Creative kids: Saudi, Dutch collaboration seeks to boost innovative thinking

Creative kids: Saudi, Dutch collaboration seeks to boost innovative thinking
The Saudi Design Garden workshop in the Adhlal warehouse at the design festival also involves the Playroom, a group set up in 2014 to nurture divergent thinking in children under the age of five. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Updated 27 January 2022

Creative kids: Saudi, Dutch collaboration seeks to boost innovative thinking

Creative kids: Saudi, Dutch collaboration seeks to boost innovative thinking
  • Formal education limits youngsters’ potential to develop problem-solving skills, expert says

RIYADH: Experts from the Kingdom and the Netherlands are working together at this year’s Saudi Design Festival to nurture creative thinking among children.

Representing two groups — the Saudi Adhlal and the Dutch NExAR — the experts’ aim is to share the best elements of their nations’ design culture, to learn from each other and to foster innovation.

According to NExAR’s founder, Dennis Meulenbroeks, one of the primary focuses of the collaboration is building a community for children to grow their creativity in design rather than conforming to structured educational thought.

“I believe that if you teach design thinking, critical thinking, and out-of-the-box thinking at an early age, children will benefit from that in the future,” he told Arab News.

He added that although children were born creative, they were taught at school to abide by the rules — to color between the lines, for instance — which restricted individuality.

“When a baby is born, they are creative, and then you come to elementary school and one of the first things that a teacher is doing is killing the creativity,” he said.

This limited children’s potential to develop problem-solving skills and to brainstorm creative and unique ideas, he added.




The children’s design workshop is open every day after 6 p.m. at the festival, which is being held in the Jax district of Diriyah. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah) 

NExAR describes itself as a “bridge building initiative between the Netherlands and the Arab world in the field of design.” Adhlal is a research-based consultancy founded by Princess Nourah Al-Faisal that aims to equip future generations of Saudi designers with the tools they need to succeed and build on the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 development plan.

The Saudi Design Garden workshop in the Adhlal warehouse at the design festival also involves the Playroom, a group set up in 2014 to nurture divergent thinking in children under the age of five.

According to its co-founder, Bessma bint Bader, the workshop’s aim is to create child-led play challenges that empower youngsters to innovate and build strong social skills.

“Children will always do the most unexpected and intelligent things when given the tools, support and freedom,” she told Arab News.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • NExAR describes itself as a ‘bridge building initiative between the Netherlands and the Arab world in the field of design.’
  • Adhlal is a research-based consultancy founded by Princess Nourah Al-Faisal that aims to equip future generations of Saudi designers with the tools they need to succeed and build on the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 development plan.

Stephanie Assio, a design-thinking specialist with NExAR, said the workshop posed children with thought-provoking challenges intended to inspire them to create out-of-the-box solutions.

“It’s all about design and innovation in education, creativity and coming up with programs to teach kids in new ways,” she said.

When the children enter the workshop, they are introduced to four different challenges. One of which is to design a nontraditional space for people who fly.

“This garden is for people who fly. You don’t have legs, you only have wings,” Assio said.

“Then children are posed the question of how to design furniture for people who fly.”

Other challenges include creating a garden using limited space on a balcony and designing a space to constrain furniture that “wants to keep running away.”

“Naturally, kids are creative thinkers, they know how to problem solve, and they know how to think limitlessly,” Assio said. “But over time, that creative thinking is drained out of them through the educational system and through the way life is.”

The children’s design workshop is open every day after 6 p.m. at the festival, which is being held in the Jax district of Diriyah.

The collaboration between Adhlal and NExAR began during the Saudi Design Festival in 2019 when Princess Nourah began discussing her goals and ambitions with Meulenbroeks.

“We had a booth to explain what design thinking can do in business and education, and we started with a small dialogue about our thoughts about design and what it can do in the future for different countries. Then Princess Nourah told us her vision, and we felt the connection,” he said.

He commended the princess on her initiative to strengthen the design community in Saudi Arabia.

“Everything you see here is a compliment to Princess Nourah. She had a vision and she had a dream. For us, even if we were not here, she would still have done something amazing.”


Saudi deputy defense minister meets US national security adviser

Saudi deputy defense minister meets US national security adviser
Updated 18 May 2022

Saudi deputy defense minister meets US national security adviser

Saudi deputy defense minister meets US national security adviser
  • The deputy defense minister and his accompanying delegation arrived this morning in the US capital on an official visit

RIYADH: Prince Khalid bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister of defense, on Tuesday met with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan in Washington to review bilateral ties.

Prince Khalid said in a Tweet that the meeting was upon the directive of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“I met with US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan to review the enduring and historic Saudi-US partnership, and discuss solidifying US-Saudi coordination,” he said.

The deputy defense minister and his accompanying delegation arrived this morning in the US capital on an official visit, during which he will meet a number of officials to discuss bilateral relations and issues of common interest at the regional and international levels, the Saudi Press Agency reported.


Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud receives honorary doctorate from Marymount University

Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud received an honorary doctorate from Marymount University in Virginia. (Supplied)
Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud received an honorary doctorate from Marymount University in Virginia. (Supplied)
Updated 17 May 2022

Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud receives honorary doctorate from Marymount University

Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud received an honorary doctorate from Marymount University in Virginia. (Supplied)
  • The princess thanks Marymount University for hosting Saudi students throughout the years

RIYADH: Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, received an honorary doctorate from Marymount University in Virginia last Friday in honor of her work empowering women across sectors in the Kingdom and globally.

The president of Marymount University, Dr. Irma Becerra, presented Princess Reema with the honorary degree — her first — at the commencement ceremony.

The Saudi ambassador gave the commencement address for the College of Health and Education graduates at the university.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Princess Reema gave the commencement address for the College of Health and Education graduates at the university.

• She congratulated the graduates and thanked the university for hosting Saudi students throughout the years.

In her address, she congratulated the graduates and thanked the university for hosting Saudi students throughout the years.

Princess Reema, who graduated from George Washington University with a degree in museum studies, has an extensive career working towards the empowerment of women in both the private and public sectors.

From 2007 to 2015, she was CEO of Alfa International Co. Ltd. — Harvey Nichols Riyadh, a multi-brand luxury retail company. During her time in this position, she commissioned the study “Obstacles for Women in the Workplace.” The study set the tone for female inclusion in retail and resulted in the opening of the first workplace nursery.

In 2013, she founded Alf Khair, a social enterprise aimed at elevating the professional capital of Saudi women through a curriculum developed to enable financial self-sufficiency.

In 2016, Princess Reema left the private sector to begin a career in public service as vice president of women’s affairs at the Saudi General Sports Authority, where she developed policies and programs that benefited women and children throughout Saudi Arabia.

In 2018, she was also appointed president of the Mass Participation Federation, making her the first woman to lead a multi-sports federation in the Kingdom, a role she occupied until her appointment as Saudi ambassador to the US.


Lights, cameras, action… and more besides, at the Saudi Entertainment and Amusement Expo

Lights, cameras, action… and more besides, at the Saudi Entertainment and Amusement Expo
Updated 17 May 2022

Lights, cameras, action… and more besides, at the Saudi Entertainment and Amusement Expo

Lights, cameras, action… and more besides, at the Saudi Entertainment and Amusement Expo
  • Developers and manufacturers in the entertainment sector are showcasing innovative, cutting-edge products and services during the event in Riyadh
  • It is taking place alongside the Saudi Light and Sound Expo, the first dedicated event in the Kingdom for professional lighting and audio equipment

RIYADH: The Saudi Entertainment and Amusement Expo and Summit began in Riyadh on Monday, alongside the Saudi Light and Sound Expo, the first dedicated event in the Kingdom for professional lighting and audio equipment.

The three-day dual event at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center showcases thousands of cutting-edge products and solutions for the entertainment sector, and offers professionals in the leisure and entertainment sector the chance to discover new products, learn about the most exciting innovations in the sector, network and do business with vendors.

The international exhibitors are presenting a wide range of products and services, including thrill rides, playground equipment, arcade machines, food and beverage equipment, professional lighting rigs, sound systems, event technology, security tools, and marketing solutions.

Attendees can experience a variety of fun events and activities while engaging with local, regional and global entertainment communities at the Amusement Services International pavilion during the expo, where the line-up includes virtual reality experiences, the latest video and arcade games, and carnival attractions, to name but a few.

Among the technology on show is the 3Motion simulator, which uses hydraulic actuators with precise control to deliver the same dynamic feedback you would get when driving a real racing car. Meanwhile SODIKART, a leader in the karting industry, presents its latest products and services, including a kart simulator.

Matt Wells, the CEO of Frontgrid, which owns ParadropVR, a virtual reality flying experience, told Arab News: “I am very happy to be here having a great time at the SEA summit and looking forward to working with the people here.”

In March, Frontgrid announced an exclusive distribution partnership with ASI to support the continued growth and success of ParadropVR. ASI is now Frontgrid’s distributor across the Middle East, including in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE, and in Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco.

Marloes Knippenberg, the CEO of lifestyle operator Kerten Hospitality is appearing as a panelist at the summit.

“The world has really changed; consumer behavior has changed a lot,” he told Arab News. “More than 60 percent of the Saudi population is under 35 and the expectations from them as consumers has really changed.

“When you look at this conference, at the perfect timing, I think never was there so much conversation like today, with a lot more opportunity for the hospitality sector in the entertainment segment. There are a lot more expectations and I am looking forward to it.”

The SEA and SLS expos were expected to attract more than 10,000 visitors. In addition to the exhibitors showcasing business opportunities, entertainment options, innovations, and technology, there are also sessions to discuss trends and future visions within the industry, and networking events.

The inaugural SLS Expo, meanwhile, offers businesses and developers the chance to show off their products and services through specially staged laser, light and sound shows.

RS Research and Strategy will share insights from its Voice of The Market research, conducted on behalf of the expo, to offer a deeper understanding of the factors that can help generate opportunities, or create challenges, for those considering entering the light and sound or entertainment markets.

Saudi Arabia has embarked in recent years on a rapid transformation that is not only economic in nature but also cultural, by identifying travel, tourism and entertainment as priority sectors as part of the nation’s Vision 2030 economic diversification initiative.

The General Entertainment Authority was founded in 2016 to organize, develop and lead the entertainment sector in the country, triggering a transformation and the introduction of a wide range of exciting entertainment options. Since then, the sector has grown exponentially in the Kingdom, helping to improve the quality of life of residents and contributing to economic development by creating investment opportunities and thousands of jobs.

The SEA expo, which was launched four years ago, is the only trade show in the country dedicated to the flourishing leisure and entertainment sectors.

“Saudi Arabia is leading the way in encouraging collaboration and action by thinking big,” said Sarkis Kahwajian, SEA Expo’s event director. “This will lead to a strong and sustainable future for the entertainment and amusement industry.

“Saudi Arabia is developing its tourism destinations, which represent great opportunities, especially since the Kingdom’s wealth of spectacular landscapes and cultural heritage is still unknown to the international traveler.”

Yael Coifman, a senior partner at Leisure Development Partners and the president of the Europe and Middle East division of the Themed Entertainment Association, said: “The goals proposed as part of the entertainment strategy for KSA are inspiring and visionary.

“We think there is real potential in this market and although some of the members are already involved in the planning, there are opportunities for many others to influence and help shape the future of the entertainment industry in the Middle East, bringing global knowledge to the region.”

One example of the ways in which the entertainment sector in Saudi Arabia is evolving was the decision by the government in 2018 to end a 30-year ban on cinemas. By the end of 2021, 45 movie theaters had opened in the country and screened more than 1,000 films. In addition, the Red Sea International Film Festival was launched in 2019 and the inaugural event took place in December last year.

It is expected that by 2030 there will be 350 cinemas and 2,500 movie screens in Saudi Arabia, and the industry will be worth about $1 billion.

The development and expansion of the entertainment sector in the Kingdom has spawned an ambitious construction pipeline of movie theaters, theme parks and sports-related infrastructure, along with the hosting of live mega events.

In addition, the great success of Saudi Seasons — an annual series of festivals across the country featuring concerts, motor racing, pop-up restaurants, auto shows and other forms of entertainment — have shown the huge demand in the sector.

The GEA has pledged to invest up to $64 billion by 2028 to develop the Kingdom’s domestic entertainment sector.

In terms of tourism, Saudi authorities plan to welcome more than 100 million visitors each year by 2030, and to this end have implemented numerous related initiatives, including an electronic visa system for citizens of 49 countries.


Saudi ministry creates ‘skill development’ strategy to enhance Saudization

Abdullah Abuthnain speaking at the opening session of the conference. (HRDF)
Abdullah Abuthnain speaking at the opening session of the conference. (HRDF)
Updated 17 May 2022

Saudi ministry creates ‘skill development’ strategy to enhance Saudization

Abdullah Abuthnain speaking at the opening session of the conference. (HRDF)
  • The ministry has established a “forecasting of supply and demand” unit within the human capacity development program, which will provide researchers with data, information and insights into labor market trends

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development is focusing on a skills strategy to improve professional standards for workers and those entering the labor market, according to Abdullah Abuthnain, the vice minister.

Abuthnain said that the strategy will benefit more than 200 professions, with skills councils establishing employment standards, as well as on-the-job training programs, in important economic sectors.

FASTFACT

The strategy will benefit more than 200 professions, with skills councils establishing employment standards, as well as on-the-job training programs, in important economic sectors.

The vice minister made his comments during the inaugural Scientific Conference for Labor Market Research, Studies and Indicators, organized by the National Labor Observatory, an affiliate of the Human Resources Development Fund, in collaboration with Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University.

Academics and professionals gathered in Riyadh on Tuesday for the First Scientific Conference for Labor Market Research, Studies, and Indicators organized by Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University.  (Supplied/HRDF)

During the opening session of the two-day conference in Riyadh on Tuesday, Abuthnain said that Saudi Arabia’s labor market is presently in “a phase of big reforms,” including eight strategic labor market themes and 25 development initiatives.

The ministry has established a “forecasting of supply and demand” unit within the human capacity development program, which will provide researchers with data, information and insights into labor market trends.

The unit identifies opportunities and challenges facing the labor market by issuing specialized reports showing future trends, he said, adding that the unit will primarily assist educational institutions in designing educational and training programs.

Abuthnain expressed optimism about the Kingdom’s labor market, which has seen “positive developments in its indicators and gains,” noting that more than 2 million Saudis now work in the private sector, “the highest figure historically speaking.”

Mohammad Aalmughaiseb, Director of Research and Studies Department at the National Labor Observatory (NLO), Dr. Abdullah Abuthnain, Vice Minister of Human Resources and Social Development for Labor, Dr. Ahmed Al-Ameri, President of Imam Mohammed bin Saud Islamic University, Dr. Lilac Al-Safadi, President of Saudi Electronic University and Dr. Enas Al-Issa, Director of Noura University. (Supplied/ HRDF)

Economic participation has reached 51 percent, while economic participation of Saudi women has also reached 35 percent, “the highest figure historically.”

Turki Al-Jawini, director-general of HRDF, said that the fund had redesigned support programs with a focus on the impact assessment and analysis of big data; their relevance to the needs of beneficiaries; the possibility of measuring their reach, impact and efficiency; and the application of a governance model that enables the fund to adjust the design of the program to suit changing market needs.

“We at HRDF will work to develop and implement labor market policies by creating a sustainable national workforce, developing human cadres’ skills, providing them with knowledge and qualifications, and aligning them with labor market and job needs,” he said.

“We will use a strategy that prioritizes the beneficiary in the design and delivery of works and services and modernizes the human resources system by utilizing visions and sketching future labor market directions.”

Al-Jawini said that the HRDF strategy focused on three main objectives: Reducing the gap between education outcomes and labor market needs, increasing the efficiency of matching supply and demand, and enabling sustainable employment for groups facing labor market challenges.

Among the most significant problems for graduates is understanding labor market needs, linking labor market requirements with their skills, having the necessary experience, and possessing the most in-demand soft skills.

Direct coaching and mentoring for leaders comes within the framework of programs that support and empower women in the labor market, he said.

About 1,000 female leaders benefited from the programs, which helped find jobs for more than 65,000 women in private sector companies. Around 3,500 Saudi mothers benefited from Qurrah, a program that supports child care.

Al-Jawini said that about 51,000 Saudi women employees benefited from Wusool, a program that supports transport for female workers. About 7,000 job-seekers were employed in 2021, thanks to the Tamheer program, which offers female workers on-the-job training.

Mishaal Aledwani, professor of administration and educational planning at Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University, said that Saudi universities are undergoing substantial change as a result of external developments, as well as advances in technology and knowledge development.

The Saudi labor market needs skilled graduates who can work efficiently. Saudi universities face challenges maintaining their status and excellence, both locally and internationally, through the use of innovative learning methods and the provision of training programs for students, Aledwani said.

According to the former dean of the faculty of social sciences, Saudi universities’ performance in adapting graduates to the needs of the labor market is “average.”

Aledwani said that his research had revealed that one of the most significant challenges facing universities is inadequate training and qualification of students before they enter the labor market.

This includes poor coordination between universities and employers to determine the skills graduates need.

Zaid Al-Khumishi, educational supervisor at the Saudi Ministry of Education, discussed the application of artificial intelligence in human resource professional development to suit the needs of the Saudi labor market.

Al-Khumishi has worked in the education industry for almost two decades, recruiting specialists in electronic technology to build training programs employing artificial intelligence.

He suggested designing artificial intelligence-based training programs that meet the needs of the Saudi labor market and workers “by conducting a comprehensive survey of those needs and setting priorities for them to build training programs that meet those needs.”


Deal to provide healthcare services in Diriyah signed

The agreement was signed by Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of the authority, and Abdullah bin Khathlan, CEO of Riyadh Third Health Cluster
The agreement was signed by Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of the authority, and Abdullah bin Khathlan, CEO of Riyadh Third Health Cluster
Updated 17 May 2022

Deal to provide healthcare services in Diriyah signed

The agreement was signed by Jerry Inzerillo, CEO of the authority, and Abdullah bin Khathlan, CEO of Riyadh Third Health Cluster
  • Inzerillo added that both parties will work together to support the local community’s participation in international healthcare days using events and social media

RIYADH: The Diriyah Gate Development Authority has signed an agreement with the Riyadh Third Health Cluster to collaborate on the provision of healthcare and community services for residents of Diriyah.
The agreement was signed by Jerry Inzerillo, chief executive officer of the authority, and Abdullah bin Khathlan, CEO of Riyadh Third Health Cluster.
Inzerillo highlighted the importance of cooperation in joint initiatives and programs for community development in Diriyah and the necessity of collaboration to increase health awareness and the healthcare services offered in the city.
He added that both parties will work together to support the local community’s participation in international healthcare days using events and social media.
Bin Khathlan said the agreement will boost efforts to spread the culture of healthcare volunteering, adding that the Riyadh Third Health Cluster is committed to providing the best possible healthcare “in a comprehensive, sustainable way.”
The Diriyah Gate Development Authority aims to improve the quality of life within the entire Diriyah district by introducing regulations and guidelines which are designed to preserve the area unique cultural status within the Kingdom, while maintaining Saudi heritage.