TheFace: Hoda Al-Helaissi, Saudi Shoura Council member

TheFace: Hoda Al-Helaissi, Saudi Shoura Council member
Hoda Al-Helaissi with her son in Riyadh. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 26 October 2018

TheFace: Hoda Al-Helaissi, Saudi Shoura Council member

TheFace: Hoda Al-Helaissi, Saudi Shoura Council member
  • In 2016 she was invited to serve another four-year term
  • Al-Helaissi attended a London university for her BA and a US university for her MA

Hoda Al-Helaissi grew up abroad as her father was an ambassador. Her first six years were spent in Rome and the next 17 were in London. She went to a French school from kindergarten to high school and attended a London university for her BA and a US university for her MA. 

A mother of three, Al-Helaissi returned to live in the Kingdom in 1989. In 1990 she joined King Saud University as a lecturer at the College of Languages and Translation and took early retirement in 2012. She held various administrative posts, ending with a 13-year stint as vice chair at the college. 

A few months after leaving King Saud University, she was nominated as one of the first 30 women to join the Shoura Council. 

The term was for four years and she describes the learning process, meeting new people from different backgrounds, dealing with governance and ministry reports and traveling for meetings in foreign parliaments as “remarkable and impressive.”

“The fact that women became part of decision-making gave us a huge sense of duty but what struck me the most is the fact that, contrary to our expectations, the greatest advice and guidance we received during those first years were from our male colleagues,” she said.

In 2016 she was invited to serve another four-year term, along with nine women from the previous group. 

 


Saudi Arabia’s first COVID-19 vaccine set for clinical trials

Saudi Arabia’s first COVID-19 vaccine set for clinical trials
Updated 25 min 27 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s first COVID-19 vaccine set for clinical trials

Saudi Arabia’s first COVID-19 vaccine set for clinical trials
  • It will go through rigorous testing and several trial stages before it is approved for use by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority

RIYADH: Preclinical studies on the first Saudi vaccine against COVID-19 have been completed.

Professor of epidemiology Dr. Iman Almansour, who heads the team of researchers working on the vaccine at the Institute for Research and Medical Consultations (IRMC), affiliated with Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University (IAU), confirmed to Arab News on Friday that the studies were complete, and said clinical trials would begin as soon as “the proper approvals” had been given.

She did not specify when that is expected to happen.

The Ministry of Education is financing the team’s project. The team’s research paper has been published in the peer-reviewed journal Pharmaceuticals.

According to the published paper, the vaccine has so far proven effective, when used on animals, in eliciting antibodies that will target the virus. “The vaccine is given to the body to build protein inside cells, which stimulate the body to produce immunity specific to the S antigen,” Dr. Almansour explained.

Dr. Turki Almugaiteeb, director of Healthcare and Life Sciences at RPD Innovations, which runs the National Vaccine and Biomanufacturing Center, told Arab News: “There is a great focus on the results of medical research because of the pandemic. Research can play a great role in developing a vaccine that can be adopted and further developed in the future. We can say that the Kingdom has a strong infrastructure, which can help produce and manufacture a national vaccine.”

Both Almugaiteeb and Almansour stressed that the experimental vaccine will need to go through rigorous testing and several trial stages before it is approved for use by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority.

Prof. Nasser Al-Aqeeli, the deputy minister of education for research and innovation, said the ministry supported programs at the Kingdom’s universities with more than SR500 million ($133.3 million) in 2020.