New bird flu cases reported in KSA; transport of live birds between regions banned

An auction assistant holds aloft a bird for sale during the York Auction Centre's Christmas Poultry Auction of dressed poultry in York, northern England, in this December 21, 2017 photo. (AFP)
Updated 31 December 2017
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New bird flu cases reported in KSA; transport of live birds between regions banned

RIYADH: The Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Saturday that seven cases of H5N8 avian flu had been recorded in the country in the previous 24 hours, five in Riyadh, one in Qassim and one in Tarout Island.
Field teams in Kharj and Dharma provinces have instigated a cull of infected birds on two poultry farms — with 813 birds safely disposed of in Dharma — while an overall emergency plan is being implemented to clear the infected areas.
In Ahsa province, teams finalized measures to safely cull 1,325 birds on a number of farms where the H5N8 virus was detected. In Qassim, 800 birds were euthanized.
Veterinary teams from the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture conducted 25 inspections of markets and bird-breeding farms across the Kingdom in the 24 hours before the SPA report.
The ministry has banned all poultry farms, transport firms and bird breeders from transporting birds between different regions of the Kingdom without obtaining the necessary licenses.
It also asked bird breeders in the Kingdom to avoid purchasing live birds from unknown sources, and taking their birds to unauthorized markets, in order to minimize the spread of the H5N8 avian flu.
The director of Animal Resources Services, Dr. Ibrahim Qasim, said 358,134 birds infected with the H5N8 virus have been destroyed across the Kingdom as of Friday.
Speaking to Al-Riyadh daily, he said all reported cases outside Riyadh region originated from private fenced yards and traditional farms, while some cases were reported at three poultry projects in the Riyadh region.
Dr. Abdullah Kadman, a member of the board of directors at the Saudi Poultry Producers Association, said the ministry’s ban on transporting birds between regions is expected to be lifted within two weeks.
Head of the National Committee for Poultry Producers, Jamal Al-Sadoun, has requested strict compliance with the ministry’s instructions on the transfer of birds between regions to curb the spread of the disease. He confirmed that the infections were centered in the Riyadh region, specifically Dharma, Muzahmiyah and Hiraimla.
A reported 850 samples have been sent to the Riyadh-based Veterinary Diagnosis Laboratory since the latest outbreak of the disease, some based on reports from citizens, and some randomly collected from infected areas.


Misk Global Forum: UAE Higher Education Minister aces ‘job interview’

Updated 4 min 16 sec ago
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Misk Global Forum: UAE Higher Education Minister aces ‘job interview’

RIYADH: The opening session on the second day of the Misk Global Forum began with a brain teaser – how many golf balls can you fit in a school bus? – as part of a job interview, but not just with any applicant.

Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al-Falasi, the UAE’s Minister of State for Higher Education and Advanced Skills, talked about higher learning and his career in the format of a job interview, conducted by moderator Razan Alayed, an advisor to the Education and Human Resources Council in the UAE.

Al-Falasi said he was surprised that even though he went to very good schools and had a PhD in engineering, he got rejected when applying to many companies because they said he was overqualified. He realized he was underqualified in consulting, so he started to work on that. His learning? “People appreciated the skills I had, not my education.”  

Still, Al-Falasi said it’s important to have a specialization in higher education. “You need a core major. Academic background is still important.”  

To be successful, he said a person needs to be confident and passionate, and that it’s important to have skills of negotiation and articulation.

“I’m not the smartest person,” he said, rather modestly. “If I have to pick one skill, it will be my capacity to adapt.”

Al-Falasi said technology is helping education evolve: “Today with technology, you can have access to the best classes in the world. Data is also important, many say. A lot of technology is built on understanding.”  

At the end of his interview, when Al-Falasi was asked about his salary expectation. Without pause, he said if it’s for a job at Misk, the figure doesn’t matter.

“We all feel very passionate and positive today, especially with what’s happening in Misk,” he said. “All eyes are on Saudi Arabia today.”