Eye in the sky finds ancient Saudi village beneath the sands

Al-Oshairah, which is located in the valley of Yanbu, is one of the main destinations used by pilgrims while heading to Makkah. The team has so far documented more than 12,000 aerial images. (Supplied)
Al-Oshairah, which is located in the valley of Yanbu, is one of the main destinations used by pilgrims while heading to Makkah. The team has so far documented more than 12,000 aerial images. (Supplied)
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Updated 02 January 2022

Eye in the sky finds ancient Saudi village beneath the sands

Al-Oshairah, which is located in the valley of Yanbu, is one of the main destinations used by pilgrims while heading to Makkah. The team has so far documented more than 12,000 aerial images. (Supplied)
  • Approach, efforts to preserve Saudi Arabia’s archeological and historical landmarks have earned Erth Aerial Photography Team 1st prize in National Cultural Awards
  • Al-Oshairah in the Yanbu valley is believed to be where the first battle of Islam took place

JEDDAH: A village dating from the early days of Islam has been found in Yanbu by a team of Saudi enthusiasts who are documenting the Kingdom in an innovative way.

The head of the project, Abdulaziz Al-Dakheel, who is the founder of Erth Aerial Photography Team, told Arab News that the team surveyed vast stretches of the region by remote sensing and helicopter in search of Al-Oshairah. “After recording its presence from the air, the team then found the settlement that was lying under the sands,” he said.
Al-Oshairah is thought to be the place where the first battle of Islam took place and where the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him) and his companions stayed for more than a month.
The Erth Aerial Photography Team, which was founded in 2015, is a nonprofit national documentary initiative that is documenting Saudi Arabia from the sky. It is made up of 13 members with different skills — photographers, pilots, guides, historians, and others — who want to document various topographical and geographical areas of the Kingdom using a powered parachute aircraft and other technology.  
When the Erth team began searching for Al-Oshairah, they followed the research of Abdul Ullah Al-Aiashi, a historian on the team, which suggested a different location from the one that has become generally accepted.
After gathering all details, the team used satellite images and aerial photographs to search in different locations in the region.

Some are significant to Islam while others hail from the pre-Islamic period, such as Mada’in Saleh, the 2,000-year-old area of AlUla and natural landscapes of the Western region, including volcanoes and wells.

Abdulaziz Al-Dakheel, Founder of Erth Aerial Photography Team

“After 75 minutes of flying, the team was able to discover a destroyed village that is believed to be Al-Oshirah, mentioned in the Sunnah of the noble Prophet’s biography.”
“Our team is comprises of individuals who contribute to the missions by providing every detail needed. Abdul Ullah Al-Aiashi led us to the location of Al-Oshairah, which is located in the valley of Yanbu. It is one of the main destinations used by pilgrims while heading to Makkah,” Al- Dakheel said.
“You can’t find the site of the battle or recognize the village it took place in, but we were able to distinguish some pillar structures of the ancient village from a bird’s eye view.”
The Erth Aerial Photography Team will leave the study of the site and the validity of its claim for the site of the battleground to the competent authorities.




In their documenting missions, the team uses a two-seater powered parachute and a two-seater gyroplane.

Al-Dakheel said that every day they find new archaeological sites, hidden or lost monuments that are often of great interest.
“We document different historical civilizations in the Kingdom, mainly in the western region, such as castles and tombs. We also document the religious and historical landmarks of the Arabian Peninsula. Some are significant to Islam while others hail from the pre-Islamic period, such as Mada’in Saleh, the 2,000-year-old area of AlUla and natural landscapes of the western region, including volcanoes and wells.”
He revealed that last month the team discovered the ancient city of Al-Juhfa, which is located on the left bank of Wadi Al-Ghaidah, east of the city of Rabigh in the Makkah region. It lies about 5 km north of the Miqat Al-Juhfa on a rocky ridge. “It thrived hundreds of years ago, but the sand flooded it, leaving only a part of a single building.”
“The remains are of a fortress called Alia Palace, whose architectural style dates back to the Abbasid era and is still covered with sand, with many pieces of pottery and glass scattered around the site.”
Al-Dakheel explained that the team has overcome so many obstacles but will continue against all the odds: “It is a long process of trial and error. It is worth it, as images of such historical landmarks speak a thousand words and go a long way in preserving the history of Saudi Arabia.”
In their documenting missions, the team uses a two-seater powered parachute and a two-seater gyroplane.
Their innovative approach and their efforts to preserve Saudi Arabia’s archeological and historical landmarks have earned the Erth Aerial Photography Team first prize in the National Cultural Awards.
“It’s our duty as passionate explorers to document and show the beauty that our country has. For us it is not a business, we enjoy what we do from the air and we aim to make people aware of all these landmarks,” Al-Dakheel said.
The team have so far documented more than 12,000 aerial images in 50 different locations.


Saudi crown prince washes Holy Kaaba on behalf of King Salman

Saudi crown prince washes Holy Kaaba on behalf of King Salman
Updated 8 sec ago

Saudi crown prince washes Holy Kaaba on behalf of King Salman

Saudi crown prince washes Holy Kaaba on behalf of King Salman

RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman washed the Holy Kaaba in Makkah’s Grand Mosque.

— More to follow.


Saudi nutritionist uses his weight loss journey to inspire others

The weight-loss milestones of 24-year-old Salam Farid Azam has been a motivation for many wishing to achieve their weight goal.
The weight-loss milestones of 24-year-old Salam Farid Azam has been a motivation for many wishing to achieve their weight goal.
Updated 16 August 2022

Saudi nutritionist uses his weight loss journey to inspire others

The weight-loss milestones of 24-year-old Salam Farid Azam has been a motivation for many wishing to achieve their weight goal.
  • Durham University graduate talks up need for Saudi culture not to conflate its famed generosity with food

RIYADH: Unhealthy food and fitness habits are on the rise among Saudi youth, and maintaining a healthy weight has become a concern.

The weight-loss milestones of 24-year-old Salam Farid Azam has been a motivation for many wishing to achieve their weight goal.

Azam’s priority is maintaining a healthy lifestyle. He lost 25 kg through his balanced habits, which have been cultivated through his educational experience in human nutrition and behavioral science.

Now, he has a mission to help others bury their weakening cycles of poor habits.

FASTFACTS

• Salam Farid Azam’s priority is maintaining a healthy lifestyle. He lost 25 kg through his balanced habits, which have been cultivated through his educational experience in human nutrition and behavioral science.

• Now, he has a mission to help others bury their weakening cycles of poor habits.

Azam created his consultation platform, Sehha W Salam, two months ago.

“Sehha W Salam is a platform that’s trying to improve the overall health of people in society through personal consultations tailored to them,” Azam told Arab News.

“Consultants will try to enhance the behaviors and nutrition of people who come. They will try to understand the issues people are struggling with,” he said.

Qualified consultants create an in-depth case study of clients’ issues. Nutritional meal plans, exercises, and a combination of behavioral consultations are then applied, with prices dependent on how complex a case is.

“I am a registered associate nutritionist from the Association of Nutrition in the UK. I might recruit more qualified people with both qualifications in behavioral science and nutrition,” he said.

“The most convenient way of reaching me is through Instagram which is @sehhawsalam. Consultations will be held virtually over any video meeting platforms, or we can do it by visiting each other.”

Azam started his journey in the UK after high school. He was inspired to study nutrition because he was overweight during his adolescence.

“I thought of studying nutrition because I used to be overweight (at) around 13 years old. I was suffering from it. It affected me in terms of confidence in myself, my general well-being, I was shy, I was not socializing in general. I thought ‘I need to make a decision because I am not who I am’,” he said.

“I stayed at home all the time and played PlayStation and video games. I used to eat a lot, all the time, and I was unaware of my health. I used to play center back, the defending position in football, from primary school until I was 14. My colleagues and football team members (then) told me I need to play as a goalkeeper — I am not giving a bad impression of being a goalkeeper, but it’s usually given to people who don’t give a good impression of running. I was feeling rejected,” he explained.

Website surfing and Instagram accounts with nutritional information were the first source of awareness for Azam’s weight loss, before expanding his passion for nutrition at university.

“I chose Kingston University. I did my bachelor’s of science in human nutrition, and I was one of the top students in (the) university,” he said.

Azam complemented his bachelor’s with a master’s degree in behavioral sciences at Durham, one of the UK’s leading universities.

“We learned a lot about behavioral aspects of psychology. Choice architecture is a concept that looks at whether items are on an eye-level,” he said. “Changing the position of these unhealthy food products affects people’s choices. They crave these foods when they see it.”

Losing weight was difficult at first for Azam, especially without surgical intervention. His focus on food quality, avoiding fast food, and exercising gave a positive turn in all aspects surrounding his life.

“After I lost weight, I couldn’t describe how comfortable I felt. I started socializing, anticipating. I became very confident in myself. I started joining societies, leading them, going into positions of trust, and all of that. Nutrition can help people achieve their best,” said Azam.

Generosity is a key component of Saudi culture, and Azam believes that generosity and showing appreciation should not always be correlated with food — gratitude can be expressed in many ways. Food for him is not always for pleasure, but instead, mostly for survival.

“Saudi society is generous and we conflate it with food. I see people providing a generous quantity of food to guests, and they are treating it as generosity, which isn’t always healthy,” he said.

“Today’s doll-like body standards can be dangerous,” he added.

Azam said he places an importance in a Hadith that translates as: “No man fills a container worse than his stomach. A few morsels that keep his back upright are sufficient for him. If he has to, then he should keep one-third for food, one-third for water and one-third for breathing.”

He greatly appreciates the Kingdom’s efforts in looking out for the health of people in Saudi Arabia.

“I am really glad I am helping my country. Saudi Arabia is doing a really great job at the moment, especially in the health field. I am very proud to be Saudi, and I also look forward to improving my community and taking pride in doing so,” he said.

 


Saudi justice minister issues 2,317 law practice licenses

Minister of Justice Walid Al-Samaani. (SPA)
Minister of Justice Walid Al-Samaani. (SPA)
Updated 15 August 2022

Saudi justice minister issues 2,317 law practice licenses

Minister of Justice Walid Al-Samaani. (SPA)
  • Services for lawyers offered through the Najiz portal include applying for a law practice license and renewal of licenses

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Justice Walid Al-Samaani has issued 2,317 and renewed 1,082 law practice licenses in the past 12 months.

The ministry has said that it is focusing its efforts on vocational training as an essential part of the justice system, providing professional advice to safeguard people’s interests.

Inquiries about licensed lawyers can be made through a list of lawyers classified by name and city, as well as queries about the status of filed applications and other services, the ministry said.

Services for lawyers offered through the Najiz portal include applying for a law practice license and renewal of licenses.

A trainee lawyers’ service allows applicants to register and receive a “trainee lawyer identification certificate” electronically.

The portal also has a transfer service for lawyers and can issue new electronic “trainee lawyer identification certificates.”

 


Who’s Who: Abdulaziz Saja, general manager of Tabby Saudi Arabia

Abdulaziz Saja
Abdulaziz Saja
Updated 15 August 2022

Who’s Who: Abdulaziz Saja, general manager of Tabby Saudi Arabia

Abdulaziz Saja

Abdulaziz Saja is the general manager of Tabby Saudi Arabia, one of the leading buy now, pay later financial technology companies in Saudi Arabia.

Tabby is a platform that offers financial freedom to its users with BNPL options for over 4,000 brands operating in the Kingdom, the UAE and Kuwait.

Saja is in charge of Tabby’s operations, including hiring, business development, compliance, legal and growth activities in the Kingdom.

Born and raised in Riyadh, he studied finance with a minor degree in economics at the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals.

He started his career in commercial banking, working in multiple banks for around five years.

He then decided to pursue a master’s degree in business administration with the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, later switching careers to management consulting.

After working as an associate with McKinsey & Co. for two years, Hosam Arab, co-founder and CEO of Tabby, approached Saja to join his team as general manager in 2019.

In February 2020, Tabby launched its commercial operations in the UAE. A launch in the Kingdom followed soon after in July 2020, along with approval to join the Saudi Central Bank’s Sandbox environment, bringing BNPL officially to the Kingdom in October 2020.

Saja continues to lead Tabby’s efforts in the Kingdom with plans to roll out new and exciting products in the future.

 


Saudi minister receives Thai charge d’affaires in Riyadh

Saudi minister Fahad Abualnasr receives charge d’affaires of the Thai Embassy in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Saudi minister Fahad Abualnasr receives charge d’affaires of the Thai Embassy in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Updated 15 August 2022

Saudi minister receives Thai charge d’affaires in Riyadh

Saudi minister Fahad Abualnasr receives charge d’affaires of the Thai Embassy in Riyadh. (Supplied)
  • They reviewed diplomatic relations between the two countries and the latest developments of common concern

RIYADH: Saudi Deputy Minister for Public Diplomacy Fahad Abualnasr received the charge d’affaires of the Thai Embassy in the Kingdom, Sathana Kashemsanta Na Ayudhya, in Riyadh on Monday.

The pair reviewed relations between their countries and discussed topics of common interest.

Abualnasr also met Francisco Chacón Hernández, Costa Rica’s non-resident ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

They reviewed diplomatic relations between the two countries and the latest developments of common concern.

In June, Abualnasr met Bahrain’s Ambassador to the Kingdom Shaikh Ali Abdulrahman bin Ali Al-Khalifa in Riyadh. They reviewed diplomatic relations and discussed topics of common interest.