Combating stigma, discrimination at heart of KSA’s fight to eradicate AIDS: Envoy

Saudi UN envoy Abdullah Al-Mouallimi highlighted the Kingdom’s National AIDS Control Program, which was established in 1994. (UN Photo/File Photo)
Saudi UN envoy Abdullah Al-Mouallimi highlighted the Kingdom’s National AIDS Control Program, which was established in 1994. (UN Photo/File Photo)
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Updated 09 July 2021

Combating stigma, discrimination at heart of KSA’s fight to eradicate AIDS: Envoy

Saudi UN envoy Abdullah Al-Mouallimi highlighted the Kingdom’s National AIDS Control Program, which was established in 1994. (UN Photo/File Photo)
  • Abdullah Al-Mouallimi: Saudi policies have resulted in one of the lowest infection rates in the world
  • 2018 royal decree upheld rights of those infected and their loved ones, ensured care and rehabilitation provided

NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia’s preventative and curative AIDS program combats stigma and discrimination, and works to preserve the rights of those infected and protect the youth and women from contracting the disease, according to the Kingdom’s permanent representative to the UN.

Speaking at a high-level UN meeting on HIV / AIDS, Abdullah Al-Mouallimi highlighted the Kingdom’s National AIDS Control Program, which was established in 1994 and has set up testing centers and clinical facilities in all 20 Saudi health districts.

In addition to preventative care and social services, this program provides therapeutics — including psychological treatment — and awareness campaigns geared toward reaching the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Convened during the 77th plenary session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA), the meeting took stock of the progress on implementing the Declaration of Commitment on HIV / AIDS and the 2016 Political Declaration toward ending the epidemic by 2030.

Member states provided comprehensive reviews on the social, economic and political dimensions of the AIDS response and its contribution to progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Al-Mouallimi spoke of the importance of social awareness of “safe sexual relations and safe pregnancy, preventing transmission from mother to child.”

He said the Kingdom has launched policies that include treatment guides, counseling services and voluntary testing in fixed and mobile sites.

A 2018 royal decree classified AIDS as an infectious disease, upheld the rights of those infected and their loved ones, and ensured that care and rehabilitation is provided.

It also maintains AIDS patients’ right to continue their education and be able to work without discrimination.

“This made the Kingdom one of the countries with the lowest rate of HIV infections,” said Al-Mouallimi.

The UNGA meeting follows a period of negotiations between member states on the draft declaration.

Al-Mouallimi thanked the draft facilitators for considering “many of the Saudi delegation’s proposals for this year’s announcement.”

Although Saudi Arabia has always approached negotiations “with keenness to achieve consensus whenever possible (and) in a way that doesn’t conflict with our Islamic Shariah (law) and our national systems,” Al-Mouallimi underscored his “dissatisfaction with a number of highly controversial and sensitive phrases and references (in the declaration) about which we have expressed our position since the beginning of the negotiations clearly and frankly.”

He asked the UNGA that the Kingdom be dissociated from some of the “controversial” paragraphs in the declaration that “implicitly endorse the trend that condones the legislation of religiously and morally dangerous and illegal practices.”

Such trends “will delay and inevitably hinder the achievement of our global goal of eliminating AIDS by 2030,” he added.

The ambassador emphasized his opposition to the inclusion of these paragraphs in any of the UN documents, “as there’s no full international agreement on them, which will inevitably cause a major rift in the unified international position on human rights issues.”

He concluded, however, by reaffirming Saudi support for “all steps that would accelerate the eradication of AIDS,” including “regional and global strategies that aim to achieve this goal by 2030,” and the Kingdom’s “sovereign right to implement what’s consistent with its legislative and national frameworks.”

Upon its conclusion, the meeting will provide recommendations to guide and monitor the HIV / AIDS response beyond 2021, including new commitments to accelerate action to end the epidemic by 2030.


Diriyah, Jewel of the Kingdom: DGDA tour guides shine at Expo Dubai Saudi Pavilion

Diriyah, Jewel of the Kingdom: DGDA tour guides shine at Expo Dubai Saudi Pavilion
Updated 25 sec ago

Diriyah, Jewel of the Kingdom: DGDA tour guides shine at Expo Dubai Saudi Pavilion

Diriyah, Jewel of the Kingdom: DGDA tour guides shine at Expo Dubai Saudi Pavilion

Diriyah Gate Development Authority’s talented tour guides are working hard at the Saudi Pavilion during Expo 2020 Dubai to share the history of Diriyah, the birthplace of the Kingdom, the land of kings and heroes where it all began.

The DGDA is proud that seven of the guides from its talented team are currently in Dubai to support the Saudi Pavilion, help drive the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, and represent the spirit of Saudi youth.

The pavilion reflects the Kingdom’s past, present and shared future. It soars five stories high, covering an area the equivalent of two football fields, making it the second-largest at the event after the UAE pavilion.

Thanks to its dazzling design features that beam multicolored bursts of light over the surrounding areas, including 8,000 LED floor lights and the world’s largest digital mirror screen, visitors will enjoy a different experience each time they stop by. It is a design that honors four main themes: the Saudi people, the nation’s heritage, opportunity and nature.

The DGDA tour guides will be working in the pavilion for the duration of Expo 2020 Dubai, sharing with visitors the amazing history and culture of the Kingdom, and Diriyah in particular. Their duties include leading public tours of the entire pavilion, guiding school tours, looking after VIP guests and groups, and training the temporary staff and interns working at the pavilion.

Their extensive training in Diriyah has prepared them well for their participation in Expo 2020 Dubai, and their involvement is a unique recognition of their talent, knowledge and passion.

Rahaf Alharbi, one of DGDA’s rising stars and a passionate tour guide at the Saudi Pavilion, said: “It is a great honor for me to be here at Expo 2020 Dubai to represent Saudi Arabia and to tell the world about Diriyah’s rich history. I am looking forward to the whole world learning about the birthplace of the Kingdom, with its unique history and culture. I am proud to be part of this team and truly enjoy the new experiences we can make here.”

The DGDA is leading the transformation of Diriyah into Saudi Arabia’s foremost historical, cultural and lifestyle destination. The authority was established in July 2017 to preserve Diriyah’s history, celebrate its community, and develop the historic UNESCO World Heritage site of At-Turaif into one of the world’s greatest gathering places, at the heart of Saudi Arabian culture and heritage.

The protection and preservation of Saudi history and culture, including the stories of the nation’s forefathers and its physical heritage, is a key pillar of the work of the DGDA. It is running an extensive program to train specialist tour guides to share the rich history of the birthplace of Saudi Arabia. This training can last months or even years, during which trainees are taught about the Kingdom’s history, archaeology and hospitality.


Saudi Arabia’s chief of general staff receives commander of US Central Command

Saudi Arabia’s chief of general staff receives commander of US Central Command
Updated 4 min 40 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s chief of general staff receives commander of US Central Command

Saudi Arabia’s chief of general staff receives commander of US Central Command

RIYADH: Air Chief Marshal Fayyadh bin Hamed Al Ruwaili, chief of the general staff of the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces, received Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., commander of US Central Command, and the accompanying US delegation at King Salman Air Base.

During the meeting they discussed aspects of cooperation between the two countries, especially in the defense sector, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

They reviewed the importance of strengthening military cooperation and also discussed issues of common interest with regards to regional security and stability.

The meeting was also attended by a number of senior officers from both sides.


New era of afforestation takes flight in Saudi Arabia

New era of afforestation takes flight in Saudi Arabia
Updated 30 min 11 sec ago

New era of afforestation takes flight in Saudi Arabia

New era of afforestation takes flight in Saudi Arabia
  • Campaign to use drones for seed distribution over an area of 2 million square meters launched

RIYADH: Birds have always been a significant factor in the lifecycle of plants through their ability to transport seeds to new locations by unintentionally carrying them on their wings or claws.  

Today marks the beginning of a new era of afforestation as the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Natural Reserve in Saudi Arabia launched a new seed distribution project that will utilize drones instead of relying on birds. It is in line with the Kingdom’s Green Initiative announced earlier this year by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The campaign aims to meet the initiative’s goals and confirms that Saudi Arabia is serious about enriching the country’s natural environment.

“The afforestation campaign will use drones to spread seasonal seeds over an area of 2 million square meters, creating a qualitative leap in the path of afforestation used in the Kingdom,” the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Natural Reserve told Arab News in a statement on Friday. 

According to the reserve, the drones will distribute the seeds in substantial amounts over areas where rainwater accumulates to ensure that the seeds are watered naturally, seasonally, and annually.  

The reserve is working to keep up with the latest international technologies and innovations linked to irrigation and seed disposal processes while working to adopt factors that serve the environment and guarantee sustainability in plant cultivation and afforestation techniques.  

According to the reserve’s statement: “The use of drones, characterized by the presence of high-resolution cameras, contributes to monitoring the health of the plants and providing quick treatments to preserve them in case they are exposed to health risks. 

“It will also follow up on the health of the soil and the conditions of agricultural areas. The utilization of artificial intelligence techniques will, additionally, serve to study and analyze seasonal patterns of plants through the use of unique algorithms and software.”

HIGHLIGHT

Today marks the beginning of a new era of afforestation as the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Natural Reserve in Saudi Arabia launched a new seed distribution project that will utilize drones instead of relying on birds. It is in line with the Kingdom’s Green Initiative announced earlier this year by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Representatives from the local community, along with government agencies and volunteers also attended the launch, Eng. Mohammed Al Shaalan, the CEO of the Royal Natural Reserve, said.

“Today, the Kingdom is leading a global movement towards protecting the environment, promoting sustainability, and launching continuous initiatives towards afforestation and the establishment of a green environment,” Al Shaalan said.

“We will strive to keep up with this goal publicized by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and are working hard to defy the obstacle of time by applying the best standards and techniques in developing the reserve and assisting the environment.”

Manzer H. Siddiqui, an associate professor at the botany department at King Saud University, also praised the campaign. 

“This is a much-appreciated campaign towards afforestation and green initiative for environment protection,” he told Arab News.

Siddiqui said the citizens’ participation in preserving the environment is one of the most successful ways to reach green sustainability. 

The Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Natural Reserve, previously known as the Al Taysiyah Natural Reserve, was founded in 2018 by a royal order to provide an organized and systemic approach to preserving and maintaining the area.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the “Saudi Green” and the “Middle East Green” initiatives in April to help protect nature and overcome environmental challenges.

These Initiatives aim to chart a path for Saudi Arabia and the region in protecting the planet by clearly defining an ambitious road map that rallies the region and significantly contributes to achieving global targets in confronting climate change.

The Kingdom will work through the Saudi Green Initiative to raise vegetation cover, reduce carbon emissions, preserve marine life, while also combating pollution and land degradation. The ambitious initiative includes the planting of 10 billion trees within the Kingdom in the upcoming decades.

The Saudi Green Initiative also aims to reduce carbon emissions by more than 4 percent of global contributions through a renewable energy program that will generate 50 percent of the Kingdom’s energy from renewables by 2030.


AlUla Dates Festival spreads sweetness in ancient Saudi city

AlUla Dates Festival spreads sweetness in ancient Saudi city
Updated 48 min 43 sec ago

AlUla Dates Festival spreads sweetness in ancient Saudi city

AlUla Dates Festival spreads sweetness in ancient Saudi city
  • The festival kicked off with the first date auction of the season early Friday morning

ALULA: The second edition of the AlUla Dates Festival is underway at the Kingdom’s famous ancient city. 

The three-week date festival takes place in the Al-Fusan area directly opposing the famous Elephant Rock, and is split into two segments: The dates auction and the dates souq, both only open during the weekends of Oct.15-Nov. 1. 

Many know AlUla to be a maze of history and breathtaking desert terrain, but not many people know that hidden between the curves of the desert terrains are over 2.3 million palm trees that produce 90,000 tons of dates annually. 

The AlUla dates market has recently seen an increase in demand, and the festival facilitates growth for local harvests into the international market by connecting local farmers to international visitors and investors.

Felix Riess, a strategy consultant visiting AlUla from Germany, said: “It’s a beautiful and historic place, it’s great to see the ambitions for AlUla. It’s currently at the crossroads of something very historical, towards something that keeps the history in mind while building for the future, it’s a great mix.” 

The festival kicked off with the first date auction of the season early Friday morning. As the sun rose, farmers unloaded their harvests off their trucks and onto the auction site. 

Crowds gathered around to take part in the dates auction, that happens three times during the festival. The bids differ from harvest to harvest depending on quality and size of crop. 

Not too long after the first announcement, the bids began rolling in. Chants of numbers and outbuildings were shouted through the air as boxes of dates were shifted around. 

The early dates auction is definitely a great place for buyers and sellers to connect, but it is also an exciting experience for families and tourists to witness. 

“What we saw today was a really authentic experience of how local wholesalers get the dates from this well known place in AlUla. It was very cool and I have never seen anything like this before and we enjoyed it,” Riess told Arab News.

Christian Keller, another German strategy consultant, added: “It’s always nice to see the combination of the old world and the new world and keeping up with it. Culture is about the people coming to AlUla and viewing it and the residents still valuing and carrying on what they have done years before, and now that you bring in new people like the tourist and visitors, they can experience it. Its culture was brought to life.” 

Following the dates auction, in the early hours of the morning, is the souq, which consists of separate booths of local farmers and bakers selling their wares. There are also sections dedicated to investment and international collaboration for information. 

The souq offers many family activities for locals to enjoy including the traditional Saudi Ardah dance to ring in the celebrations, as well as a children’s theater performances. 

These two events only take place once in the evening of the souq, but throughout the shopping experience guests will be able to listen to a live oud player in the center of the souq. 

The festival also serves another purpose alongside sharing culture. His Highness Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, governor of the Royal Commission for AlUla Governorate, aims to promote the important role agriculture plays in economic development of the region in line with the Vision 2030 goals. 

The event not only highlights the work of the AlUla’s farmers but also promotes and inspires commercial opportunities for farmers and buyers alike. 

Behind the festivities are dozens of hardworking AlUla natives who have spent generations harvesting dates. 

The festival creates a hub for exchanging expertise, and growing collaborations that will in part diversify the economy and create more job opportunities for young people in tourism, hospitality and the cultural sectors. 

AlUla is undiscovered history in its purest form. Visitors have the opportunity to experience the beauty and tradition of the area, from the festival to the desert to the nearby Old Town. 

The Old Town is a treasure trove filled with all things AlUla from historical and handmade crafts to souvenirs to take back to loved ones. 

One of the more infamous stores located in the Old Town is Desert Designs.  

“We have had a very positive response from the international public, we have had a lot of good responses from Japanese, American, Chinese, Europeans. All sorts of people seem to like our store and the items we provide,” Radi Bukhari, Desert Designs general manager, said.

“We take old silver Bedouin pieces, give them a new life and then we frame them for appreciation. We take Saudi culture and try to give it new life and appreciation not just for foreigners but for Saudis as well,” Bukhari said.


Who’s Who: Abdullah bin Kadasa, executive director of communications and PR at Ahmed AlKhateeb Executive Office

Who’s Who: Abdullah bin Kadasa, executive director of communications and PR at Ahmed AlKhateeb Executive Office
Updated 23 October 2021

Who’s Who: Abdullah bin Kadasa, executive director of communications and PR at Ahmed AlKhateeb Executive Office

Who’s Who: Abdullah bin Kadasa, executive director of communications and PR at Ahmed AlKhateeb Executive Office

Abdullah bin Mansour bin Kadasa was appointed executive director of communications and public relations at Ahmed AlKhateeb Executive Office  in September 2021.

Bin Kadasa is an international communications and media professional and advisor, who has been responsible for a number of ground-breaking strategies and leadership of strategic communications plans and media campaigns.

He was previously an advisor and general manager at the General Administration of Corporate Communication at the Ministry of Finance between April 2020 until May 2021. He worked closely with the executive leadership there to develop the ministry’s corporate mission statement.

Bin Kadasa served as general director of the Media and Strategic Communications General Directorate at the Saudi Development & Reconstruction Program for Yemen between June 2018 until March 2020, managing a large team across SDRPY’s provincial offices and ensuring that its activities were aligned with the Kingdom’s communication strategy and foreign policy priorities regarding Yemen.

He is the co-founder of Deem Communications Technology Co., where he was CEO from August 2016 to June 2018. He worked as a faculty member at the Media and Communication College of Al-Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud University between August 2014 and June 2018, and before that served as the director of the Marketing & Communications Directorate at the Arabian Printing and Publishing House from May 2013 to July 2014.

Bin Kadasa worked as a journalist at Dar Al-Hayat newspaper from April 2009 to June 2013 and as an interactive communication and television production coordinator at Al Baraheen International Company from 2005 to 2009.

He received his Masters in International Media from the School of Communication/International Service at the American University at Washington DC. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication from the Department of Mass Communication at King Saud University, and international diplomas from prestigious universities including the University of London, the University of California at Irvine, and Duke University.