Setting Saudi Arabia’s image straight, one podcast at a time

Setting Saudi Arabia’s image straight, one podcast at a time
I see Western media put a negative spin on our country, so I wanted to show it in a different light, said Mohammad Islam, Saudi podcaster of Mo Show. Right: Lana Nazer, yoga and wellness teacher, a guest on the show. (Supplied)
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Updated 14 November 2020

Setting Saudi Arabia’s image straight, one podcast at a time

Setting Saudi Arabia’s image straight, one podcast at a time
  • Mohammad Islam who began Mo Show during lockdown wanted to remove misconceptions about Kingdom

JEDDAH: With the spike in the number of podcast listeners this year, there has been an increase in podcasters as well. “Mo Show” is one such podcast, with just one goal: “To set the narrative about Saudi Arabia straight.”

The “Mo Show” is a way to show Saudis and the outside world what the real Saudi Arabia is like, said Mohammad Islam, 37, who started the show in lockdown.
“I see Western media put a negative spin on our country and not really talking about the positives, so I wanted to show it in a different light,” he told Arab News.
The podcast focuses on what is changing in the country, including women’s empowerment and their rapidly growing role in the Kingdom, and its progress in general.
The show’s four pillars are female empowerment, personal stories, business, and tech.
“I like the element of personal stories heard from entrepreneurs, startups, people who got out of the corporate life and started businesses of their own, which is commonly seen in the restaurant industry and the health and fitness sector. So, I wanted to highlight that,” said Islam.
“In a nutshell, I want to highlight the progress of Saudi Arabia,” he added.
The idea of the podcast was inspired when he was looking at  American podcasters and wanted to have a say on the misconceptions about his own country.
He called some of his close friends and recorded a few episodes. “That was when it started looking doable. I looked at the areas that are changing and decided to focus on that,” he said.
Islam has lived in the UK for a long time and defines English as one of his strengths. The idea of starting a podcast came to him during the lockdown introduced to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease.

FASTFACTS

• The ‘Mo Show’ is a way to show Saudis and the outside world what the real Saudi Arabia is like.

• The podcast focuses on what is changing in the country, including women’s rapidly growing role in the Kingdom.

• The show’s four pillars are female empowerment, personal stories, business, and tech.

“The lockdown made me take life at my own pace, and when I wasn’t rushing I was more in touch with my mind and my ideas. I also had a lot of time to observe the world and see what it is that I am doing and what I want to do,” he said.
The target audience at first was the English speaking majority of the globe, but later it became anyone who lives in or visited Saudi Arabia, “or anyone who has an open mind and curiosity about this country.


“The reason why I changed the target audience was that I realized that there are a lot of Saudis that don’t know what’s happening in their country,” he said. “That’s when I realized that it is for Saudis as well as pan-Arabs.”
It came as a surprise to the podcaster that pan-Arabs were interested, but he later realized they were the most curious about what was happening in Saudi Arabia and had very little information about it.
Islam was able to provide them a seat at his table as he discussed the progress of the country with his guests.
The guests are not strictly Saudi — one of his episodes featured an expat from South Africa who shared his experience of seeing the country progress over the past five years. He also talked about the negative image of the Kingdom as being an unsafe country, whereas, for him, it is the “safest country” he has ever been to.
Islam would like to see more Saudis joining podcasting. “We still have a lot of space for them, we can have many more podcasters which will allow us to amplify the positivity,” he said.
“It doesn’t have to be in English … (if you speak other languages) we can let our voices reach those countries and show them what the real Saudi Arabia is like.”
The podcast adopts an interpretation mechanism for all episodes to ensure that the information reaches the widest range of audience, and is also advertised on social media on a weekly basis.
“The importance of this initiative increases as it is a basic source for the transmission of information in various fields, specifically for the average citizen in America and Europe who follows up and interacts with what matters to him in terms of events, whether they are economic, political, religious or social events,” said Islam.


Saudi ban remains on 20 countries when flights resume on May 17

Saudi ban remains on 20 countries when flights resume on May 17
Updated 22 April 2021

Saudi ban remains on 20 countries when flights resume on May 17

Saudi ban remains on 20 countries when flights resume on May 17
  • Health Ministry reports 1,028 new coronavirus cases, 824 recoveries, 12 deaths

JEDDAH: The resumption of international flights at 1 a.m. on May 17 will exclude the 20 countries where the ban on flights continues as part of preventive measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), said Saudia airline.
The banned countries, named by the Ministry of Interior, are: Argentina, the UAE, Germany, the US, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Pakistan, Brazil, Portugal, the UK, Turkey, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Lebanon, Egypt, India and Japan.
The clarification came in response to a citizen’s query about whether the travel suspensions will continue.
Noncitizens, diplomats, health practitioners and their families traveling from the listed countries have been denied entry to the Kingdom since Feb. 3. The ban applies to arriving passengers who have passed through any of the prohibited countries in the 14 days prior to their application to enter the Kingdom.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Education employees who have yet to receive the COVID-19 vaccine are to be identified and put on a list, Saudi online newspaper Ajel reported.
The decision is part of official efforts to ensure a swift return to normal schooling, while safeguarding the health and safety of students and staff.
Education Minister Hamad Al-Asheikh previously called on ministry employees to arrange for vaccination in time for the start of the coming academic year.
Saudi authorities on Wednesday reported 12 additional deaths related to COVID-19. The death toll now stands at 6,858. The Ministry of Health reported 1,028 new cases, meaning that 408,038 people have contracted the disease, of which 9,818 remain active.
It said 431 of the new cases were in Riyadh, 220 in Makkah, 157 in the Eastern Province and 45 in Madinah. Another 824 patients recovered from the disease, bringing the total number of recoveries to 391,362.
Saudi Arabia has conducted 16,352,116 PCR tests, including 58,507 in the previous 24 hours.
Saudi health clinics set up by the ministry as testing hubs or treatment centers have helped hundreds of thousands of people around the Kingdom since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Saudis and expats in the Kingdom continue to receive coronavirus vaccine shots, with 7,537,798 people having been inoculated so far.


DiplomaticQuarter: Outgoing Pakistan ambassador meets Eastern Province governor

DiplomaticQuarter: Outgoing Pakistan ambassador meets Eastern Province governor
Updated 22 April 2021

DiplomaticQuarter: Outgoing Pakistan ambassador meets Eastern Province governor

DiplomaticQuarter: Outgoing Pakistan ambassador meets Eastern Province governor

Pakistani Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Raja Ali Ejaz called on Eastern Province Gov. Prince Saud bin Naif on the occasion of the end of his diplomatic duty in Riyadh.
The governor welcomed the ambassador at a reception, and they talked about the good relations between the two countries and various ways to further enhance mutual cooperation, said the Pakistani Embassy.
Ejaz thanked Prince Saud for the warm hospitality extended to him, and expressed his gratitude to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for rendering all assistance to Pakistani expatriates during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The ambassador also thanked Prince Saud for his support, and for looking after Pakistani expatriates residing in the province. “The Pakistani populace was very happy under the governor’s kind patronage,” Ejaz told Arab News.
Prince Saud praised the Pakistani community for being loyal and hard-working, and said the two countries and peoples have cemented an unbreakable bond of friendship.
He expressed certainty that bilateral relations will continue to grow, wishing Ejaz well for his future assignments and looking forward to maintaining contact.
Offering his thanks to all those who helped him carry out his work successfully, Ejaz said Saudi Arabia is a wonderful country in which he had a wonderful experience serving his compatriots.
He added that his successful stint in the Kingdom was mainly due to the continuous cooperation received from the Saudi government, the private sector and his colleagues.


NEOM launches 3 initiatives to support UN Sustainable Development Goals

NEOM launches 3 initiatives to support UN Sustainable Development Goals
Updated 22 April 2021

NEOM launches 3 initiatives to support UN Sustainable Development Goals

NEOM launches 3 initiatives to support UN Sustainable Development Goals
  • The initiatives were launched to celebrate World Creativity and Innovation Day
  • Department will work alongside MiSK Leadership, CyberX and Digital Giving programs

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s NEOM, a futuristic $500 billion megacity development, announced on Wednesday that it has launched three initiatives represented by the Social Responsibility Department.
The initiatives aim to support the sustainable development goals, celebrate the World Creativity and Innovation Day, and encourage the participation of the local community in developing innovative solutions that would support the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
The department said that it will work alongside the MiSK Leadership, CyberX and Digital Giving programs, and with the University of Tabuk and the General Authority for Small and Medium Enterprises, to launch these initiatives.
The first initiative is represented in the third batch of the Spark initiative and includes an innovative six-week training program designed to enhance the spirit of entrepreneurship among Saudi youth, the department said in a statement published by the Saudi Press Agency.
It introduces participants to the critical steps involved in starting a business and supports them with the necessary tools to form bright business ideas. From there, participants can turn them into vivid and realistic businesses for a sustainable future, in order for them to be able to present them to investors later.
The program is in support of the Kingdom’s drive to increase the participation of small and medium-sized enterprises in driving economic growth.
Last year, two batches of the program were successfully launched, benefiting 300 graduates, including 10 winners who passed the final round of Spark Tank.
The second initiative is the NEOM Generation Innovation Challenge, which will be held in partnership with the Industrial and Robot Innovation Center at the University of Tabuk. It involves challenging students from all over the Kingdom to present their ideas in the fields of water, energy, media, entertainment, transportation, health and food.
The ideas and their solutions must be centralized using artificial intelligence (AI) systems and be implementable in NEOM’s corresponding sectors. The participants will be evaluated based on their creativity, AI integration, and the extent to which their ideas align with NEOM’s approaches.
The third initiative is the CyberX Bootcamps, a non-profit platform for electronic awareness and digital knowledge under the supervision of the Digital Giving initiative. A training camp on AI and machine learning for youth will be held.
The department said it will spread awareness of the SDGs and provide opportunities for the local community to learn and gain important knowledge on sustainable development through quality education, gender equality, decent work and economic growth, sustainable cities and societies, as well as partnerships to achieve the goals.


Saudi aviation authority tightens COVID-19 controls at airports

The General Authority of Civil Aviation calls on everyone to adhere to the COVID-19 preventative measures. (SPA)
The General Authority of Civil Aviation calls on everyone to adhere to the COVID-19 preventative measures. (SPA)
Updated 22 April 2021

Saudi aviation authority tightens COVID-19 controls at airports

The General Authority of Civil Aviation calls on everyone to adhere to the COVID-19 preventative measures. (SPA)
  • GACA introduced screening points and appointed observers to ensure measures are fully implemented

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s aviation authority, in cooperation with security services, has stepped up inspections and control visits to airports and other authority buildings and facilities to monitor violations of precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has also introduced screening points to measure temperatures or check health data through the Tawakkalna app. It has also appointed a protocol officer for each facility and more than 250 observers to ensure that precautionary measures are fully implemented and followed.
In addition, GACA said it has increased educational awareness messages, and told businesses and other organizations operating in airports to adhere to health precautions.
GACA President Abdulaziz Al-Duaij stressed the importance of continuing to adhere to safety protocols set by the Ministry of Health — including wearing face masks at all times, continuous sterilization efforts, procedures to prevent overcrowding, and maintaining social distancing — and warned against complacency.
He said that only individuals registered with the Tawakkalna app will be allowed entry to authority buildings. He urged everyone to follow “the recommended health measures in order to preserve the gains achieved in combating the coronavirus” in the Kingdom which, he added, would not have been achieved without “the generous support from the Saudi leadership that placed citizens’ health and safety first and foremost.”
GACA added that it is working with the Ministry of Health to implement precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the virus at airports, and has put in place a package of health measures that meet global health and safety standards.


Saudi aid agency delivers $1.5 million medical aid package to Pakistan

Saudi aid agency delivers $1.5 million medical aid package to Pakistan
Updated 21 April 2021

Saudi aid agency delivers $1.5 million medical aid package to Pakistan

Saudi aid agency delivers $1.5 million medical aid package to Pakistan

The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) has delivered a special medical aid package worth $1.5 million to help combat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Pakistan.
The consignment was officially handed over — on behalf of the center — by the Saudi ambassador to Pakistan, Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki, to Akhtar Nawaz, chairman of the Pakistani National Disaster Management Authority, at the Saudi Embassy in Islamabad.
Items included 25,000 sterile surgical suits, 125,000 nonsterile surgical suits, 188,000 KN95 masks, 1,925,000 surgical masks, 9,500 nitrile gloves, and 46 respirators.
Nawaz thanked KSrelief for the medical equipment which he said would help his country’s fight against the COVID-19 outbreak. Saudi Arabia, through KSrelief, supports numerous health programs around the world aimed at tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.