Saudi authorities seize 1.3 million drug pills smuggled from Turkey

Saudi authorities seize 1.3 million drug pills smuggled from Turkey
The drugs were discovered stitched into the linings of fur clothing. (Saudi Customs)
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Updated 29 March 2021

Saudi authorities seize 1.3 million drug pills smuggled from Turkey

Saudi authorities seize 1.3 million drug pills smuggled from Turkey
  • The drugs were discovered by X-ray stitched into the linings of a consignment of fur clothing
  • Saudi Customs thwarted over 12.5 million pills shipped from the same port since last year

DUBAI: Saudi customs at Jeddah Islamic Port foiled an attempt to smuggle 1,323,000 Captagon pills, which were found hidden in a cargo of clothes, state news agency SPA reported on Monday.
The drugs were discovered by X-ray stitched into the linings of a consignment of fur clothing, that had arrived from Turkey’s Port of Iskenderun, the authority's undersecretary for security affairs Mohammed Al-Naeem said.

He added that after the attempt was thwarted, two people – who were waiting to receive the pills – were caught in coordination with the General Directorate for Narcotics Control.
Al-Naeem confirmed that Saudi Customs are continuing to tighten customs control over all imports, exports and travelers as well as combating smuggling in all its forms.
He also said that Saudi Customs thwarted over 12.5 million pills shipped from the same port since last year.

 

 


Ancient rock art in Hima listed as Saudi Arabia’s sixth UNESCO World Heritage Site

The site at Hima, the sixth to be enlisted in Saudi Arabia, is home to one of the largest rock art complexes in the world and ancient wells. (SPA)
The site at Hima, the sixth to be enlisted in Saudi Arabia, is home to one of the largest rock art complexes in the world and ancient wells. (SPA)
Updated 24 July 2021

Ancient rock art in Hima listed as Saudi Arabia’s sixth UNESCO World Heritage Site

The site at Hima, the sixth to be enlisted in Saudi Arabia, is home to one of the largest rock art complexes in the world and ancient wells. (SPA)
  • Hima was a conduit for caravans on the trade and Hajj routes going to and from the southern parts of Arabia
  • People who passed through the area between pre- and post-historic times have left behind a substantial collection of rock art

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s cultural rock art in Hima, Najran, has been officially recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

The decision was made during the 44th session of the World Heritage Committee being held in Fuzho, China.

The site, the sixth to be enlisted in Saudi Arabia, is home to one of the largest rock art complexes in the world.

Located in southwestern Saudi Arabia, Hima was a conduit for caravans on the trade and Hajj routes going to and from the southern parts of Arabia, to the ancient world markets of the rest of Arabia, Mesopotamia, the Levant and Egypt.

People who passed through the area between pre- and post-historic times have left behind a substantial collection of rock art depicting hunting, wildlife, plants, symbols, and tools used at the time, as well as thousands of inscriptions written in several ancient scripts, including Musnad, Thamudic, Nabataean and early Arabic.

The wells on the site date back more than 3,000 years and were considered a vital source of fresh water in the vast desert of Najran. They still serve fresh water to this day.

“We are thrilled to have this exceptional ancient site recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The area has outstanding universal value, providing us with many lessons about the evolution of human culture and life in ancient times,” said Dr. Jasir Alherbish, CEO of the Heritage Commission.

“We are working to preserve the area and conduct research to further understand the rock inscriptions, and are looking forward to welcoming more local and international visitors to come and see this historic cultural site for themselves.”

The preservation and protection of the Kingdom's cultural and natural heritage is a key part of the Kingdom's 2030 Vision.

Overseen by the Heritage Commission, a raft of new discoveries has cemented the country’s reputation as a go-to destination for archeologists, historians and scientists looking to understand human history across the region.

Last year, the Commission announced one of the Kingdom's most ground-breaking discoveries – ancient human and animal footprints, dating back more than 120,000 years, in Tabuk, marking the first evidence of human life on the Arabian Peninsula.

The Kingdom has also taken serious measures toward protecting national and international heritage. In 2019, the Ministry of Culture signed a Memorandum of Understating with UNESCO to contribute $25 million to the organization’s strategy for the preservation of heritage worldwide.


Saudi Arabia announces 14 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 14 more COVID-19 deaths
Updated 24 July 2021

Saudi Arabia announces 14 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 14 more COVID-19 deaths
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 497,965
  • A total of 8,155 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced 14 deaths from COVID-19 and 1,256 new infections on Saturday.
Of the new cases, 280 were recorded in Riyadh, 244 in Makkah, 170 in the Eastern Province, 150 in Asir, 107 in Jazan, 59 in Madinah, 47 in Hail, 41 in Najran, 25 in the Northern Borders region, 23 in Tabuk, 21 in Al-Baha, and six in Al-Jouf.
The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 497,965 after 1,155 more patients recovered from the virus.
A total of 8,155 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.
Over 24 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date.


Saudi Arabia’s most popular, and expensive, scent comes with a warning note

Lead or dye is frequently used to give the impression that agarwood is of high quality, while some stores add materials to dilute and compromise Oud’s quality. (SPA)
Lead or dye is frequently used to give the impression that agarwood is of high quality, while some stores add materials to dilute and compromise Oud’s quality. (SPA)
Updated 24 July 2021

Saudi Arabia’s most popular, and expensive, scent comes with a warning note

Lead or dye is frequently used to give the impression that agarwood is of high quality, while some stores add materials to dilute and compromise Oud’s quality. (SPA)
  • Oud sales are soaring in festive season, but some buyers are vulnerable to production scams and fraudulent sales practices

ALKHOBAR: Saudis’ love of oud — one of the most expensive scents on the market today — may run deep but when it comes to price and quality, many struggle to tell the difference.

The result, experts warn, is that some buyers are vulnerable to production scams and fraudulent sales practices.
Oud’s warm woody scent comes from the heart of the agar tree found mostly in India, Cambodia, Indonesia and nearby countries, with the cost of 1 kg of resin rising from SR2,000 to SR6,000 ($500-1,600) or even higher.
The oil is extracted from trees up to 150 years old, and Gulf countries are among the biggest importers of the product.
Considered a rarity, the oil is commonly used on special occasions, such as Eid celebrations.
Despite its popularity, many find it difficult to judge the quality of oud, with experienced salesmen agreeing that the buyer’s trust in the seller remains a key ingredient in any purchase.
Mamdouh Al-Tamimi, an Aramco employee, enjoys agarwood, amber, musk and rose water oud bought from stores at Al-Maaqilia and Deira markets in Riyadh. Recently he has switched to a single store because he believed the salesman was honest.
“I trust him, so I go to the store three or four times a year,” he said.

FASTFACT

Oud’s warm woody scent comes from the heart of the agar tree found mostly in India, Cambodia, Indonesia and nearby countries, with the cost of 1 kg of resin rising from SR2,000 to SR6,000 ($500-1,600) or even higher.

Al-Tamimi said that he prefers liquid oud, agarwood oil, musk and amber with fragrant perfumes, especially during summer, and also enjoys good-quality oud incense.
Video posts shared on social media recently claim to show how some stores cheat customers by using lead to extend oud’s storage time and make its scent last longer.
Dr. Hamad Al-Kathiri, a consultant at Lamsat Bakhoor Company, which specializes in oud products, said that fraud is a growing problem in wood and liquid oud manufacture, with lead or dye frequently used to give the impression that agarwood is of high quality.

Lead or dye is frequently used to give the impression that agarwood is of high quality, while some stores add materials to dilute and compromise Oud’s quality. (SPA)

Some stores also add materials to dilute and compromise quality, he told Arab News.
“Of course, the common goal is greed as these stores want to make quick profits.”
Al-Kathiri said that in recent years online purchases of oud products have increased significantly, while customer preferences for types of oud have changed.
“One of the key reasons is the exorbitant price of the exquisite types of oud,” he said.
Trust in the seller is a major consideration for online shoppers, although many experts warn against buying online.
“The fact remains that it is difficult to know if an oud product is original because only experts know that and are able to protect customers from falling into fraudsters’ traps,” Al-Kathiri said.
He said that men are often interested in the quality of the oud, its name, size and scent, while women generally care only about the fragrance.
Al-Kathiri said that regardless of cost, buyers are advised to test no more than three scents in a single visit to an outlet.
Customers can ask for a sample to try at home in order to judge its quality, he added.
The scent of oud lingers for varying amounts of time depending on type and quality, with some types remaining on clothing for more than two days.
“I believe there is no such thing as original and non-original oud. It is all about quality. You can say this is a good quality oud and that is not,” he Al-Kathiri said.
Mahmoud Al-Falahi, manager of Malaysia-based Almoheet Oud Company, said that natural oud is produced from trees over 70 years old, without any improvements or enhancements.
However, some oud investors add lead or dye to add weight or to make the product “more dense,” he said, warning that it is extremely difficult to tell altered oud from the original.
The most common scam is increasing the weight of an oud product to boost its price, he said.
“Some stores would rather cheat to make quick profits than stay authentic.”
Al-Falahi advised buyers to test only two types of oud when they visit a store in order to judge the difference between the scents and to see if the fragrance lingers for the desired amount of time.


Pilgrims ‘do not need to test, isolate’ after Hajj

Worshippers perform the farewell tawaf (circumambulation) around the Kaaba at the Grand mosque in Makkah on July 22, 2021, marking the end of this year's Hajj. (AFP)
Worshippers perform the farewell tawaf (circumambulation) around the Kaaba at the Grand mosque in Makkah on July 22, 2021, marking the end of this year's Hajj. (AFP)
Updated 24 July 2021

Pilgrims ‘do not need to test, isolate’ after Hajj

Worshippers perform the farewell tawaf (circumambulation) around the Kaaba at the Grand mosque in Makkah on July 22, 2021, marking the end of this year's Hajj. (AFP)
  • Nearly 24 million people in Saudi Arabia received a jab against COVID-19

JEDDAH: Pilgrims returning home from Hajj do no need to test for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) or isolate upon arrival, said Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister of Health for Preventive Affairs Dr. Abdullah Asiri.

“Some returnees from Hajj this year are asking about the need for COVID-19 tests or isolation upon their return to their families,” he said. “Since all pilgrims and Hajj workers received vaccines, there is no need for examination or isolation, unless they show symptoms of coronavirus disease within the first two weeks.”
Meanwhile, 92 percent of those who said they would get the vaccine did so. “The three most important motives that persuaded the hesitant to take the COVID-19 vaccines are: First, conviction and family support after one or more members have taken the vaccine. Second, national and societal sense of responsibility, and finally, economic reasons,” Asiri added.

Almost 60,000 pilgrims left Makkah after the completion the Hajj 2021. (SPA)

According to a report by Kaiser Family Foundation titled “Vaccine Monitor: In Their Own Words, Six Months Later,” people who did not get the vaccine were either teenagers because of their parents’ convictions, the least educated in society, ethnic minorities, or those who do not have health insurance.

INNUMBERS

515,693 Total cases

496,810 Recoveries

8,141 Deaths

10,742 Active cases

“There are three main reasons for refusing the vaccine: Fear of side effects, doubt about the adequacy of studies about the vaccine, and believing that there is no need for a vaccine,” Assiri added.
Speaking of the delta variant, Assiri said: “Delta reformulates the calculations; immunity from natural infections is no longer sufficient and completing the two doses has become a necessity.”
He added that the worst of the pandemic was over in countries that provided vaccines to most of their residents. “We will not witness, God willing, a return to waves of severe disease and deaths.”
The total number of people in the country who have to date received a jab against COVID-19 has reached 23,848,177, including 1,426,140 who are elderly.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia reported 11 more COVID-19-related deaths on Friday, taking the overall toll to 8,141.
There were 1,247 new cases, meaning that 515,693 people in the country have now contracted the disease. A total of 10,742 cases remained active, of which 1,383 patients were in critical condition.
Of the new cases, 263 were in Riyadh region, 211 in the Eastern Province, 209 in Makkah region, and 68 in Madinah region.
In addition, the Ministry of Health said 1,160 patients had recovered from the disease, increasing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 496,810.
Saudi Arabia had so far conducted 24,195,410 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, with 90,128 carried out in the past 24 hours.
Testing hubs and treatment centers set up throughout the country have dealt with hundreds of thousands of people since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak.
Among them, Taakad (make sure) centers provide COVID-19 testing for those who show no or only mild symptoms or believe they have come into contact with an infected individual. Tetamman (rest assured) clinics offer treatment and advice to those with virus symptoms such as fever, loss of taste and smell, and breathing difficulties.
Appointments for both services can be made via the ministry’s Sehhaty app.


Saudi Arabia’s Diriyah Gate’s series of Eid celebrations brought community together

On the first day of Eid, ‘Party Buses’ were launched, driving around Diriyah to spread happiness by giving away thousands of balloons, cotton candy, sweets, puzzles and coloring books to children. (SPA)
On the first day of Eid, ‘Party Buses’ were launched, driving around Diriyah to spread happiness by giving away thousands of balloons, cotton candy, sweets, puzzles and coloring books to children. (SPA)
Updated 24 July 2021

Saudi Arabia’s Diriyah Gate’s series of Eid celebrations brought community together

On the first day of Eid, ‘Party Buses’ were launched, driving around Diriyah to spread happiness by giving away thousands of balloons, cotton candy, sweets, puzzles and coloring books to children. (SPA)
  • Throughout the week, the DGDA launched an exciting interactive QR activation in five of Diriyah’s parks

RIYADH: To celebrate Eid, the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA) launched a series of initiatives to distribute gifts and run events for the enjoyment of the entire community.
Earlier in July, a cattle market was established in front of the Diriyah butcher shop to ease access to livestock for the sacrificial feast; wool was collected from the livestock in collaboration with Diriyah municipality, to be recycled.
On the first day of Eid, the DGDA distributed 1,500 first aid kits after Eid prayers to the community, anticipating that some may not have access appropriate medical supplies.
Eid prayers were held in the following six mosques in Diriyah: Imam Mohammad Bin Saud, Modi Al-Othman, Ibrahim bin Sulaiman, Abdulmohsen Al-Suailim, Munirah Al-Nasser, and Al-Khaliah, and following the prayers the DGDA distributed a boxes of chocolates to attendees in celebration.
On the first day of Eid, “Party Buses” were launched, driving around Diriyah to spread happiness by giving away thousands of balloons, cotton candy, sweets, puzzles and coloring books to passersby to celebrate the joyous occasion. Chocolates were also delivered to houses across the area.

HIGHLIGHT

The Diriyah Gate Development Authority distributed 1,500 first aid kits after Eid prayers to the community, anticipating that some may not have access appropriate medical supplies.

Throughout the week, the DGDA launched an exciting interactive QR activation in five of Diriyah’s parks. Users could scan the code to download special content including information on the history of Eid in the Kingdom and in Diriyah specifically.
“At this time for reflection and starting afresh, we wanted to celebrate with the local Diriyah community by ensuring this Eid was one to remember,” said Ahlam Althunayan, director of community engagement at the DGDA.
“Eid is a momentous and joyous occasion shared with family and friends, and I’m delighted to see the success of these wonderful activations during the week of Eid.
“DGDA always looks to support and engage the local community; there’s no better time to bring people together than during this celebratory week.”