Afghan girl dies in pesticide poisoning; four hospitalized

Updated 11 March 2014

Afghan girl dies in pesticide poisoning; four hospitalized

One person died and four other people are in critical condition in a suspected case of pesticide poisoning through inhalation in the Al-Warood district of Jeddah, authorities said.
Health, Civil Defense and police authorities took immediate action warning residents against using any chemical without verification and also advised caution in pest control procedures. Civil Defense officials warned that pesticides kill insects swiftly but are equally dangerous for humans.
In a related development, Makkah Region Police spokesperson Lt. Col. Dr. Aati Al-Qurashi said that they have arrested an Arab national who is believed to be the salesman of a pesticide company from where pesticide came. A father and son had to be rushed to the King Fahad Medical City for emergency treatment following exposure to the dangerous chemical.
The fatality in the case is a 16-year-old girl from Afghanistan who died in the Jamia district in Jeddah where she was admitted. She had fallen unconscious and had severe breathing difficulties with a sharp drop in blood pressure. She was declared dead by health authorities on Wednesday according to a statement issued by the Health Directorate.
Dr. Sami Badawood, director general of the Health Ministry in the Jeddah governorate, said, “A Saudi family of four inhaled a pesticide sprayed on the roof of their building and were rushed to hospital after they began experiencing severe breathing difficulties.”
The patients are a 24-year-old woman and a 2-year-old child. “Their condition is now stable,” confirmed Badawood. He added that there were two other Saudi nationals in their 30s who had inhaled the poison but were out of danger.
Badawood said that all these cases were suspected to be of poisoning caused by inhalation of fumes from the pesticides that were sprayed in their apartments.
He said that the chemical substance, aluminum phosphide is believed to be the cause of the problem and advised that residents should not return to their apartments for at least 72 hours following a pesticide spray.
Civil Defense spokesperson Col. Saeed Sarhan said that, “Civil Defense teams received a complaint from a 3-story building whose occupants were suffering from breathing problems. On reaching the spot, the Civil Defense teams found a high concentration of aluminum phosphide in the area.
“We moved to evacuate the building with immediate effect,” he said.
Col. Saeed Sarhan also said that, “The pesticide company has been ordered to provide a suitable temporary housing and conduct a medical examination of the building’s residents.”
Aluminum phosphide has been banned in the Kingdom for several years but there are still cases of exposure and fatalities related to its use as a pesticide in homes.
The gas, which is both colorless and odorless, can spread through the air vents of apartments to surrounding areas affecting all the residents of a particular building.
The symptoms of pesticide poisoning include breathing problems, low blood pressure and coldness in the limbs. Persons affected by pesticide poisoning due to inhalation should be taken to the hospital immediately.

First charity art auction in Saudi Arabia hits SR4.8 million in sales

Updated 27 June 2019

First charity art auction in Saudi Arabia hits SR4.8 million in sales

  • The event, which featured 43 works by Saudi and Arab artists, was held at historic Nassif House in Al-Balad, Jeddah
  • Tawaf around the Kaaba 2,” a painting by Saudi artist Abdullah Al-Shalty, fetched SR 650,000, the highest price paid for any single work in the auction

JEDDAH: Art for Al Balad, the first charity auction of contemporary art in the Kingdom, achieved sales of SR 4.8 million ($1.3 million) on Wednesday.

The event, which featured 43 works by Saudi and Arab artists, all of which sold, was held at historic Nassif House in Al-Balad, Jeddah, on Wednesday. It was organized by the Ministry of Culture in cooperation with auction house Christie’s.

“It was much above our expectations; we are very happy,” said Michael Jeha, chairman of Christie's Middle East.

About 200 Saudi art collectors joined artists and other members of the Saudi and international cultural communities at the event. Bidding was highly competitive, with “Tawaf around the Kaaba 2,” a painting by Saudi artist Abdullah Al-Shalty, fetching SR 650,000, the highest price paid for any single work in the auction.


• Nassif House was built in 1872. Saudi Arabia’s founder, King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud, was received at this house upon his entry to the city in 1925.

• The Saudi government is keen to restore and preserve buildings with historic and cultural significance, and carries out regular renovation work.

• Al-Balad, or Jeddah historic district, is one of five UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Kingdom. It contains about 600 buildings that date back to the 19th century.


“Where to” by Prince Badr bin Abdulmohsen was the second-most expensive work, selling for SR 500,000, while “Witness in the Desert” by Abdullah Al-Sahikh attracted a winning bid of SR 380,000.

“It was extremely pleasing, very encouraging,” said Jeha. “The energy in the room was fantastic. The enthusiasm was very strong. I think for the very first auction, we can all be extremely pleased.”

Jeha described the growth of the art scene and culture in general in Saudi Arabia as very impressive, and said that the Ministry of Culture has developed a strong platform and program for the coming years, which will help to establish art and culture in the hearts and minds of people in the Kingdom.

The profits from the auction will help to establish a new heritage museum in Jeddah’s historic district and support The Help Center, a non-profit organization that provides customized support to children in the city with special educational needs.

The auction received donations and funding from galleries, cultural foundations, private collectors, and artists across the Arab World, the assistance of which was acknowledged by the Ministry of Culture.

“This would not be possible without the generous support of both the donors and the talented artists,” said Hamed bin Mohammed Fayez, deputy minister of culture, in his opening speech.

The ministry aspires to create and develop a cultural environment in which artists and other creatives can access a platform that celebrates a shared identity and builds understanding between people.

Speaking of the Ministry’s three main objectives in its cultural vision for 2019, Fayez said that it aims to support the nation’s cultural transformation by promoting culture as a way of life, enable the sector to contribute to the economy, and encourage international cultural exchanges.

Before the auction, the works on sale were on display to the public in an exhibition on June 23 and 24.