Saudi ministry creates ‘skill development’ strategy to enhance Saudization

Abdullah Abuthnain (left) speaking at the opening session of the First Scientific Conference for Labor Market Research, Studies, and Indicators in Riyadh. (Supplied/HRDF)
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Abdullah Abuthnain (left) speaking at the opening session of the First Scientific Conference for Labor Market Research, Studies, and Indicators in Riyadh. (Supplied/HRDF)
Saudi ministry creates ‘skill development’ strategy to enhance Saudization
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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.”


Is there a future for psychedelic treatment in Saudi Arabia?

Saudi well-being practitioner and psychedelic integration specialist Haya Al-Hejailan. (Supplied)
Saudi well-being practitioner and psychedelic integration specialist Haya Al-Hejailan. (Supplied)
Updated 19 min 57 sec ago

Is there a future for psychedelic treatment in Saudi Arabia?

Saudi well-being practitioner and psychedelic integration specialist Haya Al-Hejailan. (Supplied)
  • Haya Al-Hejailan wants to open a clinic and to see Saudi pioneer in psychedelic research

RIYADH: Psychedelic researcher Stanislov Grof once wrote that “psychedelics, used responsibly and with proper caution, would be for psychiatry what the microscope is for biology and medicine or the telescope is for astronomy.”

To many, this may sound like an outlandish claim, but now more than ever, it is proving to be true and may very well become a frontier in practicing medicine.

Saudi Arabia was enduring a mental health epidemic and the psychological strains of the pandemic exacerbated that. People are finding themselves desperate for ways to cope. One of the most recent psychotherapy methods in the region, albeit stigmatized, is psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. A recent study published by Neuropsychopharmacology showed that the substances were proven to achieve positive long-term mental health effects and their efficiency, safety and tolerability in treating major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and certain addictions.

I get more people contacting me asking me how they can receive this treatment, and it’s really heartbreaking to tell them, I’m sorry, but you’re gonna have to wait. It’s not available yet.

Haya Al-Hejailan, Saudi well-being practitioner and psychedelic integration specialist

It is also associated with enhancing creativity and problem-solving, according to an article published by the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs in 2019.

While the stigma around mind-altering substances, both in the region and globally, is unavoidable, researchers and scientists argue that if these drugs are regulated and used purely for medicinal reasons, what is the harm?

The term “psychedelics,” a class of hallucinogens, comes from the Greek words “psyche,” meaning the mind, and “delia,” meaning manifesting. The psychoactive substances are meant to alter the mind and create an alternative cognitive perception.

Psychedelics are classified into classical, which includes lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), psilocybin (commonly known as magic mushrooms), mescaline and others, and non-classical, such as methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA or ecstasy) and ketamine.

“(They’re) really great tools for us being able to understand the brain and the study of consciousness better,” Saudi well-being practitioner and psychedelic integration specialist Haya Al-Hejailan told Arab News. Her work centers on psychedelic research and the treatment of borderline personality disorder.

This point may seem counterintuitive: How can addiction be treated with a substance that may cause another addiction? But psychedelics are, in fact, anti-addictive in nature.

“They have anti-addictive properties, meaning they don’t constitute physiological addiction, but one can become psychologically addicted to anything,” said Al-Hejailan, refererring to non-substance addictions such as coffee or mobile devices.

However, the use of psychedelics can pose certain dangers, making it crucial to undergo treatment strictly under professional medical supervision, which can only be accessible through clinics. Psychedelic therapists are trained to create a controlled environment for patients undergoing psychedelic therapy, with sessions prior to administering the treatment dose to identify any red flags or possible risks that would otherwise create a larger margin of error. Patients who self-dose could potentially be subject to health risks, retraumatization, depersonalization and dissociation.

“I get more people contacting me asking me how they can receive this treatment, and it’s really heartbreaking to tell them, ‘I'm sorry, but you’re gonna have to wait. It’s not available yet,’” Al-Hejailan said. “But I’m optimistic with highlighting the word ‘yet.’”

An article published by The Lancet showed that most antidepressants are ineffective and can be harmful to adolescents and children.

In an attempt to fulfill that medical need, several research efforts and trials have been unertaken to evaluate alternative routes, such as psychedelic-assisted therapy.

A study published by the National Library of Medicine found that small IV doses of ketamine can have positive, long-lasting antidepressant effects in patients. Although the scientific research regarding psychotherapeutic psychedelic use in the region is insufficient, Saudi Arabia has been easing its way into their use use for other purposes. Last year, the Saudi Journal of Emergency Medicine published a paper describing a successful case of refractory status epilepsy, a life-threatening condition, in a child treated with a single dose of ketamine.

Despite its growing popularity in mainstream media, psychedelic science is one of the cutting-edge neurosciences, yielding insufficient research compared to other sciences. The 1950s saw the first English-language report published on LSD, and research continued into Richard Nixon’s US presidential term, ending in the 70s. However, research efforts were quickly banned under the justification of the war on drugs as a public enemy declared by the US president. However, it was supported by other factors, such as the lack of funding for psychedelic research and failed medical trials, according to an article published by the Cambridge University Press.

That area of medicine was considered niche until recently. In 2017, MDMA was given “breakthrough therapy” designation by the Food and Drug Administration, meaning it was granted an expedited review process. In 2018, the FDA granted a group of psychiatrists researching psilocybin-assisted therapy for treatment-resistant depression the same status.

In the same year, Michael Pollan’s book “How to Change Your Mind” created a public space for people to think differently about psychedelics and the consciousness expansion of the mind. Ketamine was granted the same status a year later. Arguably, that is when psychedelics hit the mainstream, although its resurgence into clinical research and trials resumed in the 1990s.

“(Before that) I was met with a lot of skepticism. People literally thought I was talking about something that’s crazy,” Al-Hejailan said in reference to discussing psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy before 2018.

“There’s a lot of interest, enthusiasm and curiosity that I’m met with now when I talk about my work.”

With a master’s in applied positive psychology and coaching psychology from the University of East London, Al-Hejailan’s work also includes positive psychology integration and psychedelic education, providing training in psychedelic therapy and ketamine-assisted psychotherapy. She also co-directed and co-produced a documentary titled “Psychedelic Renaissance,” centered on the reemergence of the psychedelic movement globally and its cultural significance.

Al-Hejailan said that raising awareness about psychedelic studies was the first step in creating a regional environment that allows for alternative psychotherapy methods.

“I think we need to, in general, focus more of our energy and attention on psychoeducation, educating the public about mental health and well-being. The more we do that, the more people are likely to continue becoming accepting and interested,” she said.

Future steps to normalize the use of psychoactive drugs include active training for clinicians and therapists on their uses and benefits and eventually establishing specialized clinics and research centers.

“My goal is to have presentations specifically on psychotherapy and to meet with therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists and other physicians, and policymakers at some point. To show them what’s happening abroad, what the science shows and to discuss how we can replicate this here in a safe way that respects our culture and that respects our specific or unique needs,” Al-Hejailan said.

“I really want to open a clinic and research center here. Me and my colleagues would very much love to see Saudi pioneer in psychedelic research in the region, and maybe globally.”


First group of British pilgrims arrives in Makkah

Pilgrims expressed their appreciation for the facilities that allow them to perform Hajj with ease and comfort. (SPA)
Pilgrims expressed their appreciation for the facilities that allow them to perform Hajj with ease and comfort. (SPA)
Updated 14 sec ago

First group of British pilgrims arrives in Makkah

Pilgrims expressed their appreciation for the facilities that allow them to perform Hajj with ease and comfort. (SPA)
  • Worshippers praise Saudi government for providing facilities, services

JEDDAH: British Hajj pilgrims have returned to Makkah, ending a two-year hiatus because of COVID-19 restrictions.

A group of about 190 UK pilgrims who arrived on Saturday represent the first worshippers from Europe, the US or Australia to journey to the holy city for this year’s Hajj season.

Abdulrahman Shams, assistant undersecretary of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah for Umrah affairs, and a number of officials welcomed the pilgrims and offered them Zamzam water, flowers and souvenirs.

Pilgrims expressed their appreciation to the government of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the facilities and services that allow worshippers to perform their Hajj rituals with ease, comfort and tranquility.

Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah Abdulfattah Mashat said: “The ministry is working to improve all programs that contribute to serving pilgrims, including registration mechanism for pilgrims from Europe, America and Australia for this Hajj season 2022, through an integrated online portal that includes a variety of package options and support services.”

The first group of British pilgrims is registered via the electronic portal www.motawif.com.sa, which the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah launched as part of a strategy to develop digital services for worshippers.

The portal helps to ensure pilgrims fulfil Hajj requirements, including completion of COVID-19 vaccination doses and negative tests. It also includes integrated services for communication in multiple languages around the clock and the issuing of visas electronically.

Earlier, British Consul-General in Jeddah Seifeldin Usher praised the Kingdom’s efforts in welcoming pilgrims.

“The role of Saudi Arabia in receiving the pilgrims and taking care of them while they are here is hugely important and greatly valued both by the pilgrims and the British government,” he said.

“We are grateful for all the work of the authorities every year and inshallah we shall see an increase as we go forward now after the very difficult years of COVID.”


Iraqi PM welcomed to Saudi Arabia by Crown Prince

Iraqi PM welcomed to Saudi Arabia by Crown Prince
Updated 12 min 49 sec ago

Iraqi PM welcomed to Saudi Arabia by Crown Prince

Iraqi PM welcomed to Saudi Arabia by Crown Prince

JEDDAH: The Prime Minister of Iraq Mustafa Al-Kadhimi was welcomed to Saudi Arabia by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Saturday.

The PM and his delegation was recieved in Jeddah by the crown prince and other members of the Saudi delegation.

More to follow...


Thrill-seekers visit Jeddah’s Horror Village for adrenaline rush

The village promises to transport visitors to a haunted world packed with frights and fun around every corner. (Supplied)
The village promises to transport visitors to a haunted world packed with frights and fun around every corner. (Supplied)
Updated 17 min 1 sec ago

Thrill-seekers visit Jeddah’s Horror Village for adrenaline rush

The village promises to transport visitors to a haunted world packed with frights and fun around every corner. (Supplied)
  • People can experience terror with all five senses by walking through a terrifying maze set in a spooky, dim hospital

JEDDAH: Ghouls, ghosts and other creepy creatures have been shocking visitors at Horror Village in Jeddah Season’s City Walk zone.

The village promises to transport visitors to a haunted world packed with frights and fun around every corner.

The guests are first treated to a spine-chilling experience with the night of the living dead escape room. There are three escape rooms that accommodate six people who are locked up to solve a series of horror-themed puzzles. The only way out is to piece together the intricate clues to escape before time expires.

But once they are freed, the thrills continue. Being admitted to the horror hospital will make your heart pound and send chills down your body, leaving some visitors shaking like a leaf.

HIGHLIGHT

The guests are first treated to a spine-chilling experience with the night of the living dead escape room. There are three escape rooms that accommodate six people who are locked up to solve a series of horror- themed puzzles. The only way out is to piece together the intricate clues to escape before time expires.

People can experience terror with all five senses by walking through a terrifying maze set in a spooky, dim hospital. It can take up to 10 minutes to reach the end, but you will scramble for a faster finish while you are hunted down by bloody ghosts and surrounded by menacing screams.

Alaa Omar Bahattab, zone manager, said that the horror house receives around 1,500 people per day and during the weekend it is extremely crowded.

He said: “Overcoming fears, experiencing adrenaline rush make the haunted house attractive and makes people really come back for it. The village varies in scare intensity from the child-friendly mellowness to the 18-plus activities which are geared towards teenagers and young adults.”

For the kids, the village presents four different activities: a VR experience, a small maze with friendly ghosts hiding in it, a slime area and two theaters featuring child-friendly scary movies.

Bahattab mentioned that this area is specially designed for parents who want to have fun in the escape room and the horror hospital and can keep their kids entertained without any stress. The kids’ drop-off play area has well-trained staff who ensure the children are safe and smiling throughout.

In addition to the activities, the village features a haunted parade and a zombie flash mob that will leave guests with unforgettable memories.

There is also a horror-themed restaurant that offers a unique dining experience, where visitors can enjoy spooky entertainment with their meal.

Tuck into your zombie beef slider, zombie face cake, vampire blood juice, mojito zombie blood and other spooky treats.

The village is now gearing up to offer a frightening makeup stall to craft some of the creepy characters on the guests and another exciting scary zone.


Who’s Who: Mohammed Al-Rumaih, CEO of the Saudi Exchange

Mohammed Al-Rumaih
Mohammed Al-Rumaih
Updated 29 min 21 sec ago

Who’s Who: Mohammed Al-Rumaih, CEO of the Saudi Exchange

Mohammed Al-Rumaih

Mohammed Al-Rumaih has been CEO of the Saudi Exchange, an authorized entity acting as the securities exchange, since 2021.

Before his current role, he was chief of markets for three years, overseeing Saudi Exchange markets operations, including the main market, the Nomu-parallel market, sukuk and bonds.

Since joining the Saudi Exchange in 2009, Al-Rumaih has held various leadership positions, including head of primary market, and chief of sales and marketing between 2013 and 2018.

He has extensive experience in the financial services sector, and has led the exchange through a period of exponential growth and transformation, including the group’s first Saudi Capital Market Forum in 2022, where he announced a pipeline of initial public offerings and the largest bundle of market enhancements in the history of the Saudi capital market.
 
Al-Rumaih played key roles in the exchange’s adoption of new market enhancements and products to further cement its status as an advanced capital market and regional powerhouse.

His notable achievements include working toward Saudi Arabia’s inclusion in Morgan Stanley Capital International Emerging Markets Index, FTSE Russell’s Emerging Index, and S&P Dow Jones Indices, the revamp of the Nomu-parallel market, the success of the Saudi Capital Market enhancement program, and facilitating the smooth public listing of Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest IPO.

Since then, Al-Rumaih has been instrumental in preparing the Saudi Exchange to host more mega-listings, such as Nahdi Medical Co., the second-largest listing in Saudi Arabia since Aramco.

He has also been leading the development of the debt market, ETFs and closed-ended funds in the exchange, resulting in a higher number of listings and investor participation across the board.

With more than 70 IPOs in the pipeline as of March 2022 and increasing interest of foreign investors in the Saudi market, Al-Rumaih is leading the Saudi Exchange through a period of notable growth.

In 2004, Al-Rumaih graduated from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals with a bachelor’s degree in management information systems, and in 2013 he earned an MBA from the Manchester Business School.