Faisal Foundation, IBO sign accord

Faisal Foundation, IBO sign accord
Updated 05 April 2014

Faisal Foundation, IBO sign accord

Faisal Foundation, IBO sign accord

The King Faisal Foundation (KFF) and the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) signed Friday a partnership project that will bring holistic IB educational programs to the Kingdom through the “Developing Learners, Leaders and Teachers for the future of Saudi Arabia” project.
Prince Bandar bin Saud bin Khalid, secretary-general of KFF, said: “Our partnership with the IBO has existed since 2008 and this new phase is a five-year plan that will lay strong foundations for future leaders, innovators, and professionals who will be able to use their knowledge to enhance the quality of education and benefit the Kingdom’s economy.
“Our aim is to develop up to 40 primary and secondary schools in the Kingdom to become centers of excellence as IB World Schools including the provision of IB diploma program subjects in Arabic.”
Prince Bandar said: “We aim for over 1,500 teachers to be trained through an innovative professional development program and hundreds of practicing teachers and school leaders will acquire IB teaching and leadership certificates each year.
“In line with the KFF mission, and with an investment of more than SR1.65 million from the foundation, this initiative aims to gradually transform education in Saudi Arabia and the Arabic-speaking world to be the best.”
The new partnership between the IBO and KFF aims to increase the impact of education in Saudi Arabia and the Arabic-speaking world. KFF is one of the largest philanthropic foundations worldwide with well-defined goals and focus on education, research and philanthropy.
Siva Kumari, director general of IBO said: “The IB is already recognized for its rigorous standards and holistic educational offer in Saudi Arabia and this partnership with the KFF is a significant commitment that will allow many more Arabic-speaking students access to the IB.”
Speaking to Arab News, Kumari said IB looks forward to truly internationalize its community as it is the organization's mission to create intercultural understanding. "Our organizations are aligned in the vision to create a better world through education and we are confident that the benefits will be felt in the Kingdom and beyond.”
KFF and IBO shared beliefs that the education for young people provides the foundation for greater understanding, awareness and knowledge throughout later life.
The project will focus on the educational development of young people and adults by increasing access to the IB’s primary years, middle years and diploma programs which are to be delivered in Arabic. This includes increasing the number of authorized IB World Schools in the Kingdom, in addition to translation of the program’s materials.
It will also seek to augment the professional development of educational professionals within the state system in Saudi Arabia. This will include establishing IB certificates in teaching and learning, and in leadership practice, at higher educational institutions locally.
For more than 45 years, IB programs have gained a reputation for their high academic standards, for preparing students for life in a globalized 21st century, and for helping to develop citizens who will create a better, more peaceful world. Currently there are over 1 million IB students attending over 4,600 programs in more than 147 countries.


Jeddah-based studio making online gaming educational for children

Jeddah-based studio making online gaming educational for children
The game targets children aged between five and 11 and consists of four levels lasting 15 to 20 minutes each. Players can still play, interact with characters, and complete tasks after the game is over. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 21 min 23 sec ago

Jeddah-based studio making online gaming educational for children

Jeddah-based studio making online gaming educational for children
  • Hakawati offers alternatives inspired by Arab culture, history, and language

JEDDAH: Many parents worry over their children’s screen time and gaming habits, and debates over the damaging effects of video and online games on mental health, behavior and cognitive functioning have become a staple of social conversations.

The Jeddah-based game development studio Hakawati was set up to offer alternative educational games for Arab children inspired by their culture, history, and language, while also encouraging them to raise their aspirations.
“We cannot prevent children from playing games. Parents can no longer do that,” Hakawati founder Abdullah Ba Mashmos told Arab News. “So, offering a good alternative is the best solution.”
Ba Mashmos said that keeping children busy with games also offers parents time to relax. Trying to wean off children from playing games on their devices is impossible and tiresome.
As children’s experience with the world becomes increasingly virtual, the potential harm posed by violence in online games is a major concern for Ba Mashmos and his team.
“We oppose any manifestations of violence in games,” he said. “Entertainment does not need to be violent.”
Hundreds of media reports, posts, and videos calling on parents to pay attention to their children’s online gaming activities are circulating almost daily among parents across the region.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Through stories narrated in Arabic within the game, Hakawati is bridging the scientific heritage of Arabic culture with the present.

• The interactive storytelling game takes players on a series of adventures in a safe environment.

• Hakawati is encouraging children to explore their identity and learn new things about themselves and their culture.

These warning messages invariably spike after a tragic story related to popular video games finds its way to the media.
One of the latest stories to go viral concerned a 12-year-old Egyptian boy who died from a heart attack while playing an online game known as PUBG for hours without rest.
However, many parents worry constantly about their children spending too much time playing games on screens.

We oppose any manifestations of violence in games.

Abdullah Ba Mashmos, Hakawati founder

Screen time is often seen as harmfully addictive, triggering concerns about children’s physical and social health, as well as youth suicide, family violence, and bullying.
With experience in teaching game development and programming, Ba Mashmos said that he has seen how easily online games can normalize aggressive language among children.
Hakawati Game, the fledgling studio’s first offering, is expected to be released by the end of 2021. However, a demo version is available for free.
The interactive storytelling game takes players on a series of adventures in a safe and culturally inspired environment alongside original Arabic-speaking characters.
Ba Mashmos said that the studio aims to educate, strengthen values and spark curiosity in the young by helping them develop their creativity, strategic thinking, problem-solving, and research skills.
“In this game, we focus on values, Arabic language, and science,” he said, “We want to promote science among children.”

The talented team behind the idea, which aims to offer a safe alternative to violent online games.

Through stories narrated in Arabic within the game, Hakawati is bridging the scientific heritage of Arabic culture with the present by introducing influential Arab scientists from history, enhancing the player’s interaction with the Arabic language through the characters, their names, and their sophisticated backstories.
Ba Mashmos said that scientists used to be portrayed in films and cartoons as obsessive, introverted nerds who lacked social skills.
Hakawati wants to promote a more realistic and inspirational view of science among children. “We want them to understand that well-educated people are the ones who can do great things,” he said.
The game targets children aged between five and 11 and consists of four levels lasting 15 to 20 minutes each. Players can still play, interact with characters, and complete tasks after the game is over.
By creating an original game that matches children’s reality, Hakawati is encouraging children to explore their identity and learn new things about themselves and their culture.
“We are a community of scientists, ambitious and smart people, and we want to erase all kinds of negative stereotypes,” Ba Mashmos said.
The game also promotes diversity and inclusivity.
“Diversity was another major focus when developing our characters. We brought characters from different backgrounds and races with a special focus on the Arab region,” he said. “We also made sure to represent disabilities.”
Hakawati (@HakawatiAR) is believed to be the only studio in the Kingdom focused on developing games solely for children.  
Although game development is still in its infancy in Saudi Arabia, Ba Mashmos believes that his young and diverse team of different nationalities and backgrounds will help the studio prosper.
Hakawati’s developers, software engineers, designers, and artificial intelligence specialists are all based in Saudi Arabia, he said.
The studio relies mainly on and invests in Saudi-based talents, whether in building their team or allowing young members of the Saudi development, design, and animation community to take part in their work when needed.
Hakawati’s biggest goal is to be a Middle East pioneer in game development for children and also expand its audience around the world.
“Our biggest challenge is time — games and development take a lot of our time. At the same time challenges are also increasing quickly.”
Hakawati took part in MITEF Saudi Arabia this year, a program organized by MIT Enterprise Forum in collaboration with Bab Rizq Jameel, and was were among 15 semifinalists out of over 500 startup applicants.
The studio also among finalists competing at the TAQADAM Startup Accelerator staged by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.


Saudi official reveals exemptions to COVID-19 shopping malls ban

Saudi official reveals exemptions to COVID-19 shopping malls ban
Saudi men sit in a restaurant at a shopping mall in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.(REUTERS file photo)
Updated 16 min 24 sec ago

Saudi official reveals exemptions to COVID-19 shopping malls ban

Saudi official reveals exemptions to COVID-19 shopping malls ban
  • Dr. Osama Ghanem Al-Obaidy: The banning of unvaccinated individuals from entering malls is a welcome move in the fight against the coronavirus

RIYADH: Under-18s who had not received a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine jab and those exempt for health reasons will still be allowed into Saudi commercial outlets and shopping malls when strict new rules come into force.
The government announced on Sunday that unvaccinated individuals would not be given access to such establishments from Aug. 1.
However, on Monday, a Ministry of Commerce spokesman said the ban would not apply to those under the age of 18 who had not been inoculated or people at risk of having adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines.
Around 15.9 million anti-virus jabs have so far been administered in the Kingdom, but the Ministry of Interior has demanded that individuals entering shops and other commercial outlets must have had at least one dose or been vaccinated after recovering from COVID-19 unless they fell into age brackets or groups not obligated to take the vaccine. Eman Al-Shethry, a government employee, told Arab News: “Entering a shopping center knowing that most of the people inside are either fully or partially vaccinated will make me feel safer and more relaxed.

FASTFACTS

• Saudi Arabia reported 1,109 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday.

• The death toll has risen to 7,590 with 18 more virus-related fatalities.

“I feel that when the people who are skeptical of vaccinations see others roaming around freely, they would see that vaccines are not scary or harmful.”
Dr. Osama Ghanem Al-Obaidy, a law professor at the Institute of Public Administration in Riyadh, said: “The banning of unvaccinated individuals from entering malls is a welcome move in the fight against the coronavirus. The exemption of children from such requirements is also a welcome move.”
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia on Monday recorded 1,109 new COVID-19 cases, meaning that 466,906 people in the country had now contracted the disease. A total of 10,075 cases remained active, of which 1,596 patients were in critical condition.
With 18 more virus-related fatalities, the death toll has risen to 7,590.
The Saudi Ministry of Health said another 1,148 patients had recovered from the disease, increasing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 449,241.
Saudi Arabia had so far conducted 20,438,923 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, with 83,368 carried out in the past 24 hours, and 15,885,754 people in the country had to date received a jab against COVID-19.


More than 25,000 Jacaranda trees add to Abha’s beauty

More than 25,000 Jacaranda trees add to Abha’s beauty
The flowers of the jacaranda tree last for up to eight weeks and give off a distinctive fragrance, which spreads after it rains. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 51 min 14 sec ago

More than 25,000 Jacaranda trees add to Abha’s beauty

More than 25,000 Jacaranda trees add to Abha’s beauty
  • The jacaranda plant belongs to the bignonia family, with trees able to grow to more than 18 meters in height

ABHA: More than 25,000 jacaranda trees are adding a splash of color to Abha’s environment. The trees perfume the city’s gardens and streets and light up the surroundings with their distinctive hue. They have become the daily destination of choice for those seeking enjoyable times amid violet forests.
The mild climate in Abha during the spring and summer has helped Asir municipality to successfully plant and nurture these trees, with the authority expanding the scope of its cultivation to include many main streets, public facilities, parks and squares.
These efforts are in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 program and are based on an annual plan to plant trees and flowers in the region to enhance and diversify its vegetation cover, beautify the streets, provide an oxygen source, and offer a regional tourist attraction.
The municipality said the trees gave Abha a distinctive identity and a bright spectrum. The flowers of the jacaranda tree last for up to eight weeks and give off a distinctive fragrance, which spreads after it rains.
The municipality, which also planted a million seasonal roses in several locations in Abha, said the jacaranda trees were chosen in accordance with the needs of the local environment, especially as they only needed small amounts of water and did not pose a threat to the infrastructure.

FASTFACTS

• The jacaranda plant belongs to the bignonia family, with trees able to grow to more than 18 meters in height.

• During the first year, they can reach a height of 3 meters.

• These trees reproduce naturally by seed (pollination) in March and April, but they can be planted throughout the year in protected areas.

The jacaranda plant belongs to the bignonia family, with trees able to grow to more than 18 meters in height. During the first year, they can reach a height of 3 meters.
These trees reproduce naturally by seed (pollination) in March and April, but they can be planted throughout the year in protected areas. They can also be cultivated by some newly developed methods such as sprout pots or indoors until they become strong, according to the Saudi Press Agency.
The cultivation of jacaranda trees in Saudi Arabia is also limited to areas that enjoy moderate weather, such as the southern region.
Al-Fan Street, in the center of Abha, is a popular location with visitors from different age groups who are keen to document its aesthetic.
The municipality said a plan was developed to manage the site, starting from May 1, and that there was coordination with Asir police to supervise streets and squares according to COVID-19 precautionary measures.


Outrage after Houthi attack damages school

Outrage after Houthi  attack damages school
Updated 8 min 5 sec ago

Outrage after Houthi attack damages school

Outrage after Houthi  attack damages school
  • Earlier, the French Ambassador to the Kingdom described the Houthi attack as "brutal and outrageous"
  • Coalition forces intercepted the explosive-packed drone

JEDDAH: The Arab coalition intercepted and destroyed an explosives-packed Houthi drone targeting the Saudi city of Khamis Mushayt, TV news channel Al-Ekhbariya reported on Monday.

The wreckage of the drone, launched on Sunday from Yemen toward Asir region, hit and damaged a school. No injuries were reported.
This latest attempt by the Iran-backed Houthi militias to target civilian areas and strategic infrastructure in the Kingdom drew international outrage.
Ludovic Pouille, the French ambassador to Saudi Arabia, denounced the attack. In a message posted on Twitter, he wrote: “Scandalized by the fall of a drone (loaded) with explosives launched by the Houthis on a school in (Asir). The United States on Monday said it "strongly condemned" a Houthi drone attack that damaged a school in Saudi Arabia.
“In the name of the French Embassy in Riyadh I very strongly condemn this unacceptable (cowardly) attack on a civilian place dedicated to knowledge and education.”
Saleh Al-Tuwaijri, secretary-general of the Arab Red Crescent and Red Cross Organization, said of the attack: “This is a blatant violation of the principles of international humanitarian law and related international conventions, as it threatens and terrorizes civilian lives.”
He added that the repeated targeting of civilian targets by the Houthis is in defiance of international treaties and conventions, and a deliberate attempt to harm civilians.

In the name of the French Embassy in Riyadh I very strongly condemn this unacceptable (cowardly) attack on a civilian place dedicated to knowledge and education.

Ludovic Pouille, French ambassador

He called on the international community to live up to its responsibilities and take action to halt these terrorist attacks.
Authorities in Egypt and Jordan also denounced the attack and said the persistent Houthi assaults reflect the militia’s disregard for international laws and norms. They also expressed their full support for the Kingdom and all the measures it takes to confront these criminal actions.
Youssef Al-Othaimeen, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, reaffirmed its support for Saudi Arabia in all the measures it takes to protect its territory, security and stability. He said the Houthi activities constitute war crimes and that his organization condemns those who support and fund the militias.


Saudi air defense intercepts Houthi drone attack on Khamis Mushait

Saudi air defense intercepts Houthi drone attack on Khamis Mushait
Updated 14 June 2021

Saudi air defense intercepts Houthi drone attack on Khamis Mushait

Saudi air defense intercepts Houthi drone attack on Khamis Mushait
  • Coalition says it thwarted all hostile Houthi attempts aimed at targeting civilians and civilian objects

RIYADH: The Arab coalition said Monday that the Saudi Arabian air defense has intercepted and destroyed an explosive-laden drone launched by the terrorist Houthis militia towards Khamis Mushait, Al Arabiya TV reported. 

The coalition said it thwarted all hostile Houthi attempts aimed at targeting civilians and civilian objects.

Adding that the coalition is taking all operational measures to protect civilians from such attacks.