Over 3.7 million enjoy Saudi National Day Season

1 / 4
Saudi dance troupe in traditional dress perform during a concert titled "mettle to the top" at the green hall theatre marking Saudi 89th National Day celebrations in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, late Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019. (AP)
2 / 4
Saudi fans watch a concert titled "mettle to the top" at the green hall theatre in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, late Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, marking Saudi 89th National Day celebrations. (AP)
3 / 4
Saudi watch fireworks as they light the sky marking National Day to commemorate the unification of the country as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Monday, Sept. 23, 2019. (AP)
4 / 4
Saudi women film fireworks as they light the sky marking National Day to commemorate the unification of the country as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Monday, Sept. 23, 2019. (AP)
Updated 25 September 2019

Over 3.7 million enjoy Saudi National Day Season

  • These events ranged from festivals, concerts, and fireworks, to youth forums, accompanied by celebrations on the streets as well as in public places and squares

RIYADH: The five-day Saudi National Day celebrations, which concluded on Monday evening, attracted more than 3.7 million people to various events organized across the Kingdom.
The chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, Turki Al-Sheikh, said that a workforce of 8,230 “happiness makers,” 91 percent of whom were Saudis, contributed to the success of the National Day Season. In the total workforce, some 23 percent were women. More than 6,800 season jobs were created. Al-Sheikh said visitors enjoyed more than 700,000 spectacular firework salvos. According to official statistics, more than 4,200 buses transported visitors to and from event locations.
This year more than 40 events took place between Sept. 19 and 23. These events ranged from festivals, concerts, and fireworks, to youth forums, accompanied by celebrations on the streets as well as in public places and squares.

 


Saudi student’s high-tech war on food waste

Updated 2 min 24 sec ago

Saudi student’s high-tech war on food waste

  • Biotech breakthrough helps Silicon Valley startup tackle $35 billion global problem

JEDDAH: A Saudi student has launched a Silicon Valley startup to tackle the problem of food waste, a global issue that costs $35 billion annually, according to the UN.

Asrar Damdam, a King Abdullah University of Science and Technology student, set up UVera, a biotech company that uses innovative technology to increase the shelve life of fresh food.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, a third of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted, leaving millions around the world hungry.

UVera’s goal is to help to halve food waste by 2030 by employing technology and innovation.

“Besides its economic effects, food waste is responsible for sending 3 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, contributing to climate change,” Damdam told Arab News.

The 26-year-old scientist’s chemical-free solution uses a specific ultraviolet (UV) light to sterilize food, destroying different types of bacteria, viruses and pathogens that cause spoilage.

“The effect of our technology has been proven by scientific experimentation and examination, and showed positive results on different kinds of fresh produce, including meat,” she said.

Established in June 2019, the startup owns intellectual property rights to its technology, which has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FASTFACT

UVera’s goal is to help halve food waste by 2030 by employing technology and innovation.

UVera’s target market is restaurants, where its food preservation methods will be especially useful.

Damdam, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in nanotechnology, said her biggest challenge was learning about business while building the product in a minimal timeframe and with limited financial support. 

She worked solely on building her minimum viable product (MVP), filing the patent, along with evaluating candidates who are interested in joining her company.

“That was quite challenging considering the limited financial resources and the high cost of living in California,” she said.

However, the startup’s team now includes combined expertise in engineering, technology, scientific research, business development, marketing, strategy and hardware manufacturing.

Damdam’s Silicon Valley odyssey began with a Misk foundation fellowship in 2019 to attend an entrepreneurial training program at Draper University.

More than 780 of the program’s graduates have launched startups and raised more than $220 million in venture funding.

Damdam won the Draper University pitching competition from 116 participants in 18 countries. “UVera was ranked the best investment business idea by more than 30 venture capitalists and investors from Silicon Valley,” she said.

Silicon Valley is home to 2,000 leading tech companies, and offers young entrepreneurs a chance to learn from experts and utilize first-class resources.

“As a scientist, I wanted to learn about business and entrepreneurship from world experts,” said Damdam. “So, I managed to have a lot of one-on-one meetings with angel investors, venture capitalists, attorneys, entrepreneurs and early startup employees to learn from their experiences.”

Although still in its infancy, UVera believes its technology will add value to every kitchen, including restaurants. The startup launched a seed fundraising round this month.

Damdam graduated from Effat University in Jeddah with a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering in 2016. She completed her master’s degree in electrophysics at KAUST in 2018.