Use it, bin it: Saudis urged to curb virus spread with safe disposal of masks

Use it, bin it: Saudis urged to curb virus spread with safe disposal of masks
The awareness campaigns helped people realize the dangers of the pandemic. (AFP)
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Updated 20 August 2020

Use it, bin it: Saudis urged to curb virus spread with safe disposal of masks

Use it, bin it: Saudis urged to curb virus spread with safe disposal of masks
  • The municipality’s inspection teams had already imposed fines and penalties for breaches of public health

RIYADH: Business leaders and citizens have called for stiff fines to be introduced for those who irresponsibly throw away used items of personal protective equipment (PPE) without realizing that such actions can fuel the spread of the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19). 

Although penalties are in place for people who fail to wear masks in shops and other designated buildings, there are currently no punishments relating to the dumping of PPE on streets or in public areas where such actions could contribute to the transmission of COVID-19.

Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly, a spokesman for the Health Ministry, called on people to ensure the safe disposal of masks and gloves.

“These things must be thrown in the trash (bins) … so that we avoid being subjected to the transmission of diseases and infections,” he said.

Manal Aqeel, a fashion designer who owns an abaya store in Riyadh, said she had regularly found gloves and masks strewn around her shop doorway.

“This issue has been bothering me since the beginning of the pandemic, and it got worse following the announcement of fines for violators who do not wear masks in public places.

“I see this mostly in parking lots and in front of stores that are crowded with customers such as supermarkets, wholesale shops, and variety stores. With so many customers on a daily basis they (store owners) probably can’t control the situation of people leaving the store with a shopping cart and then throwing their mask and gloves near their car or in the shopping cart itself,” she added.

“The solution to this problem is that each store should have somebody to supervise the situation outside and ensure that gloves and masks are being disposed of in the right places.

“Shop owners are making sure that people are wearing masks in the entrances because if they don’t the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs will slap them with fines but when customers leave they are not responsible for how they behave outside.”

Aqeel suggested heavy fines should be imposed on people who irresponsibly threw away PPE. “Shop owners should provide more trash bins near parking lots and people should be more aware of the situation and how dangerous it is for the environment,” she said.

Sara Shuqair, a quality control specialist with a government organization, said that the responsibility for the safe disposal of such items should rest with the individual, not shop owners.

“Some shops offer trash bins everywhere especially in front of their outlets. Despite that, people still throw gloves and masks outside of the bins. Unfortunately, people do not realize the seriousness of this issue and its consequences. You also see this phenomenon in national parks where people do not clean up after themselves and leave their trash.

“If there is a strict punishment or fine for those who throw waste in the streets, people will be more careful. Violators do not always learn their lesson until they are fined,” she added.

Malak Al-Harbi, a housewife who lives in the Royal Commission for Yanbu, said all Saudi cities should be kept clean and organized. “I’m still committed to staying at home during this pandemic. The only place that I go to is the beach and you will never see trash by the seaside here,” she added.

Mohammed Al-Sufyan, a spokesman for the Eastern Province municipality, said the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs had issued numerous instructions and protocols on the issue.

Under the municipality’s rules, all outlets and stores were required to provide face masks, gloves, and sanitizers and follow appropriate hygiene guidelines. It has also published and distributed booklets and pamphlets about the safe disposal of face masks and gloves including, where possible, using trashcans with hands-free pedal-operated openers.

The municipality’s inspection teams had already imposed fines and penalties for breaches of public health and safety regulations including instances of overcrowding and non-compliance with precautionary measures and had increased the number of inspectors fivefold, Al-Sufyan added.

“We encountered big challenges when the COVID-19 crisis emerged, but things have changed now, and we are in more control of the pandemic. The awareness campaigns helped people realize the dangers of the pandemic. Although there are still violations, people, in general, are following the precautionary measures,” he said.

Nasser M. Al-Hamidi, the chairman of the Environment Friends Society’s media committee in Al-Zulfi City, said: “We are in desperate need of increasing public awareness about the proper and safe way to dispose of a used face mask.”

He called on civil society institutions and environmental organizations to step up efforts to curb the practice.


King Salman, crown prince condole Chinese president after Henan floods

King Salman, crown prince condole Chinese president after Henan floods
Updated 6 min 51 sec ago

King Salman, crown prince condole Chinese president after Henan floods

King Salman, crown prince condole Chinese president after Henan floods
  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also sent a cable of condolences and sympathy to the president
  • Villagers were evacuated over makeshift bridges on Friday as floods submerged swathes of central China

RIYADH: King Salman sent a cable of condolences and sympathy to the president of China on Friday after floods sweeping through the country’s Henan province killed at least 56 people.
“We share the pain of this affliction with you, and we send you, the families of the deceased and your people our deepest condolences and sincere sympathy. We hope that the missing return safely,” the king said in a cable to Xi Jinping.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also sent a cable of condolences and sympathy to the president in which he expressed his hopes that the missing would be found safely.
Villagers were evacuated over makeshift bridges on Friday as floods submerged swathes of central China following a historic deluge.
An approaching typhoon threatened to dump more rain on the stricken area.
Millions have been affected by the floods in Henan province and people have been trapped for days without fresh food or water.


Saudi Arabia announces 11 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 11 more COVID-19 deaths
Updated 23 July 2021

Saudi Arabia announces 11 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 11 more COVID-19 deaths
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 496,810
  • A total of 8,141 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced 11 deaths from COVID-19 and 1,247 new infections on Friday.
Of the new cases, 263 were recorded in Riyadh, 211 in the Eastern Province, 209 in Makkah, 157 in Asir, 90 in Jazan, 68 in Madinah, 55 in Hail, 51 in Najran, 24 in the Northern Borders region, 21 in Al-Baha, 19 in Tabuk, and six in Al-Jouf.
The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 496,810 after 1,160 more patients recovered from the virus.
A total of 8,141 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.
Over 23.7 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date.


A look into modernization of tawafa profession as Hajj 2021 ends

A mutawwif is someone who has been appointed by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to guide pilgrims. (Supplied)
A mutawwif is someone who has been appointed by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to guide pilgrims. (Supplied)
Updated 23 July 2021

A look into modernization of tawafa profession as Hajj 2021 ends

A mutawwif is someone who has been appointed by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to guide pilgrims. (Supplied)
  • Pilgrims used to stay up to four months, in comparison to spending less than a week at the moment

MAKKAH: Shadia Jumbi has worked in the tawafa profession since she was eight years old, helping pilgrims and guiding them through Hajj.

“We are used to traveling to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and China to bring pilgrims who are later met at the pilgrims’ city in Jeddah. We used to receive pilgrims and supervise them during the Hajj journey in the holy sites and throughout the Hajj phases. They used to stay in Makkah for up to four months, in comparison to spending less than a week (there) at the moment.”
Tawafa establishments are a key part of the Hajj experience, managing pilgrims’ affairs upon their arrival in the Kingdom until they leave for their homeland after the holy rituals have been performed. A mutawwif is someone who has been appointed by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to guide pilgrims. These two elements are being brought into line with trade regimes and universal standards through development and modernization.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Shadia Jumbi recalled how pilgrims were captivated by Makkah’s communities. They learned about their customs and traditions, tried Hijazi food, and brought along their culture which merged with the Saudi culture.

• She also recalled that five stories used to be dedicated to pilgrims in Makkah’s houses, with homeowners living in the highest story. They interacted with the household members as an integral part of their Hajj experience. Nowadays, pilgrims eat, drink, and stay at hotels and camps. They do not interact with Makkah’s communities.

Jumbi, who is 70, is considered to be one of the first mutawwif in Makkah. She remembered when guides would fly to the home countries of people who wanted to visit the Kingdom, saying there were vast differences between Hajj in the past and Hajj in the present and that Hajj used to be an arduous journey for both pilgrims and mutawwif.
She recalled how pilgrims were captivated by Makkah’s communities. They learned about their customs and traditions, tried Hijazi food, and brought along their culture which merged with the Saudi culture. They witnessed Makkah’s manners which were a reflection of the host country’s manners and delivered a positive message to all their communities abroad.
“In the past, we received them in our homes, cooked for them, washed their clothes, celebrated them and invited them to join all our celebrations and occasions. They were keen to learn the Arabic language and learn about the most important places in Makkah and visit them, as well as the historic and archaeological sites.”

Tawafa establishments are a key part of the Hajj experience, managing pilgrims’ affairs upon their arrival in the Kingdom until they leave for their homeland after the holy rituals have been performed.

She recalled that five stories used to be dedicated to pilgrims in Makkah’s houses, with homeowners living in the highest story. They interacted with the household members as an integral part of their Hajj experience.
Nowadays, pilgrims eat, drink, and stay at hotels and camps. They do not interact with Makkah’s communities.
Jumbi said that the mutawwif would grow close to pilgrims and form a strong relationship and solid bond with them.
“Nowadays, the mutawwif has become a mere number in a series of the tawafa offices that are spread everywhere. They no longer play their role in supervising tourist trips and market visits and, when pilgrims get sick, we drive them to the hospital, treat them and supervise them from the moment they arrive until they leave.”

Shadia Jumbi, who is 70,  is considered to be one of the first mutawwif in Makkah. Jumbi has worked in the tawafa profession since she was eight years old, helping pilgrims and guiding them through Hajj.


She spoke of farewells, tears and open arms. “When we visited them in their countries, they did not let us stay in hotels. They received us in their homes. The mutawwif was respected and, unlike today, their main role was dealing with pilgrims as a family they respect.”
Ahmed Saleh Halabi, a writer specializing in Hajj and Umrah services, said there were many benefits to tawafa institutions being transformed into companies.
“There are benefits and gains in developing the human resources working in services and administration. Their work will not be limited to working in the Hajj season alone, but also throughout the year through diversifying service programs. The role of the tawafa companies will not be limited to securing and preparing the pilgrims’ camps in the holy sites, as they will also secure housing and food for pilgrims (in Makkah and the holy sites).
“Moreover, the companies will be able to organize the visits’ program in Makkah, as well as the tourism programs in Taif and Jeddah, which means that contributors and workers in the area of providing services for pilgrims will have economic benefits, met with the pilgrims’ benefits through the services they receive.”

Mentalities must change and everyone must accept the new shift.
Ahmed Saleh Halabi
Writer specializing in Hajj and Umrah services

Halabi said that if institutions worked on diversifying their services, they would receive different sources of income and change their traditional methods of receiving pilgrims, supervising their housing, setting up their camps in the holy sites, and providing buses to transport them.
“It is hard to demand (that) contributors inject money in new companies to increase capital, however, it is possible for companies to obtain concessional loans from banks that enable them to stand strong.”
He also said that “mentalities must change” and “everyone must accept” the new shift.

Old business card of mutawwif.

“Companies now need new ideas that call for diversifying services and participating in other services that the institutions were not involved with, such as investment in transportation and food.”
He said transformation could not harm tawafa establishments and mutawwif and that he expected change to be beneficial as they could work through the year, instead of seasonally, in any profession or service.
A mutawwif at the National Tawafa Establishment for South Asian Pilgrims, Abdul Aziz Abdul Razzaq, agreed that transformation had its advantages.
These included having a memorandum of association, a statute, share certificates, and a corporate governance manual to protect the company, ensure contributors’ rights and develop the organizational structure for members and committees by choosing the skills of professionals based on adopted standards.
Other benefits were discussing strategic goals and reports in regular meetings, and getting into investment opportunities with external partnerships — for areas such as communication, housing, food and transport — as well as providing high-quality services for pilgrims, enabling contributors to trade and purchase shares in the future, raising the share value for shareholders, enabling contributors to join the service delivery companies and the possibility of entering the Umrah system in the future.

Decoder

Tawafa and mutawwif

Tawafa establishments are a key part of the Hajj experience, managing pilgrims’ affairs upon their arrival in Saudi Arabia until they leave for their homeland after the holy rituals have been performed. A mutawwif is someone who has been appointed by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to guide pilgrims. These two elements are being brought into line with trade regimes and universal standards through development and modernization.


Saudi authorities ramp up health inspection tours

Officials have urged the public to report any suspected health breaches. (SPA)
Officials have urged the public to report any suspected health breaches. (SPA)
Updated 23 July 2021

Saudi authorities ramp up health inspection tours

Officials have urged the public to report any suspected health breaches. (SPA)
  • The municipalities urged all commercial facilities to abide by regulations to ensure public safety

DAMMAM: The Eastern Province municipality carried out 1,314 inspection tours in one day across shopping malls, commercial centers and stores to monitor compliance with health and safety measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.

These checks resulted in three commercial outlets being shut down, while 41 violators were given penalties for ignoring health regulations.

The municipality of Asir also carried out 3,348 inspection tours of commercial centers and facilities during the Eid holidays. The authorities closed three commercial outlets, while many other violators were given penalties.

The violations included noncompliance with social distancing and mask wearing, leniency in measuring the temperature of customers, overcrowding issues, and a failure to effectively use the Tawakkalna app.

The municipalities urged all commercial facilities to abide by regulations to ensure public safety and prevent the virus from spreading.

Officials have urged the public to report any suspected health breaches by phoning the 940 call center number or contacting authorities through the Balady app.


Saudi aid agency KSrelief completes food project in Bangladesh

Saudi aid agency KSrelief completes food project in Bangladesh
Updated 23 July 2021

Saudi aid agency KSrelief completes food project in Bangladesh

Saudi aid agency KSrelief completes food project in Bangladesh
  • Joint teams of KSrelief and the MLW reached more than 80 distribution points inside Bangladesh refugee camps 

DHAKA: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief), in cooperation with the Muslim World League (MWL), has concluded the distribution of 80,000 food baskets for Rohingya refugees and the communities hosting them in Bangladesh.

The project lasted for two months, benefiting 500,000 people in the Cox’s Bazar, Dhaka, Jessore, Rajshahi, Chittagong, and Panchi Sur island regions.

The joint teams of KSrelief and the MLW reached more than 80 distribution points inside the refugee camps and in various regions of Bangladesh.

The field teams traveled thousands of kilometers to reach the neediest families in Bangladesh in response to repeated global calls to contribute to alleviating the suffering of refugees and in support of the UN rapid response plan to the humanitarian crisis.

KSrelief received many certificates of quality and achievement from the authorities for adhering to high levels and standards in implementation, the most important of which is the application of social distancing in the areas of distribution and following COVID-19 precautionary measures.