Shoppers seek solace online amid coronavirus lockdown

Shoppers seek solace online  amid coronavirus lockdown
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Updated 02 April 2020

Shoppers seek solace online amid coronavirus lockdown

Shoppers seek solace online  amid coronavirus lockdown
  • Using internet for shopping is fast becoming an essential part of human life in the times of crisis

RIYADH: Under normal circumstances most people do not give much thought to online shopping. However, with the closure of malls and shops because of coronavirus curbs, online shopping has become essential. But are people going overboard?

Many people are buying unnecessary items, such as clothes, bags and shoes, online despite knowing that they will have no use for these items during the pandemic. It seems that through online shopping they are seeking some kind of mental satisfaction or emotional release during house quarantine or self-isolation.

According to Rana Taha, a coach in school planning and management, shoppers who admit to buying unnecessary items online “are trying to break their routine of being quarantined.”

Deema Al-Tammami, an event planner, said: “Online shopping has increased by 100 percent during quarantine. For me, nothing sounds as much fun as online shopping these days.

“Most of our purchases are home appliances because we love to change things around, renovate, and reorder and organize our homes, which helps to relax and release stress,” she said.

“Online prices are significantly lower than normal shopping in stores,” she said.

FASTFACT

100,000

Amazon has hired extra staff to keep up with worldwide demand and plans to take on an additional 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers through April, according to media reports.

Al-Tammami said that online shopping offers the pleasure of choosing an item with care, reading the reviews and tracking the shipment.

“There is a kind of enthusiasm in it that is totally different from normal shopping.”

Amazon has even hired extra staff to keep up with worldwide demand and plans to take on an additional 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers through April, according to media reports.

However, some who were accustomed to shopping online before the pandemic are avoiding the problem of “going overboard” with excessive
purchases.

Alanood Al-Alsheikh, a government employee, said that she did 90 percent of her shopping online.

“I usually buy everything — clothes, creams, bags and house supplies — but I always buy from websites that I trust. Pharmaceutical products are much cheaper from international online websites than local ones. And, lately, I have been doing some grocery shopping online, too.

“I don’t know how much I spend online shopping these days, but it’s less than before the quarantine. Now I’m not buying clothes and bags, only creams and beauty products,” Al-Alsheikh said.

Al-Tammami said that she sees little difference in the amount of money being spent online compared with shopping from stores.

“The money we used to spend on restaurants and outdoor activities we are now spending on grocery shopping and games to play at home,” she said.

Maha Al-Nufaiei, a senior analyst, used to shop online before the pandemic, but said that she has stopped because “sanitization of packages is not guaranteed and countries are stealing from each other’s medical supplies.”

“I only shop from local websites,” she said.

Munirah Al-Ajlan, a standardization analyst, said that online shopping has advantages, such as saving time by using filters. “But it certainly has some flaws — usually the shipping might take longer.”

Defective or poorly fitting items also can be hard to return. “I usually don’t send them back and they become useless,” Al-Ajlan said.


Saudi Human Resources Development Fund approves 106 professional, technical diplomas

Saudi Human Resources Development Fund approves 106 professional, technical diplomas
Updated 13 min 57 sec ago

Saudi Human Resources Development Fund approves 106 professional, technical diplomas

Saudi Human Resources Development Fund approves 106 professional, technical diplomas

RIYADH: The Saudi Human Resources Development Fund (Hadaf) approved 106 professional and technical diplomas in various specializations and fields. 

The certifications are linked to the requirements of the labor market with the aim of raising the efficiency of the national workforce.

The professional certification program supports Hadaf’s other initiatives in improving professional training, increasing competitiveness among the workforce in specialized fields and stimulating professional development.

The Hadaf program offers an interconnected set of specialized courses designed to provide and enhance basic professional skills in areas of specialization, reflecting positively on career performance.

It targets all citizens wishing to develop their professional career by obtaining a certificate, whether the applicant is a government or private sector employee, job seeker or student.

With its focus on professional training and certification, the fund aims to boost labor market productivity to reach international standards and create new career opportunities.

To benefit from the program, applicants must have an accredited professional certificate and acknowledgment from their employer stating that they are not covering the fees of obtaining it.

Each applicant can process a maximum of two certificates. For payment, the applicant must file a claim through the taqat.sa website along with a copy of the professional certificate.

After verifying the validity of the certificate, the related costs are transferred directly to the applicant’s account through the IBAN number given on the registration page.


61 quarantine violators arrested in Saudi Arabia

61 quarantine violators arrested in Saudi Arabia
Updated 55 min 18 sec ago

61 quarantine violators arrested in Saudi Arabia

61 quarantine violators arrested in Saudi Arabia
  • Health Ministry reports 1,043 new coronavirus cases, 1,211 recoveries, 14 deaths
  • 28,492,380 people in the country had to date received a jab against COVID-19

RIYADH: A total of 61 offenders have been arrested  in Saudi Arabia in the past week for failing to adhere to quarantine regulations after their infection of the virus was confirmed.

The media spokesman for the police in Hail region, Captain Tariq Al-Nassar, said that a video circulating of a man with a positive PCR test wandering about in a shopping mall had led to his arrest after the authorities identified him. Legal action has now been taken against him.

Al-Nassar said that the penalties for violators of the precautionary and preventive measures against COVID-19 included a fine of no more than SR500,000 or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years, or both. 

In Qassim region, the media spokesman for the police, Lt. Col. Badr Al-Suhaibani, said that 60 people were arrested for violating quarantine regulations after it was confirmed that they were infected with the virus. 

Saudi Arabia on Wednesday reported 14 more COVID-19-related deaths, taking the overall toll to 8,284.

There were 1,043 new cases, meaning that 529,995 people in the country had now contracted the disease. A total of 10,393 cases remained active, of which 1,396 patients were in critical condition.

FASTFACTS

Saudi Arabia reported 1,043 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, bringing the total to 529,995

A total of 10,393 cases remained active, of which 1,396 patients were in critical condition.

The death toll has risen to 8,284 with 14 more virus-related fatalities

28,492,380 people in the country had to date received a jab against COVID-19

Of the newly recorded cases, 214 were in Makkah region, 192 in Riyadh region, 169 in the Eastern Province, and 65 in Madinah region.

In addition, the ministry said that 1,211 patients had recovered from the disease, increasing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 511,318.

The region with the highest recovery rate is Riyadh at 267, followed by Makkah at 217 and Eastern Province at 200.

Saudi Arabia had so far conducted 25,443,550 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, with 106,517 carried out in the past 24 hours.

Testing hubs and treatment centers set up throughout the country have dealt with hundreds of thousands of people since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.

Among them, Taakad (make sure) centers provide COVID-19 testing for those who show no or only mild symptoms or believe they have come into contact with an infected individual. Tetamman (rest assured) clinics offer treatment and advice to those with virus symptoms such as fever, loss of taste and smell, and breathing difficulties.

Appointments for both services can be made via the ministry’s Sehhaty app.

Meanwhile, 28,492,380 people in the country had to date received a jab against COVID-19, including 1,496,037 elderly people. About 55.9 percent of the population had received the first dose, while 25.9 percent had completed both doses. At this rate, 70 percent of the population is expected to have completed both doses by September 28, 2021.

Meanwhile, Rafha Health Affairs in the northern region of the Kingdom, represented by the Central Hospital, has activated virtual clinics for patients benefiting from its services in outpatient clinics.

This gives patients the option to remotely attend medical appointments in an attempt to limit the spread of COVID-19. The management of Central Hospital explained that this service allows direct communication between doctors and their patients through interactive video communication.

“We have made remote clinics available to save people’s time and efforts, as it is possible to communicate directly with the doctor, without the need to come to the clinic,” the minister of health said earlier.


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 05 August 2021

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 05 August 2021

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.