Inside the corridors of Mawhiba, Saudi Arabia’s foundation for creativity

Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2021 targeted innovative high school senior students, who were called on to create science projects based on their research. (Shutterstock)
Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2021 targeted innovative high school senior students, who were called on to create science projects based on their research. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 18 June 2021

Inside the corridors of Mawhiba, Saudi Arabia’s foundation for creativity

Inside the corridors of Mawhiba, Saudi Arabia’s foundation for creativity
  • Innovative Saudi youngsters take home top prizes at international science and engineering fair

JEDDAH: Despite all the challenges the world has been facing over the past year, King Abdul Aziz and his Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity (Mawhiba) has managed to embrace 30 outstanding Saudi students to represent the Kingdom in the world’s largest science competition, Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) 2021.

ISEF was held virtually in the US in May, and more than 1,800 students from 70 countries participated.

The science fair targeted innovative high school senior students, who were called on to create science projects based on their research.

The winners of this year were announced on May 20-21. The Kingdom was lucky to take home grand prizes for the first top four winners, who came in second, third and fourth places. The prizes varied, with some winners receiving cash and top university scholarships, while others had their projects adopted by major international and local companies.

SPEEDREAD

Regeneron ISEF 2021 was held virtually in the US.

The Kingdom competed with 30 scientific projects by 30 students from various educational departments, representing the Saudi national team.

The Saudi national team won second, third and fourth place.

All the winning projects contribute to the Kingdom Vision 2030.

Since 2007, Mawhiba has helped the Kingdom achieve 83 ISEF awards.

Winners were announced by the US jury, who based their decisions on elements including creativity, presentation skills, ability to answer deep questions related to the projects, and confidence.

Arab News spoke with the winners to learn more about their projects, inspirations, dreams and more.

 

Saudi Arabia’s winners:

Mansour Al-Marzouqi, second-place winner

Mansour Al-Marzouqi won the second-place grand international prize in the field of Energy: Materials and Sustainable Design for his project “Advanced Synthesis of Potent Photocapacitor Based on Novel 3D-Hierarchical BiVO4 and Self-Synthesized Carbon” — in other words: “Designing a Super-Capacitor that Charges Itself with Light.”

Using locally abundant elements including carbon from date palm leaves and semiconductors such as bismuth and vanadium, Al-Marzouqi’s project was inspired by renewable energy and was endorsed by his professor from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.

“I fabricated an energy storage device, known as a super-capacitor, that could charge itself under light exposure only. Yet, I greatly increased the electrochemical performance of the device, which allowed it to function as a battery, a capacitor and a solar cell all at once,” he told Arab News.

He added: “Winning in such a competition has been a dream of mine. I felt a huge surge of happiness, gratitude, pride, accomplishment and honor. Winning in Regeneron ISEF is a very tough benchmark, especially due to the extremely high competition.”

Al-Marzouqi hopes that his invention will serve as a “virtue to society,” advancing knowledge and limiting the demand on energy.

“The application of such projects is broad. Supplying enough energy to people is a difficult task, and my project is a great way to address this issue,” the student added.

He is looking forward to proposing the idea to distinguished institutions such as Saudi Aramco, the Ministry of Energy, NEOM, and the Saudi Electricity Company.

“I feel it is my duty to apply impactful projects like this one here in my country,” he said.

 

Rasha Al-Qahtani, third-place winner

Rasha Al-Qahtani from Riyadh is the third place winner in the field of social and behavioral sciences for her project “An innovative video game feature for the psychological diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder in adolescence.”

“I created a novel feature that can be applied to video games to help diagnose generalized anxiety disorder in adolescence by displaying decisions for the player to choose from while playing,” she told Arab News. “This approach is the first of its kind.”

Al-Qahtani praised Mawhiba and her parents for their support throughout her nine-year educational journey and expressed how honored she was with this accomplishment.

“I feel  honored to have received this appreciation for my research at one of the most challenging science fairs,” she added. “I am proud to represent my beloved country and prove that we symbolize Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s quote when he said: ‘Our ambition is sky-high.’”

 

Arwa Niazi , fourth-place winner

Arwa Niazi from Dhahran, in the Eastern Province, has been part of Mawhiba since she was in the sixth grade. She received the fourth-place award in the field of material science for her project, “Fabrication of self-charging super-capacitor using laser-assisted self-synthesized carbon quantum dots,” or more simply, “Manufacturing a super-capacitor that responds to the sun using quantum carbon dots.”

“Many researchers have previously tried to create the device that I worked on, but the problem was in the toxic materials applied,” she told Arab News. “With my device, however, I worked on making it 100 percent environmentally friendly.”

She added: “During the pandemic, Mawhiba did a lot to help us participate in this competition. My school provided me with mentors, labs and all the materials I needed, and I am so happy to make my country, family and school proud.”

She expressed how thrilled she was to be among the top four winners and how winning will define her path in future studies.

“Winning feels amazing, and I’m proud that my hard work has paid off,” she said.

Niazi’s application to the University of Wisconsin-Madison has been accepted, and she is currently waiting for a scholarship to support her. She hopes to join King Abdullah University for Science and Technology’s Gifted Student Program or Saudi Aramco’s 10-month College Preparatory Program.

She is also considering being part of the first batch of female students to join King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals. In a historic announcement, the university in Dhahran announced that it would start admitting female students for the first time in the 2021/2022 academic year. The university, established in 1963 by a royal decree as the College of Petroleum and Minerals, is widely renowned for its strong science, engineering, business and management programs. It is ranked fourth in the top 100 worldwide universities granted US utility patents in 2018.


OIC slams attempted Houthi attack on southern Saudi city

OIC slams attempted Houthi attack on southern Saudi city
Updated 06 August 2021

OIC slams attempted Houthi attack on southern Saudi city

OIC slams attempted Houthi attack on southern Saudi city

JEDDAH: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Thursday condemned the Iran-backed Houthi militia’s targeting of civilians in the Saudi city of Khamis Mushayt.

The Arab coalition said on Wednesday that a drone targeted the southern city in the Kingdom.

OIC Secretary-General Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen praised the Saudi-backed coalition and its support for Yemen’s internationally recognized government to deal with terrorism in line with international humanitarian law.

He reiterated the OIC’s solidarity and support for Saudi Arabia in all measures it takes to preserve its security, stability and the safety of its citizens and residents. 

The UAE and Bahrain also condemned and denounced the Houthi attempts to attack civilians and infrastructure.

The UAE urged the international community to take an “immediate and decisive stance” to “stop the recurrent acts,” which target vital and civilian installations and the security and stability of the Kingdom.

Bahrain also called on the international community to condemn terrorism that threatens the region.


‘Delta plus’ variant seen in South Korea ‘is not new’: Saudi expert

‘Delta plus’ variant seen in South Korea ‘is not new’: Saudi expert
Updated 06 August 2021

‘Delta plus’ variant seen in South Korea ‘is not new’: Saudi expert

‘Delta plus’ variant seen in South Korea ‘is not new’: Saudi expert
  • 102 quarantine violators arrested in Makkah region; 986 new cases reported

JEDDAH: The COVID-19 delta plus variant, detected in two South Korean cases on Tuesday, is “not new and has been detected in India for months,” a Saudi infectious disease expert has said.

“Delta plus was previously detected in the EU since March and in India for months,” said Ahmed Al-Hakawi, who is also a hospital epidemiologist in Riyadh.

South Korea reported its first two cases of the variant earlier this week, with overall COVID-19 cases in the country rising sharply.

Al-Hakawi said that the new form of COVID-19 “differs slightly from the delta variant through the presence of the K417N mutation that was previously detected in the beta mutant.”

He added that the delta plus designation has yet to be approved by medical authorities, and that there is no evidence to suggest that is is more virulent than the original delta variant.

Meanwhile, a total of 102 people in the Makkah region have been arrested for failing to adhere to quarantine regulations after testing positive for COVID-19.

The media spokesman for local police said that preliminary legal procedures were taken against the individuals and their cases were referred to the relevant authorities.

INNUMBERS

530,981 - Total coronavirus cases in Saudi Arabia

512,373 - Total number of recoveries

8,297 - Total number of deaths from COVID-19

Those breaking the Kingdom’s COVID-19 regulations could face fines of up to SR200,000 ($53,000), a maximum of two years in prison, or both. The penalty is doubled for repeated violations.

Non-Saudis found to have breached quarantine rules run the risk of being deported and permanently banned from the country.

Saudi Arabia on Thursday reported 13 more COVID-19-related deaths, bringing the Kingdom’s death toll over the course of the pandemic to 8,297.

There were 986 new cases, meaning that 530,981 people have now contracted the disease. A total of 10,311 cases remained active, of which 1,424 were in critical condition.

Of the newly recorded cases, 189 were in the Makkah region, 177 in the Riyadh region, 162 in the Eastern Province and 55 in Madinah region.

In addition, the Saudi Ministry of Health said that 1,055 patients had recovered from the disease, increasing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 512,373.

The region with the highest number of recoveries was Riyadh with 262. It was followed by the Eastern Province with 194 and Makkah with 151.

Saudi Arabia has so far conducted 25,549,087 PCR tests, with 105,537 carried out in the past 24 hours.

Testing hubs and treatment centers set up throughout the country have dealt with hundreds of thousands of people since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among them, Taakad (make sure) centers provide COVID-19 testing for those who show no or only mild symptoms or believe they have come into contact with an infected individual, while Tetamman (rest assured) clinics offer treatment and advice to those with virus symptoms such as fever, loss of taste and smell, and breathing difficulties.

Appointments for either service can be made via the ministry’s Sehhaty app.

Meanwhile, 28,829,305 people in the Kingdom have now received a COVID-19 vaccine, including 1,501,805 elderly people. About 56.35 percent of the population have received the first dose, while 26.4 percent have completed both doses. At this rate, 70 percent of the population is expected to have completed both doses by Sept. 29 this year.


Islamic principles should form basis of tackling global post-pandemic human rights crises: OIC commission

Islamic principles should form basis of tackling global  post-pandemic human rights crises: OIC commission
Updated 06 August 2021

Islamic principles should form basis of tackling global post-pandemic human rights crises: OIC commission

Islamic principles should form basis of tackling global  post-pandemic human rights crises: OIC commission

JEDDAH: Universal Islamic principles should be used as the basis for tackling world human rights issues in the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, a leading inter-governmental Muslim organization has recommended.

During a meeting to coincide with the 10th anniversary of world Islamic Human Rights and Human Dignity Day, members of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s (OIC) Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission (IPHRC) called upon member states to adopt the approach in joint efforts to address post-pandemic global challenges.

Commission delegates pointed out that millions of people in countries around the world continued to face indignities including foreign occupation and oppression, hunger, preventable diseases, limited socioeconomic opportunities, and lack of access to basic needs, all of which seriously undermined their fundamental human rights.

The IPHRC gathering noted that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic had only compounded the existing global human rights situation such as by doubling the number of people facing food crises, and children losing access to basic education and health services.

HIGHLIGHT

IPHRC members recommended that all states should cooperate with their political, religious, and community leaders to promote a better understanding of universal human rights values, collectively deal with the underlying causes of racism and religious intolerance, including islamophobia, and ensure the maintenance of international peace and security.

Members highlighted a growing incidence of cases of hate speech, xenophobia, and racial and religious discrimination, issues they said were driving a wedge through multicultural societies and threatening global peace and security.

While stressing that the conceptual foundation of human rights in Islam placed a strong emphasis on the inherent dignity of human beings and their equality before the law, in harmony with universal human rights principles, the commission urged member countries to work alongside regional and international stakeholders to devise practical human rights-based, people-centered policies to help improve lives.

It also made an appeal for the international community to reinforce respect for diversity, multiculturalism, democracy, and the rule of law, which were at the core of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

IPHRC members recommended that all states should cooperate with their political, religious, and community leaders to promote a better understanding of universal human rights values, collectively deal with the underlying causes of racism and religious intolerance, including islamophobia, and ensure the maintenance of international peace and security.

Welcoming the continued and growing importance placed on human rights issues within the OIC, the commission hailed the adoption of a revised version of the organization’s Cairo Declaration on Human Rights, which it said had helped to bridge the perceptional and legal gaps between the compatibility of universal human rights and Islamic laws.

An ongoing revision of the OIC Covenant on the Rights of the Child in Islam was also applauded as a route to further strengthening the organization’s normative and institutional human rights architecture.


KSrelief sends medical aid to Jamaica in fight against COVID-19

KSrelief sends medical aid to Jamaica in fight against COVID-19
Updated 06 August 2021

KSrelief sends medical aid to Jamaica in fight against COVID-19

KSrelief sends medical aid to Jamaica in fight against COVID-19

KINGSTON, Jamaica: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) has delivered medical and preventive supplies to Jamaica in a bid to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

On behalf of KSrelief, the medical aid was handed over by Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Cuba Faisal bin Falah Al-Harbi.

The aid comes as an extension of the Kingdom’s humanitarian efforts through KSrelief. It also follows the directives of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Since its inception in May 2015, KSrelief has implemented 1,686 projects worth more than $5.33 billion in 69 countries around the world. The initiatives were carried out in cooperation with 144 local, regional and international partners.

According to a recent KSrelief report, the countries and territories that benefited the most from the center’s various projects were Yemen ($3.8 billion), Palestine ($365 million), Syria ($307 million) and Somalia ($206 million).


Who’s Who: Othman Gazzaz, media affairs chief at Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah

Who’s Who: Othman Gazzaz, media affairs chief at Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah
Updated 06 August 2021

Who’s Who: Othman Gazzaz, media affairs chief at Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah

Who’s Who: Othman Gazzaz, media affairs chief at Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah

Othman Gazzaz heads the research and media affairs department of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Institute for Hajj and Umrah Research at Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah.

Gazzaz holds a bachelor’s degree in media from Umm Al-Qura University. He also received a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in media from the University of Leicester in England.

He published a number of scientific journals such as “The extent of pilgrims and Umrah performers’ reliance on the mobile exhibition using hologram technology to obtain information during the performance of the rituals” in the International Journal of Customer Relationship Marketing and Management earlier this year.

In 2015, Gazzaz published two articles in the Journal of Public Relations Research Middle East titled “Exposure to digital signage and message recall: Determining the effectiveness of the billboard outside the Prophet’s (PBUH) Mosque at Madinah Al-Munawwarah” and “Pilgrim problems and their communication patterns in the Hajj 1434 (H): A study of the communicative ecology of the pilgrim community from Egypt.”

At a conference in Langkawi, Malaysia in 2014, he presented his research “Communicative ecology of sojourners from Pakistan and its implications for public service campaigns.”

The academic also tackled sensitive issues in his research “Responding to the Western satellite TV’s image of Islam and Muslims: Theory & research-based policy challenges.”

Gazzaz was a member of the Association for Social Awareness and Rehabilitation between February 2016 and 2017, and the Association of Neighborhood Centers in Makkah between February 2016 and 2019.