Full steam ahead for Saudi women with train driver program

In this screen grab from a video posted on the Saudi Railway Polytechnic's Twitter account, a young Saudi woman undergoes training in the Haramain Express Train Leaders program. (Credit: @SRP_KSA video)
In this screen grab from a video posted on the Saudi Railway Polytechnic's Twitter account, a young Saudi woman undergoes training in the Haramain Express Train Leaders program. (Credit: @SRP_KSA video)
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Updated 03 January 2022

Full steam ahead for Saudi women with train driver program

Full steam ahead for Saudi women with train driver program
  • For decades, train driving has been viewed as a masculine career profession
  • While Saudi women have broken records in traditionally male activities, they were left out of railway employment — until now

JEDDAH: The Saudi Railway Polytechnic is training women to drive trains on the Kingdom’s Haramain High Speed Railway, in a project seeking to break taboos.

For decades, train driving has been viewed as a masculine career profession.

And while women in Saudi Arabia have broken records in traditionally male activities, including racing and flying, they were left out of railway employment — until now.

The SRP project, announced on Jan. 2, will see Saudi women operating the train line that links the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.

SRP opened a registration portal for the program through the srp.edu.sa website. It will close on Jan. 13.

Training will last for one year, during which trainees will receive theoretical and practical lessons. Classes are taking place in Jeddah beginning Jan. 15.

NUMBER

50

The Saudi Railway Polytechnic is expected to train 50 women in the first cohort.

Joining the program will guarantee trainees several benefits, including medical insurance, registration in General Organization for Social Insurance and a monthly SR4,000 ($1,065) bonus during the training period.

The program also offers graduates a guaranteed position with Renfe KSA, one of the companies operating the high-speed train project. Once female graduates are employed with Saudi Arabia Railways, they will receive a monthly salary of up to SR8,000.

SRP Director Engr. Abdulaziz Alsogair told Arab News that trainees will be selected based on several qualifications, including English language tests.

“Transportation operation systems worldwide depend on good language knowledge, thus joining the program requires scoring at least 3.5 in IELTS,” he said.

“Applicants with better language levels will have priority in joining the program.”

The program also demands at least a high school degree with a grade rating of 70 percent and above. “Trainees must be aged between 22 and 30,” Alsogair added.

SRP is expected to train 50 women in the first cohort. “The number of trainees will increase in the coming years,” Alsogair said.

The program will teach trainees all there is to know about transportation systems, including safety measures, railway economics, communications, mechanical brake systems and engines.

Trainees will practice on train simulators as part of their practical training courses. “There will also be training trips, where trainees will have the chance to drive the actual railway train,” Alsogair said.

Haramain High Speed Railway transports about 60 million passengers per year. Demand is expected to grow significantly over the coming years, especially in the Umrah and Hajj seasons.

Alsogair said that Saudi railways aim to transport 1.5 billion Muslim passengers with full operational capacity in the future.

“There will be a high demand for train drivers of both genders, which will accordingly bring more vacancies to the field to be filled by the daughters and sons of our beloved homeland.”

Saudi women will help meet the demand for qualified drivers, he added. “This is how we achieve sustainability — one of Vision 2030’s most important goals.”

Women graduates will work together with their male counterparts, who graduated from previous programs.


Saudi Police arrest 15 Hajj fraudsters

Saudi Police arrest 15 Hajj fraudsters
Updated 30 June 2022

Saudi Police arrest 15 Hajj fraudsters

Saudi Police arrest 15 Hajj fraudsters
  • Illegal online adverts included providing transportation to the holy sites securing sacrifices for pilgrims

RIYADH – Saudi authorities arrested 15 people in two separate operations for offering fraudulent Hajj-related services, state news agency (SPA) reported.

Makkah police arrested seven residents of different nationalities for promoting fake services on social media involving Hajj performed on behalf of others.

The illegal online adverts also included providing transportation to the holy sites and hotels, as well as securing and distributing sacrifices for pilgrims, according to the SPA statement.

In a separate operation, Riyadh police detained seven residents for offering fake transportation services for pilgrims to Makkah. Another resident was detained for running an unlicensed website in Riyadh to promote fraudulent Hajj campaigns.  

The fraudsters were detained and referred to public prosecution.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah earlier warned against suspicious sites and social media accounts offering unauthorized Hajj-related services, stressing that the ministry's online platforms are the only official channels to book Hajj campaigns inside the Kingdom.


Hajj ministry announces alternative flights, facilities to accommodate pilgrims facing issues from UK, Europe and America

Hajj ministry announces alternative flights, facilities to accommodate pilgrims facing issues from UK, Europe and America
Updated 30 June 2022

Hajj ministry announces alternative flights, facilities to accommodate pilgrims facing issues from UK, Europe and America

Hajj ministry announces alternative flights, facilities to accommodate pilgrims facing issues from UK, Europe and America
  • This comes after people faced technical issues while applying for hajj via the electronic portal
  • Additional seats were added on flights after people reported limited capacities on flights

RIYADH: The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia announced on Wednesday that it will secure alternative flights and provide additional seats for pilgrims coming from Britain, the US, and Europe. 

In cooperation with relevant authorities, visas will also be issued immediately to the pilgrims entering the Kingdom as part of the efforts. 

This comes after people faced technical issues while applying for hajj via the electronic portal and had access to limited seats on flights. 

The ministry reiterated that it welcomes all pilgrims who have completed their procedures via the electronic platform, as well as those who have arrived in Saudi Arabia.

 


Top Mawhiba students prepare to represent Saudi Arabia at five international scientific olympiads

Top Mawhiba students prepare to represent Saudi Arabia at five international scientific olympiads
Updated 30 June 2022

Top Mawhiba students prepare to represent Saudi Arabia at five international scientific olympiads

Top Mawhiba students prepare to represent Saudi Arabia at five international scientific olympiads
  • Members of physics, chemistry and biology teams are in Hungary for a two-week training program; the math and informatics teams already completed their preparations in the Kingdom
  • The events, some of which are virtual and some in-person, will take place in July and August in Norway, Indonesia, China, Switzerland and Armenia

JEDDAH: Top students from the King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity, also known as Mawhiba, are preparing to participate in five international scientific olympiads that will be held virtually and in person during July and August.

Two teams of students have already completed their training programs in the Kingdom at King Abdullah University for Science and Technology. They will compete in the International Mathematical Olympiad in Oslo, Norway, from July 6 to 16, and the International Olympiad in Informatics in Indonesia from Aug. 7 to 15. The informatics event involves programming and algorithmic problem-solving challenges.

Meanwhile, 38 male and female members of three other teams arrived in Budapest, Hungary, on Monday to begin intensive two-week training programs at some of the country’s most prestigious universities.

They include 14 students hoping to earn a place on the team that will compete at the International Chemistry Olympiad, which will be hosted by China; 12 students nominated for the team at the International Physics Olympiad 2022, hosted by Switzerland; and 12 trying to claim a place on the team at International Biology Olympiad 2022 in Armenia. The first two events will be virtual and the third in-person, and all three take place between July 10 and 18.

The physics team’s training event is being held at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, the biology team’s at the Hungarian Society of Biology, and the chemistry team’s at Eotvos Lorand University. They team members will complete an average of about eight hours a day of lectures and tutoring in their specialist subjects, delivered by experienced, qualified international trainers. The lessons will include practical and theoretical elements, along with training on how to find solutions to advanced scientific problems.

According to Mawhiba, at the end of the training camp the best performers on each team will be selected to represent Saudi Arabia at their respective olympiads.

Amal Al-Hazzaa, the acting secretary general of Mawhiba, told Arab News that the talented students had already completed more than 10,000 hours of training before participating in the preparatory camps.

She added that they have all attained high levels of proficiency and experience to reach the point where they can represent the Kingdom at an international competition.

In the past 10 years, Al-Hazzaa revealed, students from Saudi Arabia have won more than 500 medals and other awards at the olympiads.

“We are hopeful that these students will achieve further successes in the coming five olympiads,” she added.


Success of Jeddah Season was diversity and inclusivity

Success of Jeddah Season was diversity and inclusivity
Updated 29 June 2022

Success of Jeddah Season was diversity and inclusivity

Success of Jeddah Season was diversity and inclusivity
  • Jeddah Season had events tailored to almost everyone, including Anime Village for fans of the art and Japanese culture, Jeddah Waves for water sports enthusiasts and cultural shows for art, music and theater lovers

JEDDAH: With its wide variety of daily shows, experiences, games, exhibitions and concerts, Jeddah Season was a resounding success, receiving over 5 million visitors from around 68 countries. 

More than 36 performances and events were held in the Kingdom for the first time. 

Jeddah Season had events tailored to almost everyone, including Anime Village for fans of the art and Japanese culture, Jeddah Waves for water sports enthusiasts and cultural shows for art, music and theater lovers. 

Inclusivity was a priority for Jeddah Season’s manager Nawaf Qomosani.

“We know that Jeddah’s people love the water and sea activities, and we also know that they love anime, so that’s why one of the main focuses was to provide international-standard events for these two segments,” he told Arab News.

“Besides that, we also wanted to focus on food and traditional events, and I hope that we covered all kinds of events within this season,” he added.

Qomosani said that organizers faced many challenges on a daily basis to maintain the high quality of events for visitors.

“We wanted to give them the best possible option every day, taking into consideration such factors as the weather and timing. With the great team we have, we overcame these challenges daily,” he said.

Qomosani believes that the City Walk, one of the nine zones, was the highlight of Jeddah Season.

“It had different events that appealed to everyone. You could find events for kids, adults, anime lovers, music lovers. I think that’s the perfect kind of zone that everyone wishes for,” he said.

Some zones such as Luna, Jeddah Superdome, Layalina Theatre, the Yacht Club, and Prince Majid Park will continue to operate after the season ends and until the end of the year. 

It is currently being discussed whether to extend the operation of zones Jeddah Waves and Jeddah June until the end of the year. 

In line with Vision 2030, Jeddah Season provided scores of economic and employment opportunities to more than 74,000 people, of which 80 percent were Saudis, in 14 different professional fields. 


City Walk earns reputation as Jeddah Season’s best entertainment zone 

City Walk earns reputation as Jeddah Season’s best entertainment zone 
Updated 29 June 2022

City Walk earns reputation as Jeddah Season’s best entertainment zone 

City Walk earns reputation as Jeddah Season’s best entertainment zone 
  • Audiences indulged in VR games, anime, costume contests and concerts

 JEDDAH: City Walk, one of the nine zones of Jeddah Season, concluded its activities today. 

Designed with unparalleled imagination, the nine sub-zones of City Walk — Entry Village, Food Hall, Fashion Village, Splash, Horror Village, Jeddah Live, Adventure, X-reality, and Anime Village — gave every visitor a fully integrated experience. 

Audiences indulged in a wide array of events, some of which had never before been seen in the Kingdom. 

(Supplied)

Alex Morgan-George, project manager of the X-reality games zone, said: “The X-reality was one of the most visited areas in City Walk. It is a place where reality meets the imagination.

“We had brought in a little extra dimension of reality to the gaming sector, where the visitors get to feel the impact of the games with body suits. It was open to everyone — whether children, young people or adults — to experience and enjoy VR. Since many people in Saudi Arabia love gaming, we are aiming in future to have lot more attractions and double in size.” 

The X-reality zone consisted of four fully-immersive options: “Spree” offering family-friendly virtual reality entertainment, “Hologate Blitz,” consisting of futuristic themed games, “Hologate Arena,” a free roam VR area with different games option, and the “Tesla Suit” experience that used a VR headset to provide a startling simulation of the world through the senses of hearing, seeing and touching. 

Ahmed Alattas, the senior rides mechanical engineer of Sela Co., said: “We managed to build a unique ride in Saudi Arabia especially for the City Walk called ‘Big Wave’ which included a huge amount of waves and an experience never felt before. 

“There were many challenges due to Jeddah’s weather conditions, but we overcame all trials and created the most amazing rides both in City Walk and Jeddah Pier. Visitors had an opportunity to enjoy the most hair-raising and thrilling rides.” 

(Supplied)

The last few days of City Walk featured several unique activities and events. Performing for the first time in the Middle East, famous Japanese pop singer and lyricist Aimer enthralled the Saudi audience.

Japanese culture was also appreciated through a 100-person costume contest, and the zone’s Anime Therapy Awards at the Anime Village. 

The last day of City Walk witnessed a graduation themed party, where visitors had the opportunity to dress up as university graduates, featuring a parade. 

Saudi national Mohammed Ali, 32, said: “I especially loved the X-reality. Wearing the ‘Tesla Suit’ was a life-long experience. There was a moment where I could actually feel the punch in my stomach while playing the game, along with the raindrops and other sensory skills.”