The Saudi women with designs on a new industrial revolution

Effat University in Jeddah is one of Saudi Arabia’s leading institutions for the study of design. (Supplied)
1 / 2
Effat University in Jeddah is one of Saudi Arabia’s leading institutions for the study of design. (Supplied)
The Saudi women with designs on a new industrial revolution
2 / 2
Effat University in Jeddah is one of Saudi Arabia’s leading institutions for the study of design. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 05 September 2021

The Saudi women with designs on a new industrial revolution

Effat University in Jeddah is one of Saudi Arabia’s leading institutions for the study of design. (Supplied)
  • Women are at the forefront of Saudi Arabia’s fledgling industrial design sector but face challenges in raising awareness of the value of the profession

JEDDAH: While industrial design remains a male-dominated profession in much of the world, women are at the forefront of the discipline in Saudi Arabia, where university courses on the subject are currently reserved exclusively for female students.

Yet this academic domination has yet to translate into a strong female presence in the workplace, where Saudi female industrial design graduates still struggle to find suitable job opportunities. This is blamed largely on a lack of awareness about the importance of the profession, given that industrial design is a relatively new field of specialization in the Kingdom.
“Industrial designers design everything people interact with, including tangible and intangible products and services both on the ground and in the virtual world,” Ahmad Kassab, an expert industrial designer, consultant and university lecturer, told Arab News.
“For example, we design client-experience processes for service providers — such as when people visit a bank for a certain service, where will they sit or wait, and in what way and using which tools will they receive the required service?”
Kassab believes that industrial design is at its core a strategic, problem-solving process that helps to drive innovation, provides the building blocks for business success, and improves the quality of life through the development of innovative products, systems, services and experiences. As a result, it has a central role to play in achieving the aims of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 development plan.
“Saudi Vision 2030 is based on economic growth, creativity, and innovation — and the only field of study that is based on all three of these is industrial design,” Kassab said. Although product design is commonly perceived as a relatively young discipline, its origins can be traced to the mid-18th century and the Industrial Revolution. Kassab describes it as a pillar of modern civilization.
“First World countries became First World countries because of their manufacturing power,” he said. “It is the area of specialization that helped the growth of economies and armies. Countries that realized the importance of this field of study in the (1920s) are the powerful countries now.”
However a number of factors are preventing Saudi Arabia from capitalizing on the potential of a growing number of talented female industrial designers, he said, and the main obstacle is a lack of awareness and communication.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Industrial design is a comprehensive field that focuses on the study of form, function, value and the appearance of products, and defines the relationship between objects, people and spaces for the benefit of users, manufacturers and service providers.

• It is a multidisciplinary subject in which students learn how to design the widely used products, devices, objects and services that shape and improve our everyday lives.

“Factory owners do not understand that what they actually need is people with an industrial design background to improve their products and innovate new ones that would greatly help to increase demand and revenues,” Kassab said.
“They are not even aware that there are universities that teach this major in the country. On the other hand, universities do not know enough about the many factories in the Kingdom.”
He highlighted a number of other challenges, including reluctance among employers to hire local talent, in an effort to reduce costs, and a common confusion about the difference between industrial designers and industrial engineers.
“Industrial designers design products from A to Z, from an idea to an actual functioning product,” Kassab said. “Industrial engineers are responsible only for facilitating production and the maintenance of manufacturing machines.
“But what is happening in the vast majority of factories is that engineers are playing the designers’ role. From my visits to factories in Saudi Arabia, on many occasions I have spotted tiny flaws across the manufacturing chain that if fixed would earn billions in a blink of an eye — but no one will help them to spot them except an industrial designer.”
He added that the only way to resolve the current challenges facing the sector is for the government to take action to ensure industrial designers are employed effectively in their correct roles.

Saudi Vision 2030 is based on economic growth, creativity, and innovation — and the only field of study that is based on all three of these is industrial design.

Ahmad Kassab, Industrial designer, consultant and lecturer at Effat University

The Saudi Ministry of Culture last year established the Architecture and Design Authority, headed by Sumaya Al-Sulaiman. According to Kassab, this reflects official awareness of the importance of industrial design. However, the Industry and Mineral Resources Ministry is yet to take any action to nurture and develop the sector.
Kassab teaches at Effat University in Jeddah, one of the Kingdom’s leading institutions for the study of design. The university, which caters exclusively to female students, was the first in Saudi Arabia to offer an industrial design course, and its first batch of Saudi students graduated in 2018. Three universities in the Kingdom now offer industrial design courses, all of which are exclusively for women.
Last month, Effat University hosted Saudi Industrial Design Week, a gathering of local and international speakers and key figures in the field.
Fotoon Kerdawi studied industrial design at Effat University and now works with Firnas Aero, a startup business specializing in drone technology. She is the only product designer on the team, which is based at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.
“It is not easy to find jobs directly related to product design,” she told Arab News. “Although it is a very important job, it is still new in the (local job) market. Nonetheless, I see product design as the most promising major in the design spectrum.”

Wherever I go, I want to enjoy this journey. There is no end; my journey’s experience grows with me and I intend to enjoy it to the maximum.

Raghad Halabi, Product design graduate from Effat University

As a result of the wide variety of the work and the ubiquity of applications, Kerdawi believes that Saudi graduates will have plenty of opportunities in the years ahead as product design becomes more established as an important and valuable career in the Kingdom.
Kassab agreed, saying: “There is an unimaginable number of jobs in Saudi Arabia in this field, absolutely uncountable. The sole challenge is a lack of awareness, which is causing the lack of communication.”
He said that female industrial designers in Saudi Arabia are very talented, and he is confident the challenges will be overcome, the teaching of the subject well become more closely linked with industry needs, and more industrial design opportunities will open up for men and women.
“Once the field is established Saudi Arabia will be a different country, within five years,” he said.
Raghad Halabi, also a product design graduate from Effat University, works at another KAUST-based innovative startup, Uvera, which is developing a chemical-free process that uses ultraviolet light to prolong the shelf life of fresh food and reduce waste.
In describing her chosen career, she recalled the words of a professor who told her: “Once you become a product designer, you’ll be like the joker card — you’ll find work wherever you go.”
As in any job there are challenges, and Halabi highlighted one issue she often encounters.
“I usually fail to find the right materials I need for our products,” she told Arab News. “It is due to the lack of materials providers in the Kingdom, as well as lack of data records of providers, which is a communication-related problem.”
Kassab said he is proud of how the design department at Effat University has developed and improved in the relatively short time since it was established, to the point where its outcomes come close to matching leading international schools such as Parsons School of Design in New York and Coventry University in the UK.
“Despite issues the department faced in its first year, it has succeeded in improving steadily,” he said. “We realized our mistakes and improved the performance. Now our department is the only one in the country where the professors are not academics but have expertise in the industry.”
Halabi said that she thinks of design like a journey.
“Wherever I go, I want to enjoy this journey,” she said. “There is no end; my journey’s experience grows with me and I intend to enjoy it to the maximum.”


Qiyadat Global-Georgetown Program to honor female graduate leaders in Riyadh

Qiyadat Global-Georgetown Program to honor female graduate leaders in Riyadh
Updated 25 October 2021

Qiyadat Global-Georgetown Program to honor female graduate leaders in Riyadh

Qiyadat Global-Georgetown Program to honor female graduate leaders in Riyadh
  • Graduates express gratitude for the program, despite conditions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic

JEDDAH: More than 200 graduates from more than 20 countries who completed a women’s leadership program will be honored in Riyadh on Monday.

Qiyadat Global-Georgetown gives participants the leadership skills needed to thrive in the public and private sectors, as well as in nonprofit organizations.

The women addressed leadership skills in decision-making, organizational change management and organizational performance, and interaction with stakeholders.

They came from different backgrounds: 16 percent were from the financial sector, 14 percent were from the education field, and 12 percent were from healthcare. Others had backgrounds in energy, technology, chemicals, media, and communications.

Of the participants, 42 percent had a bachelor’s degree, 47 percent had a master’s degree, and 9 percent had doctorates.

The graduates expressed their gratitude for the program, despite the conditions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

They were also grateful for the wide range of academic coverage, the diversity of nationalities among the participants, and their interaction with each other.

Qiyadat Global-Georgetown represents a contribution toward achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The 17 goals include education, particularly the quality of education at all levels, gender equality, sustainable economic growth and decent work for all.

Countries have been formulating strategies to target the development of communities while also addressing social concerns such as quality of education, universal coverage of healthcare, provision of social protection, and job creation.


Ministry of Hajj and Umrah cancels 14-day waiting period between Umrah

Ministry of Hajj and Umrah cancels 14-day waiting period between Umrah
Updated 25 October 2021

Ministry of Hajj and Umrah cancels 14-day waiting period between Umrah

Ministry of Hajj and Umrah cancels 14-day waiting period between Umrah

JEDDAH: Pilgrims wishing to perform Umrah will no longer be required to wait for 14 days to book for the ritual, according to the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.

Dr. Amr Al-Maddah, chief of planning and strategy officer at the ministry, told Arab News that by easing preventive measures, the operational capacity of the Grand Mosque for Umrah and prayers has significantly increased.

“In line with the developments at this stage, which in turn increased the demand in the dates available to perform Umrah, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah made this feature available for pilgrims. This condition is no longer necessary and will achieve a fair opportunity for all due to the high demand,” he told Arab News.

On Oct. 16, the Ministry of Interior announced the easing of restrictions across the Kingdom, including those affecting the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, allowing a full return to operations and capacity.


Saudi Arabia eyes personal status law with main focus on family and strengthening of bonds

Saudi Arabia eyes personal status law with main focus on family and strengthening of bonds
Updated 25 October 2021

Saudi Arabia eyes personal status law with main focus on family and strengthening of bonds

Saudi Arabia eyes personal status law with main focus on family and strengthening of bonds
  • Saudi Vision 2030 also stipulates, in many of its programs and articles, strengthening the status of the family and striving to overcome all obstacles facing its members

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Justice is set to release the personal status draft law with the main focus on family and strengthening of bonds.

Speaking at the Saudi Family Forum 2021 on Sunday, Justice Minister Walid Al-Samaani said that the personal status draft law announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman within the system of specialized legislation was based on several goals. The most important of these was a focus on family status, strengthening the family bond wherever possible and reducing the negative impact of separation.

Al-Samaani said that the project focused mainly on stressing a woman’s agreement to marriage, preserving her and her children’s financial and alimony rights, as well as other issues related to divorce requests.

During his participation at the forum, Al-Samaani said that many public policies, including the basic law of governance, had focused on empowering the family to achieve sustainable social development and overcome any challenges.

Saudi Vision 2030 also stipulates, in many of its programs and articles, strengthening the status of the family and striving to overcome all obstacles facing its members, he said.

The minister explained that one of the decisions that contributed to enhancing the sustainability and stability of the family was the amendment made in the executive regulations of the legal pleading system by adding a legal text that refers all personal status disputes to the reconciliation center to try to reconcile spouses.

Al-Samaani stressed that by applying this amendment, personal status disputes related to divorce, alimony and other issues decreased by more than 20 percent, and said he hoped this would drop further. On the development of procedural aspects in personal status disputes, he said that the establishment of the cases audit center contributed to a decrease in the duration of judicial sessions in personal status cases by more than 30 percent.

The goal of digital transformation in the Ministry of Justice was not just to enable service provision, he said, but to facilitate procedures, especially regarding the quality and nature of cases such as personal status ones. Filing cases from home or elsewhere had also enabled the judicial and relevant authorities, such as the Human Rights Commission, to exercise their role and assess the societal situation.

Al-Samaani said that the ministry had launched 120 electronic services and that judicial sessions did not stop during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 1.5 million sessions were held, more than 1 million rulings were issued through electronic litigation, and more than 3 million requests were submitted electronically.

He said that the Ministry of Justice had applied artificial intelligence techniques to their system. The first cases to which this was applied were personal status cases so that judicial authorities could predict 80 percent of the verdict in advance.


Saudi Arabia’s falcon auction houses exhibit the finest birds of prey

Saudi Arabia’s falcon auction houses exhibit the finest birds of prey
Updated 25 October 2021

Saudi Arabia’s falcon auction houses exhibit the finest birds of prey

Saudi Arabia’s falcon auction houses exhibit the finest birds of prey
  • Falcon’s type, age, length, weight, and color contribute to setting of exorbitant prices at auctions

RIYADH: Some of the world’s most exquisite falcons have been auctioned at the Saudi International Falcons Auction, with prices elevated due to fierce competition between buyers at the 45-day event which began Oct. 1.

One peregrine falcon, not yet a year old, became the most expensive of its type in 2021 when it was auctioned for SR405,000 ($108,000) last week, breaking the previous record price of SR206,000.

Saad Mallouh Aldahmashi, who bought it, and who owns the Sultan Falcon Center in Arar, told Arab News that the peregrine immediately drew his attention. “I said to myself, I will buy come what may,” he added.

“My friend confirmed to me that the falcon was in perfect health and looked stronger than the videos published about it.When the auction began, I did not say anything and waited until the price hit SR280,000. Two more people were bidding on the price until it reached SR480,000,” he said.

He noted that if the price had kept going higher than that, he would still have bid and not stopped until he got it. “I thought the price would stop at SR605,000, but it did not.”

He pointed out that he sold a similar falcon for SR610,000 two years ago at his center. At the time, the falcon, which was also less than a year old, registered the highest price in the auction.

Aldahmashi, who has more than 15 years of experience in the field, hopes to increase the number of auctions in Saudi Arabia’s regions, to increase competition, and to allow residents of the regions to attend auctions up close, stressing that this is an essential requirement for amateur enthusiasts.

Nawaf Mamdouh Alshraim, another falconer, said that the falcon’s type, age, length, weight, and color all contribute to setting the price. As someone who has been in the business for 16 years, he said that breeding falcons requires significant experience.

“You have to have the ability and experience to know when the falcon is normal, sick or tired. You should teach him how to get the prey and return to you,” said Alshraim.

“The quality of the falcon is reflected in its ability to hunt prey,” he explained.

The saker and peregrine falcons are the most expensive, especially the youngest birds. He explained that they are small in size, 16 inches wide and another 16 inches tall, adding that the perfect weight would be around 1.1 kg and above.

Alshraim, who lives in northeast Saudi Arabia, believes that the Malhem auction is the go-to place for falconers. “The auction has many attractions for amateur falconers, and it is held during the bird migration, and has attracted many of the experts and amateurs in the last years through the facilities it offers,” he noted.

The Saudi Falcon Club provides medical examinations for falcons and also provides accommodation for owners before the auction is held. The auction is aired on live TV and the club’s social media accounts. There is no fee on sale transactions, and when a falcon is sold, the club issues an export certificate and official documents for the transaction.


With animal welfare increasingly in the spotlight, there’s nowhere for abusers to hide in KSA

With animal welfare increasingly in the spotlight, there’s nowhere for abusers to hide in KSA
Updated 25 October 2021

With animal welfare increasingly in the spotlight, there’s nowhere for abusers to hide in KSA

With animal welfare increasingly in the spotlight, there’s nowhere for abusers to hide in KSA
  • In fact, there are already strict rules governing animal welfare and tough penalties for anyone found guilty of breaking them

JEDDAH: In part because of the reach and power of social media, awareness of issues surrounding animal abuse has never been higher in Saudi Arabia, and there have been calls for greater official efforts to protect animals.

Videos and photographs posted on social media have highlighted examples of abuse such as animals abandoned on the side of the road, and creatures that have been, starved, beaten or burned. There are also concerns about how animals are treated at facilities such as slaughterhouses.

In fact, there are already strict rules governing animal welfare and tough penalties for anyone found guilty of breaking them, including the possibility of imprisonment and hefty fines.

The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture warns that the penalty for a first offense is a fine of up to SR50,000 ($13,000), and this amount is doubled if there is a second violation within a year.

If there is a third incident, the fine increases to SR200,000 and, if applicable, the facility dealing with the animals can be closed for 90 days. In the event of a fourth case of abuse a fine of SR400,000 can be imposed and the facility’s license can be permanently revoked. Prison terms are also a possibility.

Lawyer Waleed bin Nayef told Arab News that the punishments apply to anyone who causes suffering to animals, whether they expose them to danger, are unnecessarily cruel during slaughter or the preparation of sacrifices, cause them stress or suffering during races, or fail to take into consideration the age or health of animals they are working with.

Other offenses include forcing animals to act in ways that are unnatural to their nature, giving them illegal drugs or growth hormones, catching or transporting them in inhumane ways, failing to treat them when they are sick or injured, sexually abusing them, or disposing of them in an inhumane manner.

“The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture has provided, through its website, a way to report any abuse or torture and these reports are dealt with seriously,” bin Nayef told Arab News. He added that a robust animal welfare system is enshrined in the aims of Saudi Vision 2030.

In cases where abuse is suspected, he said, whether it was caught on video, discovered by a surprise inspection or after investigating the death of an animal, the ministry decides whether to refer the suspect to the Criminal Court, which will investigate and decide on an appropriate punishment if required.

For a number of reasons investigations can be difficult. For example, it might be hard to trace the origin of videos or images showing abuse, and it is possible that they might have been faked. However, Saudi authorities have successfully used cybercrime units to identify and catch abusers.

Mohammed Al-Hatershi, director general of slaughterhouses in the General Administration of Makkah Region, told Arab News that while it is better to work to raise awareness of animal abuse issues in an attempt to prevent them happening in the first place, strict laws and tough penalties are also required because the authorities are responsible for ensuring animals are cared for.

“Shariah law is clear about animal care, as it says that we are responsible for our flock and facilities must take these rules seriously,” he added.

Social worker Mona Al-Thiyabi, told Arab News that animal abuse can be an indicator of low psychological stability in an individual, and can be linked to some mental disorders.

“It might also be an indicator of low stability in the family, as the presence of a person’s hostile behavior against an animal might originate from the family,” she said.

Psychological, verbal or physical violence in the home between spouses, for example, causes suffering and psychological pressure, which can cause a person to treat animals in the same way, she added.

“On the other hand, violence in all its forms against children might cause psychological repression in them, which may lead to the practice of hostile behavior against animals,” said Al-Thiyabi.

People who are cruel and violent toward animals sometimes progress to violence against humans, she added.

The Gus Hope shelter is a nonprofit organization that runs a shelter for cats and rescues strays.

“As a community, we need to be more responsible for animals,” its owner, Um Asma told Arab News. “Everyone needs to spay and neuter their pets and stop supporting pet stores that sell animals.”

“The laws are good but they need to be implemented more. Some animal stores treat animals like a product rather than a soul and they need to be stopped.”

The Kingdom’s Ehsan platform, the national charity website, also plays a part in animal welfare by highlighting the need for donations.

One of the campaigns on the platform, for example, states: “Many rescued animals suffer from their inability to continue living on their own, so they need care and attention and the provision of food and water. With your donation, you contribute to feeding them. The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said: In every wet liver there is a reward.”