Saudi air defense intercepts Houthi drones headed towards kingdom

Saudi air defense intercepts Houthi drones headed towards kingdom
The coalition said Houthis continue to deliberately attack civilians and civilian objects. (File: AFP)
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Updated 25 September 2021

Saudi air defense intercepts Houthi drones headed towards kingdom

Saudi air defense intercepts Houthi drones headed towards kingdom

RIYADH: The Saudi air defenses intercept two bomb-laden drones that were launched by the Houthi militants in Yemen towards the kingdom on Saturday, the Arab Coalition said. 

The coalition said Houthis continue to deliberately attack civilians and civilian objects. 


Saudi and Chinese foreign ministers discuss bilateral cooperation

Saudi and Chinese foreign ministers discuss bilateral cooperation
Updated 17 October 2021

Saudi and Chinese foreign ministers discuss bilateral cooperation

Saudi and Chinese foreign ministers discuss bilateral cooperation

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Sunday made a phone call to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.
During the call, aspects of Saudi-Chinese relations and areas of cooperation between the two countries were reviewed, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said.
The two sides also discussed regional and international developments and efforts made to enhance security and stability, in addition to discussing the most prominent issues of common interest.


Saudi crown prince launches strategic offices to develop Al-Baha, Al-Jouf, and Jazan

Saudi crown prince launches strategic offices to develop Al-Baha, Al-Jouf, and Jazan
Updated 17 October 2021

Saudi crown prince launches strategic offices to develop Al-Baha, Al-Jouf, and Jazan

Saudi crown prince launches strategic offices to develop Al-Baha, Al-Jouf, and Jazan
  • The offices will aim to capitalize on the advantages that each of the three regions have to offer
  • They are part of the crown prince’s vision to bring about comprehensive and sustainable development in all regions

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's crown prince announced on Sunday the launch of strategic offices to develop the areas of Al-Baha, Al-Jouf, and Jazan.
The offices will form the basis for the establishment of development authorities in the regions. They will aim to capitalize on the advantages that each of the three areas have to offer, Saudi Press Agency reported.
They will also ensure the development of a strong investment environment attracting private sector engagement.
The announcement of the strategic offices comes as part of the government’s strategy to extend development to all regions and cities of the Kingdom.
Prince Mohammed said that other strategic offices would be established in areas where there are not yet any development agencies.
These strategic offices will focus on investing in the distinct features and advantages of each region to transform them into sustainable and permanent economic drivers.
The offices will include the private sector in the development plans.
They are part of the crown prince’s vision to bring about comprehensive and sustainable development in all regions of the Kingdom, expanding job opportunities, and improving living standards by upgrading basic services and infrastructure. 
Al-Baha is considered one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Kingdom. The region includes a large number of forests and is home to many ancient villages and forts.
Al-Jouf is known as the “food basket of the Kingdom” as it contains fertile land with abundant water resources. It is responsible for about 67 percent of the Kingdom’s olive oil production.
Jazan is home to the Farasan Islands and Jazan Port which is considered to be the third largest port on the Red Sea Coast.


OIC human rights commission says international community must mobilize efforts to end poverty 

OIC human rights commission says international community must mobilize efforts to end poverty 
Updated 17 October 2021

OIC human rights commission says international community must mobilize efforts to end poverty 

OIC human rights commission says international community must mobilize efforts to end poverty 
  • The IPHRC emphasized the importance of addressing the issue of extreme poverty as a top priority
  • The principle of “leaving no one behind” must guide efforts to eradicate poverty, the commission said

LONDON: The world should recognize abject poverty as a human rights violation, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission said on Sunday.

In a statement released to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 2021, the IPHRC said the world has a “shared responsibility to mobilize all possible efforts to end poverty.” 

It said the fact that 689 million people still live in extreme poverty with less than $1.90 a day to live on is a “moral outrage.”

The commission added that the effects of the Coronavirus disease pandemic reversed many years of progress in the fight against poverty, and that between 88 and 115 million people are being pushed into poverty.

The majority of the new extreme poor live in south Asian and sub-saharan countries where poverty rates were already high, the commission added.

The IPHRC emphasized the importance of addressing the issue of extreme poverty as a top priority for the international community.

Despite the global focus on fostering development and eradicating poverty, the pandemic has clearly proven that the world needs structural changes to efficiently eradicate poverty beyond the ambitious political narratives that fail to inspire real action, it said. 

The human rights commission called upon the international community to translate the global focus on human rights protection and sustainable development goals into concrete, measurable actions on the ground to effectively address the core issue of poverty. 

The principle of “leaving no one behind” must guide efforts to eradicate poverty at the national and global levels, the commission added.

It urged all governments to strengthen their legal framework of human rights that places human dignity at the heart of policy and action against existing structural disadvantages and inequalities. 

People living in poverty must be meaningfully engaged in decision-making processes that directly affect their lives, it added.

The commission urged OIC member states to redouble their efforts to devise human rights-based and people-centered socio-development policies.

It highlighted that eradicating poverty is a moral and spiritual imperative of Islam and a strategically beneficial goal for the political, economic, and social progress of all member states.

IPHRC also emphasized the international community’s collective responsibility to create a conducive socio-economic environment for the enjoyment of human rights by everybody around the world. 


Saudi Arabia records 3 COVID-19 deaths, 41 new cases

Saudi Arabia records 3 COVID-19 deaths, 41 new cases
Updated 17 October 2021

Saudi Arabia records 3 COVID-19 deaths, 41 new cases

Saudi Arabia records 3 COVID-19 deaths, 41 new cases
  • Kingdom’s airports will begin operating at full capacity as of Sunday
  • Ministry of Interior records 22,746 violations against precautionary measures in past week

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia confirmed three new COVID-19 related deaths on Sunday, raising the total number of fatalities to 8,763.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 41 new cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 547,931 people have now contracted the disease. Of the total number of cases, 106 remain in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 18, followed by Jeddah with seven, and Makkah, Madinah and Dhahran confirmed two cases each.
The health ministry also announced that 47 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 536,947.
Over 44.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered since the Kingdom’s immunization campaign started. More than 20.6 million people have been fully vaccinated.


The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) announced that the Kingdom’s airports will begin operating at full capacity as of Sunday.
In a circular issued to all airlines operating in the Kingdom, including private aviation, GACA said that the full capacity of the Kingdom’s airports will be used to operate domestic and international flights.
Meanwhile, Saudi authorities continued their monitoring campaigns to ensure compliance with the precautionary measures imposed to stem the spread of the disease.
The Ministry of Interior reported 22,746 in the past week, with the highest recorded in Riyadh with 8,674, followed by the Eastern Province with 4,251, Makkah with 2,113, and Madinah with 1,630. Najran recorded the lowest number of violations with 92.
The ministry called on citizens and residents to abide by the preventive protocols and the instructions issued by authorities in this regard.
Saudi municipalities have also ramped up efforts to monitor compliance with health and safety measures.
The municipality of the Eastern Province carried out 8,879 inspection tours of commercial centers and facilities during the past week, and closed 19 businesses and found 402 others in violation of the precautionary measures. 
Jeddah Municipality also carried out 13,976 inspection tours of commercial centers and facilities during the past week and authorities closed 79 commercial outlets and fined 85 for breaching protocols.
 Officials have also called on the public to report any suspected health breaches by phoning the 940 call center number or contacting authorities through the Balady app.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 241 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 4.91 million.


Food-culture ambassador aims to nourish the bonds between Saudi Arabia and Japan

Food-culture ambassador aims to nourish the bonds between Saudi Arabia and Japan
Chef Sato seen with some of the dishes he prepared using special culinary skills and techniques studied in Japan. (Photo/Huda Bashatah)
Updated 17 October 2021

Food-culture ambassador aims to nourish the bonds between Saudi Arabia and Japan

Food-culture ambassador aims to nourish the bonds between Saudi Arabia and Japan
  • Chef Taki Sato, who has nearly 30 years of experience as a chef, was appointed the first chef as Japanese cuisine goodwill ambassador to the Middle East in 2019

JEDDAH: The Japanese cuisine goodwill ambassador to the Middle East is working hard to spread awareness of his nation’s food, ingredients and culinary expertise in a Saudi market he believes would enjoy more exposure to Japanese culture and traditions.

“I want to share with everyone I know, really, ‘Ana Saeed’ (I’m happy). I want to see more food exchange between Japan and Saudi Arabia,” said chef Taki Sato.

Chef Taki Sato, Japanese Cuisine Goodwill Ambassador and brand ambassador of Wakame. (Photo/Huda Bashatah)

When he came to Saudi Arabia, Sato discovered that the people there prefer a fusion of Japanese and mainstream flavors and methods of cooking, so he had to adapt as part of what he now realizes was a career renaissance.

“I recognize that there are two types of Saudi Arabian people who love Japanese cuisine,” he said. The first type “love sushi deep-fried,” he explained, while the second type has more of an all-round appreciation of “for example, fresh fish and very specific Japanese ingredients.”

He added: “Most of the Saudi Arabian people are the first type: sushi, deep-fry and noodles.”

Sato, who has nearly 30 years of experience as a chef, was appointed the first chef as Japanese cuisine goodwill ambassador to the Middle East in 2019 by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. He is tasked with using his professional knowledge and experience to promote and provide information about Japanese cuisine and food culture.

His responsibilities as part of this mission include educating chefs about Japanese food, teaching them the culinary skills needed for Japanese food-preparation techniques, and training them how to use ingredients to create “umami.”

Chef Sato displays some of his preparation techniques. (Photo/Huda Bashatah)

Umami, a “very rich and specific” savory taste, is a popular flavor characteristic in Japanese cuisine that Sato said he hopes to “synchronize” with Saudi food culture.

“I’m also brand ambassador for Wakame, in addition to being in communication with the Japanese government,” he said. “We must deepen the bonds between Saudi Arabia and Japan through the exchange of food, culinary expertise and culture.”

Food exports from Japan to Saudi Arabia total only $16.8 million, according to recent figures from the Observatory of Economic Complexity, while Saudi food exports to Japan are tiny.

Food exports from Japan to Saudi Arabia (2019), total $16.8 million. (Observatory of Economic Complexity)

“The Japanese government wants to share our chefs’ techniques and ingredients, and it wants me to promote this exchange of training,” he said. “In Saudi Arabia, a lot of the chefs want to learn.”

Sato recently held a sushi-rolling workshop in Jeddah that attracted 50 chefs. In April next year he plans to bring Michelin Star chefs from Japan to the region to host more workshops.

He came to the Middle East 10 years ago, initially working at Zuma, one of the leading Japanese restaurants in Dubai. Two years later he moved to Riyadh to become executive chef of Yokari, before moving to Wakame in Jeddah.

Sato said that as he attempted to maintain the authenticity of Japanese cuisine while combining it with mainstream fusion flavors and techniques to cater to local tastes, he became more creative in his cooking.

25 percent of the ingredients are imported directly from Japan by an affiliate food distribution company to Wakame, and the other 75 percent is from a local supplier, but believes improved availability of authentic Japanese ingredients would help increase the local appreciation of traditional Japanese food.

Chef Sato and local chefs under his instruction. (Photo/Huda Bashatah)

Meanwhile, he has served as an advisor on a MAFF project to introduce the Japanese food and culinary art experience to leading Saudi chefs. They include Yasser Jad, the president of the Saudi Arabian Chefs Association, who Sato said is interested in further collaborations and food-culture exchanges between Japan and the Kingdom, and Khulood Olaqi, Saudi Arabia’s first female sushi expert and the owner of Oishii Sushi in Riyadh.

Sato also sits on the board of several food culture expansion projects in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, including the Cool Japan Fund, which aims to boost demand for Japanese products and services overseas, educational institute Le Cordon Bleu Tokyo, and the ABC Cooking School.

Statistics from the OEC reveal that the total value of Saudi exports to Japan increased at an annualized rate of 4.24 percent from $9.05 billion in 1995 to $24.5 billion in 2019. The main products were crude petroleum, worth $23 billion, refined petroleum ($537 million), and acyclic alcohols $255 million).

The value of exports from Japan to Saudi Arabia increased at an annualized rate of 3.37 percent from $2.95 billion in 1995 to $6.55 billion in 2019. They include cars ($3.72 billion), delivery trucks ($399 million), and automotive parts $223 million).

A Japanese-Saudi electronic sports competition took place on Oct. 2 and 3. Organizers said they hope the event will help to strengthen ties between the two nations, promote their cultures and enrich the global economy.