Snow falls at Jabal Al-Lawz in Saudi Arabia’s Tabuk region

Every year, snowfall brings tourists from across the Kingdom to Tabuk, and while the COVID-19 pandemic will mean fewer visitors than usual this year, some people still drove from as far as Qatar to capture the snow on camera. (SPA)
Every year, snowfall brings tourists from across the Kingdom to Tabuk, and while the COVID-19 pandemic will mean fewer visitors than usual this year, some people still drove from as far as Qatar to capture the snow on camera. (SPA)
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Updated 02 January 2022

Snow falls at Jabal Al-Lawz in Saudi Arabia’s Tabuk region

Every year, snowfall brings tourists from across the Kingdom to Tabuk, and while the COVID-19 pandemic will mean fewer visitors than usual this year, some people still drove from as far as Qatar to capture the snow on camera. (SPA)
  • ‘The area could be developed and used as marvelous attractive destination for tourists not only from the Kingdom but also GCC’

JEDDAH: The mountains of Tabuk were capped with snow Saturday morning after a huge drop in temperature overnight.

Videos of the storm, and people celebrating the snowfall, circulated widely on social media, with impressive scenes of Jabal Al-Lawz, located in the northwest of the Kingdom, covered with snow.
Several hikers were keen to snap the scene and enjoy the atmosphere, and there were excited comments from Tabuk residents, while those in other regions looked on in envy as the snow encased the mountaintops.

HIGHLIGHT

Several hikers were keen to snap the scene and enjoy the atmosphere while those in other regions looked on in envy as the snow encased the mountaintops.

Saudis took to social media platforms to express their excitement and joy at the wintery weather.
“Every year, snowfall brings tourists from across the Kingdom to Tabuk, and while the COVID-19 pandemic will mean fewer visitors than usual this year, some people still drove from as far as Qatar to capture the snow on camera.
A Qatari citizen appeared in a video clip on Twitter from Jabal Al-Lawz, in which he said: “Our people in Qatar did not believe that dazzling snowfall scenes exist in the Kingdom.”
Another wrote: “What a breathtaking scene. The area needs to be developed and the local authorities must use the weather in Tabuk to the country’s advantage. It could be a marvelous attractive destination for tourists not only from inside the Kingdom but also for other GCC countries especially at this time of the year.”
A third wrote: “What a wondrous sight, like something out of Europe. I’m not sure it’s even here.”
The National Center of Meteorology had forecast, in its weather report, that thunderstorms accompanied by strong winds in Asir, Jazan, Madinah, Hail, the northern borders and Al-Jawf, as well as the Tabuk region, where more snow was not ruled out on higher grounds.


Pakistan religious affairs minister visits Kaaba Kiswa complex

Pakistan religious affairs minister visits Kaaba Kiswa complex
Updated 56 min 40 sec ago

Pakistan religious affairs minister visits Kaaba Kiswa complex

Pakistan religious affairs minister visits Kaaba Kiswa complex
  • Mufti Abdul Shakur and his delegation praised the mastery and dedication that goes into making the Kiswa
  • They learned about how the gilded pieces that adorn the Kiswa are embroidered and the craftsmanship behind it

RIYADH: Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony, Mufti Abdul Shakur, has visited the King Abdulaziz Complex for Holy Kaaba Kiswa.

He was received by the head of public relations and media at the complex, Ahmed bin Musaed Al-Suwaihri.

The minister and his accompanying delegation watched a visual presentation on the Kiswa including the stages of its manufacture in the Kingdom and how it is replaced.

Mufti Abdul Shakur and his delegation praised the mastery and dedication that goes into making the covering of the Kaaba and the attention with which the materials used to make it are prepared.

They also learned about how the gilded pieces that adorn the Kiswa are embroidered and the craftsmanship behind it.

The delegation thanked the president of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, and the under-secretary-general of the complex, Abdul Hamid bin Said Al-Maliki, for giving them the opportunity to learn about the great efforts made by the Kingdom’s government to serve the two holy mosques, pilgrims, and the Kaaba’s Kiswa.


Intense sandstorm envelops parts of Kingdom in gray haze

Intense sandstorm envelops parts of Kingdom in gray haze
Updated 16 sec ago

Intense sandstorm envelops parts of Kingdom in gray haze

Intense sandstorm envelops parts of Kingdom in gray haze
  • The thick blanket of sand made iconic buildings in Riyadh, such as Faisaliyah Tower, Kingdom Center, and other skyscrapers in the King Abdullah Financial District almost impossible to see
  • Cautioning motorists because of the the heavy sandstorm, the traffic department advised drivers to drive slow and exercise restraint, as well as keep their headlights on

RIYADH: An intense sandstorm engulfed several areas in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, hampering visibility due to the widespread dust, slowing road traffic and forcing authorities to issue a weather warning.

The sandstorm battered Riyadh, enveloping the Saudi capital’s skyline with gray haze. The thick blanket of sand made iconic buildings in Riyadh, such as Faisaliyah Tower, Kingdom Center, and other skyscrapers in the King Abdullah Financial District almost impossible to see from a distance of a few hundred meters.

Electronic signs along Riyadh’s highways warned drivers to reduce their speed because of the lower visibility.

Cautioning motorists because of the the heavy sandstorm, the traffic department advised drivers to drive slow and exercise restraint, as well as keep their headlights on.

The General Directorate of Civil Defense also advised Riyadh residents to avoid going to various outskirt spots in sands to avoid accidents during the blinding sandstorm.

There have been no flight delays or cancellations in Riyadh because of the sandstorm.

Issuing the daily weather forecast for the Kingdom, the National Center of Meteorology on Tuesday said: “The surface dusty winds will be active in the Eastern Region and some parts of Riyadh Region, reducing horizontal visibility, while the dusty wind will continue to occur in some parts of Qassim, Hail, Madinah, Makkah and Najran regions, extending to eastern parts of Baha and Asir regions, reducing horizontal sight.”

The report added that partly cloudy skies will be seen in some parts of Tabuk, the Northern Borders and Jawf regions.

The NCM added that surface wind movement in the Red Sea will be northerly to north-westerly at a speed of 25-45 kilometers per hour on northern and central parts, and westerly to north-westerly on southern parts at a speed of 15-35 kilometers per hour. Surface wind movement in the Arabian Gulf will be westerly to north-westerly at a speed of 25-45 kilometers per hour.

In Riyadh, the dusty weather has made it tough for outdoor workers, and residents have struggled to keep sand out of their homes.

Abdul Qadeer, a Bangladeshi construction worker, told Arab News: “The heavy sandstorm that started late last night and engulfed the city and its outskirts in gray haze this morning has made it really tough for us to continue working outdoors due to widespread dust.”

Though not infrequent for May — the sandstorm is the third to hit the Kingdom this month — Tuesday’s storm created unfavorable conditions, with the maximum temperature in Riyadh recorded at 38 degrees Celsius and the minimum at 24 degrees Celsius. The relative humidity was recorded at 11 percent.

Parts of Saudi Arabia typically experience sandstorms at the end of winter and advent of summer between March and May, with varying intensity.

Besides the Kingdom, Tuesday’s sandstorm has affected other countries in the region, including neighboring Iraq, which recorded its eighth sandstorm since mid-April, a phenomenon fueled by soil degradation, intense droughts and low rainfall linked to climate change.


Saudi women at front and center in Kingdom’s transformation

Saudi women at front and center in Kingdom’s transformation
Updated 17 May 2022

Saudi women at front and center in Kingdom’s transformation

Saudi women at front and center in Kingdom’s transformation
  • Glass ceilings being broken as women become an integral part of the changes underway
  • Gender stereotypes and gender bias are fast disappearing as more women enter the labor force

DUBAI: As Saudi Arabia continues to undergo significant economic and social reforms, its women and youth find themselves at the heart of this profound change.

With several initiatives transforming the Saudi economy, workplace and society among other things, the role of Saudi women has become an integral part of this.

The above observations were made by Sarah Al-Tamimi, vice chair of Saudi Arabia’s National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, and Noor Nugali, assistant editor-in-chief at Arab News, ahead of their participation in a panel discussion entitled “Saudi Women Pioneers: Change from Within” at the Arab Women’s Forum in Dubai on May 17.

In Nugali’s opinion, Saudi women have always been strong, resilient and extremely hardworking, regardless of their occupations. The difference today, in her view, is that they have the opportunities that were not available before the launch of Vision 2030.

“We had trailblazers, we had women who fought to make their way in this world and pave that road for their successors,” she said.

Arab News’ assistant editor-in-chief Noor Nugali, left, moderates the Storytellers From The War Front session at the Arab Women Forum in Dubai.

“Now we see more Saudi women reaching high positions, more Saudi women shining in different fields. It was not because of a lack of talent in the past but a lack of opportunity, which now has come to light. So now we can see many more women joining the workforce in senior positions.”

The foundation for future female leaders in Saudi Arabia rests on a number of pillars. In addition to ambition and hope, having a very strong support system – from family, friends and role models they can learn from — is crucial. “Saudi society is very tight-knit,” Nugali said.

“It’s a large community and both women and men need that support system — we’re also talking about equality, which means giving the opportunity to the best person, regardless of gender.

“The Saudi leadership’s brilliant Vision 2030 has created a strategy to level the playing field for the work force and have the most qualified candidates chosen.”

Nugali underscored the importance of equality and opportunity for all, saying: “Don’t hire women to fill a quota. Hire the most qualified, whether male or female, and give them all equal chances. That is what our vision is about.”

She believes gender stereotypes and gender bias, both conscious and unconscious, are fast disappearing, a process that was many years in the making. “I’m seeing this happen. It is momentous and marvelous that this is where we are because we had a very sheltered life,” Nugali said.

“Now we’ve shattered the glass ceiling, and this was something we’ve been waiting for a very long time. The only challenge is believing in yourself and working hard in order to attain what you aspire to be. You have to be focused, you have to have a huge support system, you have to believe in yourself and know that it’s okay to make mistakes because that’s part of growing, learning and excelling.”

Sarah Al-Tamimi, vice chair of Saudi Arabia’s National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking. (Supplied)

Al-Tamimi, who is also the deputy president of Saudi Arabia’s Human Rights Commission, said women in the Kingdom are currently experiencing a golden age, with opportunities expanding at a more dramatic pace than at any other point in the country’s history. She added that the Saudi government is playing an active role in ensuring that women realize these opportunities.

“Several reforms have been implemented to incentivize women to enter the labor market and also to protect their rights, from freedom of mobility and travel to anti-harassment laws and regulations,” she told Arab News.

“A lot has happened from a regulatory and legislative perspective.”

Many traditionally male-led sectors previously closed to women, such as construction, car repair shops and the police force, have also opened up to them in the past few years, providing them with massive opportunities.

“The work continues to ensure women’s participation across the board,” Al-Tamimi said. “And (the) creation of new opportunities for women in the workplace is definitely a significant component of Vision 2030.”

Saudi women jog in the streets of Jeddah’s historic Al-Balad district on March 8, 2018. (AFP)

Labor equality and education will prove crucial to the advancement of women going forward, and with the Saudi government investing tremendous resources in young girls’ and women’s education, they now outnumber their male counterparts in university degrees.

In the workforce, women’s share of entrepreneurship is also rapidly growing, placing them at the heart of the Kingdom’s transformation, with the latest data from the General Authority for Statistics revealing that Saudi women make up 35 percent of the Saudi workforce.

“Women are reaching more and more leadership positions each day and this serves to spearhead further development,” Al-Tamimi said. “We need women in the labor market, they should be contributing, thriving and leading — we need to tap into the full potential of Saudi women and we’re seeing this every day in Saudi Arabia, women have so much to offer the country in terms of their capabilities and their talents.”


One of separated conjoined Yemeni twins dies

One of separated conjoined Yemeni twins dies
Yousef and Yassin had undergone a “complicated” 15-hour long surgery to separate several of their organs. (SPA)
Updated 17 May 2022

One of separated conjoined Yemeni twins dies

One of separated conjoined Yemeni twins dies
  • One of the conjoined Yemeni twins died after a severe drop in blood circulation and heart failure
  • The other twin is currently stable but is under observation

DUBAI: One of the conjoined Yemeni twins who underwent a separation surgery has died after a severe drop in blood circulation and heart failure, state news agency Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Tuesday. 

The other twin is currently stable but is under observation in the Intensive Care Department of King Abdullah Specialist Paediatric Hospital in Riyadh, according to the Saudi team of specialized surgeons who performed the operation.

“The surgical team had faced great difficulties and challenges during the separation process, which made the deceased’s condition critical after the operation,” SPA reported.

Yousef and Yassin had undergone a “complicated” 15-hour long surgery to separate several of their organs under the directives of King Salman, the state media added. 

A team of 24 doctors, led by Dr. Mutasem Al-Zughaibi, took part in the operation as part of an initiative by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSRelief). 

“This was a complex operation due to the twin sharing in the sinuses, cerebral venous and parts of the brain,” Dr Nazar Al-Zughaibi, head of pediatric anesthesia at the King Abdullah Specialized Children’s Hospital at the National Guard Health Affairs in Riyadh, had told Arab News earlier.

The team specializes in pediatric neurosurgery, plastic surgery, anesthesia, and nursing were involved in the procedure that had to be carried out in several stages: anesthesia, navigation planning, preparing for surgery, skincare, and preparation for brain tissues, bone and reconstruction.


Saudi students who won ISEF 2022 awards celebrated upon return to Riyadh

Abdullah Al-Ghamdi won two prizes in energy for his project on the production and storage of hydrogen. (AN photo/Basheer Saleh)
Abdullah Al-Ghamdi won two prizes in energy for his project on the production and storage of hydrogen. (AN photo/Basheer Saleh)
Updated 16 May 2022

Saudi students who won ISEF 2022 awards celebrated upon return to Riyadh

Abdullah Al-Ghamdi won two prizes in energy for his project on the production and storage of hydrogen. (AN photo/Basheer Saleh)
  • ‘Our talented students are the true wealth of Saudi Arabia and the solid building blocks of our society’

RIYADH: Over 35 Saudi students who picked up 22 awards at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia, landed in Riyadh on Sunday and were greeted with a celebratory reception at King Khalid International Airport.

The ISEF 2022, held from May 7-13, saw the participation of pre-college students from over 80 countries in the biggest competition showcasing innovation in scientific research and advancement.

Student Abdullah Al-Ghamdi won two prizes in energy for his project on the production and storage of hydrogen, earning him the award for “Best Research Scientist,” in which he competed against over 1,700 submissions from students across 65 countries.

Girls received prizes in chemistry, material sciences, and embedded systems.

“The happiness I’m feeling for my son Abdullah can’t be described,” said Abdul Aziz Al-Ghamdi, the student’s father. “To see the vision of my Kingdom come true before my eyes and for my son to be a driving force behind realizing this vision is a feeling that truly can’t be described.”

Al-Ghamdi’s father told Arab News that his son would spend his time at a research center after school, where he became fascinated with the idea of how to store hydrogen efficiently. “The fruits of his hard work are seen today,” he said.

When the crown prince said that the Saudis’ strength was like that of the Tuwaiq Mountain, unbreakable, Mawhiba saw in his words a road map for its initiatives.

Dr. Saud bin Saeed Al-Mathami, Mawhiba Secretary-General

Five other first-place prizes were awarded to Dana Al-Eithan and Maria Al-Ghamdi, who won in chemistry; Tahani Adel, who won in material sciences; and Yousef Khoja, who won in embedded systems.

Al-Eithan’s uncle, Abdulmunim Al-Eithan, told Arab News that the family was sitting on the couch when they heard the news and sprung into the air in excitement, cheering. “This is a result of her dedication to this field,” he said, adding that the 14-year-old had also previously won an award with SABIC for chemistry.

Six students — three Saudis and three Americans — were also granted scholarships to participate in an international enrichment program organized by King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity, known as Mawhiba.

Thirteen students from the US, India and China were also awarded scholarships to study bachelor’s programs at King Fahd University for Petroleum and Minerals in chemistry, embedded systems, energy, physics and astronomy, robotics and material sciences.

The Kingdom was represented by the Ministry of Education and by Mawhiba.

Saudi Minister of Education Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Sheikh tweeted on Saturday: “I proudly congratulate my sons and daughters who won the International Science and Engineering Fair 2022. The Kingdom has won an unprecedented 22 awards with the support of our wise leadership — may God support it — and the unremitting efforts of their teachers and families. I am pleased to announce the provision of scholarships to the winning students in appreciation of this national achievement.”

Mawhiba Secretary-General Dr. Saud bin Saeed Al-Mathami said that he is encouraging innovative students worldwide to create sustainable solutions to the world’s problems and preserve these resources for future generations.

He stressed that the Kingdom takes pride in its students, saying the country had harnessed its great potential to qualify them to compete effectively in international forums.

“When the crown prince said that the Saudis’ strength was like that of the Tuwaiq Mountain, unbreakable, Mawhiba saw in his words a road map for its initiatives,” he said.

“Our talented students are the true wealth of Saudi Arabia and the solid building blocks of our society. They are the real future that we are looking forward to, and their familiarity in all disciplines and specializations will push forward Saudi Vision 2030,” Al-Mathami added.

“The talented students excelled in all disciplines related to energy, climate change, medicine, biosciences, space, medical and environmental engineering, organic materials, technology, innovation, information engineering and artificial intelligence.

“They underwent extensive training for long hours and rigorous testing under the supervision of competent committees to honor Saudi Arabia in international forums.”