Saudi Arabia launches nationwide search for talented students

Saudi Arabia launches nationwide search for talented students
Secretary-General Mawhiba, Dr. Saud bin Saeed Al-Mathami, speaking during the launching ceremony. (Supplied)
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Updated 21 October 2021

Saudi Arabia launches nationwide search for talented students

Saudi Arabia launches nationwide search for talented students
  • National Project for Gifted Identification targets students from third to 11th grade and started on Wednesday in various regions of the Kingdom
  • Strategic partnership between Mawhiba and Ministry of Education pays off as innovative projects continue for a 12th consecutive year

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has launched a nationwide search for talent, pursuing its strong belief in the role creative and innovative youth can play in the country’s development and prosperity.

The 12th annual National Project for Gifted Identification started on Wednesday in various regions of the Kingdom and includes students from third to 11th grade.

The inauguration ceremony was held at the headquarters of the Mawhiba Foundation. It also marked the launch of the largest annual trip in Saudi Arabia to discover gifted and talented students in scientific fields from various regions of the Kingdom through the Mawhiba Foundation.

The launch was also a result of a strategic partnership between the Ministry of Education and the ETEC.

The launch took place under the patronage of Education Minister Hamad bin Mohammed Al Al-Sheikh. Saud bin Saeed Al-Mathami, secretary-general of King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity (Mawhiba), Saad Al-Fuhaid, acting deputy minister of education, and Abdullah Al-Qatai, executive director of the National Center for Assessment — known as Qiyas — which is an affiliate center of the Education and Training Evaluation Commission, were also present at the event.

“The wise leadership aspires a better future for its people,” Al-Mathami said.

“The leadership’s support for Mawhiba was a motive for not accepting anything other than the first place so that Saudi Arabia remains a reference and support for everyone who seeks to improve their performance in the field of talent and creativity.”

 




Acting Deputy Minister of Education, Dr. Saad Al-Fuhaid delivering his speech.

Al-Mathami highlighted Mawhiba’s keenness to build bridges of cooperation and partnership with its strategic success partners the Saudi Education Ministry and the ETEC.

“The National Project for Gifted Identification is a model for integrative work between state institutions,” he said.

“This model has worked through the strategic partnership between Mawhiba, the ministry of education and the ETEC-Qiyas, in discovering and nurturing talent in the Kingdom.”

Mawhiba has directed its goals toward investing in talented youths to develop them as future leaders who will be job creators and technology producers, Al-Mathami said. He added that the national program is one of the starting points for identifying gifted youths in addition to other identification measures.

Those measures include the Mawhoob Competition, an annual event that targets students from the sixth grade to 10th grade; the Kangaroo Mawhiba Math Competition, which targets students from the third grade to 12th grade; and the Bebras Mawhiba Informatics Competition, an international initiative that aims to promote computer science and computational thinking among school students of all ages.

The secretary-general said more than 630,000 male and female students have applied for the programs since Mawhiba was launched 11 years ago.

More than 430,000 of these applicants have been tested as more than 144,000 students qualified for the services of the programs, he said.

According to Al-Mathami, the number of applicants saw a significant increase since the national program started in 2011 as there was another notable rise seen in 2020.

The secretary-general said that Mawhiba succeeded in overcoming challenges such as curfews during the COVID-19 pandemic, making use of modern technology, and providing the students with the needed programs — all while keeping their safety as a top priority.

Al-Mathami said Saudi youths were able to win 53 prizes during the current year, which set the Kingdom’s overall score of international prizes to 453. He attributed the achievements to 20 enrichment programs, quality competitions, classrooms, and advanced curricula.

“Nurturing talent has a great impact on scientific and technological progress,” Al-Fuhaid said during the ceremony.

“Joint efforts have attracted talented inventors to develop their creative capabilities, resulting in a creative generation with new concepts and innovative ideas.”

Al-Qatai said that the national program for nurturing the talented is the most important investment in human resources.

“Saudi Arabia was one of the first countries to invest in human resources,” he said. “Statistics that we see today are the best evidence of the quality of this kind of investment.”

Nazeeh Al-Othmani, Mawhiba’s deputy secretary-general for corporate relations and business development, said the talented students underwent various scientific enrichment programs during their nurturing process.

He told Arab News the programs provided to students depended on their scores on the Qiyas test, but all of them received the Mawhiba enrichment programs.

Students who are found to be talented underwent a special program, called “Student’s Trip,” which was designed for their needs and talents, Al-Othmani said.

The foundation provides enrichment programs in more than 20 scientific tracks, he said, as these include mechanical engineering, aviation, robots, electrical engineering, outer space, and more.

Al-Othmani said Mawhiba is the only institution in the world that offers talent identification programs while nurturing and empowering its members. The results are paying off as Mawhiba has won 83 prizes at the International Science and Engineering Fair, considered to be the largest science competition for students in the world.

“Mawhiba has set a unique global example,” he said.


Saudi Arabia announces 'Founding Day' as official holiday on Feb. 22

Saudi Arabia announces 'Founding Day' as official holiday on Feb. 22
Updated 24 sec ago

Saudi Arabia announces 'Founding Day' as official holiday on Feb. 22

Saudi Arabia announces 'Founding Day' as official holiday on Feb. 22
  • According to the royal decree, this will enable the public to celebrate Muhammad bin Saud’s successors.

DUBAI: February 22 is to become an annual national holiday in Saudi Arabia under the name of ‘Founding Day,’ commemorating the reign of Imam Muhammad bin Saud, who founded the first Saudi state in 1727, it was revealed on Thursday. 

According to the royal decree, this will enable the public to celebrate Muhammad bin Saud’s successors.

‘Founding Day’ will also mark Imam Turki bin Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Saud who was the successor in 1824 and helped restore the nation by establishing the second Saudi state, which lasted until 1891. 

Ten years later, King Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al Faisal Al Saud then succeeded in 1902 in establishing the third Saudi state by uniting it under the name of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

The new order will be communicated to relevant entities, who will be required to adopt and implement ‘Founding Day’, which will be celebrated annually.


Saudi Arabia reports 4,738 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths

Saudi Arabia reports 4,738 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths
Updated 27 min 33 sec ago

Saudi Arabia reports 4,738 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths

Saudi Arabia reports 4,738 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 622,087
  • A total of 8,929 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced two deaths from COVID-19 and 4,738 new infections on Thursday.

Of the new cases, 1,559 were recorded in Riyadh, 573 in Jeddah, 189 in Dammam, 172 in Hofuf, 156 in Makkah, and 114 in Jazan. Several other cities recorded less than one hundred new cases each.

The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 622,087 after 4,973 more patients recovered from the virus.

A total of 8,929 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.

Over 56.2 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date.


Adventurous family of expats share their voyages of discovery in Saudi Arabia

Adventurous family of expats share their voyages of discovery in Saudi Arabia
Updated 57 min 26 sec ago

Adventurous family of expats share their voyages of discovery in Saudi Arabia

Adventurous family of expats share their voyages of discovery in Saudi Arabia
  • Dale Shannon, his wife Jenny and son Noah have been exploring remote parts of the Kingdom for two years and now have 25,000 fans on YouTube who follow their exploits

JEDDAH: Intrepid expats Dale Shannon, his wife Jenny and their son Noah are on a mission to explore Saudi Arabia and reveal to the world the country’s natural beauty, incredible landscape and authentic culture.

They have been going on epic adventures that take them off the beaten track across the Kingdom for almost two years, sometimes alone and sometimes in the company of friends they describe as “a united team.”

They film their trips and experiences, and Jenny edits the footage to create entertaining travelogues that are uploaded to the couple’s YouTube channel, called Epic Everyday Adventures. Launched in August 2020, it now has more than 25,000 subscribers and has become particularly popular with Saudi viewers.

“We are so humbled to know how viewers have been inspired by our travels through some of the most remote parts of Saudi Arabia,” Dale told Arab News. “With more than 45 videos of adventures, we have seen families and individuals alike find inspiration and education through sharing our story and experiences.”

Dale, a US national who works in the aerospace industry as an aircraft mechanic and advisor, said he came to the Kingdom in 2015 to experience life in another country and grow as a person. Jenny, a nurse from the Philippines, came to work in Saudi Arabia in 2009. The couple married in 2016 and Noah, was born in Tabuk in 2017. They said they fell in love not only with each other but also their adopted country.

Dale said he comes from a small town in the US and grew up camping and hiking. Jenny, on the other hand, who grew up in a city and wanted to experience the great outdoors.

“Being outdoors and exploring nature really creates some positive character traits and memories, and we wanted to share and create our own experiences with Noah and give him an opportunity to grow up with those amazing outdoor adventures,” said Dale.

Along the way, he added, they have made some great friends.

“One of the things that makes Saudi Arabia really pull on our hearts is how easy it is to meet new people and become real friends,” said Dale. “People here really seem to genuinely care about each other and are some of the most welcoming people we have been fortunate enough to experience.

“One of the things we enjoy the most about our YouTube channel is how many awesome people we have been able to meet here in Saudi Arabia and establish personal relationships with.

“People here really seem to genuinely care about each other and are some of the most welcoming people we have been fortunate enough to experience.”

The idea for exploring the length and breadth of Saudi Arabia came to the couple about two years ago, after s trip to AlUla.

“We had gone on a tour to AlUla in early 2020, around February,” said Dale. “We enjoyed the scenery and the places and the desert so much that after that trip we knew that we wanted to continue and explore more. So, definitely our AlUla experience was the turning point that motivated and inspired us to explore more.”

Shannon had some vacation time saved up and Jenny, who was by then a stay-at-home mom, learned how to become a videographer and editor to produce their YouTube videos. They also invested in proper equipment and a new vehicle suitable for off-road exploring and began their adventure of a lifetime.

“After our AlUla trip, we bought some gear and changed our vehicle to a proper off-road exploring vehicle, a Nissan Patrol Super Safari, and we slowly started exploring the Kingdom.

“We fell in love with the landscapes, the open-air museum of history you find here and the hospitality and friendliness of the people of all areas … and then we started exploring. We just became naturally curious to see and know more.”

Venturing into the desert wilderness is not easy and requires a financial investment. As their videos grew in popularity the Shannons last year joined Patreon, a platform that provides content creators with the tools to build a subscription service for fans of their work. For the Shannons, it means that people who enjoy their videos can contribute toward the costs of creating future content. They said that about 70 percent of their supporters on Patreon are Saudi.

“We are so thankful for their support and hope to grow our small Patreon family so we can continue these adventures,” said Dale.

“It is expensive to take trips as much as we do. We don’t have any sponsors or anything like that, so up until recently we financed our own adventures so that we could continue sharing our experiences here in Saudi Arabia. We are thankful for the support of our small Patreon family.”

There have been some challenging moments during the family’s adventures, including a worrying incident during a journey through Al-Nafud Al-Kabir (The Great Desert) this month, when they were accompanied by other members of their team.

“We had prepared for this trip six months in advance,” said Dale. “This was the final leg of our overlanding trip. The terrain is difficult and full of sand dunes. We entered the desert just north of Hail and drove about 230km into the desert through the sand dunes. There was no cell service.

“We camped for three nights and drove for three days. The trip through the desert consumed most of our fuel and for some, all of their fuel.

“The stress you face and the quick decisions that have to be made are really challenging but, at the end of the day, it is so rewarding. I am happy our overlanding team trusted me enough to let me lead the expedition through Al-Nafud.”

His family has done so much traveling in the Kingdom during the past two years that Shannon said it is hard to keep count of their destinations.

“I am not exactly sure on the number of places we visited, but we drive everywhere we go and we have driven from Haql in the northwest all the way down to Fayfa in the south, and everywhere in between,” he said. “We have been from Hail down to Riyadh and in between. We hope to get enough time in the future to make it to the north and the east of the Kingdom.”

Wherever they have traveled in Saudi Arabia, Shannon said he has never felt concerned for the safety of his family.

“I mention this on many occasions in our videos because in comparison to most places I have been around the world, it’s extremely safe here and this is part of the reason we feel so comfortable exploring here,” he said.

In fact the most difficult aspect of the experience in Saudi Arabia so far has been language barrier.

“It would be really great to be able to learn Arabic,” he added.

Both Shannon and his wife said they adapted easily to life in Saudi Arabia after leaving their home countries behind.

“We found it to be quite easy transitioning to living in a foreign country,” he said. “I think part of the reason is because we had set our minds that this is what we wanted to do, but also because we both really fell in love with the people and the culture here in Saudi Arabia — those two things made the transition extremely easy.”

Asked if he had any advice for newcomers to the Kingdom or people considering moving there, Shannon said: “My advice to others moving to Saudi Arabia is always to come with an open mind, embrace the culture and the people, and once you arrive and settle in, go out there and meet people and get to know the people of Saudi Arabia. It will be one of the best things you have ever done.”


Empowerment of women in Saudi museums sector in spotlight at open discussion forum

Empowerment of women in Saudi museums sector in spotlight at open discussion forum
Updated 27 January 2022

Empowerment of women in Saudi museums sector in spotlight at open discussion forum

Empowerment of women in Saudi museums sector in spotlight at open discussion forum
  • The event, hosted by the Kingdom’s Museum Commission, explored ways in which the role of women could be enhanced in the sector

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Museum Commission hosted an open discussion on Wednesday about the empowerment women in the museums sector.

The event, at the National Museum in Riyadh, was moderated by Maha bint Amer Al-Shukhil, a faculty member at Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University, and the participants included Stefano Carboni, the CEO of the commission.

The topics addressed during the discussion included the roles and work of Saudi women, creating change in the Museums Commission, and the need to develop job opportunities for women in the museums field.

Participants also discussed how to foster cooperation between universities and the Museums Commission, the role and importance of museums in society, encouraging and highlighting efforts by women in the field, providing training and volunteering opportunities in the commission, and giving women more opportunities to work in the museums sector.

Carboni said that the objectives of the commission include providing advisory services, providing specialized courses and programs on museum management, offering opportunities to learn about specialized establishments in the sector, and working to develop communication skills between museums and visitors.

On the sidelines of the session, Hind Al-Turki, the head of the history department at Princess Nourah University, spoke about the necessity of offering field-training opportunities for female students specializing in the museums sector, to improve their knowledge and provide practical experience, and to present programs and workshops.

The commission said that the session was part of its efforts to communicate with the public and promote dialogue with workers in the sector to identify their needs and aspirations, and work to achieve them, based on the authority’s responsibility for developing and enhancing the museums sector in the Kingdom, and supporting and empowering its employees.
 


KSrelief, UNICEF sign agreement to provide basic health services for mothers and children in Yemen

KSrelief, UNICEF sign agreement to provide basic health services for mothers and children in Yemen
Updated 27 January 2022

KSrelief, UNICEF sign agreement to provide basic health services for mothers and children in Yemen

KSrelief, UNICEF sign agreement to provide basic health services for mothers and children in Yemen

RIYADH: The Saudi-based King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center signed a cooperation agreement with UNICEF to provide basic health services for mothers and newborns, according to the humanitarian response plan for Yemen, with a value of $10 million.
KSrelief supervisor general Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah and UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore signed the agreement, Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

The agreement stipulates providing free basic health services for obstetrics and gynaecology emergency and care services, increasing the preparedness of the Yemeni health sector with medical equipment for newborns, localizing the sustainability of providing health services for mothers and children, and training 156 midwives for emergency cases to obstetric care and emergency care for newborns. The agreement is expected to benefit 43,533 individuals in several Yemeni governorates.
It is part of the humanitarian and aid projects implemented by Saudi Arabia, through KSrelief, in partnership with UNICEF to develop the Yemeni health sector and increase care services offered to children and mothers in all Yemeni governorates.