Young Saudis optimistic about future, Arab Youth Survey shows

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About 80 percent consider Saudi Arabia as an ally in the political sphere, with the US polling second highest as an enemy (59 percent), behind only Iran (67 percent). (File/Shutterstock)
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Updated 01 May 2019

Young Saudis optimistic about future, Arab Youth Survey shows

  • Approval ratings higher than the average in the MENA region, according to 11th annual poll
  • Interviews with 3,300 young Arabs reveals that they want their governments to help them secure decent and affordable lives

DUBAI: The 2019 edition of the Arab Youth Survey by Asda’a BCW offers a snapshot of 200 million aspirational young adults tackling the opportunities and challenges of modernity, but also seeking the reassurance of traditional structures and overwhelmingly concerned with their own well-being.

Perhaps the most eye-catching of the Dubai’s PR consultancy’s findings, released on Tuesday, is that while most young people across the Gulf, North Africa and the Levant want to see reform of their traditional religious institutions, which most see as “holding them back” in the modern world, they also want their governments to remain providers of most of their basic requirements — not just essentials such as security, education and health care, but also subsidized energy housing and even financial handouts.

Above all, they are concerned with securing a decent and affordable life for themselves and their families in an era of high unemployment and dwindling job opportunities in the traditional government sector.

The 11th annual survey is based on 3,300 interviews with Arabs between the ages of 18-24, split equally between men and women, in January this year. Asda’a BCW also offered Arab News a look at Saudi responses   specifically.

Young Saudis share the concerns of many of their age-peers across the region, but they expressed a new-found spirit of optimism in light of the Vision 2030 strategy, which Sunil John, president of Asda’a BCW, said was “transforming the economy and creating job opportunities.”

About 93 percent of young Saudis said they thought the Kingdom is headed in the right direction, with 83 percent believing the economy is on the right track. Notably, three-quarters (75 percent) told the pollsters that they expect to have a better life than their parents.

Approval ratings among Saudi youth for their government’s policies were higher than the average in the MENA region. A huge 89 percent said they believed Vision 2030 would succeed in securing the economic future, while 83 percent said government policies were right for them and their peer group, a good 30 points higher than the positive feeling toward governments across the region.

Saudi youth were outliers in some other respects, too, apparently more willing to stand on their own feet. Another feature of the survey was that despite the drive of governments to cultivate entrepreneurial young people, many still believe it is the state’s job to provide cheap energy, jobs, housing and even debt relief.

If there is one cause we should focus on, it is youth unemployment

 

A detailed look at the country breakdowns showed that young people in the Kingdom were less likely than those in other Arab countries to expect these services to be officially provided to all citizens.

Another feature of the survey, as in past years, was some fairly dramatic differences in opinion by young people in three main sub-regions within MENA. In education, for example, only 20 percent of Gulf youngsters were unsatisfied with the quality provided by the country’s educational system. This level of dissatisfaction rose to 53 percent in North Africa and 73 percent in the war-torn Levant. Not surprisingly, many more Levant youngsters would rather be educated in the West than their peers in the Gulf.

Saudi Arabia figured prominently in the survey in other ways, too. When young Arabs were asked which countries had grown in prominence in regional and international affairs, 37 percent named the Kingdom as the biggest gainer in influence this year.

A majority of them consider Saudi Arabia as an ally in the political sphere. Iran is seen as an enemy by an overwhelming majority (67 percent).

Only a tiny minority in the region believed that the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi would have any long-term negative impact for the Kingdom in Arab or international eyes.

If young Saudis were not Saudi, they would probably want to live in the UAE, the pollsters found. For the eighth year running, the Emirates topped the ratings for the preferred place of residence, chosen by 44 percent of those polled, followed by Canada and the US.

Reasons for the UAE’s popularity hark back to the basic self-interest of young Arabs: They like the range of work opportunities in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, the UAE is safe and secure, and it offers generous salary packages.

Jihad Azour, the International Monetary Fund’s regional head for the Middle East, hit the nail on the head when he delivered the keynote address at the survey launch. “If there is one cause we should focus on, it is youth unemployment. All economic policies fail if they cannot deliver on unemployment,” he said.


Hajj officials says all preparations completed to welcome pilgrims

Updated 24 June 2021

Hajj officials says all preparations completed to welcome pilgrims

  • Due to pandemic, only 60,000 pilgrims will be allowed to perform the pilgrimage as registration is only open to citizens and residents of the Kingdom
  • Officials have completed organizational, service, and health preparations to provide the best services to pilgrims at Grand Mosque in Makkah

JEDDAH: Officials in Saudi Arabia said they have completed all the organizational, service, and health preparations to provide the best services to pilgrims upon their arrival at the Grand Mosque in Makkah during this year’s Hajj season, which will begin mid-July.

The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques said that all field and administrative agencies and departments are working to improve the outputs of business and services through pre-prepared plans and programs.

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Ministries of Health and Hajj announced earlier this month that a total of 60,000 pilgrims will be allowed to perform the pilgrimage this year as registration is only open to citizens and residents of the Kingdom.

Authorities will take into account COVID-19 health requirements to preserve public health and safety while also facilitating the performance of rituals and worship in the Grand Mosque.

Those wishing to perform Hajj must be free of any chronic diseases, and be within the ages of 18 to 65 years for those vaccinated against the virus, according to the Kingdom’s vaccination measures. 

Hajj pilgrims should be fully vaccinated, or those who took one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before, or those who are vaccinated after recovering from coronavirus infection.


Saudi, Omani officials discuss economic zones ties

Updated 24 June 2021

Saudi, Omani officials discuss economic zones ties

JEDDAH: The secretary-general of the Economic Cities and Special Zones Authority (ECZA), Nabil Khoja, met on Tuesday in Riyadh the undersecretary of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Investment Promotion of Oman, Asila Al-Samsamiya, to discuss special economic zones between the two nations.

They covered cooperation and integration opportunities the zones would offer, with Khoja touching on the ECZA’s role as the organizational umbrella that ensures the alignment of the special economic zones project with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and national strategies.

He stressed that the meeting with Al-Samsamiya comes within the framework of strengthening international cooperation via special economic zones and seeking to build strategic partnerships.

Khoja noted that the ECZA has expertise in supervising, regulating and controlling economic cities and special zones, which can be shared between the Kingdom and Oman. He added that this will contribute to achieving the goals of the two countries, and to enhance the vital role that the ECZA can play in realizing the objectives of Vision 2030.

This meeting followed an extended session between the ECZA’s team, headed by the vice secretary-general for Special Economic Zones, Wassim Khashoggi, and the deputy chairperson of the Public Authority for Special Economic Zones and Free Zones in Oman, Ahmed Al-Deeb. 

The two parties discussed providing support for Omani efforts to attract Saudi investment for special economic zones and free zones projects in the Sultanate.

They also covered the possibility of establishing a Saudi industrial zone in Oman, which the Saudi side would develop, operate and manage, and build roads to transport goods between the Saudi and Omani special economic zones.

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Who’s Who: Dr. Hessah Al-Ageel, director general at the Saudi Institute of Public Administration

Updated 23 June 2021

Who’s Who: Dr. Hessah Al-Ageel, director general at the Saudi Institute of Public Administration

Dr. Hessah Al-Ageel has been the director general of the women’s branch of the Institute of Public Administration (IPA) in the Eastern Province since 2015.

As part of the IPA’s role in helping public servants, especially those with disabilities in workplaces, the branch recently delivered a three-day, text-processing training program designed for the region’s female public employees with hearing difficulties.

Al-Ageel received a bachelor’s degree in translation from King Saud University (KSU) in 2003. Seven years later, she obtained a master’s degree in applied linguistics (TESOL) from La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. In 2016, she was granted a doctorate in global, urban and social studies from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.

In 2005, Al-Ageel joined the IPA, where she served as a faculty staff member in the English language department at the Riyadh women’s branch for nearly 10 years before she was appointed head of the women’s branch in the Eastern Province.

Al-Ageel’s doctoral thesis focused on the behavior of Saudi women in contemporary Arabic-speaking situations. The research she presented for the degree investigated Saudi pidgin Arabic that has emerged as a result of Saudi people interacting with foreign workers, especially Asians.

In 2018, the IPA published an Arabic version of Jason W. Osborne’s “Best Practices in Logistic Regression” translated by Al-Ageel. She has also translated and reviewed a number of scientific papers in different fields, and has led consultation teams in training needs assessment, human resource and organizational structures.

She is also active in increasing awareness about corporate social responsibility and sustainable development goals.


Saudi Arabia will judge new Iran president Raisi by ‘reality on the ground’ — FM

Updated 23 June 2021

Saudi Arabia will judge new Iran president Raisi by ‘reality on the ground’ — FM

  • Prince Faisal says ‘very concerned’ about unanswered questions on Iran’s nuclear program
  • Austrian foreign minister: Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia are unacceptable

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will judge Iranian President-elect Ebrahim Raisi’s government by “the reality on the ground,” the Kingdom’s foreign minister said on Tuesday.
“From our perspective, foreign policy in Iran is in any case run by the supreme leader (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei) and therefore we base our interactions and our approach to Iran on the reality on the ground, and that is what we will judge the new government on, regardless of who is in charge,” Prince Faisal bin Farhan told a news conference with his Austrian counterpart during his official visit to the capital, Vienna.
He said he was “very concerned” about unanswered questions on Iran’s nuclear program, an apparent reference to the UN nuclear watchdog seeking explanations on the origin of uranium particles found at undeclared sites in Iran.

Saudi Arabia and Gulf allies continue to pressure Iran over its nuclear program, which Tehran says is entirely peaceful, and its ballistic missiles. US intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency believe Iran had a secret, coordinated nucleaar weapons program that it halted in 2003.
Raisi, a hard-line judge who secured an expected election victory on Saturday, said on Monday he wanted to improve ties with Gulf Arab neighbors.

Biden administration officials are insisting that the election of Raisi won’t affect prospects for reviving the faltering 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran. But there are already signs that their goal of locking in a deal just got tougher, according to The Associated Press.

Optimism that a deal was imminent faded as the latest talks ended on Sunday without tangible indications of significant progress.

Raisi is likely to raise Iran’s demands for sanctions relief in return for Iranian compliance with the deal, as he himself is already subject to US human rights penalties.

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

“I don’t envy the Biden team,” said Karim Sadjapour, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who has advised multiple US administrations on Iran. “I think the administration now has a heightened sense of
urgency to revise the deal before Raisi and a new hard-line team is inaugurated.”

Meanwhile, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg condemned the continuous Houthi attacks on civilians in Saudi Arabia, describing such assaults as “unacceptable.”

Prince Faisal said the Houthi militia has regularly rejected initiatives for a complete cease-fire, and have always resorted to escalate the situation.

Farhan said Saudi Arabia and Austria shared a “similar vision” regarding the region’s stability, while Schallenberg said his country supports developments taking place in across Saudi Arabia in several areas.

Prince Faisal met for talks with Schallenberg at the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where the two sides discussed opportunities for joint cooperation, developing bilateral relations, and ways to develop them in various fields, especially in light of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said.
They also discussed ways to enhance joint coordination to serve the interests of the two countries, and the most prominent regional and international developments.
(With Reuters)

Saudi Arabia and Gulf allies continue to pressure Iran over its ballistic missiles and the nuclear program, which Tehran says is entirely peaceful.

US intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency believe Iran had a secret, coordinated nuclear weapons program that it halted in 2003.


Who’s Who: Dr. Suzan Mohammed Al-Yahya, director general of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Institute of Traditional Arts

Updated 22 June 2021

Who’s Who: Dr. Suzan Mohammed Al-Yahya, director general of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Institute of Traditional Arts

Dr. Suzan Mohammed Al-Yahya has been appointed director general of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Institute of Traditional Arts.

Al-Yahya will be responsible for managing the institute, implementing its strategic directions and developing traditional arts in line with the institute’s vision.

She is one of the top academics in the field of art and design, having worked as a faculty member at Princess Nourah Bint Abdul Rahman University.

She also worked as a consultant, and was a member of advisory committees at the university and other organizations.

Al-Yahya obtained a master’s degree in art education and a Ph.D. in educational technology, as well as a Ph.D. in educational policies and leadership at the University of Northern Colorado, US.

She has authored research papers in various fields and participated in several scientific conferences.

The institute will launch its first training courses in September aimed at enriching traditional arts, training specialized national cadres, raising the level of public awareness, and preserving tangible and intangible cultural heritage.

The Royal Institute of Traditional Arts is one the initiatives of the Quality of Life Program, part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan.

The Ministry of Culture aims to develop the local cultural sector through education and knowledge. The institute will provide advanced educational programs to prepare young Saudis to help the Kingdom develop its cultural sector along modern lines.