From the silver screen to social media, Saudi star celebrates clean eating

Reem Al-Habib is in her element in her vegetable garden. (Photo courtesy: Reem Al-Habib)
Updated 09 January 2018
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From the silver screen to social media, Saudi star celebrates clean eating

JEDDAH: Health awareness has risen in recent years, but do we really know how safe what we consume is?
Saudi director, actress and healthy living advocate Reem Al-Habib, a passionate supporter of clean eating, makes a point of educating herself and others about what she and her family consume through her various social media channels. Al-Habib, who trained as a lawyer, has starred in a number of TV shows on television networks and even in feature films. She is a strong advocate of women starring in Saudi Arabia’s rising film industry and her passion for clean eating is just as strong.
A working mother of two, she grows her own food and has launched her own YouTube channel on clean eating and how to be green. Called Fasila Organics, the channel has 41,868 subscribers and is a treasure trove of content related to gardening, healthy eating guides as and question and andwer sessions
“A good friend of mine hated eating vegetables and always complained of hair loss. I tried to encourage her to grow her own plants but she went for the easier option, buying from the market,” Al-Habib told Arab News.
“Her doctor told her she has consumed a lot of toxins and he was concerned. I became intrigued to know why.”
Al-Habib set out to find out about production processes in farms and to educate others via her YouTube channel.
She talks about how easy it is to grow your own food and gives tips on how to do so. Her video on the dangers that American company Monsanto poses to the agricultural system went viral and has more than 600,000 views.
“One of the most profound issues I have with having to buy produce from markets in my city was not knowing if they’re safe to eat,” Al-Habib said.
“I’ve always wanted to eat healthy and organic, but once I noticed that three-quarters of the produce we buy in markets are sprayed with pesticides, I had other ideas. I knew growing my own vegetables at home was the best option.”
She is currently working on content to teach children how to grow food in schools and is giving workshops in various institutes. She has constructed a school curriculum teaching young children about the health benefits of growing your own food, using their love of the great outdoors as a tool to help kids to stay active and understand how to care for plants.
She says with the right tools, the proper amount of nitrogen in the soil, planting and irrigation, growing your own food is easier than one would think.
“Planting gets you the beneficial bacteria. Rodents won’t attack healthy plants. You’ll only find moths, caterpillars, beetles, lady bugs and other insects that are beneficial to the plants,” Al-Habib said.
“There could be some insects that could be harmful to the plant but aren’t transferrable to humans. I don’t use chemicals and I don’t recommend using them.”
She is very active on social media — she regularly streams live feeds to her 13,200 Instagram followers on her account @reem_alhabib — and engages with her fans. Her passion is evident from her following and in the care she gives to her plants.
In her live feeds, she helps followers better understand supermarket food labels, and promotes healthy products that are tried and tested.
“I create curiosity and educate people. I’m a consumer and I need to know what I’m eating. I ask questions and it’s up to companies to answer them,” Al-Habib said.
“We don’t have a farming culture and we just eat what we can find, so it’s understandable that we don’t know much about farming, but it’s not an excuse anymore.”


UN: Global fight against AIDS is at ‘precarious point’

Updated 18 July 2018
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UN: Global fight against AIDS is at ‘precarious point’

  • ‘There are miles to go in the journey to end the AIDS epidemic. Time is running out’
  • Since the start of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, more than 77 million people have become infected with HIV

LONDON: Complacency is starting to stall the fight against the global AIDS epidemic, with the pace of progress not matching what is needed, the United Nations warned on Wednesday.
The United Nations’ HIV/AIDS body UNAIDS said in an update report that the fight was at a “precarious point” and while deaths were falling and treatment rates rising, rates of new HIV infections threatened to derail efforts to defeat the disease.
“The world is slipping off track. The promises made to society’s most vulnerable individuals are not being kept,” the report said. “There are miles to go in the journey to end the AIDS epidemic. Time is running out.”
Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAIDS, noted in the report’s foreword that there had been great progress in reducing deaths from AIDS and in getting a record number of people worldwide into treatment with antiretroviral drugs.
The report said an estimated 21.7 million of the 37 million people who have the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS were on treatment in 2017, five and a half times more than a decade ago.
This rapid and sustained increase in people getting treatment helped drive a 34 percent drop in AIDS-related deaths from 2010 to 2017. AIDS deaths in 2017 were the lowest this century, at fewer than a million people, the report said.
But Sidibe also pointed to what he said were “crisis” situations in preventing the spread of HIV, and in securing sustained funding.
“The success in saving lives has not been matched with equal success in reducing new HIV infections,” he said. “New HIV infections are not falling fast enough. HIV prevention services are not being provided on an adequate scale ... and are not reaching the people who need them the most.”
Sidibe said a failure to halt new infections among children was a big worry.
“I am distressed by the fact that in 2017, 180,000 children became infected with HIV, far from the 2018 target of eliminating new HIV infections among children,” he wrote.
Data in the report showed that overall among adults and children worldwide, some 1.8 million people became newly infected with HIV in 2017.
Since the start of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, more than 77 million people have become infected with HIV. Almost half of them — 35.4 million — have died of AIDS.
The report said that at the end of 2017, $21.3 billion was available for the AIDS response in low- and middle-income countries. More than half of that came from domestic funding sources rather than international donors. UNAIDS estimates that $26.2 billion will be needed to fund the AIDS fight in 2020.
“There is a funding crisis,” Sidibe said. While global AIDS resources rose in 2017, there was still a 20 percent shortfall between what is needed and what is available.
Such a shortfall will be “catastrophic” for countries that rely on international assistance to fight AIDS, Sidibe said.