Saudi dad of autistic child says autism not a disease

Hassan Dennaoui with his son Ahmad.
Updated 03 April 2017
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Saudi dad of autistic child says autism not a disease

ABU DHABI: To mark World Autism Day, Saudi Hassan Dennaoui spoke to CNN’s “Connect the World” with Becky Anderson about how his 6-year-old son Ahmad’s diagnosis has pushed him to raise awareness about autism in the Arab world.
A few years ago, Hassan — better known as Big Hass, and the host of Saudi Arabia’s first FM hip-hop radio show — moved his family to the UAE following Ahmad’s diagnosis. Hassan now uses radio and social media to challenge how the Arab world views autism.
“In 2010 we were blessed with a baby boy, and three to four years down the line we found out he’s autistic,” he said, adding that the move from Jeddah to Dubai was aimed at providing his son with the right atmosphere to excel.
“We moved here (the UAE) exactly a year ago, and now he’s starting to speak. He’s starting to be much more aware of his surroundings.”
When discussing how this experience has affected him and his work, Hassan said: “When I say on the air that my son is autistic and that I’m not ashamed of it — and when I take a picture with my son, for example — I always use the hashtag #AutismisNotADisease or #AutismParent.”
He added: “Some people are a bit rude. They say, ‘Why are you so proud? He’s disabled.’ And I engage in the discussion. I think that’s what we want in the Arab world. As a radio host that’s what I try to do.”
Hassan explained what it is like for those dealing with autism and Down’s syndrome in Saudi Arabia: “They’re boxed down, put in houses with a ‘nanny’ while the parents are out, and that really brings tears to my eyes.”
His son being autistic “has opened another dimension for me,” he said, “supporting local (music) talents, changing perceptions about hip-hop, talking about my son, talking about how he changed me, how he made me more patient.”
Big Hass realized his passion for Arabic hip-hop in 2008 after discovering local hip-hop artists. “I started listening to hip-hop from Syria, from Iraq, from Palestine. I’m like, wow!”
He said rappers grew to become his primary news source: “I’d listen to them and educate myself on what’s going on in the region. See 99.9 percent of Arabic music is about love. You know we have other issues: Community issues, social issues and political issues.”
Hassan concluded his discussion with CNN by saying: “I want Ahmad, my son, to be the person he is destined to be, to become a man that can be dependent on himself, which is very challenging when it comes to autism, but I’ll definitely fight for that.”


Saudi Arabian Military Industries to build five corvettes with Spain’s Navantia

Updated 19 July 2018
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Saudi Arabian Military Industries to build five corvettes with Spain’s Navantia

  • The program will start this autumn with the last unit to be delivered by 2022
  • The contract will generate 6,000 direct and indirect jobs for five years

RIYADH: Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) has announced the signature of a Joint Venture (JV) Agreement for the design and construction of five Avante 2200 corvettes with the Spanish state-owned shipbuilding company Navantia. The program will start this autumn with the last unit to be delivered by 2022.
In line with the contract, Navantia and SAMI have agreed on the establishment of a JV in Saudi Arabia, which will provide an exceptional opportunity to consolidate the position of the integrated systems and technologically advanced solutions provided by Navantia in the Saudi market and area of influence, perfectly aligned with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 by localizing 50% of the total military spending by 2030.
The contract will generate 6,000 direct and indirect jobs for five years, as follows: 1,100 direct jobs, more than 1,800 from the auxiliary industry, and more than 3,000 indirect jobs generated by other suppliers.
In this respect, the JV will focus on program management and combat system integration and installation, system engineering, system architecture, hardware design, software development, testing and verification, prototyping, simulation, modelling, and through-life support.
Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Chairman of Saudi Arabian Military Industries, said: “SAMI remains committed to being a key enabler of the Saudi Vision 2030, and the establishment of this Joint Venture with Navantia will localize more than 60% of ship combat systems work including, installation, and integration, which contribute to the Kingdom’s objective to be at the forefront of shaping the local military industries ecosystem. We will continue to explore collaborations and leverage partnerships that meet our key mandate to localize more than half of the Kingdom’s total military spending.”
Esteban Garcia Vilasanchez, Chairman of Navantia, said: “Navantia is very happy with the signature of this contract that means a starting point for the collaboration with Saudi Arabia. Navantia is committed to contributing to Saudi Vision 2030 and will support the country in this endeavour. The JV between SAMI and Navantia is an opportunity to develop capabilities in the country and jointly explore future opportunities.”
For the Avante 2200 contract, the JV will be responsible, among others, of supplying the Combat System of all five ships. Corvettes 4th and 5th will be finalized and delivered to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where the JV will do the installation, integration and test of the complete Combat System.