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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 1 Feb 2015, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Indian Girl Was On the Brink of Joining IS: Police

New Age Islam News Bureau

1 Feb 2015

Sana Muttalib, left, and Zaiba Omar in the Pico-Union Project while setting up for the Women's Mosque of America’s first service in Los Angeles Photo: Stuart Palley For The Wall Street Journal



 Feeling Unwelcome at Mosques, 2 Women Start Their Own in L.A.

 Malala on Britain's Most Influential People's List 2015

 World Woman Festival 2015: Women in countries such as Iraq, Syria and  Afghanistan 'worst hit' by fundamentalism

 Bodies of Five Newborn Babies Recovered From Garbage Heap in Pakistan

 Recruitment Ban on Shops Failing Feminisation: Saudi Arabia

 Netanyahu’s Wife Makes Money from Empty Bottles

 134 IISJ Girls Complete Toastmasters’ Youth Leadership Program

 RI Urged To End Religious Intolerance, Back Women's Rights

 Scourge of Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict 'Far From Being Rooted Out,' UN Relief Official

 Madinah Forum to Address Employment of Saudi Youth

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Indian Girl Was On the Brink of Joining IS: Police

 February 1st, 2015

The 19-year-old NRI travelled up to Turkey and returned to Hyderabad after having a change of heart.

Hyderabad Commissioner of Police M. Mahendar Reddy on Saturday confirmed that an NRI teenager from Hyderabad had planned to join the Islamic State and went up to Turkey. However, he denied that the woman underwent any military training and joined the IS ranks.

The girl, aged 19, and hailing from the south of the city stayed in Qatar and went to Turkey along with another woman from her apartment building from that country. The two went till Turkey but later changed their mind. Eventually, the woman came to back to the city after contacting her parents, the official said, and added that the incident was reported two months ago.

According to the sources, the woman told the police that she planned to join the group but backed off after seeing the conditions in Syria and Iraq.

Mr. Reddy said that the city police are monitoring the activity on social networking sites and identifying those propagating IS ideology or hooked to it. “We counselled a few youngsters who are constantly hooked to online activities of IS. Their parents were asked to keep a tab on their activities as well and have been successful in the efforts.”



Feeling Unwelcome at Mosques, 2 Women Start Their Own in L.A.

 February 1st, 2015

LOS ANGELES—When Hasna Maznavi would show up to pray at her Southern California mosque, even during off hours, the few men in the main hall would gently point her upstairs to a separate area for women.

“I started to feel unwelcome,” said the 29-year-old comedy writer and film-school graduate.

To Ms. Maznavi and fellow Muslim Sana Muttalib, a 31-year-old lawyer, the traditional separation was more than physical. Muslim women across the country, they believed, seemed disconnected from their scholarly heritage, and too few had leadership roles in their mosques.

So Ms. Maznavi and Ms. Muttalib decided to start their own mosque—one for women only.

On Friday, when they gather in Los Angeles for the first Friday prayer service at the new Women’s Mosque of America, worshippers won’t enter through a side door or have to sit in the rear. The call to prayer, traditionally performed by a man, will be given by a woman, as will the sermon.

The women may also be making history. While female-only mosques exist in China, Islamic scholars and Muslim leaders here said they know of no other such mosque in the U.S.

“This is a hugely important, symbolic moment,” said Edina Lekovic, a 37-year-old Muslim activist from Pasadena who is giving the sermon. “It’s American Muslim women organizing and creating a space for their own spiritual nourishment by and for themselves.”

Some mosques draw on members of the lay community to lead prayer and give sermons, especially as American Muslims grapple with a shortage of trained imams. And it’s not uncommon for Muslim women to lead women in prayer in small, informal groups. But offering Friday prayers—the major service of the week—is a notable step.

Many younger Muslims raised in the U.S. are agitating for broader changes to mosques, or turning away from traditional mosques in favor of their own “third spaces.” This comes as more mosques are popping up to meet demand from the rising Muslim population in the U.S., and at a time when the community is under increasing scrutiny after deadly terrorist attacks abroad linked to Islamic radicals.

The traditional separation of men and women, compounded by traditions carried over from immigrants’ home countries and the Islamic imperative for men to attend Friday prayers, has created a striking imbalance in American mosques, Muslim leaders, women and academics said. According to study released in 2013 from the Islamic Society of North America, U.S. mosques reported attendance at Friday prayers on average was 18% female. Most mosques in the study scored fair or poor on a “women-friendly” scale.

“The mosque will have to evolve to become more inclusive of women if it wants to remain relevant,” said Hind Makki, a 35-year-old Muslim woman in Chicago who consults with mosques on inclusion.

There is general agreement among various schools of Islamic thought that women can lead other women in daily prayers, said Jihad Turk, an imam and president of Bayan Claremont, the Islamic graduate school at Claremont School of Theology in Southern California. He noted there is precedent in Muslim history of female scholars and teachers, including the Prophet Muhammad’s wife, who led women in prayer.

But Islamic scholars are less in agreement over whether women can lead the special Friday prayer that is proceeded by a sermon. One solution might be to perform the regular daily prayer in addition to the Friday prayer to fulfill Islamic obligation, scholars suggested.

“This is something that has no precedent in history or tradition,” Muslim American scholar Furhan Zubairi wrote in a piece posted online Friday about the Women’s Mosque, referring to women leading the special Friday prayer. “The issue of precedence isn’t something that should be taken lightly.”

But Mr. Zubairi said there is “nothing wrong with having a Women’s Mosque,” saying women should have “spaces where they feel safe, welcomed and respected.”

Mr. Turk said he has heard from a few conservative leaders who have expressed concerns over “whether this is somehow a slap to the face of the established community.” Some people, he added, “might take offense, and some are saying you should just work with the community [for change] instead of creating your own.”

Nearly two years ago, Ms. Makki launched Side Entrance, a website where Muslim women post photos of women’s entrances and worship space at mosques around the world. It began when Ms. Makki ducked into a mosque to pray and posted a photo of the cramped women’s area on her Facebook page. Her female friends commiserated, she said, but her “male friends were shocked. Most men don’t know where their sisters, wives or moms go to pray.”

She said she is hopeful the new women’s mosque will “bring this issue to the forefront. If women are feeling so excluded that they’ve created their own mosque, that shows you how desperate the situation is across the nation.”

For now, members of the Women’s Mosque will gather in a former synagogue that is now a multifaith center, in an industrial neighborhood just off downtown L.A. Its founders say it will serve as a “complement” to worshippers’ home mosques, not as a replacement. They hope to offer classes on the Quran, host female Islamic scholars and encourage women to take more active roles.

“This is a place where Muslim women can come and experience inspiration and then return with that to their communities,” Ms. Maznavi said. “We would love to not have to exist.”



Malala on Britain's most influential people's list 2015

 February 1st, 2015

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has been named among the list of 500 most influential people in Britain 2015.

The annual Debrett’s 500 list covers 24 categories which include sports, journalism, politics, advertising, architecture, food and education. Malala was named in the list of "Philanthropists and Activists" among 20 other personalities which include Emma Watson and HRH Prince Henry of Wales, as reported by British media.

Seventeen-year-old Malala, the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize, is also the youngest in the Debrett’s rankings.

The annual Debrett’s 500, which began in 1769, extends recognition to the most influential, inspiring and achieving individuals across Britain.

Joanne Milner, chief executive at Debrett's, said as quoted in The Telegraph: "We are delighted to announce this year's Debrett's 500. It's a fascinating mix of people, and not entirely who you might expect.

Malala was 15 when a Taliban gunman shot her in the head as she travelled on a school bus in response to her campaign for girls' education. Since then she has become a global ambassador for children's right and has set up the Malala Fund.

Last year in December she received the Nobel Peace Prize alongside India's Kailash Satyarthi for risking their lives to fight for children's rights.



World Woman Festival 2015: Women in countries such as Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan 'worst hit' by fundamentalism

 February 1st, 2015

Women are the greatest victims of the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, and the extent of the violence being inflicted upon them can no longer be ignored, an international panel of human rights campaigners has said.

In a debate about jihadis, campaigners at the World Woman Festival in Oslo said that in countries such as Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, women’s rights were increasingly being threatened by fundamentalists who wanted to return to the Middle Ages.

Attendees heard criticism of Western democracies for ignoring the plight of women in countries menaced by fundamentalism. Fawzia Koofi, an Afghan politician and author of the best-selling My Favourite Daughter, said that in the 1970s jihadi groups were handed blank cheques to help to end the war with the Soviet Union, but “there was no benchmark set on women’s rights”.

The Pakistani lawyer Hina Jilani said that at the time communism was seen as the biggest threat, but “fundamentalism could become a much bigger evil for all of us”. She added: “Ending religious fundamentalism with more religion is dangerous work. These policies do not work.”

Ms Jilani said similar warnings were ignored before the World Trade Center attacks in 2001. “We are the voices of the women who said, much before 9/11, much before the world felt the effects of jihad, ‘Don’t go down that road, it is dangerous’, but we were silenced.”

Yanar Mohammed, the president of the Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), which runs secret shelters in Baghdad for women fleeing abuse, said Iraqi women were suffering because of policies put in place by the US and Britain which had allowed the rise of Isis. “Thousands of Yazidi woman have been sold into enslavement,” she said. “They are sold on 15 times as the men are told not to keep them a long time. But nobody is doing anything about this.”

The festival’s organiser was Deeyah Khan, who made the Emmy-winning documentary Banaz: A Love Story, about a British woman murdered by her family in an “honour killing”. She said: “We give so much space to the villains, such as IS, yet the heroes get so little space. We are here to stand in solidarity with the heroes.”

Norwegian-born Ms Khan, who had to quit her career as a pop star and flee to Britain and later to the US because of harassment by Islamists, said: “The Charlie Hebdo attacks could not be seen in isolation but were part of the Islamist terrorist campaign to silence any critique of the religious right.”

The Egyptian-American writer Mona Eltahawy, who was assaulted by Egyptian security forces while covering the Arab Spring demonstrations in 2011, warned that there was an epidemic of sexual violence in Egypt and that “there could be no revolution without a sexual revolution”.

Gro Harlem Brundtland, Norway’s first woman prime minister in 1981, told the conference it was difficult to balance being a “woman and a changemaker and to deal with your country as a whole” but this was what she had set out to do. In contrast, she said Margaret Thatcher had felt it was enough just “to be a woman and become Prime Minister”.



Bodies of Five Newborn Babies Recovered From Garbage Heap in Pakistan

 February 1st, 2015

KARACHI: Bodies of five newborn babies were recovered from a garbage heap near Abdul Sattar Bachani petrol pump in the Tando Allah Yar district of Sindh on Saturday.

Following discovery of the bodies, local residents in the area informed police and Civil Hospital officials.

Police reached the site and took the bodies into custody, which were later shifted to Civil Hospital.

In the aftermath of the discovery, panic spread in the area and residents demanded the arrest of those involved in this heinous offence.

According to Pakistani law, anyone found to have abandoned an infant can be jailed for seven years, while anyone guilty of secretly burying a child can be imprisoned for two years. Murder is punishable with life imprisonment.

But crimes of infanticide are rarely prosecuted.

Edhi says that up to 200 babies are left in its 400 cradles nationwide each year and that it handles thousands of requests for adoption by childless couples.



Recruitment Ban on Shops Failing Feminisation: Saudi Arabia

 February 1st, 2015

RIYADH — Shops failing to implement feminization decision will be deprived from recruitment and sponsorship transfer, according to a senior official of the Ministry of Labor.

Assistant Undersecretary of the ministry Dr. Fahd Al-Tekhaifi told Okaz/Saudi Gazette that many shops have been found employing illegal expatriate women.

“We pursue owners of shops that do not implement feminization decision and impose penalties including fines,” he said.

The penalties in the third stage of feminization are stern and include recruitment ban and stoppage of transfer of sponsorship. The shops will also be referred to the Saudization Committee, Al-Tekhaifi said.

The ministry started intensive inspections in 2013 after its deadline to employ Saudi female staff expired on July 7, 2013.

The inspection formed part of the second phase to feminize shops selling women’s dresses, abayas and accessories. It was complimentary to the first stage of feminizing lingerie shops.

In March 2014, the ministry started the implementation of the third phase of the feminization of shops selling women’s accessories. This phase includes shops selling female perfumes, Jalabiyas (traditional dresses), bags, shoes, socks, clothes and fabrics for women as well as shops selling mother-care products (baby stuff are excluded), and pharmacies in malls selling beauty products and accessories.

By October 2016, the ministry plans to achieve its goal to employ women in all stores selling women’s accessories.

The male staff of over 13,000 women’s accessory shops all over the Kingdom were replaced by 65,000 women in the first and second phases of shop feminization.



Netanyahu’s Wife Makes Money from Empty Bottles

 February 1st, 2015

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday dismissed as “false” reports that his wife Sara had pocketed at least $1,000 worth of public money by returning empty bottles to supermarkets.

The reports, which were cause for ridicule in local media, come as the head of the rightwing Likud party prepares to seek re-election in a snap March vote.

In a long Facebook post, Netanyahu hit out at “false accusations against me and my wife that seek to topple the Likud and bring the left to power.”

“All of this aims to detract attention from what is really important — who will lead the country,” he wrote.

Earlier this week, reports emerged that Sara Netanyahu had during her husband’s second term as prime minister (2009-2013) collected a vast amount of empty bottles bought by the premier’s office and returned them to supermarkets, pocketing the money herself. Over several years, the Netanyahus through this practice earned at least 4,000 shekels ($1,000, 885 Euros) of what should have been public money, the reports said. They returned $1,000 to the state in 2013, the Haaretz website reported. But Haaretz also cited a former employee of the Netanyahus as saying that the figure was in fact thousands of shekels higher.

The matter is being turned over to Israel’s attorney general’s office, Haaretz said. Local media were quick to ridicule Sara. Haaretz published a cartoon featuring her sitting in her living room, surrounded by empty bottles and pointing at a TV showing the latest frontier flare-up between Israel and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

“I need them to take something to the supermarket,” she barks down a telephone, pointing at attack helicopters shown on the TV.

Pro-Netanyahu free sheet Israel Hayom slammed the reports as “defamation” as the country’s political parties prepared for the campaign trail.

The snap vote on March 17 will pit Netanyahu’s Likud and other possible rightwing allies against a united centre-left front that includes former justice minister Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah and the Labor party.



134 IISJ girls complete Toastmasters’ Youth Leadership Program

 February 1st, 2015

JEDDAH — They were loud and clear, their body language showing confidence and poise, their intonation varying with their expression. They were the girls of International Indian School Jeddah (IISJ) competing at the graduation ceremony of the Toastmasters Youth Leadership Program at IISJ boys’ section auditorium.

This was the culmination of a grueling five-month training conducted by Galaxy of Stars Advanced Toastmasters Club & IISJ Ladies Toastmasters Club supported by TM Shafiqur Rehman.

A record 134 girls completed the Youth Leadership Program.

Whether it was a table topic test where the girls had to deliver an impromptu speech on “What will I do if I am caught in a dangerous situation” or the international speech competition where they had to present prepared speeches, the young leaders excelled in oratory. Their thoughts well-organized, the content thought-provoking, their speeches peppered with anecdotes and humor.

In attendance were Indian Consul General B.S. Mubarak, the chief guest of the evening; member IISJ higher board Hasan Ghias, principal Syed Masood Ahmed, vice principal IISJ girls section Farahdunnisa, headmistress Rita Sharma, IISJ management committee member Najeeb Hashmi, distinguished Toastmasters Joey Villanueva and Tess Villanueva, Urdu Academy president Jamal Qadri, Toastmasters Khaleel Ahmed, Mufid Mustafa, Shafiqur Rehman, Osman Omar, Galaxy of Stars Adv. Toastmasters Club members Aqeel Jamil (president ), Samia Aqeel Khan (vice president), IISJ ladies Toastmasters club members Zareen Taj (president ), Zainab Mulji (vice president ), Sabiha Akhter, Fathima Sherin, Riasa Jabeen.

Winners for the evaluation round were Syeda Farheen Fatima, Merlin Susan George (runner-up) and Khadeja Nazreen Haris (2nd runner-up).

Winners for the Table Topics round were Iman Aqeel Khan, Asma Zain (runner-up) and Qurrat Al Ein (2nd runner-up)

Winners for the International Speech round were Abida Abdullah, Humera Jabeen (runner-up) and Merlin Susan George (2nd runner-up).

On the occasion, leaders of the first Gavel Club (Toastmasters Club for below 18 group) for IISJ girls were installed. They were: President GAV Dua Habib Majid, VP Education GAV Iman Aqeel Khan, VP Membership GAV Marlyn Susan George, VP Public Relations GAV Asma Mohammed, Secretary GAV Fathima Shirin, Treasurer GAV Asma Zain, Sergeant-At-Arms GAV Sharika Balachandran.

The ceremony was competently compèred by TM Samia Aqeel Khan. The chief judge, who announced the results, was TM Shafiqur Rehman.



RI urged to end religious intolerance, back women's rights

 February 1st, 2015

The Indonesian government should take decisive action to address religious intolerance and a rollback in women’s rights, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said in a newly released report.

The World Report 2015 says the human rights challenges facing President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who took office on Oct. 20, 2014, are immense as he inherited a legacy of worsening sectarianism and security-force impunity from his predecessor, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

“President Widodo has spoken of the need for greater respect for human rights in Indonesia. He needs to back up those words with concrete actions,” HRW deputy Asia director Phelim Kine said regarding the group’s 25th edition report released on Friday.

Despite some important progress on human rights in 2014, the Indonesian government should move quickly to defend religious minorities from harassment, intimidation and violence by militant groups, HRW said.

Seven people were injured when Islamist militants carrying wooden bats and iron bars attacked the home of book publisher Julius Felicianus in Yogyakarta while his family conducted an evening Christian prayer meeting on May 29, 2014.

“Police arrested the alleged leader of the attack but later released him after local authorities pressured Felicianus to drop charges to maintain ‘religious harmony’,” the group said.

In September, the administration in Aceh passed two Islamic bylaws that extended Islamic law to non-Muslims, criminalizing the drinking of alcohol, consensual same-sex relations and all sexual relations outside of marriage. The bylaws permit as punishment up to 100 lashes and up to 100 months in prison.

“President Widodo’s government should also address the rollback in women’s rights over the past decade,” said HRW. Many local regulations require female students and civil servants, among other women and girls, to wear the hijab. Meanwhile, female applicants nationwide to Indonesia’s National Police must take “virginity tests” that have been described as abusive, degrading and discriminatory.

In the 656-page world report, HRW reviewed human rights practices in more than 90 countries. Executive director Kenneth Roth said in an introductory essay to the report that governments needed to recognize that human rights offer an effective moral guide in turbulent times, and that violating rights can spark or aggravate serious security challenges.

“The short-term gains of undermining core values of freedom and non-discrimination are rarely worth the long-term price," he said.



Scourge of Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict 'Far From Being Rooted Out,' UN Relief Official

 February 1st, 2015

New York, Jan 31 (IBNS) Despite some positive developments across the United Nations system, the task of protecting civilians has become more onerous as conflicts have become increasingly vicious, with the brutalization of women a deplorable persisting trend, a senior UN relief official said today, as she urged the Security Council to press all conflict parties to abide by their international obligations towards civilian protection.

Briefing the Council’s open debate, which focused on the vulnerabilities of conflict-affected women and girls, UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Kyung-Wha Kang said that from Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya, to the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, Ukraine and many others, civilians caught up in armed conflict are being killed and maimed, fleeing their homes and fearing for their lives.

“Now more than ever, the protection of civilians needs to be at the top of our priorities,” said Kang, explaining that at the start of 2014, humanitarian organizations appealed for aid to help 52 million people in urgent need of assistance and protection. By the end of the year, the number had gone up by almost 50 per cent to 76 million. Overwhelmingly, these people are civilians affected by conflict – and the majority are women and girls.

Joined at the Council by Helen Durham, Director for International Law and Policy for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and Iwad Elman, of the NGO Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, Kang said that currently, the average length of conflict-related displacement is now 17 years.

“One of the worst examples of this is Syria, where half of the population has been displaced…but the numbers are growing elsewhere, for example in Darfur, where 450,000 people were displaced last year, adding to the more than two million people already in internally displaced persons camps (IDP) camps,” she continued, stressing that while the Council has taken action to bolster civilian protection and recognized the specific needs of women and girls, more overall measures are required as “the scourge of sexual violence in armed conflict is far from being rooted out.”

Spotlighting several troubling examples of the “consistent and persistent” brutalization women face, Kang said that as militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant (ISIL) have captured territory in Iraq and Syria, they have used and punished women to demonstrate their power. Women have been repeatedly raped, forced into marriage and sold into slavery. Nigerian women and girls have given harrowing accounts of their experiences at the hands of Boko Haram, she added.

“Simply, crisis exacerbates gender inequalities. While entire communities suffer the impact of armed conflict, women and girls are often the first to lose their rights to education, to political participation and to livelihoods, among other rights being bluntly violated,” she continued, and such challenges are manifestations of deeper, systemic problems.

“We need to better understand the social, economic and power dynamics which result in the continued enslavement of and use of violence against women, particularly in conflict situations. We must also make concerted efforts to expand women’s representation and participation in rule of law processes and protection mechanisWomen must be included in the political leadership, security forces and accountability mechanisms in countries,” she said.

To facilitate these efforts on the ground, 17 Women Protection Advisers have been deployed to six UN peacekeeping operations and embedded in the Offices of the Special Representatives. In South Sudan, the UN Mission regularly consults displaced women in the POC sites through consultation groups which have been formed. Those consultations help to ensure that prevention and protection strategies led by the mission take into account the perceptions and security needs of women.

Yet much remained to be done, she said, and While the primary responsibility for protecting and assisting civilians affected by armed conflict lies with the parties to the conflict, many parties have demonstrated complete disregard for their obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law.

“In some cases, parties to conflict deliberately target civilians and use tactics designed to cause them the greatest harm possible,” noted Kang again drawing attention to Boko Haram, which she said had massacred hundreds of civilians and destroyed thousands of homes, schools and medical clinics in Nigeria during the past few weeks. This follows repeated incidents of kidnapping of hundreds of women and children. In Syria and Iraq, all parties have been targeting civilians based on ethnic and religious grounds.

Despite this troubling context, she said, “International law is clear: parties to conflict are responsible for meeting the basic needs of persons under their control. Yet, time and again, we see parties to conflict violating these basic obligations with impunity, with grave consequences for civilians.” As such, conflict parties must be pressed to do more to comply with their legal obligations and ensure accountability whenever such obligations are violated. But the responsibility does not lie solely with the parties themselves.

“This Council and the international community must take steps to tackle the impunity that continues to fuel many conflicts, as well as the endless flow of weapons and arThere is nothing that emboldens violators more than knowing that they will not be brought to account for their crimes,” she declared, adding: “We also need to build up our collective capacity, to find political solutions to conflicts at an early stage, rather than struggling to cope with the consequences.”

The efforts of humanitarian workers and peacekeepers are no substitute for timely and resolute political action to prevent and resolve conflict. And women must be full participants in the process, Kang stressed, as she urged stakeholders to be more attuned to the specific threats that civilians are facing and the risk of escalation of violence and violations, often manifested through heightened discrimination and repression of minorities, including against women and girls.

“When we see early warning signs, we must be able to act quickly and effectively,” she concluded, drawing attention to the importance of the Secretary-General’s Human Rights Up Front initiative.



Madinah forum to address employment of Saudi youth

 February 1st, 2015

JEDDAH — Sidra Capital, the CMA-licensed financial services provider, has announced its sponsorship of the Madinah Job Market and Employment Forum, which is being organized by the Ministry of Labor and will be held on Feb. 4-5, 2015 under the auspices of Prince Faisal bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Madinah.

Commenting, Hani Baothman, CEO of Sidra Capital, said the company is committed to supporting the efforts of the Ministry of Labor to develop the local labor market and increase the availability of jobs for Saudi youth of both genders in order to enable them to perform their role in elevating the Kingdom’s economic and social development.

“As a Saudi company it is our responsibility to support all initiatives that help in achieving national objectives in respect of the labor market. Moreover, we believe that the Madinah Job Forum represents a great platform for private sector companies to meet, share experiences and discuss key initiatives related to the job market including the recent government laws and Saudization.

“Private sector activities are mainly focused on the three big cities in Saudi Arabia; Jeddah, Riyadh and Al-Khobar. However, the development of other regions in Saudi Arabia is often overlooked. Madinah’s population has recently crossed the 1 million mark and is officially the 4th largest city in Saudi Arabia, growing at around 3.4 percent per year ahead of the national average. The growth figures coupled with mega projects such as the expansion of the holy mosque, the Haramain high-speed railway, Knowledge Economic City as well as the expansion of the airport will have a significant impact on the economic growth of the city which in return will increase the demand for skilled and qualified labor.”

Praising the intensive efforts by the CMA to enhance financial literacy and qualification for young men and women working in the investment banking sector, Baothman sector said “we encourage and support the adoption of special programs to raise financial literacy among the Kingdom’s students. Sidra Capital provides Saudi youth a look into various career opportunities in the Kingdom’s financial service sector by providing them with internships.”— SG