Saudi leaders send condolences to Algerian president over flood victims

Saudi leaders send condolences to Algerian president over flood victims
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Updated 06 May 2021

Saudi leaders send condolences to Algerian president over flood victims

Saudi leaders send condolences to Algerian president over flood victims

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Thursday sent a cable of condolences and sympathy to Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune for those killed in torrential rains and floods that hit several Algerian states.
The king said: “We learned of the news of the torrential rains and floods in several Algerian states, and the resulting deaths, and we send to Your Excellency, the families of the deceased, and the Algerian people our warmest condolences and the most sincere sympathy,” Saudi Press Agency reported.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also sent a similar cable to the Algerian president.RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Thursday sent a cable of condolences and sympathy to Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune for those killed in torrential rains and floods that hit several Algerian states.
The king said: “We learned of the news of the torrential rains and floods in several Algerian states, and the resulting deaths, and we send to Your Excellency, the families of the deceased, and the Algerian people our warmest condolences and the most sincere sympathy,” Saudi Press Agency reported.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also sent a similar cable to the Algerian president.


Jeddah-based studio making online gaming educational for children

Jeddah-based studio making online gaming educational for children
The game targets children aged between five and 11 and consists of four levels lasting 15 to 20 minutes each. Players can still play, interact with characters, and complete tasks after the game is over. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 5 min 54 sec ago

Jeddah-based studio making online gaming educational for children

Jeddah-based studio making online gaming educational for children
  • Hakawati offers alternatives inspired by Arab culture, history, and language

JEDDAH: Many parents worry over their children’s screen time and gaming habits, and debates over the damaging effects of video and online games on mental health, behavior and cognitive functioning have become a staple of social conversations.

The Jeddah-based game development studio Hakawati was set up to offer alternative educational games for Arab children inspired by their culture, history, and language, while also encouraging them to raise their aspirations.
“We cannot prevent children from playing games. Parents can no longer do that,” Hakawati founder Abdullah Ba Mashmos told Arab News. “So, offering a good alternative is the best solution.”
Ba Mashmos said that keeping children busy with games also offers parents time to relax. Trying to wean off children from playing games on their devices is impossible and tiresome.
As children’s experience with the world becomes increasingly virtual, the potential harm posed by violence in online games is a major concern for Ba Mashmos and his team.
“We oppose any manifestations of violence in games,” he said. “Entertainment does not need to be violent.”
Hundreds of media reports, posts, and videos calling on parents to pay attention to their children’s online gaming activities are circulating almost daily among parents across the region.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Through stories narrated in Arabic within the game, Hakawati is bridging the scientific heritage of Arabic culture with the present.

• The interactive storytelling game takes players on a series of adventures in a safe environment.

• Hakawati is encouraging children to explore their identity and learn new things about themselves and their culture.

These warning messages invariably spike after a tragic story related to popular video games finds its way to the media.
One of the latest stories to go viral concerned a 12-year-old Egyptian boy who died from a heart attack while playing an online game known as PUBG for hours without rest.
However, many parents worry constantly about their children spending too much time playing games on screens.

We oppose any manifestations of violence in games.

Abdullah Ba Mashmos, Hakawati founder

Screen time is often seen as harmfully addictive, triggering concerns about children’s physical and social health, as well as youth suicide, family violence, and bullying.
With experience in teaching game development and programming, Ba Mashmos said that he has seen how easily online games can normalize aggressive language among children.
Hakawati Game, the fledgling studio’s first offering, is expected to be released by the end of 2021. However, a demo version is available for free.
The interactive storytelling game takes players on a series of adventures in a safe and culturally inspired environment alongside original Arabic-speaking characters.
Ba Mashmos said that the studio aims to educate, strengthen values and spark curiosity in the young by helping them develop their creativity, strategic thinking, problem-solving, and research skills.
“In this game, we focus on values, Arabic language, and science,” he said, “We want to promote science among children.”

The talented team behind the idea, which aims to offer a safe alternative to violent online games.

Through stories narrated in Arabic within the game, Hakawati is bridging the scientific heritage of Arabic culture with the present by introducing influential Arab scientists from history, enhancing the player’s interaction with the Arabic language through the characters, their names, and their sophisticated backstories.
Ba Mashmos said that scientists used to be portrayed in films and cartoons as obsessive, introverted nerds who lacked social skills.
Hakawati wants to promote a more realistic and inspirational view of science among children. “We want them to understand that well-educated people are the ones who can do great things,” he said.
The game targets children aged between five and 11 and consists of four levels lasting 15 to 20 minutes each. Players can still play, interact with characters, and complete tasks after the game is over.
By creating an original game that matches children’s reality, Hakawati is encouraging children to explore their identity and learn new things about themselves and their culture.
“We are a community of scientists, ambitious and smart people, and we want to erase all kinds of negative stereotypes,” Ba Mashmos said.
The game also promotes diversity and inclusivity.
“Diversity was another major focus when developing our characters. We brought characters from different backgrounds and races with a special focus on the Arab region,” he said. “We also made sure to represent disabilities.”
Hakawati (@HakawatiAR) is believed to be the only studio in the Kingdom focused on developing games solely for children.  
Although game development is still in its infancy in Saudi Arabia, Ba Mashmos believes that his young and diverse team of different nationalities and backgrounds will help the studio prosper.
Hakawati’s developers, software engineers, designers, and artificial intelligence specialists are all based in Saudi Arabia, he said.
The studio relies mainly on and invests in Saudi-based talents, whether in building their team or allowing young members of the Saudi development, design, and animation community to take part in their work when needed.
Hakawati’s biggest goal is to be a Middle East pioneer in game development for children and also expand its audience around the world.
“Our biggest challenge is time — games and development take a lot of our time. At the same time challenges are also increasing quickly.”
Hakawati took part in MITEF Saudi Arabia this year, a program organized by MIT Enterprise Forum in collaboration with Bab Rizq Jameel, and was were among 15 semifinalists out of over 500 startup applicants.
The studio also among finalists competing at the TAQADAM Startup Accelerator staged by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.


Saudi official reveals exemptions to COVID-19 shopping malls ban

Saudi official reveals exemptions to COVID-19 shopping malls ban
Saudi men sit in a restaurant at a shopping mall in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.(REUTERS file photo)
Updated 55 sec ago

Saudi official reveals exemptions to COVID-19 shopping malls ban

Saudi official reveals exemptions to COVID-19 shopping malls ban
  • Dr. Osama Ghanem Al-Obaidy: The banning of unvaccinated individuals from entering malls is a welcome move in the fight against the coronavirus

RIYADH: Under-18s who had not received a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine jab and those exempt for health reasons will still be allowed into Saudi commercial outlets and shopping malls when strict new rules come into force.
The government announced on Sunday that unvaccinated individuals would not be given access to such establishments from Aug. 1.
However, on Monday, a Ministry of Commerce spokesman said the ban would not apply to those under the age of 18 who had not been inoculated or people at risk of having adverse reactions to COVID-19 vaccines.
Around 15.9 million anti-virus jabs have so far been administered in the Kingdom, but the Ministry of Interior has demanded that individuals entering shops and other commercial outlets must have had at least one dose or been vaccinated after recovering from COVID-19 unless they fell into age brackets or groups not obligated to take the vaccine. Eman Al-Shethry, a government employee, told Arab News: “Entering a shopping center knowing that most of the people inside are either fully or partially vaccinated will make me feel safer and more relaxed.

FASTFACTS

• Saudi Arabia reported 1,109 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday.

• The death toll has risen to 7,590 with 18 more virus-related fatalities.

“I feel that when the people who are skeptical of vaccinations see others roaming around freely, they would see that vaccines are not scary or harmful.”
Dr. Osama Ghanem Al-Obaidy, a law professor at the Institute of Public Administration in Riyadh, said: “The banning of unvaccinated individuals from entering malls is a welcome move in the fight against the coronavirus. The exemption of children from such requirements is also a welcome move.”
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia on Monday recorded 1,109 new COVID-19 cases, meaning that 466,906 people in the country had now contracted the disease. A total of 10,075 cases remained active, of which 1,596 patients were in critical condition.
With 18 more virus-related fatalities, the death toll has risen to 7,590.
The Saudi Ministry of Health said another 1,148 patients had recovered from the disease, increasing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 449,241.
Saudi Arabia had so far conducted 20,438,923 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, with 83,368 carried out in the past 24 hours, and 15,885,754 people in the country had to date received a jab against COVID-19.


More than 25,000 Jacaranda trees add to Abha’s beauty

More than 25,000 Jacaranda trees add to Abha’s beauty
The flowers of the jacaranda tree last for up to eight weeks and give off a distinctive fragrance, which spreads after it rains. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 35 min 45 sec ago

More than 25,000 Jacaranda trees add to Abha’s beauty

More than 25,000 Jacaranda trees add to Abha’s beauty
  • The jacaranda plant belongs to the bignonia family, with trees able to grow to more than 18 meters in height

ABHA: More than 25,000 jacaranda trees are adding a splash of color to Abha’s environment. The trees perfume the city’s gardens and streets and light up the surroundings with their distinctive hue. They have become the daily destination of choice for those seeking enjoyable times amid violet forests.
The mild climate in Abha during the spring and summer has helped Asir municipality to successfully plant and nurture these trees, with the authority expanding the scope of its cultivation to include many main streets, public facilities, parks and squares.
These efforts are in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 program and are based on an annual plan to plant trees and flowers in the region to enhance and diversify its vegetation cover, beautify the streets, provide an oxygen source, and offer a regional tourist attraction.
The municipality said the trees gave Abha a distinctive identity and a bright spectrum. The flowers of the jacaranda tree last for up to eight weeks and give off a distinctive fragrance, which spreads after it rains.
The municipality, which also planted a million seasonal roses in several locations in Abha, said the jacaranda trees were chosen in accordance with the needs of the local environment, especially as they only needed small amounts of water and did not pose a threat to the infrastructure.

FASTFACTS

• The jacaranda plant belongs to the bignonia family, with trees able to grow to more than 18 meters in height.

• During the first year, they can reach a height of 3 meters.

• These trees reproduce naturally by seed (pollination) in March and April, but they can be planted throughout the year in protected areas.

The jacaranda plant belongs to the bignonia family, with trees able to grow to more than 18 meters in height. During the first year, they can reach a height of 3 meters.
These trees reproduce naturally by seed (pollination) in March and April, but they can be planted throughout the year in protected areas. They can also be cultivated by some newly developed methods such as sprout pots or indoors until they become strong, according to the Saudi Press Agency.
The cultivation of jacaranda trees in Saudi Arabia is also limited to areas that enjoy moderate weather, such as the southern region.
Al-Fan Street, in the center of Abha, is a popular location with visitors from different age groups who are keen to document its aesthetic.
The municipality said a plan was developed to manage the site, starting from May 1, and that there was coordination with Asir police to supervise streets and squares according to COVID-19 precautionary measures.


US condemns Houthi drone attack on Saudi school

US condemns Houthi drone attack on Saudi school
Updated 14 June 2021

US condemns Houthi drone attack on Saudi school

US condemns Houthi drone attack on Saudi school
  • Earlier, the French Ambassador to the Kingdom described the Houthi attack as "brutal and outrageous"

JEDDAH: The United States on Monday said it "strongly condemned" a Houthi drone attack that damaged a school in Saudi Arabia.

The explosives-laden drone was launched across the border from Yemen and crashed into a school in Asir region, Saudi Civil Defense said on Sunday.

"Such attacks threaten civilians, including school children," the State Department's Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs said on Monday. "We join other nations in condemning the attack and call on the Houthis to commit to a lasting ceasefire."

Earlier, the French Ambassador to the Kingdom described the Houthi attack as "brutal and outrageous."

The comments follow condemnation from the UAE, Bahrain, the Arab Parliament, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

The attack comes as the Iran-backed militia continue to attack Saudi Arabia with drones.

The Arab coalition said on Monday that  Saudi air defenses intercepted and destroyed an explosive-laden drone launched towards Khamis Mushait

 

 

 


Saudi air defense intercepts Houthi drone attack on Khamis Mushait

Saudi air defense intercepts Houthi drone attack on Khamis Mushait
Updated 14 June 2021

Saudi air defense intercepts Houthi drone attack on Khamis Mushait

Saudi air defense intercepts Houthi drone attack on Khamis Mushait
  • Coalition says it thwarted all hostile Houthi attempts aimed at targeting civilians and civilian objects

RIYADH: The Arab coalition said Monday that the Saudi Arabian air defense has intercepted and destroyed an explosive-laden drone launched by the terrorist Houthis militia towards Khamis Mushait, Al Arabiya TV reported. 

The coalition said it thwarted all hostile Houthi attempts aimed at targeting civilians and civilian objects.

Adding that the coalition is taking all operational measures to protect civilians from such attacks.