Saudi Arabia joins global pledge to protect disabled rights

Tamader bint Youssef Al-Rammah, Deputy labor minister
Updated 27 July 2018

Saudi Arabia joins global pledge to protect disabled rights

  • The ministry launched a service expediting online issuing of visas to help people with disabilities seeking work
  • The Sustainable Development Goals are a collection of 17 targets set by the UN in 2015 to end poverty

RIYADH: A Saudi delegation led by Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Development Tamader bint Youssef Al-Rammah took part in a Global Disability Summit in London that pledged to tackle stigma and discrimination against people with disabilities.

“The summit focused on a commitment to a charter for change which includes 10 clauses related to rights of people with disabilities in terms of education, training, employment and inclusion in society as per the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” the Labor Ministry said on Thursday.
The SDGs, or global goals, are a collection of 17 targets set by the UN in 2015 to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity without any bias.
These 17 goals include areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, and peace and justice.
Speaking at the summit, Al-Rammah highlighted the importance of a global pledge that will oblige all countries to guarantee full accessibility and empowerment for people with disabilities.
Al-Rammah met with senior British officials, including Minister of State at the Department for International Development Lord Michael Bates, on the sidelines of the summit.
In her talks with the British minister, Al-Rammah stressed Saudi Arabia’s keenness to empower people with disabilities in the workforce as part of Vision 2030.
The ministry recently launched a service expediting online issuing of visas to help people with disabilities seeking work.
Al-Rammah also met Guy Ryder, director-general of the International Labor Organization, who commended the Kingdom’s efforts to empower people with disabilities and its role in supporting social protection.
The UK government’s first Global Disability Summit brought ambitious commitments from a host of governments and organizations to tackle discrimination and stigma against people with disabilities.
Nine governments planned new or revised laws to give people with disabilities greater rights, 18 governments and other organizations promised action plans on disability inclusion, and 33 governments and other organizations pledged to support more people with disabilities affected by humanitarian crises.


Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province feels very American, says US consul general

US Consul General Rachna Korhonen finds the diwaniya and majlis culture of the Eastern Province fascinating. (Supplied)
Updated 25 February 2020

Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province feels very American, says US consul general

  • Saudi hospitality wins the heart of diplomat who considers Kingdom one of her favorite destinations

DAMMAM: The US consul general in Dhahran, Rachna Korhonen, lists the Kingdom as one of her favorite places and is in love with the local culture and traditions.

Working in the Kingdom since 2017, she has been impressed by the tremendous changes taking place in Saudi Arabia under Vision 2030.
Arab News caught up with Korhonen to discuss all things American and Saudi.
“As US Ambassador Abizaid has said, the US-Saudi partnership is more vital than ever, particularly as we confront regional security challenges and work hand-in-hand to achieve shared economic and political objectives.”
This relationship is strong and multifaceted, she said, adding: “We work together every day to promote prosperity and economic development, protect the security of our two countries, and build the people-to-people ties that keep our relationship strong.”
She said that a posting to Saudi Arabia was her first choice for an assignment.
“I did not know at the time that I would be the first woman to serve as the US consul general in Dhahran. I really wanted to learn about energy! I was pretty nervous and somewhat scared, but also excited and enthusiastic. I spent three years in Riyadh and some time in Kuwait and Iraq so I had a pretty good understanding of the region.”
Korhonen speaks highly of the Saudi hospitality and the way people welcomed her.
“I came (to the Kingdom) just before Eid Al-Adha. It is a tradition that the consul general makes Eid calls to visit prominent families. I was lucky enough to meet people from the very first moment I arrived. I have always made an effort to get to meet people at different occasions. Saudis have welcomed me into their homes, shared meals and traditions with me. I really have the best job in the best place at the best time,” she told Arab News.

Saudis have welcomed me into their homes, shared meals and traditions with me.

Rachna Korhonen, US consul general

Korhonen said she finds the diwaniya and majlis culture of the Eastern Province fascinating.
“I enjoy meeting new people and learning about what is happening in the Eastern Province. Diwaniyas are a great place to do that. I also love gahwa (Arabic coffee) and dates,” she said.
Korhonen said the Eastern Province feels very American to her. She thinks this is partly due to the close relationship enjoyed by the countries since the 1930s, which began with Aramco and also because thousands of Saudis from the Eastern Province have studied in the US.
Commenting on the social transformation in the Kingdom under Vision 2030, she said: “I still remember very well the first game I attended in Saudi Arabia. It was a very hot and humid day in August, but I wanted to be in attendance to show support for the Eastern Province teams. There was a big crowd and the energy in the stadium was amazing. At that game, I was the only woman in the family section. Now, it completely feels normal to see entire Saudi families in the stands. I could be anywhere in the world at a sporting event. It’s such a huge change.”
She told Arab News that “there have been no recent changes” in the US visa process, adding: “We have visa appointments most weeks from Sunday to Thursday. We encourage everyone interested in going to the US this summer to start thinking about applying now, since we expect demand will grow as we approach the summer season.
“We continue to look for ways to reduce the amount of time a person spends in our waiting room, the wait for visa appointments (especially for students), and the time it takes for someone to get their passport back with the visa.”
She said her favorite initiative that brings Saudis and Americans together is the International Leadership Program.
“The consulate also works with local Saudi partners to bring American athletes, musicians, entrepreneurs, artists and other experts to the Eastern Province to exchange ideas and explore ways to collaborate. Our EducationUSA office helps Saudi students who are interested in studying in the US learn about US universities, the admission process and how to prepare for their educational experience,” the consul general said.