Saudi health officials warn against complacency after receiving COVID-19 vaccination

Saudi health officials warn against complacency after receiving COVID-19 vaccination
The number of Saudis and expats who have received the COVID-19 vaccine has reached 780,667. (SPA)
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Updated 03 March 2021

Saudi health officials warn against complacency after receiving COVID-19 vaccination

Saudi health officials warn against complacency after receiving COVID-19 vaccination
  • Health chiefs say COVID-19 vaccine does not undermine immunity
  • Risks still exist even after receiving vaccine say officials

JEDDAH: The Saudi health authorities have reassured the public that any mild symptoms people may experience after receiving the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine is not a sign that their immunity has been affected.

“A person’s immunity is not undermined by taking the vaccine,” said Dr. Fahad Al-Zamil, a Saudi infectious diseases consultant, in a phone interview with Al-Youm TV show on Al Ekhbariya channel.
“What happens to people after taking the vaccination is that they experience some mild symptoms such as a cold, fever, and they assume that the vaccination reduced their immunity,” he explained. “The main goal of vaccinations is to enhance immunity, not reduce it.”
The consultant also stressed even after taking the vaccine people needed to adhere to precautionary measures, such as social distancing and wearing a mask.
Al-Zamil said that the COVID-19 vaccine is similar to other vaccinations, such as that of influenza.
“Vaccines, God willing, are a powerful weapon in protecting lives,” said Health Ministry’s spokesperson Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly describing the vaccine as “highly safe and effective.”
The Ministry of Health on Monday reported 317 new cases, meaning that 377,700 people have now contracted the disease since the beginning of the outbreak. Of these, 2,560 remain active, 492 of them in critical condition.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The Kingdom on Monday reported 317 new cases.

• 335 patients have recovered from the disease, bringing the total to 368,640 recoveries.

• Saudi Arabia reported six more virus-related deaths on Monday.

According to the ministry, 142 of the newly recorded cases were in the Riyadh region, 72 in the Eastern Province, 45 in the Makkah region and seven in the Madinah region.
In addition, 335 patients had recovered from the disease, bringing the total to 368,640 recoveries.
Saudi Arabia reported six more virus-related deaths on Monday. The death toll now stands at 6,500.
The Kingdom has so far conducted 13,680,202 PCR tests, with 47,125 carried out in the past 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.
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 or believe they have come into contact with an infected individual, while the Tetamman clinics offer treatment and advice to those with virus symptoms, such as fever, loss of taste and smell and breathing difficulties.
Appointments to both services can be made through the ministry’s Sehhaty app.
Saudis and expats in the Kingdom continue to receive their doses of the vaccine, which they registered for through the ministry’s app.
The number of those who received the COVID-19 vaccine stands at 780,667 people so far.

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Saudi elementary, kindergarten students excited about return to school

For the first few weeks after schools reopen the program will in particular focus on psychological efforts to help students get back into the school routine. (Supplied)
For the first few weeks after schools reopen the program will in particular focus on psychological efforts to help students get back into the school routine. (Supplied)
Updated 22 January 2022

Saudi elementary, kindergarten students excited about return to school

For the first few weeks after schools reopen the program will in particular focus on psychological efforts to help students get back into the school routine. (Supplied)
  • Psychological preparation and support important for the children as it will help them resume their studies and interactions with their peers, says mother-of-two

JEDDAH: As teachers and education authorities prepare for the long-awaited return of younger children to school classrooms on Sunday, so too are the students and their parents.

The Saudi Ministry of Education announced last week that elementary schools and kindergartens will reopen on Jan. 23, almost two years after they closed as a health precaution to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The resumption of in-person teaching for the under-12s had been postponed from October last year.
“It’s a decision we must face one day and my children are excited to return to school and it is better for them,” Ala’a Alama, mother of two, told Arab News.
Schools in Saudi Arabia closed classrooms and switched to online learning soon after the pandemic began in early 2020. More than 5 million students across the Kingdom used specially developed distance-learning platforms called Madrasati and Rawdati.  Jumana Haj Ahmad, UNICEF’s deputy representative for the Gulf region, said that Saudi authorities had played a world-leading role in the provision of online education.
In preparation for the long-awaited return of students, senior school officials across the Kingdom have implemented a program to prepare pupils, parents and teachers for a safe resumption of classes.

HIGHLIGHTS

• In preparation for the long-awaited return of students, senior school officials across the Kingdom have implemented a program to prepare pupils, parents and teachers for a safe resumption of classes.

• It focus on four key areas: Reassuring students and parents about the return to school and face-to-face learning; reminding them of the importance of adhering to safety protocols while in school; providing parents with a platform through which they can ask questions and share concerns; and motivating students to study and participate in activities.

It focus on four key areas: Reassuring students and parents about the return to school and face-to-face learning; reminding them of the importance of adhering to safety protocols while in school; providing parents with a platform through which they can ask questions and share concerns; and motivating students to study and participate in activities.
For the first few weeks after schools reopen the program will in particular focus on psychological efforts to help students get back into the school routine. As part of the program, schools will offer art activities, children’s theater, cultural and entertainment workshops, take photos and shoot videos as students return, and distribute gifts.
Alama said that psychological preparation and support is important for the children as it will help them to resume their studies and interactions with their peers.
Schools will also provide 22 cultural, sports and awareness activities to give students plenty of opportunities to get physically active again after a hiatus of almost two years.
Meanwhile, the online education facilities will remain available for children with serious health conditions that prevent them from returning to the classroom.
Educators in charge of kindergartens and elementary schools across the Kingdom will follow safety guidelines from the Saudi Public Health Authority: Morning assemblies will remain suspended; sports activities must be conducted in spacious, well-ventilated locations; organized entry and departure from school will be organized; and social-distancing measures must be followed in classrooms.
Alama said her children, who are 7 and 10 years old, are aware of all the precautionary measures they need to follow.
“During the pandemic, they learned the importance of washing their hands, maintaining social distancing, and using masks, sanitizers and disinfecting wipes, which are all kept in a kit prepared for them to take to school,” she said.
UNICEF’s Ahmad this week praised the decision by Saudi authorities to resume in-person teaching for children under the age of 12. Older children have already returned to classrooms.
Ahmad said it is an important step and added that during a pandemic, schools should be the last places to close and first to reopen.
 In addition,  Saudi Arabia’s provision of online education through its two platforms and TV and video channels was world-leading. She also praised the Ministry of Education’s efforts to ensure children’s successful psychological and social growth, and programs designed to protect them from abuse.


Interactive screens guide visitors at Makkah’s Grand Mosque

It aims to facilitate access to ritual sites as well as key locations, including the Mataf. (SPA)
It aims to facilitate access to ritual sites as well as key locations, including the Mataf. (SPA)
Updated 22 January 2022

Interactive screens guide visitors at Makkah’s Grand Mosque

It aims to facilitate access to ritual sites as well as key locations, including the Mataf. (SPA)
  • The interactive screens display data in six major languages and provide a QR code

MAKKAH: As part of its plan to develop and upgrade the quality of the guidance system, the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques has launched a new service for worshippers, providing them with interactive screens that display the guidance map of the Grand Mosque and its facilities.
It aims to facilitate access to ritual sites as well as key locations, including the Mataf (the area for circumambulation around the Holy Kaaba) and Mas’a building, through providing direct movement paths from the location of the user to the destination.
The interactive screens also display data in six major languages and provide a QR code so that the routes can be viewed via personal devices. 


Experts praise new Saudi specialist anti-fraud units

 Legal and financial experts emphasized the importance of combating financial fraud crimes, which have serious criminal and economic ramifications on society. (Supplied)
Legal and financial experts emphasized the importance of combating financial fraud crimes, which have serious criminal and economic ramifications on society. (Supplied)
Updated 21 January 2022

Experts praise new Saudi specialist anti-fraud units

 Legal and financial experts emphasized the importance of combating financial fraud crimes, which have serious criminal and economic ramifications on society. (Supplied)
  • The new legislation defines all aspects of financial crimes in detail and sets out the maximum penalties while taking into account the rapid pace of technological advances

RIYADH: Legal and financial experts have supported the decision of the Saudi Attorney General Saud Al-Mojeb to create new specialized units for investigating financial fraud.
Zahra Al-Nasser, an assistant professor in the department of finance and banking at Dar Al-Uloom University, told Arab News that the move to form new specialized units to investigate financial fraud will significantly enhance business sector governance and protect against the degradation of the pillars of economic prosperity.
“The best example is the collapse of the Saudi financial market in 2006. The market lost more than SR1 trillion ($266 billion), which is still fresh in the minds of investors, affected investor confidence, and resulted in the loss of much of their wealth and savings. One of the reasons was the Saudi market’s weak legislation,” Al-Nasser said.

Legal advisor, Thamer Al-Enezi. (Supplied)

Thamer Al-Enezi, a legal adviser, told Arab News that financial fraud has become an international issue, deceiving some highly educated workers due to its professionalism.
Al-Enezi said it was necessary to have highly efficient specialists to deal with fraud.

The Public Prosecution stressed the importance of addressing all cases of financial fraud, particularly those that involve cross-border networks.
The new legislation defines all aspects of financial crimes in detail and sets out the maximum penalties while taking into account the rapid pace of technological advances.
The Public Prosecution added that the new units have specialists in financial fraud crimes who are members of the Public Prosecution Office and have received investigation training courses.
The courses include criminal patterns and methods, tracking perpetrators, and stolen funds.

The possible punishments for individuals convicted of committing financial crimes include up to seven years in prison and a maximum fine of SR5 million ($1.3 million).

Al-Enezi, who owns a law firm, added that some financial frauds use the corporate entity as a cover, affecting the corporate sector’s reliability.
Therefore, a package of preventive measures was taken by government agencies such as the Saudi Central Bank and other authorities such as the Public Prosecution to protect society from money fraud. These measures help adhere to high governance standards and maintain formidable cybersecurity levels.
Al-Enezi pointed out that some of these crimes have technical flaws that facilitate financial fraud detection.
The law for combating financial fraud stipulates that guilty parties will be imprisoned “for no more than seven years and fined no more than SR5 million.”
Al-Nasser said that companies are now expected to take bolder steps to fight fraud, such as updating frameworks and approaches, increasing commitment and compliance, enhancing precautions and using deeper audits.
She said that companies may incur additional costs as they update procedures because many of them fall into financial fraud due to “weak internal governance mechanisms.”
The assistant professor praised the new units and focus on financial fraud, which she said would improve investor confidence and contribute to “the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goals through the Financial Sector Development Program, which aims to deepen the financial market, increase liquidity levels and improve transparency.”


Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale launches local art ecosystem forum

Diriyah Biennale Contemporary Art kicks off local art ecosystem forum from Jan. 21 to 22 in Diriyah. (Supplied)
Diriyah Biennale Contemporary Art kicks off local art ecosystem forum from Jan. 21 to 22 in Diriyah. (Supplied)
Updated 21 January 2022

Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale launches local art ecosystem forum

Diriyah Biennale Contemporary Art kicks off local art ecosystem forum from Jan. 21 to 22 in Diriyah. (Supplied)
  • This public program, held in the Jax neighborhood in Diriyah, is supporting the growth of the local art ecosystem in the Kingdom

RIYADH: The Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale kicked off its two-day local art ecosystem forum to build bridges of knowledge and communication between the participating cultural entities.

This public program, held in the Jax neighborhood in Diriyah, is supporting the growth of the local art ecosystem in the Kingdom by gathering important contributors and investors interested in shaping the infrastructure of Saudi art and culture.

The forum sheds light on the opportunities that the different entities’ initiatives provide and seeks to grow a bigger network to strengthen the vision for art and cultural development in Saudi.

Key speakers of the first day of the forum included Aya Albakree, CEO of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, Dina Amin, CEO of the Visual Arts Commission, Farah Abushullaih, museum director at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, and Nora AlDabal, arts and creative planning director at the Royal Commission For AlUla.

The second day’s programs will see input from Ilaria Bonacossa, arts and culture liaison at the Royal Commission for Riyadh City, Navid Niknejad, business enterprise and innovation director at AMAALA, Reem Alsultan, CEO of the Misk Art Institute, and Antonia Carver, director of Art Jameel.

The biennale, which opened to the public officially on Dec.11 and will run until March 11 next year, is located in the newly converted warehouses in the JAX district. It unfolds in six sections, featuring works by some 64 artists from around the world, with a particular focus on the 27 Saudi artists.


Blinken condemns Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, UAE in call with Saudi FM

Blinken condemns Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, UAE in call with Saudi FM
Updated 21 January 2022

Blinken condemns Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, UAE in call with Saudi FM

Blinken condemns Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, UAE in call with Saudi FM
  • Friday’s call came after this week’s attacks on Abu Dhabi in the UAE and continued launches aimed toward Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia and the UAE and reiterated Washington’s support for the Kingdom and Gulf countries in a phonecall with foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan.

Blinken said the US was committed to helping Saudi Arabia and other Gulf allies defend themselves against threats from Yemen and other places in the region, the State Department said.

“Secretary Blinken reiterated the US commitment to help Gulf partners improve their capabilities to defend against threats from Yemen and elsewhere in the region and underscored the importance of mitigating civilian harm,” spokesman Ned Price said.

Friday’s call came after this week’s attacks on Abu Dhabi in the UAE and continued launches aimed toward Saudi Arabia, claimed by the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen.

Civilian sites, including Abu Dhabi’s International Airport, were targeted with missiles and drones. At least three civilians were killed, and a handful of others injured in the UAE capital.

“The Secretary condemned the January 17 Houthi attack on both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that struck civilian sites in the UAE, including Abu Dhabi’s international airport, and killed and wounded civilians,” Price said in the statement.