‘We have to be very creative moving forward’ post pandemic, says Princess Lamia of Alwaleed Philanthropies

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Updated 28 June 2021

‘We have to be very creative moving forward’ post pandemic, says Princess Lamia of Alwaleed Philanthropies

‘We have to be very creative moving forward’ post pandemic, says Princess Lamia of Alwaleed Philanthropies
  • Head of Saudi charitable organization says it is time to apply the lessons of COVID-19 humanitarian crisis
  • Appearing on “Frankly Speaking,” Princess Lamia also discussed women’s progress in KSA among other topics

DUBAI: Alwaleed Philanthropies has ridden the wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and is set to accelerate its strategy of “creative philanthropy” as the global recovery gathers pace, according to the woman in charge of the Riyadh-headquartered Saudi charitable organization.
Princess Lamia bint Majed Al-Saud, secretary-general of the 40-year-old organization set up by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, told Arab News that the pandemic had been a demanding time for the organization as it faced extraordinary demands on its resources, but that the time had come to apply the lessons learned during the humanitarian and economic crisis.
“The United Nations came out with a very unique name for doing good in the world, which is ‘creative economy.’ So, you have to be very creative moving forward after the pandemic — how you’re going to reach your beneficiaries, and how you can provide support, and how you can empower and do good in general,” she said.
Her comments came in the course of an interview with “Frankly Speaking,” the series of video interviews with leading policymakers and thinkers in the Middle East and the world.
Princess Lamia, who is regarded as a role model for the empowerment of women in Saudi Arabia under the reforms of the Vision 2030 strategy, also spoke of the progress women have made in the Kingdom, the place of art and culture in the global philanthropy scene, and the need to transcend the “clash of civilizations” approach to relations between the Islamic world and its international neighbors.
Alwaleed Philanthropies responded after the outbreak of the virus last year with a $30 million initiative to provide essential medical goods and services to poorer countries around the world struggling with their pandemic response.
This was on top of Alwaleed Philanthropies’ regular commitment to vaccination programs around the world, and its domestic and international program of medical and humanitarian assistance.




Princess Lamia bint Majed Al-Saud, secretary-general of Alwaleed Philanthropies, is pictured in Riyadh. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj) 


“We actually worked in some countries in Africa, we worked in Iraq, we worked in Syria, we worked in Tunisia, we worked in Yemen. We provided economic support — so, for example in Africa, we collaborated with the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO) to build small factories to produce masks (and improve) sanitation. It was in favor of empowering women and youth,” said Princess Lamia.
“I think the pandemic shows the importance of having a house and to have a roof over your head. All you need to be safe from COVID is only a room and a roof over your head, and that’s why we worked with Habitat (a UN urban organization) in shelters in Yemen, Iraq and Syria.”
This was in addition to Alwaleed Philanthropies’ established collaboration with the World Health Organization, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
“I’d say it was a quite creative initiative that we covered, and we actually reached over 100 million people around the world,” Princess Lamia said.
Alwaleed Philanthropies works in four main areas — community development, empowering women and youth, providing vital disaster relief and bridging cultures — which combined have benefited close to 1 billion people around the world.
One big learning point from the pandemic was the move to online and digital philanthropic support, with projects in Myanmar and at home in Saudi Arabia going online as lockdowns hit.
“Believe it or not, from a money perspective or a budget perspective, it’s much easier and that’s why maybe this year we reached more people,” Princess Lamia said.




Princess Lamia bint Majed Al-Saud, secretary-general of Alwaleed Philanthropies, is pictured in Riyadh. (AN photo by Ziyad Alarfaj) 


Some observers have been concerned that the intense focus on finding and administering a vaccine against the novel coronavirus might divert attention from other global inoculation programs against infectious diseases such as polio, where Alwaleed Philanthropies has played a big role in vaccination programs in developing countries.
Princess Lamia said there had only been a limited effect. “I agree that at Alwaleed Philanthropies, we transferred some of our funds to COVID-19 due to the urgency of the pandemic, but I don’t think it will have an effect in the long run,” she added. “I believe we’re in a good place now, after having the vaccine against COVID and doing much more research.”
She said Prince Alwaleed varied his contribution to the overall budget “if he sees it’s necessary.” Alwaleed Philanthropies works alongside other big global philanthropies such as the Gates Foundation as well as UN agencies, but is not in competition with them, she insisted.
“I wouldn’t say compete. I’d say we learn from each other, the methodology of this foundation, or the core spirit of this foundation. It’s built on partnership, and this is what Prince Alwaleed believes in — partnership,” she said.
Alwaleed Philanthropies’ international connections have direct benefits for its work in Saudi Arabia. “Maybe what differentiates us from a domestic perspective more than any other foundation in Saudi Arabia is that we have the international experience and expertise, and that’s what we’re trying to do in our projects in Saudi Arabia — transferring knowledge from what we did outside,” she said.
One example is the Turquoise Mountain initiative, backed by the UK’s prince of Wales, which seeks to encourage and promote traditional crafts in various parts of the world, including Saudi Arabia, where some 1,000 mainly female artisans are employed in craft workshops producing high-end goods, most recently under the Mizwada brand.
“We’re upscaling their knowledge. We’re taking the crafts from a very modest or very humble craft to a luxury brand,” Princess Lamia said.




Princess Lamia bint Majed Al-Saud, secretary-general of Alwaleed Philanthropies, speaks to Frank Kane. (Screenshot) 


Female empowerment has been one of the main themes of Alwaleed Philanthropies in the Kingdom, and she believes great strides have been made for women in recent years, with the freedom to drive, the relaxation of guardianship laws and greater female employment opportunities.
“I don’t think three or four years ago I’d be sitting and talking with you,” she said, adding that Western media had not given the Kingdom credit for the big advances.
The rise to prominence of a number of women in the Kingdom — such as Princess Reema bint Bandar, Saudi ambassador to Washington, and Sarah Al-Suhaimy, chairperson of the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul) — is further evidence of female empowerment, Princess Lamia said.
Alwaleed Philanthropies is run by a 10-strong team of women appointed by Prince Alwaleed, and it has programs to cultivate the skills necessary for women to enter employment in the private and public sectors.




Secretary-general of Alwaleed Philanthropies Princess Lamia bint Majed Al-Saud. (Screenshot) 


“It was very clearly announced from the government that we want to support women and we want to empower women. I think some of the entities or the companies took it to a next level in which they literally discarded the men, but I believe that we should empower humans,” she said.
One big part of Alwaleed Philanthropies’ work is the effort to promote better understanding between the Islamic world and other belief systems, which has been controversially called a “clash of civilizations.”
Pointing to the global confrontations after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US in 2001, Princess Lamia said: “I believe this clash isn’t that easy to resolve.” She spoke of how Prince Alwaleed — a well-known investor on Wall Street — was in New York at the time of the tragedy, and decided to do something to help ease long-term tensions.
“That’s why we collaborated with six of the most prominent, I’d say important, universities around the world. We actually created centers for research and promotion of tolerance and understanding,” she said.
There are now Alwaleed centers in six of the most prestigious universities in the US, Europe and the Middle East, part of what she called a “soft power” initiative to reconcile misunderstanding between people of different faiths around the world.
The other angle is Alwaleed Philanthropies’ promotion of art and culture as a bridge between religions. It has established partnerships with the Louvre in Paris and the Pergamon Museum in Berlin to showcase works of Islamic art, but with a universal message.
“That’s how you create awareness of how Islamic cultures were — leaning toward art and beauty,” Princess Lamia said.
Twitter: @frankkanedubai


Nabd Al-Riyadh shows the present Kingdom on the walls of past

Nabd Al-Riyadh shows the present Kingdom on the walls of past
Updated 6 min 21 sec ago

Nabd Al-Riyadh shows the present Kingdom on the walls of past

Nabd Al-Riyadh shows the present Kingdom on the walls of past
  • Nabd Al-Riyadh, which means the pulse of the capital, presents the rich past of the Kingdom since its foundation through more than 400 storytelling visual presentations

RIYADH: Nabd Al-Riyadh, one of Riyadh Season’s 14 zones, opened its doors for visitors this week to take them on a visually enhanced journey to explore the history, heritage and culture of Saudi Arabia.

The zone, which is free, was a popular feature of Riyadh Season when it first appeared in 2019. This year it has been given an extra touch of music and shows from all around the world to accompany the Saudi folklore and keep the visitors entertained.

Nabd Al-Riyadh, which means the pulse of the capital, presents the rich past of the Kingdom since its foundation through more than 400 storytelling visual presentations. The zone perfectly embodies Saudi cultural traditions and heritage with an artistic simulation of its history projected on the walls of Masmak Palace.

Abdulhameed Fouzi, a visitor from Tabuk, said that Masmak Palace “is one of the places I really wanted to visit and see in person.”

“Masmak Palace is often where the people pledged allegiance to their kings. This is where everything used to happen in the past,” said Rana Al-Wakeel, another visitor.

The zone offers entertainment for individuals, families, and children with musical performances and art shows that will continue until mid-January 2022.

The events at Nabd Al-Riyadh include the Safat Square, which has sand painting, Rubik’s square painting, “3D” street art, glitter art and theatrical and musical performances, as well as the Safat Caffe, which serves traditional drinks and sweets.

The Al-Masmak Square area includes artistic, theatrical, and interactive performances, while the Nabd Al-Riyadh theatre features more than 30 Saudi and international bands, orchestras and singers.


Probe launched after Saudi Arabia records first omicron variant case

Probe launched after Saudi Arabia records first omicron variant case
Updated 6 min 8 sec ago

Probe launched after Saudi Arabia records first omicron variant case

Probe launched after Saudi Arabia records first omicron variant case
  • At this stage, prevention is better than cure and standard precautions must continue to be practiced, says Health Ministry spokesman

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has launched a health probe after reporting the country’s first positive case of the omicron COVID-19 variant.

The Kingdom joined more than 21 other nations in recording an omicron infection after a Saudi national who flew in on a passenger plane from a north African country tested positive.

The individual was placed in isolation, along with a number of other people they had been in contact with, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

“An epidemiological investigation has started, and the case was sent to quarantine, where accredited health procedures were followed,” the SPA report said.

During a specially convened Saudi Ministry of Health press conference, ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said there was still much to learn about the new variant and warned against spreading false information about it.

“Health experts across the world and the Kingdom are closely monitoring the situation and more research needs to be done to determine its lethality. At this stage, prevention is better than the cure and standard precautions must continue to be practiced,” he added.

Dr. Abdullah Algaissi, a virologist and assistant professor at Jazan University’s college of medical sciences, recently told Arab News: “Based on what we know from the genetic sequencing, we don’t have information that could tell us if these mutations will make the virus more lethal, more transmissible, if it will impact the immune response either after infection or vaccination. As of now, we don’t know.”

Al-Aly pointed out the importance of people completing vaccination programs and recommended that anyone who had gone six months since having their second jab should receive a booster, especially those aged over 65.

HIGHLIGHT

Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly urged people to keep a check on their health status via the ministry approved Tawakkalna app, to self-isolate where necessary, and continue to follow precautionary measures brought in at the start of the pandemic.

Health officials have said that third doses offer increased protection against COVID-19 and can prevent infection or milder illness with symptoms.

According to the US CDC, data from clinical trials showed that a booster shot increased the immune response in trial participants who finished a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna primary series six months earlier or who received a Johnson and Johnson/Janssen single-dose vaccine two months earlier.

With an increased immune response, people should have improved protection against COVID-19, including the delta variant. For Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson and Johnson/Janssen, clinical trials also revealed that a booster jab helped prevent COVID-19 with symptoms.

To date, more than 47.4 million vaccine doses have been administered in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Aly urged people to keep a check on their health status via the ministry-approved Tawakkalna app, to self-isolate where necessary, and continue to follow precautionary measures brought in at the start of the pandemic.

“Masks continue to be a very important protective measure against any infection,” he added.

Health officials are stationed at the Kingdom’s ports to check the temperatures of arriving passengers.

News of the omicron case came as Saudi Arabia lifted a ban on direct travel from India, Egypt, Pakistan, Brazil, Vietnam, and Indonesia although arrivals would need to enter institutional quarantine for five days.

On Wednesday, the Kingdom reported 34 new COVID-19 cases and 26 recoveries. One death was recorded, and 39 patients remained in critical condition.


DiplomaticQuarter: Angola opens embassy in Riyadh to strengthen bilateral ties

DiplomaticQuarter: Angola opens embassy in Riyadh to strengthen bilateral ties
Updated 13 sec ago

DiplomaticQuarter: Angola opens embassy in Riyadh to strengthen bilateral ties

DiplomaticQuarter: Angola opens embassy in Riyadh to strengthen bilateral ties
  • Bilateral relations between the Kingdom and Angola began in 2007

RIYADH: The Southern African country Angola has recently opened its embassy in Riyadh with the aim of enhancing bilateral cooperation with Saudi Arabia.

Speaking to Arab News, Angolan Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Frederico Manuel dos Santos e Silva Cardoso said: “For us, it is a very important moment because being here will allow us to better know the Kingdom and its people, administration and businesspersons. This will help in strengthening our bilateral relations.

“Familiarity with the situation here will help boost trade relations between the two sides.”

The ambassador added: “Both Saudi Arabia and Angola are OPEC member states. Our principal relation is that of consultation within the OPEC forum, taking the most important decisions about oil commerce.”

The envoy said that the opening of the diplomatic missions in Riyadh will boost the OPEC partnership between the two countries.

“There are a lot of areas in which both countries could work together. We have a very high potential in agriculture, and we could work together in this area in order to have a mix of investments in both countries,” he added.

The envoy said that Saudi Arabia is also going to open its embassy in Angola soon. Currently, the ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Zambia is also in charge of Angola.

Bilateral relations between the Kingdom and Angola began in 2007 and were reinforced in 2019 with the visit of a high-level delegation from Saudi Arabia to the Southern African nation.

In January of this year, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan held a meeting with his Angolan counterpart, Tete Antonio, during which they reviewed their relations and ways to develop them across various fields.

The opening ceremony of the embassy was attended by a number of Saudi officials and diplomats from embassies in Riyadh.

In his welcome remarks, the Angolan ambassador thanked guests for attending this important occasion and “the Saudi authorities for the warm reception.” He described the opening of the embassy as a significant step toward strengthening the relationship between the two countries and creating an environment in which Angola’s culture and willingness to establish enduring ties with the Kingdom are made known.


KSrelief sends 40 tons of liquid oxygen to Tunisia

KSrelief sends 40 tons of liquid oxygen to Tunisia
Updated 01 December 2021

KSrelief sends 40 tons of liquid oxygen to Tunisia

KSrelief sends 40 tons of liquid oxygen to Tunisia
  • Tunisian Health Minister Ali Mrabet noted that this assistance comes at a critical time when the world is preparing for a new health crisis with the spread of the omicron variant of the virus
  • Saudi Ambassador to Tunisia Dr. Abdul Aziz bin Ali Al-Saqr said that the assistance embodies the deep-rooted fraternal ties that exist between the two countries

TUNIS: Following a directive from King Salman, KSrelief has sent a shipment of medical aid to Tunisia, including 40 tons of liquid oxygen, part of an eventual supply of 200 tons, to assist the Tunisian medical sector in combating the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Tunisian Health Minister Ali Mrabet and Saudi Ambassador to Tunisia Dr. Abdul Aziz bin Ali Al-Saqr were among those officials present to receive the aid.

The Tunisian health minister expressed his appreciation and gratitude for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s medical assistance.

Mrabet noted that this assistance comes at a critical time when the world is preparing for a new health crisis with the spread of the omicron variant of the virus.

For his part, Al-Saqr said that the assistance embodies the deep-rooted fraternal ties that exist between the two countries.


King Abdulaziz Royal Reserve reveals its treasures at falconry festival

King Abdulaziz Royal Reserve reveals its treasures at falconry festival
Updated 21 min 48 sec ago

King Abdulaziz Royal Reserve reveals its treasures at falconry festival

King Abdulaziz Royal Reserve reveals its treasures at falconry festival
  • The reserve is known for its broad geographical scope, which includes Al-Tanhat, Al-Khafs, Noura parks, and parts of the Al-Summan plateau and the Al-Dahna desert, covering approximately 28,000 sq. km

RIYADH: King Abdulaziz Royal Reserve has opened its doors to reveal its treasures to visitors at the King Abdulaziz Falconry Festival.

The festival, held at the headquarters of the Saudi Falcons Club in Mulham, north of Riyadh, is running until Dec. 16.

The reserve is known for its broad geographical scope, which includes Al-Tanhat, Al-Khafs, Noura parks, and parts of the Al-Summan plateau and the Al-Dahna desert, covering approximately 28,000 sq. km. 

The wild animals and birds include the steppe eagle, the griffon vulture, the Arabian oryx, the goitered gazelle, the Arabian wolf, the sand cat, the Arabian red fox, honey badger, and porcupines.

The King Abdulaziz Royal Reserve hosts ample vegetation, such as perennial ruminant, wild sidr, bitter melon, acacia, ragweed, grass, buttercup, lavender, star anthracnose, which is famous in Chinese medicine, and the thorny ladder tree that can reach up to five meters in height.

The reserve is also known for its topography, sites, and parks for visitors to the King Abdulaziz Falconry Festival, including the Al-Dahna Desert, famed for its dunes, the Al-Summan plateau east of the Najd Plateau, and Rawdat Al-Tanhat, known as the King’s Forest known due to its lush and fertile land.

The reserve also includes Qalta rock formations — also known as the Qalta Umm Qalidah — east of Tamir. It is characterized by natural carvings that have become waterfalls, which look like natural pools amid the eroded rocks.

The fourth day of the festival showed fierce competition between falcons in the speed category. In the first round, the first-place winner in the 400-meter run came in at a speed of 19.125 seconds, second place followed closely with 19.224 seconds, while the third place hit 19.261 seconds.

Winner of first place in the second round went to a falcon that crossed the 400-meter run at a speed of 18.650 seconds. Second place went to a time of 18.671 seconds, with third place going to a time difference of no more than 0.2 seconds.

The festival allocated financial prizes of about SR25 million ($6.66 million) to the winners of the Al-Milwah and Al-Mazayen competitions, and for the champion of the King Abdulaziz Cup.