How Saudi app designers made blood donation in the Kingdom easier, more organized

A Saudi youth flashes the V-sign for victory as he gives blood at a donation center in Jeddah. (AFP file photo)
1 / 5
A Saudi youth flashes the V-sign for victory as he gives blood at a donation center in Jeddah. (AFP)
Blood stocks need to be replenished constantly because blood components have a limited shelf life.  (AFP file photo)
2 / 5
Blood stocks need to be replenished constantly because blood components have a limited shelf life.  (AFP file photo)
Blood stocks need to be replenished constantly because blood components have a limited shelf life.  (AFP file photo)
3 / 5
Blood stocks need to be replenished constantly because blood components have a limited shelf life.  (AFP file photo)
Blood stocks need to be replenished constantly because blood components have a limited shelf life.   (AFP file photo)
4 / 5
Blood stocks need to be replenished constantly because blood components have a limited shelf life. 
Ahmed Alhesayani was one of the young Saudi co-founders of Wateen and helped to launch the service in early 2019. (Supplied)
5 / 5
Ahmed Alhesayani was one of the young Saudi co-founders of Wateen and helped to launch the service in early 2019. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 13 September 2021

How Saudi app designers made blood donation in the Kingdom easier, more organized

How Saudi app designers made blood donation in the Kingdom easier, more organized
  • Tech entrepreneurs revolutionizing the health sector and inspiring more people to donate blood
  • To date, Wateen has clocked up 520,000 users, 962,000 donations and 440,000 appointments

DUBAI: Blood-donation awareness has been steadily increasing in Saudi Arabia, thanks in part to an innovative smartphone app called Wateen, which tells people about their nearest blood bank, when they are due to give, and how many times they have donated.

Ahmad Alhesayani, one of Wateen’s young Saudi co-founders, helped launch the service in early 2019. Today it is used by the Kingdom’s Ministry of Health under Sehhaty, the national platform for blood donation.

“Wateen not only makes donating easier, but also automates more than 150 private and public blood-bank systems in the country, making them more productive, helpful and organized,” Alhesayani told Arab News.

“The service encourages and enables voluntary blood donation in Saudi Arabia. It has a humanitarian approach, and what shapes it is the vision of creating a robust health infrastructure around blood, plasma and platelets donation. The concept is both ambitious and feasible, and at the same time imperative.”




Wateen has become a recruitment tool for the ministry to motivate potential donors

Blood and its components are used by hospitals to treat patients with medical conditions such as anemia, cancer and blood disorders, as well as those having surgery. Nations try to maintain a stockpile of blood so that their health systems can provide lifesaving transfusions during mass-casualty events. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has refocused minds on health-system preparedness.

However, blood stocks need to be replenished constantly because blood components have a limited shelf life. Red blood cells can be stored for up to 35 days, platelets for up to seven days, and plasma for up to three years.

Blood banks rely on regular voluntary donations. Despite shifting attitudes in the Kingdom toward blood donation and a growing number of donors, including many women, blood banks occasionally run short, especially when it comes to rarer blood types, which can be a matter of life and death for patients.




Blood stocks need to be replenished constantly because blood components have a limited shelf life.  (AFP file photo)


Saudi health officials have introduced measures to ensure adequate stocks in blood banks, including those run by the health ministry and dedicated centers. These include a large facility at King Fahad Medical City and the country’s Central Blood Bank.

Donors in the Kingdom must be aged over 17, weigh more than 50 kg and have passed a brief medical examination.

Wateen provides a seamless interface where people can locate their nearest blood bank and other facilities without having to trawl the internet, which often provides “useless and superficial” information, according to Alhesayani.

“The approach is to tap Saudis’ inherent compassion and brotherhood, and turn it into a tangible service. Freeing people of their reservations and misunderstandings regarding blood donations, and partnering with like-minded individuals and organizations is at the heart of our business model.”




Ahmed Alhesayani (foreground) was one of the young Saudi co-founders of Wateen and helped to launch the service in early 2019. (Supplied)

Alhesayani belongs to a generation of young Saudis responsible for a wave of innovations in health-tech solutions — a trend that has been nurtured by the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform agenda, which seeks to diversify national industries away from oil and build a dynamic, knowledge-based economy.

“I found myself in this project when I finished my first semester in the college of law,” said Alhesayani, a graduate of King Saud University in Riyadh.

“It started after an invitation from a friend to leave my part-time job as a bookseller and join a team driven by the desire to make an impact, with a clear vision to change the blood-bank system and help the community. I was impressed by a short conversation I had with him, so I left my job and joined in the early stages of the project.”

As the startup grew and its destination became clearer, Alhesayani was handed the operational lead in recognition of his energy and passion for the project. “I was a 19-year-old student, but it is possible to handle it if you are hungry to learn and achieve,” he said.

FASTFACTS

56 Ideal gap between whole blood donations in days.

3 Lives that can be saved by a single donation.

10 Average adult’s blood volume in pints.

1 Typical whole-blood donation volume in pints.

(Source: Cedars-Sinai)

Leading operations was one of the most complex parts of the project, with responsibility for more than 150 blood banks in over 20 regions, thousands of users and more than 40 health ministry representatives — all at least 10 years older than Alhesayani.

“I have funny stories about dealing with older people from hugely different backgrounds,” he said. “The operations were not only about that, but the platform would have been useless if it were not integrated with all blood banks.”

Qualified training, including data entry, appointments and donation requests, was needed for nurses, doctors and the staff providing the service for donors. The work meant Alhesayani often had to travel while continuing his university studies.

“At Wateen, we have weekly, monthly and yearly key performance indicators that help us achieve our targets and grow rapidly,” he said. “I was committed to achieving more than what they were looking for, and my team and I completed the annual target after only four months of hard work.”




Wateen acts as a platform with a growing number of features and is integrated under the name of Sehhaty and Blood Bank Management System.

Alhesayani said that the Qimam Fellowship — an intensive 12-day training program launched in 2018 to empower the Kingdom’s high-potential university students through one-to-one mentoring and career guidance — was a vital step in his career development.

One of the student participants, Ahmed Alenzi, joined Wateen’s operations team in early 2019 after being recommended by his mentor.

“I worked with Alenzi for a while, and saw how clever, hard working and smart he was, with a real passion for success,” Alhesayani told Arab News. “Later on, I asked him about Qimam, how to apply and the benefits it offers.”

The young entrepreneur added: “Qimam is not only a period program but also provides friends and colleagues for life — people you will always be proud of, learn from, and potential and promising partners you will love to work with.”

At the end of 2019, as a culmination of his work at Wateen, Alhesayani and his team applied for the King Khalid Award for the nonprofit sector in the GCC, and won, gaining the recognition of King Salman.

Today, Wateen acts as a platform with a growing number of features, including additional information from other health ministry platforms, and is integrated under the name of Sehhaty and Blood Bank Management System.




Wateen has become a recruitment tool for the ministry to motivate potential donors. (AFP file photo)

With 520,000 users, 962,000 donations and 440,000 appointments, Wateen has become a recruitment tool for the ministry to motivate potential donors and meet the needs of blood banks.

“Wateen has come to fruition for the overall advancement of Saudi Arabia’s healthcare infrastructure,” Alhesayani said.

“The country has an advanced infrastructure on many counts, but there is plenty of scope for improvement when it comes to blood donation. Saudi Arabia is growing and progressing rapidly in such areas as artificial intelligence, data and innovation, which will create a seamless customer experience in people’s daily or seasonal needs.

“The healthcare system is one of them. Wateen is just one example of the vast tech transformations occurring in Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health.”

__________________
Twitter: @CalineMalek


Coronavirus booster dose ‘unnecessary,’ say Saudi experts

More than 40.7 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
More than 40.7 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
Updated 19 September 2021

Coronavirus booster dose ‘unnecessary,’ say Saudi experts

More than 40.7 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
  • New recoveries reported amounted to 77, raising the total number to 535,450

JEDDAH: A third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is unnecessary, according to Saudi health experts.
“If the two doses of the vaccine prevent severe illness/staying in hospital/death, it does not make sense for the general population to receive a third dose,” said deputy health minister for preventive health, Dr. Abdullah Assiri.
Assiri, who is also an infectious diseases consultant, added: “At this stage of excellent vaccination coverage, we need to reconsider the rationale and method of laboratory testing for COVID-19, and judge the pandemic only from the perspective of the burden of disease on society.”
The comments came after news of proposed booster shots of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for the general public, and third jabs for people aged 65 and older and other vulnerable groups.
Meanwhile, infectious disease expert, Ahmed Al-Hakawi, said that accelerating demand for approval of a third (booster) dose for everyone was not supported by a study he cited.

FASTFACT

546k

The total number of coronavirus cases in KSA reached 546,479.

Titled “Safety and Efficacy of the BNT162b2 mRNA Covid-19 Vaccine through 6 Months,” the study, published on Sept. 15, was conducted on more than 45,000 participants in 152 sites in six countries.
The study concluded that “through 6 months of follow-up and despite a gradual decline in vaccine efficacy, BNT162b2 had a favorable safety profile and was highly efficacious in preventing COVID-19.”
“The vaccine still provides protection against severe disease even six months after the second dose,” said Al-Hakawi, who is also a hospital epidemiologist in Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia recorded 68 new cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Saturday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 546,479, the Ministry of Health said.
New recoveries reported amounted to 77, raising the total number to 535,450.
With the high recovery rate, the number of active cases has declined to 2,373, of which 361 are in critical care.
Five people have died in the past 24 hours, raising the total number of deaths to 8,656.


Saudi chef to kings reveals latest recipes for culinary success

As well as developing Arab recipes for Saudi dairy products, Tawfiq Qadri has cooked up more than 3,000 different hot, cold, and pastry meals. (Supplied)
As well as developing Arab recipes for Saudi dairy products, Tawfiq Qadri has cooked up more than 3,000 different hot, cold, and pastry meals. (Supplied)
Updated 11 min 24 sec ago

Saudi chef to kings reveals latest recipes for culinary success

As well as developing Arab recipes for Saudi dairy products, Tawfiq Qadri has cooked up more than 3,000 different hot, cold, and pastry meals. (Supplied)
  • 58-year-old Tawfiq Qadri still oozes the same enthusiasm for food preparation as he did as child

MAKKAH: A top Saudi cook hailed as the chef to kings is set to pass on more of his culinary skills and recipes with the release of a new book.

Tawfiq Qadri, who has worked in palace kitchens for a succession of monarchs, is due to finish his third cookbook, “On the Table of the Caliph.”
And the 58-year-old still oozes the same enthusiasm for food preparation as he did as child.
“It all started when I was seven years old. I was fascinated with the sight of my mother in the kitchen, and I used to help in cutting carrots and cucumbers and cleaning rice. I was the only one of 16 brothers and sisters to help her at our home in Madinah,” he told Arab News.
“I joined the scouts during intermediate and high school and was the chef of my classmates at the time. I became famous for cooking the popular Hijazi dishes, which the scouts enjoyed despite my lack of experience.”
After moving to Italy to train as a chef, Qadri’s career took off as he later made a name for himself catering for royals, presidents, and celebrities.
But his rise to fame in the cuisine arts did not get off to a smooth start.
After graduating from high school in Madinah, he got a job at the Saudi Central Bank, an experience which left a bad taste in his mouth. Working in a small office, Qadri felt trapped in an environment he said killed his creative passion to cook.

At the age of 19, just six months into his job, he quit the bank without telling his family and went to stay at his uncle’s hotel. With the help of his relative, and with his parents’ blessing, Qadri enrolled in a bachelor’s degree course at an Italian institute in Sicily, spending two-and-a-half years there as the only Arab student.

BACKGROUND

• After graduating from high school in Madinah, he got a job at the Saudi Central Bank, an experience which left a bad taste in his mouth. Working in a small office, Qadri felt trapped in an environment he said killed his creative passion to cook.

• At the age of 19, just six months into his job, he quit the bank without telling his family and went to stay at his uncle’s hotel. With the help of his relative, and with his parents’ blessing, Qadri enrolled in a bachelor’s degree course at an Italian institute in Sicily, spending two-and-a-half years there as the only Arab student. He also gained a master’s degree and Ph.D. in the US based on his thesis on managing kitchens and tourist facilities.

On returning home, in 1981 he took up employment with the Royal Saudi Navy, based in Riyadh. There, he was head chef and supervisor of the navy officers’ club and would often fly to Toulon in France to join a ship that regularly sailed to Saudi Arabia, working on board as a chef. After four years in the navy, during which time he rose to the rank of sergeant, he moved into military supply management, eventually heading the operation, and organizing budgets for the whole of the Kingdom.
When the Gulf crisis started in 1990, he was commissioned to join the Ministry of Defense and became the chef of the Allied Forces, earning the rank of chief sergeant.
After taking early retirement from the navy, Qadri spent six years with Saudia airline’s catering division, developing a range of dishes, before advising international hotels on food provision and judging in many culinary competitions throughout the Arab world.
While working with Saudia airline, Qadri was featured in a Saudi newspaper article under the headline, “Passengers Love him Before Seeing Him.” On the back of the publicity, he was given responsibility for Hijazi cooking at the palace of the late King Fahd and went on to work for the late King Abdullah, and now King Salman, notably preparing the kitchen during the visit of former US President Barack Obama.
He also gained a master’s degree and Ph.D. in the US based on his thesis on managing kitchens and tourist facilities. As well as developing Arab recipes for Saudi dairy products, Qadri has cooked up more than 3,000 different hot, cold, and pastry meals, and created 42 new recipes. He is also the author of books “Saudi and the Star of the Table,” and “Guide of the Quick Cooking,” with “On the Table of the Caliph” due to be completed soon.


Saudi Commerce Ministry outlines app for validating discounts

A woman shops for snacks at a supermarket in Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh. (AFP file photo)
A woman shops for snacks at a supermarket in Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh. (AFP file photo)
Updated 19 September 2021

Saudi Commerce Ministry outlines app for validating discounts

A woman shops for snacks at a supermarket in Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh. (AFP file photo)
  • Establishments need license to offer promotional sales

RIYADH: The Ministry of Commerce has reaffirmed the mechanisms for validating seasonal offers and discounts, outlining its digital solution to the major consumer challenge.

Ministry spokesman Abdulrahman bin Mohammed Al-Hussein said that stores need a license to offer discounts and must display it clearly for the consumer.
Other requirements set by the ministry include identifying the discount percentage and the price of the product before and after the reduction. The ministry also monitors prices to ensure that there is no fraud or misleading advertising.
To check offers and discounts, customers can scan the discount barcode on the “Sales” application, he added.
The spokesperson urged consumers to ensure the reliability of the online store through the ministry website or the “Maroof” platform, so that they are not subject to fraud.

Fahd Al-Bogami

“The method of checking the discounts has high reliability, it is no longer a matter of stickers that can be replaced in one way or another. The cuts have become more and more credible than before,” Hajar, a student at Princess Nourah University, told Arab News.
She added that the “Sales” application gives the customer a wide range of options, and all age groups can use it with ease.
Mohammed Mubarak, a former employee of Saudi Aramco, said he was suspicious of discounts offered by some stores, while confirming that he has never used the “Sales” application.

HIGHLIGHT

To check offers and discounts, customers can scan the discount barcode on the ‘Sales’ application. The ministry also monitors prices to ensure that there is no fraud or misleading advertising.

“I was surprised by some unreasonable discounts in many stores,” he told Arab News.
Fahd Al-Bogami, a member of the e-commerce committee in the Riyadh Chamber, stressed the importance of educating consumers about real discounts.
“In order to be sure as a consumer, you have to enter the discount platform and check whether the discount is authorized,” he told Arab News. “It is important to realize that the Ministry of Commerce penalizes any party that places discounts without obtaining the permission to do so.”
Al-Bogami noted the growing adoption of digital technology by service providers, adding that many people can complete their transactions on their phones.
“This is wonderful. This is not only in the commercial sector, but in education, medicine and others,” he said.
“This gives greater opportunities for entrepreneurs on and the consumer to benefit from each other. Challenges are being overcome through digital solutions.”

Decoder

MAROOF

It is an e-platform launched by Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Commerce to enable registered online sellers to easily reach large groups of customers. It also gives online shoppers a visualization of the quality of services provided by e-stores, and allows customer evaluation of an e-store or its products.


New Saudi supercar club ‘DRB 1921’ offers bespoke experiences

The club is set to offer outstanding experiences that are tailored to accommodate those who appreciate state-of-the-art technology and a thrilling ride. (Supplied)
The club is set to offer outstanding experiences that are tailored to accommodate those who appreciate state-of-the-art technology and a thrilling ride. (Supplied)
Updated 18 September 2021

New Saudi supercar club ‘DRB 1921’ offers bespoke experiences

The club is set to offer outstanding experiences that are tailored to accommodate those who appreciate state-of-the-art technology and a thrilling ride. (Supplied)
  • DRB 1921, the supercar club for exotic car owners in Saudi Arabia, also celebrates 100 years of motor cars in the Kingdom
  • The inaugural event will take place in the north of Riyadh on Sept. 30, where members will participate in the ‘320 km Speed Challenge’

JEDDAH: Continuing to grow its portfolio of unique experiences in Saudi Arabia, Extreme Events has announced the opening of a supercar members’ club, DRB 1921.

The club creates bespoke events and tours at some of the most iconic destinations around the globe, including internationally recognized race circuits such as Silverstone International Circuit in the UK.

“Combining thrilling driving events with luxurious hospitality, world-class curation, attention to detail and customer care will bring members back time and time again,” a statement said.

To celebrate Saudi Arabia’s passion for high performance cars, DRB 1921’s name is inspired by an Arabic meaning of route (DRB) and a celebratory date when historians noted the first motor vehicles arrived in the Kingdom, spawning the nation’s love for cars.

Moreover, this year marks 100 years of motor cars in the Kingdom. With such richness and passion for motoring, DRB 1921 is set to offer outstanding experiences that are tailored to accommodate those who appreciate state-of-the-art technology and a thrilling ride.

Each event is carefully tailored to ensure it meets every member’s expectation and creates the most memorable moments.

With every supercar having its own unique nuances and the average top speed of over 420 km an hour, DRB 1921 provides remarkable experiences in a controlled environment with expert supervision, letting everyone test their driving limits and truly tapping each car’s potential.

Whether it is a scenic drive in the most beautiful and uncharted locations in Saudi Arabia or an exciting speed challenge at an internationally recognized race circuit, DRB 1921 guarantees car owners the driving experience of a lifetime.

HIGHLIGHT

DRB 1921’s name is inspired by an Arabic meaning of route (DRB) and a celebratory date when historians noted the first motor vehicles arrived in the Kingdom, spawning the nation’s love for cars.

Each journey is complemented by the pinnacle of luxury hospitality and exquisite gastronomy, where a like-minded community of supercar owners come together.

DRB 1921 partners with a selection of the world’s top suppliers such as CARS Middle East (Classic Automotive Relocation Services) to ensure the very best assistance and concierge to look after members’ luxury cars, as well as a personal brokerage service that is exceptionally discreet, affording each client complete anonymity.

For those who are ready to master the maximum top speed in these high velocity road vehicles, DRB 1921 is organizing its inaugural event “320km Speed Challenge” on Sept. 30.

The event exclusively takes place on a private non-commercial runway owned by the Saudi Aviation Club, located in Al-Thumama, in the north of Riyadh.

Measuring 4.5 km in length, this vast runway has previously been identified by NASA as one of the few landing destinations across the globe for aborted space shuttle missions.

On this day, supercar owners have an opportunity to join a passionate community for an exhilarating driving experience and an incredible day out.

“Extreme Events is very proud to launch DRB 1921 in Saudi Arabia because it opens the opportunity for supercar owners to test their skills and unlock real potential of their cars in a safe environment,” said James Cooke-Priest, managing director at Extreme Events.

He added: “The concept also encourages a niche community to come together and share different experiences of driving exceptionally advanced supercars. I see DRB 1921 beyond just a private club, I see it becoming a community hub for like-minded car enthusiasts in the Kingdom.”


Head of KSA’s King Abdulaziz Foundation meets Mauritanian PM

Head of KSA’s King Abdulaziz Foundation meets Mauritanian PM
Updated 18 September 2021

Head of KSA’s King Abdulaziz Foundation meets Mauritanian PM

Head of KSA’s King Abdulaziz Foundation meets Mauritanian PM

RIYADH: Secretary-General of the King Abdulaziz Foundation Dr. Fahd bin Abdullah Al-Semari met Mauritanian Prime Minister Mohamed Ould Bilal Massoud in the country’s capital, Nouakchott.

The meeting, which included an accompanying foundation delegation, was attended by Saudi Ambassador to Mauritania Dr. Hazaa bin Zabin Al-Mutairi.

During the meeting, both sides discussed cooperation between the foundation and the National Documents Administration in Mauritania, and ways to enhance and develop their relationship.

Both Saudi and Mauritanian sides also discussed a number of topics related to heritage and cultural issues.

Al-Semari also held a meeting with the director of Mauritanian National Documents, Dr. Muhammad Al-Mukhtar Sayed Muhammad Al-Hadi, to discuss ways to enhance cooperation between the two sides.