DiplomaticQuarter: Italian embassy in Riyadh marks fifth World Week of Italian Cuisine

The Italian Embassy hosted an online discussion on the cultural value of food.
The Italian Embassy hosted an online discussion on the cultural value of food.
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Updated 17 December 2020

DiplomaticQuarter: Italian embassy in Riyadh marks fifth World Week of Italian Cuisine

DiplomaticQuarter: Italian embassy in Riyadh marks fifth World Week of Italian Cuisine

RIYADH: The Embassy of Italy in Riyadh marked the fifth edition of the World Week of Italian Cuisine by hosting an online roundtable discussion of the cultural value of food and culinary traditions.
The event, held on Dec. 9 in collaboration with the Future Food Institute, was titled “Saudi Arabia and Italy: A Journey Between Food and Culture.” The participants included Italian and Saudi experts and professionals who talked about innovative ways in which people can be encouraged to rediscover and express their cultural heritage and identity, promote healthy diets and lifestyles, and protect and develop the agricultural and food sectors.
There was also a special focus on the 10th anniversary of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization adding the Mediterranean diet to its list of intangible world cultural heritage. An excellent example of the cultural value of food and culinary traditions, the Mediterranean diet encompasses more than simply certain foods or ingredients — it also includes a wide range of skills, knowledge, practices and traditions, from respect for the land and biodiversity to the way the food is produced, consumed and shared at the table.
The event was opened by Roberto Cantone, Italy’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and chaired by Sara Roversi, the president and founder of the Future Food Institute.
“The Italian Cuisine Week allows us to showcase Italian cuisine worldwide,” said Cantone. “But it also offers the incredible opportunity to engage in a wide-ranging conversation about food, to discuss what we eat and how we eat it, the way we produce and consume food and how it impacts our well being, our communities, our economies and our planet.
“These issues are at the center of the international agenda and Italy plays an active role in promoting and raising awareness about them — including within the framework of our G20 Presidency, which we took over from Saudi Arabia on Dec. 1.”
Roversi said: “Future Food Institute is proud to cooperate with the Italian Embassy in Riyadh to bring Italian best practices and innovative business cases, as well as to promote our common cultural heritage.
“We strongly believe that public and private cooperation, combined with a multilateral approach, can make the difference in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of (the UN’s) Agenda 2030 and building thriving global societies. Indeed ‘People, Planet, Prosperity’ (the three stated priorities of the Italian presidency of the G20) have been the epicenter of our dialogues.
“This roundtable represents a crucial bridge for partnership development and cultural exchange between Italy and Saudi Arabia.”
The main speakers at the event included Mayada Badr, CEO of the Culinary Arts Commission at the Saudi Ministry of Culture; Elisabetta Moro, professor of cultural anthropology at the Suor Orsola Benincasa University of Naples and co-director of the Virtual Museum of the Mediterranean Diet; and Cesare Mazzetti, president of Fondazione Qualivita, which promotes and protects the uniqueness of food products.

Saudi women making their mark in science

Saudi women making their mark in science
Updated 13 sec ago

Saudi women making their mark in science

Saudi women making their mark in science

JEDDAH: Just 30 percent of women worldwide work in science, but Saudis are challenging this long-standing trend.
Women represent 58 percent of university students in Saudi Arabia, with many studying in science, technology and engineering and furthering their careers with studies overseas.
In a report by the Saudi Education Ministry, women outnumbered men in graduating with a bachelor’s in biology, information technology, mathematics, statistics, and physics.
Universities and research centers have adopted measures to support the inclusion of female scientists.
Ambitious, driven and facing challenges along the way to their success, here are the Saudi women scientists who have made a mark in the field for their extraordinary work.
Suha Kayum
Research engineer

With a career spanning 10 years, Kayum — a research engineer with Saudi Aramco’s EXPEC Advanced Research Center — was tasked with accelerating the evolution of software algorithms to enhance Aramco’s reservoir simulator, which helped the company cut costs.
Kayum was a developer for the company’s in-house basin and seismic simulators. In 2016, she designed and received a patent for an algorithm that enabled the first 1-billion cell basin simulation run.

Dr. Elaf Ahmed
Lab scientist

With a keen research interest in nano-organisms, Ahmed’s main focus while conducting postdoctoral work at King Abdullah University for Science and Technology was synthesis of environmental nano materials using electrochemically active biofilms.
She later joined the company’s Oil and Gas Treatment Division at Aramco’s Research and Development Center.
Her main focus at the division is to conduct research projects for water treatment technologies and find new ways to treat water found in oil and gas reservoirs.

Dr. Ilham Abuljadayel

In what could be one of the most profound achievements by a Saudi scientist, Dr. Ilham discovered the process of retrodifferentiation, a method also known as retrograde differentiation that treats blood diseases.
A common process for the maintenance of cell integrity against damaging agents, Dr. Ilham applied her findings in the first preclinical study in 2000 in collaboration with George Washington Medical Center, US, in two animal models of human diseases to study the utility of retrodifferentiated stem cells.
Her research has helped treat 390 patients with diseases ranging from sickle cell anaemia, multiple sclerosis, thalassaemia, and hepatitis C among others.
Dr. Abeer Al-Olayan
Petroleum scientist

With an academic and industrial background in various fields of chemistry spanning over 20 years, Dr. Abeer is a research scientist at Saudi Aramco’s EXPEC Advanced Research Center and is responsible for leading its chemicals development initiative.
As a fellow at MIT, she submitted a fellowship research abstract that focuses on reducing dependency on food-based chemicals to tackle drilling and subsurface challenges. She has 10 registered patents with the US Patent Office for the development of methods, materials and compositions in drilling and fluid transfer.

Dr. Malak Abed Althagafi

Diagnosed with a rare genetic disease at a young age, Althagafi got a first glimpse of what her future could be during her treatment. Her educational path started with the study of genetic diseases in children and led to molecular pathology before she focused on surgical oncology, molecular genetics and neuropathology.
Dr. Malak is one of the few American board-certified molecular neuropathologists in the world and has conducted research that focuses on decoding genetic mutations in tumors, specifically brain tumors in children.
She became part of the Saudi Human Genome Program in 2014. Her clinical and research interests are mainly in surgical oncology, pathology, molecular genetics pathology and neuropathology, especially its application for treating brain cancers.

Dr. Hind Al-Johani
Scientist of physical chemistry

Her research interest is in nano-catalysis. In 2017, this Saudi scientist discovered that by using the simple molecule of citrate ions (from citric acid) you could stabilize and control the structure of gold nanoparticles.
Using this new discovery, the findings showed that gold can carry drugs through the body without chemical side effects. Attaching antibodies can guide the nanoparticles to specific cells that need treatment. Her findings have had an impact on environmental chemistry where it may also be used for water purification or methods for capturing CO2 emissions.

Dr. Nouf Al-Numair
Molecular bioinformatics scientist
Dubbed the DNA decoder, her research focuses on predicting the early emergence of diseases through genetic mutations.
She has achieved this by merging molecular genetics and computer programming to predict the effects of mutations and provide patients with a personalized medical approach to treatment.
Using more than seven programming languages to analyze human genes, she has successfully published a number of papers with the findings.
Dr. Nouf pursued her career in STEM and is the first Saudi scientist to major in molecular genetics and programming biological information.