Watch: Christian expats celebrating festive season in Saudi Arabia

Photo of happy Santa Claus waving at children in a private celebration in Jeddah. (Screenshot)
Updated 24 December 2018

Watch: Christian expats celebrating festive season in Saudi Arabia

  • Santa Claus sat around a pile of gifts where each present had a child’s name written across it to be given to them individually for the Christian annual celebration

JEDDAH: Images showing Santa Claus giving out presents to happy children could have been shot anywhere in the world, possibly except in Saudi Arabia. This is why when a recent Snapchat video emerged showing a festive season celebration occurring in the Saudi city of Jeddah it immediately went viral and raised questions.
However, it is true… Santa Claus did come to town and the private celebration took place in Jeddah on Saturday as a group of Christians came together to celebrate this religious occasion before they went on annual leave.
The small gathering portrayed the Christmas spirit, where children were sitting happily as they anticipated a smiling Santa’s calling. Santa Claus sat around a pile of gifts where each present had a child’s name written across it to be given to them individually for the Christian annual celebration.
The video was shot by a Saudi presenter Hashim Abdullah, who was invited to MC the event. His Snapchat account is dedicated to covering events across the Kingdom. The Kingdom has been encouraging peaceful coexistence and interfaith tolerance as of late, especially after King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman initiated interfaith dialogue with Lebanese Maronite Christian Patriarch in November 2017.
The visit was followed by many; the king met with the chairman of the Pontifical Council for Interfaith Dialogue at the Vatican earlier in April, while Crown Prince Mohammed met with Archbishop of Canterbury during his UK visit.
As the video of the Christmas celebration went viral, a minority misunderstood the contents of the video and criticized it, causing Saudis to step up to defend the celebration, calling it a normal occurrence and stating that it makes them happy to see celebrations of other faiths.


Saudi center for disease prevention signs agreement with Swedish agency

Updated 16 December 2019

Saudi center for disease prevention signs agreement with Swedish agency

  • The two parties agreed to promote and develop public health initiatives of common concern

RIYADH: The National Center for Disease Prevention and Control has signed a cooperation agreement with the Public Health Agency of Sweden.

The agreement will strengthen ties and enhance cooperation between the two countries in public health within the framework of cooperation prepared in 2019.

On behalf of the center, Dr. Abdullah Al-Gwizani, executive director-general, signed the agreement with his Swedish counterpart, Dr. Johan Carlsson.

The two parties agreed to promote and develop public health initiatives of common concern, as well as outlining the fields of work covered.

These fields included the workforce, organizational development, institutional strategy, business planning, specialized microbiology laboratories, health economics, non-communicable disease prevention, promotion of healthy lifestyles, the monitoring of communicable and non-communicable diseases, and health improvement.

Dr. Al-Gwizani said that the agreement would last for five years. It would then be reviewed and renewed after the agreement of both parties.

“These agreements reinforce the center’s role in creating new health practices and developing the performance of the public health sector,” he said. “Benefiting from well-established organizations such as the Public Health Agency of Sweden confirms our eagerness to convey the best practices to the public health sector locally, as well as exchanging experiences.”