Love is in the air as Saudis enjoy a red Valentine

Saudis enjoyed a hassle-free Valentine's Day in Saudi Arabia.
Updated 15 February 2017
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Love is in the air as Saudis enjoy a red Valentine

JEDDAH: With fifty shades of red, local flower shops were celebrating the strong presence of red roses on Valentine’s Day on Tuesday in the absence of restrictions from the Committee of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, also known as the religious police.
Saudis wishing to celebrate Valentine’s Day have been able to purchase roses, which in previous years had been confiscated from flower shops by members of the religious authorities.
Many flower shops in Jeddah, visited by Arab News, were selling roses and flowers, albeit with hiked prices. Custom-made Valentine boxes with flowers and balloons start from SR550.
Meanwhile, Al-Hayat daily reported similar sales in Al-Ahsa and other Saudi areas. However, some flower shopkeepers opted voluntarily not to sell roses to avoid trouble with the religious authorities. No shop owners reported any problems.
One florist in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, however, preferred to avoid highlighting this occasion.
“I will not sell red roses on this day, as the matter does not need a ban order,” one anonymous Riyadh florist told Al-Hayat. “We have experienced problems in the past and I am not willing to go through the same dilemma again.”
Saudis on social media celebrated the annual day of love by posting affectionate messages, while others insisted that they will not celebrate it citing ideological reasons. Some Saudis say the event is a pagan ritual and refuse to participate because they believe it is an act to imitate the west.
Humor and irony were the dominant theme on this occasion among locals who shared sarcastic tweets and videos on their social platforms.
Nader (@LeoNader) posted a video of a football match featuring his favorite sports team with the caption: “This is my Valentine.” While Hassan (@iiHM_) shared a picture of NETFLIX saying: “You are my Valentine.”
Another Twitter user (@Sho_Sho232) expressed her feelings on how the Haia (the commission) members are missed on such occasion.
“And this is how we discovered that no one gives Valentine’s Day any significance other than the Haia. Valentine’s Day lost its spirit without our clergies.”
Many Saudis said that love should be celebrated throughout the year, not only for one day. “We experience love in every detail on our day. One day is not enough to celebrate it,” tweeted (@memo44447).
And like everywhere else in the world, some single Saudis who complained about spending the occasion alone tweeted funny posts suggesting that their Valentine date is going to be a... shawarma sandwich! “Thanks to my shawarma it has never let me down.”


Saudi aid agency signs 16 deals to combat blindness worldwide

Updated 9 min 40 sec ago

Saudi aid agency signs 16 deals to combat blindness worldwide

  • Saudi Arabia spent $87 billion on humanitarian aid to 81 countries over two decades

DAMMAM: Saudi Arabia has signed a raft of deals with an international health charity aimed at combating blindness in seven countries around the world, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) inked 16 agreements with Al-Basar International Foundation to implement medical programs in Bangladesh, Yemen, Cameroon, Nigeria, Morocco, Eritrea and Pakistan.

Dr. Aqeel bin Jamaan Al-Ghamdi, KSRelief’s assistant general supervisor of planning and development affairs, signed the accord with the foundation’s secretary-general, Dr. Adel bin Abdul Aziz Al-Rashoud.

Al-Ghamdi said the campaigns to prevent blindness and diseases would involve medical checks on 100,000 cases, 10,000 vision-related operations, and the distribution of 20,000 medical glasses by the end of this year.

Saudi Arabia has spent $87 billion (SR326 billion) on humanitarian aid to 81 countries over two decades. According to a KSRelief report, more than 1,011 humanitarian aid programs worth $3.5 billion have benefitted 44 countries, primarily Yemen, Palestine, Syria, Somalia, Pakistan, Indonesia and Iraq, since 2014.

Recently, UN aid chief Mark Lowcock announced that Saudi Arabia would be contributing $500 million to the world body next week to help fund its humanitarian response in Yemen. Lowcock said the Kingdom planned to pay on Sept. 25 and that the UAE had also recently made a payment of $200 million.

HIGHLIGHT

The campaigns to prevent blindness and diseases would involve medical checks on 100,000 cases, 10,000 vision-related operations, and the distribution of 20,000 medical glasses by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, the center is carrying out several humanitarian projects in Syria and Yemen, which includes provision of food, health care, vocational training and education.

KSRelief allocated 132 cartons containing food baskets to the needy in Socotra, the Yemen archipelago, benefiting 116 families, in addition to 80 food baskets for 400 people in Saada governorate’s Al-Atif.

A total of 1,432 food baskets were also handed out in the Al-Wafa, Al-Baidar, Al-Rajab, Al-Zaalanah, Al-Taliya, Al-Fardan, Sabiroun, and Benin camps in Syria and many other informal settlements in Saraqib, Sarmin, Maarat Misrin and Salqin, benefiting 8,730 people.

In addition, the center distributed 367 cartons of food baskets in Marib governorate, Yemen, in coordination with the Benevolence Coalition for Humanitarian Relief, helping 900 displaced people.

This comes within the framework of the food projects provided by the Kingdom and represented by the centers for the Yemeni and Syrian peoples during the current humanitarian crisis.