Saudi Arabia honors Pakistani doctor for role in COVID-19 fight

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Dr. Shahzad Ahmad Mumtaz, head of the Intensive Care Unit at the King Salman Hospital in Riyadh, can be seen with his colleagues holding a certificate of appreciation on Sept. 23. (Photo courtesy: Dr. Shahzad Ahmad Mumtaz)
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Updated 26 September 2020

Saudi Arabia honors Pakistani doctor for role in COVID-19 fight

  • Dr. Mumtaz’s efforts not only reduced virus mortality rate at King Salman Hospital but also turned it into the first green medical facility

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani doctor has been recognized by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health for his services as a team leader in the Kingdom’s fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“In recognition of my services as head of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the King Salman Hospital, I was given a leadership award and an appreciation certificate by the Saudi health ministry,” Dr. Shahzad Ahmad Mumtaz told Arab News during a phone interview from Riyadh on Saturday. He was presented with the award during a ceremony to mark Saudi National Day on Sept. 23.

Hailing from Layyah, a small city in southern Punjab, Mumtaz has been working in Saudi Arabia for the last 18 years. Before his appointment at the King Salman Hospital, he worked as a director at the King Saud Medical City. He also served as an ICU head at Al-Noor Specialist Hospital, Makkah, and Jabal Al-Rahmah Hospital, Arafat.

“At the outset of the pandemic, the COVID-19 mortality rate was very high at the King Salman Hospital. That is the reason why I was brought here as the ICU head — to increase the hospital’s capacity to deal with the challenges posed by the pandemic,” he said.




Dr. Shahzad Ahmad Mumtaz is sitting in his office at the King Salman Hospital in Riyadh. (Photo courtesy: Dr. Shahzad Ahmad Mumtaz) 

Mumtaz said that he succeeded in bringing down these deaths by 10 percent during the last five months, due to better team management and greater use of modern techniques and technology.

“The mortality rate related to COVID-19 in international ICUs is around 30 percent, since very critical patients are shifted to these units. The ICU at the King Salman Hospital has remained under 10 percent during the last five months,” he said.

“During all this time, I have not taken a single leave and have worked for 18-20 hours a day,” he continued.

“After joining, I immediately expanded the ICU from 14 to 60 beds. We used the helmet technology that is mostly preferred in Spain and Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, which is recommended by Americans. They both produced impressive results in our hospital during the pandemic,” he said.




Dr. Shahzad Ahmad Mumtaz is doing a morning round with members of his Intensive Care Unit team at the King Salman Hospital in Riyadh on Aug. 18. (Photo courtesy: Dr. Shahzad Ahmad Mumtaz) 

Mumtaz said that the King Salman Hospital was converted into a non-COVID-19, green hospital on Sept. 1.

“We received a lot of appreciation from the Saudi health ministry,” he added.

“It helped in the surgical treatment of general patients, which had to be stopped due to the influx of COVID-19 patients.”

The Kingdom recorded a significant drop in COVID-19 cases and related deaths in the last few days. The total number of recoveries in Saudi Arabia increased to 315,636 after 843 more patients recently recovered from the virus.

Meanwhile, 4,625 people have also succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.

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Saudi women get in the swing for golf glory

  • Depending on location, players in the scheme will be designated as a Ladies First Member at either Riyadh Golf Club, Dirab Golf Club or King Abdullah Economic City’s Royal Greens Golf & Country Club

JEDDAH: Saudi women are breaking new barriers on the Kingdom’s golf greens, becoming acquainted with the sport and the benefits that come with it.
Though golf is a relatively new sport in the country, women have been encouraged to take up the game through new opportunities and support provided to them.
Golf continues to be a male-dominated sport. Despite women showing huge interest in the game, they are poorly represented in its ranks around the world.
A recently launched sporting initiative will allow women in the Kingdom to learn golf for free. The Aramco Saudi Ladies International, presented by the Public Investment Fund (PIF), is a first for the Kingdom. Another project, Golf Saudi’s innovative “Ladies First Club,” will offer complimentary membership, including golf lessons, driving range access and full 18-hole rounds on three different courses.
The offer is open to all Saudi women, with initial membership capped at 1,000. Sarah Al-Arifi, a 26-year-old Saudi entrepreneur, told Arab News that she was excited about the prospect of a Saudi female golf club. Even though the sport is perceived as male dominated globally, sports development is progressing rapidly in the Kingdom and is becoming inclusive, Al-Arifi said. She said the new projects will be “empowering.”
Al-Arifi highlighted the benefits of creating a community for every sport, not only golf, adding that from a consumer’s perspective, it promises to generate creativity.
“Having a community for a specific sport is not only important, it’s necessary because it drives competition and that’s much better for us as consumers. The obvious benefits of a community aside, as a consumer, I want there to be competition because it drives innovation and problem solving,” she said.
Depending on location, players in the scheme will be designated as a Ladies First Member at either Riyadh Golf Club, Dirab Golf Club or King Abdullah Economic City’s  Royal Greens Golf & Country Club.
The Ladies First Club will officially launch during a tournament buildup for the Aramco Saudi Ladies International presented by PIF.
It will take place between Nov. 12 and 15, two days before the Saudi Ladies Team International, which will see teams of four golfers compete for $500,000 in prize money from Nov. 17 to 19.