Saudi women’s voices in Shoura Council continue to be heard

Saudi women in the Shoura Council have come a long way. (SPA)
Updated 08 March 2018

Saudi women’s voices in Shoura Council continue to be heard

JEDDAH: It was a year to remember for many Saudis. For the first time in history, 30 Saudi women took their seats as members of the Shoura Council in February 2013, and were sworn in before the presence of the late King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz.
Five years on, female Shoura Council members are still playing a major role in different issues concerning social development in the Kingdom.
Saudi women in the Shoura Council have come a long way. Their achievements have been recorded in history and their powerful voices continue to be heard.
None of the women needs introduction, with each having a long history of achievements even before their appointment.
Lina Al-Maeena spent more than 15 years leading a fight for women’s sports in Saudi Arabia. She founded Jeddah United in 2003, Saudi Arabia’s first private female basketball club.
Despite facing a backlash, she pushed for acceptance in the conservative community and has finally won recognition with the realization that it is important for women to participate in sports activities.
In compliance with Vision 2030 — which includes development programs preparing the Kingdom for a promising future — the Saudi government has committed to elevating the status of sports in the Kingdom, a boost to promoting physical fitness for both men and women alike.
But promoting sports activities for Saudi women is not Al-Maeena’s only goal.
“It’s not simply about the empowerment of women in sports from an athletic point of view, I’m also looking at it from an economic perspective,” she said.
“Sports as a business is in line with the goal of Vision 2030 — to increase the number of women in the workforce from 22 percent to 30 percent. It’s not just the health, social benefits and development aspects, I’m very big on economics too.”
“When it comes to women's empowerment, I like to look at a gender as a whole, not just women,” adds Al-Maeena. “I advocate under the Shoura Council dome, for many environmental issues. Saudi Arabia is a member of the G-20 and we have a global responsibility to become supporters of a green lifestyle to sustain effective development.”
“It’s a golden age for Saudis and as women, we’ve come a long way. Every other day you see things happening and it’s a great celebration of achievements. We’re living this era of historical change, both pre- and post-Vision 2030 and we’re making up for lost time,” said Al-Maeena.
Fawzia Abalkhail, a professor of Information Technology and Education at Princess Noura hUniversity (PNU) who has a doctorate in the philosophy of education, is one of 20 new female Shoura members appointed in 2016.
She believes that every member of the Shoura Council has a national responsibility entrusted to them by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques by virtue of his appointment.
“As a female Shoura Council member, I support development issues in the education sector, health sector, public services and social affairs … [and in doing so] to support many fellow members in women empowerment issues,” said Abalkhail, appointed in 2013-2014 as the undersecretary of PNU for Graduate Studies and Scientific Research and vice president of PNU for health affairs.
“We focus on finding means of support and setting the standards that will increase women’s contributions in matters of social development, provide greater chances for assuming higher governmental positions as well as managerial roles in the private sector,” she said.
Abalkhail is of the opinion that Saudi women must gain skills in various fields in order to contribute. She believes a woman plays a pivotal role in society to ensure its stability and structural health, a role that is no less than a man’s.
“I am keen on laying the foundations and the right means in which all women can acquire the knowledge they need to enrich their social contributions,” said Abalkhail, who is also a member of the Saudi Society for Education and Psychological Sciences.
“Women are required to be their own self-development researchers. I am very interested in making sure education is improved, facilitate it and widen the scope beyond academic constraints. In doing so, a wider range of knowledge exchange will be provided between all those who seek it to build healthier social practices.”
Education has played a major role in empowering women in Saudi Arabia for many years.
Dr. Alia Aldahlawi, an associate professor at the Department of Biology-Organisms in the Faculty of Sciences at King Abdul Aziz University, agreed that education was key to ensuring women qualified for senior positions.
“The Kingdom’s scholarship programs have sent countless of women and men alike to get an equally challenging education and thus return to hold positions they’re most qualified for. Society must place their trust, reverse their mindsets to empower our women,” she said. “It’s also important that women realize that it is essential they work harder and prove themselves to the naysayers.”
“To my knowledge, there are approximately 1,000 Saudi women professors with different scientific occupations in many universities of the Kingdom,” Aldahlawi said.
“They’ve held high administrative positions with years of experience. We see female diplomats employed in the Saudi Foreign Ministry, researchers and inventors in the health sector, economic and business experts and so much more.
“They are pioneers of their fields and their abilities are an asset to the Kingdom that must be utilized.”


Saudi Arabia and Russia sign up to closer ties with 20 new deals

Representatives greet each other during the Saudi-Russian talks. (Reuters)
Updated 15 October 2019

Saudi Arabia and Russia sign up to closer ties with 20 new deals

  • Announcement of 20 new agreements made at Saudi-Russian Energy Partnership meeting
  • The agreements cover petroleum and various other fields ranging from energy to tourism

JEDDAH: Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman announced on Monday the signing of 20 agreements with Russia during the Saudi-Russian Energy Partnership meeting as part of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to the Kingdom.
During the signing ceremony of the new agreements, which took place in the presence of King Salman and Putin, the energy minister stressed that oil will remain an essential element in the development of the world economy.
The ceremony was also attended by the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
The 20 agreements covered the fields of petroleum and other energy industries, space and satellite navigation, justice, health services, tax administration, mineral wealth, tourism and aviation, in addition to cultural cooperation and the enhancement of trade relations.
Prince Abdul Aziz said that the two countries have started a new phase of cooperation in many areas of development.
The minister noted the important roles played by Saudi Arabia and Russia in stabilizing the global oil market and said: “The new OPEC + cooperation agreement will enhance cooperation and provide strong support for greater stability in the oil market.
“At the Saudi-Russian Joint Committee, we are working together to harmonize the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plans with its strategic objectives and Russia’s strategic development plans.”
The agreements were signed between relevant government agencies and sovereign wealth funds from both countries. The minister added that state-owned enterprises and the private sector in both countries will make a significant effort in achieving the goals of these agreements.
Financial expert Mohammed Al-Suwayed said that “Russia is an important strategic partner of Saudi Arabia.”
He added that joint efforts between the two countries would help to manage the oil market, “Saudi Arabia is a member of OPEC, and Russia is one of the most important non-OPEC exporters. The alliance between the Kingdom and Russia in the oil market contributes to creating harmony between the oil producers inside or outside OPEC.”
The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and the Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Company signed an agreement to join forces in the search of investment projects in the Russian agricultural sector, RDIF said on Monday.
A string of multimillion-dollar investment contracts were also signed in the aerospace, culture, health and advanced technology sectors.
Al-Suwayed said: “The Russian National Wealth Fund is interested in investing in Saudi Arabia. It has recently opened an office in the Kingdom as its first international fund office outside Russia, demonstrating a clear plan to invest in various sectors.”
An official welcoming ceremony was held in honor of Putin on Monday. During his meeting with King Salman, the Russian president said that the meeting was an additional boost to bilateral relations.
King Salman also considered the meeting an important opportunity to reach consensus on various visions and political positions.
Putin suggested that coordination between the two countries was important for the security and stability of the Middle East.
The president’s long-awaited visit will include discussions on further cooperation to stabilize prices on the world hydrocarbon market, as well as on Syria, the Gulf and Yemen.
Other deals regarding the military sector were not discussed and the pending Saudi plans to purchase the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile systems have not reached a final agreement.

20 SAUDI-RUSSIA DEALS SIGNED

1 Cooperation convention between oil-producing countries.
2 Joint Statement ofIntent between the Saudi Space Authority and the Russian state space corporation in the fields of manned space flight and the Global Navigation Satellite System, GLONASS.
3 High-level Saudi-Russian strategic cooperation framework agreement.
4 Energy cooperation protocol agreement.
5 Draft MoU on cultural cooperation.
6 Draft MoU on facilitating and organizing visas for the two countries’ citizens.
7 Draft of MoU on health cooperation.
8 Agreement on commercial attache.
9 MoU on starting negotiations for promoting and protecting investments between the two countries.
10 MoU on increase in export of Russian products to Saudi Arabia.
11 Cooperation agreement between SALIC (Saudi Agricultural and Livestock Investment Company) and the Russian Direct Investment Fund to discuss investment opportunities in the agriculture and food sectors.
12 Telecom executive program agreement.
13 Draft MoU for cooperation in the field of public media.
14 Tourism cooperation agreement.
15 MoU on joint investments in aircraft leasing to support the development of the Russian aviation industry.
16 MoU on mutual investments in NefteTransService (NTS), one of the largest railway operators in Russia.
17 A program of work between civil aviation authorities to define and adopt standards for the Russian aircraft industry in Saudi Arabia.
18 Exchanging an MoU for technical cooperation in the field of tax administration with the Russian tax authority.
19 Agreement between Saudi Aramco and the Russian Direct Investment Fund and Rusnano to buy Rusnano shares in Novomet.
20 Agreement on methanol project in Amur region.