Saudi Arabia in top 20 list for coronavirus research globally

Saudi Arabia in top 20 list for coronavirus research globally
A Saudi nurse checks a patient's temperature at a mobile clinic catering for the residents of Ajyad Almasafi district in the holy city of Mecca. (AFP)
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Updated 08 December 2020

Saudi Arabia in top 20 list for coronavirus research globally

Saudi Arabia in top 20 list for coronavirus research globally
  • Saudi researcher discovers low-cost early detection method for COVID-19

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s commitment to global research on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) spans several fields, with one receiving a US patent and trademark for early detection methods.

According to Saudi Education Minister Dr. Hamad Al-Sheikh, Saudi Arabia was ranked first in the Arab world and 17th globally for Saudi universities’ efforts to publish research on COVID-19, accounting for 1.8 percent of global research production.
Drawn from the Kingdom’s MERS experience, a number of COVID-19-related scientific findings and publications were readied and published in record time.
An innovative COVID-19 detection and diagnostic method by one Saudi researcher was registered at the US Patent and Trademark Office. The method uses a low-cost technology and produces results in record time, without using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis.
Speaking to Arab News, Dr. Hani Abdullah Al-Hadrami, a consultant and associate professor of molecular diagnostics and medical biotechnology at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, explained that the idea behind his innovation focuses on the development of an economical, sensitive and rapid diagnostic platform for the detection of COVID-19.
“The novel platform is a simple diagnostic sensor that can be used by unskilled personnel, such as nurses in the field, or that can be employed in a physician’s office,” Al-Hadrami said. Explaining the method, he said that the sample is directly applied to a sensing platform without the use of any processing equipment and is low in cost, compared to PCR analysis. This technology replaces the need for specialized laboratories and devices to detect COVID-19. It can also be carried to public places where tests and results can be ready in a few minutes.  

FASTFACT

An innovative COVID-19 detection and diagnostic method by one Saudi researcher was registered at the US Patent and Trademark Office. The method uses a low-cost technology and produces results in record time, without using PCR analysis.

“The technology requires neither medical experts nor specialized laboratories to operate it. It is easy to use in airports, for example, to examine pilgrims who come to visit Makkah and Madinah before they can reach the holy sites. It would be useful during Hajj and in any public places where people normally gather in large numbers,” he added. “We have identified and validated a probe, which is specific for COVID-19 and which will be integrated with conventional and commercially available fluorometers to be used as a screening assay to make it durable and portable so it can be carried in hospital emergency rooms and clinics.”




Dr. Hani Abdullah Al-Hadrami

Al-Hadrami pointed out that the proposed platform will offer a low-detection limit that will meet the infectious dose and eliminate laborious lab-processing techniques.
“It will encourage the development of new technology that provides low-cost, in-situ testing to facilitate treatment, both saving time and enabling the correct action to be taken with minimal interventions,” he said.
Al-Hadrami noted that this integrated approach will result in cost-efficient, rapid and accurate detection of COVID-19 with immediate, targeted treatment, eliminating the need for any sample processing.
“This innovation will show the whole world that Saudis, like any other scientists in developed countries, have contributed to finding innovative solutions for the detection and diagnosis of COVID-19,” he said.
“This will greatly help in controlling the virus and preventing its spread by identifying infected people. When manufactured and produced, this technology will make a great return on the local national economy as it is exported to countries across the world,” he said in a tweet.

 


Soul sisters: Meet the Saudi women blazing a musical trail

Soul sisters: Meet the Saudi women blazing a musical trail
Former reporter and jazz and blues singer, Loulwa Al-Sharif has been singing for seven years. The larger-than-life singer has been the talk of the town for years, delivering high and low notes with passion. (Supplied)
Updated 20 June 2021

Soul sisters: Meet the Saudi women blazing a musical trail

Soul sisters: Meet the Saudi women blazing a musical trail
  • Social reforms open doors for female musicians in traditional male field

JEDDAH: Saudi female musicians and performers are hitting the high notes and creating crowd-pleasing beats for Saudi fans.

Jazz and blues, rock, rap and many other genres have been explored by Saudis, but now more Saudi women are making their way to the performance stage, thanks to social reforms that mean career choices that once were taboo are now supported by many.
Saudi electronic music producer and DJ Nouf Sufyani, known as Cosmicat, told Arab News that has been obsessed with music since childhood.
“My love for music was overwhelming and kept leading me back until I started making my own,” the 27-year-old said.
In 2017, Sufyani began gaining attention in the male-dominated field because of her unique style.
She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in dental medicine and surgery, and worked as a dentist for a while before pursuing her music career.
“It’s a struggle proving myself in a male-dominated industry, and there is also the fear of being a social outcast for what I do since it’s not a traditional job and the style of music I play is not really mainstream,” said Sufyani.
Music is “the motivation that keeps me going every day — it’s a form of art that I keep rediscovering over and over.”
Sufyani taught herself to DJ. “I do electronic music, I love to use my voice and some Arabic poetry or spoken word or even a capella. I make music that can be enjoyed on the dance floor; my flavor is more underground and very personal.”

Saudi electronic music producer and DJ Nouf Sufyani, known as Cosmicat, told Arab News that has been obsessed with music since childhood.

Her music is available on major platforms such as Apple Music, Spotify, Anghami, Deezer and Soundcloud, and is also played on the flight entertainment system of Saudi Airlines.
Lamya Nasser, a 33-year-old facility and travel management officer, developed an interest in rock and metal at the age of nine, and began recording her music in 2008, long before the social reforms, as part of the first Saudi female rock band the Accolade.
“What got me started is my love and passion for rock music, how much I can relate to a lot of its messages and how it shaped my character along the way,” she told Arab News.

HIGHLIGHT

Jazz and blues, rock, rap and many other genres have been explored by Saudis, but now more Saudi women are making their way to the performance stage, thanks to social reforms that mean career choices that once were taboo are now supported by many.

“I started my journey with the Accolade back when I was 21 and a student at King Abdul Aziz University. I got to know a very talented guitar player named Dina and along with her sister we formed the band.”
In that year, the band visited Khaled Abdulmanan, a music producer in Jeddah at Red Sand Production. They have recorded three songs: “Pinocchio” (2008), “Destiny” (2009) and her favorite, “This is not me” (2010).
After the women graduated, they went their separate ways. “Sadly, we weren’t able to gather for rehearsals like we used to, and each one of us started her own career.”
In 2018, Nasser went solo and continues to share her performances on Instagram @Lamya.K.Nasser. She recently joined a new recording studio under the name of Wall of Sound.

Lamya Nasser, a 33-year-old facility and travel management officer, developed an interest in rock and metal at the age of nine, and began recording her music in 2008.

“Music can be the fuel to our soul and regenerate our energy. We can translate our pain and express ourselves through music,” she said.
Nasser said that the song “Pinocchio” had more than 19,000 listens on Soundcloud. “It made me truly happy and proud. Even now I still messages on my Instagram account from time to time from beautiful souls sharing their admiration for Accolade’s music,” she said.
Former reporter and jazz and blues singer, 33-year-old Loulwa Al-Sharif (@loulwa_music) has been singing for seven years. The larger-than-life singer has been the talk of the town for years, delivering high and low notes with passion.

Music is the motivation that keeps me going every day — it’s a form of art that I keep rediscovering over and over.
Cosmicat

“I tried working in different fields since I was 17, and decided to leave journalism three years ago to work on what I’m passionate about,” Al-Sharif told Arab News.
“I was one of very few women performing six years ago. It was a little difficult. There were talented females, but no one was singing live in front of an audience. I was maybe the first or second,” she said. “It was hard, but a lot of people were supporting me.” She described music as raw emotion.
“Blues is real emotion and jazz is unpredictable, I love how unpredictable it is from the sound of the piano — there are no rules, and the lyrics from blues music are so real.”
Al-Sharif hopes to educate the new generation on jazz and blues through her performances.
“I chose to sing it back then because not many from the new generation listen to jazz and blues, so I really wanted to bring it back and for people to enjoy it.”


Saudi Arabia reassures priority groups on COVID-19 vaccines

Saudi Arabia reassures priority groups on COVID-19 vaccines
Saudi Arabia reassures priority groups on COVID-19 vaccines. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 June 2021

Saudi Arabia reassures priority groups on COVID-19 vaccines

Saudi Arabia reassures priority groups on COVID-19 vaccines
  • Saudi health ministry reassured those over 60 and priority groups that they will continue to receive the second vaccine doses

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health said that second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be rescheduled for the general public according to the availability of supplies.

The MOH reassured those over 60 and priority groups that they will continue to receive the second vaccine doses.

On Saturday, the MOH announced 1,153 new cases of COVID-19, raising the total number of cases to 473,112, and 1,145 recoveries, bringing the total to 454,404. The death tally is now 7,663, with 13 new COVID-19 associated deaths reported in the past 24 hours.

The Kingdom’s recovery rate is holding steady at 96 percent.

Makkah reported 335 cases, Riyadh 266, the Eastern Province 148 and Asir 119. Jouf reported only 4 cases.

The number of active cases continues to rise despite the high recovery rate, and stands at 11,045. No new cases were admitted to intensive care, which leaves 1,496 still in critical care.

77,831 new PCR tests have been conducted in the past 24 hours and more than 16.5 million doses of the vaccine administered so far.


Endangered goat species released in Saudi Arabia’s Baljurashi park

Endangered goat species released in Saudi Arabia’s Baljurashi park
Endangered goat species released in Saudi Arabia’s National Park of Baljurashi. (SPA)
Updated 20 June 2021

Endangered goat species released in Saudi Arabia’s Baljurashi park

Endangered goat species released in Saudi Arabia’s Baljurashi park
  • The park is one of the largest in Saudi Arabia and features rugged mountain terrain, which serves as an ideal habitat for the goat species

BAHA: Twenty endangered mountain goats have been released back into the wild in Saudi Arabia’s National Park of Baljurashi, the first rehabilitation project of its kind in Baha.

It comes as part of efforts by The National Center for Wildlife Development to protect the Kingdom’s endangered animal species.

At a ceremony held for the release, Baha Gov. Prince Hussam bin Saud bin Abdul Aziz stressed the importance of preserving and restoring wildlife in the region to protect the environment and nature, adding that the efforts were part of the center’s coordination with a branch of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture and the National Center for the Development of Vegetation Cover and Combating Desertification, and were in line with Vision 2030.

He also stressed the importance of achieving ecological balance and praised the efforts of the ministry in achieving sustainable development and enriching biodiversity in the Kingdom.

The park is one of the largest in the Kingdom and features rugged mountain terrain, which serves as an ideal habitat for the goat species.

The release is part of the Saudi repatriation program carried out by the National Center for Wildlife Development to restore endangered species in their natural habitats, make the park more attractive for visitors, activate societal partnerships and restore the balance of natural environments.

Tourists and visitors in Baha will be able to safely watch the rare animals from afar and capture photos.

The release event was attended by undersecretary of the region’s principality, Abdul Moneim bin Yassin Al​-Shehri; CEO of the National Center for Wildlife Development, Dr. Mohammed Qurban; and director of the ministry’s branch in the region, Fahd Al-Zahrani.

 


5.6 million arrested for residency, labor, border violations across Saudi Arabia

5.6 million arrested for residency, labor, border violations across Saudi Arabia
More than 5.6 million violators arrested in Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
Updated 20 June 2021

5.6 million arrested for residency, labor, border violations across Saudi Arabia

5.6 million arrested for residency, labor, border violations across Saudi Arabia
  • The report said that 116,908 people were arrested while trying to cross the border into Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: More than 5.6 million violators of residency, work and border security systems have been arrested in the Kingdom, according to an official report.

Since the campaign began on Nov. 15, 2017 — and up to June 16, 2021 — there have been 5,615,884 offenders, including 4,304,206 for violating residency regulations, 802,125 for labor violations and 509,553 for border violations.

The report said that 116,908 people were arrested while trying to cross the border into the Kingdom: 43 percent were Yemeni citizens, 54 percent were Ethiopians and 3 percent were from other nationalities.

In addition, 9,508 people were arrested for trying to cross into neighboring countries, and 8,222 were arrested for involvement in transporting and harboring violators.

Some 2,766 Saudis were arrested for harboring violators against local laws, of whom five were being detained pending the completion of procedures.

The total number of violators being subjected to procedures was 53,916, including 49,954 men and 3,962 women.

Immediate penalties were imposed against 714,208 offenders, 901,700 were transferred to their respective diplomatic missions to obtain travel documents, 1,047,340 were transferred to complete their travel reservations, and 1,553,667 were deported.

 


Saudi customs seize $24 million illegal cash since early 2020

Saudi customs seize $24 million illegal cash since early 2020
A Saudi money exchanger wears gloves as he counts Saudi riyal currency at a currency exchange shop in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (REUTERS file photo)
Updated 20 June 2021

Saudi customs seize $24 million illegal cash since early 2020

Saudi customs seize $24 million illegal cash since early 2020
  • Travelers arriving or departing from the Kingdom who are carrying coins, jewelry or any precious metals worth SR60,000 or more, or its equivalent in foreign currencies, must declare

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority (GAZT) prevented the smuggling of more than 290 kilograms of gold jewelry and almost SR90 million ($24 million) in cash from crossing out of the Kingdom over the span of 18 months since the beginning of 2020.
As part of efforts to combat smuggling through its facilities in Saudi Arabia, GAZT officers were able to foil an attempt on Friday to smuggle SR2.76 million in cash hidden inside a truck leaving through the Al-Batha Border Port.
GAZT officials said that the money was “stashed in the cavity of the rear axles of the truck,” adding that legal measures were taken against the smuggler.
In another smuggling operation foiled on May 27, inspectors were alerted to a suspicious female passenger arriving at Jeddah’s King Abdul Aziz International Airport. She was found to have ingested 60 capsules, or 683.5 grams of cocaine. Similarly, a male passenger had ingested 80 capsules, containing 918.5 grams of cocaine.

FASTFACT

Travelers arriving or departing from the Kingdom who are carrying coins, jewelry or any precious metals worth SR60,000 or more, or its equivalent in foreign currencies, must declare the items electronically through the GAZT application or website.

Travelers arriving or departing from the Kingdom who are carrying coins, jewelry or any precious metals worth SR60,000 or more, or its equivalent in foreign currencies, must declare the items electronically through the GAZT application or website by filling out the designated form electronically, and submitting the reference number to customs authorities upon departure or arrival.
GAZT said that in the event of a false or nondeclaration, a fine of 25 percent of the value of the seized items will be imposed.
If a violation is repeated, a fine of 50 percent of the value of the seized items will be handed down. This is applicable only if there is no suspicion of the incident being linked to a predicate crime or money laundering crime, but should there be any suspicion, the entire amount shall be withheld and the violator shall be referred to The Kingdom’s Public Prosecution.