English learners in Saudi Arabia can access British Council’s Digital Library free

English learners in Saudi Arabia can access British Council’s Digital Library free
The membership gives access to magazines and newspapers from around the world and access to exclusive content from their partners in the UK. (Supplied)
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Updated 26 January 2021

English learners in Saudi Arabia can access British Council’s Digital Library free

English learners in Saudi Arabia can access British Council’s Digital Library free
  • Eilidh Kennedy McLean, director of the British Council in Saudi Arabia, said that it was important for the council to be able to cooperate with RCQE to launch the library “after the challenging year of 2020”

JEDDAH: English learners and students in   Arabia can now access the British Council’s Digital Library free of charge after a partnership between the Regional Center for Quality and Excellence in Education (RCQE) and the Council was announced on Sunday.
The library supports English-language students with free learning resources such as popular e-books and audiobooks.
The launch of the digital library is part of the center’s strategic partnership with the British Council to enhance education.
RCQE director general, Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Mudairis, said that the center’s mission is to improve education in the Arab world.
Al-Mudairis pointed out that the center has facilitated access to this free digital library to provide for everyone who wants to learn in Saudi Arabia.
“The accelerating pace of digital transformation has increased the demand for books and electronic resources via the ionternet,” he said. “The repercussions of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on the world, especially on education, has pointed up the need for innovative curricula.”

Saudi Arabia and the UK share many common interests, including education and culture.

Eilidh Kennedy McLean, Director of the British Council

Eilidh Kennedy McLean, director of the British Council in Saudi Arabia, said that it was important for the council to be able to cooperate with RCQE to launch the library “after the challenging year of 2020.”
She added that Saudi Arabia and the UK share many common interests, including education and culture.
Members of the British Council Digital Library will have world-class resources at the tip of their fingers, from online study resources to award-winning movies and documentaries.
The membership gives access to magazines and newspapers from around the world and access to exclusive content from their partners in the UK.
Users must be over 18, according to the website.

 


Farasani people find summer solace in ancient Saudi getaway

Farasani people find summer solace in ancient Saudi getaway
Al-Qassar village consists of old buildings and is located in the south of Farasan Island. (Supplied)
Updated 5 min 40 sec ago

Farasani people find summer solace in ancient Saudi getaway

Farasani people find summer solace in ancient Saudi getaway
  • Al-Qassar village becomes a top destination for those seeking moderate climates and potable water

MAKKAH: The village of Al-Qassar — located 5 kilometers away from the Farasan governorate — has long been a hub for the people of the Farasan Islands who are always in connection with the place.

This is especially noticeable during summer, when people migrate to the village to escape from the heat.
For more than 50 years, Al-Qassar’s historic homes have witnessed vibrant ceremonies, as their walls were built with stones, roofed from palm tree fronds, and adorned with seashells and beautiful Arabic inscriptions.
Saudi historian and poet Ibrahim Moftah said that Al-Qassar is one of the first villages that was inhabited in the Arabian Peninsula hundreds of years ago. The village enjoys moderate weather, is covered with palm trees, and is full of fresh wells and rich in history and events, he added.
“Farasan was a deserted island on all levels and the love of change is in the nature of Jizani people, so they used to go to Al-Qassar for change,” he told Arab News.
He said that at the beginning of the month of April, the village becomes a top destination for those seeking moderate climates and potable water. “Water in Al-Qassar can be found at a depth of six meters, whereas it can only be found in Farasan at a depth of 23 meters.”
Previously, most travel and trips to Al-Qassar village were during what Farasani people call the “Shaddah” season, where families ride camels to travel.
People of Farasan would postpone their wedding ceremonies in order to travel to Al-Qassar in summer, where the weather is cool during the Shaddah season.
Those trips to the village were done in two phases: One morning trip for a bride, who rides a camel carrying water and boxes with accompanying music, and another second trip during the afternoon for families.
“The Farasan people used to celebrate new brides in Al-Qassar in a unique way, especially if the bride was in the first year of her marriage, amid the chants and songs of joy,” said Moftah. “A calm and trained camel is chosen, then they decorate the camels with beads, pearls and silk, and copper bells that are fixed to its ankles to make sounds as it walks.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• For more than 50 years, Al-Qassar’s historic homes have witnessed vibrant ceremonies, as their walls were built with stones, roofed from palm tree fronds, and adorned with seashells and beautiful Arabic inscriptions.

• Previously, most travel and trips to Al-Qassar village were during what Farasani people call the ‘Shaddah’ season, where families ride camels to travel.

• People of Farasan would postpone their wedding ceremonies in order to travel to Al-Qassar in summer, where the weather is cool during the Shaddah season.

Moftah said that before a bride’s trip to Al-Qassar, “young women gather at the bride’s house and start singing, then they start their trip with the bride in the forefront. The camels would also be carrying wooden boxes that used to arrive from Aden and are made in India, loaded with expensive clothes and perfumes. The bridesmaid accompanies the bride, and she is usually of a similar weight. Men and women would stand on the sides to wave goodbye to the bride’s procession.”
The bride is then received in Al-Qassar with jugs of water and chants.
However, Moftah said that “nowadays, there are no more camels in Farasan” and that “life has changed and these traditions ended 50 years ago,” as cars, modern homes and air-conditioners have become common and Al-Qassar is no longer an escape or a shelter for anyone, now only home to “deserted houses and souvenirs.”
According to the Saudi historian, official festivals and a surge in tourism “was not fair” to the history of Al-Qassar village, as older traditions were not properly represented. “The region has lost one of the most beautiful cultural traditions.”
Saudi tourist guide Yahya Abbas said that Al-Qassar village consists of old buildings and is located in the south of Farasan Island, and includes almost 400 houses fixed with tree fronds, small stones and sand “to prevent water leaks.”
He added: “The history of this village dates back to the Roman era, and there are writings and drawings dating back to the Himyarite era.
“The village is considered the largest palm oasis in the region, with plenty of fresh wells.”
Abbas said that Al-Qassar has now become an area for tourists and visitors who want to discover its history and that of the Farasan Islands, as well as view the ancient houses in the village.


Saudis shun online shopping, flock to malls for Eid despite virus warnings

Saudis shun online shopping, flock to malls for Eid despite virus warnings
Ordering online has pros and cons. (Supplied)
Updated 14 min 5 sec ago

Saudis shun online shopping, flock to malls for Eid despite virus warnings

Saudis shun online shopping, flock to malls for Eid despite virus warnings
  • Ordering online has pros and cons

RIYADH: Hordes of Saudis have ignored government warnings to avoid crowded public areas and flocked to the shops in the run-up to Eid Al-Fitr holidays.
Many would rather head to the malls than buy online despite concerns about the dangers of spreading the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Teacher Fawaz Abdulwahab told Arab News that although internet shopping was easier, he and his wife preferred to go to stores in person so that they could check the quality and size of products, especially shoes and clothes, before purchasing.
He said: “Some of my friends bought products off the internet and had problems such as delays in delivery, wrong sizes, and getting different products from those they had ordered.
“I’m not worried about getting infected with COVID-19 while shopping in crowded places, because I have already received a first dose of vaccine. Besides, I have been infected with the coronavirus.

‘I’m not worried about getting infected with COVID-19 while shopping in crowded places, because I have already received a first dose of vaccine.’

Fawaz Abdulwahab

“Also, many people have received the vaccine and are protected. Added to this, no one can enter a mall unless they have shown their status on the Tawakkalna app and had their temperature checked,” he added.
Saudi housewife, Haifa Dayed, said she liked to spruce up her house prior to Eid Al-Fitr and buy new candles and furniture items from her local market. If she could not find what she wanted in store, she would order online.
However, last year, due to the virus curfew and lockdowns, she had no choice but to order almost everything online.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Teacher Fawaz Abdulwahab said that although internet shopping was easier, he and his wife preferred to go to stores in person so that they could check the quality and size of products, especially shoes and clothes, before purchasing.

• Saudi housewife, Haifa Dayed, said she liked to spruce up her house prior to Eid Al-Fitr and buy new candles and furniture items from her local market. If she could not find what she wanted in store, she would order online.

“Ordering online has pros and cons. It saves you from the risk of getting COVID-19 but on the negative side there can be delays in delivery and wrong sizes. I use online shopping when I don’t find my size at the mall,” she added.
Although initially fearful of contracting the virus at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, Dayed said she was no longer worried. “People now seem to be a lot more aware of the gravity of the situation and wear face masks all the time and use sanitizers at the mall.”
Saudi businessman Mohammed Al-Qahtani said that while online shopping had its advantages, physical shopping was more fun.
“When one orders online, the price is fixed, and you cannot bargain with the seller. When
the COVID-19 pandemic started, it was dangerous to go out to the mall but today after millions of people have been vaccinated and with precautionary measures in place, I think many people prefer to go out to the mall than order online,” he added.


Pakistan PM Imran Khan arrives in Saudi Arabia for three-day visit

Pakistan PM Imran Khan arrives in Saudi Arabia for three-day visit
Updated 10 min 39 sec ago

Pakistan PM Imran Khan arrives in Saudi Arabia for three-day visit

Pakistan PM Imran Khan arrives in Saudi Arabia for three-day visit
  • Pakistani leader will hold meetings with Saudi leadership over coming days

JEDDAH: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived Friday in Saudi Arabia ahead of a three-day visit to the Kingdom, on the invitation of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Khan was received in Jeddah by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Minister of Commerce, Acting Minister of Information, Dr. Majed Al-Qasabi and other officials on his arrival.

In meetings with Saudi leadership over the coming days, Khan will cover all areas of bilateral cooperation including economics, trade, investment, environment, energy, job opportunities for the Pakistani workforce, and the welfare of the Pakistani diaspora in the kingdom, the Pakistani foreign office said.

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The Pakistani leader will also meet the Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen, the Secretary General of the World Muslim League, Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, and the Imams of the Two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Medina.


Workers in Saudi Arabia will need COVID-19 vaccine to return to workplace, HR ministry says

All workers attending a workplace in Saudi Arabia will be required to have received a COVID-19 vaccination, it was announced on Friday. (SPA/File Photo)
All workers attending a workplace in Saudi Arabia will be required to have received a COVID-19 vaccination, it was announced on Friday. (SPA/File Photo)
Updated 07 May 2021

Workers in Saudi Arabia will need COVID-19 vaccine to return to workplace, HR ministry says

All workers attending a workplace in Saudi Arabia will be required to have received a COVID-19 vaccination, it was announced on Friday. (SPA/File Photo)
  • Urged employers to begin preparations to ensure all employees have received a vaccination

RIYADH: All workers attending a workplace in Saudi Arabia will be required to have received a COVID-19 vaccination, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development said on Friday.

“Receiving a coronavirus vaccine will be a mandatory condition for male and female workers to attend workplaces in all sectors (public, private, non-profit),” the ministry said on Twitter.

It also urged employers to begin preparations to ensure all employees have received a vaccination, saying: “The ministry will soon clarify the mechanisms of the decision and its implementation date.”

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia recorded 13 new COVID-19 related deaths on Friday, which raised the total number of fatalities in the Kingdom to 7,045.

The Ministry of Health confirmed 1,039 new cases of the disease in the country over the past 24 hours, meaning 424,445 people have now contracted the disease since the pandemic began. 

Of the total number of cases, 9,750 remain active and 1,311 in critical condition, a decrease from the day before.

According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 386, followed by Makkah with 274 and the Eastern Province with 140, while Asir recorded 46 and Madinah confirmed 45 cases.

The ministry also announced that 1,061 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 407,650.

 


Saudi Arabia wants to see ‘verifiable deeds’ from talks with Iran, says official

Saudi Arabia wants to see ‘verifiable deeds’ from talks with Iran, says official
Updated 29 min 34 sec ago

Saudi Arabia wants to see ‘verifiable deeds’ from talks with Iran, says official

Saudi Arabia wants to see ‘verifiable deeds’ from talks with Iran, says official
  • Comments were made by Ambassador Rayed Krimly
  • Minister said Saudi policy had been explained “very clearly” by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

DUBAI: A Saudi foreign ministry official said on Friday that talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran aim to reduce regional tensions, but added it was too early to judge the outcome and Riyadh wanted to see “verifiable deeds.”
The comments by Ambassador Rayed Krimly, head of policy planning at the ministry, were the first public confirmation from Riyadh that the rivals — who severed ties in 2016 — were holding direct talks.
“As to current Saudi-Iranian talks they aim to explore ways to reduce tensions in the region,” Krimly told Reuters.
“We hope they prove successful, but it is too early, and premature, to reach any definitive conclusions. Our evaluation will be based on verifiable deeds, and not proclamations.”
He declined to provide details on the talks, but regional officials and sources had told Reuters that the discussions were focused on Yemen and the 2015 nuclear deal between global powers and Iran, which Riyadh had opposed.
Iraq’s president said on Wednesday that Baghdad hosted more than one round of talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran, who have been locked in a rivalry that has played out in proxy conflicts across the region, including Yemen.
Krimly said Saudi policy had been explained “very clearly” by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who last month said that while the Sunni Muslim kingdom has a problem with Tehran’s “negative behavior” it wanted good relations with Shiite Iran.
Yemen war
Tensions between Riyadh and Tehran have festered over the Yemen war, where an Iran-aligned Houthi group has increased attacks on Saudi Arabia. Strains between the two Gulf powerhouses also grew after a 2019 assault on Saudi oil plants that Riyadh blamed on Iran, a charge Tehran denies.
Riyadh supported former US President Donald Trump’s decision in 2018 to quit the nuclear pact for not addressing Tehran’s missiles program and regional behavior. After Trump re-imposed sanctions on Iran, Tehran responded by breaching several nuclear restrictions.
Global powers are trying at talks in Vienna to bring the United States and Iran back into full compliance with the deal. Saudi Arabia has urged them to reach a stronger accord.
Riyadh and Tehran have also backed opposing sides in Lebanon and Syria, where Iran has supported President Bashar Assad.
Gulf states have been alarmed by the rising influence of non-Arab Iran, Russia and Turkey in Syria, especially after Syria’s membership of the Arab League was suspended in 2011 over its crackdown on protesters at the start of the civil war.
Krimly said recent media reports that the head of Saudi intelligence had held talks in Damascus were inaccurate.
He said Saudi policy toward Syria remained based on support for the Syrian people, for a political solution under a United Nations umbrella and in accordance with Security Council resolutions, and for the unity and Arab identity of Syria.