‘We have to be very creative moving forward’ post pandemic, says Princess Lamia of Alwaleed Philanthropies

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Updated 28 June 2021

‘We have to be very creative moving forward’ post pandemic, says Princess Lamia of Alwaleed Philanthropies

‘We have to be very creative moving forward’ post pandemic, says Princess Lamia of Alwaleed Philanthropies
  • Head of Saudi charitable organization says it is time to apply the lessons of COVID-19 humanitarian crisis
  • Appearing on “Frankly Speaking,” Princess Lamia also discussed women’s progress in KSA among other topics

DUBAI: Alwaleed Philanthropies has ridden the wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and is set to accelerate its strategy of “creative philanthropy” as the global recovery gathers pace, according to the woman in charge of the Riyadh-headquartered Saudi charitable organization.
Princess Lamia bint Majed Al-Saud, secretary-general of the 40-year-old organization set up by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, told Arab News that the pandemic had been a demanding time for the organization as it faced extraordinary demands on its resources, but that the time had come to apply the lessons learned during the humanitarian and economic crisis.
“The United Nations came out with a very unique name for doing good in the world, which is ‘creative economy.’ So, you have to be very creative moving forward after the pandemic — how you’re going to reach your beneficiaries, and how you can provide support, and how you can empower and do good in general,” she said.
Her comments came in the course of an interview with “Frankly Speaking,” the series of video interviews with leading policymakers and thinkers in the Middle East and the world.
Princess Lamia, who is regarded as a role model for the empowerment of women in Saudi Arabia under the reforms of the Vision 2030 strategy, also spoke of the progress women have made in the Kingdom, the place of art and culture in the global philanthropy scene, and the need to transcend the “clash of civilizations” approach to relations between the Islamic world and its international neighbors.
Alwaleed Philanthropies responded after the outbreak of the virus last year with a $30 million initiative to provide essential medical goods and services to poorer countries around the world struggling with their pandemic response.
This was on top of Alwaleed Philanthropies’ regular commitment to vaccination programs around the world, and its domestic and international program of medical and humanitarian assistance.




Princess Lamia bint Majed Al-Saud, secretary-general of Alwaleed Philanthropies, is pictured in Riyadh. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj) 


“We actually worked in some countries in Africa, we worked in Iraq, we worked in Syria, we worked in Tunisia, we worked in Yemen. We provided economic support — so, for example in Africa, we collaborated with the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO) to build small factories to produce masks (and improve) sanitation. It was in favor of empowering women and youth,” said Princess Lamia.
“I think the pandemic shows the importance of having a house and to have a roof over your head. All you need to be safe from COVID is only a room and a roof over your head, and that’s why we worked with Habitat (a UN urban organization) in shelters in Yemen, Iraq and Syria.”
This was in addition to Alwaleed Philanthropies’ established collaboration with the World Health Organization, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
“I’d say it was a quite creative initiative that we covered, and we actually reached over 100 million people around the world,” Princess Lamia said.
Alwaleed Philanthropies works in four main areas — community development, empowering women and youth, providing vital disaster relief and bridging cultures — which combined have benefited close to 1 billion people around the world.
One big learning point from the pandemic was the move to online and digital philanthropic support, with projects in Myanmar and at home in Saudi Arabia going online as lockdowns hit.
“Believe it or not, from a money perspective or a budget perspective, it’s much easier and that’s why maybe this year we reached more people,” Princess Lamia said.




Princess Lamia bint Majed Al-Saud, secretary-general of Alwaleed Philanthropies, is pictured in Riyadh. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj) 


Some observers have been concerned that the intense focus on finding and administering a vaccine against the novel coronavirus might divert attention from other global inoculation programs against infectious diseases such as polio, where Alwaleed Philanthropies has played a big role in vaccination programs in developing countries.
Princess Lamia said there had only been a limited effect. “I agree that at Alwaleed Philanthropies, we transferred some of our funds to COVID-19 due to the urgency of the pandemic, but I don’t think it will have an effect in the long run,” she added. “I believe we’re in a good place now, after having the vaccine against COVID and doing much more research.”
She said Prince Alwaleed varied his contribution to the overall budget “if he sees it’s necessary.” Alwaleed Philanthropies works alongside other big global philanthropies such as the Gates Foundation as well as UN agencies, but is not in competition with them, she insisted.
“I wouldn’t say compete. I’d say we learn from each other, the methodology of this foundation, or the core spirit of this foundation. It’s built on partnership, and this is what Prince Alwaleed believes in — partnership,” she said.
Alwaleed Philanthropies’ international connections have direct benefits for its work in Saudi Arabia. “Maybe what differentiates us from a domestic perspective more than any other foundation in Saudi Arabia is that we have the international experience and expertise, and that’s what we’re trying to do in our projects in Saudi Arabia — transferring knowledge from what we did outside,” she said.
One example is the Turquoise Mountain initiative, backed by the UK’s prince of Wales, which seeks to encourage and promote traditional crafts in various parts of the world, including Saudi Arabia, where some 1,000 mainly female artisans are employed in craft workshops producing high-end goods, most recently under the Mizwada brand.
“We’re upscaling their knowledge. We’re taking the crafts from a very modest or very humble craft to a luxury brand,” Princess Lamia said.




Princess Lamia bint Majed Al-Saud, secretary-general of Alwaleed Philanthropies, speaks to Frank Kane. (Screenshot) 


Female empowerment has been one of the main themes of Alwaleed Philanthropies in the Kingdom, and she believes great strides have been made for women in recent years, with the freedom to drive, the relaxation of guardianship laws and greater female employment opportunities.
“I don’t think three or four years ago I’d be sitting and talking with you,” she said, adding that Western media had not given the Kingdom credit for the big advances.
The rise to prominence of a number of women in the Kingdom — such as Princess Reema bint Bandar, Saudi ambassador to Washington, and Sarah Al-Suhaimy, chairperson of the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) — is further evidence of female empowerment, Princess Lamia said.
Alwaleed Philanthropies is run by a 10-strong team of women appointed by Prince Alwaleed, and it has programs to cultivate the skills necessary for women to enter employment in the private and public sectors.




Secretary-general of Alwaleed Philanthropies Princess Lamia bint Majed Al-Saud. (Screenshot) 


“It was very clearly announced from the government that we want to support women and we want to empower women. I think some of the entities or the companies took it to a next level in which they literally discarded the men, but I believe that we should empower humans,” she said.
One big part of Alwaleed Philanthropies’ work is the effort to promote better understanding between the Islamic world and other belief systems, which has been controversially called a “clash of civilizations.”
Pointing to the global confrontations after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US in 2001, Princess Lamia said: “I believe this clash isn’t that easy to resolve.” She spoke of how Prince Alwaleed — a well-known investor on Wall Street — was in New York at the time of the tragedy, and decided to do something to help ease long-term tensions.
“That’s why we collaborated with six of the most prominent, I’d say important, universities around the world. We actually created centers for research and promotion of tolerance and understanding,” she said.
There are now Alwaleed centers in six of the most prestigious universities in the US, Europe and the Middle East, part of what she called a “soft power” initiative to reconcile misunderstanding between people of different faiths around the world.
The other angle is Alwaleed Philanthropies’ promotion of art and culture as a bridge between religions. It has established partnerships with the Louvre in Paris and the Pergamon Museum in Berlin to showcase works of Islamic art, but with a universal message.
“That’s how you create awareness of how Islamic cultures were — leaning toward art and beauty,” Princess Lamia said.
Twitter: @frankkanedubai


‘Asking for oil is simply wrong’: White House press secretary

‘Asking for oil is simply wrong’: White House press secretary
Updated 27 May 2022

‘Asking for oil is simply wrong’: White House press secretary

‘Asking for oil is simply wrong’: White House press secretary
  • Two senior US officials visited Saudi Arabia for talks this week

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said two senior US officials visited Saudi Arabia this week to “review engagement” on “energy security,” and not to ask for an increase in oil exports.

“Asking for oil is simply wrong. That’s the way that we see it and a misunderstanding of both the complexity of that issue as well as our multi-faceted discussions with the Saudis,” Jean-Pierre said on Thursday. 

The press secretary also said OPEC+ will make its own decision as it relates to oil and added, “We are in consultation with all relevant producers about market conditions including Saudi Arabia.”

 

Meeting senior Saudi officials in Riyadh were Brett McGurk, Biden’s top White House adviser on the Middle East, and Amos Hochstein, the State Department's energy envoy.

McGurk and Hochstein were in the region to follow up on conversations that include Iran’s destabilizing activities, and other regional issues, Jean-Pierre told reporters.


Surplus oil revenues will be invested in ‘resilience,’ Saudi Economy Minister Faisal Al-Ibrahim tells Arab News

Surplus oil revenues will be invested in ‘resilience,’ Saudi Economy Minister Faisal Al-Ibrahim tells Arab News
Updated 27 May 2022

Surplus oil revenues will be invested in ‘resilience,’ Saudi Economy Minister Faisal Al-Ibrahim tells Arab News

Surplus oil revenues will be invested in ‘resilience,’ Saudi Economy Minister Faisal Al-Ibrahim tells Arab News
  • Census 2022 will affect public services, goods made available to Kingdom’s residents, he says during interview in Davos
  • Saudi delegation of ministers shares knowledge and experience of past 7 years with top policymakers, investors, private sector, industry leaders

DAVOS: Surplus revenues from oil production will go into investing in “resilience,” the Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal Al-Ibrahim has said, referring to paying off debt, replenishing reserves, and accelerating transformational projects throughout the Kingdom.

“It’s ultimately going to help the private sector or help our investments that will open the door in front of the private sector to increase its activity,” he told Arab News at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos.

With a surplus of $15 billion, some of the Public Investment Fund’s owned and led projects will be given support so that they “are delivered either sooner or more effective,” he said.

Al-Ibrahim also noted the Kingdom’s census plans and urged all residents of Saudi Arabia to register.

“It’s very important, it will affect our planning and then it will affect the services and public goods that will be made available to all residents of the Kingdom, citizens, and expats,” he added.

The census had been set to launch in 2020 but was delayed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic and the strict lockdown measures introduced by the Saudi government to help stop the spread of the virus.

While the last census was in 2010, the minister was confident that technological advancements since then would ensure that the new data collected would be “sustainable.”

He said: “We don’t want to say in nine years from now, ‘this data is nine years old, and I can’t trust it.’ No, we did many more surveys, we did more projects, components that got you refreshed data.”

Al-Ibrahim was part of a delegation of seven Saudi ministers who participated in key forum events including panel discussions.

The delegation was headed by Minister of State Ibrahim Al-Assaf, and included Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih, Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan, Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Swaha, and Assistant Minister of Tourism Princess Haifa Al-Saud.

“I think our ambition from this meeting as a delegation is to deepen our conversations into the agenda-setting process, and we’ve achieved this with what might be a smaller number of ministers. But in the number of engagements, the top-tier engagements, it’s probably one of the highest.

“It’s an opportunity for us to rub shoulders with policymakers, investors, private sector and industry leaders because we have a wealth of knowledge, we have a lot of lessons learned from the last seven years that we can share.

Al-Ibrahim added: “But also, we have so many challenges that we’re still tackling that we can partner up and everybody’s interested, everybody’s looking at it.”


Saudi crown prince, Greek PM discuss boosting joint cooperation

Saudi crown prince, Greek PM discuss boosting joint cooperation
Updated 27 May 2022

Saudi crown prince, Greek PM discuss boosting joint cooperation

Saudi crown prince, Greek PM discuss boosting joint cooperation

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a phone call on Thursday from Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Kingdom’s official SPA news agency reported.
During the call, they reviewed the bilateral relations between the two countries, and discussed opportunities for joint cooperation in a number of fields.


Saudi minister hails Saudi Arabia’s role in public health

Saudi minister hails Saudi Arabia’s role in public health
Updated 27 May 2022

Saudi minister hails Saudi Arabia’s role in public health

Saudi minister hails Saudi Arabia’s role in public health
  • Al-Jalajel said that the Kingdom is one of the first countries that, during its leadership of the G20, initiated the extraordinary summit to combine efforts and contain the pandemic

GENEVA: Saudi Health Minister Fahad Al-Jalajel has praised the contributions made by the Kingdom to support global public health.

His remarks came during a speech he delivered at the 75th session of the World Health Organization General Assembly in Geneva, where he headed the Kingdom’s delegation.

Al-Jalajel said that the Kingdom is one of the first countries that, during its leadership of the G20, initiated the extraordinary summit to combine efforts and contain the pandemic, which resulted in unprecedented global cooperation.

Al-Jalajel noted that the Kingdom contributed to the establishment of the WHO’s Access to COVID-19 Tools and COVAX Facility initiatives.

The Saudi minister further said that the total aid provided by the Kingdom through the initiatives and with direct support to developing countries amounted to approximately $770 million.

Al-Jalajel congratulated WHO Director General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on his reelection for a second five-year term and the renewal of the international community’s confidence in his leadership. 


No entry to Makkah without permit for expats

No entry to Makkah without permit for expats
Updated 27 May 2022

No entry to Makkah without permit for expats

No entry to Makkah without permit for expats
  • Measure will maintain order and security around holy sites, experts say

MAKKAH: The General Directorate of Public Security has required expatriates wishing to enter Makkah for Hajj to obtain a permit from authorities starting Thursday.

For expatriates to enter the holy city, one of the following documents is required: An entry permit to work in the holy sites issued by the competent authority, a residency permit (iqama) issued from Makkah, an Umrah permit or a Hajj permit.

Brig. Gen. Sami Al-Shuwairekh, the spokesman for Public Security, said that the measure was in line with the regulations for the Hajj pilgrimage for this year.

“As per these instructions, only expatriates who obtain a permit for entry to Makkah will be allowed into the holy city from Thursday. They can obtain permits from the competent authorities. All vehicles and residents that do not have the required documents will be turned back,” Al-Shuwairekh said.

Ahmed Saleh Al-Halabi, who specializes in Hajj and Umrah services, told Arab News that the changes are a result of years of monitoring entry to the holy sites. Practical measures can safely organize the entry of residents to Makkah, he said.

“This is in order to eradicate all sorts of infiltration of the holy sites, especially for residents who do not hold permits, and who are on vacation from their work and head to Makkah to work, or stay with their relatives and friends, and then infiltrate the holy sites to perform the pilgrimage. And as a result, they stay on sidewalks and sleep there which would impact the environment and the level of public cleanliness,” he added.

Dr. Othman Qazzaz, head of the media research and studies department at the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Institute for Hajj and Umrah Research, told Arab News that the Kingdom is also making efforts to improve logistics services during Hajj, aiming to host a successful pilgrimage season.