is a health emergency and an unprecedented situation. People are confined at home, their work and offices are closed. They were experiencing mental stress and anxiety, especially expatriates in the Kingdom.”

“At this juncture I would like to thank and appreciate the role of the Saudi government and also welcome the decision returning to normal life with the blessing of Almighty. I urge people to follow the Healthy Ministry’s guidelines and avoid nonessential travel, gathering, follow all government instructions, and minimize outdoor activity,” he said.

He also emphasized basic health precautions, especially frequent hand washing with soap and water, the practice of good coughing/sneezing etiquette, and the heeding of all security advice.

Zafar Hasan said: “As the coronavirus is still spreading with cases reported daily, I don’t think it is necessary to work from the office; we could work virtually like before to continue working from home.”

He added that attending the office only on a need-to basis was required, and while going out precautionary measures must be taken such as ensuring proper hygiene, disinfection and social distancing.