Muslim World League hosts ‘Declaration of Peace in Afghanistan’

Muslim World League hosts ‘Declaration of Peace in Afghanistan’
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Updated 10 June 2021

Muslim World League hosts ‘Declaration of Peace in Afghanistan’

Muslim World League hosts ‘Declaration of Peace in Afghanistan’
  • Scholars of Afghanistan and Pakistan meet to discuss reconciliation and peace

The Muslim World League hosted on Thursday in Makkah, the conference “Declaration of Peace in Afghanistan”, with scholars of Afghanistan and Pakistan to discuss achieving reconciliation between the warring factions, under the auspices of Saudi Arabia.

The conference includes five sessions, in which more than 20 key speakers from senior scholars will speak on; peace, tolerance, moderation and reconciliation in Islam.

The opening session will be attended by Sheikh Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, Secretary-General of the Muslim World League, President of the Association of Muslim Scholars, Sheikh Dr. Noor Al-Haq Qadri, Minister of Islamic Affairs and Tolerance of Religions in the Republic of Pakistan, and Sheikh Muhammad Qasim Halimi, Minister of Hajj, Endowments and Guidance in the Republic of Afghanistan.

Senior scholars of the two countries will also attend this session, Ambassador Lt. Gen. Bilal Akbar, Ambassador of the Republic of Pakistan to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ambassador Ahmed Javed Mojadidi, Ambassador of the Republic of Afghanistan to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Ambassador Rizwan Saeed Sheikh, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Pakistan to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and Ambassador Dr. Shafiq Samim, Permanent Representative The Republic of Afghanistan to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.


India holds vaccination drive for people with disabilities

India holds vaccination drive for people with disabilities
Updated 35 sec ago

India holds vaccination drive for people with disabilities

India holds vaccination drive for people with disabilities
AHMEDABAD: Authorities in an Indian city have organized a special drive-through vaccination camp for disabled people in a bid to address low vaccination rates, especially among more vulnerable members of society.
Organizers of the weekend campaign in Ahmedabad, the biggest city in Gujarat state, aim to vaccinate 500 disabled people, who often struggle to book slots and get access to vaccination centers.
People taking advantage of the offer queued up at the center in vehicles, wheelchairs, and on customised mopeds for their free COVID-19 vaccine shots.
“The vaccination process is now more convenient,” said Mahendra Chudasma, a 45-year-old man who is visually impaired.
“It’s a very nice feeling.”
Despite being a major producer of coronavirus vaccines, India faces a huge task in inoculating its 1.3 billion people, partly due to the logistical difficulties of reaching remote areas and also skepticism about the shots.
People with disabilities often face additional problems of being unable to reach vaccination sites due to a lack of transport or no ramps at the centers for easy access, said Bhushan Punani, general secretary of the Blind People’s Association in Ahmedabad, one of the organizers of the campaign.
Some people have struggled to use a government-mandated smartphone app required to register for shots, he added.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has said it aims to vaccinate all eligible and willing Indians by the end of this year, but only 240 million of the country’s 950 million adults have had at least one shot, according to health data.
India was hit hard by a surge of coronavirus infections in April and May but there are signs the worst could be over.
Authorities on Sunday reported 80,834 new COVID-19 infections over the previous 24 hours, the lowest daily tally in more than two months, according to health ministry data.
There were 3,303 deaths over the same period.

Ma’aden awards $880m gold mining contract

Ma’aden awards $880m gold mining contract
Updated 2 min 59 sec ago

Ma’aden awards $880m gold mining contract

Ma’aden awards $880m gold mining contract
  • Saudi mining company also announced completion of pre-operational stage on $900m ammonia plant

RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian Mining Company (Ma’aden) has awarded a new $880 million contract at its Mansourah-Massarah gold mines, marking the company’s largest-ever investment in the gold sector.

The agreement was signed for Jac Rijk Al-Rushaid Contracting and Services Company to provide operational mining services at the gold mines. The range of services will include drilling, scaling, loading, hauling, re-handling, ore control, dewatering, crusher feed, and all related production activities at the mines.

It is forecast that the Mansourah-Massarah site will reach full production capacity by 2023 and will represent one-quarter of Ma’aden’s goal to produce 1 million ounces of gold per year by 2025.

The Mansourah-Massarah site is one of six mines in Ma’aden’s portfolio and is part of the company’s bid to boost local production. Gold currently accounts for around 20 percent of Ma’aden’s revenues.

Ma’aden on Sunday also announced the completion of the pre-operational stage at its third ammonia plant in Ras Al-Khair Industrial City. The $900 million project is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2021 and will start operations in the first quarter of 2022, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The ammonia plant is the first project as part of Ma’aden’s $6.4 billion Phosphate 3 expansion plan, which aims to add 3 million tonnes of phosphate fertilizer production capacity to Ma’aden’s portfolio. This will bring Ma’aden’s total production capacity of more than 9 million tonnes and make it one of the top three global phosphate fertilizer producers in the world.

Ma’aden CEO Abdul Aziz Al-Harbi said in a press statement: “This is a tremendous milestone for our phosphate portfolio. The ammonia plant expansion will add over 1 million tonnes of ammonia production to reach 3.3 million tonnes, making Ma’aden one of the largest ammonia producers east of the Suez Canal.”

Ma’aden in April reported a net profit after zakat and tax of SR 761.2 million ($202.99 million) in the first quarter of 2021, compared to a net loss of SR 353.3 million in the first quarter of 2020.

The Kingdom’s Ministry of Energy has estimated its untapped mineral resources to be worth about SR 5 trillion. Under Vision 2030, the government is aiming to triple the mining and metals sector’s contribution to gross domestic product and create 200,000 jobs directly and indirectly by 2030.

“Saudi Arabia has vast under-explored territories compared with other world-class mining countries. Ma’aden’s goal is to capitalize on that to become one of the world’s top mining companies, and we are making great strides in achieving this goal,” Mosaed Al-Ohali, former CEO of Ma’aden, told Arab News in October 2020.

“The increase in exploration spending is focused on brownfield drilling, assessment of potential greenfield targets and continued drilling at many prospective locations to maintain healthy ore reserves. We are working on two more gold mines that we expect to bring on stream around the middle of the decade,” he added.

On Friday, gold prices slipped slightly, down 1.2 percent to $1,875.31 per ounce, while US gold futures were 0.9 percent lower at $1,879.6.


Lebanon currency drops to new low as financial meltdown deepens

Lebanon currency drops to new low as financial meltdown deepens
Updated 9 min 54 sec ago

Lebanon currency drops to new low as financial meltdown deepens

Lebanon currency drops to new low as financial meltdown deepens
  • Lebanon is in the throes of a deep economic meltdown that is threatening its stability

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s currency crashed past a milestone on Sunday reaching a new low against the dollar, as the country’s financial meltdown and political deadlock linger.
Market dealers said the Lebanese pound was trading at around 15,150 to the dollar, losing around 90 percent of what it was worth in late 2019, when Lebanon’s economic and financial crisis erupted.
Lebanon is in the throes of a deep economic meltdown that is threatening its stability. The World Bank has called it one of the deepest depressions of modern history.
The last time the pound hit a low of 15,000 in March protesters took to the streets across Lebanon for over a week, blocking roads by burning tires.
Foreign reserves, used to fund a subsidy program for basic goods including fuel, medicine and wheat, are running out and shortages have been worsening across the board in recent weeks.
Some hospitals are ruling out elective procedures and only performing emergency surgeries to ration what is left of medical supplies. Most pharmacies staged a two day strike this week as medications run out and hours long car queues for gasoline have frustrated motorists causing squabbles.
The financial collapse is taking place against a backdrop of fractious politicians bickering over cabinet formation.
Prime Minister-designate Salad Al-Hariri has been at loggerheads with President Michel Aon over naming ministers since his designation in October. The former government has continued in a caretaker capacity after having resigned in the aftermath of the Aug. 4 Beirut port blast.
Depositors, locked out of their dollar accounts since last year, have been promised some access starting July, with each customer getting $400 in cash and an equivalent in Lebanese pounds at a rate close to market value.
But the International Monetary Fund on Thursday criticized Lebanon’s proposal for dollar deposit withdrawals and a capital control law yet to be approved by parliament saying both measures would only be meaningful as part of broader reforms.


UK firm creates monitor that detects COVID-19 in 15 minutes

UK firm creates monitor that detects COVID-19 in 15 minutes
Updated 17 min 39 sec ago

UK firm creates monitor that detects COVID-19 in 15 minutes

UK firm creates monitor that detects COVID-19 in 15 minutes
  • Ceiling-mounted gadget 98-100% accurate after early rounds of testing
  • ‘Covid alarm’ can even detect virus in asymptomatic people

LONDON: A team of British scientists has created a monitor that can detect COVID-19 infections in a room within 15 minutes.

The ceiling-mounted “Covid alarm,” created by Cambridge-based developer Roboscientific, detects chemicals secreted by the skin or found on the breath of people with the virus called “volatile organic compounds,” which scientists at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Durham University said creates an “odor fingerprint” that could be identified by the device with 98-100 percent accuracy.

The scientists, whose work has yet to be peer-reviewed, stressed that more studies are needed, but initial analysis from 54 samples has been enough to prompt funding interest in further testing from the UK Department of Health and Social Care.

The monitor can apparently differentiate between COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases, and can even detect the virus accurately in asymptomatic people, making it even more accurate than polymerase chain reaction tests.

The breakthrough could prove invaluable in the future of testing for COVID-19, and with modification, for other diseases as well.

The device can be installed in all sorts of environments, from schools to hospitals and aircraft cabins, and can send results instantly to computers and mobile phones.

At £5,000 ($7,050) per monitor, it may also prove more economically viable than frequent disposable testing.

Prof. James Logan, head of the Department of Disease Control at LSHTM, said trials could be completed by the end of 2021.

“The fact that devices already exist that we can use will really speed this up. These results are really promising, and demonstrate the potential for using this technology as a rapid, non-invasive test with incredible accuracy,” he added.

“If these devices are successfully developed for use in public places, they could be affordably and easily scaled up.”

Roboscientific, which is also developing a handheld monitor for use on individuals and with a results turnaround time of just two minutes, first developed the technology six years ago to detect infections in farm animals.

It proved so accurate that it was able to detect single cases of salmonella or campylobacter in chicken barns of up to 50,000 birds.


Former Jordan royal court chief faces trial over destabilization plot

Former Jordan royal court chief faces trial over destabilization plot
Updated 42 min 46 sec ago

Former Jordan royal court chief faces trial over destabilization plot

Former Jordan royal court chief faces trial over destabilization plot

CAIRO: Jordan's military court will start the trial next week of former royal court chief Bassem Awadallah and Sherif Hassan Zaid Hussein on charges of agitating to destabilise the monarchy, state media said on Sunday.

Prosecutors last week referred to court the defendants case. They were arrested in early April over allegations they had liaised with foreign parties over a plot to destabilise Jordan.