Meet the Saudi volunteers saving lives across the Gulf

Meet the Saudi volunteers saving lives across the Gulf
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Barq provides rescue and safety training to all its recruits, including basic first aid, in addition to the several awareness campaigns they provide to the public on a regular basis. (Photos/Supplied)
Meet the Saudi volunteers saving lives across the Gulf
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Photo/Supplied
Meet the Saudi volunteers saving lives across the Gulf
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Photo/Supplied
Meet the Saudi volunteers saving lives across the Gulf
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Photo/Supplied
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Updated 02 March 2021

Meet the Saudi volunteers saving lives across the Gulf

Meet the Saudi volunteers saving lives across the Gulf
  • The Barq Rescue Team are the people to call if you are stranded in the outdoors

RIYADH: With camping season in full swing across the Kingdom many Saudi families are taking the opportunity to engage in fun COVID-friendly activities.

Desert camping (or kashtas, as they’re colloquially known), hiking trips, and other outdoorsy activities are taking place all over the country.
However, due to the nature of these activities, the likelihood of accidents tends to increase, especially among first-timers or otherwise inexperienced outdoorsmen.
Fortunately, a group of dedicated volunteers is working tirelessly to ensure the safety of the Kingdom’s budding outdoor enthusiasts, allowing virtually anyone to dabble in those types of activities without fear.
Founded in 2017, the Barq (Arabic for “lightning”) Rescue Team is Saudi Arabia’s first accredited volunteer rescue team. Certified by the Saudi Civil Defense and the Ministry of Interior, the group is a member of both the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation and the UN’s International Association for Voluntary Efforts.
Barq’s team leader, Talal Abdulghani, told Arab News that the team started off as an unofficial group of four-wheel drive vehicle owners who saw an opportunity to utilize their equipment for the greater good.
“We first had the idea to create the team during the 2017 flooding in Jeddah,” Abdulghani said. “Those of us with suitable cars that were fitted with off-roading equipment found ourselves able to help out, and we decided to make it an official team.”
What started off as a small group of volunteers quickly gained traction. Today, Barq has more than 950 volunteers spread out across the Kingdom, with members assisting stranded drivers all over the Gulf countries. And at least 120 of those members are women.

FASTFACTS

• Founded in 2017, the Barq Rescue Team is Saudi Arabia’s first accredited volunteer rescue team.

• Certified by the Saudi Civil Defense and the Ministry of Interior, the group is a member of both the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation and the UN’s International Association for Voluntary Efforts.

“Every member of the team joined us out of passion and the desire to help others,” Abdulghani said, “We’re not getting paid, nor do we charge for our services, and all of us have day jobs. We volunteer out of a sense of duty to our country and community.”
Abdulghani told Arab News that one or two deaths tend to occur every month out in the desert, especially in remote locations or due to a lack of experience. Anyone stranded in the desert can call the 24-hour hotline to receive assistance from one of their team members, who will arrive on the site to help if they need to or can offer help over the phone or via WhatsApp.
“Considering the number of calls we get every day, sometimes we find it better to try to assist over the phone instead of heading to a location ourselves,” said Abdulghani. “That way, instead of just showing up and taking over, we give people a chance to learn from their mistakes with our guidance and prevent similar incidents in the future.”
However, Barq’s team is not only comprised of drivers; Abdulghani says that anyone can join up, provided they have something to offer.
“We have members who are doctors and paramedics, who can offer first aid in case we need to rescue someone who is injured, and mechanics who are able to fix cars that have broken down or stalled, or been damaged. We also have photographers, lawyers and so on,” he said.
Abdulghani said an interesting side effect of their work was that many of those rescued have been inspired to join the team themselves.
One of those people is Samaher Al-Qwasmi, who said: “I was taking a trip with my mother and brother to Khaleej Salman beach, and I ended up driving a little too close to the water. Eventually, I found myself stuck because it was so muddy, and I could feel the car sinking down into the mud,” she said.
Not knowing what to do, and with poor phone service, she contacted her uncle, who directed her to call Barq.
“They asked me a lot of questions about how many people we were, what our location was, whether or not we had food, and so on. They were very thorough about making sure we were safe, and that in turn made me feel safer,” she said.




Barq’s team is not only comprised of drivers. Anyone can join up, provided they have something to offer.

The team maintained contact until they were able to send someone to rescue them, sending four cars to help pull her vehicle out of the mud. Their efforts are something Al-Qwasmi appreciates so much more now that she has an idea of exactly how much work a rescue operation entails.
“There are so many people in the same situation at the same time. Just looking at our WhatsApp group now, there are 10 or more cases a day, and some rescues may require a lot of work,” she said.
“I joined because it’s something nice to do for the community. It feels good to give back, to be able to do good but also to help people become more aware of the existence of teams like ours,” she said. “We’re like one family; I don’t think anyone is doing this for the sake of the money or anything like that. Apart from the rescues, we also have events where we get together as a team and just hang out.”
Apart from their rescue operations, Barq also does community service work. Last May, Barq launched a campaign to distribute food and other essential items to quarantine sites across the Makkah region and the Eastern Province, helping residents stuck at home while also helping to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Barq provides rescue and safety training to all its recruits, including basic first aid, in addition to the several awareness campaigns they provide to the public on a regular basis.
Those interested in joining up as volunteers can register on the team’s website, https://barqrescue.org/


‘We must cooperate’ to curb virus, avoid tough measures, Saudi Ministry of Interior warns

‘We must cooperate’ to curb virus, avoid tough measures, Saudi Ministry of Interior warns
A Saudi woman walks on a social distancing marker at a shopping center, as preventive measures against the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 3, 2020. (REUTERS)
Updated 40 min 20 sec ago

‘We must cooperate’ to curb virus, avoid tough measures, Saudi Ministry of Interior warns

‘We must cooperate’ to curb virus, avoid tough measures, Saudi Ministry of Interior warns
  • Makkah police arrest 13 people for violating isolation, quarantine instructions

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Interior (MoI) announced on Sunday that authorities have detected a surge of “worrying” behaviors in the Kingdom since the beginning of Ramadan, warning citizens to avoid ignoring anti-coronavirus health measures.

At a joint press conference between the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, MoI spokesperson Lt. Col. Talal Al-Shalhoub warned that the rising number of coronavirus cases in the Kingdom could potentially lead to citywide lockdowns, as well as the banning of certain activities.
“We must cooperate and not trivialize the dangers. We do not want to have to resort to tough measures,” he said.
Al-Shalhoub added that the Kingdom was continuing to crack down on rule-breakers and those who violate safety precautions, including people using social media to spread misinformation about safety measures and ways to circumvent them.
Meanwhile, Makkah’s regional police spokesman said that 13 people were arrested in Jeddah and Taif for violating isolation and quarantine instructions after they tested positive for coronavirus.
Preliminary legal procedures were taken against them and their cases were referred to the Public Prosecution. The MoI previously warned that violators will face up to a two-year prison sentence, a fine of up to SR200,000 ($53,300), or both.
Ministry of Health spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly revealed that the Kingdom has seen a slight rise in the percentage of women contracting coronavirus, warning that the number of women coming forward to be vaccinated was lower than expected.
“We have also seen a rise in the number of female cases that become critical and end up needing intensive care. Women also make up 55 percent of the overall number of cases in the Kingdom,” he said.
The MoH announced that 917 new coronavirus cases were reported on Saturday, raising the total number of cases to 404,970.
There are now 9,445 active cases, 1,044 of which are in critical care.

INNUMBERS

404,970 Total cases

388,702 Recoveries

6,823 Deaths

Of the new cases, 402 were in Riyadh, 203 in Makkah and 131 in the Eastern Province. Baha and Jouf reported the lowest cases on Saturday, with just six cases each.
Al-Aly said that appointments for second vaccine doses would be automatically updated, following news that some appointments had been canceled. The Saudi strategy aims to immunize the largest number of people possible with at least the first dose, Al-Aly added.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah announced that more than 15 million people have benefited from its Eatmarna app.
The ministry said that only people who have taken at least the first dose of the vaccine will be permitted to perform Umrah, or pray at either the Grand Mosque in Makkah or the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.
Violators will be prosecuted for attempting to perform the pilgrimage without the proper permissions, officials said, adding that authorities are encouraging safety precautions in order to ensure safe, smooth, and seamless pilgrimages for all visitors.
There were 907 new recoveries reported in the Kingdom, raising the total number of recoveries over the course of the pandemic to 388,702. The Kingdom’s death toll rose to 6,823 after 13 new coronavirus-related deaths were recorded.
Almost 7.1 million coronavirus vaccines have been administered in Saudi Arabia so far.


Saudi Arabia’s Diriyah celebrates International Day for Monuments and Sites 

Saudi Arabia’s Diriyah celebrates International Day for Monuments and Sites 
Diriyah holds a number of historic sites that bore witness to the development of the Saudi state. (SPA)
Updated 1 min 1 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s Diriyah celebrates International Day for Monuments and Sites 

Saudi Arabia’s Diriyah celebrates International Day for Monuments and Sites 
  • Salwa Palace is a symbol of the rise of the Al-Saud family to unify the present-day Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: In celebration of UNESCO’s International Day for Monuments and Sites on April 18, Arab News highlights one of the Kingdom’s oldest and most cherished sites: Diriyah, capital of the first Saudi state and birthplace of the ruling family.
The Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA) is racing to finalize its plans to make the site the “Jewel of the Kingdom.”
Restoration of historic Diriyah will reflect Saudi Arabia’s remarkable past, maintain the area’s landmarks and highlight its history.
The Diriyah Gate giga-project was launched in November 2019 by King Salman, who has regarded it as special since he was governor of the region.

HIGHLIGHT

The Diriyah Gate giga-project was launched in November 2019 by King Salman, who has regarded it as special since he was governor of the region. Restoration of historic Diriyah will reflect Saudi Arabia’s remarkable past, maintain the area’s landmarks and highlight its history. 

“Diriyah holds a number of historic sites that bore witness to the development of the Saudi state,” said DGDA spokesman Thamer Al-Sudairi. He described Diriyah as “a symbol of unity of the land.”
Nestled between the bend of Wadi Hanifa and considered one of Diriyah’s oldest neighborhoods, At-Turaif holds prominence with over 300 years of history etched on the mud-brick walls that dot the area. Salwa Palace is a symbol of the rise of the Al-Saud family to unify the present-day Kingdom.


Saudi Arabia records 27,377 COVID-19 violations

Saudi Arabia records 27,377 COVID-19 violations
During the first five days of Ramadan, Qassim municipality carried out more than 11,000 inspection tours of food and health facilities in Buraidah and other regional governorates. (SPA)
Updated 29 min 40 sec ago

Saudi Arabia records 27,377 COVID-19 violations

Saudi Arabia records 27,377 COVID-19 violations
  • Taakad centers provide COVID-19 testing for those who show no or mild symptoms, while Tetamman clinics offer treatment

RIYADH: Saudi authorities continued their monitoring campaigns to ensure compliance with the precautionary measures imposed to stem the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
They recorded 27,377 violations of the regulations within one week, according to recent statistics from the Ministry of Interior.
The statistics indicated that the region of Riyadh recorded the highest number with 9,471 violations, followed by Makkah (5,756), the Eastern Province (3,589), Qassim (1,969), Madinah (1,690), Jouf (1,343), Tabuk (897), Hail (801), Baha (579), Asir (503), the Northern Borders (451), Najran (171) and Jazan (157).
The ministry called on citizens and residents to keep abiding by the preventive protocols and the instructions issued by authorities in this regard.
Meanwhile, Saudi health clinics set up by the Ministry of Health as testing hubs or treatment centers have helped hundreds of thousands of people around the Kingdom since the pandemic began.
Among those testing hubs are Taakad (make sure) centers and Tetamman (rest assured) clinics.
Taakad centers provide COVID-19 testing for those who show no or mild symptoms, while Tetamman clinics offer treatment and advice to people with symptoms, such as fever, loss of taste and smell, and breathing difficulties. 


Saudi HR development fund to support 50% of wages in industrial sector

Saudi HR development fund to support 50% of wages in industrial sector
Jobseekers stand in line to talk with a recruiter at a booth at a job fair in Riyadh, January 29, 2012. (REUTERS)
Updated 34 min 44 sec ago

Saudi HR development fund to support 50% of wages in industrial sector

Saudi HR development fund to support 50% of wages in industrial sector
  • The fund called on the owners of industrial establishments to join the support program and list job opportunities

RIYADH: The Human Resources Development Fund (Hadaf) contributes to providing training and employment support programs for the industrial sector, bearing 50 percent of the wages for employment, training and qualification for jobs.
The initiative is part of the launch of the wage support program to stimulate the localization of jobs in the industrial sector in the Kingdom during 2021.
The initiative includes “Wusoul” — supporting working women whose salaries are less than SR8,000 ($2,133), training programs approved by Hadaf, programs that cover plants that have an industrial license, and job opportunity programs in all regions of the Kingdom.
The fund called on the owners of industrial establishments to join the support program and list job opportunities through the national labor portal “Taqat.sa,” to benefit from the fund’s support. The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development and the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources announced the launch of the wage support program last week.


Saudi Arabia offers condolences over Egypt train accident

Saudi Arabia offers condolences over Egypt train accident
Updated 18 April 2021

Saudi Arabia offers condolences over Egypt train accident

Saudi Arabia offers condolences over Egypt train accident
  • The train accident left 97 wounded after it derailed off its tracks

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia said on Sunday it expresses its deep sorrow for the train accident north of the Egyptian capital Cairo.
A passenger train derailed earlier on Sunday in the city of Toukh in Qalyubia province, injuring around 100 people.
“The Kingdom expresses its sincere condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims, and to the Egyptian leadership, government and people, wishing the injured a speedy recovery,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Four train wagons ran off the railway while the train was traveling to the Nile Delta city of Mansoura from Cairo, Egypt’s railway authority said.
(With AP)