British Council director lauds Saudi ‘warmth, hospitality, affection’

British Council director lauds Saudi ‘warmth, hospitality, affection’
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At the ALumni Awards with HMA Simon Collis
British Council director lauds Saudi ‘warmth, hospitality, affection’
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Ramzan with Arab News Editor-in-Chief, Faisal J. Abbas. (Supplied)
British Council director lauds Saudi ‘warmth, hospitality, affection’
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The British Council director during a trip to AlUla, organized by the Royal Commision of AlUla.
British Council director lauds Saudi ‘warmth, hospitality, affection’
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Amir Ramzan
Updated 25 September 2019

British Council director lauds Saudi ‘warmth, hospitality, affection’

British Council director lauds Saudi ‘warmth, hospitality, affection’
  • Amir Ramzan: The Kingdom ‘has probably changed more in the past three years than the last 30’

RIYADH: The outgoing country director at the British Council in Saudi Arabia has praised the “warmth, hospitality and affection” he experienced during his three years in the Kingdom. “I’ve been lucky to meet so many different people from the rich fabric of Saudi society, which has turned into numerous friendships that I cherish and will take with me,” Amir Ramzan, who will be the council’s new country director in Pakistan, told Arab News.
“I’ll certainly miss my amazing team at the British Council who work so hard to fulfil our purpose by creating friendly knowledge and understanding between the peoples of the UK and Saudi Arabia,” he said.

“We do this by making a positive contribution to the UK and the countries we work with, creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust,” he added.
“It has been a time of unprecedented change in Saudi Arabia over the past three years,” Ramzan said. The Kingdom “has probably changed more in the past three years than the last 30, and I feel very fortunate to have been here to experience it and to support Saudi Arabia through our work in education and culture.”
He recalled that within a month of arriving in Saudi Arabia, he attended in Jeddah “one of the first public dance/music performances in the Kingdom” with Faisal J. Abbas, editor-in-chief of Arab News.

BIO

• Amir Ramzan began his career at the British Council in 2000 as a teacher in Syria. Prior to becoming country director in Saudi Arabia, he worked for the council in Iraq and Nigeria.

• In Iraq, he was instrumental in securing funding for, and delivering major projects in, education, including a far-reaching, EU-funded reform program.

• Ramzan also worked on expanding the council’s Active Citizens program, which works closely with civil society organizations in Iraq to deliver crucial services to vulnerable children and women.

• In Saudi Arabia, he was responsible for three teaching centers in Riyadh, Jeddah and Alkhobar, and led the council’s programs to engage young Saudi men and women in the arts, education, science and sports.

Ramzan also recalled the “elation” he witnessed due to the lifting of the ban on women driving.  
“Cinemas, concerts and sports events have all contributed to a much more colorful and vibrant society,” he said, adding that the British Council faced the challenge of “deciding where to prioritize our efforts in such a fast-changing environment.”
He said: “We decided that it was best to do it in consultation with our partners in Saudi Arabia. For example, education is a huge area and there’s work going on across the sector in Saudi Arabia.”




Ramzan with Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas.


This “made working out where the UK could best add value a bit of a daunting task,” he added.
During the crown prince’s visit to the UK in March 2018, a UK-Saudi education steering committee was established to foster cooperation in this field.
“We worked together to identify priorities for UK collaboration and took them forward. Without such mechanisms, it would’ve been a challenge,” Ramzan said.
“I see a bright future for students in Saudi Arabia. The educational reforms will ensure they are ‘future-fit’ in terms of skills and knowledge,” he added.
“The diversification of the economy is creating myriad new job and business opportunities in new sectors such as tourism, entertainment, renewables and much more,” Ramzan said.
“I was fortunate to visit AlUla recently, and I just know it’s going to become a huge magnet for tourism that will require a workforce to service the demand, as will the other projects being implemented across the country,” he added.
“I’d like to thank, from the bottom of my heart, Saudi Arabia and all the wonderful people my family and I met during our time here. It has been a great experience that we’ll relish forever,” Ramzan said.
“I hope to be a regular visitor to Saudi Arabia in the coming years, so I look forward to catching up with old friends then.” His successor is Eilidh Kennedy McLean, who led the economic and prosperity team at the British Embassy in Riyadh for the past two years. They worked closely together during that time.
“Eilidh knows the work we do well, which is partly what attracted her to apply for the role,” said Ramzan. “She’ll do a great job.”


Saudi Arabia announces 5 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 5 more COVID-19 deaths
Updated 1 min 6 sec ago

Saudi Arabia announces 5 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 5 more COVID-19 deaths
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 369,277
  • A total of 6,510 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

LONDON: Saudi Arabia announced five deaths from COVID-19 and 331 new infections on Wednesday.
Of the new cases, 134 were recorded in Riyadh, 66 in the Eastern Province, 46 in Makkah, 10 in Asir, 10 in Madinah, six in Najran, six in Hail and five in Jazan.
The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 369,277 after 351 more patients recovered from the virus.
A total of 6,510 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.


Saudi FM Faisal bin Farhan says Kingdom stresses on significance of bolstering joint Arab action

Saudi FM Faisal bin Farhan says Kingdom stresses on significance of bolstering joint Arab action
Updated 20 min 30 sec ago

Saudi FM Faisal bin Farhan says Kingdom stresses on significance of bolstering joint Arab action

Saudi FM Faisal bin Farhan says Kingdom stresses on significance of bolstering joint Arab action

Saudi FM Faisal bin Farhan says Kingdom stresses on significance of bolstering joint Arab action


Saudi health minister: COVID-19 vaccines will be available at pharmacies for free

Saudi health minister: COVID-19 vaccines will be available at pharmacies for free
Updated 5 min 29 sec ago

Saudi health minister: COVID-19 vaccines will be available at pharmacies for free

Saudi health minister: COVID-19 vaccines will be available at pharmacies for free
  • Part of efforts to expand the ongoing inoculation campaign

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia will provide coronavirus vaccines at pharmacies across the kingdom for free, the country’s Minister of Health Dr. Tawfik Al-Rabiah told Al Arabiya.

This comes as part of efforts to expand the ongoing inoculation campaign and facilitate access to vaccine cites, he added.

More than 100 vaccination facilities have opened around the country since Saudi Arabia began its nationwide vaccination campaign on December 17.

Saudi Arabia’s Food and Drug Authority is currently evaluating a number of COVID-19 vaccines in a bid to expand the vaccination process in various regions of the Kingdom, which are taking place at a high rate.

The Ministry of Health indicated that the vaccines currently approved in Saudi Arabia or those currently being evaluated are approved for use starting from the age of 16 or 18 years.

Saudi Arabia has announced on Tuesday plans to expand vaccination centers across the Kingdom, health spokesman Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said.

However, pregnant women and children will still not be permitted to receive the coronavirus vaccine as further studies have not been completed yet, Al-Aly added.

The Minister of Health also announced that COVID-19 vaccines will be a pre-requisite for health workers participating in the Hajj season 2021.

“A vaccination committee must be formed for the Hajj and Umrah season, on which they have adopted the compulsory reception of the COVID-19 vaccine for participating healthcare workers,” he said.

Saudi Arabia has recently launched drive-through vaccine centers in Riyadh, Makkah, Madinah and Abha. Individuals wishing to receive the jab must first register through the official Sehatty app.

The Kingdom vs. COVID-19
How Saudi Arabia acted swiftly and coordinated a global response to fight the coronavirus, preventing a far worse crisis at home and around the world
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Preventive measures, Tawakkalna app help slash Madinah COVID-19 cases by 86%

Preventive measures, Tawakkalna app help slash Madinah COVID-19 cases by 86%
Updated 03 March 2021

Preventive measures, Tawakkalna app help slash Madinah COVID-19 cases by 86%

Preventive measures, Tawakkalna app help slash Madinah COVID-19 cases by 86%
  • Tawakkalna was launched last year to help track coronavirus infections

RIYADH: Strict health and safety measures and a dedicated app to stop the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are being hailed for helping to push down the number of virus cases in the Madinah region by more than 86 percent.

Officials said the implementation of precautionary and preventive rules alongside the effective use of Saudi Arabia’s official Ministry of Health-approved Tawakkalna app had been major contributors toward combating the outbreak.

“Digital applications and artificial intelligence proved to be one of the most successful approaches both regionally and globally (in tackling COVID-19),” said ministry spokesman, Dr. Mohammed Al-Abdulaali.

The app was launched last year to help track COVID-19 infections and has since been developed and updated to function as a COVID-19 passport that users produce to confirm their health condition in order to gain access to workplaces, shops, and malls.

In the space of two months, it had played a key role in slowing the spread of the virus in the region, Al-Abdulaali added in report by state news agency SPA.

He pointed out that the Madinah region had been going through a critical period in which the number of infection cases had significantly increased.

“This came as a result of some public negligence in observing the preventive measures and precautions; particularly, the lack of adherence to quarantine in addition to social gatherings,” the SPA report said, adding that this had led to a sharp rise in the number of daily cases, prompting the rollout of the Tawakkalna app.

Following two months of strict enforcement of preventive measures and the promotion of the app, infection rates in Madinah fell significantly.

Al-Abdulaali urged the implementation of preventive measures in all regions as a “collective community response” to fighting COVID-19 and encouraged citizens to use Tabaud, a bluetooth-based app that notifies individuals if they come into contact with other infected people.

The Kingdom vs. COVID-19
How Saudi Arabia acted swiftly and coordinated a global response to fight the coronavirus, preventing a far worse crisis at home and around the world
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Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone fired towards southern Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone fired towards southern Saudi Arabia
Updated 03 March 2021

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone fired towards southern Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone fired towards southern Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: The Arab coalition fighting the Houthi militants in Yemen said it has destroyed a drone launched by the Iran-backed group towards the southern region of the kingdom, state news agency SPA reported on Wednesday.
“The joint coalition forces were able this morning to intercept and destroy a ‘booby-trapped’ drone launched by the Iranian-backed terrorist Houthi militia in a systematic and deliberate manner to target civilians and civilian objects in the southern region,” the statement said.