Pink ribbon draws attention to rising breast cancer cases

Updated 14 December 2015

Pink ribbon draws attention to rising breast cancer cases

RIYADH: Over 10,000 women gathered on Saturday night at the Princess Nora University, the world's biggest women-only university, to form what is believed to be the world's largest human pink ribbon shape on record.

Forming the shape was a major component of several activities conducted throughout the night to mark the launch of a one year breast cancer awareness campaign initiative in the Kingdom, entitled "10KSA", led by both Princess Reema bint Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud and Modia Batterjee, who is the founder of Al-Bidayah Breastfeeding Resource & Women's Center, and is also vice president of the Human Resource Department at Batterjee Group Ltd.
The initiative, run by the Alf Khair (A thousand blessings) charity foundation, which is chaired by Princes Reema, aims to draw the nation’s attention to the increasing number of breast cancer cases and deaths. The campaign also provides much needed education on prevention and treatment options to women around the nation.
Several ministries, government agencies and private sector organizations are engaged in the initiative, including the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Social Affairs, Princess Nora University, the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, the General Presidency for Sports and Youth Welfare, the Saudi Fund for Human Resources, Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Saudi Arabian Olympic Association, and other sponsor companies.
The event included narrative sessions in which survivors of the disease were honored. The women talked about how they discovered their afflictions, and about how they broke down their walls of fear in order to go and receive treatment, as well as about how they coped after treatment.
The event also included lectures and workshops about the disease, such as "what is it?", "How it can be discovered", as well as about how self check-up techniques can help women to get better in the long term through early detection.
Although the long ribbon activity was intended for inclusion in the Guinness Book of World Records, forming the human ribbon shape was not the goal in itself: "We hope that 10KSA will not just break records, but will also get people to talk about women’s health (including breast cancer)," Princess Reema said.
The princess hoped that the event would contribute to raising SR5 million to kick start an endowment fund for the Zahra Breast Cancer Association of which she is founding member. Zahra Breast Cancer Association is an organization committed to helping women through a difficult journey and into a place of healing and good health.
Sponsors in Saudi Arabia such as Alwaleed Philanthropies, Uber, General Electric and Al-Saif Construction Company have pledged their support to Zahra. Reports say that few women survive breast cancer in Saudi Arabia because there is much less screening leading to the late discovery of the disease.
This is due mostly to stigma and cultural reasons, which can be countered with awareness and education.


Startup of the Week: A Saudi Eco-friendly food waste startup brings value-added benefits

KAUST has been highly supportive of Carbon CPU, both technically and financially. (Supplied)
Updated 21 January 2020

Startup of the Week: A Saudi Eco-friendly food waste startup brings value-added benefits

  • Aldrees: “Over 90 percent of food waste in Saudi Arabia is dumped into landfills”
  • Carbon CPU’s technology uses a specially developed, eco-friendly reactor to help convert food waste into fatty acids

Carbon CPU is a biotechnology startup specializing in turning food waste into fatty acids for use as livestock nutrients.

Launched through the post-graduate startup accelerator program (TAQADAM) of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), the venture was co-founded by Bin Bian, Jiajie Xu, Yara Aldrees, Sara Al-Eid and Prof. Pascal Saikaly.

The idea behind the enterprise began to take shape in 2018. Al-Eid said: “Our aim was to recycle food waste into value-added products in a manner that matched the Saudi Vision 2030 strategy.”

Similar to most countries, Saudi Arabia has a food waste problem, but Carbon CPU thought of utilizing it in a way that caused less harm to the environment and also benefitted the animal feed industry.

“Over 90 percent of food waste in Saudi Arabia is dumped into landfills,” said Aldrees. “This produces a lot of gas, including methane, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and cycloaromatics, and contributes to global warming and air pollution.”

Water and soil were also being contaminated through leachate production, she added. “We’re trying to solve those issues, too.”

 

The team found that animal farms often struggled to provide enough feed nutrients for livestock such as cows and sheep. Al-Eid said there was a huge shortage of fatty acids, which are used as livestock nutrients and were in high demand from farmers.

“We’re trying to help animals live longer and be more nutritious,” she added.

Carbon CPU’s technology uses a specially developed, eco-friendly reactor to help convert food waste into fatty acids.

“We produce fatty acids from the food waste, extracting them through a liquid-liquid extraction system. The fatty acid oils are then used to help animal feed, as well as the feed and chemical industries,” said Xu.

KAUST has been highly supportive of Carbon CPU, both technically and financially, added Bian. “KAUST, especially the Environmental Biotechnology Lab led by Prof Pascal Saikaly, provided us with the facilities to set up our reactors. The KAUST Innovation and Economic Development department and the Entrepreneurship Center also gave us a lot of guidance on how to push our technology into the market.”

The startup initially faced many challenges that KAUST helped to resolve. As individuals coming from backgrounds mainly in engineering and science, the team lacked the know-how in business that its project needed.

“KAUST made up for our lack of business thinking through training on how to solve business issues and create business modules and find the right customers for our product,” said Bian.