Saudis’ love of volunteering on full display during Hajj

Saudis’ love of volunteering  on full display during Hajj
1 / 2
The Saudi government made volunteering an important axis in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan. Volunteers have played an important role in contributing to facing the COVID-19 pandemic and reducing its negative effects. (SPA)
Saudis’ love of volunteering  on full display during Hajj
2 / 2
The Saudi government made volunteering an important axis in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan. Volunteers have played an important role in contributing to facing the COVID-19 pandemic and reducing its negative effects. (SPA)
Short Url
Updated 31 July 2020

Saudis’ love of volunteering on full display during Hajj

Saudis’ love of volunteering  on full display during Hajj

MAKKAH: Though the coronavirus pandemic has affected many things, the culture of volunteering continues to remain strong in Saudi Arabia, as citizens serve the Kingdom’s visitors from all over the world.

Mashael Al-Mubarak, the general director of volunteering at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, told Arab News the Kingdom had paid special attention to the issue of volunteerism, as well as its organization and stimulation, despite the crisis.

“Voluntary work carries new horizons, hopes and aspirations in light of the pandemic. Doing voluntary work . . . symbolizes solidarity and cooperation between members of society,” she said.

“Voluntary work’s importance stems from its active role in developing societies by strengthening the belonging of citizens, investing human energies and directing them towards serving the society by relying on the principle of cooperation, partnership and creativity. The goal of volunteering is to grasp positive effects that contribute efficiently to collective efforts, in order to serve the issues that affect the different segments of Saudi society,” she added.

The Saudi government made volunteering an important axis in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan, and it was included in three important programs: The National Transformation Program 2020, the National Character Enrichment Vision Realization Program, and the Doyof Al-Rahman Program.

“Volunteers played a very important role in contributing to facing the COVID-19 pandemic that invaded the whole world and reducing its negative effects with several services, the most important of which was the Volunteer Work Platform,” Al-Mubarak said.

“This platform is designed to be a pioneer in volunteer work to face the pandemic’s repercussions. It is characterized as a Saudi incubator for volunteer work that provides a safe environment, which serves and organizes the association between agencies providing volunteering opportunities and volunteers in the Kingdom.”

The number of registered beneficiaries on the platform has exceeded 228,000 with more than 2,600 organizations.

Al-Mubarak noted that the ministry had also launched a volunteering manual in crises and disasters using COVID-19 as a model, and a practical guide to help entities and individuals direct volunteering efforts to overcome the resulting repercussions.

“This guide . . . focuses on the pandemic in the Kingdom and how to reach the official authorities with whom they can volunteer during this period,” said Al-Mubarak.

She added that the ministry would take practical steps to promote volunteer work during crises and disasters, managing risks and identifying priority interventions for each target segment, and presenting a set of national initiatives, international experiences and pioneering initiatives in various countries of the world during crises and disasters to benefit from them. “The General Administration of Voluntary Work of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development . . . have confidence in their ability to reach one million volunteers annually by 2030, to contribute to the advancement and reconstruction of the country. In 2020, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of volunteers reached 61,753, implementing 2,279,182 volunteer hours through 22,665 opportunities,” said Al-Mubarak.

For his part, the volunteer community’s CEO, Raed Al-Maliki, told Arab News: “Volunteering is the only work that reflects the giving nature of people, as it is carried out with the selfless desire of volunteers to serve their community.”




Thousands of Saudis volunteer as guides for pilgrims in Makkah during Hajj. (SPA)

“In Saudi Arabia, volunteer work has become a subject of the leadership’s interest and trust in the last ten years. Our leadership has faith in volunteers, of both genders, as some government sectors have launched a series of initiatives that have contributed to empowering and involving volunteers, especially in the field of serving the pilgrims, which every Saudi and expat on this Earth considers as a great honor.”

Al-Maliki said that every year, before the Hajj season, a flow of volunteers who wish to help during the season come forward. However, 2020 may be different due to COVID-19, and would require new and different initiatives, such as sterilization initiatives, social distancing measures and education for pilgrims about safety.

“I believe that a platform that brings together all initiatives related to the service of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque’s visitors should be launched, in order to organize volunteer efforts in the Hajj and Umrah season. It will be supervised by a program serving God’s guests, which was inaugurated by King Salman in 2019 and is one of the Saudi Vision 2020 programs,” said Al-Maliki. “This program analyzes and identifies the need for volunteers, by engaging them in voluntary opportunities belonging to non-profit organizations in order to provide an opportunity to participate in serving the pilgrims and achieving the development goals of the program.”

It is through this organization that volunteers can carry out their work easily and effortlessly, without the trouble of searching for their voluntary needs, he said. They will not be exposed to exploitation or loss of rights, as this platform will be the link and guarantor for all parties and the coordinator of their relationship.

“We in the volunteer community have contributed over the past two years to empowering more than 3,500 volunteers through the ‘Tamkeen’ projects aimed at qualifying volunteer leaders. We also launched the volunteer counseling service, which provided 1,200 voluntary counseling sessions in one year,”  said Al-Maliki.

Meanwhile, Dr. Ghada Al-Ghunaim, a member of the Board of Trustees of the King Abdul Aziz Center for National Dialogue, said: “Saudis are passionate about volunteer work and have extensive experience and expertise, whether within the Kingdom or abroad.”

Al-Ghunaim added that the most important thing that governs volunteerism is the presence of an official body that shields this work, organizes it and ensures its reliability, to reassure parents that their children are under a governmental administration that is properly enhancing and qualifying their capabilities, and immunize them against extremism, and some agendas that function outside of the volunteering framework.

She said that volunteers have become more aware of their responsibilities, the parties they join, their rights, and what they are supposed to offer. The relationship between volunteers and the organizations they work with is more like a contract characterized by commitment, transparency and professionalism, in addition to having great benefits on self-control and preparation.

On her personal experience, Al-Ghunaim said that she spent nine years volunteering inside Saudi Arabia and abroad, which prepared her for the labor market, adding that it was a rehabilitative culture, filling free time and meeting needs.

The pilgrimage this year would not neglect the importance of organizing volunteerism, despite the small numbers of pilgrims, she added. “Volunteers are expected to be trained on how to act, on precautionary measures, and on requirements, in addition to acting cautiously and responsibly.”


Saudi cabinet once again condemns attacks on the Kingdom by Houthis

Saudi cabinet once again condemns attacks on the Kingdom by Houthis
Updated 03 March 2021

Saudi cabinet once again condemns attacks on the Kingdom by Houthis

Saudi cabinet once again condemns attacks on the Kingdom by Houthis
  • Ministers also briefed on King Salman’s recent conversation with US President Joe Biden, and the latest COVID-19 developments

RIYADH: Saudi authorities have again condemned the continuing cross-border attacks on the Kingdom by the Houthi militia in Yemen.

The comments came on Tuesday, during the weekly meeting of the Saudi cabinet chaired by King Salman. The latest Houthi assault took place earlier in the day and left five civilians injured.

“The council appreciated the efficiency of the air-defense system in confronting and thwarting the threats made by the Iran-backed terrorist Houthi militia, and its violations of international laws by launching ballistic missiles and drones at civilians and civilian objects in the Kingdom in a deliberate and systematic manner,” said Minister of Information Majid Al-Qasabi.

The cabinet was also briefed on King Salman’s telephone conversation with US President Joe Biden last Thursday, during which both sides stressed the depth of the relationship between the two countries, and the importance of strengthening the partnership to serve their interests and achieve regional and international security and stability.

The Council of Ministers hailed a second consecutive year of progress made by the Kingdom in the Women, Business and the Law 2021 report recently published by the World Bank Group, which ranked Saudi Arabia among the leading countries in the MENA region for empowerment of women.

Initiatives implemented as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 have helped to support the introduction of legislative reforms designed to enhance and expand the role of women in the economic development of the nation, and make the Kingdom more competitive regionally and globally, the cabinet said.

Ministers were briefed on the latest developments in the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and reviewed reports from new vaccination centers that have opened in several regions, Al-Qasabi told the Saudi Press Agency.

The cabinet also congratulated Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the successful surgery he underwent last week, wishing him health and wellness.
 


Saudis pay tribute to engineer for his services to the Zamzam well

Saudis pay tribute to engineer for his services to the Zamzam well
An undated photo of Yahya Hamza Koshak, who died at the age of 80. (Supplied)
Updated 03 March 2021

Saudis pay tribute to engineer for his services to the Zamzam well

Saudis pay tribute to engineer for his services to the Zamzam well
  • Yahya Hamza Koshak was considered an authority on the architecture and history of the ancient site

JEDDAH: Saudis on Tuesday were mourning the loss of Yahya Hamza Koshak following his death at the age of 80. An engineer by profession, he became famous for his services to the Zamzam well.

Koshak, also known as the “father of engineers,” was a former director general of the National Water Company and member of the Okaz Organization for Press and Publication.
He was born in Makkah, where his father, a merchant, worked during the Umrah season, serving as chairman of the Establishment of Motawifs of Pilgrims of Turkish Muslims of Europe America and Australia.
His mother was a close friend of the wife of the late King Faisal, Princess Effat, whom she met at the Makkah’s Grand Mosque.
Koshak studied in one of Taif city’s first schools after it was founded by King Faisal and Princess Effat.
He studied engineering at Ain Shams University in Cairo, but completed his degree in Riyadh. He later continued his education in the US, where he obtained a Ph.D. in engineering sciences.
His nephew Nabeel Koshak told Arab News that the late engineer was dear to those who worked with him.

FASTFACTS

• Yahya Hamza Koshak was born in Makkah.

• Koshak studied in one of Taif city’s first schools.

• He studied engineering at Ain Shams University in Cairo, but completed his degree in Riyadh.

• He later continued his education in the US, where he obtained a Ph.D. in engineering sciences.

• He led the cleaning team of the Zamzam well four decades ago.

• Koshak wrote a book, ‘Zamzam: The Holy Water,’ in which he recorded his observations inside the well.

“He was very social, close to people, and always kind and did not like to hurt anyone. He was light hearted — these were the characteristics that distinguished his personality.”
Koshak “was like a father to me,” and the family remained proud that he earned the trust of the Kingdom’s leadership, his nephew said.
“He greeted and received the king every year during the last 10 days of Ramadan.”
Koshak held a number of government positions in Makkah over a long career, including undersecretary for technical affairs at the Makkah Municipality.
He led the cleaning team of the Zamzam well four decades ago and wrote a book, “Zamzam: The Holy Water,” in which he recorded his observations inside the well.
“Cleaning the Zamzam well was one of his most important projects, a huge task under the direction of the late King Khalid,” his nephew said.
In his book, Koshak outlined the history of the well and its water sources, and also documented the archaeological objects found during the cleaning project.
The late engineer said: “By observation, it became clear that there are only two main sources of water, one toward the Kaaba, and the other toward Ajyad. As for the third source, which historical narratives said is on the side of Jabal Abu Qubays and Al-Safa, I found instead 12 small holes between building stones.”
Koshak’s interests included alternative medicine, which led to him establishing a specialist center in Jeddah.


Call to declare Houthis terrorists

Call to declare Houthis terrorists
Saudi authorities inspect a site in the Jazan region where a Houthi projectile fell early on Tuesday. (SPA)
Updated 03 March 2021

Call to declare Houthis terrorists

Call to declare Houthis terrorists
  • Iran taking advantage of international inaction, says analyst

JEDDAH: The US condemnation of the Houthi attack on Jazan “makes no difference” to the Iran-backed militia’s behavior as the group should be recognized as a terrorist organization, a Saudi political analyst said.

“Previous condemnations against Iran and its militia failed to stop them from what they wanted to do,” Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, who is also an international relations scholar, told Arab News.
The US Embassy in Riyadh on Tuesday condemned the latest missile attack by the Houthis targeting a border village in the Jazan region in southwestern Saudi Arabia, in which five civilians were injured. “We call on the Houthis to stop attacking innocent civilians and to engage in the diplomatic process to end this conflict,” the embassy said.
Al-Shehri said that if the US was serious in its denunciations, then the administration should have kept the Houthis on its terrorist list: “That is the least it can do, let alone being an ally to the Kingdom.”
“On the international level, lifting the ‘terrorist’ designation imposed on the Houthis was like giving them the green light to continue in their terror activities as if they were not harmful, terrorist acts,” Al-Shehri said.
He expects more than words of condemnation from the US as Saudi Arabia has been on the receiving end of several Houthi attacks.
“The problem with the new US administration is that it knows quite well where dangers and problems are,” Al-Shehri said.

On the international level, lifting the ‘terrorist’ designation imposed on the Houthis was like giving them the green light to continue in their terror activities.

Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, Political analyst

He said Iran is keen to “heat up” the region and the increasing Houthi attacks on the Kingdom reflect that.
“Regionally, Iran is taking advantage of the current unrest and instability in the region for the benefit of its nuclear project,” he said. “The plan is being led by the military ruler of the Houthis, Hassan Irlu, who is now in Sanaa.”
The Houthis are under pressure in Marib and they are trying to use all ballistic missiles, military projectiles and drones against the civilians, Al-Shehri said.
“Iran is to be blamed, not the Houthis,” he said.
“The international community that is watching silently is also responsible for the terror acts by the Houthi militia, which has turned against the country’s legitimate government.”
UN Resolution 2216 acknowledges the legitimacy of the Yemeni government, but Al-Shehri said: “It has not even been implemented. Nor has it brought peace and stability to Yemen or the region.”
Meanwhile, the joint coalition forces on Tuesday night intercepted and destroyed a booby-trapped drone launched by the Houthi militia.
“It was (sent) in a systematic and deliberate manner to target civilians and civilian objects in the southern region,” Brig. Turki Al-Maliki, spokesman for the Coalition to Support Legitimacy, said in a statement to SPA.


Saudi Arabia, Iraq hold talks to boost ties

Saudi Arabia, Iraq hold talks to boost ties
Iraqi Defense Minister Juma Inaad Saadoun presents a memento to Saudi Arabia’s Chief of Staff Gen. Fayyad bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili in Baghdad. (SPA)
Updated 03 March 2021

Saudi Arabia, Iraq hold talks to boost ties

Saudi Arabia, Iraq hold talks to boost ties
  • The Saudi military chief held a meeting with his Iraqi counterpart Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah and reviewed bilateral ties in a way that help both sides achieve their common goals

Saudi Arabia’s Chief of Staff Gen. Fayyad bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili, who is on an official visit to Iraq, met Iraqi Defense Minister Juma Inaad Saadoun on Wednesday.
During the meeting, they discussed matters related to the armed forces and other issues of common interest.
They stressed the need to strengthening ties between Saudi Arabia and Iraq to ensure the security and stability of the region.
The Iraqi minister presented Al-Ruwaili with a memento.
The Saudi military chief also held a meeting with his Iraqi counterpart Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah and reviewed bilateral ties in a way that help both sides achieve their common goals.
He also held meetings with the chiefs of the Iraqi army and air force.


Who’s Who: Areej Attiyah Al-Johani, deputy health minister’s human resources counselor for business quality

Who’s Who: Areej Attiyah Al-Johani, deputy health minister’s human resources counselor for business quality
Areej Attiyah Al-Johani
Updated 03 March 2021

Who’s Who: Areej Attiyah Al-Johani, deputy health minister’s human resources counselor for business quality

Who’s Who: Areej Attiyah Al-Johani, deputy health minister’s human resources counselor for business quality

Areej Attiyah Al-Johani was recently appointed as the deputy health minister’s human resources counselor for business quality.
She has been general supervisor of the Conflict of Interest and Disclosure Office (Afseh) at the Saudi Health Ministry since 2018.
Al-Johani received a bachelor’s degree in education from King Saud University in 2003. After completing a master’s degree at the University of Glamorgan, Cardiff, she obtained a Ph.D. in technology science from the University of South Wales.
Before her current role, Al-Johani served as director-general of the ministry’s workforce planning department from April 2019 to February 2021.
She has been a certified internal assessor at the health ministry for the King Abdul Aziz Quality Award since 2018.
Al-Johani headed the quality excellence team at the ministry’s deputyship of human resources between 2018 and 2019.
In 2016, she was a coordinator for the leadership renewal program at the ministry’s deputyship of human resources. In 2009, she worked for nearly a year as supervisor at the learning and resource center of the Jeddah-based Al-Abnaa High School.
Al-Johani has attended various local and international training courses. She is a recipient of several prestigious professional awards.
From 2005 to 2014, she attended several IT courses in the UK.
Al-Johani has had research papers published in various journals. She has also attended conferences inside and outside the country.