Fashion Design in Saudi Arabia
Fashion design in Saudi began with women creating unusual abayas and everyday thobes (traditionall dresses) that are favourite garments for Ramadan. With more and more Fashion design departments opening in Saudi universities chances are opening for new Saudi designers...
Saudi Arabia to review increase in VAT after COVID-19
Arab Youth Survey 2020: Voices for the Future
Tonight, the Middle East Institute in Washington is holding a webinar on the future of Arab Youth: Voices of the Future. This survey, in its 12th edition, interviews thousands of young people and tells readers about the feelings, mentality, ambitions, dreams and hopes...
G20 Riyadh summit 2020: Pandemic & Climate in the agenda
The 2020 G20 Riyadh summit took place on 21–22 November 2020 virtually. Most important topics on the agenda was the pandemic and its effects as well as climate change. [video width="848" height="480"...
First Saudi Women Football League
Saudi female football teams are getting ready to start playing in the first Saudi Female Football League (WFL). The league was set to start in October after being launched in February 2020 by the Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA). Two years after women were...
Happenings around Saudi Arabia: November 2020
Snow in Saudi Arabia https://twitter.com/Hackmed804/status/1327682456099631106 Princess Roses Strong conquers almost everything; #AmalAlhakmy runs her flower shop in a tiny village near Jizan. Her start was a fridge & few flowers which turned into Princess Roses...
Is Climate a Concern for GCC?
If you are wondering - as I do sometimes - about the impact of climate change on the economies of the 6 Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) and whether or not it is/will result in change their political and economic policies to a greener future, watch this video and/or...
The First Female Saudi Judge
It has just been announced that Dr. Arwa Al Jalal has been appointed a judge of the Saudi Arabian Competition Court which deals with monopolies and other anti-competitive practices. This is an amazing development where the first female lawyers received their licenses only seven years ago.
Dr. Al Jalal is an assistant professor at King Saud University in Riyadh, where she specializes in commercial and insurance law. The Committee for the Determination of Violations of the Competition Regulation is a powerful judicial body that can stop mergers and impose heavy penalties on businesses that hinder free competition.
Saudi Arabia Abolishes Flogging
Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Council of the Judiciary has announced that judicial flogging will be replaced as a punishment by fines or imprisonment. This is part of Saudi Arabia’s human rights reforms. While flogging is one of the punishments recognized by Islamic Law, Sharia, in most cases its imposition is in the judge’s discretion.
Saudi Education Ministry: Students will progress to the next year
In Saudi, students will progress to the next year without completing the 2 nd semester. Except for private schools who can make a choice and unlike other GCC countries. In this crisis it seems like there is no 💯 universal solution. #SaudiTimes #Education...
Europe and GCC: How to Win Friends and Influence People
A piece of writing worth a read aiming to explain the new balance of power: Europeans can shift the power in the Gulf in their favor.
Saudi Women Football League All Set
British Broadcasting Cooperation BBC and Cable News Network CNN reported this week that the Saudi government launched a football league for women widening sports activities for women in the country.
With the establishment of the Sports Ministry recently, among 2 other ministries, in addition to increasing sports facilities, activities, possibilities for women, making it a compulsory subject at school and addition to the many sport events that have been/are taking place in the Kingdom lately, it looks like sports is an area that will play a significant role in the diversification of the Saudi Arabian economy.
Online Shopping Grows in Saudi Arabia
Saudis have been enjoying the benefits of the Internet since it was made available in the Kingdom in the late 1990s. As elsewhere in the world, Saudis now make a large part of their purchases online, perhaps even more enthusiastically than most.
The “Weaker Sex” Just Got Stronger
I came across this link thinking that five years ago one could not have imagined such steps coming true. Hopefully, these and other planned reforms will allow young and old female talents to grow and find their chances on a level playing field.
Measures for the Food Waste in Saudi Arabia
This week the Saudi minister for Municipalities Affairs and Urban in Charge, Majid Al Qasabi, issued a decree. This decree ordered all event managers and restaurant owners to register with charities so the food doesn’t go to waste.
This step was introduced to utilize the food that is usually left after a big event or by restaurants. It also aims to increase awareness amongst the Saudi public regarding the importance of resources.
Saudi Military Regulations: Too Little to Live On
A hashtag in Arabic reading #systemforserviceneedstochange was widely mentioned among Saudi Twitter users this week. The hashtag highlighted the problems the Saudi military staff face. Users listed the disadvantages of the old regulations governing the armed forces.
World Bank: Women in Saudi Arabia on the Rise
World Bank ranks Saudi Arabia as top reformer on women's rights at work Read more: https://www.thenational.ae/world/gcc/world-bank-ranks-saudi-arabia-as-top-reformer-on-women-s-rights-at-work-1.964935
Cold and Snow in White Saudi Arabia
The pictures above show the Dahr mountain in north of Saudi Arabia. Most parts in this area, which includes Hail and Al Jouf, are covered by snow in winter.
Most of the central and northern parts of Saudi Arabia go through harsh, cold winters. Most people living abroad do not know about the seasonal weather changes here, and that it snows in Saudi Arabia.
Dakar Rally Route: a 5000km Drive Through Desert
The 42nd Dakar Rally Saudi Arabia route was announced this month. After 30 years of adventures in Africa and 10 years of excitement in South America, the rally will take place for the first time in Asia. Among the drivers, are 13 women on the challenging route to drive. This week, Burj Khalifa in Dubai displayed images of the Dakar Rally, Saudi Arabia. Of the 7,500 km route, 5000 km will be driving against the clock.
Saudi Arabia: Open shops 24/7 to Boost the Economy
Shops and businesses in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to stay open for 24/7, a move that will boost the economy. Read more: https://www.thenational.ae/world/gcc/saudi-arabia-says-businesses-and-shops-to-open-24-hours-1.957599
Less Gender Segregation, Hype Remains High
This month, the Saudi government has canceled the rule for the segregation of single men and women in restaurants. For many years it was claimed that the rule was in place to protect women, which recently sparked a fierce discussion on social media – like many such recent rule changes. http://www.dailyjournal.net/2019/12/08/ml-saudi-sex-segregation/ .
Rapper Russ Receives “Unusual Gift” at Riyadh Concert
Last month, US rapper Russ performed in Riyadh alongside hip-hop group Migos, making it his second concert in Saudi Arabia. His shows are part of the evolving entertainment strategy which the Saudi government is implementing as part of Vision 2030.
People in Saudi Arabia are delighted by these positive developments and are slowly getting used to the wide range of entertainment that is on offer throughout the country.
Saudi Women Can Divorce
A member of the Saudi Scholars’ Council Sheikh Abdullah Al Manea, has issued a Fatwa confirming that women may stipulate as a condition in their marriage contracts that they have the power to divorce their husbands. Al Manea said that, if the woman stipulates the condition, it is legally valid.
In Islam, a man can divorce his wife by saying 3 times “I divorce you.” It does not have to be in one go; it can expand over a period of years according to the Islamic ruling. Once it is said for the third time, the divorce has happened and it cannot be reversed. In the Sunni sect, there are 4 different schools for interpretation of Islamic law – differing in the details of the divorce matter.
Riyadh to Host Brazil and Argentina Friendly
Argentina and Brazil will play their second friendly game in a year next month. The game will be held at the King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh on November 15th. The stadium which is the home stadium for Riyadh Al Hilal Club has a capacity for 25,000. The stadium was the venue of WWE event in 2018.
Saudi Army Opens Its Doors to Women
The Saudi Ministry of Defence will allow women to join the Saudi armed forces in combat capacities. Several Saudi and Gulf newspapers issued the announcement, which was made this month.
Women can be enlisted for military jobs with ranks from private soldiers to sergeants in the army’s branches of ground, air, air defense and missile forces, and medical services. The way was paved in 2018 when women were allowed to enroll in the military. However, their jobs did not involve combat but instead gave them the opportunity to work in security and passport control.
Saudi Arabia: Waives Expat Levy for Industrial Companies
This week, the Saudi Council of Ministers announced that, for industrial companies, it will waive the fees that the companies have to pay in respect of their foreign employees.
The expatriate levy was introduced in 2018 in conjunction with a series of other regulations aimed at creating jobs for Saudis and moving the economy away from oil dependency. The levy is SAR 3,600 ($962) per expatriate employee for 2018, SAR 6,000 ($1,604) for 2019, and SAR 8,400 ($2,245) for 2020, payable by the employer. In addition, an employee who has dependents in Saudi Arabia is responsible for paying the levy as follows: SAR 1,200 ($374) per dependent in 2018, SAR 2,400 ($ 642) in 2019, and SAR 3,600 ($962) in 2020.
Saudi Arabia Relaxes Dress Code for Female Tourists
Saudi Arabia relaxes the dress code for female tourists in an attempt to make the country more attractive for international audience. This could be the first step to relax the dress code generally. However, it must be borne in mind that this is unlikely to affect or happen in small town and villages where traditions still rules supreme.
The Opening of the Saudi Economy
Until 2000, the opportunities for foreign investment in Saudi Arabia were extremely restricted, essentially limited to foreign minority shareholdings in industrial development projects involving technology transfer to Saudi Arabia. Foreign participation in service or trading businesses was not possible. At the time, the economy was dominated by state-owned monopolies, many of whom provided extremely poor services to the population, as anyone who tried to get a telephone line in those days will remember. Meanwhile, the economy was going from bad to worse, with the price of Arabian crude oil having dropped from $34 per barrel in 1981 to $12 per barrel in 1998.
Sun, Sea & Sand – Tourists Are Allowed Into Saudi Arabia
Tourists will soon be able to visit Saudi Arabia on a tourist visa, although no clear starting date has been announced. The English language daily Arab News and the semi-official Okaz reported that citizens of 50 countries, among them the Schengen countries and the USA, will be granted visa upon their arrival. Where to, is not clear either.
Okaz reported that the government is planning a showcase exhibition of Saudi tourist attractions at the end of September, but this has not been officially confirmed. The aim is to introduce attractive touristic sites in Saudi Arabia to an international audience.
Being Bored? Not Any More in Saudi Arabia
Entertainment in Saudi Arabia has changed. For the last year and a half, the government has been offering a variety of entertainment programmes to its citizens, filling the previous void of empty, boring and dark days.
Shows, concerts by international and Arabian stars, summer festivals with bazars, posh restaurants or street food were available this summer, in and outdoor activities. It’s happening all over the country, giving many people from all parts of Saudi Arabia a chance to find what they like. Have a look into the entertainment calendar for 2019/2020 above. I raised my eyebrows to above my forehead when I read it.
Guardians will not receive message on Saudi women’s travel
This week, English-speaking newspaper, Saudi Gazette, published an article reporting that Saudi Passport Authority Jawazat will not send messages to the guardian informing him about the trace of a female/s under his guardianship as it was part of their service so far.
In the past, the service I was that the guardian would receive a full and in-details message of the woman’s travel information (time, day, flight, destination, etc) issued by Absher (an electronic system dealing with governmental and social affairs. Abshir was set up by the government for citizens to handle their affairs much quicker and more efficient.
Festival in Jeddah: Is the Entertainment Cost-Effective?
One would think this a great entertainment opportunity for those who opt to stay in Saudi over summer. But in fact, the summer season might turn out to be a costly affair. “I need about €3000 to attend all the concerts and visit all the restaurants I would like,” says Amal M, housewife, 38 years old. But she adds it’s worth experiencing this in Saudi Arabia. And while such events did not use to be well organised, surprisingly this year all information was easily accessible on social media. The organisers are keeping the public well-informed both in Arabic and English about the programs and ticket sale.
The new age of soap operas and dramas in Saudi Arabia
Like anywhere in the Arab world, soap operas and drama series of all sorts have been a window to the world and major entertainment for most Saudis in the past decade. All these productions take them into a world that they may never visit, express ideas that they cannot articulate, and show emotions that they may have but must suppress. There is a list of reasons for why someone is watching one series or follows a cookery programme.
Running in Jeddah: The Rising Trend amongst Saudi women
Running and walking started to become trendy in Jeddah two decades ago. Men and women alike began walking in pedestrian areas as one of the few exercise facilities available at the time. Anyone familiar with Saudi Arabia, especially Jeddah, knows that the infrastructure was very poor, making it uncomfortable for people to walk. At the time, it was a bold step for a woman to go out and exercise, but that did not hinder many to start. Eventually, it turned into a trend.
Foreigners in Saudi Arabia: New residency permit for high-skilled expats
Last week, the Saudi cabinet approved a new residency system aimed at attracting high-skilled expats. The new law will grant certain non-Saudis residency without needing a local sponsor.
Saudi’s new permanent residency permit fee to exceed $200,000.
Saudi female lawyer developed an app for women’s rights
This week I read on Twitter that a Saudi female lawyer has developed an app that helps women understand their rights. I was surprised that this news item was not mentioned in international media, which usually picks up information concerning women’s rights in Saudi Arabia very quickly.
Second season of Al Assouf
Ramadan is a holy month in which Muslims fast, worship and pray from sunrise until sunset, an exhausting duty. The release comes after sunset with eating and relaxing from the tiredness of fasting. Some sleep, others like to watch series on television.
Series have been in trend for the last 3 decades among Arab viewers. While in their first appearance in the 80 they came – censored of course – from as far as US, Mexico, in the last decade they moved closer, Turkey. Arabic series from Egypt, Kuwait, and other Arab countries were popular as well.
Ramadan Starting in Saudi Arabia
The start of Ramadan is usually a big guess in Saudi Arabia.
According to Sharia, the Islamic law, a crescent of the new moon that signals the beginning of a month must be spotted. Nowadays, this is done by technology at the General Authority of Metrology and Environment in Jeddah. In addition, the government encourages citizens to search in the skies for the crescent. Once a person believes to have seen it, he or she can go to the nearest judge and give evidence of the sighting of the new moon. Usually, it is seen after sunset and announced after the last prayer.
Dakar Rally Coming to Saudi Arabia
Tafies is very famous in Saudi Arabia. Last week the organizers announced that they are changing its route which was for 30 years in North Africa, and in the past decade in South America, to the Middle East.
Children born out of wedlock in Saudi Arabia – Fate and Reasons
This week, the Independent newspaper published an article on the fate of children that are born out of wedlock in Saudi Arabia.
Expats Leaving Saudi Arabia – Are They Being Replaced by Locals?
This week, Bloomberg published an article on the number of expats who left Saudi Arabia in the past three years. The article focuses on the claim that these jobs have not yet been filled. Over the years, many Saudis have expressed their relief – especially on Twitter – over foreigners leaving the country. They believe that expats and foreigners misused the benefits of living in Saudi Arabia. In some cases this may have been correct, but many expats and foreigners were doing jobs for which Saudis were not qualified, or which they did not want to do.
Al Ruwais the First District in Jeddah to Be Restructured
District restructuring has been discussed many times in Saudi Arabia. Apparently, the city of Jeddah is going to tackle a long and widely neglected issue.
This week, the mayor of Jeddah, Saleh Al Turki, announced that the Al Ruwais random district in Jeddah will be the first such district to be restructured and developed.
Saudi Reaction to Christchurch Terror
In Saudi Arabia, Saudis reacted, like elsewhere in the world, to the attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand. The issue went public as it happened.
King Salman released an official statement on the same day of the Christchurch attacks, calling them “a terrorist attack” and urged the international community to combat “hate speech and terrorism”.
Activists on Trial
This week, the trial of ten Saudi activists started in Riyadh, who had allegedly been held for nine months without charge, amid rumors of mistreatment. In the last months, international media has been reporting continuously on the case of Saudi jailed human rights activists, raising concern about their fate and fairness of the trial.
No More Prayer Breaks for Shops?
The long on-going discussion on whether shops in Saudi Arabia should be closing for prayers or not went active on Twitter again, with a hashtag that can be translated as “shops-to-open-during-prayer-times”. At present, all shops must close for prayer times to give salespeople the opportunity to pray. In restaurants, no service is allowed during prayer times.
Heela Alfaraj: A Female Football Commentator
Heela Alfaraj is the first female voice to comment on female football games in Saudi Arabia. She will start her job at the beginning of next month, commenting on the First Female Six-Day Football Clubs Championship taking place in Damamm in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. The tournament will host 200 female players representing 16 teams from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain. Saudi female football has been active since 2006, but this is the first competition of its kind. The aim of this tournament is to support female sports in the region.
New on Guardianship, Saudi Women and Rain
News is that Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud has been appointed as the first female Saudi ambassador to the United States. She succeeds Prince Khalid bin Salman, who held the post from 2017.
Princess Reema is known for her engagement in women’s empowerment through entrepreneurship and philanthropy.
Saudi News Roundup – 13th February 2017
Saudi Arabia And The How To Change
The Interview of Saudi Arabian Oil, Energy and Industry Minister Khalid Al Falih 2 weeks ago was part of a larger BBC interview. Both TV and online reports appeared over the last two days.
Saudi News Roundup – 9th February 2017
Small Boutique for Aramco’s IPO
One can hardly assume that charity is behind Saudi Aramco’s decision to hire Moelis & Co as the sole independent advisor on its huge public offering.
Saudi News Roundup – 2 February 2017
Off the List, Certainly US and The Oldies Are Back
Shall we start with VAT, or rather the concert of the always-will-be loved-oldies singers of Saudi Arabia? Perhaps the interview with Minister Al-Falih at the BBC, when the interviewer could no longer follow him at some point?
Saudi News Roundup – 4th December 2016
OPEC Agrees, Women Doing More And Freezing Temperatures
OPEC reached its first agreement since 2008 on oil output cuts after Saudi Arabia accepted “a big hit” on its production and dropped its demand to Iran to slash output, pushing up crude prices by around 10 percent. Fast-growing producer Iraq also agreed to curtail its booming output, while non-OPEC Russia will join output cuts for the first time in 15 years to help the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries prop up oil prices.
Saudi News Roundup – 19th November 2016
Secret to be Lifted
Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih, told the Financial Times that Saudi Arabia will reveal the size of its oil reserves. “This is going to be the most transparent national oil company listing of all time.”.
Saudi News Roundup – 4th November 2016
Changing of the Guard, Many Visitors and Stock Market Open for Investment This week Saudi Arabia got a new finance minister. The old one, Dr Ibrahim Al Assaf, 67, was released of his duties after 20 years in office. He was one of the last of the old guard of Saudi...
Saudi News Roundup – 30th October 2016
Houthi Militias Attack Makkah, Lagarde’s Visit and A Peaceful Nuclear Deal
On Friday, Houthi militias targeted the city of Makkah with a Scud ballistic missile, an act that caused fury among citizens. In another update, Saudi Arabian troops may join international troops fighting in Al Raqqa outside Mosul, in the international war against Daesh in Iraq and Syria.
Saudi News Roundup
Confusing Calendar and An Amazing TV-Show
Undoubtedly, the major news item on and coming from Saudi Arabia is that the government has raised $17.5 billion through its sovereign bond issue. The issue was oversubscribed 380% to about $67billion. This step is alongside Vision 2030 to pivot the country’s economy from reliance on oil. The government aims at reducing its spending by 71% from $263.7 billion to $75.8 billion. The cutting down by $133 billion has not been discussed in public by SAMA. Generally, the economic thinking in Saudi Arabia revolves around Vision 2030. Don’t forget that Saudi Aramco is also planning its initial public offering.
Saudi News Roundup – 11th November 2016
Saudi media reported that King Salman congratulated the US President-elect Donald Trump on his win and emphasised the strong relations between the two countries.
Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US also welcomed the election results, saying that he “prefers action” over speeches from a new administration in Washington. Prince Abdullah bin Faisal bin Turki said that he sees the “extensive relationship” between the two countries continuing.