No gender segregation at Saudi municipal council meetings

More than 130,000 Saudi women out of 1.48 million eligible citizens registered to vote for the first time in municipal elections for 6,917 candidates, 979 of them women. (SPA)
Updated 23 October 2019

No gender segregation at Saudi municipal council meetings

  • Women were members of just 10 municipal councils out of 285, and the total of women members was 37 while the number of men was far higher at 3,156

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has decided to end gender segregation, saying that council offices should be organized in a way that that allowed both sexes to attend meetings, seminars and workshops in line with Shariah regulations, said sources.
Women previously sat in separate rooms and communicated with men through electronic means.
Rasha Hefzi, a female councilor in Jeddah, supported the move. “We have been asking for this for the past four years, ever since we started to participate in the municipal council,” she told Arab News. “The ban was an obstacle that hindered a lot of communication channels for us as city council members with other male members, the municipality, other entities and different stakeholders.”
Women would now have the ability to mobilize and have direct communication with the public, civil society groups, their male counterparts and other government entities, she added. “After removing this barrier, we have the freedom of articulating the new plans we want to implement with the council and with the ministry.”
Elections in December 2015 were the first time in the Kingdom that women were allowed to vote or stand for political positions.

“Women would now have the ability to mobilize and have direct communication with the public, civil society groups, their male counterparts and other government entities.”

Rasha Hefzi, Councilor in Jeddah

More than 130,000 Saudi women out of 1.48 million eligible citizens registered to vote for the first time in municipal elections for 6,917 candidates, 979 of them women.
Twenty-one women were elected, while 17 were appointed across the Kingdom. Women were members of just 10 municipal councils out of 285, and the total of women members was 37 while the number of men was far higher at 3,156.
Women faced a number of challenges prior to the election, such as finding sponsors for their campaigns and the low awareness among the public about voting for women, or even trusting municipal councils. There also needed to be training courses for women seeking to join municipal councils.
Lama Al-Sulaiman, who was elected to Jeddah’s municipal council, resigned soon after the 2015 election. Media reports at that time indicated she was frustrated with the gender segregation at council meetings, with women being forced to communicate through television monitors.


Arabic anime voice actors prepare for new show at Riyadh expo

Updated 17 November 2019

Arabic anime voice actors prepare for new show at Riyadh expo

  • Waheed Jalal's voice acting as “Treasure Island” antagonist John Silver has captivated generations

RIYADH: Visitors to Riyadh’s first anime expo stopped by the first panel on Saturday unaware that they would be leaving the stage with memories renewed of their favorite voice actors of all time.

Waheed Jalal and Jihad Al-Atrashi will forever live on in the hearts of fans of “Grendizer” and “Treasure Island (Takarajima),” the two shows that introduced the Arab world to anime in the 1970s.

Jalal, whose voice acting as “Treasure Island” antagonist John Silver has captivated generations, expressed how delighted he was to be with the audience.

“I want to thank you and your Kingdom of generosity and culture,” he said.

Al-Atrash, who portrayed Duke Fleed, echoed his sentiments: “You are great people with great values, thank you to the people of the Kingdom that stand next to people of all nations.”

Jalal was touched by the audience’s love and warm welcome, “You guys are the reason we continued this far, without you it wouldn’t have been possible,” he told them.

“We’re persevering to this day because people loved these characters we portrayed so much, our other works pale in comparison,” he added.

Jalal said that the reason “Grendizer” remained with so many people is because of the values and morals depicted in the show, teaching generations to be loyal and loving to their nation and their people.

Artist and creator Ibrahim Al-Lami. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

The voice acting pair talked about the importance of speaking in formal Arabic in these shows. Jalal said it’s because “you’re presenting to the entire Arab world.”

Local dialects would be difficult for others to understand, so we must all aspire to perfect our formal Arabic, added Jalal.

Before concluding the talk, a teaser was played of the first Saudi anime “Makkeen” by artist and creator, Ibrahim Al-Lami, who announced that 60 percent of the work was completed through local efforts.

“We’ll introduce a new work that is by our people, written by our people and voiced by our people,” he said to the audience.

The work will feature characters voiced by Jalal and Al-Atrash, who have become symbolic to the Arab anime world. “I told them, this work wouldn’t be complete without you two,” said Lami on his choice of voice actors. “We want these works to see the light of day. We need to provide the new generations with tales of our own,” added Al-Atrash when asked why he wanted to partake in the anime.