Saudi Arabia to allow vaccinated citizens to travel from May 17

Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry had extended the travel restriction period and shifted the date for reopening the Kingdom’s borders from March 31 to May 17. (File/SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s Health Ministry had extended the travel restriction period and shifted the date for reopening the Kingdom’s borders from March 31 to May 17. (File/SPA)
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Updated 02 May 2021

Saudi Arabia to allow vaccinated citizens to travel from May 17

Saudi Arabia to allow vaccinated citizens to travel from May 17
  • Citizens would be subjected to home quarantine for 7 days after returning to Saudi Arabia
  • Health Ministry reports 937 new COVID cases, 1,120 recoveries, 11 deaths

RIYADH: Vaccinated Saudis and those who have recovered from COVID-19 will be allowed to travel abroad as of 1 a.m. from May 17, the Saudi Ministry of Interior (MoI) has announced in a statement.

The MoI said that citizens who are fully vaccinated or have received a first dose at least 14 days before departure will be allowed to travel. Based on the health information provided on the Tawakkalna app, citizens who have been infected must have recovered at least 6 months prior to travel.
Children between the ages of 8 and 18 are exempt from the vaccination rule but must present travel insurance from the Saudi Central Bank that will ensure COVID-19 medical care; they must spend seven days in quarantine upon their return to the Kingdom and conduct a PCR test at the end of that time. Children under 8 are exempt from the test, according to MoH guidelines.
In its Sunday press conference the Ministry of Health (MoH) urged anyone experiencing intense post-vaccination symptoms to visit a Tetamman clinic, appointments for which can be made via the designated app for anything related to the coronavirus, Sehhaty.
MoH spokesperson Dr. Mohammad Al-Abd Al-Aly told residents to monitor themselves carefully post-vaccination, and urged them to seek medical care if they were experiencing COVID-like symptoms following their vaccination, especially if those symptoms lasted longer than three days.
He also said that citizens above the age of 75 could visit any vaccination center without an appointment, that there was no need to take a PCR test before going to get vaccinated, and that being vaccinated would not have any effect on the results of a PCR test.

INNUMBERS

419,348 Total cases

402,664 Recoveries

6,979 Deaths

“The Kingdom has also not recorded any deaths related to the COVID-19 vaccine,” he said.
With the number of daily COVID cases back in the three-digit range, the Ministry is also urging Saudis to continue to be cautious about their activities, to mask up and avoid gatherings, and follow all the necessary safety guidelines to help to curb the spread of the virus ahead of the upcoming Eid celebrations.
“We are still in a period of fluctuation and need to continue to follow COVID guidelines,” said Al-Aly. “The coming few days are crucial, especially with the Eid holidays around the corner. Let us ensure that these times of celebration don’t turn into times of sadness.”
The Ministry of Health announced 937 new COVID cases on Sunday, 1,120 new recoveries, and 11 new deaths. This brings the total numbers up to 419,348 cases, 402,664 recoveries, and 6,979 deaths.
Riyadh continues to report the highest number of new cases, with 381 today. This was followed by Makkah with 225, and the Eastern Province with 110. The regions reporting the lowest numbers were the Northern Borders with 10 cases following by Baha with 8 and Jouf with only 2 cases.
The number of active cases has decreased to 9,705, of which 1,351 are in critical condition. The Kingdom’s recovery rate has also increased marginally, currently standing at 96 percent.
The Kingdom’s total vaccine count has surpassed the 9.6 million mark, which means that the Kingdom is vaccinating at rate of about 2.19 per second or 188,968 each day.


The Flowerman Festival: Sharing Asir’s culture with the world

The Flowerman Festival: Sharing Asir’s culture with the world
Updated 32 min 55 sec ago

The Flowerman Festival: Sharing Asir’s culture with the world

The Flowerman Festival: Sharing Asir’s culture with the world
  • Flowerman Festival celebrates the rural traditions in the Asir mountains in the southwestern region of Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Bright colors, regional flowers and celebrations of heritage are highlights of the second Flowerman Festival, hosted by the Ministry of Culture in the Asir region.

Young and old visitors wear colorful floral garlands and join hands and dance to celebrate this important cultural and historical event.

The Flowerman Festival celebrates the rural traditions in the Asir mountains in the southwestern region of Saudi Arabia from Sept 13 to Sept. 27.

One of the missions of the festival is to share the Flowerman heritage and spread awareness of its cultural diversity with local and international visitors through art, dance and storytelling.

The festival is centered around three features, which focus on the preservation of culture under the theme of “nine years of glory.”

The first feature of the festival depicts the stories of the historical roles of the flowermen in a feature called “FlowerMen and Determination,” showing Rijal Almaa’s timeline through dance and chanting.

The second feature of the festival will celebrate women and the important role they play in preserving the heritage of the Asir region through their colorful artwork.

Some of the local women can be seen around the festival grounds carefully weaving the traditional floral crowns made of marigolds, jasmine and basil.

These floral crowns are the staple of the festival, worn not only the locals in Rijal Almaa village but by all visitors in celebration of its rural heritage. 

Made of freshly cut flowers, these crowns are a historical symbol of power, health and eternity worn by many locals in the Asir and Jazan region. 

The third feature of the festival is “Rijal’s Fort.” This showcases the local architecture — made of colorful stone, delicately stacked — and which also makes use of clay and wood.

Projected on the 60 buildings in the village is a laser show that shares the story of Rijal’s history.

At night these buildings, 14 of which were used as forts, are highlighted with bright colored lights that trace each corner of the structures, creating a bright glow from miles away.

The events are hosted in two locations — the first is the village of Rijal and the second is in Al-Soudah Park.

Al-Soudah Park features a 360-degree main stage where folk performances are held, and where the local colorful thobes and floral crowns have caught the attention of locals and international visitors. 

Located 45 km west of Abha, the hub of the festival Rijal Almaa, the location is in the process of becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The hub was once the meeting place for merchants and pilgrims traveling to the holy cities of Makkah and Medina. Here merchants traded food, grains, household items, spices and jewelry.

This culturally rich region is home to the Rijal Almaa village, also referred to by international tourists as the gingerbread village because of the bright colors of the stone bricks carefully laid to create its century-old architectural structures.

Rijal Almaa holds a deep historical importance for the Kingdom; it is the location where the Asiri tribes claimed independence over the region and defeated the Ottoman forces in 1825.

The Flowerman Festival is a harmonious celebration of the environment and the rich local heritage of the village people. The festival showcases the connected villages that coexist within the environment, where people harvest flowers to create garlands and live in harmony with nature.

Few places in the world are preserved in the way that the Asir region is, with its historic villages hidden in the mountains.

The second edition of the festival offers live music, horseback riding and an open-air heritage market that sells many handmade crafts created by the local village people of the Asir region.

The first festival in 2019 welcomed more than 30,000 visitors with the theme of the local roses.

The Flowerman Festival will continue as an annual event organized by the Ministry of Culture to attract global visitors.


Misguided advice on diet, gym workouts ‘doing more harm than good’, say fitness specialists

Fitness specialists say that unreliable information on the internet and poorly researched advice can have a negative influence on those eager to join gyms. (Shutterstock)
Fitness specialists say that unreliable information on the internet and poorly researched advice can have a negative influence on those eager to join gyms. (Shutterstock)
Updated 19 September 2021

Misguided advice on diet, gym workouts ‘doing more harm than good’, say fitness specialists

Fitness specialists say that unreliable information on the internet and poorly researched advice can have a negative influence on those eager to join gyms. (Shutterstock)
  • "I have heard a lot of wrong facts and tips about sports. A lot of people on social media don’t have a certificate in fitness, and I see them advising people based on their personal experience and not studies"
  • Fitness myth-busters come out fighting

JEDDAH: With interest in sport surging in the Kingdom, Saudis embarking on gym and exercise regimes have been warned to beware of self-appointed “experts” peddling fitness myths that can ruin workouts and even damage health.

Fitness specialists say that unreliable information on the internet and poorly researched advice can have a negative influence on those eager to join gyms.

Extreme diets and exercise programs can cause more harm than good, they warn.

Yumna Khalid, a 23-year-old university student, told Arab News that she has had many such experiences at her gym but has finally learned how to deal with them.

Extreme diets and exercise programs can cause more harm than good, experts warn

“Someone once told me that the more she sweats, the more fat she will lose, and that if she is not sweating heavily, her workout will not work. I said nothing but sympathized with the woman since she was working out wearing a hoodie in the scorching heat of Jeddah.”

Khalid said that people “should just listen to their bodies” to judge if a workout or diet is right for them.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Yumna Khalid, a 23-year-old university student, said that people ‘should just listen to their bodies’ to judge if a workout or diet is right for them.

• Nouf Hamdallah, a fitness trainer with nine years’ experience, said ‘the problem with these people is that they think what they are doing is the only right way. ‘They should just focus on themselves and not spread information that they aren’t sure about.’

• Suliman Abduljawad, a Guinness world record holder in fitness, said ‘one of the mistaken things that people are trading is that the female body is harder to train — that’s not true, it’s a simple science.’

“The body has a way of telling you. Do the workout that makes you feel good during and afterwards. If a workout or a diet feels wrong then just don’t do it. Listen to your body and you will be set.”

She added: “But listen to it when it is being reasonable and not at 3 a.m. when you want to eat eight donuts and a tub of ice cream.”

Casey Ho, a YouTuber who has been uploading home workout videos since 2009, was subjected to a wave of hate after announcing that she wanted to lose weight and get in the best shape of her life.

In her video, titled “How I lost 17.5 pounds in 12 weeks — My 90-Day Journey,” she said: “No, I don’t have an eating disorder. No, I don’t have a body image disorder. No, I don’t hate myself and, no, this journey wasn’t for you — it was for me.”

In a podcast called Off the Pills, Ho said that the body positive movement has grown so much over the years that now if someone wants to lose weight and look a certain way, they are labeled “anti-body positive” and kicked out of the community.

Returning to unhealthy habits is not the answer, she said. “It is a commitment of a lifetime.”

The trainer urged gym-goers to avoid training others if they are unqualified, adding that there was a big chance the advice might be harmful. (Shutterstock)

Nouf Hamdallah, a fitness trainer with nine years’ experience, said: “The problem with these people is that they think what they are doing is the only right way. They should just focus on themselves and not spread information that they aren’t sure about.”

According to Hamdallah, the best way to deal with such people is to ask: “What is the source of the information?”

She added: “They will think back on what they have said and if they do have a genuine source, you can take their advice.”

The trainer also urged gym-goers to avoid training others if they are unqualified, adding that there was a big chance the advice might be harmful.

Hamdallah said that a healthy lifestyle is about changing habits little by little, and is not about following a particular diet. “People tend to get the two mixed.

For a healthy life, it’s just a caloric deficit, physical activity and enough sleep. It’s very simple.”

The trainer defined her personal experience as a series of trial and error, and said that still tries new approaches and methods in her diet and during her workouts.

She also said that her schedules are flexible, and she will not force herself to do something that does not feel right.

Depending on body type, results can take up to a year to show, while sometimes it is just three months, Hamdallah added.

I believe that a lot of Saudis can break a lot of records. I’ve seen the potential they have, but I think they just don’t know how to do it. I am more than happy to guide and help them.

Suliman Abduljawad, Guinness world record holder in fitness

However, according to Khalid, adopting a healthier lifestyle is not as tricky as it sometimes appears.

“I promise you, a healthy lifestyle isn’t just boiled chicken breast and white rice or a sad piece of bread. Now, more than ever, you can find delicious foods on the internet that is so good that you won’t even miss the sugar-filled or fried foods that you crave.”

Khalid said that she was discouraged because people kept telling her that she was eating, drinking and exercising the wrong way, and she was not seeing results in fitness. She later discovered that it takes time to change.

“That is OK. I have my own pace and I am happy with that,” she said.

Adding to the warnings, a Saudi champ has joined the fight against fitness myths

Suliman Abduljawad, a Guinness world record holder in fitness, joined social media to campaign for better messaging around fitness and exercise.

“I have heard a lot of wrong facts and tips about sports. A lot of people on social media don’t have a certificate in fitness, and I see them advising people based on their personal experience and not studies,” he told Arab News.

Abduljawad said that he decided to step in and educate people about the “rights and wrongs” of training.

The fitness champ said that he receives messages every day from followers asking him about information they read online.

Female personal trainers in Saudi Arabia are expensive compared with other countries because of the myths, he said.

“One of the mistaken things that people are trading is that the female body is harder to train — that’s not true, it’s a simple science,” Abduljawad said.

He also rejects the claim that training is bad for children. “I have a son, I cannot wait until he is 3 years old to train him. People say that children should not train, which is wrong. Their training is fun and they will enjoy it.”

Abduljawad said that he read Guinness World Records books as a child and wondered why there were no Saudi record-holders. It was then that he decided to work hard on himself.

He eventually broke two world records after a long journey — one in side jump push-up and one in archer push-up in 2020.

“I believe that a lot of Saudis can break a lot of records. I’ve seen the potential they have, but I think they just don’t know how to do it. I am more than happy to guide and help them.”

Abduljawad offers online training and dreams of having his own gym one day. “I’m aiming break 10 more world records.”


Hundreds of volunteers help clean up Jeddah beaches

The group organized the event to mark World Cleanup Day, one of the biggest global civic movements,  in an effort to achieve a cleaner planet. (Supplied)
The group organized the event to mark World Cleanup Day, one of the biggest global civic movements, in an effort to achieve a cleaner planet. (Supplied)
Updated 20 September 2021

Hundreds of volunteers help clean up Jeddah beaches

The group organized the event to mark World Cleanup Day, one of the biggest global civic movements,  in an effort to achieve a cleaner planet. (Supplied)
  • They cleared 50,000 items of trash during event organized by a bloggers’ group to mark World Cleanup Day

JEDDAH: More than 500 people helped to clean up Khaleej Salman and Alexandria beaches in Jeddah on Saturday during an event organized by Hejaz Bloggers, a Saudi community group.

The volunteers picked up trash from the beach, while 20 divers removed waste from the seabed. Altogether, more than 50,000 discarded items were removed.
The group organized the event to mark World Cleanup Day on Sept. 18, one of the biggest global civic movements, which spans 180 countries in an effort to achieve a cleaner planet.
“We are a committed team united to restore the environmental dimension into our lifestyles, and ultimately shape and build sustainable habits that improve the quality of life around the vast demographic,” Hejaz Bloggers organizer Ruaa Obied told Arab News. “In the end, we produce a better culture that can sustain its being across the centuries ahead.”

Saudi Vision 2030 is playing a big role in environmental issues through improvements to laws and regulations, and the promotion of recycling and use of sustainable products. It aims to develop eco-friendly practices that can lessen our footprint on the environment to boost the ecotourism sector.

Ruaa Obied, Hejaz Bloggers organizer

She said that Saudi Vision 2030 is playing a big role in environmental issues through improvements to laws and regulations, and the promotion of recycling and use of sustainable products.
“It aims to develop eco-friendly practices that can lessen our footprint on the environment to boost the ecotourism sector,” she added.
As the Kingdom aims to develop and grow its tourism sector, Obied believes efforts to improve and maintain a cleaner environment will play a key role in achieving this. This motivated the members of the bloggers’ group to take action and use their skills and public profile for the greater good.
“Blogging is heavily involved in physical activity, coupled with culture, sustainability and national tourism,” said Obied.
Group members will continue to use their influence in an effort to promote positive change, she added.
“We have amazing stuff in store, from World Volunteer Day to breast cancer awareness and so much more, to celebrate international days relating to the common good of Saudi society,” she said.


Saudi Education Ministry passes key test with over 90% of staff, students vaccinated

Ministry of Education used its capabilities to prepare schools for the new school year by organizing field tours and visits to monitor progress. (SPA)
Ministry of Education used its capabilities to prepare schools for the new school year by organizing field tours and visits to monitor progress. (SPA)
Updated 20 September 2021

Saudi Education Ministry passes key test with over 90% of staff, students vaccinated

Ministry of Education used its capabilities to prepare schools for the new school year by organizing field tours and visits to monitor progress. (SPA)
  • The ministry launched the central exam platform to measure the achievement level of students learning in-person and remotely, and enforce skills enhancement tests for public education from the second primary school grade to the first year of high school

JEDDAH: The Saudi Ministry of Education has achieved one of its five main targets following the start of the new school year after increasing the COVID-19 immunization rate of staff by 96.92 percent and students aged over 12 by 90.5 percent.
Other targets set by the authority include regularizing the in-person educational process while implementing precautionary measures, and completing updated requirements of the educational environment and its readiness for use in schools.
Additionally, the ministry now measures student achievement levels through organizing skills enhancement tests at the central exam platform, and is deepening relationships with families and parents to contribute to the educational journey of children.
The increase in immunization rates enhances the safe return to in-person learning, helps the education sector in achieving herd immunity and complements nationwide efforts.
The ministry urged all education sector employees to receive two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and enforce the precautionary measures and health requirements adopted by the Saudi Health Ministry and the Public Health Authority in all educational institutes.
It is the fourth week in the Kingdom of students attending classes in middle and high school, while students in primary school are studying remotely through the Madrasati platform.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The ministry urged all education sector employees to receive two COVID-19 vaccine doses, and enforce the precautionary measures and health requirements adopted by the Saudi Health Ministry and the Public Health Authority in all educational institutes.

• The ministry launched the central exam platform to measure the achievement level of students learning in-person and remotely, and enforce skills enhancement tests for public education from the second primary school grade to the first year of high school.

The Ministry of Education also used its capabilities to prepare schools for the new school year by organizing field tours and visits to monitor progress.
It provided materials for the implementation of precautionary measures, such as masks, sanitizers and thermometers, and finished the delivery of textbooks to students.
Moreover, schools performed simulation models of precautionary measure rollouts before the start of the school year, and increased readiness in transport services.
The ministry launched the central exam platform to measure the achievement level of students learning in-person and remotely, and enforce skills enhancement tests for public education from the second primary school grade to the first year of high school.
It reported that more than 3.5 million students in 14 days used the platform, demonstrating that digital educational processes can contribute to improving student performance and the overall educational structure.
The ministry praised its relationship with parents and their role in preparing children for the new school year, reassuring them of the safety and preparedness of the Kingdom’s educational system.


Saudi air defense forces chief visits military trade fair in London

Al-Amro attended the lunch banquet hosted by Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UK, Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan, in the presence of British Defense Minister Ben Wallace. (SPA)
Al-Amro attended the lunch banquet hosted by Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UK, Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan, in the presence of British Defense Minister Ben Wallace. (SPA)
Updated 20 September 2021

Saudi air defense forces chief visits military trade fair in London

Al-Amro attended the lunch banquet hosted by Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UK, Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan, in the presence of British Defense Minister Ben Wallace. (SPA)
  • Al-Amro visited the pavilion of the Saudi General Authority for Military Industries and the Saudi Arabian Military Industries

LONDON: Lt. Gen. Mazyad bin Sulaiman Al-Amro, commander of the Royal Saudi Air Defense Forces, led the Ministry of Defense delegation to the recently concluded Defense and Security Equipment International trade fair at the ExCel Center in London.
Al-Amro toured the facility and its various pavilions. He also visited the pavilion of the Saudi General Authority for Military Industries and the Saudi Arabian Military Industries. He also reviewed opportunities to transfer and localize military technologies as a part of the Saudi Vision 2030 reform plans.
Al-Amro attended the lunch banquet hosted by Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UK, Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan, in the presence of British Defense Minister Ben Wallace. The party was attended by several officials of the British Ministry of Defense.
Wallace and a number of official delegations also inspected the Saudi pavilion, learning about the key targets of the military industry sector in the Kingdom, its promising investment opportunities and the pursuit of GAMI to support plans to reach Saudization of more than 50 percent of spending on military equipment and services by 2030.