Saudi Arabia, China seal 15 deals

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SUCCESSFUL VISIT: Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli clap after Saudi delegation members signed several important memorandums of understanding with Chinese officials in Beijing on Tuesday. (SPA)
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Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (center left) and China’s Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Gaoli (center right) witness the signing of memorandums of understanding between the two countries on Tuesday in Beijing. (SPA)
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Saudi and Chinese delegations led by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (second left) and Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli (right) meet in Beijing on Tuesday. (SPA)
Updated 31 August 2016

Saudi Arabia, China seal 15 deals

BEIJING: Saudi Arabia and China signed 15 preliminary agreements on Tuesday in sectors from energy to housing on a trip headed by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman aimed at bolstering relations with a top energy customer and trade partner.
The visit is part of a broad reform drive to cut the kingdom’s reliance on oil exports and showcase Saudi Arabia as a dynamic international nation with diverse promising opportunities for global investors.
Prince Mohammed met China’s Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli on Tuesday, state news agency SPA reported.
“During the meeting, the strategic relationships and future opportunities to enhance the existing partnership between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and China were reviewed,” SPA said.
Fifteen memorandums of understanding (MoU) were later signed between the two nations in different fields including oil storage, water resources, cooperation on science and technology, and cultural cooperation, SPA said.
In April, Prince Mohammed launched radical economic reforms designed to develop non-oil industries in Saudi Arabia and attract billions of dollars of foreign investment. Chinese and Japanese banks and companies are expected to play major roles.
Prince Mohammed arrived in China on Monday on the second leg of a three-day Asia tour that started in Islamabad, Pakistan. He will then visit Japan from Aug. 31 to Sept. 3, meeting Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
From Japan, the prince will return to China to chair Saudi Arabia’s delegation to the Sept. 4-5 summit of leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies in the eastern city of Hangzhou.
Prince Mohammed is expected to present to the G20 his economic reform plan, which envisages state spending of around 270 billion riyals ($72 billion) in the next five years on projects to diversify the economy.
Saudi officials will also discuss energy cooperation agreements with Japan, the Saudi cabinet said last week.
Under Prince Mohammed’s economic reforms, Riyadh plans to sell a stake of less than 5 percent in national oil giant Saudi Aramco that could be worth tens of billions of dollars, and Chinese and Japanese money could prove crucial in smoothing the sale.
(Additional input from agencies)

Study says work-life balance disturbed by remote working culture

Updated 31 min 15 sec ago

Study says work-life balance disturbed by remote working culture

RIYADH: In the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, governments around the world introduced strict measures to curb its spread.

Due to the unavailability of a vaccine against the virus, social distancing is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

And with stringent coronavirus measures, companies have made arrangements for employees to work from home. As there is no clarity about an end to this viral outbreak, debate on work-life balance has been ignited.

A new study titled “How COVID-19 changed the way people work” — conducted by global cybersecurity company Kaspersky — reveals how quarantine has influenced how people work from home.

The “new normal” that workers are now facing is starting to have an impact on their work-life balance.

Nearly a third (31 percent) of workers said they are spending more time working than they did before. However, 46 percent said they have increased the amount of time they spend on personal activities.

This increased time on “personal activities” may be attributed to the fact that many people do not have to spend time commuting.

The study added that it has become harder for workers to separate working and personal activity, especially when it comes to IT.

It further stated that 55 percent of workers are now reading more news compared with life before the pandemic.

Workers are also developing a habit of using personal services for work, increasing digital risks, including the disclosure of sensitive information. 

Some 42 percent of employees use personal email accounts for work-related matters, and 49 percent admit their usage has increased when working from home. 

“Organizations cannot just fulfill all user requests, such as allowing staff to use any services. It is necessary to find a balance between user convenience, business necessity and security. To achieve this, a company should provide access to services based on the principle of only supplying minimal and necessary privileges, implement a VPN and use secure and approved corporate systems,” said Andrey Evdokimov, chief information security officer at Kaspersky.

He added: “These types of software may have certain restrictions that slightly reduce usability, but offer greater assurances in providing security measures.”

Dr. Waquar Ahmad Khan, an assistant professor at Taibah University, Madinah told Arab News: “The COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent work-from-home imperatives and lockdowns have led to significant changes in the workings and lifestyles.”

He highlighted that working from home has both positive and negative aspects. 

“Being an academic I can say that teaching is an occupation with low suitability to work from home. To teach remotely without socializing can compromise both teachers and students’ academic performance and mental health,” he said.

There are other issues from the new working culture. Support from colleagues is now harder to find, at least face-to-face, he said, adding that anxieties about the public health issues itself are high.

Dr. Majed Al-Hedayan, a legal expert, told Arab News that the pandemic has led to a restructuring of the concept of job commitments.

“It has become an ambitious and optimistic view contrary to what it was before the pandemic that the performance of workers was below the level of ambition,” he added.

“This motivates public and private entities to adopt a methodology for remote working in the coming period after the pandemic,” said Al-Hedayan.