NEW YORK: Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, recently represented the Kingdom at the launch ceremony of the Global Islamic Fund for Refugees.
The fund is supported by UNHCR and the Islamic Development Bank’s Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development, with an initial amount of $100 million, on the sidelines of the 77th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.
In his speech, Al-Rabeeah expressed his happiness about the fruitful partnership between UNHCR and IDB to help millions of people around the world who are forcibly displaced, by offering constant support for refugees and displaced persons and their host communities.
The Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development has donated $50 million to the endowment account, while the UNHCR has donated $50 million to the nonendowment account, as an initial capital to launch this initiative with $100 million. The fund also aims to raise additional capital of $400 million as a minimum target by allowing donations from people wishing to contribute.
He noted the importance of strengthening collective action and partnership to better respond and develop innovative, sustainable and comprehensive solutions, in line with the 17th sustainable development goal.
Al-Rabeeah said that the Kingdom was optimistic about UNHCR and IDB’s partnership, which embodies the values of humanity, justice and equality in developing innovative solutions for the refugee crisis.
Al-Rabeeah said: “Amid an increasing number of crises around the world, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation region accommodates the largest number of refugees in the world; we are all aware and fulfill our responsibility by providing all the refugees and displaced people’s needs to lead a safe, healthy and decent life.”
He said that the Global Islamic Fund for Refugees “would help us achieve this humanitarian objective, and given the significant economic challenges the world is facing and due to the limited donor base, this is the best time to present innovative ways to increase the funding modalities.”
Al-Rabeeah said that Islam encourages charitable work, that zakat is the duty of all Muslims who are capable of donating, and that this was the best time to establish the Global Islamic Fund for Refugees. He indicated that the success of this fund relies on the participation of authorized partners and project-based funding, with a transparent monitoring process.
Addressing the needs of refugees and displaced people in the OIC region is an example of zakat and charitable funding, he said, wishing the Global Islamic Fund for Refugees success.
The Global Islamic Fund for Refugees is to be a financing tool for refugees, in compliance with the provisions and principles of Islamic Shariah.
This fund consists of an endowment and nonendowment account to receive and invest donations, in accordance with Islamic financing’s principles. The revenue is deposited in a trust account to fund the response programs for refugees, displaced people and their host communities in the IDB member states.
The Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development has donated $50 million to the endowment account, while the UNHCR has donated $50 million to the nonendowment account, as an initial capital to launch this initiative with $100 million.
The fund also aims to raise additional capital of $400 million as a minimum target by allowing donations from people wishing to contribute.
Cross-cultural dialogue at heart of Riyadh Philosophy Conference
Event’s 2nd edition asked questions surrounding space exploration and impact on humanity
Updated 05 December 2022
Rebecca Anne Proctor
RIYADH: Over the course of three days, scientists, writers, historians, professors and philosophers from around the world gathered at the King Fahd National Library in Riyadh to discuss the major issues affecting humanity today.
The second edition of the conference, which concluded on Dec. 3, was dedicated to the theme of “Knowledge and Exploration: Space, Time and Humanity.”
A total of 71 speakers attended from more than 19 countries around the world, including the US, UK, UAE, Mexico, Italy, Singapore, Italy, Germany and Egypt, making the conference a diverse platform to discuss ideas and topics pertinent to our world today. Attendees numbered around 2,700.
“A conference such as this has cross-cultural dialogue at its heart. Inviting and welcoming leading philosophers from all over the world is not a one-way thing,” Dr. Mohammed Hasan Alwan, CEO of the Literature, Publishing & Translation Commission, told Arab News. “It is, instead, a two-way dialogue, with international experts joining their Saudi and regional colleagues in a spirit of intellectual exploration that is far more profound and far-reaching because it is done in a spirit of partnership.”
This year’s conference continues the efforts of last year’s event, which was the first of its kind to take place in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. “Our conference has been bigger and more ambitious in many ways,” added Alwan.
The conference was established, he said, “because we believe in philosophy and its relevance in our world.”
The theme of the conference was highly topical to ongoing debates surrounding space exploration.
“The conference theme is, to coin a science fiction phrase, ‘going boldly where few conferences have gone before,” said Alwan. “We chose a theme that was challenging, and yet which also showed just how philosophical thinking is absolutely vital for humanity, because of its ability to map out entirely new intellectual territory that relates to space exploration, to humanity’s potential extra-terrestrial activities.”
The topic of space exploration is also reflective of Saudi Arabia’s own plans. In September 2022, the Kingdom announced that it had launched a new astronaut program. Its first journey, set for 2023, will carry a female Saudi astronaut, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
“What has been impressive is the ability to speak to a diverse and large population here that you don’t find in academic conferences; attendees this year included even investment bankers and people working in the oil industry,” Nicolas de Warren, professor of philosophy at Penn State University in the US, who was attending the conference for the second time, told Arab News. “I was impressed again by the level of sophistication and questions from the diverse audience.”
De Warren chaired a panel titled “Exploring Space and Time Today.” His research looks at the impact of science fiction literature which, as he says, “imagines not only the exploration of space but what it would mean to enter into contact with other life forms or alien civilizations. It is what is called first contact narratives.”
Such ideas raise the fundamental philosophical question of if we as a species are alone in the universe? Are there other life forms? How do we know if there are other life forms? Why has there been no contact with these other life forms? And what would it really represent if, indeed, one day, there was the discovery that there are other intelligent life forms and civilizations?
De Warren discussed such questions in his panel but went a step further. According to his thesis, these questions do not really concern aliens but ourselves.
“It has to do with the way in which we project our planetary fears onto some imaginary alien to sublimate them,” he said. “From that perspective, it’s not fortuitous that during the 1950s and 1960s, one of the dominant genres of science fiction literature and films was invasion narratives — Martians are coming, and so on. That reflects the sort of sublimation one found during the Cold War.”
Apart from delving into pressing issues involving our world today and fostering cross-cultural dialogue, the conference also had a pedagogical aspect.
A pavilion area with workshops for children called Philosophers of Tomorrow, a Philosophical Camp for philosophical dialogue, and a debating competition for trained teams of college students called Reading Between the Lines Competition underlined the importance of fostering philosophy inquiry and thought within educational platforms, schools and communities in the Kingdom.
“We’ve done more than before to encourage children and young people to participate in the conference through a Philosopher’s Cafe, which has space for members of the audience to discuss philosophical topics with the conference’s speakers,” added Alwan.
This year the conference partnered with more organizations, ranging from international universities, the International Federation of Philosophical Societies, as well as the Saudi Space Commission, and several Saudi organizations engaged in promoting philosophical thinking, such as Baseera, the Saudi Center of Philosophy and Ethics, Mekal Philosophy Club and the Saudi Philosophy Association.
“We abstract the tools that philosophers use and try to invite teachers to apply those tools in their curriculum,” said Dalia Toonsi, educational consultant, founder and general manager of Baseera Educational Consultancy. Baseera, an institute that trains teachers to implement dialogical and philosophical teaching as well as learning methods into the curriculum of Saudi schools, was taking part in the event for the second time.
“People in the Arab world generally don’t think philosophy is an interesting subject,” said Toonsi. Baseera’s work emphasizes the importance of philosophical inquiry in schools.
Toonsi said: “Tools from philosophy entail critical thinking, examining assumptions, deduction and reduction, and inquiry and also caring thinking, related more to children, which gives children the ability to open their minds to different opinions related to philosophical inquiry.”
People with disabilities take the stage at Gulf Theatre Festival
Ahmad bin Sulaiman Al-Rajhi said: “The initiatives, programs and projects offered to people with disabilities in the Kingdom reflect our wise leadership’s interest in this group … and the achievement of equal opportunities for them”
Updated 04 December 2022
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is currently hosting the sixth Gulf Theater Festival for People with Disabilities at the Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman University Conference Center in Riyadh.
The nine-day festival, organized by the Authority for Persons with Disabilities, began on Friday, Dec. 2 and will feature six theatrical performances from the GCC alongside interactive events and theater workshops.
The festival aims to promote inclusivity, and boost awareness, of people with disabilities.
Ahmad bin Sulaiman Al-Rajhi, minister of human resources and social development, said: “The initiatives, programs and projects offered to people with disabilities in the Kingdom reflect our wise leadership’s interest in this group … and the achievement of equal opportunities for them.”
The Kingdom is hosting this session for the first time, with the aim of discovering and developing the talents of our sons and daughters with disabilities in the GCC in the fields of arts and increasing their participation in cultural events.
Ahmad Al-Rajhi, Saudi minister of human resources and social development
He added: “The Kingdom is hosting this session for the first time, with the aim of discovering and developing the talents of our sons and daughters with disabilities in the GCC in the fields of arts and increasing their participation in cultural events.”
Alanoud Al-Faqeer, the supervisor of the festival, said: “Theater is one of the mechanisms through which the awareness of the public can be raised. Theater helps showcase talents and motivate people with disabilities to integrate into society.”
“Saudi Arabia welcomes all people with disabilities … all arrangements have been made to contribute to the festival’s success and provide support to all participants to showcase their performances in an amazing manner,” she added.
The director of the executive office of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Dr. Amer Al-Hajri, called for greater efforts to empower people with disabilities by providing them with appropriate opportunities of all kinds to show their talents.
The exhibition will feature exclusive and innovative products in fashion, jewelry, perfumes, leather and home accessories in an interactive environment
Updated 04 December 2022
RIYADH: The exhibition “Ana Arabia” (Arabic for “I am an Arab Woman”), which highlights Arab women in design and fashion, will be launched on Saturday at Riyadh Front, one of the entertainment zones of Riyadh Season.
The exhibition will bring together Arab creators in what will be the largest gathering of its kind in the Middle East.
“Ana Arabia” will display the works of more than 200 designers from across the Arab world, allowing female designers and businesswomen to market their products and exchange experiences in the design sector.
The exhibition will feature exclusive and innovative products in fashion, jewelry, perfumes, leather and home accessories in an interactive environment.
It will also see exclusive meetings with top fashion and beauty experts to present their experiences.
The exhibition will open from 4 p.m. until midnight and will continue until Dec. 16. Tickets can be booked via the link: https://riyadhseason.sa/event-details-en.html?id=598/en_Ana_Arabiya
Saudi Heritage Commission registers 67 new historical sites
The commission commended the efforts of citizens, whom it considers key partners in preserving the Kingdom’s heritage, and called on the public to report any discovered archeological sites through the Balagh platform
Updated 04 December 2022
RIYADH: The Kingdom’s Heritage Commission has registered 67 new archaeological and historical sites in the National Antiquities Register, bringing the total number of registered archeological sites across the Kingdom to 8,531.
The new sites included 15 in the Northern Borders, 13 in Tabuk, 10 in Hail, nine in Jouf, five in Qasim, four sites each in Riyadh and Asir, three sites each in Madinah and Baha, and one site in Makkah.
The commission seeks to discover and officially register the Kingdom’s archeological and historical sites in the National Antiquities Register and put them on digital maps that facilitate their administration, protection and preservation.
It also aims to build a special database for registered archaeological sites and save and document works that are implemented therein, as well as archive documents and photos of the heritage sites in Saudi Arabia.
The commission commended the efforts of citizens, whom it considers key partners in preserving the Kingdom’s heritage, and called on the public to report any discovered archeological sites through the Balagh platform.
The commission is tasked with this responsibility under the second paragraph of Article 8 of the Law of Antiquities, Museums and Urban Heritage.
Under the Ministry of Culture, the commission has established a nationwide conservation strategy covering four categories: antiquities, urban heritage, handicrafts and intangible cultural heritage.
Under the patronage of UNESCO and the World Heritage Center, the International Council on Monuments and Sites has marked April 18 each year as Heritage Day, which is celebrated globally, including in Saudi Arabia.
HRDF redesigns support programs to keep pace with labor-market changes
Updated 04 December 2022
RIYADH: The Human Resources Development Fund announced on Sunday that it has redesigned its support programs under its three main pillars of guidance, training and empowerment.
The HRDF’s eight programs are now training support, work-based training, e-training, vocational guidance, functional alignment, income support, empowerment, and jobseekers assistance.
The revamp is part of the HRDF’s new strategy, which is based on three key objectives: supporting the development of human resources in line with the needs of the labor market, increasing the efficiency of matching supply and demand for jobs, and enabling groups facing challenges to enter, or remain in, the labor market.
In an earlier statement, the HRDF explained that the new strategy will strengthen and develop its relationship with the private sector as a “key pillar to promoting development and achieving sustainability through cooperation in various areas that serve the labor market and contribute to its growth and prosperity.”
The statement continued: “We have been eager to develop our strategy, programs, and services to maintain continuous communication with business sector members.”
According to data from the National Labor Observatory, the HRDF supported the employment of 277,000 Saudis in private sector facilities during the first nine months of 2022 at a cost of SR3.75 billion ($997.4 million).
Oqab Al-Thaqafi, an HR expert, noted that localization is one of the primary goals of Saudi Vision 2030.
“We have a large number of young Saudis who want to be a part of the transformation led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” Al-Thaqafi noted. “Human resources are both a critical asset and a critical challenge in Saudi Arabia. The market (for Saudi talent) is quite competitive, which has resulted in an increased turnover in several areas in which Saudis have already reached the required level.
“Many jobs demand competitive talents rather than a specialized degree. These skills can be discovered after we have adequate programs in place,” he said.
Fuad Fallatah, a former recruiting adviser at “national labor gateway” TAQAT, said, “Human resources officers and executive directors must sustain staff” to avoid job burnout.
“It is critical for businesses to organize workshops for their employees and provide incentives to measure the impact of workshops on the quality of staff performance,” he said, noting that one option for developing staff performance was to rotate them carefully so that each employee had appropriate knowledge and skills in more than one section.
Fallatah believes that current employees should not rely on specific skills but should “constantly develop skills and take advantage of colleagues’ experiences, in addition to developing skills of their own and this should be reflected in the enterprise’s growth.”
Fallatah encouraged job seekers to research the requirements of the labor market and consider how they can increase their professional value through learning and personal development.