How Misk Academy empowered young Saudis to prosper in the modern workplace

Misk Academy courses are now available in Riyadh, Jeddah, Madinah and Khobar. (General Assembly)
Misk Academy courses are now available in Riyadh, Jeddah, Madinah and Khobar. (General Assembly)
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Updated 31 March 2021

How Misk Academy empowered young Saudis to prosper in the modern workplace

How Misk Academy empowered young Saudis to prosper in the modern workplace
  • Figures show almost 2,000 young Saudis have advanced their careers thanks to collaboration between Misk Foundation and General Assembly
  • Courses now available across four Saudi cities

RIYADH: Almost 2,000 young Saudis have advanced their careers thanks to skills developed through an academy designed to diversify the Kingdom’s workforce.

The Misk Academy was set up in 2018 as a collaboration between Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Misk Foundation and General Assembly, a global education company.

The academy provides young Saudis the resources needed to compete in the global labour market. Using its expertise, General Assembly created digital and in person courses to assist students in learning new skills in the digital world.

The partnership has helped thousands of fresh graduates and seasoned professionals excel in their careers.

General Assembly said 1,993 Saudis had graduated from 74 courses so far. The program has expanded from Riyadh into Jeddah, Madinah and Khobar.

The aim has been to train Saudis with a modern curriculum to keep up with the technological advances in the digital age in line with the Kingdom’s extensive 2030 reform program.

The courses guide students in data analytics, data science, digital marketing, and the use of software engineering tools.

The General Assembly has instructors from many countries with backgrounds in tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Adobe.

“The program was full of new experiences for me,” said Afra Al-Zahrani, a user experience (UX) design graduate who took part in one of the programs. “Besides learning about UX, I got to deal with technology, which was intimidating for me, I got to also learn about myself.

“The instructors were great, and the classmates I just loved the environment and the community, I felt like I belonged right away.”

Al-Zahrani enrolled in the Misk program after struggling to find the perfect fit for her career from her sociology major.

She worked as a kindergarten teacher for more than four years but knew she had to continue her education to find a career path that she was passionate about.

“I started reading more about UX design and I couldn't believe how much it spoke to me, especially the research side, she said. “So I decided to apply, even though it was in another city and I didn’t plan how to move, it felt like the right thing to do, and I was so happy when I got accepted.”

Al-Zahrani was assigned a career coach who guided her in the program and advised her to apply to UXbert Labs, as a UX research executive in Riyadh and soon after she was hired.

“I needed to learn the foundations in structured methods and this helped me a lot, but it started with keeping an open mind and believing that I can learn something new,” she said, reflecting on her time on the course. “Perseverance is another key, controlling the emotional journey and quieting down the voice that tells you to give up, is what will get you across the finish line.”

Fahda Al-Arifi, a language translations graduate, wanted to shift her career into marketing and so completed courses in digital marketing and user experience design.

“General Assembly doesn’t only build the technical skills for me, but also the soft skills and how to be a professional,” she said. “I had an ongoing career coaching session, which helped me polish my career essential skills.”

As she was working full time, Al-Arifi decided to merge her daily work with a 10-week course to advance her skills. She decided to complete the user experience design course that gave her the tools to succeed in her current career as the vice operation officer for Nawafith leading a team and hiring General Assembly graduates just like herself.

After completing the digital marketing accelerator course Al-Arifi attended a conference led by a CEO of a law firm. While he was speaking she searched his name.

“The first thing I did was check his company’s digital image as he speaks,” she said. “I approached him straight after the speech to tell him about all the things that he needs to improve regarding their digital marketing and how I can help with it.” 

The courses and guidance gave Al-Arifi the confidence to know exactly how to improve the law firm’s online presence and she was immediately hired by the company.

“General Assembly helped me build a strong network, she said. “I got three job offers before graduation through connections via GA community! Not to mention my former manager at the law firm connected me to a friend who was looking for a UX Designer.”

General Assembly said that between 2018 and 2019 almost all of its graduates were hired. More than 80 per cent of the graduates from the Misk General Assembly program reported a positive career impact from the courses.

Almost 60 per cent of the Saudi General Assembly graduates that benefited from the programs were women.

Khaled Al-Rasheed, a math graduate who decided to launch his own E-commerce business, had a passion for data and decided to take the immersive data science course.

“I wanted to work with data. Whether as a data analyst, business analyst or any role that involves data handling,” he said. “Although becoming a data scientist was a goal of mine and it was the reason why I took the course, I was aware of the fact that it takes a lot of experience and knowledge in the field to be an actual data scientist.”

Al-Rasheed said he benefited immensely from the 12 week program. “Everyone at GA, really pushed me everyday and I always found support when I needed it, he said. “I also can’t forget about our instructional associate, Israa, who was there for me when I needed any clarifications or help.”

Al-Rasheed was able to graduate from the three-month data science course and went on to accept a position at a consulting company working alongside the economy ministry on its projects.

“In the course, we learned things like problem solving, how to acquire data, what data do we actually need,” he said. “These things can’t be taken for granted, because in the real world this is the building step to doing the actual work of data Science.” 


Saudi Arabia keen to protect human rights, HRC chief says

Saudi Arabia keen to protect human rights, HRC chief says
Updated 30 July 2021

Saudi Arabia keen to protect human rights, HRC chief says

Saudi Arabia keen to protect human rights, HRC chief says
  • In observance of Friday’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, Al-Awwad said the Kingdom is making significant and constant efforts
  • Al-Awwad wants to criminalize and combat human trafficking through a set of actions and measures that ensure human dignity

RIYADH: Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad, president of the Human Rights Commission (HRC) and chairman of the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, said Saudi Arabia is keen to protect and promote human rights.

Al-Awwad also wants to criminalize and combat human trafficking through a set of actions and measures that ensure human dignity and protect it from all forms of abuse and exploitation.

In observance of Friday’s World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, Al-Awwad said the Kingdom is making significant and constant efforts to combat human trafficking through the establishment of the Saudi National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking.

The committee enacts regulations and legislation that ensure protecting victims and safeguarding their rights on a local and global level.

Not only did the Kingdom issue regulations and legislation to combat human trafficking, but it was also keen to make the necessary efforts to enforce them, Al-Awwad said.


Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province conducts 1,524 COVID-19 health tours

Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province conducts 1,524 COVID-19 health tours
Updated 59 min 36 sec ago

Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province conducts 1,524 COVID-19 health tours

Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province conducts 1,524 COVID-19 health tours

DAMMAM: Municipalities throughout Saudi Arabia have ramped up efforts to monitor compliance with health and safety measures introduced to help stop the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The Eastern Province municipality recently carried out 1,524 inspection tours in one day at shopping malls, commercial centers, and stores.

Checks resulted in nine commercial outlets being shut down, while 77 violators were issued with penalties for ignoring health regulations, which included breaches of overcrowding rules and failure to use the Tawakkalna app.

Officials have urged members of the public to report any suspected health breaches by phoning the 940 call-center number or contacting authorities via the Balady app.


Seven Saudi mosques reopen after sanitization

Seven Saudi mosques reopen after sanitization
Updated 30 July 2021

Seven Saudi mosques reopen after sanitization

Seven Saudi mosques reopen after sanitization

RIYADH: The Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance has reopened seven mosques in four regions that were temporarily closed for cleaning after coronavirus disease infections were confirmed among worshippers.

The ministry said on Thursday that two mosques were reopened in Riyadh, two in Qassim, two in Hail, and one in the Eastern Province.

Coronavirus infections have led to the closure of 1,909 mosques in the Kingdom in the past 173 days. The mosques were reopened after cleaning measures were completed.

The ministry urged worshippers and employees to follow precautionary measures, including wearing face masks, using their own prayer mats and maintaining social distancing.


21 members of Saudi-backed team killed clearing Houthi mines in Yemen

21 members of Saudi-backed team killed clearing Houthi mines in Yemen
Updated 30 July 2021

21 members of Saudi-backed team killed clearing Houthi mines in Yemen

21 members of Saudi-backed team killed clearing Houthi mines in Yemen

JEDDAH: Twenty-one members of a Yemen-based team of Saudi and foreign mine clearance experts have lost their lives over three years operating in what has become known as the world’s largest minefield.

The tragic death toll was revealed in figures showing the scale of the project being carried out in the war-torn country in cooperation with local Yemeni teams under the umbrella of the Saudi Project for Landmine Clearance (Masam).

Launched by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) on June 25, 2018, the initiative has so far cost $133 million, Masam’s director, Osama Al-Gosaibi, told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

He said the project’s field teams had dismantled 263,797 landmines, unexploded ordnance, and other deadly explosive devices. Since the start of the program up until July 23 this year, bomb squads dealt with 169,792 unexploded ordnances, 83,943 anti-tank mines, and 3,984 anti-personnel mines covering 25 million square meters of Yemeni territories.

The Yemen government said that the Iran-backed Houthis had planted more than 1 million landmines in the country since the start of the conflict in 2015, turning it into the most-mined nation since World War II.

KSrelief recently extended the Masam contract for another year, at a cost of $33.6 million. The project is carried out by Saudi and international experts through Yemeni teams that have been trained to remove all kinds of mines planted randomly by Houthi militias.

Al-Gosaibi pointed out that one of the main challenges faced by the teams was having to work without maps indicating the location of mines. In many cases they had to rely on local residents identifying suspected mined areas, which significantly slowed the clearance process, he added.

KSrelief’s general supervisor, Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, said that the renewal of the Masam contract with the executive partner was, “out of the center’s sense of humanitarian responsibility toward the Yemeni brothers.”

He added: “It is extremely important to clear the Yemeni territories of the mines that Houthi militias manufactured and planted in a random, unpredicted, and camouflaged manner and that have caused permanent disabilities and injuries and human losses, including women, children, and seniors.”

According to statistics published by the Yemeni Observatory on Landmines in March, devices planted by Houthis in Taiz alone had killed and injured 3,263 civilians since 2015.

Data from the Yemeni Coalition to Monitor Human Rights Violations, also known as the Rasd Coalition, showed 1,929 civilians, including 357 children and 146 women, have been killed in the past six years, and 2,242 civilians, including 519 children and 167 women, were disabled due to landmines.

During that same period, the coalition documented the destruction and damage of more than 2,872 public and private facilities in several Yemeni governorates, all due to anti-personnel and anti-tank landmines.


Saudi MOH: More than 26mn people now vaccinated against coronavirus

Saudi MOH: More than 26mn people now vaccinated against coronavirus
Updated 30 July 2021

Saudi MOH: More than 26mn people now vaccinated against coronavirus

Saudi MOH: More than 26mn people now vaccinated against coronavirus
  • Authorities report 1,289 new coronavirus cases, 1,299 recoveries, 12 deaths

JEDDAH: More than 26 million people in Saudi Arabia have now received a coronavirus vaccine, including almost 1.5 million elderly people, the Saudi Ministry of Health announced on Thursday.

However, the ministry repeated its message that a second vaccine dose is necessary to achieve the highest levels of immunity, especially amid the emergence of the delta variant.

First dose ppointments are now available for those aged between 12 and 18 in all regions of the Kingdom, the ministry said.

People who have recovered from a coronavirus infection are now also able to complete two doses of the vaccine, with the possibility of receiving the first dose 10 days after the end of an infection.

The change was introduced following the release of medical studies that demonstrated the safety of the procedure.

The ministry said that the Kingdom’s nationwide vaccine rollout is moving forward as planned, and urged people to register to receive vaccines through the Sehhaty app.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia on Thursday reported 12 more coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the Kingdom’s death toll to 8,212.

There were 1,289 new cases, meaning that 523,397 people in the country have now contracted the disease. A total of 11,358 cases remain active, of which 1,395 are in critical condition.

Of the newly recorded cases, 260 were in the Makkah region, 253 in the Riyadh region, 220 in the Eastern Province and 63 in the Madinah region.

In addition, the ministry said that 1,299 patients recovered from the disease, increasing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 503,827.

Saudi Arabia has so far conducted 24,800,706 PCR tests, with 117,620 carried out in the past 24 hours.

Testing hubs and treatment centers set up throughout the country have dealt with hundreds of thousands of people since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Taakad (make sure) centers provide coronavirus testing for those who show no or only mild symptoms or believe they have come into contact with an infected individual, while Tetamman (rest assured) clinics offer treatment and advice to people with virus symptoms such as fever, loss of taste and smell, and breathing difficulties.

Appointments for either service can be made via the ministry’s Sehhaty app.