Saudi health ministry: No COVID-19 infections among pilgrims

Hajj pilgrims rest at their camps in the tent city of Mina on Sunday. (AFP)
Hajj pilgrims rest at their camps in the tent city of Mina on Sunday. (AFP)
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Updated 19 July 2021

Saudi health ministry: No COVID-19 infections among pilgrims

Hajj pilgrims rest at their camps in the tent city of Mina on Sunday. (AFP)
  • Specialized health guides were accompanying pilgrims to check on them and give advice

MINA: No cases of COVID-19 have been detected during this year’s Hajj, Saudi health officials said as the pilgrimage got underway.
The coronavirus pandemic means this year’s Hajj has been reduced to 60,000 pilgrims from within the Kingdom.
Security, health and Hajj ministry officials told a press conference in Makkah on Sunday that precautionary measures against COVID-19 had been fully implemented.
Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said no cases had yet been detected.
Health protocols and preventive measures, he said, could ensure a safe Hajj season.
The first phase of protocols began before pilgrims started arriving at the Grand Mosque in Makkah on Saturday for the start of Hajj. “In this phase, we made sure that all the pilgrims had all received the necessary vaccines,” Al-Aly said.
The second phase included spreading awareness among pilgrims and introducing precautionary measures.
“Since the pilgrims are of different nationalities, the awareness campaign was launched through various languages,” he said.
Specialized health guides were accompanying pilgrims to check on them and give advice.
Interior Ministry spokesman Col. Talal Al-Shalhoub said security services and government entities were implementing the health precaution plans at the holy sites.
“Security men will continue doing their duties and prevent unauthorized  people from entering the holy sites,” Al-Shalhoub said. “Those found violating the rules will be arrested and penalized.”
On Sunday, pilgrims worshipped and rested in Mina ahead of traveling to Arafat on Monday morning for the climax of the pilgrimage.
Hisham bin Saeed, the Hajj and Umrah Ministry spokesman, said strict precautions were in place for transporting pilgrims, including from Mina to Arafat between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. on Monday morning.
Some 71 camps had been prepared to accommodate the pilgrims.
Al-Aly said there were 13 hospitals in Makkah — three located at the holy sites, while the other 10 were in Makkah city.
“There is also a mobile field hospital which will accompany the pilgrims,” he said. “There are also some 50 clinics and medical centers in different parts of the holy sites.”
“Moreover, we have 180 ambulances that can provide intensive care services.”
He said the Saudi Red Crescent Authority were also providing “significant services” including capacity for almost 3,000 medical beds.

This year is the second year there has been a limited number of pilgrims selected from people living in Saudi Arabia.

In 2019, before the pandemic arrived, almost 2.5 million Muslims from around the world took part.


Diplomats in Riyadh discuss sustainability perspectives ahead of Season 8 of Formula E World Championship

Panelists discuss climate and sustainability perspectives at the Swedish ambassador’s residence in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Panelists discuss climate and sustainability perspectives at the Swedish ambassador’s residence in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Updated 29 January 2022

Diplomats in Riyadh discuss sustainability perspectives ahead of Season 8 of Formula E World Championship

Panelists discuss climate and sustainability perspectives at the Swedish ambassador’s residence in Riyadh. (Supplied)
  • Diplomats: Spreading truth about climate change is important

RIYADH: Spreading the truth about climate change and the need for sustainability is very important in relation to a changing climate, and how it impacts life on Earth, said panelists at a discussion hosted by the Swedish and Swiss embassies to the Kingdom.

Swedish Ambassador Niclas Trouvé and his Swiss counterpart André Schaller jointly organized the discussion on climate and sustainability perspectives on Thursday night, at the Swedish ambassador’s residence in Riyadh, where some of the best drivers in motorsport have gathered ahead of Season 8 of the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.

The much anticipated first race on Friday night begins with a double-header in Diriyah, promising an exhilarating race experience using electric cars.

Ambassador of Sweden to Saudi Arabia Niclas Trouvé speaking at discussion. (AN photo by Rashid Hassan)

Run under LED lights at the UNESCO World Heritage Site on the outskirts of Riyadh, the night races, which will take place on Jan. 28 and 29, are being held in the Kingdom for the fourth consecutive year since the venue joined the calendar in 2018.

Speaking to Arab News, Trouvé said: “We had an important discussion in the panel. The occasion why we are here is the ABB-sponsored Formula E race. What is interesting now is the feel here in the Kingdom, and also of course in Sweden and Switzerland and the rest of the world, the enormous push that we feel now for sustainable green solutions.

Switzerland ambassador André Schaller speaking at discussion. (AN photo by Rashid Hassan)

“As I shared with the audience here at the discussion, almost half of the new cars that were sold in Sweden last year were non-carbon, nonfossil, i.e electric or hybrid cars. Around the world, we now see an enormous push for electric vehicles like the Formula E races, as we will see on Friday night in Diriyah.

“Sweden and Switzerland’s embassies co-hosted the panel discussion, and we are both at the forefront, we want to cooperate with the Kingdom, we want co-creation and innovation together with our Saudi friends and we are ready for business and investment to make the Vision 2030 a reality so that Saudi Arabia also can continue on this very important role towards the sustainable carbon-free future,”said the envoy.

Audience at Panel discussion on climate & sustainability perspectives at Swedish Embassy. (AN photo by Rashid Hassan)

Schaller said: “Congratulation to Saudi Arabia and also to the ABB for bringing Formula E World Championship races to Diriyah for the fourth consecutive time. It is a race to the future — for the sustainable future — and it also crosses the rich history and heritage in the Kingdom in front of the wonderful UNESCO World Heritage site.

“It’s also about the message, the message that if you can do races like this with sustainable and renewable energy-backed electric cars, you can apply the same for commercial vehicles,” said Schaller adding “these cars do not carry passengers, but it carries an important message.”

Audience at Panel discussion on climate & sustainability perspectives at Swedish Embassy. (AN photo by Rashid Hassan)

Formula E CEO Jamie Reigle said: “We are delighted to be back to Diriyah for the fourth time, Saudi Arabia is one of the features in the race series of our global calendar. For the last two years we were not able to host the fans because of the coronavirus pandemic. We are happy to host the fans this time, that’ great news.

“We will be doing the live race for the second time ever under the lights, and this is going to be carbon neutral using electric vehicles, and LED lighting. All of the energy consumed for the race is biofuel.”

Another panelist, Mohammed Al-Mousa, county managing director of ABB Saudi Arabia, said that technology leader ABB has played a crucial role over years in the Kingdom and is keen to continue the success story of demonstrating sustainable energy commitment, e-mobility and carbon neutrality.

 


KSrelief signs executive program to support orphans in Mali

KSrelief signs executive program to support orphans in Mali
Updated 29 January 2022

KSrelief signs executive program to support orphans in Mali

KSrelief signs executive program to support orphans in Mali

RIYADH:  The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center has signed an executive program to support orphans in Mali, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

It will benefit 1,317 individuals in the cities and towns of Bamako, Koulikoro, Segou, Gao, and Sikasso.

The program was signed by Ahmed bin Ali Al-Baiz, assistant general supervisor for operations and programs at KSrelief, and aims to provide a cash guarantee for orphans which will be delivered to them every three months for a year. 

It will pay fees and register orphans aged between seven and 15, economically empower their families by training women to master sewing skills and provide them with the necessary tools, as well as distributing sheep to needy families.

The program comes as part of the projects offered by the Kingdom, represented by KSrelief, to orphans in order to improve their living conditions in various needy countries.


Who’s Who: Rabab Khodary, health economics and market access manager at Janssen Pharmaceuticals

Who’s Who: Rabab Khodary, health economics and market access manager at Janssen Pharmaceuticals
Updated 29 January 2022

Who’s Who: Rabab Khodary, health economics and market access manager at Janssen Pharmaceuticals

Who’s Who: Rabab Khodary, health economics and market access manager at Janssen Pharmaceuticals

Rabab Khodary has been health economics and  market access manager for hemato-oncology at Janssen Pharmaceuticals of Johnson and Johnson since May 2021.

During her time in the role, she has helped to accelerate patients’ access to innovative products through operational processes in the public sector and by analyzing business challenges and opportunities within the Saudi healthcare sector.

She joined GlaxoSmithKline in 2015 as a future leader management trainee and held the position of associate market access and pricing manager from 2017 until 2021.

In 2017, while working for GSK, she received a bronze award in a global employee recognition program, following that up with a silver award in 2019, after heading a women’s leadership initiative and project leading the business development, communications, health, and well-being departments.

From 2013 to 2014, she was Batterjee Medical College’s head of clinical skills, a department she established with the Jeddah-based institution’s head of medicine.

Khodary gained a bachelor’s degree in medical technology from King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah in 2006, and a master’s degree in cell and molecular biology from San Francisco State University in 2012. She was also a researcher for a cell and molecular biology lab in California, and for King Fahd Medical Research Center in Jeddah.

Between 2006 and 2007, she worked on cytogenetics, molecular genetics, and tissue typing in a Saudi blood bank laboratory. She has obtained a number of professional certifications, including in health economics policy, and a negotiation program from The London School of Economics and Political Science.


Thailand’s labor, tourism sectors gear up for opportunities in Saudi Arabia

In this photo released by the Saudi Royal Palace, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, meets with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, at the Royal Palace in Riyadh Tuesday. (AP)
In this photo released by the Saudi Royal Palace, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, meets with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, at the Royal Palace in Riyadh Tuesday. (AP)
Updated 28 January 2022

Thailand’s labor, tourism sectors gear up for opportunities in Saudi Arabia

In this photo released by the Saudi Royal Palace, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, right, meets with Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, at the Royal Palace in Riyadh Tuesday. (AP)
  • Labor cooperation deal signed during PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s historic Jan. 25-26 visit to Riyadh
  • Thailand to welcome more tourists from Kingdom following restoration of bilateral ties

BANGKOK: Thailand’s labor and tourism sector chiefs on Friday said they were looking forward to exploring opportunities in Saudi Arabia in the wake of a restoration of ties between the two countries following the Thai prime minister’s visit to Riyadh.

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha was in the Saudi capital on Jan. 25 and 26 on the invitation of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the first top leadership meeting between the nations in more than three decades.

One of the agreements signed during the trip was a labor cooperation deal, which Thai government spokesperson Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said on Thursday was expected to take force within two months.

Saudi Arabia was at one time a popular destination for Thai expats with more than 300,000 of them living and working in the Kingdom during the 1980s. Currently, there are less than 1,350 Thai workers in Saudi Arabia, employed mainly as welders, technicians, and household staff, according to Thailand’s labor ministry data.

Aranya Sakulkosol, chairman of the Thai Overseas Manpower Association, a government-affiliated recruitment agency for overseas jobs, told Arab News that the resumption of diplomatic relations was “good news, as Saudi Arabia is also carrying on the developing plan that will provide opportunity for Thai laborers especially those with skills.”

She said that for many years there had been interest in opportunities in Saudi Arabia, as in the past many of those who worked in the Kingdom were able to establish themselves upon return.

“The association expects to start sending the pilot group to work in Saudi Arabia within two months, following the government’s plan. We will see how Thai workers adjust to the employer in Saudi Arabia,” Sakulkosol added.

The southeast Asian nation is also gearing up for more tourist arrivals from Saudi Arabia, following an announcement by the Kingdom’s national flag carrier Saudia of its plan to resume direct flights to Thailand in May.

The Thai government has estimated that the increase in visitors from Saudi Arabia will generate an additional $150 million for its economy.

Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, deputy governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, told Arab News that while the coronavirus pandemic situation made it difficult to predict how many Saudis would visit the country, authorities wanted to build on two outstanding areas that could attract travelers: Medical and shopping tourism.

He said: “We plan to do the proactive marketing, including making a promotion plan with airline and travel agencies. Many agencies that we have partnered with previously focused on other Middle East countries such as the UAE, or Jordan. We will now also focus on Saudi Arabia.

“TAT will also plan a roadshow to introduce services in Thailand, such as hotels, to get to know their customers in Saudi Arabia and sell their products there. This could be done soon, probably before June. We have high hopes for increasing the number of visitors,” he added.

 


Scheme launched to encourage Saudi eateries to provide Braille menus

The initiative, led by a team of Al-Ahyaa Centers Association, aims to promote the tactile writing system in restaurants and cafes throughout the Kingdom. (Supplied)
The initiative, led by a team of Al-Ahyaa Centers Association, aims to promote the tactile writing system in restaurants and cafes throughout the Kingdom. (Supplied)
Updated 28 January 2022

Scheme launched to encourage Saudi eateries to provide Braille menus

The initiative, led by a team of Al-Ahyaa Centers Association, aims to promote the tactile writing system in restaurants and cafes throughout the Kingdom. (Supplied)
  • Alaa Al-Tuairaqi, who is visually impaired, said: “For the first time in my life, I will hopefully be able to order without suffering

MAKKAH: An ambitious scheme encouraging eating establishments to provide Braille menus for visually impaired customers has been launched by a Saudi volunteer organization.
The initiative, led by a team from the volunteer administration at Al-Ahyaa Centers Association in Makkah, aims to promote the tactile writing system in restaurants and cafes throughout the Kingdom.
Instigated as part of World Braille Day celebrations, organizers expect a similar national eatery ordering project for the deaf and people with speaking difficulties to be served up in the near future.
Maha Al-Sharif, head of the Rouh Makkah volunteer team, said the idea came about after she witnessed a visually impaired person having each item on a restaurant’s food and drinks menu read out to them.

HIGHLIGHTS

• During the launch of the initiative, attended by a number of visually impaired individuals and their families, a hot and cold drinks menu written in Braille was made available for the first time at Cafe Atrab, in Makkah.

• The team’s public relations officer, Fatima Al-Otaibi, congratulated the volunteers on their work, along with visually impaired Sami Al-Zahrani, who drew up the new menu.

• Cafe Atrab owner, Manal Al-Maalawi, thanked the Rouh Makkah team for launching the scheme, adding that her establishment had been honored to officially sponsor the voluntary initiative and be the first cafe to jointly implement the idea.

Her volunteer team, established seven months ago, is looking to promote the Braille service nationally.
Alaa Al-Tuairaqi, who is visually impaired, said: “For the first time in my life, I will hopefully be able to order without suffering. It is a wonderful, outside-the-box idea that has been well-received by visually impaired individuals. The initiative will help spare them from some of the life problems they experience daily.”
He pointed out that visually impaired people often felt embarrassed having to ask for menus to be described to them, especially in busy outlets.
Associate team leader, Nourah Al-Maliki, noted that the integration of groups, such as the visually impaired, into Saudi society was an important aspect of the Vision 2030 reform plan.
During the launch of the initiative, attended by a number of visually impaired individuals and their families, a hot and cold drinks menu written in Braille was made available for the first time at Cafe Atrab, in Makkah.
The team’s public relations officer, Fatima Al-Otaibi, congratulated the volunteers on their work, along with visually impaired Sami Al-Zahrani, who drew up the new menu.
Cafe Atrab owner, Manal Al-Maalawi, thanked the Rouh Makkah team for launching the scheme, adding that her establishment had been honored to officially sponsor the voluntary initiative and be the first cafe to jointly implement the idea.
She said: “This is volunteer work and national duty. We welcome at any time our visually impaired sisters and brothers who will have a 50 percent discount on drinks for life.
“We also welcome any voluntary initiative or idea that serves the community, especially the special groups who are dear to our hearts.”