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Saudi Arabia takes a giant leap in CSR during sanitary crisis

The global pandemic situation linked to the spread of the coronavirus proved to be as destructive as it was unexpected. Faced with this situation, the States had very little time to react and put the necessary measures in place. In Saudi Arabia, the period of quarantine was a time when the Saudi Arabian Association for Social Responsibility played a major role.

Public-private solidarity, the watchword of Saudi policy

Impacted like all other world powers by the Covid-19 pandemic, Saudi Arabia has faced challenges unprecedented in its history. To meet them, the Saudi Kingdom had to mobilize all the energies present within civil society to limit the spread of the coronavirus and, above all, to provide sufficient health protection for all its citizens. It is in this regard that several solidarity initiatives, such as the Saudi Association for Social and Environmental Responsibility, have emerged and played a major role in providing access to care during the quarantine.

Thus, when the Kingdom had to manage the return of 5,000 Saudi expatriates who entered the country in March 2020 and the authorities imposed a 14-day isolation period to prevent the spread of the virus, the Saudi Association for Social Responsibility intervened to find urgent solutions when the means were lacking. Created at the beginning of 2019 to act as a link between the public authorities, the private sector, and civil society, the association is staffed by some 20 experts in the field, specializing in CSR and charitable organizations.

Its president is none other than Saoud Al Subei’i, a well-known poet from the Arab world who was notably invited to Barack Obama’s inauguration as a tribute to his reflections and work in favour of social aid in the Saudi Kingdom. Described as a philanthropist, Subei’i has made a name for himself by organizing the social responsibility campaigns of the Al Hilal football club. More recently, he was involved in the acquisition of Newcastle by the Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund. For him, CSR has an undeniable role to play in the context of access to healthcare: “My ambition is to guarantee access to healthcare to as many people in need as possible, both in the Kingdom and abroad,” he says. This can only be achieved by building a bridge between the state, the private sector, and NGOs to provide funding and training to Saudis attracted to the field of social responsibility.

 

The critical role of CSR during the quarantine

Like many other countries, Saudi Arabia has decided to confine its population in order to contain the spread of the virus as much as possible. As a result, many citizens of the Kingdom have been isolated and some have had great difficulty in accessing services related to education or health. The Saudi Arabian Association for Social Responsibility (SAASR) mobilized itself to serve the civil society of the Arab State.

In record time, the association succeeded in setting up online training courses, the aim of which was to help and support young volunteers, often left to their own devices to take care of isolated people, by high-level trainers in the field of social dialogue. The association also ensured that several students were able to continue their schooling during the confinement by giving courses via videoconference with several of their tutors. The entity also remained at work throughout the confinement period to ensure food and health supplies, through the massive purchase of medicines. It also worked to train medical teams available at all times in case of emergency and contributed more than ever to the proper implementation of public policies decided at the highest level.

The vital role played by the Saudi Association for Social Responsibility illustrates the need to pursue a policy involving civil society, businesses and public authorities. To achieve this objective and increase the visibility of its project, the entity has appointed Princess Hussa bint Salman, daughter of King Salman, as Honorary President. The Princess, who is known for her commitment to charitable activities, wishes to make young Saudis aware of the role to be played by all citizens of the Kingdom, particularly in terms of social responsibility and diversification in line with the principles of sustainable development of the Saudi economy at the dawn of the Vision 2030 plan.

 

 

The Princess made an official statement in which she said she was “delighted to assume the role of Honorary President of the Association for Social Responsibility”. There is no doubt that this collaboration of talents holds all the keys to moving the Kingdom forward in this regard. In the coming months, several awareness-raising campaigns will be launched about the fate of women in the education and information professions. Others on more diverse subjects such as health should be launched soon. Such a system, combined with a pool of brilliant minds, will undoubtedly contribute to the expansion of the concept of social and environmental responsibility throughout the country.