RIYADH: As heads of state gathered to discuss global health architecture, sustainable energy transition, and digital transformation at the 17th Group of 20 Summit in Bali, Saudi youth (Y20) delegates were proposing actionable policies related to the topics on behalf of future generations.
Under the title “Recover Together, Recover Stronger,” Y20 attendees addressed some of the challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic with a focus on the four issues of maintaining a sustainable and liveable planet, youth employment, digitization, and diversity and inclusion.
With more than two-thirds of the Kingdom’s population under the age of 35, the Y20 grouping plays a crucial role in placing local community concerns on a global platform.
Saudi sustainable and liveable planet delegate, Raghad Fathaddin, told Arab News: “It’s such a strategic and good place to be in. It’s investable. The only way forward, and to achieve the sustainable development goals based out of Vision 2030, is to have the youth part of the conversation. We are the conversation.”
Saudi Arabia has been making great strides in the environmental sustainability sector, becoming a catalyst in bolstering economic growth and reform with key strategies such as the Saudi and Middle East green initiatives, and its recently announced target of reaching net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2060.
Fathaddin said: “The challenges we’re facing today require a fresh perspective, energy, fast action, and agility, and we’re very lucky that the majority of the population is youth.”
As well as being an entrepreneur and leader in the sustainability industry, Fathaddin is the founder and chief executive officer of the Sangha Estidama Hub platform and an internationally certified holistic health and well-being coach.
She is an advocate for Saudi youth, future leaders, and creating a sustainable and liveable global environment through actionable policies.
Representing the other three tracks at the Y20 were Yusr Al-Otaibi for diversity and inclusion, Abdulmajid Alrefaie for digital infrastructure, and Saeed Bazroon for youth employment.
Digital well-being was a major discussion point during digital infrastructure talks. It was one of the initiatives highlighted by Saudi Arabia at a summit on the subject hosted by the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, in Dhahran, earlier this year, and the Kingdom is expected to become the fastest-growing digital health market in the Gulf Cooperation Council region.
The cohort proposed an inclusive, cross-jurisdictional strategy on a digital-by-design government to become more proactive and technology-based.
The communique also highlighted the importance of fair and sustainable employment for youth, homing in on expanding digital access to academic resources, ensuring robust policies against work discrimination, and affirming internet access as a fundamental right for all workers.
A leader in the education sector, Al-Otaibi is vice president of AlYusr Holding, a Saudi investor in international education to more than 6,000 students in the west of the Kingdom. As a member of the Young Arab Leaders organization, she is committed to youth empowerment and placing the country on a global stage by pursuing her aim to overcome existing and emerging inequalities.
She told Arab News: “I think being a global citizen is very important. Being aware of who you are, your identity, where you sit in the world, and how you play a role around it, even if it’s within your household, between your school friends, or in your community — it doesn’t matter as long as the younger person is taking the lead within themselves.”
The youth forum is a considerable platform to provide a voice to younger generations globally, shaping the policies around their future, present, and respective communities.
Al-Otaibi noted that the Kingdom being among the top 20 leading economies in the world, provided young Saudis with a powerful voice.
She said: “Youth are important not only because they are the people who are going to be there in the future, but also because we tend to be resilient, adapt easier, and learn faster.
“All of these factors make us capable of making change when it’s needed and to make our communities better and solve the problems that we’re facing around the world today.”
After gaining a degree in international politics and law, in London, Al-Otaibi decided to get involved in policymaking as a young changemaker.
The term youth has been defined in many ways throughout history, but with social sciences and development studies, the youth today are categorized roughly as individuals in their teens and up to late 30s.
The Y20 Saudi delegates were selected through the Misk Foundation’s ignited voices program, a nine-week intensive training course in mastering key leadership skills, policy development, and negotiation in preparation to becoming global representatives and ambassadors.
The program focuses on equipping mid-career youth with global exposure, empowerment, international networking, and cultural advocacy.
“We’re very thankful and grateful to the Misk Foundation (established by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman) for the work it does to empower youth generally around the Kingdom, not only in international representation,” Al-Otaibi added.
The Indonesia Y20 communique proposed various diversity policies, including insightful propositions within the education sector to decolonize and contextualize curricula, increase global cooperation, promote leadership and civic engagement, and create greater awareness around mental health and well-being.
While Vision 2030 has made it a core initiative to provide working opportunities for both men and women, Al-Otaibi pointed out that diversity went beyond gender.
She said: “Diversity also means embracing the differences of other people. And sort of knowing your identity and believing in your identity and being clear and aware of who you are and where you stand in the world while accepting and embracing everyone around you.”
The proposed communique has now been forwarded to the leaders of the G20 Summit, acting as a call to action to address modern issues faced by younger communities globally.
“Our role now is to advocate for these in our societies, in our communities, and push them forward to the G20. So hopefully, the leaders will take charge of them as well,” Al-Otaibi added.
Fathaddin said: “The whole population should be represented and have a voice, not only to influence policy, but it’s also a great way for the government to know what people are thinking and what their needs are so, if there’s a gap in their knowledge, we know and can educate that. So, it’s just an open communication at times.”
She noted that while contributing to a global platform allowed representatives to champion the future of youth economies, creating tangible change often required grassroots efforts to sustain itself, which was where members of the public came in.
“How can you achieve the common objectives or policies that we’ve put into place? For a sustainable and liveable planet, how can we live on a healthier planet by being healthier beings?
“By doing things better — the way we consume, the way we produce, think, interact, everything. It’s a different mindset that we’re calling for.
“Creating change isn’t a burden. Creating change is fun; it’s you being an artist and expressing yourself. If we just enjoy living more, the outcome of our manifestation would be so much better.
“The issue is internal: It’s investing in emotional intelligence, well-being, mental health, healing, and education. We need to revolutionize it,” Fathaddin added.
MAKKAH: What better way for tourists to experience the true, authentic culture of the country they are visiting than by spending time with locals, ideally in their homes, and joining in their traditional, day-to-day activities.
Hihome, an online platform established in 2019, aims to make this possible for visitors to Saudi Arabia, by bridging the gap between tourists and locals. In addition to providing accommodation, hosts can also offer traditional activities for guests so that they learn about and experience local culture and heritage firsthand.
These might include the brewing of traditional Saudi coffee, preparation of one of the host’s special family recipes, handicraft lessons, picking fruit on a farm, or simply spending time together listening to a host’s stories of life in the Kingdom.
Noura Al-Saadoun, the founder and general manager of Hihome, told Arab News that the philosophy behind the service is based on the principle of investing in the Saudi people and their homes, because they offer a great point of entry for visitors to learn about the culture of the country, and the wider region, and to engage with its people.
She said the idea for it came to her after visiting several foreign countries that have similar platforms and finding that the experiences they offer make a good impression on travelers. So when the Kingdom announced in 2019 that was offering tourist visas for the first time, Al-Saadoun realized it was the perfect opportunity to launch a service that could introduce visitors to the beauty and diversity of the Kingdom by providing them with an authentic Saudi experience in the home of a local family.
She said that there are currently more than 500 guests and hosts registered on the platform, and more than 80 registered experiences that have generated “wonderful feedback” from guests.
“What confirms this is the messages they send to us, which contain their photos and opinions about the experience, and we are proud to publish this feedback on our website to show how happy we are to host them in one of our Hihome experiences,” Al-Saadoun said.
In his review, Stefaniic, a tourist from Germany, said: “I thought I have been around the world, and I have been everywhere, but I have not been to Saudi Arabia. This is the first family home I visit in this country, and I tell you what … I love it. People are so friendly, so nice. They are so generous. You must come here.”
Another Hihome user, Mia from China, described her experience as “memorable days that cannot be forgotten.” She added that it was very interesting to visit a home in Riyadh, see all its decorations, designs and open spaces, and talk to the friendly people there.
“The most beautiful thing is that communications between guests and hosts do not end with the experience … rather, friendships are formed between them, through which exchange of knowledge about different cultures takes place between the two parties,” she added.
The registration process is simple, Al-Saadoun said; hosts simply create a listing on the Hihome website that includes a description and photos of the experience and the space, and the price.
The site’s team reviews all listings and suggests any amendments that might be required, and then it goes live. The site also offers hosts support and advice to help them develop and market their experiences.
“We have been honored to host people from several nations, such as Germany, Japan, America, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, India, Egypt, South Africa, Australia, Canada, Ukraine, Scotland, Singapore and Brazil, among others,” Al-Saadoun said.
MANILA: The Philippines has lauded Saudi Arabia’s commitment to compensate some 10,000 unpaid Filipino migrant workers, which was announced after a meeting between President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
More than 700,000 Filipinos live in Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom is the most popular destination for overseas Filipino workers, followed by the UAE and Kuwait.
Marcos and the crown prince met for the first time on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leader’s meeting in Thailand on Friday, during which the Kingdom announced that it has set aside SR2 billion ($532 million) to pay the overdue salaries of thousands of Filipinos working overseas.
“That’s really good news. And the crown prince really prepared it. He said that decision was made only a few days ago because we were going (to meet) and he said this was his gift,” Marcos said after the meeting.
His talks with the crown prince had focused on investment and the welfare of Filipino migrant workers in the Kingdom, the president added.
Around 10,000 Filipinos were working for various Saudi companies that declared bankruptcy in 2015 and 2016, leaving their workers unpaid. The Saudi pledge comes after the Philippines earlier this month resumed deployment of overseas Filipino workers, including house helpers and construction workers, to the Kingdom.
Venecio Legaspi, an assistant secretary at the Philippine Department of Migrant Workers, told Arab News on Saturday that the Philippine government was “happy with the announcement.”
“We can see that the relationship between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia is really getting better now,” Legaspi said. “This is very good news.”
Legaspi, who had worked in Jeddah for 29 years, said officials from the two countries will now work on fine-tuning the technical details.
“So, it will not be immediately available. There is still a process … but coming from the president and the crown prince himself. I’ve been in Saudi for almost 30 years — when the Arabs speak, they stand by their word, especially coming from the crown prince,” Legaspi said.
Filipino lawmaker Marissa Magsino, from the One Filipino Worldwide group established for the benefit of overseas Filipino workers, also hailed the latest development.
“We are happy because our workers will finally receive their salaries which they worked hard for,” she told Arab News. “It will be a beautiful Christmas gift for (them).”
About 80 percent of the Philippines’ 111 million population are Catholic.
Filipino migrant workers who were affected when the Saudi companies in question went bankrupt also lauded the Kingdom’s gesture on Saturday.
“It will be a big help for me,” 64-year-old Homer Manalili told Arab News. “Because of my age, I can no longer (find) work.”
Edwin Caling, a 59-year-old electrical engineer, said he will use the money for his children’s education.
“It’s really an indescribable joy, because it’s been so long — for almost seven years — that we’ve been hoping to receive that news,” Caling said. “It will really be a merry Christmas and happy new year for us.”
Zuhair Al-Zouman has been a member of the Public Prosecution since 1996 and is currently at appellant ranking.
He worked in the investigation departments and oversight of prisons and detention centers, and since 2003 worked at the research and studies center.
He has also been a member of the Human Rights Commission since 2016.
Al-Zouman gained a bachelor’s degree in law from King Saud University, Riyadh in 1995, and a diploma in criminal law from the Institute of Public Administration in 1997.
Since 2016 he has been president of the the Human Rights Commission’s standing committee on responses and vice president of the standing committee for reporting.
He represented the Public Prosecution at the meeting of heads of research and studies centers in public prosecutions in Arab countries at the Arab Center for Legal and Judicial Research of the League of Arab States.
Al-Zouman taught judicial systems — the system of criminal procedures, the system of legal pleadings, the legal system — in the training city of the Public Security in Riyadh for a full semester in 2009.
He trained officers in the Public Security Training City according to the Criminal Procedures Law 2010.
In 2013, he was a member of the Kingdom’s delegation in Geneva to present a comprehensive report on human rights.
He was also a member of the Kingdom’s delegation in Vienna in 2014 to participate in the 7th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
RIYADH: Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed Al-Khuraiji recently met Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto in Bahrain. The meeting was held on the sidelines of the Manama Dialogue.
The two sides reviewed bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and Finland and discussed the latest international developments.
The Saudi minister also held talks with Tobias Lindner, minister of state at the German Foreign Office. The two also reviewed bilateral relations and ways to develop them across all fields.
RIYADH: Saudi authorities arrested 16,340 people in one week for breaching residency, work and border security regulations, according to an official report.
From Nov. 10 to 16, a total of 9,526 people were arrested for violations of residency rules, while 4,335 were held over illegal border crossing attempts, and a further 2,479 for labor-related issues.
The report showed that among the 520 people arrested for trying to enter the Kingdom illegally, 36 percent were Yemeni, 62 percent Ethiopian, and 2 percent were of other nationalities.
A further 24 people were caught trying to cross into neighboring countries, and 15 were held for involvement in transporting and harboring violators.
The Saudi Ministry of Interior said that anyone found to be aiding illegal entry to the Kingdom, including transporting and providing shelter, could face imprisonment for a maximum of 15 years, a fine of up to SR1 million ($260,000), or confiscation of vehicles and property.
Suspected violations can be reported on the toll-free number 911 in the Makkah and Riyadh regions, and 999 or 996 in other regions of the Kingdom.