Our Islamic values ‘main driver in confronting pandemic’: MWL chief

MWL Secretary-General Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa speaks at the Geneva conference on Saturday. (SPA)
MWL Secretary-General Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa speaks at the Geneva conference on Saturday. (SPA)
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Updated 05 September 2021

Our Islamic values ‘main driver in confronting pandemic’: MWL chief

MWL Secretary-General Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa speaks at the Geneva conference on Saturday. (SPA)
  • WHO head tells Geneva event: ‘Crisis will end when we all decide to put an end to it’

GENEVA: The secretary-general of the Muslim World League has praised the World Health Organization at a Swiss conference for its efforts in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event, hosted by the WHO in Geneva, also included the director-general of the organization, Tedros Adhano, and former prime minister of Norway Kjell Bondevik.

Sheikh Dr. Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa said: “In the time of COVID-19, the World Health Organization has become the global peacemaker from the danger of a deadly enemy that has targeted our world without exception.”

He hailed the WHO’s “outstanding efforts” in reducing suffering amid the pandemic, labeling them as “efforts to achieve world peace.” Through careful monitoring of the situation and practical guidance, the WHO followed through on the maxim “there is no peace like the safety of people’s lives,” Al-Issa said.

He added: “The lethality of this pandemic has been greatly alleviated, and the exhaustion of health facilities has been reduced.” The organization led countries of the world with “high efficiency” to “defeat our common enemy, which has exhausted and frightened our world more than it has been exhausted and frightened by many wars,” Al-Issa said.

The MWL secretary-general praised the granting of the Bridge Maker Award in Norway to the director-general of the WHO, adding that the organization has “increased its struggle for our physical and psychological peace. It is an icon of peace in the time of COVID-19.”

 

In the time of COVID-19, the World Health Organization has become the global peacemaker from the danger of a deadly enemy that has targeted our world without exception.

Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa

Al-Issa said: “Societies around the world would not have been able to cooperate in the battle against the pandemic except through awareness among individuals and institutions, which was encouraged through deliberate programs and effective laws in light of the advice and guidance of the WHO.”

He also discussed the importance of immunization, especially in developing countries, saying that vaccine hesitancy can be addressed through influential figures and effective laws.

Al-Issa proposed the creation of a universal health passport authorized by the WHO so that countries around the world could forbid entry to travelers who have not received vaccines.

In his opening speech at the Geneva International Solidarity Conference to confront the COVID-19 pandemic, Al-Issa also reviewed the efforts of the MWL since the beginning of the pandemic, starting from its headquarters in Makkah.

He said that these efforts included “material aid in direct coordination with governments, as well as medical equipment for health institutions and food aid for vulnerable groups.”

The MWL “worked to spread preventive awareness for more than 30 countries around the world, without discriminating in this humanitarian work for any religious or political reasons,” Al-Issa added.

“We are continuing our efforts, which we see as our duty,” he said.

Bondevik moderated the event, and stressed the role religious leaders play in dealing with the pandemic, especially through improving vaccine uptake.

Tedros Adhano said: “This pandemic will end when we all decide to put an end to it, because the decision is in the hands of all of us.

“Several regions and countries are witnessing a sharp rise in cases of infection and death due to COVID-19, and the reason is the high rate of social contact and movement, the absence of coordinated health and social measures, the emergence of rapidly transmitting mutations and inequality in the availability of vaccines.”

Secretary-General of the World Council of Churches Prof. Ioan Sauca called for dialogue and cooperation at the global level to help combat the pandemic. He said that the main lesson learned from the crisis is “a greater understanding of our common fragility” and “destiny as one humankind.”

Jagan Chapagain, secretary-general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said: “There is no way to confront these crises except through a united front that includes religious institutions, the public sector and society as a whole.”


King Salman Global Academy for Arabic Language implements project to strengthen language policies

King Salman Global Academy for Arabic Language implements project to strengthen language policies
Updated 17 January 2022

King Salman Global Academy for Arabic Language implements project to strengthen language policies

King Salman Global Academy for Arabic Language implements project to strengthen language policies
  • The project aims to train more than 1,000 employees in 20 ministries and government agencies, through 40 training courses

RIYADH: The King Salman Global Academy for Arabic Language has implemented a draft language policy guide for Saudi government institutions.
The move aims to activate decisions related to the language within government bodies, and to develop awareness among workers of the importance of linguistics and its connection to decisions and regulations at various levels.
It also aims to provide procedural steps and an executive working guide that preserves the Arabic language’s position in government institutions, the academy said in a statement.
The project aligns with the academy’s strategic goals, preserving the integrity of Arabic and supporting it verbally and in writing, and developing policies, strategies, plans and programs.
It includes a review of the Saudi language policy, based on various regulations and legislation, and also includes an executive guide for language editing in government institutions.
The project is one of the initiatives of the Human Capacity Development Program, one of the programs of Vision 2030, and aims to train more than a thousand employees in 20 ministries and government agencies, through 40 training courses, focused on two main topics: Writing skills for administrators and the basic rules of Arabic writing.
The two topics were chosen based on a study of specific needs in functional language situations.
The first training courses for the project have already begun, and several were held in coordination with the ministries of culture, education, and Islamic affairs. Courses last for two days, with an average of eight training hours.


Investor interest in Saudi hotel sector is growing, so why are there so few rooms outside cities?

 According to Thamer Alrajeeb, the cornerstone of the development of hotel investment in Saudi Arabia’s various regions lies in facilitating the financing process for investors in the sector. (Supplied)
According to Thamer Alrajeeb, the cornerstone of the development of hotel investment in Saudi Arabia’s various regions lies in facilitating the financing process for investors in the sector. (Supplied)
Updated 16 January 2022

Investor interest in Saudi hotel sector is growing, so why are there so few rooms outside cities?

 According to Thamer Alrajeeb, the cornerstone of the development of hotel investment in Saudi Arabia’s various regions lies in facilitating the financing process for investors in the sector. (Supplied)
  • Hotel industry experts shed light on planning strategies, expansion portfolios and other challenges in the sector

RIYADH: In recent years, there has been a remarkable increase in the number of businesses whose owners are interested in investing in the hotel sector in Saudi Arabia. Yet at the same time, many observers continue to wonder why there are still so few hotels outside of the Kingdom’s major cities.

Amir Lababedi, Hilton’s managing director of development in the Middle East and North Africa, said: “Saudi Arabia represents our largest development pipeline in the Middle East, with plans to expand our presence to more than 75 hotels in the coming years.
“We plan to expand in locations across major primary and secondary cities across Saudi Arabia. We see potential for our mid-market Hampton by Hilton and Hilton Garden Inn brands, as well as for DoubleTree by Hilton and our lifestyle brand, Canopy by Hilton.”
Meanwhile, Radisson Hotel Group announced this week that it plans to expand its operations in Saudi Arabia and increase its investment portfolio in the Middle East to approximately half of its total investments by 2026.

There is a big demand for hotels classified as three or four stars. The local population, as well as visitors — pilgrims, tourists, and businessmen — prefers three- or four-star hotels as these are available all around and are very affordable for the general public. Commercially, their operating cost is lower and thus they generate more revenue than a five-star hotel.

Saleh Al-Habib, Executive director, Jiwar Real Estate Development

According to Saudi Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb: “Radisson Hotel Group’s commitment to developing new hotels in the Kingdom and opening a regional office in Riyadh is an effective contribution to strengthening the Kingdom’s steps to achieve its goal of receiving 100 million visitors by 2030.”
Mahmoud Al-Saeed, the general manager of Pereira Resorts in the Eastern Province, which is managed by Boudl Hotels and Resorts, said the company aims to cater to all sections of society.
“Given that a large segment of society prefers three-star hotels for their quality and reasonable prices, the company has created a chain of Aber hotels,” he said. “It launched the brand in 2018 to meet the needs of many with a group of modern hotels, in terms of design and concept, at affordable prices while ensuring high quality and professionalism in providing services.”

Dr. Saleh Al-Habib, executive director of Jiwar Real Estate Development

The three-star Aber hotels are “situated between hotel apartments and four-star hotels,” according to Al-Saeed. “The economic concept that Boudl is keen to present with this group of hotels has become an important matter for many travelers and those looking for a change in the usual lifestyle,” he added.
Boudl also owns the four-star Pereira hotels and the five-star Narcissus. Al-Saeed said the company has plans for expansion in major cities, and to increase the number of three-star hotels in a number of Saudi cities. These hotels are experiencing an influx of tourists from inside and outside the country, he added.
Al-Saeed, who has worked in the industry for nearly two decades, said that hotels currently face a number of challenges, particularly “in light of the precautions against COVID-19. These include the postponement of many events which usually take place in hotels and the cancellation of reservations for halls used for celebrations or official meetings, due to the coronavirus and its accompanying problems.”
He added that the authorities in Saudi Arabia are aware of the issues and are working to develop the hotel sector.

 Fadil Munakeal, manager of Jabal Omar Jumeirah in Makkah

Thamer Alrajeeb, a former member of the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Tourism Accommodation Committee, said investment in the tourism sector in major cities is encouraging, particularly in Riyadh in support of the Saudi Entertainment Authority initiatives. It is not profitable in other cities, however, where operations are seasonal during a period of a few months each year, usually coinciding with school holidays or good weather.
“For the rest of the year, operation is a loss for the investor,” he said.

FASTFACT

Radisson Hotel Group announced this week that it plans to expand its operations in Saudi Arabia and increase its investment portfolio in the Middle East to approximately half of its total investments by 2026.

Alrajeeb described investing in hotels other than five-star establishments as “feasible.” He said the lower operational costs and prices are affordable to a wider range of guests but added that “many of the Ministry of Tourism’s requirements burden investors.”
He said it is possible to meet the needs of visitors with average levels of financial solvency, particularly outside the three cities of Riyadh, Jeddah, and Dammam. This can be done by investing in hotel suites in particular, which are characterized by low startup costs, “allowing for their rental prices to be more commensurate with the solvency of a wide range of travelers.”
The cornerstone of the development of hotel investment in Saudi Arabia’s various regions lies in facilitating the financing process for investors in the sector while fulfilling the Ministry of Tourism’s requirements, Alrajeeb said, adding that the focus should be on efforts that contribute to raising quality in the sector and meeting the needs of customers.
Fadil Munakeal, manager of the Jabal Omar Jumeirah hotel in Makkah, stressed the importance of providing products and services that correspond to a hotel’s star rating, which he said reflects positively on investment in the sector. He urged the Ministry of Tourism to continue its supervision and follow up efforts to achieve reliability in the sector and improve the image and perception of all types of hotels.
Munakeal, who is also a member of the Hotels Committee of the Makkah Chamber of Commerce and Industry, urged the owners of less expensive establishments, particularly in the three-star and lower categories, to invest in modern marketing techniques and direct them at particular target groups. They must also develop products and services that meet the needs of these target audiences, he added.
He said many domestic tourists, particularly families, prefer to stay in hotel apartments because they have a negative perception of some hotels with fewer than four stars.
Saleh Al-Habib, executive director of Jiwar Real Estate Development, said: “There is a big demand for hotels classified as three or four stars. The local population, as well as visitors — pilgrims, tourists, and businessmen — prefers three- or four-star hotels as these are available all around and are very affordable for the general public.
“Commercially, their operating cost is lower and thus they generate more revenue than a five-star hotel.
“This is a popular choice for almost all classes of society, especially the middle and lower-middle classes. The availability of such hotels and semi-luxurious apartments is numerous. With affordable tariffs, they meet the needs of families, business travelers, as well as those seeking leisure.”
Al-Habib, who is also a member of the Saudi Association for Tourist Accommodation Facilities, said that both locals and expatriates are interested in establishing hotels and furnished apartments in areas such as Abha, Al-Baha, Tabuk, Hafar Al-Batin, Al-Majma’ah and Al-Kharj.
“These interested entrepreneurs are working closely with the National Tourism Fund,” he added.


Saudi Arabia’s KAUST launches Science Festival at Thuwal Beach

Al-Khawarizmi Building in the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology campus, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock)
Al-Khawarizmi Building in the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology campus, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock)
Updated 17 January 2022

Saudi Arabia’s KAUST launches Science Festival at Thuwal Beach

Al-Khawarizmi Building in the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology campus, Thuwal, Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock)
  • The festival includes an exhibition on the Red Sea coast to preview the area’s project to change the rules of sustainable tourism

JEDDAH: King Abdullah University of Science and Technology has launched its annual Science Festival for 2022, which will be held Jan. 20-21.

The festival, which will be held at Thuwal Beach in Jeddah, aims to inspire young talents in Saudi Arabia, the Middle East and North Africa region.

KAUST President Tony Chan said that the world is moving towards innovation as a basis for discovery and invention, and that there is an urgent need for young people to confront the most essential problems in global societies and participate in solving them.

He pointed out that KAUST has become prominent in science and technology in Saudi Arabia, quickly becoming an international platform to inspire and nurture young scientific minds to unleash the power of science and achieve the UN’s sustainable development goals.

“This is a very important occasion in the history of our events, as we are moving the site for the first time outside the walls of KAUST and expanding the program of events to allow the potential of our nation’s youth to move towards great scientific horizons and put Saudi Arabia on the map of innovation, technology and youth-led initiatives,” he said.

Chan stated that this year’s festival will feature a schedule including a variety of science fairs, daily evening science shows, science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics challenges for children, and science projects presented by KAUST students.

The festival also includes an exhibition on the Red Sea coast to preview the area’s project to change the rules of sustainable tourism.

The exhibition will feature whale sharks, shura trees, coral reefs, and marine simulation ponds. Other events will showcase some of the components currently available at KAUST, including the Core Lab, the Start-Up fair, the Museum of Failed Scientific Attempts, and interactive robots that will roam throughout the site.

Food and entertainment kiosks will be available throughout the festival period.

 


Saudi finance minister meets top EU official in Riyadh

Mohammed Al-Jadaan meets with Johannes Hahn in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Mohammed Al-Jadaan meets with Johannes Hahn in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Updated 17 January 2022

Saudi finance minister meets top EU official in Riyadh

Mohammed Al-Jadaan meets with Johannes Hahn in Riyadh. (Supplied)
  • They discussed enhancing financial cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the EU

RIYADH: Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan met European Commissioner for Budget and Administration Johannes Hahn at the ministry’s headquarters in Riyadh on Sunday.
During the meeting, they discussed enhancing financial cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the European Commission and the EU’s economic recovery plans and available investment opportunities.
The meeting was attended by a number of senior officials from the Ministry of Finance and the European Commission.

 


Saudi Arabia rolls out aid in Yemen, Afghanistan

The center distributed on Saturday 17 tons of aid. (SPA)
The center distributed on Saturday 17 tons of aid. (SPA)
Updated 17 January 2022

Saudi Arabia rolls out aid in Yemen, Afghanistan

The center distributed on Saturday 17 tons of aid. (SPA)
  • The project aims to distribute about 192,000 food baskets weighing more than 20,000 tons to impoverished families across 15 Yemeni governorates

HAJJAH: King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center mobile medical clinics have continued providing treatment services at the Waalan camp for displaced people in Yemen’s Hajjah Governorate.

In one week, clinics received 136 people with various health conditions. They were provided with medical services.

KSrelief also distributed more than 63 tons of food baskets in the Al-Mudhaffar district of Taiz Governorate, helping 4,039 people.

The project aims to distribute about 192,000 food baskets weighing more than 20,000 tons to impoverished families across 15 Yemeni governorates.

KSRelief is also distributing food and provide shelter to needy families in Afghanistan as part of the Saudi relief airlift dispatched by the center to support the Afghan people.

The center distributed on Saturday 17 tons of aid. It included 250 food baskets, 500 flour bags, 250 winter bags and 250 blankets in the Qala-e-Fathullah district of Kabul, helping 250 families.