How KSA fights scourge of racism

The Saudi Shoura Council has passed laws against racism and discrimination. (SPA file photo)
Updated 01 March 2018

How KSA fights scourge of racism

JEDDAH: There is racism and discrimination in every country with an ethnically diverse population. Saudi Arabia deals with it in two ways: By fostering pride in the homeland regardless of ethnic origin — and through the force of the law.
Offenders, however high-profile, may be punished and excluded from media platforms. King Salman’s nephew was banned from media after describing someone as “tarsh bahar” — an offensive term for people whose ancestors came to Hijaz from across the sea.
Last November the Shoura Council began studying a 13-article draft law that criminalizes all forms of discrimination against individuals and groups because of their skin color, gender, ethnicity or sect, and outlaws the spread of tribal, regional, sectarian, political and ideological prejudices.
“This regulation is currently being studied by the Islamic affairs committee at the Shoura in order to launch it very soon,” Dima Talal Al-Sharif, of the law firm Majed M. Garoub, told Arab News.
“And under article 3 of the Anti-Cyber Crime Law, defamation and inflicting damage upon others through social media are punishable by imprisonment for up to a year up and/or a fine of up to 500,000 riyals.”
Dr. Mohammed Faheem, professor of comparative education at Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah, told Arab News social and economic factors were the main reasons for discrimination in society.
“The Makkah community is diverse and integrated, people used to live simple lives under similar circumstances,” he said. “But the demographic situation has changed, and with urban expansion the face of the city has changed.
“Discrimination is happening in Saudi Arabia, no doubt about that, but it is not as it was in the US and South Africa. There is a huge difference. There, it was in the form of institutional and organizational actions against people of a certain group.
“We don’t have this in Saudi Arabia, we do not have racial oppression. But it is people’s stereotyping and intolerance that may result in racist action that denies someone his rights.
“When one person believes that the group of people he belongs to is superior to others, and that belief is translated into an action against others, that is where discrimination begins. Ideas cannot be harmful until they become actions.
“People must feel that they belong to one homeland, equal in rights and duties.”

Saudi forum to tackle world’s biggest humanitarian challenges

Updated 8 min 18 sec ago

Saudi forum to tackle world’s biggest humanitarian challenges

  • Almost 1,300 delegates from 80 countries to attend second Riyadh conference to focus on natural disaster, conflict victims

RIYADH: Experts from 80 countries will attend a major Saudi conference next month aimed at tackling some of the world’s biggest humanitarian challenges.

Almost 1,300 delegates are expected at the Riyadh International Humanitarian Forum, being held from March 1 to 2, to discuss action plans and improve knowledge exchange.

The event, being hosted under the patronage of King Salman and which will be attended by Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar, will bring together specialists and senior decision-makers from the international humanitarian community.

Aqeel Al-Ghamdi, assistant supervisor general director for planning and development at the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) and chairman of the forum’s supervisory committee, said the gathering would introduce practical and effective measures that considered the changing needs on the ground.

Forum participants will include representatives of 228 external and 156 internal bodies, 21 international and 46 governmental organizations, as well as officials and heads of international humanitarian agencies, civil society institutions, NGOs, the private sector, 11 universities and specialized research groups. There will also be 61 speakers.

In its bid to improve levels of service to victims of armed conflicts and natural disasters, the conference will tackle humanitarian issues and global trends through five main panel discussions, two media sessions and one volunteers meeting.

The panels will focus on humanitarian and development work, poverty and long-term migration challenges, displaced women and children, bridging the gap between theory and practice, and health emergencies.

On the sidelines of the forum, an exhibition will be held for humanitarian NGOs, international and UN organizations to showcase their work.

Another exhibition for humanitarian art will highlight the concept of humanitarianism in all aspects of society through paintings, sculptures, photography and digital art.

The forum’s recommendations will be presented in a comprehensive report, to be coordinated by specialists in Saudi Arabia and the UN, which will provide participants with the principles to be adopted and used in the field.

Saudi Arabia has been ranked a global fifth, and first in the Arab world, for its provision of humanitarian aid.

According to figures published by the UN Financial Tracking Service platform, the Kingdom contributed $1,281,625,265 (SR4,808,021,026 or 5.5 percent) toward the total amount of international spending on relief programs.

In Yemen, the Kingdom’s 2019 share of international humanitarian aid funding for the war-torn country amounted to $216 billion (31.3 percent).