Saudi Gazette reports on Hatun Madani, a Saudi woman making a splash in the UAE with her Saudi-inspired restaurant. While she would have had a hard time — if not an impossible one — opening her own restaurant in the Kingdom, she was able to do so in the neighboring UAE. It’s a demonstration that Saudi women aren’t incapable, but they are handicapped by their society that refuses to see them as adult actors, competent to lead their own lives.

Saudi restaurateur making it big in Dubai

THE past few years have seen the coming in numerous eating joints. Since 2012, the restaurants and hotels sector has been one of the highest growing sector in Dubai’s economy. About 19,000 more F&B outlets are expected in the UAE by 2019, according to Euromonitor International, which reported that there are currently over 6000 outlets in the Emirates. Many of these new food establishments come and go, some are still talked about while some are forgotten. But there are a few that strike the right chord with the food lovers. One such new restaurant is Hatun Cuisine, and it looks like it‘s here to stay.

Opened on June 4, 2015 by master chef Hatun Madani, the brand ambassador of Mazola, Hatun Cuisine serves authentic Saudi inspired home-cooked food that is healthy and delicious. After 2 of her children were diagnosed with diabetes at an early stage, Hatun was inspired to switch to healthy cooking, but without compromising on the taste. And now she has extended this vision to her menu at the restaurant. “Flavor is always top priority when eating out, for casual diners and food enthusiasts alike. While many think it is only achievable by compromising on the health quotient, I beg to differ,” said Hatun Madni, the mastermind behind Hatun Cuisine. “My food is healthy and delicious, while being true to its authentic Hijazi roots,” she added.

July:20:2015 - 06:32 | Comments Off | Permalink

Working within the limits Saudi society puts on them, some Saudi women are finding ways to couple their home skills with social media in order to turn a profit. Saudi Gazette reports that women are turning to various social media like Instagram and Twitter to market their home cooking to customers to busy to cook for themselves. While there seems to be considerable room to grow the industry, there is some concern that some hygienic standards be set and enforced. That seems reasonable.

Saudi women use social media to market cooking skills
Saudi Gazette report

MANY Saudi women use the popular micro-blogging site Twitter and photo-sharing site Instagram as an easy and inexpensive way to market their homemade dishes to potential clients.

These social media “cooks” have discovered a way to give people access to healthier, homemade food at a fraction of the cost they would pay in a restaurant.

Al-Riyadh daily reports on the increasing number of home-based businesses that rely on social media to market their products.

Although the food is prepared at home and customers do not know whether or not hygiene standards were followed, many people are still willing to take the risk and buy the food they just liked on Instagram.

June:20:2015 - 08:08 | Comments Off | Permalink

While there’s talk of permitting Saudi women to travel abroad without “guardians,” there are more basic hurdles that need to be met. Saudi women have to first get passports. That’s not always easy.

Saudi Gazette reports on a Saudi female activist pointing out the dysfunction that obtains when a Saudi woman must obtain permission from a court to even get a passport where her son doesn’t face the same barrier. She notes (as have many others) the way Saudi culture and law seem to keep women infantalized, never permitting them to become responsible for their own actions. This, she also points out, is in contrast to how other countries, even similar, neighboring countries treat their women.

Activist slams court letter rule for women’s passport
Saudi Gazette report

JEDDAH — A human rights activist has strongly criticized the complications put before Saudi women to obtain their own passports without the consent of their male guardians.

Suhaila Zain Al-Abdeen, member of the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR), was responding to recent statements by the Director General of Passports (Jawazat) Maj. Gen. Solaiman Al-Yahya, who said Saudi women would be allowed to have their own passports issued for them if they show a letter from a court.

“Why does the issuance of a woman’s passports depend on a letter from the court?” Al-Abdeen told Ain Al-Yaum electronic newspaper, Saudi Gazette’s sister publication.

She said a letter from the court might take time to process even though the traveler might have a family emergency to tend to.

“Why is a young man under 20 not asked for the consent of his male guardian or to bring a letter from the court when he wants to obtain a passport while his own biological mother may need a letter from the court if she wishes to have a passport? “Is it a case of trusting the young man while we deny this right to the woman who gave birth to him?”

June:16:2015 - 09:35 | Comments Off | Permalink

Saudi women in the Eastern Province seem eager to exercise their new political potential, Saudi Gazette reports. Over 80 women have put themselves forward as candidates for the Dammam municipal elections to be held in December of this year. These elections are the first in which women may vote and run as candidates.

80 women to run for EP city council
Saudi Gazette report

DAMMAM — There are over 80 women running for the Eastern Province city council elections in August with at least 10 female candidates contesting places on each municipal committee, a social activist told Al-Hayat.

Fowziyah Al-Hani of the “Baladi” campaign, which works to increase women’s representation in the city council, said female participation in the Shoura Council has improved Saudi society.

She believed more women in the city council would help societal development as well. She said: “I believe the Saudi woman will be a complementary addition to the city councils in the Kingdom.

“A lot of women are apprehensive about nominating themselves. They fear their agendas and plans would be stolen by other candidates if they were publicized.”

She added women candidates would always be under the spotlight in the election and their private lives exposed. “It is financially and emotionally exhausting to campaign and challenge social norms.

June:10:2015 - 09:40 | Comments Off | Permalink

While it’s far from a done deal, Arab News reports, Saudi Arabia’s Passport Department, in consultation with various ministries, is considering the idea of issuing women passports without the explicit permission of their parents or guardians. Already, the government has permitted women to travel within the country without written permission, so this would be an expansion of women’s rights and a bit less control, treating women as adults in the way most of the world does.

Women traveling without mahram under study

JEDDAH: The Passport Department is currently drafting regulations that would see women travel without the permission of their guardians.

Maj. Gen. Sulaiman Al-Yahya, director general of the department in Riyadh, said the rules would be based on the reasons for travel, not age. The procedures to allow women to travel without permission include the interior, justice and social affairs ministries, and other bodies, he said.

He added that the passport department complies with court decisions that allow women to travel abroad, or get passports issued and renewed without the approval of their parents or guardians. These were in line with laws in “advanced countries,” he said.

June:09:2015 - 06:04 | Comments & Trackbacks (2) | Permalink

Arab News reports that seven Saudi students have won eight medals at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. The competition is among high school students. Saudi success is a good sign that long-needed changes in education are starting to take effect, at least at some schools. It is noteworthy, too, to point out the success of female students.

Saudi students win 8 medals at world event

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia achieved yet another accolade in scientific research at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF-2015) in Pittsburgh, US.

As many as 1,700 students from 75 countries around the world took part in the event. The KSA team won eight awards in various research areas. Abdul Jabbar Al-Hamoud from the Eastern Province won the first place in the field of botany, while two girl students — Rafal Bouqis and Ranad Bouqis — from the Makkah region won the fourth place in molecular and cellular biology.

Abdul Aziz Al Shahrani of Asir education also stood fourth in the field of medical science, while Lulua Ziyad Al-Shiha from Riyadh won the fourth place in botany.

Another Saudi, Noura Alfdag from Eastern Province secured the fourth slot in mathematics.

A special award was given to Maria Al-Kurdi from Riyadh in chemistry. Al-Hamoud was also adjudged best among the top five winners in botany, and also won a special award qualifying him to attend the Nobel Prize ceremony in Sweden.

A complete list of award winners and the titles of their projects can be found at the link below. Talk about making one feel like a slacker!

Intel ISEF 2015 Grand Award winners

May:20:2015 - 11:00 | Comments & Trackbacks (2) | Permalink

Saudi Arabia will conduct its next municipal elections on December 12, Arab News reports. The Municipal Election Committee has also established a timetable for voter and candidate registration. These elections — which are the first to include women as both voters and candidates (if any) — will permit 12 days for campaigning.

Civic poll on Dec. 12

JEDDAH: The third municipal election, which will see for the first time women participating as voters and candidates, will be held between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Dec. 12. The results will be out the following day.

“The Municipal Election Committee has set a timeframe for the polls, including the timings for registration of voters and candidates,” said Jedaie bin Nahar Al-Qahtani, spokesman of the election panel.

The whole election process, including campaign, would take three months. Registration of voters will be done between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. from Aug. 22 to Sept. 14, he said Registration of candidates will be from Aug. 30 to Sept. 17, the spokesman said.

May:18:2015 - 09:55 | Comments Off | Permalink

Saudi Arabia has no minimum age at which a woman can marry. Many Saudis think this needs correction, that minors need to be protected, and that the country does need to specify a minimum age for marriage.

Saudi Gazette, reprinting an AFP story, reports that Spain — the European country that used to have the lowest age — is raising the minimum from 14 years to 16. That is roughly the target Saudis are seeking. By showing that the world is closing in on a range of ages, the paper is encouraging the government to follow along.

Spain to raise marriage age from 14 to 16

MADRID — Spain is moving to raise the minimum age for marriage from 14 to 16 in a bid to boost protection of minors and bring the country in line with its European Union neighbors. The legislation was approved by the lower house of Parliament last month and was sent to the Senate on Friday for debate and likely approval over the coming months. Spanish law allows boys and girls to marry at 14 with permission from a judge. Without such consent, they must wait until they are 18. Spain has one of Europe’s lowest minimum ages for marriage in the EU, with most members setting it at 16.

May:09:2015 - 06:07 | Comments Off | Permalink

Saudi Gazette translates a piece from the Arabic daily Al-Watan pointing out that Saudi actresses, faced with a dearth of acting opportunities in the Kingdom, are finding ways to perform. Some travel to other countries to take up their careers. Increasingly, they’re also turning to YouTube as a showcase for their performances.

The article goes on to note that tribal politics are being raised as a way to denigrate the women’s choices. Apparently, the daughters of the mighty tribes don’t do that sort of thing. Or so they say.

Why are some Saudi actresses appearing on YouTube?
Abdulmajeed Al-Zahrani | Al-Watan

Lujain Omran, the Saudi host of “Good Morning Arabs,” recently talked about an unusual subject. The rising star focused on Saudi actresses who have resorted to YouTube to showcase their skills. The report focused exclusively on these Saudi women.

Of course, Saudi and Gulf TV shows have recently featured Saudi women who have taken up acting as a profession. Some of the actresses mentioned in the report included Maryam Al-Ghamdi, Nirmeen Mohsin, Marwa Muhammad and Aseel Omran to mention but a few. But the strange thing is the appearance of many young Saudi women on YouTube.

May:09:2015 - 06:01 | Comments Off | Permalink

The apparent Saudi allergy to holding menial, blue-collar jobs has several sources, a piece in Arab News reports. And it starts from the fact that Saudi children aren’t expected to do chores around the home, leaving them instead to cheap expat workers. From that, disdain toward manual labor grows until it’s seen as simply beneath one’s dignity, is an impediment to marriage, and leads to a cycle of disrespect from employers. Government efforts to change attitudes and to make blue-collar work more appealing are in place, but not yet successful on a large scale. Attitudes toward manual labor are shared across the gender divide.

Why young Saudis turn down blue-collar jobs
RIYADH: Rodolfo C. Estimo Jr.

Despite the “Jobs on Air” television program’s success in looking for employment opportunities, many young Saudis refuse to accept blue-collar jobs.

“Based on a survey, there are at least five reasons why young Saudi males turn down menial jobs,” said Mohsin Shaikh Al-Hassan, program host. The program — which has found at least 8,500 jobs for young Saudi males and females since it went on air four months ago — is broadcast on Al Danah television channel from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. every Tuesday.

Al-Hassan said that one reason why young Saudis refuse to accept menial jobs is because of the family. “Saudi families did not train their children while small to do chores at home. They provided everything the child needed. That’s why children don’t want to accept menial jobs when they grow up,” he said.

April:26:2015 - 06:44 | Comments & Trackbacks (3) | Permalink

The Saudi government is facing a conundrum when dealing with temporary marriages (Nikah Misyar, for Sunni Muslims). While there are multiple fatwas authorizing such marriages as permitted under Shariah law, it is against Saudi Arabia’s public policy. The government acts to discourage it — as with this article from Saudi Gazette — but appears to be unable or unwilling to directly counter religious statements. Whether moral suasion overcomes biological drives and convenience, with a religious blessing, will be an interesting thing to watch.

Grappling with the surge in temporary marriages
Saudi Gazette report

THE Saudi Charitable Society for the Welfare of Saudi Families Abroad (Awaser) has warned Saudi citizens against engaging in any temporary marriage contracts abroad.

Speaking to Al-Riyadh newspaper, Tawfiq Abdulaziz Al-Suwailem, chairman of the board of directors, said the society works with the ministries of social affairs and foreign affairs as well as Saudi missions abroad to crack down on Saudis who enter temporary marriages.

“There should be legislation and extensive media coverage of such marriages arranged by brokers outside the country. Saudi men should realize the consequences of these marriages.

Unfortunately, over the past 10 years, these types of marriages have spread and are out of control. They have been called tourist, summer and common-law marriages and they all have one common thing: they’re temporary and the disengagement ends with a divorce,” Al-Suwailem said.

April:18:2015 - 11:22 | Comments Off | Permalink

Saudi Gazette/Okaz badly report a vote in Saudi Arabia’s Shoura Council. The headline says that the Council voted against the appointment of women as ambassadors. Actually, the Council said that the nomination of ambassadors was outside its competence: it is up to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, not the Council to make such nominations and appointments. It was within the Council’s remit, however, to deny Saudi diplomats a pay raise.

Shoura rejects women ambassadors

RIYADH – The Shoura Council on Tuesday rejected a proposal to appoint women in the post of ambassadors.

The foreign affairs committee at the council turned down the recommendation moved by a member Lubna Al-Ansari in this regard. She proposed that women shall be appointed in key positions in the Kingdom’s administrative, financial and technical fields as well as in diplomatic missions abroad.

The committee report noted that it is a policy matter that can be decided by the higher authorities. It also drew attention to the fact that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs enjoys jurisdiction to appoint women in key positions, including that of ambassador, and it will make appointments in key positions after taking into account of the qualifications and capabilities of the officials. The council also rejected another proposal to increase salary of diplomats and other officials working at Saudi missions abroad. — Okaz/Saudi Gazette

April:08:2015 - 08:21 | Comments Off | Permalink
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