Probe launched after Saudi Arabia records first omicron variant case

Probe launched after Saudi Arabia records first omicron variant case
Saudi Arabia has launched a health probe after reporting the country’s first positive case of the omicron COVID-19 variant. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 02 December 2021

Probe launched after Saudi Arabia records first omicron variant case

Probe launched after Saudi Arabia records first omicron variant case
  • At this stage, prevention is better than cure and standard precautions must continue to be practiced, says Health Ministry spokesman

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has launched a health probe after reporting the country’s first positive case of the omicron COVID-19 variant.

The Kingdom joined more than 21 other nations in recording an omicron infection after a Saudi national who flew in on a passenger plane from a north African country tested positive.

The individual was placed in isolation, along with a number of other people they had been in contact with, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

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

During a specially convened Saudi Ministry of Health press conference, ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said there was still much to learn about the new variant and warned against spreading false information about it.

“Health experts across the world and the Kingdom are closely monitoring the situation and more research needs to be done to determine its lethality. At this stage, prevention is better than the cure and standard precautions must continue to be practiced,” he added.

Dr. Abdullah Algaissi, a virologist and assistant professor at Jazan University’s college of medical sciences, recently told Arab News: “Based on what we know from the genetic sequencing, we don’t have information that could tell us if these mutations will make the virus more lethal, more transmissible, if it will impact the immune response either after infection or vaccination. As of now, we don’t know.”

Al-Aly pointed out the importance of people completing vaccination programs and recommended that anyone who had gone six months since having their second jab should receive a booster, especially those aged over 65.

HIGHLIGHT

Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly urged people to keep a check on their health status via the ministry approved Tawakkalna app, to self-isolate where necessary, and continue to follow precautionary measures brought in at the start of the pandemic.

Health officials have said that third doses offer increased protection against COVID-19 and can prevent infection or milder illness with symptoms.

According to the US CDC, data from clinical trials showed that a booster shot increased the immune response in trial participants who finished a Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna primary series six months earlier or who received a Johnson and Johnson/Janssen single-dose vaccine two months earlier.

With an increased immune response, people should have improved protection against COVID-19, including the delta variant. For Pfizer-BioNTech and Johnson and Johnson/Janssen, clinical trials also revealed that a booster jab helped prevent COVID-19 with symptoms.

To date, more than 47.4 million vaccine doses have been administered in Saudi Arabia.

Al-Aly urged people to keep a check on their health status via the ministry-approved Tawakkalna app, to self-isolate where necessary, and continue to follow precautionary measures brought in at the start of the pandemic.

“Masks continue to be a very important protective measure against any infection,” he added.

Health officials are stationed at the Kingdom’s ports to check the temperatures of arriving passengers.

News of the omicron case came as Saudi Arabia lifted a ban on direct travel from India, Egypt, Pakistan, Brazil, Vietnam, and Indonesia although arrivals would need to enter institutional quarantine for five days.

On Wednesday, the Kingdom reported 34 new COVID-19 cases and 26 recoveries. One death was recorded, and 39 patients remained in critical condition.


Saudi Border Guards seize 300 kilograms of narcotic hashish in Jazan 

Saudi Border Guards seize 300 kilograms of narcotic hashish in Jazan 
Updated 01 October 2022

Saudi Border Guards seize 300 kilograms of narcotic hashish in Jazan 

Saudi Border Guards seize 300 kilograms of narcotic hashish in Jazan 

RIYADH: Border guards in Saudi Arabia’s Jazan region have thwarted an attempt to smuggle 300 kilograms of narcotic hashish. 
Initial legal procedures have been completed and the drugs were seized and handed over to the relevant authority, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
Saudi Arabia has been cracking down on attempts to smuggle drugs into and out of the Kingdom, with authorities saying they would continue to stop all attempts to put the public at harm.


Saudi ministry wins 2 communication awards in UAE

Saudi ministry wins 2 communication awards in UAE
Updated 01 October 2022

Saudi ministry wins 2 communication awards in UAE

Saudi ministry wins 2 communication awards in UAE
  • 53 candidates were shortlisted in 19 award classes

SHARJAH, UAE: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development won two accolades at the 9th Sharjah Government Communication Awards in the UAE.

The ministry scooped awards in the categories for best systems in government communication in the Arab world, and best government communication initiative to empower women globally.

Fifty-three candidates were shortlisted in 19 award classes, with the Saudi ministry recognized for the methodology used in the implementation of its projects, the impact and results achieved, the effective use of technology and media to reach target audiences, and its innovative and proactive visions.

The ministry’s assistant minister for shared services, Mohammed bin Nasser Al-Jasser, said the awards success was down to the hard work of employees.

He added that the ministry sought to create an effective communication media system capable of keeping pace with the rapid changes taking place in the sectors it supervised while responding to the digital transformation that had seen a transformation in government media over recent years.

 

 


Diriya Gate Development Authority launches project to encode Diriyah history in Braille

Diriya Gate Development Authority launches project to encode Diriyah history in Braille
Updated 01 October 2022

Diriya Gate Development Authority launches project to encode Diriyah history in Braille

Diriya Gate Development Authority launches project to encode Diriyah history in Braille
  • The project will help visually impaired people gain a deeper understanding of the history of Diriyah, the original home of the Saudi royal family

RIYADH:  The Diriyah Gate Development Authority has teamed up with the National Association of the Blind “Kafeef” to launch an initiative for the translation of Diriyah’s history into Braille.

The project will help visually impaired people gain a deeper understanding of Diriyah’s history.

Paper copies of the content printed in Braille will help strengthen participants’ emotional connection to their rich Saudi history and heritage.

The project reflects DGDA’s commitment to the visually impaired, and is aligned with the authority’s mandate to preserve and celebrate its culture and heritage.

The first part of the initiative runs until Oct. 15, and includes a course on Diriyah’s history for young men and women from “Kafeef.”

Supporting course materials were translated into paper and digital formats, including content on the year 850 — the year that Diriyah was established — as well as the At-Turaif district and the history of the First Saudi State.

Participants with the highest scores have since been selected to teach within the program itself, based on the level of their interest in Saudi history and their Braille skills.

DGDA is committed to working with “Kafeef” to provide support to participants, including paper and digital training materials, as well as lessons for registered participants, with an official certificate available on completion of the course.

The course is expected to foster a competitive, knowledge-based atmosphere that will help bolster the connection visually impaired individuals have to their heritage; strengthen their sense of belonging to their country’s past, present, and future; and instil a sense of community and collective investment in the country’s progress.

 

 


Saudi culture minister meets Jordanian, Iraqi counterparts at UNESCO meeting in Mexico

Saudi culture minister meets Jordanian, Iraqi counterparts at UNESCO meeting in Mexico
Updated 01 October 2022

Saudi culture minister meets Jordanian, Iraqi counterparts at UNESCO meeting in Mexico

Saudi culture minister meets Jordanian, Iraqi counterparts at UNESCO meeting in Mexico

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan on Friday held talks with his Jordanian counterpart, Haifa Najjar, on the sidelines of the UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policies and Sustainable Development — Mondiacult 2022 in Mexico.
At the beginning of the meeting, Prince Badr congratulated Najjar on the Jordanian city of Irbid being chosen as the Arab Capital of Culture in 2022.
He also praised the success of the Jerash Festival for Culture and Arts, and thanked Najjar for the support in organizing the “Saudi Cultural Week” in Jordan from Spet. 12-15, stressing the depth of the relations that bind the two kingdoms, their governments and people.
During the meeting, they discussed ways to intensify and deepen cultural cooperation between their two countries in various cultural and artistic fields, exchange visits and establish cultural activities, and enhancing joint cooperation in preserving their antiquities and historical sites.
Prince Badr also met with Iraqi Minister of Culture, Tourism and Antiquities Dr. Hassan Nazim, where they praised the depth of the relations and stressed the importance of strengthening joint cultural cooperation.
The Saudi minister also praised the joint efforts between the Saudi-Iraqi work teams specialized in heritage, under the umbrella of the growing cooperation between the Kingdom’s Heritage Commission and the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, calling for more cooperation in all cultural fields.
During his meeting Malaysian Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Nancy Shukri, the two sides reviewed bilateral cultural relations and ways to develop cooperation and cultural exchange.
The Saudi minister also met Burkina Faso Minister of Communication, Culture, Arts and Tourism Valerie Kabore, where they discussed opportunities for cultural cooperation in the fields of crafts and folklore, artistic residency programs, seminars and events aimed at building capacities and introducing the cultures of the two countries.
He also held similar talks with his Chadian counterpart of the sidelines of the conference.


Lights, cameras, action as Saudi directors win 48hr film challenge

Lights, cameras, action as Saudi directors win 48hr film challenge
Updated 30 September 2022

Lights, cameras, action as Saudi directors win 48hr film challenge

Lights, cameras, action as Saudi directors win 48hr film challenge
  • The challenge encourages Saudi and Saudi-resident filmmakers aged from 18-25 to produce new works

JEDDAH: Two young Saudi film directors have been presented with trophies after winning the second edition of a 48-hour filmmaking challenge, with participants racing against the clock to create a short film within a two-day limit.

Khaled Zidan and Tala Alharbi received their awards on Thursday during a special screening held at Vox Cinemas in Red Sea Mall, Jeddah.  

The 48HR Film Challenge was part of a collaboration between the Alliance Française of Saudi Arabia, the Consulate General of France in Jeddah, the French Embassy in Riyadh, the Red Sea International Film Festival, Cercle des Amis de la Culture Francaise and Vox Cinemas.

The challenge encourages Saudi and Saudi-resident filmmakers aged from 18-25 to produce new works.

A team of between two and five participants, led by a Saudi director or scriptwriter, received two days’ training to develop their film before the challenge.

Mohammed Al-Turki, CEO of the Red Sea Film Festival Foundation, congratulated the winners and said: “We watched some really amazing short films that were very intriguing and projected a lot of creativity from the young Saudi filmmakers, especially to create it within 48 hours only.” 

He told Arab News: “I believe this platform will help them reach their goals with the support of the Red Sea Fund.”

During the event, Al-Turki said that the two films will be screened at the Red Sea Film Festival as a part of the “New Saudi New Cinema Shorts” segment.

Zain Zedan, Red Sea Souk manager, described the winning efforts as “a great achievement and accomplishment.”

He added: “This will encourage other filmmakers not to be hesitant to produce the films they like.”

Catherine Corm-Kammoun, Consul General of France in Jeddah, told Arab News that she was impressed by the exceptional work of all participants. 

“It was surprising to see the deep thoughts of the young filmmakers and learn the way they see life. As the Consulate General of France, we are eager to generate new filmmakers among the youth in Saudi Arabia. Our aim is to strengthen the film industry in the Kingdom,” she said.  

“With this successful partnership with the Red Sea Film Festival, we decided to renew this challenge for the next year as it is a good cooperation and hope to keep on working like this.”

Charles-Henri Gros, cultural attache of the Consulate General of France, told Arab News: “As this was the second edition, we added a new initiative by challenging the participants to create a film in just two days. We hosted them at the residency of the French General Consulate in Jeddah and dedicated the two days to the young talents, and introduced them to some Saudi and French experts in cinema.”

He added: “This is just the beginning of a great future for them in the cinema, which is a masterpiece of arts and culture. As a French consulate, we consider ourselves lucky to initiate this with the Red Sea Film Festival.”

Zidan, who won with a short film titled “The Kid in the Closet,” told Arab News: “It wasn’t an easy challenge. There were some limitations, especially the time. Making a film in 48 hours isn’t an easy thing. We used to work on films in the pre-production area and I know it takes a lot of time to make films.” 

He said that creating a film with just three team members was also challenging. “But I am happy that it was a great learning experience, which in itself is a reward. The workshops at the French consulate allowed us to get expertise from a number of directors, producers and actors.”

Alharbi, who created a winning film titled “When Red Blooms,” said: “It is unbelievable and feels like a dream to have won. It has definitely been a lot of hard work. It was an exciting experience, but very stressful.”

The jury, chaired by award-winning actor Dhafer L’Abdine, and filmmaker and journalist Wael Abu Mansour, presented the two teams with trophies designed by the artist Rabi Alakhras. Winning team leaders will also attend an educational residency program led by leading French cinematographers.

Jana Mazin, writer and director of another of the short films, “LuLu,” will receive support to create a movie with the help of Vox Cinemas.