Trade Bank of Iraq to open first Saudi branch

Trade Bank of Iraq to open first Saudi branch
The TBI will be the only active Iraqi bank in Saudi Arabia. (Facebook)
Updated 17 April 2019

Trade Bank of Iraq to open first Saudi branch

Trade Bank of Iraq to open first Saudi branch
  • TBI was ranked No. 1 in the cost to income category in the Middle East by The Banker

RIYADH: The Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) is entering the Saudi market with the opening of a branch in Riyadh on Thursday. It will be the bank’s first operational branch outside Iraq, and the TBI will be the only active Iraqi bank in the Kingdom, TBI Chairman and President Faisal Al-Haimus told Arab News on Tuesday.
On Thursday, a ribbon-cutting event will be held at the Riyadh branch in Al-Olayya district. Attendees on the Iraqi side will include Al-Haimus, the prime minister, the finance minister and the Central Bank’s governor. Saudi officials will also attend.
The TBI’s board of directors has also expressed plans to expand to Turkey.
TBI was ranked No. 1 in the cost to income category in the Middle East by The Banker.


High-flying Saudi women are making the most of new career opportunities

High-flying Saudi women are making  the most of new career opportunities
Updated 19 min 44 sec ago

High-flying Saudi women are making the most of new career opportunities

High-flying Saudi women are making  the most of new career opportunities

 

JEDDAH:  Saudi women continue to embrace the new career opportunities that have opened up to them in the Kingdom in recent years, with a determination to succeed. One of the sectors in which they are increasingly making their mark is aviation.

Flight attendant Anhar Tashkandi joined Saudia airline two years ago.

“We completed the training period, which focused on ensuring the passengers’ comfort and safety,” she said. “This job offers us the opportunity to visit different countries and learn from their cultures.”

Saudi women now work as flight attendants alongside male colleagues, a job that was previously restricted to women from other countries.

Ashwaq Nasser told of her pride at being one of the first Saudi women to work in the profession.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank my parents for supporting my choice of becoming a flight attendant,” she said. “I would also like to thank Saudia airline for providing us with the opportunity to join this program.”

Her colleague, Reham Bahmishan said that since childhood she had wondered why there were no Saudi female flight attendants.

“When I later saw that the Saudia airline was accepting applications for this position, I was very excited and applied immediately,” she said. “Thanks to Saudia, I am currently living my childhood dream.”


Counter-extremism center Etidal calls for ‘proper reading of religious text’

Counter-extremism center Etidal calls for ‘proper reading of religious text’
Updated 34 min 32 sec ago

Counter-extremism center Etidal calls for ‘proper reading of religious text’

Counter-extremism center Etidal calls for ‘proper reading of religious text’
  • Says some extremist groups were “trying to embrace the texts to interpret them according to what they want”

RIYADH: Religious text must not be a “prisoner” to the interpretations of extremist groups, the secretary-general of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology (Etidal) has said.

Dr. Mansour Al-Shammari stressed that some extremist groups were “trying to embrace the texts to interpret them according to what they want” and he looked forward to an integration with specialized institutions to find a proper reading of these religious texts.

Al-Shammari's comments came in a press conference on Wednesday in Riyadh, in the presence of Jehangir Khan, director of the UN Center for Counter-Terrorism (UNCCT).

Al-Shammari said that Saudi Arabia spared no effort in supporting international efforts to combat extremist ideology and terrorism, believing that they are the main enemy of the development and stability of any society.

The success of development plans, he added, depended on the ability of countries to protect their capabilities and citizens from the dangers of this ideology.

HIGHLIGHT

Dr. Mansour Al-Shammari, the secretary-general of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, said that Saudi Arabia spared no effort in supporting international efforts to combat extremist ideology and terrorism, believing that they are the main enemy of the development and stability of any society.

He praised the UN’s efforts in combating terrorism, stressing Etidal’s keenness to exchange experiences to serve the common goals and strategies of Etidal and the UNCCT.

“Etidal’s and UNCCT’s partnership came after many meetings and fruitful efforts between the two parties,” said Al-Shammari, stressing that the goal was to reach projects on the ground.

He said that Etidal and UNCCT’s efforts had culminated in the signing of a joint memorandum of understanding last April. One objective was to cooperate in building international capacities to prevent violent extremism, and to combat the use of the Internet and social media platforms to spread extremist ideology and terrorist agenda.

“Etidal is working to expose the methods of extremist organizations in targeting young people, educating them about the dangers of this thought, and disproving the suspicions that the organizations exploit in their recruitment processes,” he said.

Al-Shammari added that Etidal was aware of the dangers of this way of thinking and of the organizations that employ all means to spread it, and they had developed specialized plans and strategies to refute such thought.

Additionally, Etidal had launched a number of initiatives to increase societal interaction with the center’s goals including: Moderate, refutation, research cooperation, university training and the Gather2 Initiative, which aims to raise awareness among people with hearing disabilities about the risks of extremism.

Khan praised Saudi Arabia’s cooperation with the international community in confronting extremism and protecting current and future societies and generations from its dangers, valuing the Kingdom’s efforts to cut off funding for terrorists.

He said that Etidal was a pillar of the UN’s strategy to combat terrorism, stressing that the issue of terrorism was “complicated,” and that the international community must be active and prepared to confront terrorists.

“Terrorism has no religion or homeland,” he said, noting the importance of developing anti-terror projects around the world. He warned that terrorists sought to influence young people in various forms such as video games.

 

Decoder

Etidal

Based in Riyadh, Etidal is the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology with a mission of fighting extremism. To do that, it seeks to identify such the root causes of such ideologies and address them using tools and technologies such as social networks and the Internet as well as other media outlets. Its membership is open to countries, organizations, or any participating entity.


Falcon breeding brings ancient hobby back to its old glory

Falcon breeding brings ancient hobby back to its old glory
Updated 05 August 2021

Falcon breeding brings ancient hobby back to its old glory

Falcon breeding brings ancient hobby back to its old glory
  • International Auction for Falcon Breeding Farms in Saudi Arabia aims to present top-tier falcons and breeding farms from around the world

JEDDAH: Over the past few decades, falconers in Saudi Arabia have emerged as pioneers in breeding and preservation as the wider falconry industry has grown exponentially since its humble Bedouin beginnings.

The Kingdom has a rich historical heritage and tradition of falconry. A common companion of a Bedouin traveler across the Arabian deserts, hunting with falcons was an integral part of the land for thousands of years as they helped provide nourishment for the weary traveler by catching prey. 

In 1920, renowned American ornithologist and expert on birds, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, published an article in the National Geographic Magazine entitled “Falconry, the Sport of Kings” and described it as a “beautiful and romantic sport.” 

“A hawk must be at once kind and fierce; it must be to stand the changes of climate of the owner’s country; it must be strong enough and swift enough to overtake and strike down its quarry, and intelligent enough to be able to unlearn much of its native knowledge,” Fuertes wrote in the article. 

Today, falconry is one of the most interesting and lucrative sports for Saudis and many others in the region.

But it is falcon breeding that has played a key role in bringing the ancient hobby back to its old glory. Historically, wild falcons were caught at a young age, preferably less than a year old, as it could take months to train them properly as breeding became a rising interest amongst falconers and conservationists in the 1960-70s. 

It became a lucrative hobby as only the fastest, most powerful, beautiful, and intelligent falcons were selected based on their distinct characteristics and bred through reputable breeders. But the selection process was not easy. Breeders will spend thousands of Saudi riyals just for training but selecting the best is an integral part of the breeding process. 

Understanding the history of the bird was paramount, according to vet and wildlife conservation expert, Albara Al-Othman, who has specialized in endangered species for the past 16 years.

“It is no easy feat,” Al-Othman told Arab News. “The falcon breed is selected depending on the purpose or use, either they will be used for hunting or for contests and each one has its own categories, rules, and requirements. In beauty contests, only purebreds are allowed whereas you can find the hybrids included in the racing category. 

“Falconry racing is one of the most exclusive sports and only the top birds can join. Breeding provides that for falconers.”

According to Al-Othman, it takes five years for the birds of prey to reach adulthood in order to start the breeding process and produce chicks as the mothers also play an important role.

HIGHLIGHT

In 1920, renowned American ornithologist and expert on birds, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, published an article in the National Geographic Magazine entitled ‘Falconry, the Sport of Kings’ and described it as a ‘beautiful and romantic sport.’

On Thursday, Saudi Arabia will host the inaugural International Auction for Falcon Breeding Farms at the Saudi Falcon Club (SFC) headquarters in Malham, north of the Kingdom’s capital Riyadh. The auction aims to present top-tier falcons from across the region along with some of the top breeding farms from around the world.

The auction will review the evolution of genetic biology and the process of falcon breeding that takes place on specialized farms. 

Protecting falcon species in the wild is more than just a lucrative business. They are often bred in captivity, which spearheaded a larger movement to protect some of the most vulnerable birds that are on the verge of being added to the endangered list. 

Al-Othman said that breeding plays a key role in preserving the numbers and the demand is high. 

“One potentially negative impact of the process would be the loss of the hybrid in the wild,” he said. “They can be quite aggressive if lost. The likelihood of that happening is rare but it is a risk.”

Last December, the SFC launched the first phase of their “Hadad” program, which aims to return falcons to their natural habitats. The program will be carried out in coordination with the Special Forces for Environmental Security, the National Center for Wildlife Development, and others. 

According to SFC, the birds will be monitored and their behavior studied.

“To ensure that falconers get the best out of a breed, the history of the selected bird is the most important factor as the stats count and are fundamental for the selection process,” Abdullah Shamrookh, a falconer with more than two decades of experience, said.

“The UAE, UK, Spain, and Holland are some of the top countries with breeding programs and the most famous would be crossbreeding between the Shaheen and purebred gyrfalcon. Known as Falco Peregrinus, they were selected for their speed and were very successful. It is one of the most amazing breeds found in any contest.”

Last year, a young wild Shaheen falcon, weighing 1.1 kilograms captured in Hafr Al-Batin, in the northeast of the Kingdom, was sold for more than $170,000. It was the most expensive sale of the breed, according to the SFC.

Shamrookh, who has vast experience in falconry, has started to compete in contests. As a falconer whose hobby is now turning professional, he has favored the Mountain Falco Peregrinus, known amongst falconers in the region as Al-Barbary (or the Barbary), even though it has not gained as much fame as its kin, the “Marine Falco Peregrinus.”

According to Shamrookh, falconers prefer bred falcons over wild ones as they are the ones that will likely win in contests and races. 

“The upcoming auction has been the talk of the town lately and is one of the biggest that will ever be,” he said.


Summer in Saudi Arabia: Historic Al-Shareef Museum in Taif offers a beautiful journey into the past

Summer in Saudi Arabia: Historic Al-Shareef Museum in Taif offers a beautiful journey into the past
Updated 05 August 2021

Summer in Saudi Arabia: Historic Al-Shareef Museum in Taif offers a beautiful journey into the past

Summer in Saudi Arabia: Historic Al-Shareef Museum in Taif offers a beautiful journey into the past
  • Museum owner has traveled across the Kingdom collecting various artifacts for the past 30 years

TAIF: Guests visiting the famous Al-Shareef Museum in Taif are transported back in time as the museum’s artifacts, furniture, and paintings take them on a journey to the olden days.

Visitors wandering around the halls of the privately owned museum get to learn about the history of the region over the past century, an experience complemented by information from specialized tour guides, who are licensed by the Saudi Tourism Authority (STA).

For more than 30 years, the owner of the museum has traveled across the Kingdom collecting various artifacts to place inside the facility, which features 6,000 square meters of floor space. 

The buildings were constructed out of old stone with jittering rain gutters that emerge from the rooftop. Visitors will also discover different wooden doors ornamented with iron frills, which give the buildings an architectural style of the past along with the lanterns that hang on each house to light up the museum alleys.

The museum’s market features gifts, antiques, and clothes which represent traditional folk costumes. In one corner of the market, a number of craftsmen, sculptors, carpenters, and tailors can be found working on various projects as they are always keen on offering souvenirs to visitors.

All of these unique features qualified Taif governorate to be among the 11 tourist destinations announced by the Saudi Tourism Authority through the “Visit Saudi Arabia” platform. The authority launched the Saudi Summer Program 2021 under the slogan “Our Summer, Your Mood,” from June 24 until the end of September.


Who’s Who: Ahmed Eisa Abu Amara, chief legal council at Saudi Arabia’s Council of Cooperative Health Insurance

Who’s Who: Ahmed Eisa Abu Amara, chief legal council at Saudi Arabia’s Council of Cooperative Health Insurance
Updated 05 August 2021

Who’s Who: Ahmed Eisa Abu Amara, chief legal council at Saudi Arabia’s Council of Cooperative Health Insurance

Who’s Who: Ahmed Eisa Abu Amara, chief legal council at Saudi Arabia’s Council of Cooperative Health Insurance

Ahmed Eisa Abu Amara has served as chief legal council at the Council of Cooperative Health Insurance since 2019.

In early 2019, he became general director of the General Department of Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development. In 2016, he became head of legal affairs for the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee.

From 2007 to 2013, he worked as a senior legal consultant and senior insurance supervisor at the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA).

Since 2018, Amara has been an international arbitrator at the International Council of Arbitration in Lausanne, Switzerland. Also in 2018, he served as an associate lecturer in commercial law at Majmaah University.  

He is currently an arbitrator at the National Sports Arbitration Tribunal in Kuwait and at the Saudi Arbitration Center in Riyadh since 2020.

In January 2015, he was appointed honorary commissioner at the Louisiana Department of Insurance by Commissioner Jim Donelon.

In 2011, he received his master’s degree in law from the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He also received a bachelor’s degree in law from King Saud University in Riyadh.

Amara has acquired several diplomas in various fields, including a diploma in the management of Olympic sports institutions from the International Olympic Academy; an international insurance and reinsurance diploma from the Chartered Insurance Institute and Lloyd’s Market Association in London; and a diploma in real estate from Richland College, Texas.

In 2018, he enrolled in the Professional Development Program at Harvard University, studying courses on management and leadership.