Filipino group fears mass retrenchment of OFWs

Updated 26 January 2016

Filipino group fears mass retrenchment of OFWs

RIYADH: A Filipino group has warned of mass retrenchment of overseas foreign workers (OFWs) in the Middle East and urged the Philippines government to take necessary measures to help these people upon their return to the country.
The warning, by Migrante-Middle East (M-ME), the Filipino group for migrants’ support, comes on the heels of the pink slip given to around 30 OFWs by a Saudi construction firm they had recently joined.
“We have been observing the current economic scenario and a sharp drop in oil prices in Saudi Arabia, which hosts more than a million of OFWs,” M-ME regional coordinator John Monterona told Arab News.
Monterona said the Saudi Arabian government has already undertaken economic reforms such as budget cuts and austerity measures. It has even increased the local oil prices by around 50 percent and is seriously considering imposing Value Added Tax (VAT) by the end of 2016, he said.
“Government projects, including infrastructure and the development of various economic cities, have also been affected. Some of these projects have been delayed and some have been temporarily stopped. Hence, many OFWs and expats from other countries working for private construction firms have received termination notices,” Monterona said.
According to him, at least 30 OFWs who were recently appointed by a construction firm were retrenched. “All are still under a three-month probationary period,” he said.
Monterona said: “The Philippines government should adopt short-term and long-term measures to assist the retrenched OFWs. Livelihood assistance loans and similar assistance packages must be made available to these workers, besides jobs,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Riyadh-based Filipino Expatriates Council for Justice, Peace and Order has expressed confidence that Saudi Arabia will handle pressing issues in a responsible manner. “We have full faith in the Kingdom’s peace initiatives, judicial proceedings and rulings, and protection of the country and its people,” it said.

Saudi Arabia's Princess Nourah University opens admissions for animation, photography degrees

Updated 12 August 2020

Saudi Arabia's Princess Nourah University opens admissions for animation, photography degrees

RIYADH: The College of Arts and Design at Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University (PNU) announced the introduction of two new programs in animation and photography in the new academic year on Sunday.

The decision was made in response to the needs of the Saudi labor market and falls in line with the goals of the Vision 2030 initiative. Animation and photography join fashion and textile design, sculpture, printmaking, and graphic design and digital media as arts degrees offered by PNU.

Dr. Maha Khayyat, dean of the College of Design and Art, spoke about the programs and said that they were curated with the graduates’ working futures in mind.

“The College of Designs and Arts is keen to integrate its various specializations and the participation of the students enrolled in them in joint projects to work together, and training them to join the labor market,” said Khayyat.

The animation program will include courses on designing cartoon characters and the basics of writing films and sound. It will give graduates the skills to create animated films and to integrate into the industry on a local, regional, or even global scale. Khayyat said that the students’ work could help to highlight Saudi culture and enhance national identity.

The photography program provided students with skills in both still and moving photography. Graduates will be well-equipped to handle any type of professional photography, from product shoots and fashion shows to photojournalism.

The news was welcomed by professionals in both fields. The animation industry in Saudi Arabia has been enjoying unprecedented success this year. The hugely popular YouTube animated series Masameer, from the Saudi Myrkott studio, was adapted into a full-length feature film and played in cinemas across the Kingdom in January. Saudi animation studio Manga Productions debuted the country’s first anime series in the same month entitled “Future’s Folktales”, in collaboration with Japan’s legendary TOEI Animation studios.

Farah Arif, a senior animator at Manga Productions who studied computer science, told Arab News that it was about time studying animation became a viable option for Saudi creatives.

“I wish the opportunity had been made available to me. There’s a huge market for animators in Saudi Arabia, especially with the film industry gaining popularity. Saudi creatives finally have a chance to make a living off their art, and to pursue the study of it in their home countries. It’s a huge step forward,” she said.

She also recommends that anyone thinking of pursuing a career in the arts to do so, given the current environment and level of support from the government.

“Most of us in the industry have been successful without the relevant degrees. Imagine what you could do if you actually had one. The opportunity is there, so you can’t use the lack of a degree course as an excuse anymore. If you have the passion and the drive, go for it.”