JEDDAH: Saudi health chiefs on Friday urged pilgrims due to attend this year’s Hajj to ensure they had packed face masks, hand sanitizers, napkins, and personal-use prayer mats before setting out on their journey to Makkah.
The annual pilgrimage, which this year will be performed by a limited number of worshippers due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic restrictions, will start on July 17/18 and end on July 22/23.
Spokesman for the Hajj Security Forces Command, Brig. Gen. Sami Al-Shuwairekh, said authorities had arrested nine people for trying to access holy sites without a permit, a prerequisite for this year’s Hajj season, and all of them had been fined SR10,000 ($2,666).
He warned that security forces would continue until July 23 to take legal action against anyone attempting to reach the Grand Mosque in Makkah, its central surrounding area, or holy sites at Mina, Muzdalifah, and Arafat without permission.
Meanwhile, Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh, launched maintenance and operational projects costing more than SR31 million to coincide with the start of Hajj.
The total number of coronavirus cases in KSA reached 507,423.
The initiatives will be implemented by the ministry to ensure the maintenance of high-quality services for pilgrims and application of health and safety measures designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Schemes also include an app project for smart devices to educate and guide pilgrims, a Wi-Fi service for Namira Mosque in Arafat Valley, the installation of 62 screens to broadcast awareness messages in different languages, and the provision of 30 interactive screens for the Islamic electronic library.
Saudi Arabia on Friday reported 13 more COVID-19-related deaths, taking the overall toll to 8,048.
There were 1,298 new cases, meaning that 507,423 people in the country had now contracted the disease. A total of 11,029 cases remained active, of which 1,400 patients were in critical condition.
In addition, the Saudi Ministry of Health said 1,428 patients had recovered from the disease, increasing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 488,346.
Meanwhile, 21,771,592 people in the country have to date received a jab against COVID-19, including 1,413,312 elderly.
Saudi education minister, Egyptian envoy discuss cooperation
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RIYADH: Saudi Education Minister Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Sheikh met with the Egyptian Ambassador to the Kingdom, Ahmed Farouk Tawfiq, to enhance joint cooperation between the two countries in the education field.
The two sides also discussed the development of scientific and research partnerships between the countries’ universities along with the exchange of expertise and experiences in educational technologies.
The talks focused on joint cooperation between the Kingdom and Egypt in educational programs and ways to benefit from the development plans and programs implemented by educational institutions in both countries.
Saudi Ministry of Education’s undersecretary for international cooperation, Saleh Al-Qassumi, undersecretary for public education, Mohammed Al-Muqbil, undersecretary for university education, Mohammed Al-Adib, general supervisor of the general administration of media and communication, Ahmed Al-Jumaiyah, and supervisor of the public relations department, Saleh Al-Thubaiti, also attended the meeting.
DUBAI: As part of the Saudi Ministry of Interior’s pavilion at GITEX Technology Week 2021 in Dubai this week, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah showcased the state-of-the-art technologies it employs to deliver the services the Kingdom provides to pilgrims and other visitors.
They include artificial intelligence technologies that are used as part of the ministry’s digital platform to help pilgrims.
They access the platform using smart cards that contain key information, including the details of their visit and medical data. This is used to organize their journeys.
The ministry’s aim in adopting the latest technology is to provide upgraded services and develop the work of the pilgrim-services system as a whole.
Top KSrelief official represents Saudi Arabia at Geneva talks
Updated 7 min 14 sec ago
GENEVA: King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center Assistant Supervisor General for Planning and Development Aqeel Al-Ghamdi said Saudi Arabia is fully prepared to share its experiences regarding humanitarian and relief issues with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Al-Ghamdi represented the Kingdom at a meeting of donor countries of the UN OCHA held in Geneva on Wednesday in order to develop and support humanitarian efforts.
At the meeting, a report from the Multilateral Organization Performance Assessment Network, known as MOPAN, on the performance of the UN OCHA was also discussed.
Al-Ghamdi thanked MOPAN for preparing the report as Saudi Arabia viewed it as a positive step to support the office and address the challenges facing the implementation of humanitarian initiatives.
Saudi Arabia launches nationwide search for talented students
National Project for Gifted Identification targets students from third to 11th grade and started on Wednesday in various regions of the Kingdom
Strategic partnership between Mawhiba and Ministry of Education pays off as innovative projects continue for a 12th consecutive year
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JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has launched a nationwide search for talent, pursuing its strong belief in the role creative and innovative youth can play in the country’s development and prosperity.
The 12th annual National Project for Gifted Identification started on Wednesday in various regions of the Kingdom and includes students from third to 11th grade.
The inauguration ceremony was held at the headquarters of the Mawhiba Foundation. It also marked the launch of the largest annual trip in Saudi Arabia to discover gifted and talented students in scientific fields from various regions of the Kingdom through the Mawhiba Foundation.
The launch was also a result of a strategic partnership between the Ministry of Education and the ETEC.
The launch took place under the patronage of Education Minister Hamad bin Mohammed Al Al-Sheikh. Saud bin Saeed Al-Mathami, secretary-general of King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity (Mawhiba), Saad Al-Fuhaid, acting deputy minister of education, and Abdullah Al-Qatai, executive director of the National Center for Assessment — known as Qiyas — which is an affiliate center of the Education and Training Evaluation Commission, were also present at the event.
“The wise leadership aspires a better future for its people,” Al-Mathami said.
“The leadership’s support for Mawhiba was a motive for not accepting anything other than the first place so that Saudi Arabia remains a reference and support for everyone who seeks to improve their performance in the field of talent and creativity.”
Al-Mathami highlighted Mawhiba’s keenness to build bridges of cooperation and partnership with its strategic success partners the Saudi Education Ministry and the ETEC.
“The National Project for Gifted Identification is a model for integrative work between state institutions,” he said.
“This model has worked through the strategic partnership between Mawhiba, the ministry of education and the ETEC-Qiyas, in discovering and nurturing talent in the Kingdom.”
Mawhiba has directed its goals toward investing in talented youths to develop them as future leaders who will be job creators and technology producers, Al-Mathami said. He added that the national program is one of the starting points for identifying gifted youths in addition to other identification measures.
Those measures include the Mawhoob Competition, an annual event that targets students from the sixth grade to 10th grade; the Kangaroo Mawhiba Math Competition, which targets students from the third grade to 12th grade; and the Bebras Mawhiba Informatics Competition, an international initiative that aims to promote computer science and computational thinking among school students of all ages.
The secretary-general said more than 630,000 male and female students have applied for the programs since Mawhiba was launched 11 years ago.
More than 430,000 of these applicants have been tested as more than 144,000 students qualified for the services of the programs, he said.
According to Al-Mathami, the number of applicants saw a significant increase since the national program started in 2011 as there was another notable rise seen in 2020.
The secretary-general said that Mawhiba succeeded in overcoming challenges such as curfews during the COVID-19 pandemic, making use of modern technology, and providing the students with the needed programs — all while keeping their safety as a top priority.
Al-Mathami said Saudi youths were able to win 53 prizes during the current year, which set the Kingdom’s overall score of international prizes to 453. He attributed the achievements to 20 enrichment programs, quality competitions, classrooms, and advanced curricula.
“Nurturing talent has a great impact on scientific and technological progress,” Al-Fuhaid said during the ceremony.
“Joint efforts have attracted talented inventors to develop their creative capabilities, resulting in a creative generation with new concepts and innovative ideas.”
Al-Qatai said that the national program for nurturing the talented is the most important investment in human resources.
“Saudi Arabia was one of the first countries to invest in human resources,” he said. “Statistics that we see today are the best evidence of the quality of this kind of investment.”
Nazeeh Al-Othmani, Mawhiba’s deputy secretary-general for corporate relations and business development, said the talented students underwent various scientific enrichment programs during their nurturing process.
He told Arab News the programs provided to students depended on their scores on the Qiyas test, but all of them received the Mawhiba enrichment programs.
Students who are found to be talented underwent a special program, called “Student’s Trip,” which was designed for their needs and talents, Al-Othmani said.
The foundation provides enrichment programs in more than 20 scientific tracks, he said, as these include mechanical engineering, aviation, robots, electrical engineering, outer space, and more.
Al-Othmani said Mawhiba is the only institution in the world that offers talent identification programs while nurturing and empowering its members. The results are paying off as Mawhiba has won 83 prizes at the International Science and Engineering Fair, considered to be the largest science competition for students in the world.
“Mawhiba has set a unique global example,” he said.
Saudi Arabian entrepreneur brings a taste of Riyadh to the US with California Shawarma
Food lover Azzam Alkraiji started his business after failing to find decent Shawarma in the US
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ANAHEIM, United States: Every evening there’s a line of people around the block hungry for the delicious food at the Saudi owned and operated restaurant California Shawarma.
“I’ve heard a lot of good things about California Shawarma, so you know I’m very excited to give it a try,” customer Mossab Hammadi said.
After leaving college, Saudi entrepreneur and food lover Azzam Alkraiji, started a journey to begin sharing his favorite food with others after he realized he couldn’t find authentic shawarma in the US.
“So originally I decided to go back to Saudi Arabia because I mean I couldn’t find any way for it in the states,” Alkraiji shared. “So from a shawarma chef there I decide to learn it, and I learned it from him. Then we decide to come back to the states and start it here.”
Alkraiji went on to work in professional kitchens and started a food truck, serving shawarma around Los Angeles and at major events such as National Saudi Day all to prepare for eventually opening his restaurant. He now runs California Shawarma in Anaheim, Southern California.
“People like our chicken shawarma because it's halal. It's very clean and fresh chicken, never frozen. We make sure it's high quality,” he said. “Also the other ingredients, the spices, anything we do for the shawarma. We make sure it’s high ingredient quality.”
“It just reminds me of the olden days when I would just go back home and visit,” Hammadi said when we checked in with him after his meal.
“I would just go around and get the shawarma. That’s how it reminds me of. A lot of my friends do not believe that we actually have shawarma here, so I will tell them ‘no we definitely have shawarma here in the US.’”