Winners of UK Alumni Awards 2017 announced in Riyadh

British Ambassador Simon Collis, second from right, and his wife pose with some of the finalists. Dr. Yousef Alshammari who received the Professional Achievement Award is at left. (AN photo by Iqbal Hossain)
Updated 02 March 2017
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Winners of UK Alumni Awards 2017 announced in Riyadh

RIYADH: The Study UK Alumni Awards took center stage Wednesday night as British Ambassador Simon Collis announced the winners in three categories at a gala ceremony he hosted at his residence in the Diplomatic Quarters.
Dr. Yousef Alshammari won the professional achievement award, Dr. Talal Al-Maghrabi received the entrepreneurial award, and Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas won the social impact award.
The awards were organized by the British Council and British Embassy in Saudi Arabia.
“I believe that UK’s alumni are great ambassadors for my country,” said Collis at the ceremony. “In Britain we welcome international talent, and are delighted that a UK education has enriched lives around the world, including over 100,000 Saudi students.”
He added that the knowledge, institutional networks and personal friendships that alumni bring home last a lifetime. “I congratulate all the finalists as well as the winners tonight. Their hard work and use of their UK education to shape the future of Saudi Arabia is inspiring.”
Amir Ramzan, British Council director in Saudi Arabia, said: “A huge congratulations to the winners of this year’s award. Selecting the finalists was incredibly difficult.”
He added that there are many outstanding alumni achieving in their communities and country.
“As Saudi Arabia makes strides to implement Vision 2030, UK graduates will continue to have an important role to play in transferring skills, creating new jobs and driving innovation, and we hope these stories will inspire the next generation,” he said.
Collis, in consultation with Ramzan, selected Nadia Bakhurji to receive the ambassador’s award 2017 in recognition of her achievement and contribution to her profession and to Saudi Arabia. She is a successful architect and trailblazer for women in education, engineering and industry.
The Study UK Alumni Awards 2017 in Saudi Arabia received over 140 applications, of which nine finalists were selected via a competitive process. The awards were presented by last year’s winners in each category.
The aim of the awards is to demonstrate the impact that a UK education can have on individuals worldwide, and to inspire others to reach their potential by studying in the UK.
This year, the awards are being held in 14 locations: Egypt, Ghana, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Turkey and the US.
Legendary shoe designer and UK alumnus Prof. Jimmy Choo, OBE, is global ambassador of the awards. At the ceremony in Saudi Arabia, all finalists this year said their education was transformational, expanding their vision and equipping them with skills that are crucial to their success and careers.
To be eligible to apply, UK alumni must be living in Saudi Arabia after completing their higher education in the UK within the last 15 years.
The Study UK Alumni Awards was created by the British Council and UK higher-education institutions.


Tens of thousands converge on California ‘poppy apocalypse’

A woman poses for a photo among poppies in bloom on the hills of Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore, California, on March 8, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 19 March 2019
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Tens of thousands converge on California ‘poppy apocalypse’

  • More than 6,000 people on a recent Saturday stopped at the visitor’s center at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

LAKE ELSINORE, California: Like Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz,” the Southern California city of Lake Elsinore is being overwhelmed by the power of the poppies.
About 150,000 people over the weekend flocked to see this year’s rain-fed flaming orange patches of poppies lighting up the hillsides near the city of about 60,000 residents, about a 90-minute drive from either San Diego or Los Angeles.
Interstate 15 was a parking lot. People fainted in the heat; a dog romping through the fields was bitten by a rattlesnake.
A vibrant field of poppies lures Dorothy into a trap in the “Wizard of Oz” when the wicked witch, acknowledging that no one can resist their beauty, poisons the wildflowers and she slips into a fatal slumber until the good witch reverses the spell.
Lake Elsinore had tried to prepare for the crush of people drawn by the super bloom, a rare occurrence that usually happens about once a decade because it requires a wet winter and warm temperatures that stay above freezing.
It offered a free shuttle service to the top viewing spots, but it wasn’t enough.
Sunday traffic got so bad that Lake Elsinore officials requested law enforcement assistance from neighboring jurisdictions. At one point, the city pulled down the curtain and closed access to poppy-blanketed Walker Canyon.
“It was insane, absolutely insane,” said Mayor Steve Manos, who described it as a “poppy apocalypse.”
By Monday the #poppyshutdown announced by the city on Twitter was over and the road to the canyon was re-opened.
And people were streaming in again.
Young and old visitors to the Lake Elsinore area seemed equally enchanted as they snapped selfies against the natural carpet of iridescent orange.
Some contacted friends and family on video calls so they could share the beauty in real time. Artists propped canvasses on the side of the trail to paint the super bloom, while drones buzzed overhead.
Patty Bishop, 48, of nearby Lake Forest, was on her second visit. The native Californian had never seen such an explosion of color from the state flower. She battled traffic Sunday but that didn’t deter her from going back Monday for another look. She got there at sunrise and stayed for hours.
“There’s been so many in just one area,” she said. “I think that’s probably the main reason why I’m out here personally is because it’s so beautiful.”
Stephen Kim and his girlfriend got to Lake Elsinore even before sunrise Sunday to beat the crowds but there were already hundreds of people.
The two wedding photographers hiked on the designated trails with an engaged couple to do a photo shoot with the flowers in the background, but they were upset to see so many people going off-trail and so much garbage. They picked up as many discarded water bottles as they could carry.
“You see this beautiful pristine photo of nature but then you look to the left and there’s plastic Starbucks cups and water bottles on the trail and selfie sticks and people having road rage because some people were walking slower,” said Kim, 24, of Carlsbad.
Andy Macuga, honorary mayor of the desert town of Borrego Springs, another wildflower hotspot, said he feels for Lake Elsinore.
In 2017, a rain-fed super bloom brought in more than a half-million visitors to the town of 3,500. Restaurants ran out of food. Gas stations ran out of fuel. Traffic backed up on a single road for 20 miles (32 kilometers).
The city is again experiencing a super bloom.
The crowds are back. Hotels are full. More than 6,000 people on a recent Saturday stopped at the visitor’s center at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California’s largest park with 1,000 square miles (2,590 sq. kilometers).
But it helps that the masses of blooms are appearing in several different areas this time, and some sections are fading, while others are lighting up with flowers, helping to disperse the crowds a bit.
Most importantly, Macuga said, the town’s businesses prepared this time as if a major storm was about to hit. His restaurant, Carlee’s, is averaging more than 550 meals a day, compared to 300 on a normal March day.
“We were completely caught off guard in 2017 because it was the first time that we had had a flower season like this with social media,” he said. “It helps now knowing what’s coming.”