Saudis reveal their post-COVID-19 wish lists

For some, the lockdown has afforded them time to think about the future. (SPA)
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Updated 27 May 2020

Saudis reveal their post-COVID-19 wish lists

  • Arab News spoke to Saudis about their wishes for the future

JEDDAH: The unprecedented global lockdown due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, has seen life as most people knew it come to a standstill.

Travel plans have been halted, and simple daily activities such as grabbing a bite to eat have become potentially life-threatening.

People are even missing those small happenings that under normal circumstances they took for granted.

Now with a gradual return to normalcy, the question arises as to what people would like to do once the COVID-19 crisis is over? Arab News spoke to Saudis about their wishes for the future.

Sales expert Rawan Ahmed, 24, from Sharqiyah, said: “I just want to go back to normal and to see my friends more often.”

Arwa Al-Rajhi, a 30-year-old executive assessment specialist at the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties, in Riyadh, said: “After COVID-19 is over, I would like to drive as far as I can to see the city lights and appreciate what I’ve missed the most during the quarantine.”

Jeddah-based account manager, Rania Al-Ghamdi, praised the efforts of key workers on the frontline of the pandemic, and added: “As for me, quarantine has taught me valuable lessons that will definitely impact my life moving forward.

“Living a normal life is what everyone on Earth is dreaming of right now. To simply meet friends and dine out, swim, go to the gym, be social and connect with each other physically rather than virtually through social media.”

Simple wishes varied from those of 14-year-old Ahmed Baleegh who just wanted to have some of his favorite fried chicken from restaurant chain Albaik, to 32-year-old Ibtisam Mohammed, who pined to visit Jeddah’s Corniche again.

“The first thing I want to do is go to the Corniche — that is the one thing I have missed the most. I will probably spend a day there by myself recharging,” Mohammed said.

For some, the lockdown has afforded them time to think about the future and consider career choices.

Ahmad Al-Juhani, a financial professional based in Riyadh, believes that the entire work environment will change due to the rise in the number of people working from home.

When allowed, his first priority will be to take a vacation to visit his family, after which he wanted to rediscover the dimensions of the changing job market.

“I think this crisis will reshape the notions about working remotely, leading to a hike in demand for it in the market. Having control over your working hours and how you manage your time while working from home, where you can wrap things up even at 4 a.m., has made me interested in exploring work options after COVID-19,” he said.

Meanwhile, others have missed the stability of their jobs. Amani Al-Ghoraibi, a lecturer at a university in Jeddah, said: “I actually miss going to work and teaching my students. I miss the workshops and in-person interaction and guidance.”

She also longs to go to the cinema and meet friends and get back to driving again after starting her license application a short while before the pandemic hit.

Nora Al-Rifai, a life coach from Jeddah, said: “I would love to go to Vienna and visit the prettiest library in the world, the Austrian National Library. I have been Googling its pictures and I’ve never seen a library quite like it, even on the internet.”

Student and event organizer, Almaha Mishaal, 22, from Riyadh, said: “Aside from hugging my friends, I would love to visit a nursing home and cheer up the elderly. But more than anything, I’ve always wanted to take swimming and diving lessons and I can’t wait to try that out.”

 


Saudi TikTok users weigh in on potential app ban

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Updated 12 July 2020

Saudi TikTok users weigh in on potential app ban

  • Due to pandemic, interest in the app skyrocketed as many users watch videos and try to recreate them while in quarantine

RIYADH: Chinese video platform TikTok is under fire once again, as rumors of the app being a tool used by the Chinese government to spy on users resurface online.

TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, is a video-sharing site similar to the now-defunct Vine, where users share short clips of themselves which can be altered using AI technology.
Lip-syncing along with a track, using filters, and adding special effects give users the chance to create short clips that can be shared and downloaded in several social media platforms.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, interest in the app skyrocketed as many users downloaded TikTok to watch videos and try to recreate them while in quarantine. The app has also gained significant popularity in the Middle East with influencers such as Saudi model Roz, UAE-based content creators Khalid and Salama, and Saudi top TikToker iimeeto, who recently celebrated reaching four million followers on the platform.
Rania Mohammed, a fourth year medical student at Dar AlUloom University in Riyadh, said that TikTok was “the only thing keeping her sane” as she struggled with the pressures of school and quarantine.
“As a med school student, my attention span and free time are both severely limited,” she told Arab News. “Taking a 15 minute break to watch silly TikToks has helped me keep motivated. The specific brand of humor on that app is the fastest way to make me laugh.”
Mai Alhumood, a government employee, said that she downloaded the app while she was bored and became “quickly addicted” to the platform’s fun short videos.
“People are so creative on TikTok, and the challenges that keep going viral are so interesting,” she told Arab News.
However, the app has long-suffered from accusations of spying and gathering users’ private information on behalf of the Chinese government, leading to both temporary and permanent bans in countries around the world.
Recently, it was reported that Amazon requested that employees remove the app from their smartphones in an email over “security risks.” The company later retracted its directive.
Saudi cybersecurity expert Abdullah Al-Jaber believed that concerns over the security of TikTok’s collected data stemmed from the app’s country of origin and its rules and regulations.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Following a provisional ban in April 2019, India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology banned TikTok permanently in June this year, along with 58 other Chinese apps. The ministry claimed that the apps were a ‘threat to the sovereignty and security of the country’ following a Himalayan border clash with Chinese troops in the disputed territory of Ladakh.

• Indonesia temporarily blocked TikTok in July 2018, citing public concern regarding ‘illegal content’ such as pornography and blasphemy. However, the app was unblocked following various changes from TikTok such as the opening of a government liaison office and implementing security mechanisms.

• Recently, the US became the third country to seriously consider banning the app, according to information from President Donald Trump’s administration. Trump also weighed in on a potential TikTok ban. He said that banning the app would be ‘punishing China for its response to the coronavirus.’

“TikTok collects data in a very similar way to US applications,” he told Arab News. “However the main concern is that the US has regulations and compliance that must be met when collecting customer data, such as GDPR data privacy regulation. In the case of TikTok, we don’t know as much about how the data is being used or stored because we don’t know their regulations.”
Following a provisional ban in April 2019, India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology banned TikTok permanently in June this year, along with 58 other Chinese apps. The ministry claimed that the apps were a “threat to the sovereignty and security of the country” following a Himalayan border clash with Chinese troops in the disputed territory of Ladakh.
Indonesia temporarily blocked TikTok in July 2018, citing public concern regarding “illegal content” such as pornography and blasphemy. However, the app was unblocked following various changes from TikTok such as the opening of a government liaison office and implementing security mechanisms.
Recently, the US became the third country to seriously consider banning the app, according to information from President Donald Trump’s administration.
Trump also weighed in on a potential TikTok ban. In an interview with Gray Television, Trump said that banning the app would be “punishing China for its response to the coronavirus.”
“Look, what happened with China with this virus, what they’ve done to this country and to the entire world is disgraceful,” he said.
While Saudi Arabia has yet to announce a ban of any kind of TikTok, local users and followers are trying to practice caution while using the app anyway.
Alhumood considered making videos on the platform, but dismissed the idea and only uses it to follow other people’s videos.
“I have ideas for it, sure, but I’d rather not take the risk. I don’t even have a username or a registered account, and that’s one of the better things about TikTok. I only have the app, but I can still watch all the videos without giving them my private information.”
Mohammed also said that she had no interest in creating videos herself, though she did have a registered account in order to comment on videos and keep track of her favorites.
However Al-Jaber said that, in his opinion, registering an account on TikTok did not necessarily pose more of a risk than using other social media.
“If you use Facebook or Twitter, it’s not much different than using TikTok,” he said.