Women, youth major beneficiaries of Saudi G20 leadership: Experts

Women, youth major beneficiaries of Saudi G20 leadership: Experts
Saudi women, wearing protective face masks, walk into the Taiba gold market in the capital Riyadh. (AFP)
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Updated 17 November 2020

Women, youth major beneficiaries of Saudi G20 leadership: Experts

Women, youth major beneficiaries of Saudi G20 leadership: Experts
  • Summit a chance to reiterate why KSA has been the West’s most enduring regional partner: Ex-US diplomat
  • Pandemic means Nov. 21-22 meeting, meant to take place in Riyadh, will instead be online

LONDON: Saudi women and youth have been heavily involved in the lead up to their country’s G20 Summit, and have thus been major beneficiaries of the chance for open dialogue and inclusive policymaking, according to experts.

The annual summit gives the Kingdom a chance to reaffirm the ties that have made it the West’s key partner in the Middle East for 75 years, experts said at an online event on Tuesday hosted by British think tank Chatham House and attended by Arab News.

Saudi leadership of the G20 has had a major impact on the Kingdom’s civil society, said Dr. Hanaa Almoaibed, research fellow at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies.

Despite the challenges of holding the summit online, the G20 is “definitely a capacity-building process for a lot of young Saudis,” she added.

“Being involved in the political process, in the policymaking process for the first time for a lot of young professionals, is a huge insight into the way international relations works.”

In addition to the flagship summit of world leaders, Saudi Arabia has also hosted over 100 smaller meetings and events addressing a range of topics including the coronavirus pandemic, digital access in the workplace and climate change.

One of the major areas that the Saudi G20 secretariat has focused on, Almoaibed said, is women’s empowerment and providing a space for Saudi women and others to voice their hopes for their country’s future.

Instrumental in this was the W20, a specific group of the G20 focused on fostering gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.

“The W20 was exciting because it really involved women from all over the country,” said Almoaibed. “It was led by a local organization that was able to bring women from all over the country to open a national dialogue, discussing the things they’d faced that had prevented them from achieving what they wanted to achieve or their own personal goals.”

The value here, she said, is that “there was a lot of trust in that format — they were able to develop an action plan for women in the country based on the challenges they face.”

The G20 has also given Saudi Arabia a platform to reiterate why it has been the West’s key regional partner for 75 years, said David Rundell, former chief of mission at the US Embassy in Riyadh.

He added that in the face of hostility from some American politicians, the Kingdom can use the G20 Summit as an opportunity to refocus global attention on what has made the US-Saudi partnership so enduring.

“Saudi Arabia has been a strong partner of both Britain and the US for 75 years. In counterterrorism cooperation, Saudi Arabia has saved American lives. In global energy markets, Saudi Arabia has frequently stabilized supply and demand when political or natural disasters disrupt things.” Rundell said.

“I think it’s fair to say in the recent past Saudi Arabia has promoted a moderate form of Islam. But most importantly for Britain and the US is that Saudi Arabia remains a power that values and promotes regional stability. Those are reasons for continued engagement.”

The flagship G20 Summit, hosted by King Salman, will take place online on Nov. 21-22.


Jeddah residents make the most of new Red Sea water sports activities

Jeddah residents make the most of new Red Sea water sports activities
Updated 21 sec ago

Jeddah residents make the most of new Red Sea water sports activities

Jeddah residents make the most of new Red Sea water sports activities
  • Saudis are flocking to the newest and coolest new water sports activities

JEDDAH: You’ve heard of flips, twists, and turns underwater, but a new extreme water sport is allowing sports enthusiasts to do the same above the surface. It’s called flyboarding and it will take you to new heights.

Saudis are flocking to the newest and coolest new water sports activities. Invented in 2012 by French watercraft rider Franky Zapata, the flyboard is a hydroflight device that uses propulsion to drive a board into the air to perform tricks and skills. With the right balance and push, the board allows users to climb out of the water and fly, and one Saudi flyboard instructor can show you how it is done.

Mussab Felemban, a certified flyboard instructor, has been performing the art of water hoverboarding wherever he can find a body of water deep enough to hold the board and big enough to fly over.

“Flyboarding is a new sport in the Kingdom; it’s very popular among people whether they want to try it or just want to watch the performance,” Felemban told Arab News.

“Anyone can practice the sport with the presence of an instructor and of course safety equipment such as a helmet and a life jacket. It is one of the funnest and toughest water activities,” he added.

Felemban found his passion for watersports in 2009 through riding jet skis. He later discovered flyboarding in 2017, fell in love with it, and took courses in Hurghada and Dubai, to become an official flyboard instructor certified in the US.

“I was discovered 2 months ago by Jeddah’s waterfront operator as I posted my flyboard performances on social media, the operator contacted me and offered me the opportunity to be a part of their activities and I’ve been performing since,” he said. 

“I started flyboarding on the Jeddah waterfront two months ago, and thank God it was a great turnout. More than 300 people tried it, including women and children who wanted to try it out.”

Felemban is active on social media, especially TikTok, where he has gathered over 300,000 followers in just four months. “This is the biggest evidence of the strong demand for watersports,” he said.

Felemban stressed that flyboarding does require some agility, strength, and patience as it can take a while to find the balance while hovering over the water, but it is suitable for anyone. 

The price for half an hour of flyboarding is SR250 ($67).

“Flyboarding is considered a fun activity and you can do it for less than half an hour. No one can do flyboarding for longer than that because of the pressure on the knees. Yes, it burns calories and tightens the body, however, it does not replace the regular sport activities like going to the gym.”

Felemban has participated in events like Saudi National Day celebrations at the Jeddah waterfront and Sharqiyah, the opening of the Asir waterfront, and many more exciting occasions.

“Flyboarding is an entertainment sport activity, and the Ministry of Sports is focusing on Saudi youth to be prepared to participate in Olympics and international sports events.”

“You want to fly? We will make that happen,” he added.


25 new paths allocated at Makkah's Grand Mosque

25 new paths allocated at Makkah's Grand Mosque
Updated 29 September 2021

25 new paths allocated at Makkah's Grand Mosque

25 new paths allocated at Makkah's Grand Mosque
  • The presidency has also prepared new prayer areas inside the Grand Mosque

MAKKAH: The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques has allocated 25 new paths at the Grand Mosque in Makkah in order to provide comfort for visitors, while implementing precautionary measures. This comes in light of the increasing number of worshipers and Umrah performers to the Grand Mosque.
The presidency arranged social distancing stickers for the 25 new paths around the Tawaf (circumambulation) area to keep pace with the preparations for the Umrah season. It also allocated paths for people with disabilities in accordance with the precautionary measures.
The presidency has also prepared new prayer areas inside the Grand Mosque and its courtyards for Umrah performers in order to ensure their safety. The Saudi authorities aim to focus on the construction and maintenance works at the Two Holy Mosques. SPA Makkah
Earlier, the presidency announced that it has so far trained around 600 female employees of its agencies or assisting agencies.
The Women’s Development Affairs Agency, led by Al-Anoud Al-Aboud, deputy president for women’s development affairs, employs 310 of those women.
Around 200 women work for the Agency for Women’s Scientific, Intellectual and Guidance Affairs, led by Noura Al-Thuwaibi.
The rest of the trained women work at the Agency for Women’s Administrative and Service Affairs, under the leadership of Kamelia Al-Daadi, the general presidency said.


Saudi Ministry of Justice digitizes 50m title deeds 

Saudi Ministry of Justice digitizes 50m title deeds 
Updated 29 September 2021

Saudi Ministry of Justice digitizes 50m title deeds 

Saudi Ministry of Justice digitizes 50m title deeds 

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Justice has digitized more than 50 million title deeds as part of the Real Estate Wealth Digitization Initiative. 
Launched as part of the ministry’s National Transformation Program 2020 initiatives, the title deed digitization project aims to enhance property services and simplify property management procedures through central digitization facilities.
The facilities operate round the clock and are the largest of their kind in the Middle East. 
The digitization process starts at the courts and notary public offices, where documents are accounted for and compiled, data is entered and audited. Later on, the documents are processed for transfer to the central digitization facilities for disinfection, restoration, photography, archiving, auditing and quality. 


Session held in Saudi Arabia on human development

Session held in Saudi Arabia on human development
Updated 29 September 2021

Session held in Saudi Arabia on human development

Session held in Saudi Arabia on human development

RIYADH: A dialogue session was held in Riyadh on the details, objectives and initiatives of the Human Capacity Development Program, titled “Global Competitive Citizen.”
The program is considered one of the most important under the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.
The session was held with the participation of Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Eng. Ahmed Al-Rajhi, Minister of Education Dr. Hamad Al-Sheikh, Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Al-Khorayef, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Education and Training Evaluation Commission Dr. Khaled Al-Sabti.
During the event, Al-Rajhi addressed the program’s contribution to bridging the gap between education and training institutions based on labor market requirements. 
Al-Sheikh said that the program will serve as a comprehensive strategy for the development of human capabilities, starting from kindergarten and passing through general and university education, technical and vocational training, and entry into the labor market until the post-retirement stage.


First human rights dialogue between EU and Saudi Arabia held 

First human rights dialogue between EU and Saudi Arabia held 
Updated 29 September 2021

First human rights dialogue between EU and Saudi Arabia held 

First human rights dialogue between EU and Saudi Arabia held 
  • Saudi reforms welcomed; future talks scheduled for 2022

RIYADH: The EU welcomed reforms taking place in Saudi Arabia, and noted that “significant steps” have been made to advance women’s rights in the Kingdom.
The appreciation came in a press release by the EU External Action Service, the EU’s diplomatic service, on Tuesday, following dialogue between Saudi Arabia and the EU in Brussels on Monday on a wide range of topics.
EU Special Representative for Human Rights Eamon Gilmore led the EU delegation, while the Saudi delegation was led by the Saudi Human Rights Commission president, Awwad Saleh Al-Awwad. Representatives from EU member states also attended as observers.
Gilmore tweeted: “I co-chaired, with Al-Awwad, the first ever Human Rights Dialogue between the EU and Saudi Arabia. A very big agenda. Engagement matters.”
A spokesman for the Saudi Human Rights Commission told Arab News: “Al-Awwad highlighted the most prominent reforms achieved in the Kingdom in human rights, pointing to the short period during which they were achieved, and stated that the most important factor that contributed to achieving these reforms is the presence of a political will represented in the directives of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”
The EAS press release added: “The EU welcomed the reforms that are taking place in Saudi Arabia, particularly in the socio-economic domain, and significant steps have been taken to advance women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.”

FASTFACT

The appreciation came in a press release by the EU External Action Service, the EU’s diplomatic service, on Tuesday, following dialogue between Saudi Arabia and the EU in Brussels on a wide range of topics.

The EU encouraged Saudi authorities to work towards achieving women’s full enjoyment of all human rights.
The dialogue included planned judicial reforms and acknowledged the changes recently introduced in the kafala (sponsorship) system, including the reforms of labor laws that came into effect in March 2020. The EU’s ambassador in Riyadh, Patrick Simonnet, told Arab News: “We were very pleased to host the first EU-KSA Human Rights Dialogue. We had been preparing this dialogue, which is unique for our bilateral relations, for some time and we were satisfied to see that the meeting was successful.”
The envoy added: “This is the first human rights dialogue that the Kingdom (held) with an international partner and we are excited that it was held with the EU. We have discussed a series of issues related to human rights, including the recent reforms for women’s empowerment, labor rights as well as the upcoming reforms in the penal code. We also explained the work of the EU in the field of human rights and we hope that we will be able to coordinate actions with Saudi Arabia in international fora.
“This dialogue has built upon the excellent relations we have established locally with the human rights commission, especially under the leadership of Dr. Al-Awwad. We are looking forward to more fruitful and comprehensive cooperation with the Kingdom on human rights,” Simonnet said.
Saad bin Mohammed Al-Arifi, the head of the Saudi mission to the EU, welcomed the discussions, pointing to the efforts made by the two sides in this context, adding he hoped this dialogue would support solid relations between the Kingdom and the EU.
The rights commission outlined that the two sides also reviewed reforms achieved in freedom of expression and association, the rule of law, religious freedom, the right to work, and means of cooperation between the two sides within the framework of the UN.
The co-chairs agreed to convene the following Human Rights Dialogue in 2022 in Saudi Arabia.