Women to constitute 28% of Saudi Arabia’s work force by 2020

Arab News
Tue, 2017-03-14

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Labor and Social Development said that its work from home program is set to create about 141,000 jobs by 2020 and added that it expects that the percentage of women in the Saudi workforce will increase to 28 percent by the same year.
The ministry’s program is part of the National Transformation Program 2020 and one of the main methods geared toward providing adequate job opportunities for citizens, especially women and those with disabilities and job seekers in fields with less opportunities.
The ministry said in a statement that the main aim of the program is to reduce the unemployment rate among women, the percentage of which is higher than the unemployment rate among men due to several social obstructions, including the difficulties women face in commuting and familial responsibilities at home.
The program is expected to contribute to the creation of jobs outside the three main cities of the country and is also expected to increase the participation of women in the local labor market as it will provide flexible working hours and spare them from having to commute to work.
The ministry’s initiatives come within the first phase of the National Transformation Program 2020 that is being implemented in partnership with the Council of Economic Affairs and Development and 18 other government entities.

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Emperor of Japan receives King Salman

Arab News
Tue, 2017-03-14

TOKYO: Emperor Akihito of Japan conferred on King Salman a Daisy High Medal during a reception at the emperor’s palace in Tokyo on Tuesday.
The Saudi Press Agency said the medal was in appreciation of King Salman’s role as “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.
The emperor also hosted a special luncheon in honor of King Salman, who arrived in Japan on Sunday on the fourth leg of a seven-nation month-long tour.
On Monday, the King met with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for talks focused on ways to further strengthen strategic as well as economic bilateral ties.
Abe has sought the king’s support for the listing of Saudi Aramco on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.
The two sides also agreed to launch a feasibility study on setting up special economic zones in Saudi Arabia to attract Japanese investments by easing regulations and customs procedures.
King Salman and his delegation will fly to China on Wednesday.

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Cabinet praises king’s efforts to develop ties with friendly countries

Arab News
Tue, 2017-03-14

RIYADH: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif thanked King Salman for his efforts to develop Saudi relations with friendly countries.
Briefing a Cabinet session Monday at Yamamah Palace in Riyadh under his chairmanship, the crown prince also expressed optimism over the outcome of the king’s visit to Japan in view of strong bilateral relations.
On developments in Islamic and Arab countries, the Cabinet appreciated resolutions issued at the 147th session of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo, especially regarding the role of the Saudi-led Arab Coalition in support of legitimacy in Yemen, the resumption of the peace process, stopping the war and restoring the Yemeni state.
The Cabinet also praised resolutions regarding the role of the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Works in providing aid to the Yemeni people.
The Arab foreign ministers condemned unilateral measures taken by rebels in Yemen, their violations against the Yemeni people, and continued Iranian intervention, which violates the security and stability of Yemen.
The Cabinet appreciated the full commitment of the ministers to the Arab peace initiative and the need to empower the Palestinian people to achieve their rights.
At the global level, the Cabinet condemned terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and Mali, and expressed full support for those countries.
Locally, the Cabinet appreciated the patronage of the crown prince of the closing session of the second tactical training exercises, and his launching of the Mohammed bin Naif Center for Special Operations and Developed Applications in Madinah.
The exercises, by security forces from different sectors, reaffirm their high professionalism and keenness toward security, serving Haj pilgrims and protecting the homeland, its citizens and residents against aggressors, the Cabinet said.
It affirmed that allowing a group of detainees involved in security cases to have their bachelor’s degrees, and to proceed to master’s or diploma programs, embodies the Saudi leadership’s keenness to educate and reform detainees, respect human rights and fight extremism and terrorism.
The Cabinet appreciated the great efforts undertaken by security forces to track and arrest those involved in terrorist crimes against citizens, security men, and public and private properties. It stressed zero tolerance for any acts that may be detrimental to security or public order.
The Cabinet expressed hope that the upcoming visit of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the US next Thursday will yield good results in light of close bilateral relations.
The Cabinet thanked King Salman, the crown prince and deputy crown prince for their support of culture and knowledge, citing the Riyadh Intentional Book Fair, which the Cabinet said embodies Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program (NTP) 2020.

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King’s visit to Asia enhances KSA’s leading role in Mideast economies, say experts

Arab News
Tue, 2017-03-14

RIYADH: The visit of King Salman to Japan and China will enhance the leading role of the Kingdom in the economies of the Middle East and Arab countries, economists and businessmen told local media.
They said the visit represents a historic shift of the Kingdom’s accession to one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
They expected the visit would witness the signing of investment and strategic deals supportive of Vision 2030.
Businessman Mohammed Hasan Yusuf said the king’s visit to China and Japan would bolster the economic dimension and further enhance the Kingdom’s economic leadership in the region.
He said the visit also carries political and social dimensions that will allow decision-makers to study the needs of Saudi knowledge-seekers and scholarship students.
Osama Mulla, acting secretary general of General Union of Car Drivers, said the visit would play a key role in strengthening Kingdom’s relations with Japan and China.
He said the announcement of Toyota to establish a car plant in the Kingdom, which coincides with the start of king’s visit to Japan, is a big step in the localization of the car industry that will have a positive impact on the transport sector in the Kingdom.
Abdullah Dahlan said the king’s visit to China, Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia is a chance to speed up Vision 2030 and to benefit from international experiences.
The historic visit aims to strengthen Vision 2030 and promote Saudi investments through the establishment of the biggest sovereign investment fund in the world, he said.
Economist Saifullah Mohammed Sharbatalli said the king’s visit reflects enormous eagerness to realize the objectives of Vision 2030, which focuses on opening new markets for Saudi products, and building partnerships with big countries. “We cannot ignore the weight of China and Japan at the international and global levels,” he said.
He said Vision 2030 will contribute to more openings to the world, and lead to the signing of agreements between the Kingdom and the countries visited in a manner that will positively affect the growth of the Saudi economy and globally enhance its position.
Abdullah Ahmed Al-Maghlouth, a member of the Saudi Economic Association, said the King’s visit to China is proof that Saudis are aspiring toward Chinese investments and experiences in a manner that will help them achieve Vision 2030.

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Deputy crown prince leaves for Washington as Saudi FM meets Tillerson

Joyce Karam
Tue, 2017-03-14

WASHINGTON: Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, second deputy premier and defense minister, on Monday departed to Washington on what is set to be the first official visit of its kind by a Gulf leader under the new US administration.
The packed agenda for the visit is to include US-Saudi relations, counter-Daesh efforts and containing Iran.
Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir kickstarted the visit with an hour-long meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. This the second meeting in less than a month for Tillerson and Al-Jubeir, with the first taking place in Germany on the margins of the G-20 summit on Feb. 16.
A US State Department official told Arab News that “Secretary Tillerson met with Saudi Foreign Minister Al-Jubeir today to discuss a number of critical bilateral and regional issues including the ongoing conflict in Yemen and counterterrorism efforts.”
Strengthening economic and commercial ties and US support for Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 reform program are also on the agenda.
The meeting between Al-Jubeir and Tillerson was expected to address the deputy crown prince’s visit, including his highly anticipated meeting with US President Donald Trump later this week.
Al-Jubeir had voiced optimism about US-Saudi relations last January. “We look forward to working with Trump’s administration to further the bilateral relationship and to further and to deal positively with the challenges, numerous challenges whether we are talking about Syria or Iraq or Yemen, Libya, fighting terrorism, dealing with the global financial issues, the energy,” he said at the time.
Al-Jubeir also highlighted convergence with Trump in “containing Iran and limiting its ability to cause mischief and making sure that Iran abide to the letter with the nuclear agreement that was signed. Exactly this is our position. And we look forward to working with them in this area.”
The visit by the deputy crown prince and meeting between Al-Jubeir and Tillerson comes one week after the US secretary of state ended a three-month freeze by the Obama administration on a $390 million arms sale to Saudi Arabia. The sale is expected to go through following interagency and Congressional approvals.
Saudi-US relations have seen more diplomatic traffic since Trump entered office on Jan 20. CIA director Mike Pompeo visited Riyadh last month, while Trump held a phone call with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Jan 29. US Defense Secretary James Mattis also called the deputy crown prince last month.
Containing Iran and defeating Daesh are heavily discussed in US-Saudi meetings. Riyadh has shown willingness to deploy special forces in the fight against Daesh, and Washington has increased its naval presence in the Gulf waters.

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Three Gulf mosques win architecture award

Fouzia Khan
Tue, 2017-03-14

JEDDAH: Three mosques from the Arabian Gulf have won awards for their architecture.
Msheireb mosque in Qatar, the Sheikha Salama Mosque in the UAE city of Al-Ain, and the Arcapita Mosque in Bahrain were all recognized by the Abdullatif Al-Fozan Award for Mosque Architecture.
Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, adviser to King Salman and governor of Makkah, and Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage and chairman of the award’s board of trustees, on Sunday honored the three winners at the Jeddah Hilton.
The awards, in their second cycle, received nominations for 122 mosques from the region.
The award prize of SR2 million was distributed among the three winners, from the SR60 million endowment that funds the award.
Prince Sultan said the main aims of the awards are to strengthen the relationship between the mosque and the community, as well as to motivate architects to enhance designs, with a focus on sustainable architecture, energy-saving features, lighting optimization and architecture that adds to the community.
The next edition of the awards, the third, will be open to mosques from the wider Muslim world.
Prince Sultan added that mosques play important roles in the life of Muslim communities, as places of worship and sources of tranquility and serenity, as well as places for social gatherings, bringing communities closer together.
Dr. Ibrahim Al-Naimi, secretary-general of the award, said the Abdullatif Al-Fozan Award has become a platform that raises awareness on the contemporary architecture of the mosque. It also aims to raise awareness of best practices for the design, construction, and upkeep of mosques.

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Asir governor to inaugurate Bisha projects worth more than SR2bn

Arab News
Tue, 2017-03-14

ABHA: Asir Gov. Prince Faisal bin Khalid on Wednesday will inaugurate developmental projects in Bisha Province. The projects are worth more than SR2 billion.
Bisha Mayor Mohammad bin Saeed bin Sabra said the Asir governor will be briefed during his inspection tour on the first strategic plan for the University of Bisha, and will launch projects worth more than SR353 million. Projects include an academic complex; five more in the university city of Bisha; three projects for university branches in the governorates; and the launch of seven additional projects in the education sector at a cost of more than SR78 million.
The governor will also open municipal projects. He will lay the foundation stone for future projects in the municipalities of Bisha, Al-Hazmi, Samakh, Al-Nuqaie, Al-Thouniya and Tabala. The projects are valued at more than SR575 million. The plans include the construction of municipal buildings, parks, markets, slaughterhouses, service buildings, plant nurseries, playgrounds, asphalting and lighting roads. Plans include projects to improve and beautify city entrances, and infrastructure to ward off the threat of seasonal floods.
“Prince Faisal bin Khalid during his inspection tour will inaugurate a water purification plant at Tabala Dam at a cost of SR118 million, and will lay the foundation stone for a new project to build dams in Tabala, Herjab, Qaoubaa and Miskah, in addition to inspecting of other projects at a cost of SR185 million,” said the mayor.
The Asir governor will inaugurate road and transport projects worth more than SR205 million, including the construction of a building for the road and transport administration branch in Bisha; the linkage of vital roads between Bisha and the governorates of Khamis Mushait, Ranyah, Juaba and other centers.
During the inspection tour, the prince will also inaugurate more than 10 health projects worth more than SR33 million, in addition to projects pertaining to the Ministry of Labor and Social Development. He will also sponsor the signing of contracts for maintenance and cleaning of more than 75 mosques affiliated with the Department of Call and Guidance at a cost of SR6 million. He will also inaugurate the administration buildings of the department of prisons in Bisha.
The Bisha mayor said Prince Faisal bin Khalid will also inaugurate and establish electricity projects at a cost of SR715 million, including the completion of projects for electricity connection; the expansion of the power station to the north of Bisha; the enhancement and improvement of the distribution networks; and the delivery of electricity to new subscribers.

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‘Moderation award’ entry open to Saudis, foreign residents

Tue, 2017-03-14

JEDDAH: An award to recognize those promoting moderation is open to both Saudi citizens and foreign residents of the Kingdom, an official has said.
Dr. Hassan bin Yahya Al-Manakhra, president of Prince Khaled Al-Faisal’s Center for Moderation, confirmed that foreign residents in the Kingdom can participate in the center’s award, with entries accepted in languages including English, French and German.
The Center for Moderation sets out to prove to the world that Islam is a religion for all times and places, as it preaches moderation and rejects terrorism, tyranny and despotism.
Al-Manakhra stressed the fact that the award aims to produce real outputs to instill the concept of moderation among youths, and to represent moderate thinking in the Kingdom.
Al-Manakhra was speaking on Sunday during an introductory meeting held at the Tourism College at King Abdulaziz University.
He said the center struck agreements with the Education Ministry so that school radio will broadcast briefings on the concept of moderation, and the best three presentations on the subject will receive tributes from Prince Khalid Al-Faisal during the coming hijri month of Muharram.
He also noted that King Salman will personally be briefed on all the participations, and a panel of specialist judges will evaluate these.
The award aims to highlight the real stance of the Kingdom concerning moderation, and to support pioneering and creative individuals and group efforts to promote the concept of moderation and its applications.
It aims to encourage positive role models, as well as to root the culture of moderation in all areas at the local level, and increase the level of awareness among the Arab community on the issues of combating extremism in all its forms.
The award will be in the areas of digital and intellectual content, and community partnership. It is split into three categories. The first includes media content, which is divided into two sections. The first section is for short film, with an award prize of SR200,000. The second is digital content, and is divided into animation, with an award of SR100,000; photography with an award of SR50,000; and a digital arts award amounting to SR50,000.
The second category involves knowledge content and is divided into two prizes; the first includes quantitative statistical studies, with an award amounting to SR100,000; and translation with an award amounting to SR150,000.
The third category involves community partnership, and the award is divided into creative individual initiatives with its award amounting to SR100,000, and the creative institutional initiatives with its award amounting to SR150,000.

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‘Bareh’ helps productive Madinah families compete in local market

Yousuf Mohammed
Tue, 2017-03-14

MADINAH: Artisan families earning income with their handicraft skills are now capable of competing with external competitors, according to the Productive Families Forum held recently.
The forum, attended by representatives of the Bareh Program of the Tourism and National Heritage Authority, Madinah branch, and several of its partners, was held in the King Fahd Central Garden.
During the forum, 6,000 visitors were registered. Also participating were 100 productive families, which are helped by the forum’s initiatives and programs in the region.
The general-secretary of the Tourism and National Heritage Authority, Madinah branch, Khaled bin Hussein Al-Shehrani, said the National Program for the Development of Crafts and Handicrafts (Bareh) is getting support from the tourism authority and its partners.
Traditional industries are a vital national heritage that plays an important role in raising the living standards of productive families, providing jobs, diversifying local economic development and helping the commercial and tourist movement in the region, said Al-Shehrani.
He added that 363 skilled craftsmen are listed in the craftsmen registry of the Bareh program, with women forming 92 percent of the craft industry in the Madinah region. This includes carpet-making, crochet, embroidery, fashion heritage, Arabic calligraphy, painting, soap-making, engraving, pottery, and jewelry and accessory making.
Al-Shehrani said that by obtaining the “Artisans Accredited Card,” productive families can practice their skills and market their products, in addition to taking part in festivals, activities, exhibitions and occasions related to the Bareh program.
They could also obtain material support easier, market their products on special marketing days organized by the program and announced in a handicraft guide. They also have priority if they wish to participate in the Okaz Market Award for Skills Distinction, which is the biggest event that supports the national program.

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2,500 Kazakh pilgrims to perform Haj this year

Rodolfo C. Estimo Jr.
Tue, 2017-03-14

RIYADH: An estimated 2,500 Kazakh pilgrims will arrive in the Kingdom to perform Haj this year, Kazakhtan’s Consul General in Jeddah Madiyar Ismailov told Arab News on Sunday.
The Kazakh Haj mission will be the coordinating center for the Haj organization issues of Kazakhstani pilgrims. The mission will comprise officials from the Kazakh Religious Authority Muftiyat, the newly established Ministry of Religious Affairs and Civil Society, the Ministry of Health and several travel agencies.
He said the number of pilgrims is smaller this year compared to the 3,000 who performed Haj in 2016 due to the global economic and financial constraints.
He noted pilgrims pay for everything in connection with their Haj performance including plane tickets, transportation facilities, accommodation and food, among other expenses. He said that a delegation came to the Kingdom last month to meet with Saudi authorities to discuss Kazakh pilgrims’ travel. He added the delegation signed this year’s agreement for Kazakh pilgrims’ Haj performance and expressed appreciation for the preparations made by the Kingdom.

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