Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Arab Human Development report, expected to be published in June, will focus on the position of women across the Arab world and will examine the different issues related to the development of women in Arab societies, according to Dr. Mohammed Kamel Aref, science and technology advisor at the United Nations Development Program.
in Saudi Arabia on a fact-finding mission, Aref told Asharq al Awsat on Wednesday that he had witnessed firsthand the activities of women researchers and scientists in Saudi Arabia and was surprised how much they had achieved in scientific areas in a short space of time.
Because of a lack of information and statistics about women scientists in Saudi Arabia, Aref decided to visit the Kingdom himself. He has already visited the capital and Jeddah and hopes to travel to the Eastern province to complete his research next week. “The initiative put forward by the King Abdulaziz City for Sciences and Technology provided us with a chance to meet Saudi researchers. The committee for women researchers based in Riyadh also undertook a similar initiative. In Jeddah, Dr. Samira Islam set up a meeting with female researchers and academics.”
“Based on the results and the information we have gathered so far, I can say that the report will reflect the strength of the Saudi woman and single out the areas were they stand out.
It will also reflect women’s important position in Saudi society. I dare say that the picture it will present will totally contradict the world’s perception of Saudi women. People hold simple and wrong information in most cases about the position of women in Saudi.”
Using data gathered, the report will paint “a comprehensive picture of Saudi women and contain information on the areas they are employed in. It will also examine how they were able, in a short space of time, to achieve what women in other countries needed years and decades to attain.”
Aref revealed he was astonished by the scientific success of Saudi women, “not only in terms of quantity, with the number of women studying medicine, engineering and sciences equating that of men, but also in terms of quality and Saudi Arabia’s achievements.”
“Amongst the issues that amazed me is that women in Saudi Arabia are not just employed in traditional position, such as laboratory research or inside university campuses. But they also have many channels at their disposal to spread their knowledge and serve society. They have, for example, founded voluntary organizations to increase awareness about diseases within their specialization, which is more that what women in other countries have done.”
“The other point that caught my attention is that Saudi women work on the frontlines in different scientific areas. This proves that women in Saudi Arabia are not cut off or isolated from their society or the international the scientific community.”
Aref, also revealed that “the most important scientific institution in Saudi Arabia plans to invite the best international experts and put their disposal the most modern and developed equipment to train journalists and editors.”