Saudi Arabia sends condolences for victims of Iraq hospital fire

Members of Iraqi security forces stand guard outside Ibn Khatib hospital where a fire was sparked by an oxygen tank explosion, in Baghdad, Iraq. (Reuters)
Members of Iraqi security forces stand guard outside Ibn Khatib hospital where a fire was sparked by an oxygen tank explosion, in Baghdad, Iraq. (Reuters)
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Updated 25 April 2021

Saudi Arabia sends condolences for victims of Iraq hospital fire

Saudi Arabia sends condolences for victims of Iraq hospital fire
  • The Kingdom wished the injured a speedy recovery
  • UAE expresses condolences and solidarity with Iraq

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia said on Sunday it was deeply saddened over a fire that broke out in a hospital in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, leaving several people dead and injured.
A fire sparked by an oxygen tank explosion killed at least 82 people and injured 110 at the Ibn Khatib hospital on Saturday that had been equipped to house COVID-19 patients. 
“The Kingdom expressed its sincere condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims, and to Iraq, the leadership, government and people,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
The Kingdom also wished the injured a speedy recovery.
The UAE also offered its “sincere condolences and sympathy to the government and people of Iraq over the victims of the painful accident,” and affirmed its solidarity with the country.
(With Reuters)


All the registrations and certificates you need to visit Saudi Arabia

Saudi nationals scan their documents at a digital-Immigration gate at the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 16, 2021. (REUTERS)
Saudi nationals scan their documents at a digital-Immigration gate at the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 16, 2021. (REUTERS)
Updated 51 sec ago

All the registrations and certificates you need to visit Saudi Arabia

Saudi nationals scan their documents at a digital-Immigration gate at the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, May 16, 2021. (REUTERS)
  • Visitors face queues and quarantine for failing to match Saudi requirements

RIYADH: There are certain travel requirements that Saudis, expats and tourists need for entering Saudi Arabia.

The main requirement is a Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) negative test certificate, issued from a verified laboratory no more than 72 hours before departure to the Kingdom.

Travelers will also need vaccination certificates from Tawakkalna, and registration on the Muqeem and Quddum platforms.

Upon arrival, all travelers will have their temperature checked and they should be registered as immune from COVID-19.

FASTFACT

Quddum allows visitors to register and update their COVID-19-related health data at least 72 hours before arrival.

Immunity for non-Saudi citizens and non-residents as a fully vaccinated person over 12 with a booster dose from vaccines certified by the Kingdom and the World Health Organization, such as Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna, or one dose of Johnson and Johnson’s inoculation.

An airport official checking temperature of a passenger at the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh.

All guests have to submit proof of their vaccination via the Quddum platform, which has been launched to facilitate entry procedures.

Quddum allows visitors to register and update their COVID-19-related health data at least 72 hours before arrival.

Immunity for Saudi citizens is defined by their status on the Tawakkalna App, whereas for expats it requires full vaccination, provided that any doses received outside the Kingdom are registered via the Ministry of Health Platform through https://eservices.moh.gov.sa/CoronaVaccineRegistration

Speaking to Arab News about his travel experience, Jennesse John, who works at the King Saud University, said: “I have returned from Kerala, India to Saudi Arabia along with my family recently. It went very smoothly since we had two doses of the vaccine in Saudi Arabia before we traveled on vacation.”

He added: “All we did was follow Saudi Arabia’s travel regulations closely.”

Hanouf Albalawi, in Riyadh, told Arab News: “My colleague made a mistake, and it was that she did not register in Muqeem before visiting the Kingdom. She said she didn’t know she had to.

“When she arrived in Saudi Arabia, she had to create a new Tawakkalna, and she only had one week to stay, so the issue she faced was that her status in the Tawakkalna app did not change for her entire stay, which was five days.

“She couldn’t visit any of the places she had in mind. We contacted Tawakkalna customer service to ask if there is anything we can do to make this process faster, but unfortunately, there was no other way.”

Faiz Al-Najdi, an engineer in Riyadh, told Arab News: “I recently returned from vacation with my wife from my home city Karachi, Pakistan. At Riyadh, airport departure processes went smoothly. I had to show them copies of PCR, vaccination details, copies of Tawakkalna and Sehaty. However, upon arrival in Karachi it was a mess.

“They demanded to see the vaccination details online on Tawakkalna, but it was not working; we failed to open it. Many people like us suffered because of this issue. I had a long argument with them as to why they were demanding to see it online when I was showing them the photocopies of the vaccination details from Tawakkalna. I told them we had traveled from Riyadh, where authorities had checked and allowed us to travel, then they were satisfied. This left them with no answer but let us proceed,” he said.

“Upon arrival at Riyadh airport, things were ok. The official at the immigration desk was polite. She checked the PCR and Tawakkalna papers. I had those ready with me, and she stamped our passports and let us go,” he added.

Ayman Hassan, an Egyptian expat working in Riyadh, told Arab News: “Many of my friends and colleagues recently returned from Egypt. The procedures at the airport, they said, went very smoothly. They didn’t take too much time since they had already taken the two vaccine doses in Saudi Arabia before traveling on their vacations. All they had to do was to carefully follow travel guidelines: Negative COVID-19 RT-PCR report, vaccination certificates from Tawakkalna, and Muqeem registration.”

 


Saudi Arabia welcomes ALECSO member states to AlUla

Arab League Educational, Cultural, and Scientific Organization. (Supplied)
Arab League Educational, Cultural, and Scientific Organization. (Supplied)
Updated 1 min 45 sec ago

Saudi Arabia welcomes ALECSO member states to AlUla

Arab League Educational, Cultural, and Scientific Organization. (Supplied)
  • ALECSO was established in 1970 and aims to develop and promote educational, cultural, and scientific activities in coordination among its 22 member states

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia kicked off the executive meeting of the Arab League Educational, Cultural, and Scientific Organization, in AlUla on Tuesday.
The meeting, which runs from Jan. 25-27, is being held in the Kingdom for the second time after 42 years, and focuses on several issues related to the organization’s work, its strategic development, and its future direction.
Saudi Arabia currently chairs the organization’s executive council after Hani Al-Muqbel, Saudi Arabia’s representative, was elected chairman until 2023 in July of last year.

AlUla is considered one of the most important sites for culture and heritage in Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)

AlUla, the host city for ALECSO’s executive council meeting, is considered one of the most important sites for culture and heritage in Saudi Arabia, standing as a witness to generations of civilizations throughout history.
In his opening remarks, Al-Muqbel said the meeting of the current session takes place in one of the oldest cities in the Arabian Peninsula, home of the Hegra UNESCO World Heritage site.

HIGHLIGHT

Saudi Arabia has recently developed various initiatives as part of its cultural, scientific, and educational sector, and part of the Kingdom’s effort in increasing collaboration among other countries in initiatives related to the work of ALECSO.

He added that AlUla is the meeting point of three continents and the gateway to the Arabian Peninsula from the East and the West, calling it a living, open museum full of human heritage dating back 200,000 years.
“If Saudi Arabia was a crossroads of ancient civilizations, AlUla is the source of those civilizations,” he added.
ALECSO was established in 1970 and aims to develop and promote educational, cultural, and scientific activities in coordination among its 22 member states.
The organization works toward providing promising conditions for the development of education, culture, science, the environment, and communication, promoting the Arabic language, increasing cooperation between Arab researchers, and building dialogue with other cultures by developing initiatives and partnerships.
Mohammed Amar, director general of ALECSO, said that strengthening cooperation with Arab and international organizations and institutions is a strategic goal to serve the organization, maximize its status and achieve its mission.
The relationship between Saudi Arabia and ALECSO spans 50 years since the Kingdom officially became a member of the organization in 1972.
Saudi Arabia has recently developed various initiatives as part of its cultural, scientific, and educational sector, and part of the Kingdom’s effort in increasing collaboration among other countries in initiatives related to the work of ALECSO.
This includes an initiative by the King Abdul Aziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity, Mawhiba, to discover talented Arab youth to strengthen their abilities in culture, science, and education, providing them with the necessary support to improve their skills to encourage them to grow and prosper in different fields.
Saudi Arabia will also be hosting the 23rd conference of Arab culture ministers, in collaboration with ALECSO.
Held every two years, the conference is an important cultural event in the region that aims to build cultural cooperation among Arab nations.
The Kingdom previously hosted the 19th session of the conference in 2015, held under the title “Arabic language, a platform for cultural-humanitarian integration.”


Indo-Saudi defense cooperation on the upswing

Indo-Saudi defense cooperation on the upswing
Updated 6 min 42 sec ago

Indo-Saudi defense cooperation on the upswing

Indo-Saudi defense cooperation on the upswing
  • India, Saudi Arabia share common security concerns about the region

RIYADH: As India celebrates its 73rd Republic Day, and 75 years since it established diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, defense cooperation remains one of the key pillars of bilateral relations.
The vision of King Salman to provide a major impetus for defense relations, which he himself elevated to a new level by signing the Memorandum of Understanding on Defense Cooperation in 2014 while he was crown prince and defense minister, has resulted in numerous positive initiatives under his guidance and the direction of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
Today both India and Saudi Arabia, as major regional players who share common security concerns about the region, are striving to be defense partners.
Building on relations after the historic visit of Gen. Manoj Mukund Naravane, the chief of Indian Army, in December 2020, the land forces chiefs of both nations had telephone conversations in February and December 2021 to discuss the progress of a mutually agreed road map for bilateral relations. With a proposed visit by the commander of the Royal Saudi Land Forces to India in the near future, more high-level interactions are planned.
In September 2021, India’s naval chief had a meeting with the commander of Royal Saudi Naval Forces on the sidelines of the International Seapower Symposium at the US Naval War College.
And on Nov. 19 last year, on the sidelines of Manama Dialogue, Khaled bin Hussein Al-Biyari, Saudi Arabia’s assistant minister of defense for executive affairs, met Air Marshal B.R. Krishna, the chief of integrated defense staff to the chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee of the Indian Armed Forces.
Last year there were also enhanced bilateral engagements between the Royal Saudi Navy and the Indian Navy with the aim of increasing the region’s overall maritime security. India, by virtue of its geostrategic location and energy interests, has a major role in securing international sea lanes in the region.
Goodwill visits by Indian ships have been a major component of defense cooperation, with 16 Indian Navy and Coast Guard vessels entering Saudi ports since 2015. In 2021, three Indian ships visited the Kingdom, and the first bilateral naval exercise, Al-Mohed Al-Hindi, was conducted in August along the eastern coast at Jubail.
The commander of the Indian Navy’s Western Fleet was also onboard INS Kochi, the Indian-built destroyer that participated in the week-long exercise. The highlights of the exercise included high-level interactions involving Eastern Fleet officers, the governor of the Eastern Province and various drills and maneuvers at sea with the Royal Saudi Naval Forces.
Despite travel restrictions imposed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, officers from the Royal Saudi Armed Forces and Indian Armed Forces are undergoing training in various military institutes. This year we expect more exchanges and joint training activities to be conducted by the two friendly countries.
New areas of cooperation are being mutually identified, including in the realms of intelligence sharing, counterterrorism, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.
Efforts were also undertaken in 2021 to introduce Indian defense industries to Saudi Arabia, under the government’s Make in India initiative and Saudi Vision 2030.
During the visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Saudi Arabia on Oct. 29, 2019, the Kingdom’s General Authority of Military Industries and the Indian Ministry of Defense’s Department of Defense Production signed memorandums of understanding for collaboration in military acquisitions, industries, research, development and technology. It remains the guiding beacon for cooperation in defense industry initiatives.
The World Defense Show, scheduled to begin in Riyadh in the first week of March this year, is likely to include the participation of a number of Indian public and private industries. A senior delegation is expected to represent the Indian Armed Forces during the premier event.
Also in March, Defense Expo 2022 is due to take place in India and a number of military and business delegations from Saudi Arabia are expected to attend.
As the pandemic winds down, it is expected that Indo-Saudi defense cooperation will be enhanced and grow until its full potential is realized under the Strategic Partnership Council.

  • N. Ram Prasad is deputy chief of mission at the Indian Embassy in Riyadh.
     

Saudi sculptor carves out a niche for himself

Nasser Hawsawi said his knowledge of the characteristics of various materials and types of soil, and his familiarity with 3D design, helped him develop his craft. (Supplied)
Nasser Hawsawi said his knowledge of the characteristics of various materials and types of soil, and his familiarity with 3D design, helped him develop his craft. (Supplied)
Updated 12 sec ago

Saudi sculptor carves out a niche for himself

Nasser Hawsawi said his knowledge of the characteristics of various materials and types of soil, and his familiarity with 3D design, helped him develop his craft. (Supplied)
  • Self-taught Nasser Hawsawi has proved a popular attraction at Riyadh Oasis

MAKKAH: The work of sculptor Nasser Hawsawi has been a hit with visitors to Riyadh Oasis, one of the 14 Zones set up around the capital during Riyadh Season.

An engineer by training, the 30-year-old Saudi from Makkah has only been sculpting for about four years and is self-taught but his work has already earned praise and acclaim — and a few famous fans.
“Sculpting is an authentic art that simulates shapes, individuals, harmony, rhythm, balance, visual pleasure and various dimensions in order to reach a certain artistic depth, conveying a high artistic sense by representing the details of the human form,” said Hawsawi.
He is exhibiting his work at Riyadh Oasis in a studio that is open to visitors. He has also given a number of live sculpting demonstrations during which he created sculptures of famous Arab singers while they performed on stage, including Nawal Al-Zoghbi, Majid Al-Mohandis and Assala Nasri, and then presented the finished pieces to them at the end of the show.

HIGHLIGHT

Nasser Hawsawi is exhibiting his work at Riyadh Oasis in a studio that is open to visitors. He has also given a number of live sculpting demonstrations during which he created sculptures of famous Arab singers while they performed on stage, including Nawal Al-Zoghbi, Majid Al-Mohandis and Assala Nasri, and then presented the finished pieces to them at the end of the show.

“Drawing on sand dunes sparked an interest in sculpting four years ago, which led me to acquire more knowledge about the art and the precision required to carve a beautiful sculpture,” said Hawsawi.
Thanks to his engineering background, he said his knowledge of the characteristics of various materials and types of soil, and his familiarity with 3D design, helped him develop his craft.
“It motivated me and made me passionate about seeing things from a different perspective that simulate the different angles of artworks,” he said.
He said that his passion for art grew to the point that he decided to leave his stressful engineering career behind to pursue his art.
“I started to feel psychological pressures from my job as a civil engineer working on the roads in the city of Makkah,” said Hawsawi.
“This pushed me to unload these pressures through drawing and sculpting with sand, clay and rocks. I was able to transform this mental exhaustion in the field of road design into an artistic explosion, through which I could breathe, while also living in its details and caring for its visual outcomes.”
He said that his works range in price from $1,000 to $5,000, depending on size and detail. He sells them at exhibitions or through his Instagram account, which has more than 19,000 followers.
Sculptures of women require more work than those of men, he said, because they have more delicate features that demand more attention and precision. The materials he uses are sourced from outside the Kingdom.
“I use clay, with which I have established a strong artistic bond, while also carving on gypsum,” he said.
In addition to his participation in Riyadh Season, Hawsawi has taken part in other events, including the 90th Saudi National Day celebrations in 2020 at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, under the patronage of Jeddah municipality. He also exhibited at Art Market, an exhibition at Adham Art Center in Jeddah, and Salam Ya Beirut, an exhibition at Haider Art Center, also in Jeddah.
“During Riyadh Season, I had the chance to meet the public and communicate with them,” Hawsawi said. “I also presented artworks inspired by mankind, horses and eagles.
“My philosophy is drawn from the environment and from the things I like to draw, along with the things I have witnessed and experienced.”


Indian President: ‘Our freedom struggle was an inspiring chapter’

Indian President: ‘Our freedom struggle was an inspiring chapter’
Updated 17 min 30 sec ago

Indian President: ‘Our freedom struggle was an inspiring chapter’

Indian President: ‘Our freedom struggle was an inspiring chapter’
  • A time of crisis has made us appreciate how we all Indians are connected as one family

My heartiest greetings to all of you, in India and abroad, on the eve of the 73rd Republic Day! It is an occasion to celebrate what is common to us all, our Indian-ness. It was on this day in 1950 that this sacred essence of us all assumed a formal shape.

That day, India was established as the largest democratic republic and “we the people” put into effect a constitution that is an inspired document of our collective vision. The diversity and vibrancy of our democracy is appreciated worldwide. It is this spirit of unity and of being one nation which is celebrated every year as Republic Day. This year’s celebrations may be muted due to the pandemic, but the spirit is as strong as ever.

Writing in 1930, Mahatma Gandhi had advised fellow citizens how “Purna Swaraj Day” was to be celebrated. He had said, and I quote: “Remember that since we desire to attain our end by nonviolent and truthful means only, we can do so only through self-purification. We should therefore devote the day to doing such constructive work as lies in our power to do.”

Needless to say, Gandhiji’s advice is timeless. He would have liked us to celebrate the Republic Day in the same manner. He wanted us to look inside, introspect and strive to become better human beings, and then also look outside, join hands with others, and contribute towards the making of a better India and a better world.

The world has never been in so much need of help as now. It has been over two years now and humankind is still battling with the coronavirus. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been lost, and the world economy has been reeling under the impact. The world has suffered from unprecedented misery, and surge after surge of new variants have been posing new crises. It has been an extraordinary challenge to humankind.

A time of crisis has also made us appreciate how we all Indians are connected as one family. The time of social distancing has brought us close to each other. We have realized how much we depend on each other. Doctors, nurses and paramedics have risen to the challenge, working long hours in difficult conditions even at the risk of their lives to attend to patients. Others have kept the nation moving, managing supply chains and utilities. The leadership, policymakers, administrators and others at the central and state levels have made timely interventions.

Due to such interventions the economy is on the move again. It is a testimony to India’s spirit in the face of adversity that the economy is projected to grow at an impressive rate in this fiscal, after going through contraction last year.

Let us gratefully recall the sacrifices of the many men and women who laid down their lives for our freedom on the occasion of Republic Day.

Ram Nath Kovind, President of India

Small and medium enterprises have played an important role in providing employment to people and imparting impetus to the economy. Our innovative young entrepreneurs have set new benchmarks of success by making effective use of the startup ecosystem. It is a testimony to the success of our country’s massive and robust digital payment platform that millions of digital transactions are being done every month.

To reap the demographic dividend, the government has created the right environment with the National Education Policy that makes a perfect blend of traditional values and modern skills. It is gratifying to note that India has found a place among the top 50 innovative economies. It is all the more satisfying to note that we have been able to promote merit while also stressing upon all-round inclusion.

This year, India will cross a milestone when it completes 75 years of independence. We are celebrating this occasion as “Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.” It is heartening to note that our people, especially youngsters, are participating enthusiastically in a variety of events and programs organized to commemorate the landmark year. It is a great opportunity for not only the next generation but all of us to reconnect with our past.

Our freedom struggle was an inspiring chapter in our splendid saga. In this 75th year of independence, let us rediscover the values that animated our glorious national movement. Many men and women laid down their lives for our freedom. Our freedom fighters have suffered unimaginable torture and made countless sacrifices for us to enjoy the festivals of Independence Day and Republic Day. Let us gratefully recall their immortal sacrifices on the occasion of Republic Day.  

I once again wish all of you a Happy Republic Day! Jai Hind!

  • Excerpted from the Indian president’s speech delivered on the eve of the 73rd Republic Day.