Saudis warned over dangerous skull-breaker challenge sweeping social media

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The trend, popularized on the video-sharing app TikTok, involves three participants standing side by side with the outside two filmed kicking the third’s feet out from under them while they all jump in the air. (Photo/Social media)
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The trend, popularized on the video-sharing app TikTok, involves three participants standing side by side with the outside two filmed kicking the third’s feet out from under them while they all jump in the air. (Photo/Social media)
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Updated 19 February 2020

Saudis warned over dangerous skull-breaker challenge sweeping social media

  • The online dare has the potential to cause major back and head injuries, warn experts

JEDDAH: A dangerous new social media craze dubbed the skull-breaker challenge, could cause serious injury or even death, Saudis have been warned.

The trend, popularized on the video-sharing app TikTok, involves three participants standing side by side with the outside two filmed kicking the third’s feet out from under them while they all jump in the air.

Also referred to as the tripping jump challenge, the social networking dare that has been sweeping through Europe and the US, has the potential to cause major back and head injuries.

Although there have so far been no reports of the challenge being taken up in the Kingdom, authorities are urging officials and members of the public to vigilant.

Government elementary schoolteacher, Ibtesam Shuqdar, told Arab News that the challenge, often carried out on unsuspecting victims, was a form of bullying.

“As teachers, we understand the challenges that children go through in their school years and we are aware of issues when they arise and deal with them accordingly. One way to do that is to keep the older students away from the younger ones,” she said.

Sara Arkoubi, a high school supervisor at a private international school in Jeddah, said: “We’re aware of the dangers that lurk on social media and we keep parents informed of what’s happening in the school.

HIGHLIGHTS

● Raising awareness of the dangers of such challenges isn’t always easy to handle, as young students don’t see it as a form of bullying, says teacher.

● Although there have so far been no reports of the challenge being taken up in the Kingdom, authorities are urging officials and members of the public to be vigilant.

“Raising awareness of the dangers of such challenges isn’t always easy to handle, as young students don’t see it as a form of bullying. But we choose our words and stance carefully and as the school has a no bullying policy, we take extra care in keeping vigilant to any form of bullying. “Challenges such as these are more frequent among students of upper grades and although we rarely have issues between our students, it’s still important that we inform them of the dangers and risks and how this challenge, which could be considered as a form of bullying, could do more harm than good,” she added.

Human relations expert and mom-of-three, Rozana Al-Banawi, said that while parents needed to be vigilant and aware of what their children were being exposed to on social media, there also needed to be a level of trust between parents and children.

“Though this is the first time I have heard of this challenge (the skull-breaker), it’s nothing new. My children and I regularly sit down together, and they allow me to check their phones, as there is a relationship based on trust and understanding between us.

“I check what’s happening, their apps and make sure there’s nothing they might be doing that would be against our ethics or our ways,” she added.

Al-Banawi encouraged all parents to discuss with their children the dangers of social media while at the same time highlighting the best and safest ways to use platforms.

A TikTok statement read: "The safety and well-being of our users is a top priority at TikTok. As we make clear in our Community Guidelines, we do not allow content that encourages, promotes or glorifies dangerous challenges that might lead to injury. We will remove any such reported content."


It was Russia, not Saudi Arabia, that pulled out of OPEC+ deal: Saudi ministers

Updated 04 April 2020

It was Russia, not Saudi Arabia, that pulled out of OPEC+ deal: Saudi ministers

  • Saudi foreign and energy ministers say Moscow's claim that Kingdom withdrew from the OPEC+ deal was unfounded
  • They said it was Russia that abandoned the agreement, leading to a collapse in world oil prices

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's foreign and energy ministers on Saturday denied Russia's claim that the Kingdom abandoned the OPEC+ deal, leading to a collapse in world oil prices.

In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said "a statement attributed to one of the media of President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation claimed that one of the reasons for the decline in oil prices was the Kingdom's withdrawal from the deal of OPEC + and that the Kingdom was planning to get rid of shale oil producers."

"The minister affirmed that what was mentioned is fully devoid of truth and that the withdrawal of the Kingdom from the agreement is not correct," the statement said.

In fact Saudi Arabia and 22 other countries tried to persuade Russia to make further cuts and extend the deal, but Russia did not agree, it said.

Prince Farhan expressed surprise that Russia had to resort to "falsifying facts" when Saudi Arabia's stance on shale oil production is known, the statement said.

He pointed out that Saudi Arabia is one of the main investors in the energy sector in United States, implying that there is no reason for the Kingdom "to get rid of shale oil producers" as Russia has claimed.

He further said the Kingdom "is also seeking to reach more cuts and achieve oil market equilibrium for the interest of shale oil producers."

OPEC+ refers to the cooperation between members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC oil producers. The cooperation deal which called for cuts in production by the producers was meant to stabilize oil prices. 

In a separate statement, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman rejected Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak’s similar claim that the Kingdom refused to extend the OPEC+ deal and withdrew from it.

Novak "was the first to declare to the media that all the participating countries are absolved of their commitments starting from the first of April," Prince Abdulaziz said in a statement.

He said Novak's statement led other countries to decide "to raise their production to offset the lower prices and compensate for their loss of returns." 

On Thursday, Saudi Arabia called for an urgent meeting of oil exporters after US President Donald Trump said he expected the Kingdom and Russia to cut production by 10-15 million barrels per day.

Prince Farhan said he was "hoping that Russia would take the right decisions in the urgent meeting" so that a "fair agreement that restores the desired balance of oil markets" could be achieved.

The global oil market has crashed, with prices falling to $34 a barrel from $65 at the beginning of the year, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Fuel demand has dropped by roughly a third, or 30 million barrels per day, as billions of people worldwide restrict their movements.

A global deal to reduce production by as much as 10 million to 15 million barrels per day would require participation from nations that do not exert state control over output, including the United States, now the world’s largest producer of crude.

A meeting of OPEC and allies such as Russia has been scheduled for April 6, but details were thin on the exact distribution of production cuts. No time has yet been set for the meeting, OPEC sources said.