Saudi Arabia, GCC condemn twin suicide bombing in central Baghdad

Saudi Arabia, GCC condemn twin suicide bombing in central Baghdad
Security forces work at the site of a deadly bomb attack in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021. (AP)
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Updated 22 January 2021

Saudi Arabia, GCC condemn twin suicide bombing in central Baghdad

Saudi Arabia, GCC condemn twin suicide bombing in central Baghdad
  • The Kingdom rejects all forms of terrorism: foreign ministry
  • GCC, UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain also condemning the attack

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia condemned on Thursday the twin suicide bombing that rocked central Baghdad, killing at least 32 people and wounding dozens.
The Kingdom rejects all forms of terrorism and stands by Iraq against anything that threatens its security or stability, the foreign ministry said. 
The ministry expressed condolences to the families of the victims and the government and people of Iraq, wishing the injured a speedy recovery.
The attack hit the Bab Al-Sharqi commercial area in central Baghdad amid heightened political tensions over planned early elections and a severe economic crisis.
Iraq’s Health Minister Hassan Mohammed Al-Tamimi said at least 32 people were killed and 110 others were wounded in the attack.
Iraqi President Barham Salih strongly condemned the attack, saying that “we stand firmly against the rogue attempts aimed at destabilizing the country.”
In a tweet, Salih said:“The two terrorist explosions against the safe citizens of Baghdad, at this time, confirm that dark groups seek to target the great national needs and the aspirations of our people for a peaceful future.”
The Gulf Cooperation Council also condemned the attack with Secretary-General Nayef Al-Hajraf offering condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims and wished the injured a speedy recovery.
Al-Hajraf said the GCC’s solidarity with Iraq in combating terrorism and enhancing security and stability in its territories, affirming the bloc’s “steadfast stances toward terrorism and extremism and its rejection of all its forms and manifestations, motives and justifications,” as well as sources that fund and support it.
The foreign ministries of the UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain also issued statements condemning the twin bombings and offering condolences to the families of the victims.
The Emirati foreign ministry “expressed its permanent rejection of all forms of violence and terrorism aimed at destabilizing security and stability and is inconsistent with religious and humanitarian values ​​and principles.”
Kuwait said the attack “constitutes a violation of the tolerant Islamic Sharia (law) and all values ​​and norms,” adding that the country stands in solidarity with Iraq and “supports its efforts to preserve its security and stability.”
Bahrain “called for the need to join hands in order to confront these heinous terrorist acts that target the lives of innocent civilians and destabilize security and stability.”
Other Arab nations, including Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia, also issued similar statements.


Saudi Culture Ministry achieves gender balance with women in key roles

Saudi Culture Ministry achieves gender balance with women in key roles
Updated 4 min 26 sec ago

Saudi Culture Ministry achieves gender balance with women in key roles

Saudi Culture Ministry achieves gender balance with women in key roles
  • Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud is eager to propel women forward as leaders

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture has reached a new gender balance of 50 percent in the workplace with many female employees holding top positions.

Dur Kattan, the general director of the deputyship of communication and media, outlined the Ministry of Culture’s mission of empowerment aligned with Vision 2030.

She said that Vision 2030 sought to “empower everyone; men and women. I am lucky to live in these supportive, inspiring and motivational circumstances, with men and women of my generation.”

Over the past two years, the ministry has been exploring new ways to empower Saudi women, not only by offering employment opportunities but also by providing skill development and professional training, and ensuring equal opportunities without gender bias.

Since the launch of Vision 2030, women’s overall presence in the workplace has increased by 35 percent in the Kingdom with a 38 percent rise in the public sector and a 32 percent increase in private-sector jobs.

The ministry’s top positions are occupied by women such as CEOs, managing directors and operational managers. The ministry has made progressive changes over the years to ensure it complies with Vision 2030 plans to empower and create leaders across the Kingdom without gender discrimination.

Some of the female leaders in the Ministry of Culture include Dr. Sumaya Al-Sulaiman, CEO of the Architecture and Design Commission; Noha Kattan, general director of the deputyship of national partnerships and development; Dina Amin, CEO of the Visual Arts Commission; Mayada Badr, CEO of the Culinary Arts Commission; Razan Al-Ayed, general manager of delivery and project management; and Felwa Al-Bazai, general manager of planning and performance.

The ministry, under the leadership of Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud, is eager to propel women forward as leaders in the cultural sector.

Dr. Sumaya Al-Sulaiman believes that women have an important role to play in spreading the cultural values of the Kingdom.

“I think that women empowerment is very important,” she said. “Women must have their space and voice and disseminate their own culture, as individuals or as members of the female community, and women have an influential presence in the Saudi cultural scene.”

The Ministry of Culture gave its leading members an opportunity to reach their full potential and embraces all skill sets and innovative ideas regardless of gender.

“A person’s capabilities and qualifications do not depend on the sex,” Razan Al-Ayed said. “They depend on competency primarily, which does not conflict with the importance of empowering women and enhancing their participation in various areas,” she said.

Aligned with Vision 2030’s initiative, the ministry believes in equal wages and equal job opportunities across all of its divisions, creating a work environment that supports and creates successful and ambitious leaders.

The ministry encourages diversity in employment and leadership positions because it develops an environment of innovative and differentiated thinking.

Dur Kattan said: “In general, intellectual people or cultural practitioners — men or women — have the responsibility to provide their personal insight, which adds a different dimension to the Saudi cultural scene.”

“In accordance with this benchmark, any leader is required to work on creating a homogeneous work system that functions automatically to achieve what is required, without being conditioned by the presence or absence of the leader,” she said.

Diversification and support toward leaders of the new generation in the cultural sector provides new ways of achieving tasks while further enriching the Kingdom in the traditional culture.

Vision 2030’s mission is not only to empower women but to create work environments where diverse thinking and backgrounds can sprout innovation and creative development.

Noha Kattan believes that the Ministry of Culture creates a work environment that gives women and men the ability to shine, and provides them with the key elements of success and empowerment.

Kattan stressed the importance of equality in leadership for both men and women.

“The male or female leader’s mission is to manage the team efficiently, in order to achieve the goals,” she said. “If we look at the level of accomplishment at the Ministry of Culture in the last two years alone (since the launching of its activity) and see how women are essential partners in all that has been achieved, it is possible to say that betting on women empowerment is very gainful and that women’s partnership with men guarantees excellence for our country in all areas.”

The Ministry of Culture has continuously improved its initiatives to further develop the Kingdom’s job market, aligned with Vision 2030 for both men and women.

Mayada Badr said: “This piece of advice is also directed at men and everyone. Trust your capabilities in achieving your dreams.”


Communities, networks key to Saudi women’s progress, experts say

Communities, networks key to Saudi women’s progress, experts say
Emon Shakoor is a neuroscience researcher turned technology entrepreneur and startup catalyst. (Supplied)
Updated 34 min 1 sec ago

Communities, networks key to Saudi women’s progress, experts say

Communities, networks key to Saudi women’s progress, experts say
  • Vision 2030 aims to increase the contribution of SMEs to Saudi gross domestic product from 20 to 35 percent
  • Today in Saudi, according to Ministry of Education numbers, more women are graduating from tech-related majors than men

JEDDAH: A determination to strengthen the contribution of Saudi women to society and the economy is one of many bold ambitions outlined in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Women’s economic empowerment is critical to achieving gender equality and strengthening sustainable development cooperation. It includes women’s ability to participate equally in existing markets, having a louder voice and more agency, and their meaningful involvement in economic decision-making at all levels.

This can be achieved by ensuring women’s financial inclusion, technical inclusion, entrepreneurship empowerment and participation in decision-making.

For the second year in a row, Saudi Arabia has made notable progress in advancing women’s economic opportunities, according to the World Bank Group’s latest report.

The Women, Business, and the Law 2021 report placed Saudi Arabia among the leading countries in the Middle East and North African region — scoring 80 points out of 100, up from the 70.6 achieved in 2020.

According to the report, Saudi Arabia has progressed in reducing wage inequality, eliminated restrictions on female employment in jobs previously deemed too dangerous, and lifted bans on women working night shifts.

As science progresses at a rapid pace, access to new technology and the ability to create and shape technological change is increasingly becoming a fundamental tool to support women’s empowerment and improve their lives, especially in a post-pandemic world.

During a roundtable discussion in July last year spawned by Women20 (W20), an official engagement group of the G20, speakers noted that only 48 percent of women are accustomed to the latest technology, while 60 percent of Saudi women use social media platforms without producing any digital content. This confirms that women are users of technology, not producers, they said.

“Improving digital and cybersecurity literacy among women contributes to their economic empowerment, since they will be needed in all sectors locally, regionally and internationally,” Dalal Al-Harthi, a cybersecurity expert, told Arab News.

Al-Harthi is a faculty member at Shaqra University and resident engineer at the US-based cybersecurity company Palo Alto Networks. Throughout the last three years, she has worked in three positions across different institutions in the US as the only female engineer in her teams.

However, she considered those situations as motivation to prove herself, as opposed to a challenge.

“Males historically and currently dominate the cybersecurity field. A recent report by Cybersecurity Ventures states that women make up 20 percent of the cybersecurity workforce. Because of this massive shortage of women among cybersecurity professionals today, I became deeply passionate about raising this percentage to 50 percent,” Al-Harthi said.

“The cybersecurity field is the hottest cake in the market, and in high demand around the world,” she added.

Therefore, the digital empowerment of women and girls by upgrading their knowledge and skills allows them to seize the opportunities provided by evolving global markets. Moreover, attracting more women to the tech sector is essential to unlocking the potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and ensuring technology is developed from a balanced perspective.

Al-Harthi advises women who want to venture into cybersecurity to improve their technical skills, obtain professional certificates, look into cybersecurity job descriptions to grasp the bigger picture, and work on their communication, research and writing skills.

According to the undersecretary for women’s empowerment at the Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, Hind Al-Zahid, having women in prominent leadership positions will result in greater numbers of women in senior roles in the labor market.

Saudi Arabia has increasingly encouraged women’s leadership in recent years. The most notable event came earlier this year, which saw the appointment of Iman Al-Mutairi as executive director for destination branding at the Soudah Development Co., a new brand fully owned by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund.

Several initiatives have also been launched to prepare women for leading positions in the public sector, such as the QIYADYAT platform and the leadership academy at the Public Administration Institute.

As it stands, 2.5 percent of leading positions in the Kingdom’s public sector are occupied by women, but in the private sector, the figure rises to 25 percent.

In a recent interview with Al-Arabiya TV, Al-Zahid said that the gap between the public and private sectors is due to the lack of a talent pool that helps include more women in the public sector, as many women work in the education and health industries.

On the bright side, the latest numbers show that women’s participation in the labor market has increased to 31 percent, exceeding the government’s goal of 25 percent by 2025.

Dr. Albandari Al-Rabiah, director of the Studies and Information Department at the Public Administration Institute, said that studies have shown that a balanced representation of women leaders across different levels of an organization leads to a higher level of performance and innovation, and therefore increased revenues and a distinct competitive advantage.

Dr. Al-Rabiah also conducted a field study to evaluate the experience of women leaders in the Kingdom’s public sector.

“The results of the study demonstrated the high sense of commitment among Saudi women toward their responsibilities and role in society, as well as their relentless pursuit to prove themselves, in addition to a number of challenges that face women on the ascending ladder to leadership positions,” she said.

Two years after the study was published, Al-Rabiah insists that the Kingdom is witnessing a decisive turning point for women and their journey towards leadership positions.

The unemployment rate among women in Saudi Arabia is 31 percent, while among men, it stands at 9 percent. Therefore, women have been encouraged to get involved in entrepreneurship to expand their participation in the labor market, fuel economic growth and create more jobs for their female peers.

Vision 2030 aims to increase the contribution of SMEs to Saudi gross domestic product from 20 to 35 percent.

Emon Shakoor, an ex-neuroscience researcher and now technology entrepreneur who started her journey in her early 20s, launched Saudi Arabia’s first tech-inclusion and female-focused accelerator to help more women venture into the field.

“Today in Saudi, according to Ministry of Education numbers, more women are graduating from tech-related majors than men, however after graduation they do not continue working in the industry,” said Shakoor, CEO and founder of Blossom Accelerator.

She said that the way to solve this problem is for women to have more allies, mentors, and networks, because that is the only way that women graduating from the field can stay and strive in the industry.

Shakoor added that entrepreneurship is a male-dominated sector, and that although female entrepreneurs have become more and more noticeable, the most successful and biggest companies in the Kingdom were founded by men.

That is the case not because men are better than women, but because men have their well-established communities, she said.

In her own life, Shakoor said that she did not always receive enough social trust and respect as an ambitious and successful entrepreneur.

“I overcame the situation by continuing to work and focusing on my customers, who are other women founders,” she said.

“People underestimate you at the beginning, but focus on the customer, and you’ll eventually succeed.”

 


Saudi oil port and Aramco residential area targeted by drone, missile

Saudi oil port and Aramco residential area targeted by drone, missile
Updated 08 March 2021

Saudi oil port and Aramco residential area targeted by drone, missile

Saudi oil port and Aramco residential area targeted by drone, missile
  • Energy ministry says Ras Tanura Port was targeted by a drone coming from the sea
  • Shrapnel from a ballistic missile fell near Saudi Aramco’s residential area in Dhahran

RIYADH: A major oil port and Aramco residential area were attacked with a drone and ballistic missile in eastern Saudi Arabia on Sunday.

A "petroleum tank farm" at Ras Tanura Port, one of the largest oil shipping ports in the world, was attacked with a drone in the morning, the energy ministry said. The drone was coming from the direction of the sea.

In the evening, shrapnel from a ballistic missile fell near Saudi Aramco’s residential area in Dhahran where thousands of the company’s local and international employees and their families live.

No one was injured and no property damaged in either attack.

“The Kingdom condemns and criminalizes such repeated acts of sabotage and hostility,” a ministry spokesman said. “The Kingdom calls on nations and organizations of the world to stand together against these attacks, which are aimed at civilian objects and vital installations.

“Such acts of sabotage do not only target the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but also the security and stability of energy supplies to the world, and therefore, the global economy. They affect the security of petroleum exports, freedom of world trade, and maritime traffic.”

The defense ministry said both the drone and the missile were intercepted and destroyed. 

As the missile targeting the Aramco site was shot down, it “resulted in scattered debris that fell in close proximity to civilians and civilian objects,” ministry spokesman Brig.-Gen. Turki Al-Maliki said.

He said the ministry would take all measures to safeguard the nation’s assets “in a manner that preserves the security of global energy, puts an end to these acts of terrorism, guarantees the security and stability of oil supplies, protects security of petroleum exports and safeguards freedom of shipping and international trade.”

The attacks come after the Arab coalition said it had launched airstrikes on Houthi targets in Yemen after a wave of drone attacks.

The Iran-backed militia had fired 12 explosives laden drones and two missiles. The missiles targeted Jazan in south-west Saudi Arabia, about 50 kilometers from the Yemen border.


Saudi aviation authority carries out monitoring tours at airports

Saudi aviation authority carries out monitoring tours at airports
The authority aims to enhance workers’ abilities to detect and handle suspected cases of the virus. (SPA)
Updated 48 min 23 sec ago

Saudi aviation authority carries out monitoring tours at airports

Saudi aviation authority carries out monitoring tours at airports
  • Saudi aviation authority is keen to develop and improve the aviation industry and provide the best services to beneficiaries of the Kingdom’s airports

RIYADH: Inspection and control teams at the General Civil Aviation Authority (GACA) on Sunday began carrying out supervisory rounds to ensure the implementation of preventive measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The teams will monitor national air carriers and airport workers to ensure adherence to the measures.

GACA will also continue with its plan to follow up on airports to guarantee the implementation of the precautionary measures outlined in the aviation operating manual.

The authority aims to enhance workers’ abilities to detect and handle suspected cases of the virus.

The inspections come in conjunction with the instructions of GACA President Abdul Hadi bin Ahmed Al-Mansoori, who stated that all civil aviation employees and airport workers must adhere to the Tawakkalna application and follow the measures established by the authorities to prevent the spread of the virus.

GACA is keen to develop and improve the aviation industry and provide the best services to beneficiaries of the Kingdom’s airports in accordance with the highest international standards. It aims to improve services and facilitate travel procedures while also ensuring that all safety precautions are taken to protect public health in light of the pandemic.

 


Saudi aid agency continues relief projects in Yemen

Saudi aid agency continues relief projects in Yemen
KSrelief launched a project to distribute medical equipment and supplies to four hospitals in the Marib governorate. (SPA)
Updated 07 March 2021

Saudi aid agency continues relief projects in Yemen

Saudi aid agency continues relief projects in Yemen
  • KSrelief has implemented 575 projects in Yemen at a total cost of nearly $3.5 billion

MARIB: The International Organization for Migration (IOM), supported by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief), has continued to improve the electricity grid in the Jufaina camp of Yemen’s Marib governorate.

IOM and KSrelief aim to provide various humanitarian aid to the displaced families and alleviate the current humanitarian crisis.

In September, KSrelief signed a $15-million joint agreement with IOM to carry out several projects that would benefit the Yemeni people, ensure their access to shelter and educational services and coordinate camps in Marib, Lahj and Hadramout, as part of the Yemen Humanitarian Response Plan.

KSrelief also launched a project to distribute medical equipment and supplies to four hospitals in the Marib governorate, in cooperation with the World Health Organization.

Backed by KSrelief, the Dialysis Center in Yemen’s Al-Mahrah governorate has continued to provide medical services to beneficiaries.

During the period from Feb. 20 to Feb. 25, the center received 35 patients who received 82 dialysis sessions.

KSrelief has implemented 575 projects in Yemen at a total cost of nearly $3.5 billion. The initiatives have been carried out in cooperation with 80 local, regional and international partners.

Since its inception in 2015, KSrelief has implemented 1,536 projects in 59 countries at a total cost of nearly $5 billion.