Health Ministry: Regardless of nationality, vaccines free for all children in Saudi Arabia

Updated 12 January 2018
0

Health Ministry: Regardless of nationality, vaccines free for all children in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: An official refuted rumors that the Health Ministry would impose charges on expats for their children’s vaccinations at state medical centers.
Speaking to Arab News, the spokesman for the Jeddah General Directorate of Health Affairs, Abdullah Al-Ghamdi, confirmed that the necessary vaccines are given to all expats and Saudis, alike, for free.
“All children on Saudi soil are equal in this regard. We offer children the vaccines that can protect them against particular diseases, regardless of their nationalities,” he said.
A report by the General Authority for Statistics has disclosed that there were more than 560,000 non-Saudi children in the 0-4 age group living in the Kingdom in the first half of 2017.
A front-line staff member at a private medical center told Arab News that a child’s package of vaccinations could cost their parents up to SR4,000 ($1,067) until they enter school at the age six.
Statistically, if all expats are assumed to take their children to government medical facilities to get their periodic vaccines, it can be deduced that Saudi Arabia has spent more than SR2.24 billion in a period over 1,460 days to immunize foreign workers’ children against certain communicable diseases.


Saudi films soar at Golden Falcon film awards

Updated 19 April 2018
0

Saudi films soar at Golden Falcon film awards

  • Winners of first Golden Falcon award will travel to the Netherlands to study filmmaking techniques
  • Film screenings have been revived in KSA as part of wide-ranging social and economic reforms encouraged by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman 

RIYADH: Saudi films have won awards at an international film festival organized by the Netherlands to coincide with the return of cinema to the Kingdom.

The first Golden Falcon Film Festival awards drew Saudi actors, filmmakers and cinema-lovers to the Netherlands embassy in Riyadh on Wednesday.

More than 30 shortlisted Saudi films were shown at the maiden festival on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Nine films were nominated, with three each in the best film, best script and best director categories. Overall winners were chosen by an international jury headed by Dutch filmmaker Hans Treffers.

Best movie award went to “Mazban.” The other two films nominated in the category were “Tongue” and “Building 20.”

“The Poetess,” “Matour” and “Atoor” were nominated in the best director category with “Atoor” bagging the award.

“Departures,” “Atoor” and “The Remaining” were nominated in the best script category with “Departures” winning the award.

Besides the Golden Falcon trophy, the winners will travel to the Netherlands to study filmmaking techniques.

Joost Reintjes, the Netherlands ambassador in Riyadh, told Arab News: “We are proud to organize the first Golden Falcon Film Festival here to promote filmmaking in the Kingdom and provide a platform for young Saudi filmmakers to show what they have to offer.”

Film screenings — banned in Saudi Arabia in the 1980s following religious changes in the Kingdom — have been revived as part of wide-ranging social and economic reforms encouraged by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

The return of cinema was heralded with a film screening on Wednesday at a newly built theater at the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) in Riyadh. 

Commenting on the lifting of the 35-year ban, Reintjes told Arab News: “That’s Vision 2030 — it is good sign to diversify and develop.

“Although the cinemas in the Kingdom have only been restarted now, Saudi filmmaking has already made a name for itself on the world stage.

“The Saudi film industry will grow very fast. The level of talent is high,” he said.

Mohammed Al-Qass, lead actor from “Departure,” said: “We have been working for this day for years. 

“Saudis with a thirst for cinema were traveling outside the country — now they can enjoy and share the experience in their homeland.” 

Mohammed Khawajah, a Saudi filmmaker and adviser for the film festival, told Arab News: “The idea for this festival came last year when the lifting of the cinema ban was being discussed.

“The Netherlands embassy had this idea about nine months ago; we sat together and planned the whole festival, which was carried out successfully, with hundreds of people enjoying Saudi films.

“We will improve with our next festival, which will have more fun and entertainment,” he said.