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.


CEO of Neom mega city project meets first group of scholarship students

Updated 4 min 8 sec ago

CEO of Neom mega city project meets first group of scholarship students

  • Fifteen students were chosen for the first phase of the program
  • The aim of the scholarship program is to develop skills among the local population

TABUK: Nazmi Al-Nasr, the CEO of Neom project, on Monday met the first batch of students to benefit from an external scholarship program sponsored by the developer of the ambitious $500 billion mega city project in Tabuk, northwestern Saudi Arabia.
Fifteen students were chosen for the first phase of the program, which focused on applicants in communities close to the Neom site in Duba and Haql. In all, 250 students are expected to receive scholarships over the next five years, and will study at universities in the United States.
The students gave presentations to Al-Nasr and Neom’s social responsibility team, detailing their their specialties and ambitions for the ways in which they will contribute to one of the most ambitious development projects in the world.
“Investing in human resources is a key building block for the success of any future plan or project, and the people in the Neom community, of both sexes, are the best,” said Al-Nasr. “We can rely on them to reach our goals, which include...attracting the best talents and minds to build the city of the future in Neom.”
The aim of the scholarship program is to develop skills among the local population, involve it in the development of the project and provide the recipients of the scholarships with suitable job opportunities with the Neom project when their studies are complete. The first phase of the program includes developing skills in the fields of tourism, hospitality and archaeology. Other disciplines will be added as the project progresses.
More than 300 students applied for the first phase of the scholarship program. Of those, 50 progressed to the final selection stages, before 15 were offered sponsorship to study for bachelor’s degrees. After a two-month foundation course in the English language, in partnership with the University of Tabuk, the students will travel to the US in January, where their education will begin.