Saudi Arabia confirms 14 COVID-19 deaths, 731 new infections

The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 203 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 4.30 million. (File/SPA)
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 203 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 4.30 million. (File/SPA)
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Updated 09 August 2021

Saudi Arabia confirms 14 COVID-19 deaths, 731 new infections

Saudi Arabia confirms 14 COVID-19 deaths, 731 new infections
  • Health ministry spokesman slams ‘lies and fallacies’ over vaccines, says they played major role in lowering epidemiological curve
  • Sports ministry increases capacity of stadiums to 60%, restricts access to fans who are fully vaccinated

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia recorded 14 new COVID-19 related deaths on Sunday, raising the total number of fatalities to 8,334.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 731 new cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 533,516 people have now contracted the disease. 
Of the total number of cases, 10,200 remain active and 1,405 in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in Makkah with 151, followed by the Eastern Province with 132, the capital Riyadh with 129, Jazan recorded 67, and Asir confirmed 60 cases.
The health ministry also announced that 620 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 514,982.

Over 29.6 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date through 587 centers.
The ministry renewed its call on the public to register to receive the vaccine, and adhere to the measures and abide by instructions.
Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said at a weekly press conference that the country’s epidemiological curve was witnessing a noticeable decline in the number of new cases, stressing that vaccines had played a major role in this development.
He slammed claims that children had died after being jabbed. “They are lies and fallacies that have nothing to do with reality,” he said.
The country is preparing for students to return to the classroom by the end of this month, with the Health Ministry and Education Ministry encouraging people to take the vaccine and not fall victim to rumors.
“Don’t be deceived,” said Al-Abd Al-Aly. “The vaccines are safe and effective, 99 percent of those in intensive care units due to COVID-19 are not vaccinated. Experts around the world classify the current stage of the pandemic as the ‘pandemic of the unvaccinated.’”
The campaign to fully vaccinate students above the age of 12 and education staff continued apace, according to Education Ministry spokesperson Ibtisam Al-Shehri.
“The return to school is the most important factor to indicate a real return to normal life,” she told the press conference, saying that parents must ensure their children did not miss their vaccine appointments.
Fully vaccinated school students at the intermediate and secondary levels will be able to attend school from the start of the new academic year. 
But primary students will continue their education online, as will those who are at intermediate level but younger than 12.
“These measures will continue until the end of October or until we achieve herd immunity by 70 percent, whichever comes first,” Al-Shehri added.
There are 3.1 million students at the intermediate and secondary levels in Saudi Arabia and 45 percent have received one dose, 19 percent have had both, and 6 percent have recovered from COVID-19.
During monitoring inspection tours in the past week, authorities recorded 21,967 violations of precautionary regulations imposed to stem the spread of COVID-19 , according to recent statistics from the Ministry of Interior.
The statistics indicated that the region of Riyadh recorded the highest number with 7,214 violations, followed by the Eastern Province (3,022), Madinah (2,189), Qassim (2,119), Makkah (1,836), Hail (1,818), Jouf (1,331), the Northern Borders (666), Tabuk (541), Baha (334), Jazan (316), Asir (314), and Najran (267).
Jeddah Municipality closed 37 commercial establishments for violating the preventive measures, while field teams also recorded 56 violations during over 7,000 monitoring rounds carried out over the weekend.

The Ministry of Sports announced it will raise the capacity for mass attendance of sports competitions for the 2021-2022 sports season to 60 percent instead of 40 percent, based on updates issued by authorities on developments in the coronavirus.
The ministry has made a number of updates and amendments to the measures regarding mass attendance of stadiums, and has restricted it to sports fans (over 12 years old) who have taken two doses of the vaccine.
The Ministry of Islamic Affairs reopened three mosques in the Qassim region after temporarily evacuating and sterilizing them after three people tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of mosques closed and reopened after being sterilized to 1,975 within 183 days.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 203 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 4.30 million.


Saudi Arabia suspends flights to and from 7 more African nations due to new COVID-19 variant

Saudi Arabia suspends flights to and from 7 more African nations due to new COVID-19 variant
Updated 28 November 2021

Saudi Arabia suspends flights to and from 7 more African nations due to new COVID-19 variant

Saudi Arabia suspends flights to and from 7 more African nations due to new COVID-19 variant

LONDON: Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday it was temporarily suspending flights to and from seven African countries due to the outbreak of the newly discovered coronavirus strain, Omicron. 

The countries are Malawi, Zambia, Madagascar, Angola, Seychelles, Mauritius and Comoros, an official source from the Ministry of Interior told Saudi state news agency SPA.

Expats will be denied entry if they have been in any of the countries listed within the last 14 days before arrival in the Kingdom. 

Nationals and expats who are allowed entry will be required to quarantine for five days, including those who have been vaccinated. 

The Ministry of Interior called on those who entered Saudi Arabia after traveling to the list of banned countries after Nov. 1, to take a PCR test.


What do parents in Saudi Arabia really think about distance learning?

Schools in the Kingdom closed in March 2020, in the early stages of the pandemic. They began to reopen in September this year, though remote learning remains in place for younger children. (SPA)
Schools in the Kingdom closed in March 2020, in the early stages of the pandemic. They began to reopen in September this year, though remote learning remains in place for younger children. (SPA)
Updated 28 November 2021

What do parents in Saudi Arabia really think about distance learning?

Schools in the Kingdom closed in March 2020, in the early stages of the pandemic. They began to reopen in September this year, though remote learning remains in place for younger children. (SPA)
  • After education minister said 83% of parents believe online education has been good for kids’ mental health, we talk those on both sides of the debate

JEDDAH: Distance learning was a necessity imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the past 18 months there has been a great deal of debate, globally, about the merits or otherwise of remote education and how well its extended use has served students during these difficult times.

In Saudi Arabia, however, parents appear to be overwhelmingly in favor of distance learning, according to figures quoted by Education Minister Hamad Al-Sheikh. Speaking last month at the Saudi Family Forum, organized by the Family Affairs Council, he said 83 percent of parents believe that remote education has positively affected their children’s mental and psychological health. He added that it is here to stay, in some form, even after the pandemic ends because it has become a pillar of the education system.
Saudi authorities responded to the need to close classrooms during the pandemic by developing the Madrasati, or “My School,” platform as a gateway to keep students at all levels, from first to 12th grade, and their parents connected with schools and teachers in an attempt to provide the best possible online educational experience. To help achieve this it provides access to textbooks, notes, study materials, videos, tutorials and more besides. In the first week after its launch in September 2020, the free platform logged 41 million visits.
Redha Omda, a father of three in Jeddah, told Arab News that teachers are using new techniques to enhance the online learning environment, and applauded the increased use of technology.
“I like how technology is playing a big part in the educational sector,” he said. “Teachers are contacting me through WhatsApp and they are more accessible than before.

BACKGROUND

Saudi authorities responded to the need to close classrooms during the pandemic by developing the Madrasati, or ‘My School,’ platform as a gateway to keep students at all levels, from first to 12th grade, and their parents connected with schools and teachers in an attempt to provide the best possible online educational experience. To help achieve this it provides access to textbooks, notes, study materials, videos, tutorials and more besides.

“The Madrasati platform is linked to the parent’s Tawakkalna app, which is amazing, and it lets me know everything about my kids. I am also impressed by how my kids are using technology in a way that I did not imagine.”
Bara’a Alfergani, a mother of two living in Jeddah, said that distance learning saves students a lot of time.
“Study at home is better than attending eight hours of classes every day and then coming home with homework to do,” she said. “It is much easier to attend online and do homework at the same place.”

In the first week after Madrasati launch in September 2020, the free platform logged 41 million visits.

Alfergani added that it also makes it easier for her to keep an eye on her children and be more involved in their education.
The Ministry of Education has indicated that the future of learning in Saudi Arabia will involve some form of hybrid learning, as the concept of distance education has evolved as a result of the global health crisis.
Joud Al-Harbi, a 23-year-old college student from Jeddah, said that online education is a much better option than attending classes.
“It allows me to do many things at the same time,” she said. “I interact with my instructors, and most of my collegemates understand the subjects easily.”
One of her friends has a sick child, she added, and prefers to take classes online because it gives her more time to care for the youngster.
Schools and other educational institutions in the Kingdom closed in March 2020, in the early stages of the pandemic. They began to reopen in September this year, though remote learning remains in place for younger children.
Not all parents agree that distance learning has been a good thing, however. Stay-at-home mom Mashael Al-Sahli said it has had an adverse psychological effect on her two children because it has deprived them of a social life.
“Building social skills starts at school and it is an important factor of the growing process,” she said. “It was something we didn’t feel until schools were closed.”
Not only were her children deprived of the school environment, activities and their friends, she said, even though the online learning system that has been developed is good she nevertheless has found the learning process to be difficult.
“The kids can’t even see the teachers’ gestures or body language,” she added.
Nahedh Almwalad, an elementary school teacher in Jeddah, said that children have a lot of energy and their attention span is limited, which can be a challenge with online education, but added that it can help to teach them patience.


15,000 residency, labor, border violators arrested across Saudi Arabia

15,000 residency, labor, border violators arrested across Saudi Arabia
Updated 28 November 2021

15,000 residency, labor, border violators arrested across Saudi Arabia

15,000 residency, labor, border violators arrested across Saudi Arabia
  • The authorities transferred 75,649 offenders to their respective diplomatic missions to obtain travel documents

RIYADH: Saudi authorities arrested almost 15,000 people in one week for breaching residency, work, and border security regulations, an official report has revealed.

During the period Nov. 18 to 24, a total of 7,552 arrests were made for violations of residency rules, while 5,699 people were held over illegal border crossing attempts, and a further 1,529 on labor-related issues.

The report’s findings showed that among 429 arrested while trying to cross the border into the Kingdom, 70 percent were Yemeni citizens, 28 percent Ethiopians, and 2 percent other nationalities.

A further 36 people were caught trying to cross into neighboring countries, and 14 were held for involvement in transporting and harboring violators.

The authorities transferred 75,649 offenders to their respective diplomatic missions to obtain travel documents, while 2,048 were transferred to complete their travel reservations and 9,586 were deported.

The Ministry of Interior pointed out that anyone found to be helping people gain illegal entry to the Kingdom, and transporting, or providing shelter for them could face imprisonment for a maximum of 15 years, a fine of up to SR1 million ($260,000), or confiscation of vehicles and property.

Suspected violations can be reported on the toll-free number 911 in the Makkah and Riyadh regions, and 999 or 996 in other regions of the Kingdom.


Saudi Arabia’s Space101 training program launched for undergraduates

Space101 training program launched for undergraduates. (Shutterstock)
Space101 training program launched for undergraduates. (Shutterstock)
Updated 28 November 2021

Saudi Arabia’s Space101 training program launched for undergraduates

Space101 training program launched for undergraduates. (Shutterstock)
  • The commission explained that the training focuses on the basics of space science and technology by implementing professional programs under expert supervision

RIYADH: The Saudi Space Commission recently launched its first specialized training program in the field of space and space technology in cooperation with Airbus Defense and Space.
The program aims to raise the level of education and practical know-how in the space sector for undergraduates and those interested in learning space science.
The commission explained that the training focuses on the basics of space science and technology by implementing professional programs under expert supervision.
The training program is the result of a partnership agreement concluded on the sidelines of the International Astronautical Congress 2022 in October between the Saudi commission and Airbus to train national cadres in the space sector and provide job opportunities for trainees in the field.
It also contributes to achieving the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 by developing national human capabilities and qualifying them for the labor market.
Those wishing to register for the Space101 training program can do so via the following link: https://initiativesportal.saudispace.gov.sa/ar/user/login?destination=/ar/space101

 


Saudi initiative to develop digital capabilities of young people

Women attend a hackathon in Jeddah. (AFP file photo)
Women attend a hackathon in Jeddah. (AFP file photo)
Updated 28 November 2021

Saudi initiative to develop digital capabilities of young people

Women attend a hackathon in Jeddah. (AFP file photo)
  • The initiative focuses on analyzing eight basic digital skills, including managing cybersecurity by protecting personal data and addressing cyber-attacks, managing cyber-bullying by promoting awareness of how to combat it

JEDDAH: The governorate of Makkah region, in partnership with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, is implementing the Future Champions initiative to develop digital capabilities for young people.

Under the slogan “How to be a role model in the digital world,” and through the sixth session of the Makkah Cultural Forum, the initiative aims to enhance digital citizenship, raise awareness and teach the optimal use of IT and communication.

It also aims to study the awareness of community members in the use of digital world applications and their enjoyment of skills and sound ethics through the use of the Internet and technology by analyzing a set of digital patterns and studying the behavior of individuals in the digital space.

The initiative focuses on analyzing eight basic digital skills, including managing cybersecurity by protecting personal data and addressing cyber-attacks, managing cyber-bullying by promoting awareness of how to combat it, and managing privacy by safely handling personal data when requested on the Internet.

Other skills include sound thinking and owning tools to distinguish between correct and incorrect information, managing digital footprint by understanding its nature and the real consequences, digital empathy with people in the virtual world and knowing their needs and feelings, managing screen time through self-control and time management, and digital national identity and showing it healthily and fairly.

This is achieved through an initial questionnaire to measure basic digital skills among individuals. More than 50,000 participants take part in the questionnaire.

Through its active partnership with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, the governorate of Makkah contributes to promoting the concept of digital citizenship and providing digital role models within the forum’s programs by presenting a diverse initiative that takes place in the cities and towns of the region.

It targets all segments of society to develop the region and its digital space in line with national efforts to create a new stage in communications and IT by employing smart systems, digital algorithms, analyzing big data and using the techniques of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in its cities and the work of its sectors to make the Kingdom a leading digital model.