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CAIRO: The Arab League has affirmed that the first Arab-Chinese summit, set to be hosted by Saudi Arabia in December, represents a milestone in the strategic partnership between Arab countries and China.
This commitment was delivered in the speech of the league’s assistant secretary-general, Khalil Al-Thawadi, during the opening of the third China-Arab Forum for Reform and Development, which was held through the digital platform with the Chinese side.
Al-Thawadi, who is also the head of the Arab affairs and national security sector and supervisor of the international political affairs sector at the league, valued the efforts made by Chinese diplomacy to support Arab concerns and find peaceful solutions to the existing crises in the region, stressing the league’s keenness to strengthen its wide-ranging relations with China.
He called for concerted international and regional efforts to find political solutions to these crises and regional issues in accordance with international legitimacy resolutions and relevant conventions and references, to enhance opportunities for a political solution, and to reject regional interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries.
Earlier this year, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Zhai Jun, ambassador and special envoy of the Chinese government in the Middle East, discussed various issues including cooperation between the Arab world and China.
Aboul Gheit said he valued China’s support to Arab countries in providing vaccines and support during the COVID-19 pandemic. This reflected the level of “friendship and cooperation” between the two sides.
The source said that Aboul Gheit thanked China for supporting the Arab League in international forums and in the Security Council, including on the Palestinian issue. He also praised China for its support of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, in light of the agency’s financial distress.
 
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a letter from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Saudi Press Agency reported early Monday.
The letter was handed over by India’s Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar during his meeting with the crown prince in Jeddah.
The meeting discussed enhancing bilateral relations and efforts toward regional and international issues.
Among those who attended the meeting were Saudi FM Prince Faisal bin Farhan as well as other Saudi and Indian officials.
MAKKAH: Saudi women have made significant contributions in the fields of economic and social development in the Kingdom, affirmed Dr. Abrar Abdulmannan Bar, head of the knowledge department at the Salam Project for Cultural Communication and expert in women’s empowerment.
This was achieved by providing women with the skills needed to assume leadership positions, she said.
Bar, who also works as a visiting junior assistant professor at Tokai University in Japan, said that “women’s empowerment is a global concern and an integral part of the development plans around the world.”
Studies show that empowering women in the member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development can boost these countries’ gross domestic product by a total of $6 trillion, Bar explained.
• Women’s economic participation increased from 19.3 percent in 2016 to 33.2 percent by the end of 2020, according to the General Authority for Statistics, while unemployment decreased from 34.5 percent in 2016 to 24.4 percent in 2020.
• Women’s participation in the labor market increased from 25.9 percent to 33.6 percent between 2020 and 2021, exceeding the targets set in Vision 2030.
• The average annual income of Saudi women reached SR111.6 billion ($29.6 billion).
In just five years following the announcement of the Kingdom’s Vision in 2016, over 293,000 women entered the labor market.
“We now see Saudi female ambassadors, deputy ministers and other motivational models for Saudi women,” she said.
Women’s economic participation increased from 19.3 percent in 2016 to 33.2 percent by the end of 2020, according to the General Authority for Statistics, while unemployment decreased from 34.5 percent in 2016 to 24.4 percent in 2020.
Women’s participation in the labor market increased from 25.9 percent to 33.6 percent between 2020 and 2021, exceeding the targets set in Vision 2030.
We now see Saudi female ambassadors, deputy ministers and other motivational models for Saudi women.
Dr. Abrar Abdulmannan Bar
Bar revealed that the average annual income of Saudi women reached SR111.6 billion ($29.6 billion).
The benefits of empowering women extend to the whole of society, Bar said. The more women are empowered, the more “they will be able to educate their children and elevate their families and communities in general.”
Work-life balance should also involve men, she said, and the domestic sphere should not be limited to women only.
“There should be a culture of ongoing support in order to achieve this balance and attain professional, managerial, personal and familial achievements. It’s normal to face some obstacles and challenges along the way,” Bar said.
There are many programs, including but not limited to the Women Leaders 2030 Mentoring and Leadership Training Initiative for Female Cadres, one of the initiatives launched by the Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, in collaboration with the long-established French business school, INSEAD.
The initiative aims to equip Saudi women with leadership skills that will give them a competitive edge both in the Saudi work environment and internationally.
Another program is the Young Leadership Qualification Program for Global Communication provided by the Salam Project for Cultural Communication, which promotes interreligious and intercultural dialogue.
Bar said that 50 percent of the participants were Saudi women, and over 250 Saudi male and female youths were trained in this program.
This was achieved in parallel with the launching of the Leadership Program, one of the initiatives of the Women’s Leadership Center at the Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University.
The program, carried out in collaboration with local and international experts, trains young Saudi women for leadership positions.
 
RIYADH: On Friday, Desert Sound Entertainment came back with yet another unique Techno Therapy lineup, headlined by Lebanese British record label founder, radio personality, DJ and producer Nicole Moudaber in Riyadh.
At the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, the event welcomed Saudi crowds into the venue well past midnight in anticipation of Moudaber, one of the biggest names in the electronic music industry.
Moudaber mesmerized audiences with deep house dance and electronic music, leaving the crowd chanting for an encore. Her performance was preceded by local DJs B-Hydra, Psykey, ANT, DishDash and Moses playing back-to-back with Don Edwardo.
“We’re actually playing with the best techno DJs in Riyadh alongside the legend Nicole Moudaber. It’s an honor, to be honest, to be in such a lineup as this,” DJ B-Hydra, Mohammed Bahaidrah, told Arab News.
The techno DJ and producer kicked off the evening in his second public performance with Desert Sound, playing back-to-back with fellow DJ Psykey.
• DJ B-Hydra, Mohammed Bahaidrah, through his podcast ‘The Quantum Singularity,’ spotlights various DJs, with a focus on local talent within the Kingdom.
• Desert Sound Entertainment’s initiative, following their premiere Mars Escape event in May, aims to create communities through art, culture and music by presenting once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Bahaidrah said he was pleasantly surprised by the turnout during the opening performance.
“People love something different, they love something unique. Techno has many sounds. For me, I see techno as more of a way of expressing yourself, and I think that’s why people love it. It’s different,” he said.
While the electronic music scene is only recently being showcased in Saudi Arabia through different platforms and events, the passion for it is anything but new.
Bahaidrah, through his podcast “The Quantum Singularity,” spotlights various DJs, with a focus on local talent within the Kingdom.
“Every DJ has a different kind of sound, in techno or any other genre,” he said. “That’s why the focus of the podcast is to introduce different talent coming up here in Saudi. The world needs to see that.”
Fellow DJ Psykey, also known as Hussam, started his music journey in 2006, venturing into psychedelic trance music before discovering the various subgenres that techno has to offer.
He adjusted his sound to find a unique medium, psy-chill, that caters to the taste of the Saudi public. “I found that the crowd here in Riyadh doesn’t like psy-trance. They’re into electronic, like techno or house or groove, some dark music, but not as dark as psy-trance. So, I created a new sound, mixing techno with psychedelic sounds,” he told Arab News.
Bolstered by various entertainment aspects, including live graffiti art, festival makeup stations and music publicity platforms, Techno Therapy aims to expose the Saudi public to local and international talents and create opportunities for cultural exchange.
“There are many hidden talents here, but what we’re seeing now is the door being opened for them, introducing them to the public,” Psykey continued.
“I’m sure there is more coming for the future of the techno scene,” he said.
Desert Sound Entertainment’s initiative, following their premiere Mars Escape event in May, aims to create communities through art, culture and music by presenting once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
Dedicated to shedding light on electronic music in Saudi, the company’s owner Ayman Al-Zurayer collaborated with the art hub Diriyah Biennale. He said that the community around it is what keeps people coming back.
“I’m actually looking forward to the future, and hopefully we become one of the strongest and biggest entertainment companies here in Saudi Arabia,” he told Arab News.
After experiencing the techno scene abroad, Al-Zurayer hoped to someday bring it back to his home country, Saudi Arabia. The organizer was an electrical engineer prior to leaving his job to pursue entertainment.
“Going through this journey, there are ups and downs that you face, and it might hurt sometimes. It actually makes you go harder, to learn from the people and the experiences. You build up and you keep going.
“Hopefully, one day, we’ll do something here in Saudi everyone will remember,” he said.
 
 
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed Al-Khuraiji offered his condolences on Sunday over the death of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II at the British embassy in Riyadh.
Attending on behalf of the Kingdom’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Al-Khuraiji wrote a message in a book of condolence.
He was received by the UK’s ambassador to the Kingdom Neil Crompton who announced on Sunday that anyone who would like to leave a message in the book of condolence could do so between Sep. 11-15 or on Sep. 18 between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. at his residence in Riyadh.
Another book of condolence was opened at the British consulate in Jeddah, and people can also leave a message in the embassy’s online book.
“A selection of messages will be passed onto members of the royal family, and may be held in the royal archives for posterity,” the ambassador said.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II passed away on Thursday and her coffin arrived in Edinburgh on Sunday after a six-hour journey from her summer home in the Scottish Highlands.
RIYADH: In her recent visit to Saudi Arabia, Philippine Secretary of Migrant Workers Susan Ople met with Saudi government officials to discuss developing bilateral relations between the two countries, working conditions for overseas Filipino workers, and to create awareness around common issues.
Sitting at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, the soon-to-be new Migrant Workers Office, Ople told Arab News that the purpose of her visit to the site is to oversee processes, learn more about the concerns of the workers, and of the inner mechanisms of the office.
During her visit, the secretary met with her counterpart at the Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, Ahmad Al-Rajhi.
“We had a very pleasant conversation. We are creating new pathways to further strengthen the long, historic friendship between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia,” Ople said.
The goal of establishing the new Migrant Workers Office is to equip OFWs with the right resources, information, protection, and opportunities while working in Saudi Arabia, creating a ‘home for every migrant worker in government,’ Philippine Secretary of Migrant Workers Susan Ople said.
Saudization, the policy of creating and prioritizing opportunities for Saudi workers, was established as a key goal for the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, and Ople expressed her respect and understanding for the policy.
“We also have our own employment strategies in the Philippines, so Saudization and making sure that your own nationals are gainfully employed is something we respect.
“It’s very important that we keep talking with our counterparts in the Saudi government, because it’s only in having these bilateral conversations that we can guide our people accordingly,” she said.
One of Ople’s key goals is to undergo systems reviews to ensure the safety of the workers under their employers, both in the Philippines and in administrations abroad.
“It’s a necessary step towards reforms. Because we are a department in transition, we need to look at the old and current processes, and just see how to strengthen, improve, or perhaps even do away with some of them,” she said.
The goal of establishing the new Migrant Workers Office is to equip OFWs with the right resources, information, protection, and opportunities while working in Saudi Arabia, creating a “home for every migrant worker in government,” she said.
Last year, Saudi Arabia’s expatriate population of 13.49 million included about 1.6 million OFWs.
One of the initiatives by the Labor Department is establishing a One Repatriation Command Center. The 24 hour hotline is dedicated to serving Filipino residents in Saudi Arabia with any issues that arise by dialling 1348.
“Any Filipinos, their families who wish to come home because they are ill, or because there are certain violations in the contract, or are victims of human trafficking … can call up our hotline,” Ople said.
The secretary is an advocate against human trafficking, even being awarded the Trafficking in Persons Hero Award from US Secretary of State John Kerry, and was appointed trustee of the UN Trust Fund for Human Trafficking victims.
“I am quite optimistic that there is room for a partnership. We can work with different countries here across the Middle East in promoting awareness about the need to fight human trafficking, especially involving migrant workers, because some of them are extremely vulnerable to severe exploitation and abuse,” she said.
As an advocate, Ople also highlighted the importance of fair and ethical recruitment policies that adhere to human rights labor laws and promote fair wages.
“The recruitment agencies, the country of destination, the employers; they should all adhere to a human rights-based approach to the recruitment and hiring of migrant workers, whether they be Filipinos or whatever nationality,” she said.
Ople made a visit to Bahay Kalinga shelter in Riyadh, a safehouse for runaway maids, to check in on the situations of distressed OFWs and to provide a platform to express their issues.
Those talks found their way to Ople’s conversation with Al-Rajhi, who promised to look into the cases.
“It was an emotional visit … they were able to tell me about their journey as migrant workers here in Saudi Arabia. Some were not able to complete their contracts. Some complained about the treatment that they got. Others were just wishing to go home.
“I think it’s the role of our department to just look at how these problems can be solved and addressed and perhaps prevented, so that less and less of these women need to go home with so many invisible scars,” she said.
Aside from domestic abuse, some of the biggest issues OFWs face is cultural adaptation, proper education about their rights, and access to the justice system.
Ople hopes to establish clear legislation that ensures transparent terms and conditions of work, on-time salary payments, communication opportunities with family, proper rest time, and physical and mental health support for workers.
The agreement of domestic workers, ratified in 2014 by Saudi and Filipino parties, is a significant milestone in the field of labor cooperation and in the protection of the rights of Filipino workers.
“It is very important that we keep reviewing and even improving upon the bilateral labor agreement that we had with Saudi Arabia, and which is why we are here for the talks, and also why we appreciate the hospitality being shown by our Saudi counterparts,” she said.
Ople will join officials once again in December for a joint committee meeting, returning to Riyadh to have those formal talks.
 

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