MAKKAH: Saudi women working in the Unified Security Operations Center (911) say they are proud to be helping people of many nationalities by doing jobs that were once the sole preserve of men.
The Ministry of Interior employs hundreds of men and women at its two 911 centers in Riyadh and Makkah. They operate under the National Center for Security Operations (NCSO), which provides the ministry and related organizations with a range of security services, including information, statistics and reports.
Some of the women working at the 911 center in Makkah told Arab News about their work, and the sense of pride they get from being in the privileged position of being able to help others.
“I hold a Bachelor of Arts in English language, which enables me to provide the necessary assistance to the many English-speaking callers living in the region,” operator Rana Tayeb told Arab News.
Her colleague, Ghadeer Al-Sahafi, has also been trained to assist foreign callers, in particular those who speak German.
“I usually pass the reports the center receives from the callers to the relevant authorities,” she said. “We have received intensive training courses in dealing with all of the calls we receive daily from different segments of society.”
French-speaker Ohoud Al-Sulaimani, who is also an operator, said she is proud of her work with the center. In addition to normal day-to-day calls, it also allows her to help pilgrims during Hajj, she added.
NCSO spokesman Lt. Col. Ahmed bin Hamdan Sharaf told Arab News that many female workers now carry out the same duties as male colleagues.
“The women receive emergency calls from citizens and residents in both regions, where they help and assist in all needed services,” he said. “The centers, which work 24 hours a day, have unified nearly 105 different government operation centers into one unit.”
Some of the female employees are highly qualified and work as technicians, quality assurance professionals, and business intelligence experts who collect and analyze data, he said.
“Some of them are human resources employees, who do office administrative work and services, and some monitor the street security TV surveillance cameras,” added Sharaf. “They are, in fact, in all departments of the centers.
“Like their male coworkers, they regularly receive on-the-job training courses, which aim to enhance and update their communication skills.”
The women also receive professional training to help them deal with callers as effectively as possible, in particular women and children, he explained.
“We strongly believe that our staff members of both genders should always be ready to deal with all calls in a professional manner that adds to their academic qualification and disciplined military preparations,” he said. “Most of our female workers hold bachelor’s and master’s degrees.”
Sharaf added that female operators are highly qualified to take calls and deal with them in a professional way in a variety of languages, including English, French, German, Urdu and Indonesian.
He said that 911 centers, which are directly linked to the Information Ministry, received more than 1,348,690 calls between June 11 and July 10, most of which were from people looking for help or information.
“In addition to the humanitarian services, the centers also receive calls from citizens, residents and tourists reporting traffic accidents and seeking safety information and advice,” he added.
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