Saudi Arabia to introduce skills assessment for labor workers

Saudi Arabia to introduce skills assessment for labor workers
The program will examine all skilled workers in their home country before their arrival in Saudi Arabia. (AFP)
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Updated 08 March 2021

Saudi Arabia to introduce skills assessment for labor workers

Saudi Arabia to introduce skills assessment for labor workers
  • Ministry’s Professional Verification program will start coming into force in July

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s skilled workers are to be assessed to ensure they are qualified for their jobs.

The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development (HRSD) announced the launch of the “Professional Verification” program on Sunday, in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation.
The minister said on his official Twitter account: “Today (Sunday) we launched the Professional Verification program, to ensure the competence of skilled workers in the Saudi labor market.”
The program aims to verify that all skilled workers in Saudi Arabia have the required skills to perform the occupation they were recruited for, and will include practical and theoretical examinations in the workers’ specialized fields. It will target more than 1,000 professions belonging to 23 fields as per the Saudi Standard Classification of Occupations.
The program, which starts in July, seeks to improve the quality of skilled workers in the Saudi labor market, enhance their productivity, improve the services they provide and reduce the influx of unqualified workers.
The program will examine all skilled workers in their home country before their arrival in the Kingdom, in cooperation with selected international examination centers. It will also examine existing skilled workers in the Kingdom.
HRSD is urging all establishments to begin the verification process by registering on the program’s website — https://svp.qiwa.sa/ — for all their skilled workers, as the verification will gradually be enforced this summer.
Centers interested in becoming licensed to conduct the program’s examination are advised to register in the same link.
Work visas for the targeted jobs will be linked to the skilled workers passing the examination in their home country and will be enforced on a gradual basis in accordance with a roll-out plan developed with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the countries sending labor to the Kingdom. This falls under the ministry’s “Professional Accreditation” system.
The new program has been widely welcomed.

HIGHLIGHT

HRSD is urging all establishments to begin the verification process by registering on the program’s website — https://svp.qiwa.sa/ — for all their skilled workers, as the verification will gradually be enforced this summer.

Ali M. Alhazmi, a member of the Association of Financial Professional (AFP), said the professional verification decision is a long awaited one and will have a positive impact on the labor market.
The labor visa was one of the most expensive on the black market because anyone who holds this visa can work in any profession. The professional verification program will prevent unskilled workers from entering the country because they have harmed the national economy. The workers benefited from the country’s concessions or privileges but did not add anything to the national economy, he said.
Osama Alshammari, a member of the Human Resources Committee at the Riyadh Chamber, said the decision will allow only professional workers to pass the exam and meet the standards of their professions in the labor market. Only professional workers can receive a national professional license to practice their profession.
He said that the decision might create job opportunities in the private sector because some workers might not pass the professional exam.
“The initiative aims to establish a national committee to support technical professions and also to set standards and regulations for governance. The regulations will cover the requirements for issuing licenses to professional workers after they have passed the professional verification exam so that they can practice their professions. This will apply to trainers as well,” he said.
Alshammari added that the program will give Saudi technical professional workers a chance to find jobs in small and medium enterprises such as auto mechanics, electricians, plumbers and general maintenance.
Mohammed Al-Sudais, CEO of Carsdees car rentals, said that it is likely that work quality and efficiency will increase.
Al-Sudais, with more than 20 years’ experience in the private sector, encouraged young Saudis looking for appropriate job opportunities to prepare themselves by joining the professional centers. “These professional centers help in the development of the skills and endogenous capacity, in order to overcome the difficulties and challenges of work and to properly meet the needs of the labor market,” he said.
“The professional vetting process can ensure the quality of the labor market by empowering those who are experienced and specialized, as well as protecting them,” he added.


Future Women Society seeks to empower Saudi women in the sciences

Future Women Society seeks to empower Saudi women in the sciences
The society aims to raise awareness about women’s role in society, and strengthen their capabilities in all fields. (SPA)
Updated 3 min 56 sec ago

Future Women Society seeks to empower Saudi women in the sciences

Future Women Society seeks to empower Saudi women in the sciences
  • The FWS is working on building its own financial model to achieve financial sustainability that relies on inventing knowledge-based products generating a capital for investment

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Future Women Society (FWS) has launched a research, innovation and development unit to further empower women in various scientific disciplines.
Despite female advances in business, technology and the arts, the role of women in science still remains low. Many educational institutions, societies and organizations in the Kingdom are pushing for greater female inclusion in STEM, as one of Vision 2030’s strategic and fundamental goals.
Dr. Gareebah Al-Twaiher, chairperson of the FWS, stressed the importance of raising awareness of the key role women play in research and the need to help them continue to progress.
“It is an established fact around the world that scientific research is (a) long-term investment and the cornerstone of developing any economy that is built on innovation,” she said.
“It is the basis of creating new sciences and achieving sustainable economic growth, as well as enhancing international competition and creating new industries.

FASTFACTS

• The FWS was founded in October 2020 under the supervision of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development.

• The society aims to raise awareness about women’s role in society, and strengthen their capabilities in all fields.

“We have focused on the optimal investment of knowledge, human and financial resources to achieve a holistic and sustainable economic value and growth. The FWS is working on building its own financial model to achieve financial sustainability that relies on inventing knowledge-based products generating a capital for investment.”
Scientific research in Saudi Arabia has taken great strides over the past few years, and helped the Kingdom move to the forefront in many areas regionally and globally, she pointed out.
The FWS was founded in October 2020 under the supervision of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development. The society aims to raise awareness about women’s role in society, and strengthen their capabilities in all fields.


Exploring the traditional flavors of Ramadan in Saudi Arabia

Exploring the traditional flavors of Ramadan in Saudi Arabia
Ramadan is not only a month of prayers, as Muslims make special arrangements to celebrate the holy month by preparing special foods and decorating their surroundings. (Shutterstock/SPA)
Updated 33 min 46 sec ago

Exploring the traditional flavors of Ramadan in Saudi Arabia

Exploring the traditional flavors of Ramadan in Saudi Arabia
  • Decorations are also becoming an integral part of preparations for the holy month in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Ramadan is a special time for Muslims to get together with family and loved ones. These gatherings in Saudi culture result in a diverse menu of delicious dishes, with many being made exclusively during the holy month.

Muslims worldwide fast from dawn to sunset. Therefore, among all the aspects of local culture, food-related traditions are the most significant, distinguished and diverse. However, there are also shared meals and components of the Saudi iftar table featured in the holy month across the Kingdom.
Dates are an essential dish that Muslims use to break their fasts, following in the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). For Saudis, an assortment of dates is normally consumed, along with Arabic coffee, soup, and fried or baked stuffed pastry (samboosa and other dishes). For sugar-hungry people, the soft drink Vimto is often the go-to liquid to quench thirst.
To top it off, Arabian deserts most commonly found on Saudi tables include kunafa (a sugar-soaked pastry stuffed with cheese or cream) and logaimat (small round balls of fried dough covered in sweet syrup), while qatayef, pancakes filled with cream or nuts, are the cherry on top.
Despite these common foods, each region in the Kingdom favors specific dishes. In the central region, hanini is what many Najdis place on their tables when breaking their fasts. The porridge-like dish is made of dates, wheat flour, ghee and sugar. You will also find jarish, another famous savory dish made from ground wheat, lamb stew and vegetables, with a side of whole-wheat mini pancake-like discs known as matazeez and margoog.
In the western region of the Kingdom, there is the signature dish of foul and tamees, which is a combination of fava bean stew and tamees bread, a soft, tender creation baked in traditional open ovens believed to have originated in Afghanistan. The region’s signature drink is sobia, a thirst-quenching Ramadan brew made from wheat and malt flours.
In the Eastern Province, you will most likely break your fast with a meat and vegetable stew known as saloona. It is served with a side of balaleet, made either sweet or savory from flavored vermicelli noodles and topped with a layer of eggs. The province’s desert of choice is sago, which is made from a form of starch taken from the pith of the sago palm.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Dates are an essential dish that Muslims use to break their fasts.

• Arabian deserts most commonly found on Saudi tables include kunafa and logaimat, while qatayef, pancakes filled with cream or nuts, are the cherry on top.

• Despite these common foods, each region in the Kingdom favors specific dishes.

Though it might seem that food is the focus of Ramadan, many special traditions significant to the holy month are also celebrated across the Kingdom.
“Although we have a very diverse cuisine, I think the components of our Ramadan table are similar, as most popular dishes in this month are rich in carbs, protein, and fat, but they’re also easy to eat with little effort,” traditional food enthusiast Lujain Ahmad told Arab News.
She added: “Our Ramadan table also welcomes new dishes and drinks every year thanks to the influence of social media, which always brings us trends with new meals and dessert recipes, as well as presentation ideas”
Ramadan fashion and decorations are also another way to celebrate the holy month, and are becoming an integral part of preparations for families in Saudi Arabia.
Popular Ramadan lanterns and accessories painted with colorful traditional red-themed patterns also provide an oriental theme to celebrations in the Kingdom.
Ramadan attire is traditionally modest. It is a month in which many women opt for long dresses, such as the jallabiya, which has evolved in recent years through designs inspired by patterns from across the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Old and new traditions are beautiful, and give a special taste to the holy month.

Manal Saleh

The growing popularity of these dresses has created a lucrative market for local fashion designers, markets and social media platforms.
“Although I’m not that old, I can say for sure that these are newly adopted Ramadan traditions, which were not as popular 10 years ago,” Manal Saleh from Jeddah told Arab News.
She added that social media has had a major influence on people’s behaviors and Saudi culture, even in relation to religious events and practices. “New practices adopted through social media trends are increasingly becoming more important and even powerful enough to replace inherited traditions.”
However, she said that both old and new traditions are “beautiful, and give a special taste to the holy month.”
Modern life means that regional differences are in decline, while people increasingly live similar lives and become more interested in following trends and imitating one another.
“We are acting alike, and we like it. There is no problem with that. It gives a beautiful sense of unity on the national and regional level,” Lama Sharif told Arab News.
This year’s Ramadan will not include many popular traditions due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Saudi mosques used to hold daily iftar gatherings for expat workers and the poor, usually paid for by local residents or wealthy donors. The same used to happen at the Two Holy Mosques. But this tradition stopped in 2020 and has not returned this year due to the ongoing pandemic.
Other charitable activities have also been halted. Some Saudis used to prepare small iftar meals and cold water for free distribution around sunset, when people stop at traffic lights and may miss out on breaking their fast on time. These activities were carried out by young men and women, families, or volunteering groups on the main roads of the Kingdom’s cities, but have since stopped.
Saudi families also used to exchange and share dishes with neighbors, a well-known practice across Saudi Arabia. No dishes ever returned empty, but the pandemic has halted this tradition, too.
“As young kids, we used to prepare iftar meals as a family and distribute them among pilgrims in the mosque yards. That was a beautiful experience I’ll always cherish,” said Sharif.
“The pandemic has deprived us of many beautiful social traditions, not to mention prayers and warm gatherings at mosques. I’m glad we are having a real Ramadan this year, but we miss so many things, and I’m afraid they may never come back,” she added.


Saudi Arabia confirms 11 COVID-19 deaths, 970 new cases

Saudi Arabia confirms 11 COVID-19 deaths, 970 new cases
Updated 19 April 2021

Saudi Arabia confirms 11 COVID-19 deaths, 970 new cases

Saudi Arabia confirms 11 COVID-19 deaths, 970 new cases
  • The Kingdom said 896 patients recovered in past 24 hours
  • The highest number of cases were recorded in Riyadh with 438

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia recorded 11 new COVID-19 related deaths on Monday, raising the total number of fatalities to 6,834.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 970 new confirmed cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 405,940 people have now contracted the disease. 
Of the total number of cases, 9,508 remain active and 1,087 in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 438, followed by Makkah with 227, the Eastern Province with 131, Madinah recorded 37, and Asir confirmed 28 cases.

The ministry also announced that 896 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 389,598.
The ministry renewed its call on the public to adhere to the measures and abide by instructions.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 141 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 3.01 million.


AlUla says sustainability key to future growth

AlUla says sustainability key to future growth
Updated 19 April 2021

AlUla says sustainability key to future growth

AlUla says sustainability key to future growth
  • Saudi Arabia’s ancient site declares a series of projects dedicated to the future

AlUla, the ancient valley in Saudi Arabia’s Madinah region, home to 200,000 years of still largely unexplored human history, continues to play a central role in the Kingdom’s tourism strategy.

In a bid to pave the way for the area’s future growth, the Royal Commission of AlUla (RCU) has announced that it will embark on its future projects by adhering to sustainable practices.

“At the RCU, we are constantly looking for new ways to engage and work with our expert partners, stakeholders, and the AlUla community,” Amr Almadani, CEO of RCU, told Arab News. “Our success is driven by these ever- deepening collaborations. These local and global perspectives continually push us as we work to deliver on our objectives towards the goal of sustainable development in AlUla, and more broadly, contributing to the diversification efforts outlined in Vision 2030.”

Dr Maliha Hashimi, executive director of health, wellbeing and biotech at NEOM. (Supplied)

RCU is pursuing a carbon-neutral strategy, supported by the basic principles of a circular economy. It also announced that it will build infrastructure that will help create tens of thousands of jobs, and will empower the local community by providing training and opportunities for new career paths.

AlUla’s new sustainable approach to its future will be discussed during a panel, the first in a series titled “At the crossroads: people and planet: can AlUla unlock a sustainable future?” on April 2 with panelists dialing in from AlUla and virtually. It will focus on integrated, 360-degree approaches to sustainability, where experts will discuss the complex layers, synergies, and conflicts of social, economic, and environmental sustainability. 

Panelists include businessman and entrepreneur Alejandro Agag, former prime minister of Italy Matteo Renzi; architect and leader in sustainable design, William McDonough; James Hardcastle, the director of IUCN’s Green List ; Carlos Duarte, a leader in multiple branches of biological oceanography; Gérard Mestrallet, the Executive Chairman of Afalula, the French agency for Alula Development. Both Renzi and Mestrallet are members of the RCU advisory board. 

Royal Commission of AlUla (RCU) has announced that it will embark on its future projects by adhering to sustainable practices. (Supplied)

“When we think of sustainability, we look to the civilizations of the past for inspiration,” added Almadani. “We seek to apply innovative approaches to ancient wisdom to come up with new ways to protect AlUla’s natural landscape and its people and secure its legacy in the years to come. This is the core inspiration of Crossroads, using the past to chart the best path into the future.”

Through Crossroads, RCU aims to bring together global experts across all sectors to challenge and fine tune its ideas regarding sustainability, pertaining to the ancient region’s future growth.

Proposed by RCU as “solution-driven” discussions, the panels will touch on key elements of its “Journey Through Time” masterplan, outlining the first and most important phase of AlUla’s development.

“The topic of integrated sustainability is being discussed at the forefront of all development projects currently underway in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Dr Maliha Hashimi, executive director of health, wellbeing and biotech at NEOM, Saudi Arabia’s planned cross-border city in the Tabuk province, as well as the first Crossroads panel’s moderator, told Arab News. 

“As we work towards a better, more sustainable future for our people, our environment, and our economic systems, we must embrace new technologies and solutions, but also understand the lessons and traditions of the past.”


Saudi Arabia's National Cultural Awards winners to be announced at closing ceremony

Saudi Arabia's National Cultural Awards winners to be announced at closing ceremony
Updated 19 April 2021

Saudi Arabia's National Cultural Awards winners to be announced at closing ceremony

Saudi Arabia's National Cultural Awards winners to be announced at closing ceremony

RIYADH: Governor of Riyadh Prince Faisal Bin Bandar will patronize on Monday the closing ceremony of the National Cultural Awards Initiative.

The ceremony, organized by the Ministry of Culture, will take place at the Culture Palace in the Diplomatic Quarter in Riyadh.

Winners of the initiative awards will be announced in the various categories of cultural activities. 

The initiative includes 14 cultural awards: the Cultural Personality of the Year Award, Youth Cultural Award, Cultural Institutions Award, as well as Film Award, Fashion Award, Music Award, National Heritage Award, Literature Award, Theater and Performing Arts Award, Visual Arts Award, Architecture and Design Award, Culinary Arts Award, Publishing Award, and Translation Award.

The Ministry of Culture organized the National Cultural Awards initiative as part of the initiatives of the Quality of Life Program, one of the Saudi Vision 2030 programs.