Saudi ministry launches major workplace health and safety initiative

Saudi ministry launches major workplace health and safety initiative
Ahmed bin Suleiman AlRajhi, Minister of Human Resources and Social Development (R) at the Saudi International Conference for Occupational Safety and Health 2021. (SPA)
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Updated 15 November 2021

Saudi ministry launches major workplace health and safety initiative

Saudi ministry launches major workplace health and safety initiative
  • The Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development has set up a new platform to help regulate occupational safety and health standards in the Kingdom

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Monday launched a major workplace health and safety initiative aimed at drastically cutting the costs to businesses caused through employee illnesses and injuries.

The Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development has set up a new platform to help regulate occupational safety and health standards in the Kingdom.

Sattam Al-Harbi, undersecretary of agency responsible for the control and development of the work environment, told Arab News: “One of the most important rules to increase productivity in the labor market is mitigating the risk of health and safety. Work injuries cost the gross domestic product more than 4 percent in many countries.”

The new unified platform, announced during an international conference being held at the Hilton Riyadh hotel, has been based on the Vision 2030 national transformation program.

“Enhancing health and safety will result in reducing absence days in workplaces, which will positively impact productivity, and the private sector, and that will reflect on the economy as a whole.

“The platform is ready now and we are enhancing it continuously. It has been updated with all our new programs and initiatives,” Al-Harbi said.

Speaking during the launch, Minister of Human Resources and Social Development Ahmed Al-Rajhi said that the platform had been designed to protect the labor force by incorporating occupation health and safety standards within the working environment.

Through the platform, employees are able to report work accidents thereby initiating investigation procedures, a process that would contribute toward protection employees from losses resulting from work accidents and injuries, as well as violations and legal claims, the minister added.

FASTFACTS

• The minister said that the platform had been designed to protect the labor force by incorporating occupation health and safety standards within the working environment.

• Through the platform, employees are able to report work accidents thereby initiating investigation procedures, a process that would contribute toward protection employees from losses resulting from work accidents and injuries.

Al-Rajhi said: “Among the scheme’s strategic objectives are the creation of a safe and attractive work environment, believing in a worker’s right to be protected from any danger that poses a threat to their safety or health, in application, and in compliance, with the provisions of the national strategy for occupational health and safety.”

Al-Harbi pointed out that the strategic objectives were in line with best international standards and practices.

As part of the national strategy, a first batch of 18,000 people will be enrolled onto the occupational health and safety cadres’ program with the cooperation and support of the Human Resources Development Fund, “Hadaf”.

“Enhancing capabilities is one of the ways we aim to stimulate the economy. Training courses, media, communication plans and other programs we have on offer will help us achieve our vision to reduce worker injuries and increase the compliance for work and safety requirements,” Al-Harbi said.

The Hilton conference is organized annually by the ministry as part of the Kingdom’s strategic program to raise awareness about health and safety in the workplace.

During the event, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the ministry and Umm Al-Qura University to establish a center to develop the scope of the ministry’s health and safety research.

Organizations represented at the conference included Aramco, Sabic, Umm Al-Qura University, and the International Institute of Risk and Safety Management, and in a ceremony the IIRSM presented an engraved plaque to the minister in recognition of Saudi Arabia’s commitment to improving occupational health and safety.

IIRSM chief executive officer, Phillip Pearson, who presented the award, told Arab News: “We wanted to congratulate Saudi Arabia on the journey that it is currently going through to protect people and save lives.”

He noted that the number of work-related fatalities had dropped over the past five years.

“Saudi Arabia has challenges, like any country, and today it’s really important to see the commitment from the government that shows they take health and safety very, very seriously. And that’s come across really strongly,” he said.

Pearson pointed out that one of the challenges faced by Saudi Arabia would be adopting a system of health and safety tailored to the Kingdom.

“There’s no point in copying somebody else’s systems. These have to be specific to your nation, and they have to work for your nation.

“We want to help Saudi Arabia progress and we also want to learn from Saudi Arabia; learn from positive things you’ve done and also learn from the negatives as well, because we need to be honest and open,” he added.

Some of the topics being covered at the conference include the importance of mental health and wellbeing, industrial hygiene, pre-employment processing and handling, issues linked to work-related diseases and injuries, international trends of occupational medicine, and adopting modern applications and technologies to improve workplace occupational health and safety standards.


Nabd Al-Riyadh shows the present Kingdom on the walls of past

Nabd Al-Riyadh shows the present Kingdom on the walls of past
Updated 18 sec ago

Nabd Al-Riyadh shows the present Kingdom on the walls of past

Nabd Al-Riyadh shows the present Kingdom on the walls of past
  • Nabd Al-Riyadh, which means the pulse of the capital, presents the rich past of the Kingdom since its foundation through more than 400 storytelling visual presentations

RIYADH: Nabd Al-Riyadh, one of Riyadh Season’s 14 zones, opened its doors for visitors this week to take them on a visually enhanced journey to explore the history, heritage and culture of Saudi Arabia.

The zone, which is free, was a popular feature of Riyadh Season when it first appeared in 2019. This year it has been given an extra touch of music and shows from all around the world to accompany the Saudi folklore and keep the visitors entertained.

Nabd Al-Riyadh, which means the pulse of the capital, presents the rich past of the Kingdom since its foundation through more than 400 storytelling visual presentations. The zone perfectly embodies Saudi cultural traditions and heritage with an artistic simulation of its history projected on the walls of Masmak Palace.

Abdulhameed Fouzi, a visitor from Tabuk, said that Masmak Palace “is one of the places I really wanted to visit and see in person.”

“Masmak Palace is often where the people pledged allegiance to their kings. This is where everything used to happen in the past,” said Rana Al-Wakeel, another visitor.

The zone offers entertainment for individuals, families, and children with musical performances and art shows that will continue until mid-January 2022.

The events at Nabd Al-Riyadh include the Safat Square, which has sand painting, Rubik’s square painting, “3D” street art, glitter art and theatrical and musical performances, as well as the Safat Caffe, which serves traditional drinks and sweets.

The Al-Masmak Square area includes artistic, theatrical, and interactive performances, while the Nabd Al-Riyadh theatre features more than 30 Saudi and international bands, orchestras and singers.


KSrelief sends 40 tons of liquid oxygen to Tunisia

KSrelief sends 40 tons of liquid oxygen to Tunisia
Updated 01 December 2021

KSrelief sends 40 tons of liquid oxygen to Tunisia

KSrelief sends 40 tons of liquid oxygen to Tunisia
  • Tunisian Health Minister Ali Mrabet noted that this assistance comes at a critical time when the world is preparing for a new health crisis with the spread of the omicron variant of the virus
  • Saudi Ambassador to Tunisia Dr. Abdul Aziz bin Ali Al-Saqr said that the assistance embodies the deep-rooted fraternal ties that exist between the two countries

TUNIS: Following a directive from King Salman, KSrelief has sent a shipment of medical aid to Tunisia, including 40 tons of liquid oxygen, part of an eventual supply of 200 tons, to assist the Tunisian medical sector in combating the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Tunisian Health Minister Ali Mrabet and Saudi Ambassador to Tunisia Dr. Abdul Aziz bin Ali Al-Saqr were among those officials present to receive the aid.

The Tunisian health minister expressed his appreciation and gratitude for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s medical assistance.

Mrabet noted that this assistance comes at a critical time when the world is preparing for a new health crisis with the spread of the omicron variant of the virus.

For his part, Al-Saqr said that the assistance embodies the deep-rooted fraternal ties that exist between the two countries.


Saudi authorities seize massive drug haul hidden in cardamom container

Saudi authorities seize massive drug haul hidden in cardamom container
Updated 01 December 2021

Saudi authorities seize massive drug haul hidden in cardamom container

Saudi authorities seize massive drug haul hidden in cardamom container
  • GDNC seize over 30 million pills after investigation into a criminal network

RIYADH: Saudi anti-narcotics authorities thwarted an attempt to smuggle more than 30 million amphetamine pills into the Kingdom.

Maj. Mohammad Al-Nujaidi, spokesperson for the General Directorate of Narcotics Control, said that proactive investigation into the criminal network’s activities, which attempt to tamper with the security of the Kingdom and its youths, has thwarted an attempt to smuggle 30.3 million amphetamine pills hidden inside a cardamom container at Riyadh Dry Port.

The successful operation was launched in coordination with the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority, where the recipients of the shipment — two Saudis and two Syrians — were arrested.

Al-Nujaidi said that the preliminary legal measures have been taken against them and they have been referred to the public prosecution.

Recently, the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority at Al-Haditha port also foiled eight attempts to smuggle more than 4.4 million Captagon pills into the Kingdom.

The GDNC called on members of the public to help its mission and protect society by contacting the designated number for security reports (1910), email ([email protected]) or by using the international number (00966114208417).

Whistleblowers can report smuggling and customs violations through these channels in strict confidentiality, and will receive a financial reward if their information is correct.


Saudi Arabia showcases its tech ambitions as @Hack named ‘largest cybersecurity event of 2021’

Saudi Arabia showcases its tech ambitions as @Hack named ‘largest cybersecurity event of 2021’
Updated 01 December 2021

Saudi Arabia showcases its tech ambitions as @Hack named ‘largest cybersecurity event of 2021’

Saudi Arabia showcases its tech ambitions as @Hack named ‘largest cybersecurity event of 2021’
  • Michael Champion, regional executive VP of Informa Markets, worked alongside Steve Wiley, GM of cybersecurity event organizer Black Hat, to bring @Hack to life and showcase Riyadh’s potential
  • Michael Champion: I have no doubt in my mind that Riyadh is a global tech hub of the future, and it’s certainly right now the event hub of the region

RIYADH: With more than 20,000 visitors over three days, the inaugural @Hack conference was the largest cybersecurity event in the world in 2021, according to its organizers.

“This is only the beginning for the future digital city of the world,” Michael Champion, regional executive vice president of Informa Markets, told Arab News.

“Nowhere can you launch an event which would normally take 15 to 20 years to grow to this size in any another city, and (have) done it in one edition,” he said. “That just shows how important and right the timing was of doing an event like this in Riyadh.”

Champion worked alongside Steve Wiley, general manager of cybersecurity event organizer Black Hat, to bring @Hack to life and showcase Riyadh’s potential.

“I have no doubt in my mind that Riyadh is a global tech hub of the future, and it’s certainly right now the event hub of the region,” Champion said.

Black Hat is an annual cybersecurity event that brings together hackers, trainers and government agencies from around the world to share their knowledge and experience. The largest event of its kind, in 2019 it attracted representatives from almost 120 countries.

“Coming here to @Hack has been a really good experience. Black Hat’s role has been as an adviser to the @Hack team over the last few months,” Wiley said.

Comparing the event in Riyadh to the global event, Wiley added that “people will see a lot of commonalities between the Black Hat event and @Hack.”

“We have taken the formula and applied it to the local market here. It’s been a great event,” he said.

Black Hat and @Hack shared many of the same elements and were both deeply rooted in content, Wiley said, adding that the “right educational information, training and courses offered makes sure the right people are here.”

The three-day event achieved its primary goal of attracting a wide range of visitors and participants, he said.

“I think @Hack has the right foundational elements, there is a lot of people here. The cyber community in Saudi Arabia is very robust and I think it’s great we are here for the inaugural event, and I am sure that this is an event that will carry on from the strong support we are seeing,” Wiley said.

Champion added that @Hack was also one of the most diverse cybersecurity events he had ever seen.

“At least half the people here are women or girls. If I go to a cybersecurity event in America or in London, only 10 percent will be women,” he said.

“All over the world, I think there are a lot of people who have a real misconception about Saudi women.”

While the technology field in Europe and America might be seen as closed off to women, in Saudi Arabia there were crowds of young women eager to participate in the @Hack event, not only as attendees but also as speakers, Champion said.

“I can tell you, we wouldn’t sell out an event like that, the largest debut event in history, the largest cybersecurity event in the world of 2021. That doesn’t happen because there is a good team on it, that happens because of the markets, the timing and the partnerships we have,” he said.

Riyadh had the right markets and the right support to launch multiple global events in the future, Champion added.

“When an event booms to the size @Hack and Leap have, it’s only because there is real intensity behind that market. Everybody knows it,” he said.

“For so many years, Saudi has had so much wealth concentrated in hydrocarbons, but now it seems to have released it to help transform that economy into a heavyweight in technology.”

Leap is an upcoming technology event organized by Informa Markets in cooperation with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. It is set to run from Feb. 1 to 3 at the Riyadh Front Expo Center.

“When it launches, it will be the largest debut tech event ever,” Champion said. “It will have thousands of companies participating.”

The CEOs of companies like Ericsson, VMware and Magic Leap, as well as the chief digital transformation officer of Huawei Enterprises, are among those set to attend, Champion said.

“You have unbelievable speakers on this, the real heavyweights of global technology are absolutely desperate to get on the speaker faculty. And the reason is that Saudi is a booming market,” he added.

“Saudi is the right market, it’s a very lucrative and attractive market for many companies wanting to be a part of these megaprojects because they know they are seismic.”


Saudi Arabia, UAE confirm first omicron COVID-19 cases

Saudi Arabia, UAE confirm first omicron COVID-19 cases
Updated 01 December 2021

Saudi Arabia, UAE confirm first omicron COVID-19 cases

Saudi Arabia, UAE confirm first omicron COVID-19 cases
  • A Saudi passenger arriving in the Kingdom is isolating after testing positive for the omicron COVID-19 variant
  • Woman arriving in the UAE from African country through Arab state also tests positive for new COVID-19 variant

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and the UAE confirmed on Wednesday their first cases of the COVID-19 omicron variant.

A passenger coming from a north African country was identified as the Kingdom's first case while Emirates News Agency said that a woman arriving in the UAE from an African country through an Arab state was the country's first case.

The woman is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and is isolating, WAM reported. People she has been in contact with are also isolating and she is not exibiting any symptoms. 

Saudi Press Agency said that the Kingdom's first case was detected in a Saudi passenger and that he was isolating along with those who had been in contact with him. 

“An epidemiological investigation has started and the case was sent to quarantine, where accredited health procedures were followed,” SPA said.

A health official from Saudi Arabia’s health ministry has called on people to get both doses of a COVID-19 jab and for travelers to adhere to quarantine and testing protocols upon their arrival.

The spread of the latest variant comes as Saudi Arabia’s ban on direct travel from several countries ended, with the Kingdom continuing to relax pandemic-related travel restrictions.

Travelers from six countries — India, Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia, Brazil and Vietnam — can now arrive in the Kingdom without having to spend 14 days outside those countries before entering Saudi Arabia.