Diriyah through her eyes

Families enjoying their picnics in one of the liveliest places in Diriyah
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Families enjoying their picnics in one of the liveliest places in Diriyah "Wadi Hanifah", a valley that runs for a length of 120 km from northwest to southeast, cutting through the city of Riyadh. (Supplied)
Families enjoying their picnics in one of the liveliest places in Diriyah
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Families enjoying their picnics in one of the liveliest places in Diriyah "Wadi Hanifah", a valley that runs for a length of 120 km from northwest to southeast, cutting through the city of Riyadh. (Supplied)
Wadi Hanifah in Diriyah, a valley that runs for a length of 120km from northwest to southeast, cutting through the city of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)
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Wadi Hanifah in Diriyah, a valley that runs for a length of 120km from northwest to southeast, cutting through the city of Riyadh. (Supplied)
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Updated 22 September 2021

Diriyah through her eyes

Diriyah through her eyes
  • A Saudi great-grandmother talks about her happy memories of driving out of Riyadh for a day in the green countryside

RIYADH: Diriyah and the UNESCO World Heritage site at its heart, At-Turaif, is on the brink of becoming a cultural destination for visitors from around the world.

However, for generations of Saudis, such as 81-year-old great-grandmother Madiha Joharji, who has lived in Riyadh for more than 60 years, Diriyah and the sea of farms that surround it will always have a special place in their hearts.

“When I think of Diriyah, I think of beauty, hospitality and good times,” she said.

“It is a beautiful place. Lush with vivid greenery and surrounded by palm trees as far as the eye can see.”

Joharji recalls the excitement of families from Riyadh packing up their cars with pots and pans and heading off for a day out in what was then the countryside, seemingly far from the city.

“It was a place of joy,” she said, “a place we would take our children at the weekends but considered very far away, a 40-minute car drive, that would turn into a road trip.

“We would pack our essential food items, as there wasn’t anything there other than a small food store, and be on our way.”




Families enjoying their picnics in one of the liveliest places in Diriyah "Wadi Hanifah",  a valley that runs for a length of 120 km from northwest to southeast, cutting through the city of Riyadh. (Supplied)

Drawn by the cooler weather of Diriyah and its lush farms, as people from the city still are today, “we would visit friends in that area, cooking on site, while the children were playing and the men drinking tea and playing card games while we set up a feast for dinner,” she said.

“The locals would see us arrive and would give us fruit from their farms.”

Joharji is amazed by how quickly Riyadh and its surrounding areas have changed.

 “We used to live in the southern part of Riyadh, Malaz, which was considered the downtown of the capital back in my days,” she said.

“The capital has now expanded to the point where Diriyah, which we considered a separate village, is now only six minutes away from where my son lives. Imagine that!”

Riyadh has expanded dramatically over the years, its growth driven by one man’s passion for the city he served for five decades. Before acceding to the throne in 2015, between 1963 and 2011 King Salman was governor of Riyadh province, and in those 48 years the city blossomed beyond all recognition.

It was King Salman who presided over Riyadh’s remarkable transformation from a small city of about 200,000 inhabitants in 1963 to more than seven million by the time he became king.

The King’s passion for Riyadh – a passion that has found further expression in the ambitious plans for Diriyah Gate – was expressed in a speech he gave in the Seventies as the city began to grow rapidly.

“I am always close to Riyadh, even when I am not physically present there,” he said. “For me, Riyadh is the homeland; it is the past and the present and the future.

“When I am away from Riyadh, I continue to think about the city; its operations and affairs, its roads and gardens, the children’s playgrounds, the schools, hospitals, and all of its affairs; every corner of the city lives with me and is in my thoughts and my heart.

“I feel as if I am present on every Riyadh street … I monitor, step by step, every project in the city, and I am filled with love for the city and its people.”

Today, the King’s ambition for Riyadh is being carried into the future by his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Diriyah Gate Development Authority. 




Wadi Hanifah in Diriyah, a valley that runs for a length of 120km from northwest to southeast, cutting through the city of Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)

“We are aiming to make Riyadh one of the 10 largest city economies in the world,” he said in January during the fourth international Future Investment Initiative, hosted in the city.

“Today it stands at number 40, the 40th largest city economy worldwide. We also aim to increase its residents from 7.5 million today to around 15-20 million in 2030.”

At the center of the Diriyah Gate development, regenerated Diriyah and historic At-Turaif will play a key part in the social and economic transformation not only of Riyadh, but also of Saudi Arabia as a whole, as envisaged in Vision 2030.

As for Joharji, while she recognises that Diriyah is changing rapidly, she is pleased that at the heart of the transformation will be found the qualities of hospitality and generosity she recalls with such affection.

“I haven’t been there in a few years, but my grandchildren tell me stories of how it has evolved, developed,” she said.

“For me, Diriyah is a gathering place to enjoy time with loved ones, and I see that is still happening, but on a wider scale.”

Diriyah, past, present and future
On Saudi Arabia’s 91st National Day, the birthplace of the Kingdom continues to make history

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Who’s Who: Alaa Abdulaal, VP at the global Digital Cooperation Organization

Who’s Who: Alaa Abdulaal, VP at the global Digital Cooperation Organization
Updated 16 October 2021

Who’s Who: Alaa Abdulaal, VP at the global Digital Cooperation Organization

Who’s Who: Alaa Abdulaal, VP at the global Digital Cooperation Organization

Alaa Abdulaal has been the vice president of strategy and governance at the Digital Cooperation Organization since September 2021.

The organization, a global multilateral entity that aims at increasing social prosperity through accelerating the growth of the digital economy, was established by a group of countries that share an interest in collaborating to realize their collective digital potential. These countries are Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Nigeria, Oman, and Pakistan.

Prior to joining the organization, Abdulaal had served for more than a year as the director of IT strategy and governance at the Ministry of Transport and Logistic Services. For over nine years, beginning in 2011, she worked for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a database unit leader, technical operation strategist, and a strategic planning and development manager.

In the latter role she established key performance metrics, designed reporting solutions, and promoted the use of structured information to drive enhanced business performance. She also led critical communication development and business reporting.

In 2015, she spent eight months as a research intern at Riva Modeling Systems in Toronto, where she demonstrated a strong interest and aptitude for user experience.

Before that, she worked for more than four years as a database administrator at the Saudi Exchange Market. There, she helped enhance the database’s performance and security. Her job responsibilities also included evaluating the proposed auditing systems and developing the availability process from scratch with the IT service management project consultants. Moreover, she created availability dashboards for Tadawul production services.

Abdulaal received a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 2006 from King Saud University, where she graduated with first class honors. In 2014, she obtained a master’s degree, majoring in applied computing, with the highest GPA result.

She is a certified strategic business planner and a professional business process manager.


Saudi air defenses destroy Houthi drone targeting Jazan

Saudi air defenses destroy Houthi drone targeting Jazan
Updated 16 October 2021

Saudi air defenses destroy Houthi drone targeting Jazan

Saudi air defenses destroy Houthi drone targeting Jazan

RIYADH: Saudi air defenses intercepted a Houthi drone aimed at Jazan, the Arab coalition said early Saturday.

The Houthis consistently target civilian infrastructure in the Kingdom using explosive drones.

The Kingdom has labeled Houthi attempts to target civilians as war crimes.

Earlier this month, attacks on Abha and Jazan airports in southern Saudi Arabia sparked widespread condemnation of the militia’s tactics of targeting civilian sites.

The Arab coalition has been fighting the Iran-backed Houthis, after the militia seized Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, in 2014.

Saudi Arabia as repeatedly said the only way to a peaceful Yemen is through dialogue, and has called on the Houthis to end the fighting. The Riyadh Initiative, which was launch by the Kingdom in March, includes a nationwide ceasefire and a plan to reopen Sanaa airport. The plan has been rejected by the Houthis.

Fighting in Marib province has claimed thousands of lives, among both government and Houthi forces. The resource-rich region has been heavily contested as the militia seek to strengthen their control of northern Yemen.

The Arab coalition said on Friday that ten military vehicles were destroyed and over 180 Houthis killed in operations it carried out in Abedia, a district in Marib that has been under siege since Sept. 23.

The Houthi action in Abedia has hindered the movement of civilians and impeded humanitarian aid flows, including medical supplies, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said earlier this week.

The war, which has now lasted for seven years, has cost thousands of Yemenis their lives and has forced many more to depend on humanitarian assistance.

Saudi relief agency, KSrelief, has poured billions of dollars worth of aid into Yemen and has hundreds of projects focusing on food and health.


Saudi FM discusses Mideast peace concerns with US officials

Saudi FM discusses Mideast peace concerns with US officials
rince Faisal bin Farha
Updated 16 October 2021

Saudi FM discusses Mideast peace concerns with US officials

Saudi FM discusses Mideast peace concerns with US officials

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan met with US National Security Council Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk, the director of Middle East and North Africa affairs at the US National Security Council, Ambassador Barbara Leaf, and the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Yale Lambert on the sidelines of his visit to Washington, DC.

During the meeting, they reviewed Saudi-US relations and opportunities to enhance them in all fields. Joint efforts to lay the foundations for peace, security and stability in the Middle East and the wider world were also discussed.

The Kingdom’s efforts and initiatives to reach a political solution in Yemen in a way that supports the development and stability of the Yemeni people was also discussed during the meeting, in addition to the most prominent developments regarding the Iranian nuclear agenda.

 


Saudi campaigners are highlighting the risks of breast cancer — and not only for women

Saudi campaigners are highlighting the risks of breast cancer — and not only for women
Updated 16 October 2021

Saudi campaigners are highlighting the risks of breast cancer — and not only for women

Saudi campaigners are highlighting the risks of breast cancer — and not only for women
  • While cases among males are rare, the illness follows the same path as in women

RIYADH: Breast cancer has long been known as one of the greatest health risks for women, with incidence rates of up to 30 percent in Saudi Arabia, according to some studies.
However, less well known is that men can also fall victim to the disease.
While cases among males are rare, the illness follows the same path as in women, with cells in the breast growing abnormally, dividing rapidly and then spreading to lymph nodes and other parts of the body, often with devastating consequences.
The risks of the disease to both women and men are being highlighted during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is observed every October as part of an international health campaign.
Global events include walks and runs, and the lighting of city landmarks in pink — the color used by campaigners worldwide to highlight their stand against breast cancer. Joining the campaign, major buildings in Riyadh have been illuminated in pink every night, while other cities across the Kingdom have also taken part in activities to raise awareness.
Thirty female cyclists rode around the streets of Jeddah dressed in pink to highlight the importance of early detection and treatment of the illness, and to offer support to survivors. The initiative was organized by Al-Murjan investment group in cooperation with the Saudi Ministry of Health and the Brave Cyclist club.
The Saudi government and private sector also will launch a series of initiatives, including educational exhibitions, lectures, mall drives, sports activities and mammogram screenings to promote awareness of the disease.
Arab News, the leading English daily in the region, has placed a pink ribbon on its masthead to highlight the important role that screening plays in combating the devastating disease.
According to a World Health Organization 2018 report, the incidence of breast cancer among females in Saudi Arabia stands at almost 30 percent. The illness is more common among over-40s, the health ministry said.
Early detection of breast cancer can significantly improve chances of recovery in both women and men, experts say.
Dr. Osama Halaweh, a hematologist and medical oncologist at Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare, told Arab News: “Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, but it does occur in men as well, though rarely. But awareness of the possibility is important. Since there is no screening for breast cancer in men, it is usually detected at a later stage when the lymph nodes are involved.”
Dr. Amer Mahmood, associate professor and molecular biologist at the College of Medicine in King Saud University, said: “Breast cancer is rare in men and usually happens in those over 60, but can occasionally affect younger men. About one in every 100 breast cancers diagnosed in the US is found in a man.”
Common symptoms of breast cancer in men a lump or swelling in the breast, irritation or dimpling of the skin, nipple discharge or pain in the nipple area, he added.
Mahmood said that early diagnosis dramatically improves the chances of a cure. Treatment typically involves surgery to remove the breast tissue. Other treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, also may be recommended.
While the exact cause of breast cancer in men is not known, several factors increase the likelihood of developing the disease, he said.
Some men inherit abnormal, or mutated, genes from their parents, putting them at a greater risk of developing breast and prostate cancers. Other conditions that increase the level of oestrogen in the body will also add to the breast cancer risk.
However, male breast cancer is often overlooked. In 2009, the advocacy groups Out of the Shadow of Pink, A Man’s Pink, and the Brandon Greening Foundation for Breast Cancer in Men joined forces to have the third week of October labeled Male Breast Cancer Awareness Week.
Studies in Europe and the US have shown that one in eight women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime.
Halaweh said that the illness in women can be hereditary in about 5 percent of cases, so genetic testing is important to determine personal and family risk.
“Currently, there is not sufficient knowledge on the causes of breast cancer, but there is knowledge of risk factors that increase the possibility of developing the disease. So prevention and early detection remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control,” he added.
Advances in breast cancer management include systemic therapies in which drugs are used to target cancer cells wherever they may be in the body. These approaches include chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, targeted drugs and immunotherapy.
Mahmood said that cancer is a universal public health problem and a leading cause of death worldwide, claiming an estimated 9.6 million lives in 2018.
Breast cancer is by far the most prevalent form, followed by lung cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer and prostate cancer. In absolute numbers, cancers in Islamic countries caused 1.02 million deaths in 2012, accounting for 17.4 percent of the total deaths in low and middle-income countries and 12 percent of the global cancer deaths, he added.
A balanced diet, and losing weight in cases of obesity may help to lower risk. Increased body weight is linked with a higher risk of breast cancer after menopause.
Studies have shown that moderate to vigorous physical activity can reduce breast cancer risk, Mahmood said.
The American Cancer Society recommends that adults get at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week, preferably spread throughout the week.


Saudi businesses think pink for October breast cancer awareness campaign

Saudi businesses think pink for October breast cancer awareness campaign
Updated 16 October 2021

Saudi businesses think pink for October breast cancer awareness campaign

Saudi businesses think pink for October breast cancer awareness campaign

JEDDAH: Saudi businesses have joined the annual October drive to think pink with increasingly innovative ways to help raise awareness about breast cancer.
Every year the pink ribbon symbol is used around the world to represent solidarity with breast cancer sufferers and show charity support for the health movement.
The condition is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths among Saudi women, and the annual global awareness campaign highlights not only the challenges and threats posed by the disease but also new research on prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.
And whether offering a free checkup or a unique October product, Saudi firms have been at the forefront of the monthlong pink link push in the Kingdom.
Shaimaa Waleed, owner and founder of Jeddah-based Woow ice cream shop, has created a special edition of pink ice cream to mark the occasion.
She said: “I learned that one-out-of-eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer, and I wanted to remind women that they need to get checked as part of the awareness campaign for early detection.
“So, I came up with a marshmallow-flavored pink ice cream with marshmallow pieces in it, only served this month.”
Waleed added that the cause was close to her heart as a friend had died from the disease, and she advised every woman to get a checkup. “You are precious and your health matters to us, and because you are half of the society, get the early examination, it may be a reason to save your life.”
Jeddah-based Ward and Balloon filled its shop window display with pink flowers and has been offering discounts on everything it sells that is pink to support the cause.
Shatha Abdulhaleem, the business’ founder, told Arab News: “This awareness campaign hits close to home. I have some women in my family who were diagnosed with cancer, and I think it is very important to remind people of the matter using my business too.”
Meanwhile, Fighters, an all-women’s gym, has illuminated its machines with pink lights and pink equipment to celebrate survivors and support fighters of the disease. The gym is also offering big discounts for new female members.
Moayyad Al-Tayyeb, the gym’s owner, said: “One of the causes of breast cancer is obesity. In my gym we support and encourage all our clients to have a healthy lifestyle and a better future.”