Future-proofing Saudi Arabia’s workforce

Men walk at the campus of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal. (File/AFP)
Men walk at the campus of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 17 March 2024
Follow

Future-proofing Saudi Arabia’s workforce

Men walk at the campus of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal. (File/AFP)
  • Deals to establish foreign university campuses in the Kingdom will help prepare Saudi workers for the modern labor market 

DUBAI: Saudi students will soon have greater access to top-quality higher education following a series of agreements allowing international academic institutions to open branches in the Kingdom.

Agreements were signed with Australia’s University of Wollongong, and American schools Arizona State University and Cintana Education to establish new campuses in the Kingdom, making their world-class programs available to Saudi students.

The deals were announced during the Human Capability Initiative conference held in Riyadh on Feb. 28-29.

According to a 2023 report by the Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd University, the Kingdom’s traditional education system is failing to prepare the workforce for the demands of the modern labor market, resulting in “a wide skill gap.”

By establishing these campuses, the Saudi government hopes to create a workforce aligned with Vision 2030, which sets out to diversify the Kingdom’s economy, wean it off a reliance on hydrocarbons, and develop high-skill industries.

It is also hoped that by attracting foreign universities and fostering more local talent, the Kingdom can realize its goal of becoming a regional education hub and a leader in scientific research.

During the Human Capability Initiative, the Kingdom also launched “Study in Saudi Arabia,” a new visa initiative aimed at attracting foreign students. 

The visa is designed to make it easier for international students to study in the Kingdom, thereby creating a global learning hub for more than 132,000 foreign students, academics, researchers and professors. 

By promoting this exchange of talent through collaboration with the world’s leading universities, the Kingdom aims to enhance knowledge creation, and foster cross-cultural dialogue between Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world.

Also during the conference, the Saudi Ministry of Education announced it will contribute to revolutionizing education in lower-income countries by officially joining the Global Partnership for Education with a substantial $38 million contribution to equip younger generations with the necessary skills for jobs of the future. 

Groundbreaking education partnerships were also struck between Saudi Arabia and some of the world’s biggest sector leaders, including Porsche, Hyundai, LinkedIn, and IE University, leveraging the power of international collaboration to accelerate human capability development. 

The Saudi ministries of education and investment entered into the new strategic partnership with Arizona State University and Cintana Education after signing a memorandum of understanding at the Human Capability Initiative conference. 

The collaboration aims to establish a new university and an affiliated school in Riyadh, offering internationally recognized education standards, fostering research, and introducing innovative programs.

A date has not yet been set for the opening of these new institutes, which will feature specializations in fields such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics, economics, and include the training of educational staff.

Australia’s University of Wollongong was issued with its license at the end of February by the Saudi ministries of education and investment as a step toward establishing a local branch in collaboration with Saudi Arabia’s Digital Knowledge Company.

“This is the first investment license awarded to a foreign university and is a requisite first step to permit foreign companies to legally operate and conduct business activities in Saudi Arabia,” the Australian university said in a statement.

The university stands out for its academic excellence, being ranked in the top 1 percent of universities globally, according to the 2024 QS World Index, making it as a significant addition to Saudi Arabia’s educational sector.

The University of Wollongong in Saudi Arabia, or UOWS, will be the second branch of UOW in the Arab Gulf states after the University of Wollongong in Dubai was established in 1993. 

Several Arab Gulf states have established partnerships with leading international institutions.

In the UAE, New York University established NYU Abu Dhabi in 2010, while the Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi established a campus in 2006, bringing the French institution to the Gulf. 

In Qatar, Carnegie Mellon University, a private research facility in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, opened a branch in 2004 and began graduating students in 2008.

The Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts has also been operating in Qatar since 1998, becoming a popular art school, with students from Qatar, the wider Middle East, and abroad. 

The opening of foreign universities in Saudi Arabia follows a bylaw passed in 2019 that established the Universities Affairs Council, replacing the Higher Educational Council, which allowed foreign universities to establish branches in the Kingdom.

“It will raise the standards of local universities,” Tagreed Al-Saraj, an education and entrepreneurship consultant, told Arab News after the decree was passed. “There will be much more competition, which is needed.”

The move was also welcomed by students. “It’s a positive and progressive step, and it will give a chance to those who can’t study abroad to study at such universities at home,” Abdan Alabdan, a Saudi student who was on a government scholarship program at York University in Canada, told Arab News.

Yousef Al-Benyan, who became Saudi Arabia’s minister of education in September 2022, is responsible for approving plans to establish branches of foreign universities in the Kingdom.




Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Education Yousef Al-Benyan. (Supplied)

In early February, Al-Benyan and his accompanying delegation met with senior officials and key investors in Chicago and Washington, where they visited several educational institutions and universities to discuss opportunities to invest in education in the Kingdom.

His visit reflected the Kingdom’s plans to enhance and develop scientific, education and research cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the US, particularly in early years education, and for students with special needs and people with disabilities.

Another goal of the visit was to attract foreign direct investment in public and graduate education in the Kingdom by providing opportunities and facilities to investors.

During the visit, Al-Benyan said students reflect the human, cultural and social values of Saudi society.

Besides attracting foreign universities to invest in the Kingdom, the Ministry of Education is also keen to promote innovation through international cooperation on the development and adoption of ed-tech.

Speaking at the Global Cybersecurity Forum in Riyadh in November, Al-Benyan said teachers must be equipped with the digital skills to educate current and future generations, including a strong understanding of artificial intelligence technology and its applications.

Thanks to Saudi Arabia’s new partnerships with US and Australian universities, the Kingdom is on track to build its own world-class institutes, train experienced staff, and foster generations of high-skill workers for the industries of the future.


Madinah branches out with tree transplant program

Madinah branches out with tree transplant program
Updated 23 June 2024
Follow

Madinah branches out with tree transplant program

Madinah branches out with tree transplant program
  • Relocation of trees to expand green spaces, expedite lengthy process of growth and restoration

JEDDAH: Perennial plants, with their remarkable ability to endure harsh conditions such as droughts, climatic variations, and human activities, play a crucial role in our ecosystem, providing sustenance for people and animals, and contributing to the overall well-being of the environment.

Recognizing the importance of these invaluable assets, the National Center for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification has embarked on a program to relocate and care for perennial trees in the Madinah region.

In a four-month operation, some trees were moved to Al-Bayda Al-Bari Park as part of the Kingdom’s efforts toward environmental sustainability and vegetation development. (Supplied)

In a four-month operation, the center moved some trees to Al-Bayda Al-Bari Park as part of the Kingdom’s aims regarding environmental sustainability and vegetation development.

Khalid bin Saadullah Al-Saidi, representative of the general administration of grazing and the general administration of protection, supervision, and inspection of NCVC in the Madinah region, told Arab News: “The goal is to preserve the vegetation and relocate these perennial plants to maintain and care for them, achieving the desired objectives through collaboration and initiatives with environmental advocates across the Kingdom.”

HIGHLIGHT

The National Center for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification has embarked on a program to relocate and care for perennial trees in the Madinah region.

The relocation process involves a thorough selection of trees, based on their type, size, condition, age, and benefits.

Specialists from the center use modern methods to relocate the trees, minimizing damage and ensuring survival.

The criteria used in selecting the trees depend on the type of tree, whether it is wild or cultivated, its size, condition, age, and the extent of its benefit. (Supplied)

The process involves preparing the new site, digging, and manufacturing wooden molds to hold the trees, as well as providing carriers, equipment, and special transport tractors.

Perennials, such as Acacia ehrenbergiana, the Latin thorn tree (Acacia tortilis) and the Maerua crassifolia, that obstruct projects and development lines also will be relocated.

The process of relocating trees involves preparing the new site, digging, and manufacturing wooden molds to hold the trees, as well as providing carriers, equipment, and special transport tractors. (Supplied)

“Acacia ehrenbergiana trees are important local trees in the Kingdom, characterized by their large size, numerous branches, and ability to withstand harsh climatic conditions,” Al-Saidi said.

The wild acacia tree can act as a windbreak, and also provides shade and shelter for birds, as well as sustenance for livestock. The trees can grow to a height of about nine meters, and bear yellow flowers, mostly blooming from mid-February to May. These attract grazing bees, which produce “Salim” honey.

The relocation process went smoothly, thanks to the presence of experts from the center, Al-Saidi said.

“We also acknowledge the cooperation of the Ministry of Transport branch in the region in transporting the trees on main roads, and the interest and cooperation of citizens in this initiative,” he added.

This endeavor makes a substantial contribution to conserving and enriching biodiversity in the Madinah region. Focusing on indigenous tree species, which are integral to the environment and resilient to various conditions, is essential for ensuring sustainability for both present and future generations. The relocation of these trees not only expands green spaces, but also expedites the lengthy process of growth and restoration.

Earlier, on the occasion of World Environment Day, Al-Saidi said: “It is always the duty of individuals to care for the environment and practice proper behaviors to ensure sustainability for the current and future generations.”

NCVC continues to work on such activities and initiatives throughout the year, aiming to safeguard mature and rare trees, ensuring their long-term sustainability, and enriching biodiversity and eco-tourism efforts.

The center’s efforts will lead to the preservation of a wide variety of trees across the Kingdom, promoting environmental sustainability and conservation.

 


Over 1.3m medical services rendered to pilgrims, says Saudi health minister

Successful execution of health management efforts was made possible through efforts of health system and Hajj security forces.
Successful execution of health management efforts was made possible through efforts of health system and Hajj security forces.
Updated 23 June 2024
Follow

Over 1.3m medical services rendered to pilgrims, says Saudi health minister

Successful execution of health management efforts was made possible through efforts of health system and Hajj security forces.
  • Health protocols effectively mitigated heat stress
  • Free health services to pilgrims commenced even before their arrival

RIYADH: Saudi Health Minister Fahd Al-Jalajel has announced the successful execution of health management efforts during Hajj 2024.

“This achievement was made possible through the coordinated efforts of the health system and the Hajj security forces, with no recorded outbreaks of epidemics or widespread diseases,” he said in an interview. “The health system provided more than 465,000 specialized treatment services, including 141,000 services to those who didn’t obtain official authorization to perform Hajj."
Al-Jalajel gave his reassurance about the overall health condition of the pilgrims, despite the high temperatures experienced at the holy sites.
He highlighted the positive impact of the health authorities’ swift responses, and the effective support of the Hajj security forces in managing and reducing the effects of heat stress.
The health system addressed numerous cases of heat stress this year, with some individuals still under care. Regrettably, the number of mortalities reached 1,301, with 83 percent being unauthorized to perform Hajj and having walked long distances under direct sunlight, without adequate shelter or comfort. Among the deceased were several elderly and chronically ill individuals.
The health minister underscored the significant efforts made by the competent authorities to raise awareness on the dangers of heat stress and the importance of preventive measures.
He extended his condolences, saying: “May God forgive and have mercy on the deceased. Our heartfelt condolences go to their families. May God accept their deeds and grant them recompense for their suffering. All reports have been compiled, families of the deceased notified, and identification completed, despite the initial lack of personal information or identification documents. Proper processes were followed for identification, burial, and honoring the deceased, with death certificates provided.”

The minister also detailed that the Kingdom’s provision of free health services to pilgrims commenced even before their arrival, with awareness programs at air, sea, and land border crossings. About 1.3 million preventive services were delivered, including early detection, vaccinations, and medical care upon arrival.

The healthcare services offered included open-heart surgeries, cardiac catheterization, dialysis, and emergency care, totaling over 30,000 ambulance services, with 95 air ambulance operations ensuring the delivery of advanced health services in medical cities across the Kingdom.
Additionally, the healthcare system made available nearly 6,500 beds and rooms. Measures to combat heat stress included the development of devices that enable the rapid and effective rescue of affected individuals.


King Abdulaziz Foundation organizes Saudi-Chinese relations seminar in Beijing

King Abdulaziz Foundation organizes Saudi-Chinese relations seminar in Beijing
Updated 23 June 2024
Follow

King Abdulaziz Foundation organizes Saudi-Chinese relations seminar in Beijing

King Abdulaziz Foundation organizes Saudi-Chinese relations seminar in Beijing
  • Seminar discussed maritime trade between two countries, role of Chinese libraries in caring for Arabic manuscripts

LONDON: The King Abdulaziz Foundation for Research and Archives, organized a scientific seminar on cultural and economic relations between Saudi Arabia and China from June 19-23 in Beijing, Saudi Press Agency reported.
The seminar was held as part of the Beijing International Book Fair, which featured the Kingdom as the guest of honor. It discussed a variety of topics, including maritime trade between the two countries and its cultural and economic implications, the role of Chinese libraries in caring for Arabic manuscripts and preserving Arab heritage, and Arab heritage in China.
Numerous agreements of cooperation in the fields of energy, trade, and investment have strengthened the two countries' strategic partnership. Both countries participated in initiatives aimed at boosting global trade, including joint projects to develop ports, railways, and industrial zones.
Cultural exchanges and academic programs have helped to improve understanding between the two peoples, and Saudi Vision 2030 has broadened the scope of economic cooperation with China in areas such as technology, renewable energy, and infrastructure development.
 


Saudi Arabia to host 56th International Chemistry Olympiad

Saudi Arabia to host 56th International Chemistry Olympiad
Updated 31 min 1 sec ago
Follow

Saudi Arabia to host 56th International Chemistry Olympiad

Saudi Arabia to host 56th International Chemistry Olympiad
  • Participation of more than 340 students expected 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is set to host the 56th International Chemistry Olympiad, with participation from more than 340 students and 400 university professors and chemistry teachers from 90 countries, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The prestigious event, which will run from July 21-30 at King Saud University, is organized by the Ministry of Education, and King Abdulaziz and his Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity, and boasts exclusive sponsorship from the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation.

The event is a global chemistry competition in which talented high-school students from around the world compete in the subject. It aims to inspire interest in the subject through the solving of complex and creative chemistry problems; promote international communication in the field; and foster friendships among young science enthusiasts from diverse nationalities.

It will mark the first time Saudi Arabia has hosted the event.

Secretary-General of Mawhiba Amal bint Abdullah Al-Hazzaa said Saudi Arabia’s hosting of the olympiad was testament to the Kingdom’s commitment to supporting talent, science, and innovation, in line with the goals of Vision 2030.

Al-Hazzaa added that Mawhiba had prepared for the event through several parallel tracks, including strengthening coordination with partners to ensure an exceptional hosting experience; preparing talented students for strong competition; and aiming to achieve new milestones for the nation.

Members of the International Steering Committee for the International Chemistry Olympiad praised the Kingdom’s comprehensive preparations during a recent visit to Riyadh.

Their visit included meeting the Saudi minister of education, who launched the awareness campaign for the event in January.

The Kingdom has collected 14 silver and 25 bronze medals at the event in the past, and the Saudi team secured four prestigious awards at the 2023 International Chemistry Olympiad in Switzerland.

 

 


MAWANI and REVIVA establish recycling and industrial waste complex at Jeddah Islamic Port

MAWANI signed on Sunday a SR30million contract with Reviva to establish a complex for recycling marine and industrial waste.
MAWANI signed on Sunday a SR30million contract with Reviva to establish a complex for recycling marine and industrial waste.
Updated 23 June 2024
Follow

MAWANI and REVIVA establish recycling and industrial waste complex at Jeddah Islamic Port

MAWANI signed on Sunday a SR30million contract with Reviva to establish a complex for recycling marine and industrial waste.
  • Contract is part of the efforts exerted by MAWANI to promote environmental sustainability and maintain the safety of the marine environment

RIYADH: The Saudi Ports Authority, MAWANI, signed on Sunday a SR30million ($8 million) contract with the Global Environmental Management Services Ltd., or Reviva, to establish a complex for recycling marine and industrial waste at Jeddah Islamic Port.

The president of MAWANI, Omar bin Talal Hariri, and the CEO of of the Saudi Investment Recycling Co., Ziad bin Mohammed Al-Shiha, signed the contract in the presence of a number of other officials.

According to the Saudi Press Agency, the contract is part of the efforts exerted by MAWANI to promote environmental sustainability, maintain the safety of the marine environment, and build a sustainable maritime sector that enhances the Kingdom’s position as a global logistics center and a hub connecting three continents.

The implementation of the contract comes in line with the National Transport and Logistics Strategy and the Green Port Initiative. The new complex will contribute to enhancing the transformation of waste into valuable resources while building a thriving circular economy in the Kingdom.

According to SPA, these objectives can be met by providing comprehensive waste management and recycling solutions, industrial maintenance and transportation services, and recycling by-products. As such, waste volume is significantly reduced while waste management and environmental conservation improves.

The strategic cooperation scales up the outcomes of efforts exerted to achieve waste management goals in the Kingdom in line with Saudi Vision 2030. It also increases the private sector’s contribution to supporting economic development and listing Jeddah Islamic Port under the Top 10 ports in the world.

MAWANI is keen to introduce pioneering initiatives directly related to the Saudi Green Initiative which aims to reduce emissions, address climate change, and enhance the partnership between the public and private sectors to expand the related scope of work and thus, improve the commercial attractiveness of the Kingdom’s ports in the eyes of the whole world.