Saudi Arabia sends more oxygen to India to alleviate country’s COVID-19 crisis

Saudi Arabia sends more oxygen to India to alleviate country’s COVID-19 crisis
Saudi Arabia on Sunday shipped 60 tons of oxygen to India, a month after it sent 80 tons to help the South Asian nation deal with a deadly second wave of coronavirus. (@dpradhanbjp)
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Updated 30 May 2021

Saudi Arabia sends more oxygen to India to alleviate country’s COVID-19 crisis

Saudi Arabia sends more oxygen to India to alleviate country’s COVID-19 crisis
  • Help is expression of “solidarity with close friend,” says Saudi ambassador
  • “Health cooperation is one of the most important aspects of our strategic partnership” he added

NEW DELHI: Saudi Arabia on Sunday shipped 60 tons of oxygen to India, a month after it sent 80 tons to help the South Asian nation deal with a deadly second wave of coronavirus.
The outbreak has claimed the lives of more than 300,000 people so far, primarily due to an oxygen shortage and a lack of hospital beds.
On Sunday, India registered more than 165,000 new COVID-19 cases and nearly 3,500 deaths.
Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to India, Dr. Saud Mohammed Al-Sati, called the oxygen shipment an expression of “solidarity with a close friend.”
“The shipment of liquid oxygen will depart from Dammam on Sunday and is expected to arrive in Mumbai on June 6,” he told Arab News. “Many other such shipments will be sent in the coming days and weeks. The Kingdom stands in solidarity with our close friend India in this difficult time. The recently announced shipment of 3 ISO tanks filled with 60 tons of liquid oxygen comes as a good gesture toward our friends in India to support their efforts to respond to the challenges posed by the pandemic of COVID-19.
“Health cooperation is one of the most important aspects of our strategic partnership and will continue as an important area of focus. Since the early days of the pandemic, our health cooperation has been growing. 
“Thousands of Indian medical practitioners work in Saudi Arabia’s hospitals and medical institutions. Throughout the phases of the pandemic, we have maintained uninterrupted supply chains of goods, pharmaceutical, and medically related products.”
The Sunday figures are a sharp drop from the numbers reported in April and earlier this month, when the daily infection tally stood at 400,000 and more than 4,000 people were dying every day.
According to official data, India has registered 318,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic.
But media reports and independent observers claim the real figure is several times higher, with the second wave claiming lives in major cities and also in rural areas.
“Deeply appreciate the gesture of HRH Prince Abdulaziz, Minister of Energy, KSA for the offer to send 3 ISO Containers with 60 tons of LMO (Liquid Medical Oxygen), which are expected to arrive in Mumbai on 6 June 2021,” Indian Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan tweeted on Saturday.
Pradhan said that 100 more oxygen containers were expected to arrive in the next few months.
“The gesture of Saudi Arabia is reflective of the close friendship and warmth between the leadership of Saudi Arabia and Hon’ble PM (Modi),” he added.
India contacted OPEC when it was in desperate need of oxygen and held talks with countries including Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait to source the life-saving item.
Earlier this month, Pradhan held talks with Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, the UAE Minister of Industry Sultan Al-Jaber, and Qatar’s Energy Minister Saad Sherida Al-Kaabi for oxygen supplies.
“The three containers and additional containers that will come in the weeks ahead will remain with the Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) for 6 months as a goodwill gesture from the Saudi Government, and IOCL will source LMO from Linde Dammam on commercial terms for import into the country,” Pradhan said.
Bilateral ties were strengthened during Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to New Delhi in Feb. 2019.
The two countries signed investment deals worth $100 billion across the energy, petrochemical, infrastructure, agriculture and manufacturing sectors, and a proposed Strategic Partnership Council came to fruition in Oct. 2019.
As the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India has so far supplied Saudi Arabia with 3 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.
The COVID-19 crisis has brought a new depth to the relationship between the two countries, according to former Indian ambassador Zikrur Rahman.
“Saudi Arabia and India not only share a strategic partnership in oil and investment, the partnership spreads in many fields,” Rahman told Arab News. “The crisis is the test of the relationship, and it shows how far it has deepened. Within this framework, the Saudis have come forward when India needs the necessary items like oxygen. Saudi has demonstrated its real concerns for India.”


KSrelief continues aid projects in Yemen, Sudan

KSrelief continues aid projects in Yemen, Sudan
Updated 22 min 17 sec ago

KSrelief continues aid projects in Yemen, Sudan

KSrelief continues aid projects in Yemen, Sudan
  • KSrelief has implemented 1,814 projects worth more than $5.5 billion in 77 countries

TAIZ: The mobile nutrition clinics of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center in Al-Khawkhah district, Yemen, have continued to provide treatment services.

In one week, the clinics received 6,978 patients with various health conditions in different clinics and departments and provided them with necessary medical services. The clinics also provided 2,614 individuals with various medications.

The center distributed more than 42 tons of food baskets in Al-Shamaitain district of Taiz governorate, benefiting 1,723 people.

Yemen is among the top beneficiaries of KSrelief assistance. In total, the center has implemented 644 projects in Yemen at a cost of $3.9 billion.

Meanwhile, KSrelief has continued distributing food and shelter aid to those affected by the floods and the neediest families in Sudan. The center distributed more than 28 tons of food baskets in Sennar state, benefiting 5,700 people.

Worldwide, KSrelief has implemented 1,814 projects worth more than $5.5 billion in 77 countries, carried out in cooperation with 144 local, regional and international partners since the inception of the center in May 2015.


Saudi decision to resume in-class education praised

Saudi decision to resume in-class education praised
Updated 28 min 22 sec ago

Saudi decision to resume in-class education praised

Saudi decision to resume in-class education praised
  • The ministry said that elementary and kindergarten students in all the regions of the Kingdom would begin returning to school from Sunday

RIYADH: UNICEF has praised Saudi Arabia’s decision to reopen its schools for kindergarten and elementary students.

Jumana Haj Ahmad, the agency’s deputy representative for the Gulf area, said it was an important step, adding that during the COVID-19 pandemic schools should be the last to close and first to reopen.

Ahmad’s remarks came during a visit to the Kingdom’s Satellite Broadcasting School, where Education Ministry’s Undersecretary for Public Education Mohammed bin Saud Al-Migbel gave a briefing on how lessons delivered by the facility were recorded and supervised. He also gave a presentation on the Madrasati and Rawdati platforms.

Ahmad said that Saudi Arabia’s provision of online education through the two platforms and the EIN channels was worldleading. She also noted the Ministry of Education’s efforts to ensure children’s psychological and social growth, and programs to protect them from abuse.

The ministry said that elementary and kindergarten students in all the regions of the Kingdom would begin returning to school from Sunday.

Schools in remote areas would be the first to open as there were fewer coronavirus cases there, it said.


Mangroves: Nature’s guardians of the ecosystem

Mangroves: Nature’s guardians of the ecosystem
Updated 30 min 1 sec ago

Mangroves: Nature’s guardians of the ecosystem

Mangroves: Nature’s guardians of the ecosystem
  • Authorities plan to plant 10 billion mangrove trees across the Kingdom as part of the Saudi Green Initiative

JEDDAH: As part of the Saudi Green Initiative, which was launched last year with the aim of tackling climate change, reducing carbon emissions and improving the environment, 10 billion mangrove trees will be planted across the Kingdom.

Mangroves, ancient coastal plants that grow partly submerged in salt water and thrive in warmer climates around the world, are considered a cornerstone of coastal environmental development and so have a key role to play in achieving the objectives of the initiative.

Ahmed Almansi, a coastal and marine environment consultant at the National Center for Vegetation Cover and Combating Desertification, told Arab News that mangroves grow along the coasts of the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf.

“This provides an impetus for the center to cultivate more mangroves in these environments,” he added.

According to the center, two types of mangroves commonly grow on the Red Sea coast: Avicennia marina, commonly known as gray or white mangrove, and Rhizophora mucronata, also known as loop-root, red or Asiatic mangrove. They are highly sensitive to cold. 

“Mangroves grow in the form of scattered patches in the intertidal areas of the Red Sea coast and are lower in height in the northern regions,” the center said. “The reason for these differences in height may be the low temperatures that the bushes are exposed to in the northern part of the Red Sea in winter.”

The avicennia marina type of mangroves that grow in the Asir and Jazan regions are the largest found on the Saudi coast, the center said, and “the coastal areas and patches of the Red Sea that contain mangroves in the Kingdom cover an estimated area of about 35,500 hectares.”

There are a number of reasons why mangroves are considered so important to environmental and conservation efforts. They have the ability to absorb pollutants such as heavy metals and other toxic substances from water, which helps to protect seagrass and coral reefs.

FASTFACT

• The trees can protect coastal communities, provide shelter for wildlife, absorb pollution and help to combat climate change.

They also act as natural filters for sewage, preventing pollutants originating on land from reaching deep waters. And the trees help to mitigate the effects of climate change as they can absorb larger amounts of carbon from the atmosphere compared with other tropical trees.

Mangroves also form “green barriers” that serve as a first line of defense for coastal communities, protecting them from damage caused by storms and waves, preventing erosion and helping to stabilize beaches.

“These green barriers absorb at least 70 to 90 percent of wave energy generated by the winds,” said Almansi. “They are also able to reduce the intensity of tsunami waves by mitigating the catastrophic amount of wave energy associated with them, which helps reduce the loss of life and property damage.”

In addition, mangroves act as shelters and incubators for many species of fish, crustaceans and birds, providing them with a good source of nutrition. They provide nesting and resting locations for many types of resident and migratory birds, strong communities of which are considered a biological indicator of ecosystem quality. The National Center for Vegetation Cover and Combating Desertification has identified 125 species that use mangrove habitats at some point in their life cycles.

Land-based animals also benefit from mangrove swamps. They provide pastures for camels on islands in the Red Sea, and provide high-quality nutrition for camels in coastal locations during the winter.

Despite their clear environmental benefits, mangroves are under threat globally from urbanization, encroachment, overgrazing, pollution, the use of fertilizers and pesticides, and the improper disposal of waste. The development of the tourism industry is another significant threat. But efforts are being made in Saudi Arabia to preserve and enhance this precious natural resource.

“The center is planting mangroves to rehabilitate these environments, using 60 cm long seedlings,” Almansi said, adding that nylon nets are used temporarily to protect the young plants, prevent seaweed and waves from damaging them, and encourage strong root growth and stability.


Fun concludes at four of Riyadh Season’s zones

Fun concludes at four of Riyadh Season’s zones
Updated 33 min 46 sec ago

Fun concludes at four of Riyadh Season’s zones

Fun concludes at four of Riyadh Season’s zones
  • The zones — Combat Field, AlSalam Tree, Riyadh Safari and the Old Village — offered a wide range of memorable experiences

JEDDAH: Four zones that have entertained thousands of people from all around the world during Riyadh Season recently concluded their programs of events and activities.

The zones — Combat Field, AlSalam Tree, Riyadh Safari and the Old Village — offered a wide range of memorable experiences.

Events at Combat Field concluded on Jan. 16. It hosted 22 activities, including a thrilling zombie hotel war game, a drone zone and simulated battles. It also featured a museum showcasing a variety of weapons from throughout history.

Riyadh Safari offered something to suit all age groups and proved a particular favorite with the crowds, especially families.

It gave visitors the chance to experience nature up close and personal, including 250 different types of rare birds, wildcats and gazelles in natural habitats.

“I went to the Riyadh Safari about five times with my husband and two daughters,” said Asma Khalid, who added that it is the attraction she will miss it the most.

“My daughters love animals but it depressed me to take them to a zoo as the animals are caged. This safari allowed my children to see animals the way they should be and that is very important to me.”

Events and activities at Al-Salam Tree included stage shows, live music, a farmer’s market, an artificial flower garden, an aviary containing rare and colorful parrots, live cookery shows and shopping booths.

For the more active visitors there was a thrilling zipline activity and bungee trampolines, while those looking for a more relaxing time could enjoy the area’s lush greenery and lake.

“Al-Salam Tree had become a place where I would go to read,” said Hafsa Ayub, a university student. “I would find a quiet a tree and just sit there, especially since the weather has been cold.”

The Old Village, or Qariat Zaman, mixed history with entertainment.

It showcased Arab culture, art and heritage from different eras, including regional classics from the 1960s to 1990s.

The Intel Al-Tayyib theater presented 176 performances by folkloric bands and performers. A variety of live shows were staged each day, including traditional musical performances and Arabic game shows for children.

The zone was like a doorway to the past, giving older generations of Saudis a chance to recall and relive memories of their youth.

While the four zones have now concluded their programs of events for the season, the fun continues until March in other zones.

“I am not too sad to see these places go because a lot of other places are still open, so I am not really out of places to go,” said Omar Uthman, who lives in the capital.


Saudi minister, businesses discuss initiatives to develop health sector

Saudi minister, businesses discuss initiatives to develop health sector
Updated 23 sec ago

Saudi minister, businesses discuss initiatives to develop health sector

Saudi minister, businesses discuss initiatives to develop health sector

RIYADH: Saudi Health Minister Fahad Al-Jalajel on Thursday met with business leaders and representatives of private hospitals in the Kingdom.

During the meeting, they discussed initiatives to develop the health sector and reviewed Ministry of Health projects and plans to improve healthcare services and industry performance levels.

The ministry has been promoting increased investment in the sector through the adoption of international quality standards, while also establishing a business call center, working toward fully automating health licenses, supporting small and medium enterprises, and realizing government electronic integration.

The involvement of the private health sector in the transformation process has been a key part of the Saudi government’s development and integration plans for the country’s public and private health systems.

The private sector has recently worked alongside the government in helping to implement a number of coronavirus pandemic-related preventative programs and initiatives are already in place to strengthen links between public and private hospitals in the Kingdom.