Saudi man suspected of contracting Ebola dies

Updated 07 August 2014
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Saudi man suspected of contracting Ebola dies

RIYADH/JEDDAH: The Saudi man who was suspected of being infected with the Ebola virus died on Wednesday in Jeddah, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said.
Ibrahim Al-lZahrani, a businessman in his 40s, passed away at the King Fahd Hospital, where he was admitted Monday night after showing symptoms of viral hemorrhagic fever.
Preliminary testing at a specialized laboratory was negative for Dengue virus. Additional tests were carried out to determine if the source of the infection is yellow fever, Alkhumra or another virus.
The MOH has submitted samples of the patient to an international reference laboratory in the United States as recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Additional samples are being sent to an accredited laboratory in Germany.
Preparations for burial will be performed at the hospital in keeping with Islamic religious practices and international guidelines for patients suspected of having an infectious disease like Ebola.
MOH officials have been in direct and continuous contact with the family of the patient. Public health experts began retracing the patient’s travels upon notification of his symptoms and travel history. They are currently monitoring the people he came into contact with for any symptoms associated with viral hemorrhagic fever.
Saudi Arabia announced in April that it was not issuing visas for the 2014 Haj and Umrah to pilgrims from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea due to these countries suffering from an Ebola outbreak. Medical workers are monitoring travelers at airports and seaports across the Kingdom.
Pilgrims from Ebola-endemic countries will be identified at disembarkation points in the Kingdom. The ministry has fielded special teams at air, land and sea entry points to identify pilgrims who are suffering from the disease.
The ministry has been carefully following online instructions issued by the WHO on the issue. The ministry also sporadically issues quarantine requirements to Saudi missions abroad.

Appeal for help
Meanwhile, the WHO on Monday appealed for contributions to combat the deadly Ebola disease in West Africa, saying hundreds of doctors, nurses, health staff, and materials are needed in the region as soon as possible.
WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said an emergency response will be implemented this week after being agreed by the chief of the agency and the presidents of the three most affected countries Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.
WHO Secretary-General Margaret Chan and the three West African leaders agreed on an Ebola disease response plan involving three co-centric rings in the most-affected areas along their common border, Hartl said.
They want to institute emergency measures to encourage people to stay in those areas and not leave, to control the spread of the disease to other areas, Hartl said , adding that his organization would increase supplies of food and other benefits into the areas so that people can stay there.
As a result of the plan, the UN agency has launched an appeal for $100 million from donor countries. “ We need many more contributions from the international community, from governments, from NGOs (non-governmental organizations), academic institutions, from anyone who can provide us with doctors, nurses, and other public-health staff, Hartl said.
An Ebola outbreak has been ongoing in Sierra Leone since May 2014 and has also affected Liberia and Guinea. More than 825 people have died to date, making this the largest outbreak of Ebola in history.
At least three Americans have been infected, two of whom are health care workers at an Ebola clinic.

About the virus
Ebola is a severe and often fatal disease that affects and kills up to 90 percent of humans infected with the virus.The Ebola virus is passed to humans through close contact with animals, such as fruit bats, monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees, carrying the virus.
Infected patients are highly contagious and pass the virus on to others who come in close contact with them either by exposure to objects that have been contaminated with infected blood or bodily fluids or through direct contact with the infected person’s blood or bodily fluids.
The incubation period for Ebola viral hemorrhagic fever is typically one week, during which time, the infected person will suffer from an array of symptoms such as fever, chills, back pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. As the virus progresses, those infected will experience a rash over their entire body, swelling of the eyes and genital area, bleeding from the mouth, nose, eyes, ears, and rectum, followed by shock, coma and death in many cases.


How Saudi women are getting ahead of men as STEM graduates

Dr. Fatima Alakeel, cybersecurity expert. (AN photo)
Updated 20 March 2019
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How Saudi women are getting ahead of men as STEM graduates

  • ‘Securing a job after the degree remains the challenge,’ says Dr. Fatema Alakeel of King Saud University in Riyadh
  • ‘Saudi women are ambitious,’ says one graduate. ‘We are acquiring high degrees and seeking successful careers’

DUBAI: More and more girls in Saudi Arabia are opting for an education in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), and now the challenge is finding them employment, said Dr. Fatima Alakeel, a cybersecurity expert and faculty member at King Saud University (KSU) in Riyadh.
“In the Kingdom, STEM-related jobs are limited at the moment, as the economy is primarily oil-based and there are few technical jobs available,” said Alakeel, who is also the founder and CEO of the non-profit Confidentiality, Integrity & Availability Group (CIAG), which focuses on information security training and research in Riyadh.
According to a government report on the labor market situation in the third quarter of 2018, more than 30 percent of Saudi women aged between 15 and 65 are unemployed.
Among them, the highest rate of unemployment is among 20-24-year-olds (more than 70 percent) and among 25-29-year-olds (55 percent).
According to the report, there are 923,504 Saudi jobseekers, of whom 765,378 are women (82.2 percent).
“We have more girls in STEM education compared to Western countries,” said Alakeel, who completed her doctoral degree in computer science in the UK at the University of Southampton in 2017.
According to a report prepared by the Saudi Education Ministry, girls accounted for 57 percent of undergraduates for the year 2015-2016 in the Kingdom.
That same year, women outnumbered men in graduating with a bachelor’s in biology, information technology (IT), mathematics and statistics, and physics.
According to a survey Alakeel recently conducted on social media, “almost 80 percent of (Saudi) girls were keen to study STEM, but securing a job after the degree remains the challenge,” she said.
Maha Al-Taleb, 22, graduated earlier this year with a degree in technology from KSU, specializing in IT networks and security.
“It’s common for girls in the Kingdom to opt for STEM education,” said Al-Taleb, who now works in a public sector company in Riyadh as a junior information security analyst.
“Saudi women are ambitious. We’re acquiring high degrees and seeking successful careers. I don’t know why the world assumes that Saudi women are a backward tribal species who have no say in these matters. This entire perception is flawed.”
Al-Taleb got a job offer immediately after university, but realizes that not all her peers are as fortunate. Women “are facing problems in securing jobs, not because companies don’t want to hire us, but because employment for Saudi youths is a major challenge,” she said.
“In today’s Saudi Arabia, parents are encouraging their daughters to get a degree not just in the Kingdom; they also want them to go to Western universities. It has become a common phenomenon. Things have changed. Women are a crucial part of the nation’s development process.”
Not all women graduating in the Kingdom are as lucky, among them Razan Al-Qahtani. “It has been several months since I graduated, yet I haven’t been able to find a job. It has been a struggle so far,” said the 25-year-old IT graduate. “We have more talented and qualified girls, especially in the field of technology, but there are few jobs available. It’s a difficult situation, but we’re hopeful things will change very soon.”
Al-Qahtani expressed confidence that the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan will bring opportunities for qualified Saudis.
As part of Vision 2030, the government has committed to raise employment among Saudi women.
Alakeel said the government is working hard to find a solution, and it is only a matter of time until more such jobs are on offer.
“As per Vision 2030, there will be more jobs, including technical jobs, available in the country. Once we have more jobs, women will eventually get their due share,” she added. According to Alakeel, female empowerment and promotion to leading roles have made huge progress in Saudi Arabia, and this may affect existing STEM job opportunities.
“We’re glad to see Her Royal Highness Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud becoming the first female ambassador of the country. It only suggests change is on the way,” Alakeel said.
Al-Taleb expressed pride in the way her parents have supported her, saying: “My father isn’t educated and my mother has basic literacy, but both provided me with the education I desired. They want their daughters to be as successful as their sons.”
Like women in any country, the transition from university to the workplace is not always easy, even for young Saudi women with technology degrees. Yet they are not losing hope.
“We realize these are difficult times in terms of employment, especially in technology-related fields, but things will change,” Al-Taleb said. “Saudi women will soon be ruling the fields of STEM all over the country.”