Nearly 2,500 compete in Saudi Arabia’s second Baloot championship

The tournament drew 2,480 participants on Saturday. (AN photo by Ahmed Fathi)
Updated 28 October 2018

Nearly 2,500 compete in Saudi Arabia’s second Baloot championship

  • The winning team were given SR1 million ($0.26 million), the second SR500,000, the third SR300,000, and the fourth SR200,000

RIYADH: The Kingdom's second Baloot championship, sponsored by the General Sport Authority, ends today at the Prince Faisal bin Fahad Olympic Stadium.
The 12-day tournament has had 2,480 participants, selected from a random lottery system, and more than 140,000 registered. The participants were of different generations and from different parts of the Kingdom, all united by their love for the popular Saudi card game.
Abdulkarim Al-Shiha, one of the supervisors on the judging committee, told Arab News that it had been a triumph in organization to get all players to play under one system as the rules are slightly different from region to region, and even from household to household.
He said the tournament was not short of excitement and sometimes the results were one-sided when participants lost without scoring any points. "There were times that I encountered when a participant refused to play because when he sat down at the table he found he would be playing against his uncle and would have to forfeit out of respect for his elder,” Al-Shiha said, adding that there was a father-and-son team who played well but came short and were eliminated.
The winning team were given SR1 million ($0.26 million), the second SR500,000, the third SR300,000, and the fourth SR200,000.
Baloot is believed to have been brought to Hijaz by Indian immigrants at the time of the Ottoman Empire, and then spread all over the country when it was unified under the Saudi rule.


Over 100 COVID-19 patients treated with blood plasma in Saudi Arabia

A lab technician freeze packs donated convalescent plasma donated by recovered COVID-19 patients. (AFP)
Updated 04 July 2020

Over 100 COVID-19 patients treated with blood plasma in Saudi Arabia

  • Health Ministry records 2,291 critical COVID-19 cases, deaths toll reaches 1,802

JEDDAH: More than 100 people infected with the coronavirus have been treated through blood plasma samples from patients who have recovered from the virus, the Saudi Ministry of Health said on Friday.

The initiative is part of a study involving several research centers in the Kingdom, with 512 donors from Riyadh, Eastern Province, Jeddah and Madinah. This indicates the Saudi community is highly invested in supporting the treatment.
The ministry said that blood plasma contains antibodies that help the body to heal. When a patient recovers, his plasma is used on an infected person, which can form a defense against the virus, especially as a cure is yet to be discovered.
The blood plasma treatment has been used before in China and other countries, but its efficacy levels have not been tested through documented clinical studies.
Saudi Arabia approved the initiative early in April and a team was assembled from the ministry, National Guard Hospitals, King Faisal Specialist Hospital, Armed Forces Hospital, university hospitals, Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare, as well as from the private sector.
The ministry confirmed that the research team was working around the clock to expand the initiative’s scope and launch it across the Kingdom by acquiring donors, which is done through Twitter and via email or phone.
To date the official website has had 14,000 visitors, inside and outside the Kingdom, who have showed interest in the study.
Initial tests of the plasma’s antibodies, health history, vital signs and diagnosis are taken before treatment begins.

FASTFACTS

• The total number of coronavirus cases in KSA reached 201,801.

• The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom reached 140,614.

Donors need to pass these tests for their plasma sample to be used on a COVID-19 patient safely. After that the recovering patient’s progress is monitored to further the research and determine its potency.
The donated plasma sample, usually amounting to 400ml to 700ml, is reliant on the donor’s weight and health. The sample is treated in blood banks to reduce microbes and put into two bags, each working as a single treatment dose. Patients are then treated with a single bag each day, and treatment is usually over a maximum of five days.
Meanwhile, the Kingdom recorded 50 new COVID-19-related deaths on Friday, raising the total number to 1,802.
There were 4,193 new cases reported in Saudi Arabia, meaning 201,801 people have now contracted the disease. There are 59,385 active cases; 2,291 of them are in critical condition.
According to the Health Ministry, 431 of the newly recorded cases were in Dammam, while Al-Hofuf recorded 399 and Riyadh recorded 383.
The ministry also announced that 2,945 more patients had recovered from the coronavirus, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 140,614.
The ministry urges those who have come into contact with an infected person to immediately isolate themselves and call 937.