RIYADH: Saudi Arabia recorded 10 new COVID-19 related deaths on Thursday, raising the total number of fatalities to 8,449.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 499 new cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 540,743 people have now contracted the disease.
Of the total number of cases, 5,858 remain active and 1,234 in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 145, followed by Makkah with 84, Jazan with 49, the Eastern Province recorded 46, and Asir confirmed 43 cases.
The health ministry also announced that 877 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 526,436.
Over 33 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 with the Sehhaty app to receive the vaccine, and adhere to the measures and abide by instructions.
Meanwhile, some 60 people were arrested in Hail for violating preventive measures that stipulate no more than 20 people can gather at one point. The media spokesman for Hail Police, Capt. Tariq Al-Nassar, said legal measures have been taken against them and penalties were applied against the host, the person in charge of the facility, and everyone who attended the gathering.
The Jeddah Municipality closed 36 commercial establishments and issued fines to 36 others for violating preventive measures, during 4,278 monitoring rounds carried out on Wednesday.
The Eastern Province Municipality carried out 1,426 inspection tours of commercial centers and facilities on Wednesday and registered 74 violations.
Officials have urged the public to report any suspected health breaches by phoning the 940 call center number or using the Balady app.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 210 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 4.41 million.
Saudi sports minister follows up on preparations of Kingdom’s F1 race
The minister said that the Kingdom is proud of the work made by the hands of Saudi citizens, as well as Saudi companies
Updated 03 December 2021
DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Sports Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal was briefed on the latest developments of the Formula One Grand Prix which will be hosted by Jeddah Corniche from Dec. 3 to 5, state news agency SPA reported.
“We have the privilege of hosting this huge sporting event, which represents a dream for all motorsport lovers, and this event would not have been witnessed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia without the grace of Allah Almighty and then the support and follow-up of the Crown Prince. We promise everyone better hosting to achieve the goals of the Kingdom's Vision 2030,” he said.
The minister added that the Kingdom is proud of the work made by the hands of Saudi citizens, as well as Saudi companies.
On Sunday, Makkah Governor Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, advisor to King Salman, was briefed on the latest preparations for the Saudi Formula One race.
Al-Faisal listened to an explanation by Prince Khalid bin Sultan Al-Faisal about the 27-turn, 6,175-meter-long circuit, the second-longest track in F1 history.
Prince Khalid, who is the president of the Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation, confirmed the completion of the preparations for hosting the F1 race.
Frankly Speaking: France has a lot to learn from Saudi Arabia on combating terror financing, says Senate member Nathalie Goulet
Leading French politician and foreign affairs expert makes the comments as President Macron embarks on Saudi visit
Gulet gives her views on “Frankly Speaking,” the series of video interviews with regional and international policymakers
Updated 03 December 2021
DUBAI: France and the rest of Europe can learn from Saudi Arabia’s approach to combating the financing of terrorism, a leading French politician and foreign affairs expert has told Arab News.
Nathalie Goulet, a member of the Senate of France and the country’s commission on foreign affairs and defense, said: “Saudi Arabia has its own place on the subject of fighting financing of terrorism, and they do it very seriously. It is matching international standards on the subject.”
Goulet, who recently returned from a visit to the Kingdom for meetings with senior policymakers about the campaign to halt terrorism finance, highlighted Saudi initiatives with Etidal, the center for combating extremist ideology, as well as actions by the Saudi Central Bank, and financial intelligence services.
“In Europe and especially in France there has sometimes been a kind of bad habit to link Saudi Arabia with the financing of terrorism and we have to break this image and what is now purely fake news,” she added.
Goulet, speaking just before a visit to the Kingdom by French President Emmanuel Macron, gave her views on “Frankly Speaking,” the series of video interviews with prominent regional and international policymakers and businesspeople.
In a wide-ranging interview, she also spoke of the rising threat from the Muslim Brotherhood and its role in terrorism finance, the volatile relationship between France and Algeria, and the reforms in Saudi Arabia under the Vision 2030 strategy.
On terror funding, she contrasted the practice among the Muslim community in France, where zakat donations are made in cash and therefore harder to control, with the situation in the Kingdom.
“Saudi Arabia put in place a system to prevent any collection of zakat by cash. Everything is by banking transfer to a special NGO and that is very useful, very clever, and also very, very safe.
“On collecting zakat, Saudi Arabia can be an example for us because we are absolutely unable to track the money and, at the same time of course, most of the zakat is giving (money) for good purposes. But sometimes it’s not and we try to ban cash as much as possible. Saudi Arabia is giving us an excellent example,” she said.
She noted that the Muslim Brotherhood was still playing a significant role in terrorism funding in Europe and pointed out the organization’s influence in the Islamic community and within humanitarian organizations.
“First of all, they have a lot of humanitarian actions but then they use the same money to sponsor terrorism all over Europe. We have to ban those people, definitely. Austria already banned the Muslim Brotherhood from Austria; Germany is on the way. France – not yet – but I am pushing them a lot,” she added.
Goulet hit out specifically at the role of the Islamic Relief organization, which she alleged had been aiding terrorism finance, supported the terror-designated Hamas organization in Palestine, and claimed its executives had been responsible for spreading anti-Semitic messages on social media.
“So, what we have to do is track the money and then try to ban any financing for those people. We have to check and have strong investigations into how they collect money and what they are doing with this money, and we have to stop any terror financing absolutely,” she said.
Statement by Islamic Relief Worldwide
Islamic Relief Worldwide (IRW) categorically denies funding terrorism and also denies any support for Hamas. As a registered charity regulated by the Charity Commission of England and Wales, IRW is independently audited on behalf of governments, UN bodies, and other significant institutional donors several times a year. Between 2009 and 2019, the organization underwent over 500 internal and external audits which found no evidence of using funds for anything other than saving lives and contributing to the global humanitarian agenda in line with the important humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality, and independence.
We have stringent checks in place to ensure that money only goes to where it is needed – helping the most vulnerable. We routinely screen all trustees, senior management, staff, volunteers, partners, and contractors to ensure they have no links to proscribed groups or entities of any kind.
IRW rejects and condemns terrorism and believes that all forms of discrimination – including anti-Semitism – are unacceptable. Regrettably, there have been historic cases of individuals falling short of our values, but these have been dealt with firmly and swiftly, and the individuals involved are no longer with the organization. Following these past incidents, the Charity Commission of England and Wales conducted a fact-finding review last year which concluded that we had responded thoroughly and appropriately. In addition, an independent review was conducted by the former UK Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC, which found that the organization was not institutionally anti-Semitic.
You can find a link to the Independent Commission report here.
You can find the Charity Commission’s statement on the completion of its fact-finding review here.
The Kingdom’s resolve in tackling the funding of terrorism was an example of the positive changes taking place in the country under the Vision 2030 reform plan, which was having a profound effect on life in Saudi Arabia.
“When you see the difference on the streets, the way that the youth is happy in the country, and when you see the development, it is clear that something has happened. And it’s the Vision 2030 of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman which has brought it about and will bring such a lot of hope in the country,” Goulet added.
On French foreign policy toward Muslim countries, she thought that the issue was complicated by France’s colonial history. “It’s always very emotional,” she said.
With regard to Algeria, France’s former colony, relations with which have been strained owing to comments made by Macron, and some visa issues, Goulet expected the situation to improve, adding that “links with Algeria are very strong.”
On Lebanon, a country Macron has visited several times in attempts to help it through its intensifying crisis, she said the Lebanese people should look to a new political generation to repatriate the proceeds of corruption held in overseas havens, rather than seeking financial bailouts from countries such as France.
However, she spoke out against French policy in Lebanon with regard to Hezbollah. “The government for the last 15 years has been treating Hezbollah in a very strange way – like there is a political Hezbollah and a military Hezbollah, and we have to ban the military Hezbollah to discuss with the political Hezbollah.
“But the reality is that there is just one Hezbollah. Just as there is one Hamas, there is one Hezbollah, there is not one military and one political. It’s the same terrorist group,” she said.
Goulet was also critical of attitudes toward Arabs and Muslims within France. A recent Arab News survey with YouGov showed that 64 percent of French people had a negative impression of the minority groups.
“I think it’s a fact unfortunately and it’s because of the major political leaders surfing on the wave of populism right now. It’s something which will help them collect votes,” she added, referring to the presidential elections in France next year.
“We also have the yellow vests (movement) and street agitation, along with conspiracy theories, and everything is boiling in the same pan to produce something that smells very bad.”
Goulet, who is a member of the Centrist Union political grouping in the French Senate, was disparaging of the presidential prospects of Eric Zemmour, the rightwing populist who recently gained ground in opinion polls.
She said: “I think these things will collapse soon. It was just like a small fire. His campaign will collapse. That is not France, I mean that cannot be France. I mean this guy is a pure populist. He has no team and I hope he will run out of money soon and then will disappear in the trash because he doesn’t deserve anything else but trash.”
The politician expressed hope that relations between France and Britain – under increasing strain since Brexit and the arrival of the government of Boris Johnson – could improve but noted that the “misunderstandings” in Anglo-French affairs went all the way back to French military leader Napoleon Bonaparte.
With regard to the latest flashpoint – the migration of refugees across the English Channel – Goulet said the situation was “unbearable,” but pointed out that higher levels of social benefits were available to refugees in the UK compared to France and other EU countries.
“I know for sure that Britain attracts emigrants because it’s easier for them to live there and have some subsidies and help. So, maybe one of the keys is for Britain to be more restrictive regarding migrants so it doesn’t look so attractive – maybe.”
Cybersecurity conference a hit with young Saudi programmers
Children from across the country met to exchange ideas and experiences and to enter competitions
Updated 03 December 2021
RIYADH: The three-day @hack conference, a cybersecurity event held in Riyadh, attracted adults and children alike. Kids from across the country met to exchange ideas and experiences and to enter competitions.
Faisal Al-Qahtani, an 11-year-old who enjoys coding games, told Arab News: “I started programming when I was nine. I watched some tutorials online to improve my coding skills, and now I use software like Unity, Visual Studio, Blender, Audacity, and many other programs.
“I think this conference should not be limited to cybersecurity. I met new people, and I learned more about programming,” Al-Qahttani said.
Another 11-year-old, Abdulaziz Al-Odan, said he came to @hack to learn more about programming and to meet like-minded enthusiasts. “I heard that there are a lot of competitions here, like Catch the Flag and Bug Bounty,” he said. “But I was lacking a team, so I came here to meet people and now I have completed my team.”
Al-Odan first discovered his talent for coding through Satr — a free Arabic platform for learning programming languages. “I created an account on the platform and learned about Java scripts, and now I have my own scripts,” Al-Odan said.
Ayedh Al-Qahttani, 14, told Arab News that he became interested in hacking when his Sony account was hacked a year ago, which caused him huge problems.
“The hacker who took (control of) my Sony account used social-engineering techniques. I went straight to YouTube to learn about hacking, and I believe that researching is important to develop skills,” he said.
He praised the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones for creating the @hack event. “They gave us this beautiful opportunity to attend such a conference. I learned from many people, and I got to meet my team. I hope we see @hack next year,” he added.
OIC chief, Russian envoy discuss ways to strengthen ties
Updated 03 December 2021
JEDDAH: The secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Hissein Brahim Taha, received the permanent representative of Russia to the OIC, Ramazan Abdulatipov, in Jeddah on Thursday.
Both parties valued the ties that connect the Islamic world and Russia and explored more ways to strengthen fruitful dialogue and cooperation between the organization and the Russian Federation in various fields.
Earlier, Taha met a number of foreign envoys to Saudi Arabia. They congratulated the new OIC chief on taking office last month and discussed their countries’ relations with the organization.
Saudi authority holds workshops to combat corruption
Updated 03 December 2021
RIYADH: The Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority, in cooperation with various government agencies, organized several workshops and awareness programs between Nov. 28 and Dec. 2, with the participation of a number of specialists.
Workshops were held in the ministries of defense, interior, and foreign affairs, in addition to the Saudi Electronic University.
This series of workshops, awareness programs and initiatives, in cooperation with the General Bureau for Auditing, seek to protect integrity, combat corruption and enhance the principle of transparency in work environments.