British delegation praises help for Hajj pilgrims

British delegation praises help for Hajj pilgrims
From Left: Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah, Dr. Hussein Al-Sharif; Seif Usher, British consul general; Lord Qurban Hussain, vice chair of the APPG; MP Yasmin Qureshi; and Rashid Mogradia, CEO of CBHUK, during the event in Jeddah. (Photo supplied)
Updated 04 December 2018

British delegation praises help for Hajj pilgrims

British delegation praises help for Hajj pilgrims
  • British Consul General Seif Usher hosted a UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hajj and Umrah at the British Consulate in Jeddah
  • The parliamentary group was led by MP Yasmin Qureshi and Lord Qurban Hussain

JEDDAH: British Consul General Seif Usher hosted a UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hajj and Umrah at the British Consulate in Jeddah.

At a reception to welcome the group on Sunday, Usher said that the British government was committed to providing the best possible consular service to pilgrims visiting Saudi Arabia each year.

“The British consular team works year round to ensure that British pilgrims have a peaceful and trouble-free pilgrimage,” he said.

The parliamentary group was led by MP Yasmin Qureshi and Lord Qurban Hussain.

Usher also extended a welcome to the Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah for Hajj Affairs Dr. Hussein Al-Sharif.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Rashid Mogradia, CEO of the Council of British Hajjis, and all the other organizations and tour operators for their efforts to support British pilgrims,” the envoy said. 

Qureshi said: “I would like to thank Seif Usher for hosting the cross-party group in Jeddah. It is important that we understand the issues facing British pilgrims on the ground when they are on Hajj and Umrah, and work closely with the British consulate and the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to address any issues so that people have a positive experience.” 

Hussain highlighted the challenges, such as travel fraud, facing the UK Hajj and Umrah industry. He welcomed advances in technology to help pilgrims in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reforms.

Rashid Mogradia, CEO of the Council of British Hajjis, highlighted the work of the charity and the parliamentary group in educating pilgrims when booking a pilgrimage package.

Recent annual Hajj awards held at the Intercontinental Park Lane London had brought a positive outlook to the Hajj and Umrah sector, he said. 

Al-Sharif accepted the award for the ministry’s eHajj system. The British consulate in Jeddah collected the best UK public sector award for services to British pilgrims.


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

Saudi Arabia’s first COVID-19 vaccine set for clinical trials
Updated 16 January 2021

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.

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. Iman Almansour, professor of epidemiology

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.