An animal sanctuary in Jeddah that is more than just a pet project

An animal sanctuary in Jeddah that is more than just a pet project
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(AN Photo/Huda Bashatah)
An animal sanctuary in Jeddah that is more than just a pet project
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(AN Photo/Huda Bashatah)
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Updated 11 November 2021

An animal sanctuary in Jeddah that is more than just a pet project

An animal sanctuary in Jeddah that is more than just a pet project
  • DJ Kennels is home to dogs, cats, rabbits, owls, hyenas and even a lion

JEDDAH: Pet therapy is a relatively new concept in Saudi Arabia but the fact that it has been widely embraced and supported suggests that it is something that was badly needed.
DJ Kennels, which was established in Jeddah in 2017, is an animal shelter that provides a home for abandoned pets and even rescued wild animals. The residents of this mini wildlife park include dogs, cats, rabbits, owls, hyenas and even a lion.
For many animal lovers in the city, DJ Kennels offers the perfect chance for some much-needed animal therapy, especially after the closure of other animal sanctuaries such as Al-Anaam Al-Jameela Park and Fayfa.
Pet therapy is just one of the services provided by DJ Kennels. It also handles animal adoptions, a pet hotel, volunteering opportunities and animal rescue services, among others. They also take in pets whose owners can no longer care for them, and train them if required so that they can be put up for adoption.
Mahmoud Azzam, the owner of the kennels, told Arab News that it all began as a hobby.
“I saw a huge demand for services such as animal parks and petting zoos, and this is how this hobby turned into a business,” he said. “At the same time it is considered a community service with a financial return.”
The shelter is a constantly changing environment, he added, “because a large part of the park is for rescued animals such as lions, hyenas and owls, so we do not know what we will find on our doorstep tomorrow.”
He said that the National Center for the Development of Wildlife is the main Saudi governmental organization responsible for animal welfare issues and is doing good work caring for exotic animals.
“That is why we urge people to talk with them first,” he added.
Within this official framework DJ Kennels is determined to provide whatever help it can, and Azzam explained how he happened to end up caring for a lion.

FASTFACTS

• DJ Kennels, which was established in Jeddah in 2017, is an animal shelter that provides a home for abandoned pets and even rescued wild animals. The residents of this mini wildlife park include dogs, cats, rabbits, owls, hyenas and even a lion.

• Pet therapy is just one of the services provided by DJ Kennels. It also handles animal adoptions, a pet hotel, volunteering opportunities and animal rescue services, among others.

• They also take in pets whose owners can no longer care for them, and train them if required so that they can be put up for adoption.

“He was (unfortunately) bought illegally but the owner felt guilty and decided to put him here,” he said. “He contacted us to help the cub. Its health condition was very bad; he couldn’t walk and was eating poorly. We decided to send him to a reserve in Africa but then the pandemic happened and flights were grounded. Luckily flights have now resumed and we are working with the authorities on transport procedures.”
Other unusual residents at the shelter include two owls.
“One of them was caught in the wild and the other one was bought illegally,” said Azzam. “They cannot be released back into the wild because they both have permanent disabilities. So we have tried to create a similar environment for them to live in here.
Azzam’s 10-year-old daughter Jumana said she shares her father’s love of animals, and that it began at the tender age of two.
“I owned a dog at the time,” she said. “We have had horses and camels at DJ Kennels but they were sent to stables. I hope the horses will come back. I also told my dad that it would be nice to have colorful parrots in the park.”
Shahd Ali, a visitor at the shelter, told Arab News that she goes there regularly with her siblings “because they love interacting with animals and I think it is difficult to find a place that provides these services in Jeddah. I hope there is more diversity of animals and more organizations.”
Azzam said that when he decided to open the refuge up to visitors, he was mindful that studies have shown that interacting with animals can have beneficial effects on many people, especially those with special needs, including autism.
“A child with autism attracts the animal’s attention,” he explained. “Especially dogs, because dogs have the advantage that they know how to deal with autistic patients.”

(AN Photo/Huda Bashatah)
Azzam added that patients should check first with their care providers whether it is safe for them to interact with animals but more often than not, he said, specialists recommend a visit as a form of therapy that can help people with autism. The service is free for people with special needs.
Though the shelter echoes to the sound of the delighted squealing of children, the happy yapping of dogs and the contented purring of cats, the stories of the animals cared for by DJ Kennels are often tinged with sadness.
Some people simply abandon their pets, said Azzam. The shelter takes them in and, if necessary, trains them to socialize and trust humans again so that they can be put up for adoption and find a new forever home. Because the pets have already been through one trauma when they were abandoned, DJ Kennels carefully assesses and thoroughly vets potential adopters before agreeing to hand over an animal.
“We provide full-course dog-training services, and as for adopting dogs, we give the dogs social classes to make sure they are harmless to its new owner,” said Azzam. “We only give the animal to a person who is capable of owning a dog after an analysis of the adopter’s living conditions.”
Owning an animal shelter such as DJ Kennels might seem like a great job from the outside, but it requires a lot of time and effort from the owners and staff to keep it running. In addition, such shelters are not lucrative businesses, and the income is not enough to cover veterinary bills, Azzam said, but he hopes that might change in the future.
He also called on volunteers to join his team, given that one of the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 is to spread awareness of volunteering and increase the number of volunteers in the country to 1 million by 2030.
“Many young people in the community have knowledge, time and effort to give, especially young people who are full of energy, and we’re not fully benefiting from them,” said Azzam.
Though the traditional view among many in the region was that ownership of dogs is prohibited because they some religious texts describe them as unclean, attitudes are slowly changing.
“I believe in different opinions and I advise people who think that dogs are unclean to look at different approved religious and legal opinions,” Azzam said. “People are enemies to what they don’t know. With more shelters and businesses such as ours, people have begun to learn about animals and accept them more.”


King Salman leaves hospital after medical examinations

King Salman leaves hospital after medical examinations
Updated 15 May 2022

King Salman leaves hospital after medical examinations

King Salman leaves hospital after medical examinations
  • King Salman thanked well-wishers within Saudi Arabia and from friendly countries

JEDDAH: King Salman left King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Jeddah on Sunday evening after undergoing medical examinations and successfully completing the treatment plan and recovery period.

Saudi Press Agency reported the king thanked well-wishers within Saudi Arabia and from friendly countries for their messages of support.


Dutch artist Satori headlines Riyadh desert event

DJ NarkBeat engaged the crowd with his notable performance at Desert Sounds'
DJ NarkBeat engaged the crowd with his notable performance at Desert Sounds' "Mars Escape" on Friday. (AN photo/Basheer Saleh)
Updated 15 May 2022

Dutch artist Satori headlines Riyadh desert event

DJ NarkBeat engaged the crowd with his notable performance at Desert Sounds' "Mars Escape" on Friday. (AN photo/Basheer Saleh)
  • New wave of events featuring international lineup of artists and diverse activities catering to music lovers, weekend family entertainment in Riyadh

RIYADH: On Friday, a vibrant series of electronic house music bounced off the hills of the Riyadh desert at the NOX Camp Desert Resort, bringing together music, art and desert-sport lovers alike in a one-of-a-kind event.

The exclusive music and art event organizer, Desert Sound Entertainment, presented their premiere “Mars Escape” experience to the Saudi community, transporting about 1,000 attendees to another dimension made distinct by live art, festival makeup and fire performances.

The moon shone, setting up the atmosphere for the celestial night, the music ascended. Headlined by Satori, the international DJ lineup included the likes of Alaa Jazaery, Rafa, NarkBeat, and a surprise performance by local DJ Ibbie.

One. of. the Mars. Escape attendees enjoyed one of the many games and activities 'Mars Escape' had to offer. (AN photo by Basheer Saleh)

The 10-hour festival saw a distinctive blend of artists taking to the main stage. Rafa gave the crowd a sensual and authentically earthy organic house experience while NarkBeat’s performance left the crowd in anticipation with sultry Arabian oud sounds. Alaa Jazaeri, founder of a similar music festival titled “Narratives,” slowed down the groove with an organic and soulful house music set, taking festival-goers on a mini-journey.

The diverse music echoing the valley of the desert culminated with Satori, a world-famous Dutch producer whose music focuses on spirituality and enlightenment. His set took off promptly at midnight and closed the event. His stop at Riyadh is part of his world tour this month with upcoming shows in Moscow, Stockholm and London.

HIGHLIGHT

Rafa gave the crowd a sensual and authentically earthy organic house experience while NarkBeat’s performance left the crowd in anticipation with sultry Arabian oud sounds.

“I would not imagine from this side of the world that people would know me and connect with the music in this way, so it was really a big pleasure. I’ve been playing in this region of course already for a few years, if we speak about Dubai or Egypt, I played in Oman and Lebanon, but never in Saudi,” Satori said in an exclusive interview with Arab News.

Satori’s mellow sounds, crafted under the influence of the Japanese term “Satori,” cannot be narrowed down to a single genre, but rather a feeling. His music combines elements of self-exploration, earthy melodies, psychedelic tones and vivid energy. The crescendo of the piano, synthetic electronic beats and kalimba prompted a series of cheers as people danced. Almost every listener was rhythmically entranced, surrendering to the sound.

AN photo by Basheer Saleh

“For me it feels like I’m part of innovation. There’s something progressing and just to be part of that is really a great honor. It feels like we’re writing history and I’m kind of part of that chapter,” he said of his recent performance. “In the end, music is a universal language, people would connect to that or understand that even if they’re not used to these types of events. People will feel it.”

While primarily centered around the musical performances, the Saudi General Entertainment Authority-certified event also included an array of cultural activities such as art installations, graffiti sites and street art, virtual reality booths, games, and live catering. “We wanted to complete the music experience as a whole, connecting with nature and expressing through art and feeling with music,” assistant manager, Reema Al-Saud, told Arab News.

Event-goers were ready to indulge in the cultural aspect of the experience. “This is my first experience, and it gives a nice vibe,” said attendee Bha’a Mahdi. “I didn’t like that there wasn’t a big crowd. The place is very, very gorgeous. Incredible. It’s unreal. I liked the music, but was hoping the music would have more drops and highs. I felt united with the desert, I even removed my shoes,” he said.

Other members of the audience had similar comments. “The location is good, the vibe is nice. Just one thing: I wish there were more people,” said one attendee.

“The ground traps you. The sand doesn’t give you way to dance or walk,” said another attendee.

This international lineup and diverse activities come after a new wave of events that cater to those music-lovers, the latest being Freaks of Nature, bringing new meaning to weekend family entertainment ventures in Riyadh.


Saudi Civil Defense rescues pet animals trapped in Alkhobar fire

A Civil Defense crew in Alkhobar rescued animals including cats, dogs and fish from Pets Houses. (Saudi Civil Defense)
A Civil Defense crew in Alkhobar rescued animals including cats, dogs and fish from Pets Houses. (Saudi Civil Defense)
Updated 15 May 2022

Saudi Civil Defense rescues pet animals trapped in Alkhobar fire

A Civil Defense crew in Alkhobar rescued animals including cats, dogs and fish from Pets Houses. (Saudi Civil Defense)
  • All animals are subject to periodic medical checkups by Pets Houses’ veterinarian clinic, which provides for all their needs, including hygiene

RIYADH: Pet owners were relieved after their animals were rescued from a massive fire that broke out Friday inside Alkhobar’s Dhahran Mall in eastern Saudi Arabia.

A Civil Defense crew in Alkhobar rescued animals including cats, dogs and fish from Pets Houses, a pet supplies store in the largest commercial complex in the Eastern Province.

The animals were transported during daylight hours after a fire that started on the complex’s roof was put out.

We always find these (Civil Defense) heroes providing assistance and saving lives, says Badr S. Al-Turaif, General manager Rahmah Animal Welfare Association

According to a Civil Defense source, it is part of firefighters’ job in such circumstances to perform search and rescue operations at the scene to ensure that no one is trapped inside and that any animals are rescued.

The same source told Arab News that firefighters evacuated the pets to a safe location outside the mall before the animals were returned to their owners.

Nawaf Al-Mandeel, general manager of Pets Houses, said that “the shock was tremendous at Pets Houses,” following the fire that broke out at Dhahran Mall, where one of the company’s branches is located.

Firefighters rescuing animals from a pet shop near the conflagration which broke out in Dharhan Mall and caused a lot of damage while a fireman appears to carrying a fish tank. (Supplied/Saudi Civil Defense)

Al-Mandeel said that Pets Houses does its best to afford care and a decent life for the many pets at the branch located in Dhahran Mall. Pet owners regularly come to the branch, he said, to purchase supplies and learn how to breed and care for their pets as part of the family.

All animals are subject to periodic medical checkups by Pets Houses’ veterinarian clinic, which provides for all their needs, including hygiene, he said.

“We were shocked by the news of the fire that morning. We contacted the authorities and alerted them to the presence of pets inside our branch located inside the complex, and they responded immediately,” Al-Mandeel added.

Firefighters rescuing animals from a pet shop near the conflagration which broke out in Dharhan Mall and caused a lot of damage while a fireman appears to carrying a fish tank. (Supplied/Saudi Civil Defense)

He described the waiting periods as “excruciating” until he received the welcome news that all the animals at the branch had been rescued and transported safely and without any injuries, thanks to the efforts of the Civil Defense “heroes.”

“The team brought the animals to our veterinary clinic swiftly to check on their health. The medical team confirmed the safety of all the animals,” he said.

Badr S. Al-Turaif, general manager of Rahmah Animal Welfare Association, told Arab News that the association is in contact with the shop’s management and that the animals are in good health, adding that they had not been exposed to either fire or fumes as the shop is located relatively far from the fire site.

Nawaf Al-Mandeel, General Manager of Pets Houses. (Supplied)

“The courageous efforts of the Civil Defense team are not surprising,” Al-Turaif said. “We always find these heroes at the center of incidents, providing assistance and saving lives.”

Al-Turaif urged pet store owners to implement the preventive measures outlined by the Civil Defense to avoid tragedies in the future. These include setting fire alarms, developing an emergency and evacuation plan, ensuring adequate ventilation, designing the shop in a way that allows for the implementation of these measures, and creating an appropriate environment for animals so that their health and safety are not jeopardized.


Grand Mosque robots answer pilgrims’ questions in 11 languages

Grand Mosque robots answer pilgrims’ questions in 11 languages
Updated 15 May 2022

Grand Mosque robots answer pilgrims’ questions in 11 languages

Grand Mosque robots answer pilgrims’ questions in 11 languages
  • The robots guide pilgrims on how to perform their Umrah rituals, issue fatwas, and answer questions
  • They also have high resolution cameras that provide clarity in transmitting images, high resolution headphones, and a microphone with high capture quality

RIYADH: Robots that provide visitors to the Grand Mosque in Makkah with guidance can be accessed in 11 languages: Arabic, English, French, Russian, Persian, Turkish, Malay, Urdu, Chinese, Bengali, Hausa.

The robots guide pilgrims on how to perform their Umrah rituals, issue fatwas, answer questions and provide opportunities for people to communicate with scholars remotely.

The four-wheeled robots have 21-inch touchscreens and are equipped with a smart stopping system that allows them to be moved easily and smoothly.

They also have high resolution cameras that provide clarity in transmitting images, high resolution headphones, and a microphone with high capture quality that allows clear sound transmission.

The robots work on a Wi-Fi wireless network system at a speed of 5 GHz which enables fast and high transmission of data.


Saudi Ministry of Justice: 79k e-transactions completed since March 2020

79k e-transactions completed since March 202. (SPA)
79k e-transactions completed since March 202. (SPA)
Updated 16 May 2022

Saudi Ministry of Justice: 79k e-transactions completed since March 2020

79k e-transactions completed since March 202. (SPA)
  • The service has been streamlined to enable electronic agreement on sale terms without a notary’s certification, so that the operation can be completed in less than one hour

RIYADH: Almost 79,000 property e-conveyancing transactions have been processed since the launch of the Najiz.sa service in March 2020, the Saudi Ministry of Justice announced.

The total value of the transactions exceeds SR11 billion ($2.9 billion).

“The service is available through the Najiz.sa portal at ept.moj.gov.sa,” the ministry said.

“The upper limit for the e-conveyance of property has been raised from SR3 million to SR20 million.”

The service has been streamlined to enable electronic agreement on sale terms without a notary’s certification, so that the operation can be completed in less than one hour.

It had also enabled digital verification of bank accounts and payment of property transaction tax.

As part of several reforms and development initiatives, the Ministry of Justice is working on enhancing digitization and providing innovative tech solutions that facilitate services, simplify procedures and boost security.

“In cooperation with the Saudi Central Bank, the ministry made it available through 17 local and international banks,” the statement said.