Saudi elementary, kindergarten students excited about return to school

For the first few weeks after schools reopen the program will in particular focus on psychological efforts to help students get back into the school routine. (Supplied)
For the first few weeks after schools reopen the program will in particular focus on psychological efforts to help students get back into the school routine. (Supplied)
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Updated 22 January 2022

Saudi elementary, kindergarten students excited about return to school

For the first few weeks after schools reopen the program will in particular focus on psychological efforts to help students get back into the school routine. (Supplied)
  • Psychological preparation and support important for the children as it will help them resume their studies and interactions with their peers, says mother-of-two

JEDDAH: As teachers and education authorities prepare for the long-awaited return of younger children to school classrooms on Sunday, so too are the students and their parents.

The Saudi Ministry of Education announced last week that elementary schools and kindergartens will reopen on Jan. 23, almost two years after they closed as a health precaution to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The resumption of in-person teaching for the under-12s had been postponed from October last year.
“It’s a decision we must face one day and my children are excited to return to school and it is better for them,” Ala’a Alama, mother of two, told Arab News.
Schools in Saudi Arabia closed classrooms and switched to online learning soon after the pandemic began in early 2020. More than 5 million students across the Kingdom used specially developed distance-learning platforms called Madrasati and Rawdati.  Jumana Haj Ahmad, UNICEF’s deputy representative for the Gulf region, said that Saudi authorities had played a world-leading role in the provision of online education.
In preparation for the long-awaited return of students, senior school officials across the Kingdom have implemented a program to prepare pupils, parents and teachers for a safe resumption of classes.

HIGHLIGHTS

• In preparation for the long-awaited return of students, senior school officials across the Kingdom have implemented a program to prepare pupils, parents and teachers for a safe resumption of classes.

• It focus on four key areas: Reassuring students and parents about the return to school and face-to-face learning; reminding them of the importance of adhering to safety protocols while in school; providing parents with a platform through which they can ask questions and share concerns; and motivating students to study and participate in activities.

It focus on four key areas: Reassuring students and parents about the return to school and face-to-face learning; reminding them of the importance of adhering to safety protocols while in school; providing parents with a platform through which they can ask questions and share concerns; and motivating students to study and participate in activities.
For the first few weeks after schools reopen the program will in particular focus on psychological efforts to help students get back into the school routine. As part of the program, schools will offer art activities, children’s theater, cultural and entertainment workshops, take photos and shoot videos as students return, and distribute gifts.
Alama said that psychological preparation and support is important for the children as it will help them to resume their studies and interactions with their peers.
Schools will also provide 22 cultural, sports and awareness activities to give students plenty of opportunities to get physically active again after a hiatus of almost two years.
Meanwhile, the online education facilities will remain available for children with serious health conditions that prevent them from returning to the classroom.
Educators in charge of kindergartens and elementary schools across the Kingdom will follow safety guidelines from the Saudi Public Health Authority: Morning assemblies will remain suspended; sports activities must be conducted in spacious, well-ventilated locations; organized entry and departure from school will be organized; and social-distancing measures must be followed in classrooms.
Alama said her children, who are 7 and 10 years old, are aware of all the precautionary measures they need to follow.
“During the pandemic, they learned the importance of washing their hands, maintaining social distancing, and using masks, sanitizers and disinfecting wipes, which are all kept in a kit prepared for them to take to school,” she said.
UNICEF’s Ahmad this week praised the decision by Saudi authorities to resume in-person teaching for children under the age of 12. Older children have already returned to classrooms.
Ahmad said it is an important step and added that during a pandemic, schools should be the last places to close and first to reopen.
 In addition,  Saudi Arabia’s provision of online education through its two platforms and TV and video channels was world-leading. She also praised the Ministry of Education’s efforts to ensure children’s successful psychological and social growth, and programs designed to protect them from abuse.


Saudi Arabia tells UN meeting on food security ‘global cooperation is vital’

Saudi Arabia tells UN meeting on food security ‘global cooperation is vital’
Updated 19 May 2022

Saudi Arabia tells UN meeting on food security ‘global cooperation is vital’

Saudi Arabia tells UN meeting on food security ‘global cooperation is vital’
  • Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed Al-Khuraiji said the KSA’s foreign policy attaches great importance to enhancing security and stability

RIYADH: A Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs official confirmed Wednesday that the Kingdom had taken crucial steps to enhance food security, put forward strategies to promote food growth and face climate change and water scarcity. 

Waleed Al-Khuraiji, Saudi deputy minister of foreign affairs, said these measures contributed to improving food security indicators in the Kingdom, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

During the Global Food Security Call to Action meeting at the United Nations on Wednesday, Al-Khuraiji said that the food security challenge proves that sustainable recovery depends on international cooperation.

He said despite progress in the development process, achieving the 2030 SDG (social development goals) had become extremely difficult, as global expectations and indicators show a deviation in the path towards achieving the second goal of the program, which includes the eradication of hunger.

“Among the global health challenges are the spread of pandemics, as the spread of the COVID-19 revealed to us the fragility of the international system in combating a virus that is not visible to the naked eye, which led to severe consequences that affected societies and economies,” Al-Khuraiji said, adding  that this affected people’s lives, their livelihood and declining economic indicators.

He said Saudi Arabia led a global response to the pandemic that accompanied the Kingdom’s G20 presidency, as it supported global efforts to confront this pandemic with $500 million, in addition to providing $300 million to help countries’ efforts to address the pandemic.

“The Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030 focused within sustainable development efforts on building a sustainable agricultural sector, strengthening sectors that support food systems, developing systems and improving agricultural productivity, and worked to strengthen research and innovation capabilities to ensure sustainable progress in food security,” Al-Khuraiji said.

In this regard, he said Saudi Arabia presented crucial initiatives to the region and the world, and had created a road map for facing environmental challenges. These intuitive include the Saudi Green Initiative the Middle East Green Initiative, and the circular carbon economy initiative.

Al-Khuraiji said the  Kingdom’s foreign policy attached great importance to enhancing security and stability, supporting dialogue and peaceful solutions, and providing conditions that support development and achieve people’s aspirations for a better tomorrow, weather in the Middle East or the world.

He added Saudi Arabia had always reiterated its commitment to helping the disadvantaged and countries hit by natural disasters and humanitarian crises.

“The Kingdom is the largest donor of humanitarian and development aid at the Arab and Islamic levels, and is one of the top three donors at the international level,” he said. 


Saudi-US defense delegations review ties, discuss future cooperation

Saudi-US defense delegations review ties, discuss future cooperation
Updated 19 May 2022

Saudi-US defense delegations review ties, discuss future cooperation

Saudi-US defense delegations review ties, discuss future cooperation
  • Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid says the meeting was organized upon Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s directives

RIYADH: Prince Khalid bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister of defense, on Wednesday met the US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Washington, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The pair reviewed the Saudi-US partnership, and ongoing and future strategic military and defense cooperation between the Kingdom and US.

Prince Khalid expressed Saudi Arabia’s appreciation for the close cooperation between the two countries' defense bodies to achieve the two sides’ common interests and enhance security and peace regionally and internationally.

 

 

He also said that the meeting was organized based on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s directives.

Prince Khalid and US Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl, then, co-headed the Saudi-US joint strategic planning committee meeting.

The Saudi and US defense delegations join a photo session after their meeting in Washington on May 18, 2022. (SPA)

The meeting discussed regional and international developments, and a number of issues on defending common interests and global security and stability.

The meeting was attended by Gen. Fayyadh bin Hamed Al-Ruwaili, Saudi Chief of General Staff, and other Saudi and US senior officials.


Kahila horse championship to kick off May 25 in Saudi Arabia

Kahila horse championship to kick off May 25 in Saudi Arabia
Updated 18 May 2022

Kahila horse championship to kick off May 25 in Saudi Arabia

Kahila horse championship to kick off May 25 in Saudi Arabia
  • The event will highlight the significance of the ancient sport and the Kingdom’s efforts to advance it through local and international forums

RIYADH: An international event to celebrate the history of purebred Arabian horses is set to get underway in Saudi Arabia.

Prince Bandar bin Khalid Al-Faisal, chairman of the Equestrian Authority and the Horse Racing Club, will on May 25 patronize the launch of the second edition of the five day Kahila championship meeting.

Organized by the King Abdulaziz center for purebred Arabian horses, the event will be staged at the Riyadh Front Exhibition and Convention Center and will highlight the significance of the ancient sport and the Kingdom’s efforts to advance it through local and international forums.


73 held after Saudi patrols intercept illicit drug hauls

73 held after Saudi patrols intercept illicit drug hauls
Updated 18 May 2022

73 held after Saudi patrols intercept illicit drug hauls

73 held after Saudi patrols intercept illicit drug hauls
  • The authorities thwarted attempts to smuggle 682 kilograms of hashish, 62.3 tons of khat and 194,300 amphetamine tablets

RIYADH: Saudi authorities arrested 73 people after border patrols foiled massive drug smuggling attempts in several regions of the Kingdom.

Col. Misfir Al-Qarini, spokesman for the General Directorate of Border Guard, said that land patrols in the Jazan, Najran, Asir and Tabuk regions thwarted attempts to smuggle 682 kilograms of hashish, 62.3 tons of khat and 194,300 amphetamine tablets.

The seized drugs were handed over to authorities and legal steps taken against those detained, he added.

Among the alleged violators were 20 Saudi citizens, 26 Ethiopians, 23 Yemenis, two Pakistanis, one Sudanese and one Eritrean. 


Taif Rose Festival is an intense visual and olfactory delight

Taif Rose Festival is an intense visual and olfactory delight
Updated 18 May 2022

Taif Rose Festival is an intense visual and olfactory delight

Taif Rose Festival is an intense visual and olfactory delight
  • The festival has 13 sections featuring 50 live performances and folkloric dances from across the Kingdom

 

JEDDAH: At this time every year the mountainous city of Taif is adorned with the hues of bright pink roses that produce some of the world’s most alluring perfumes and oils.

The Taif Rose Festival is the modern iteration of a tradition of cultivation and harvesting that has taken place in this region over the past nine centuries.

It was launched on May 6 at Al-Rudaf Park in the southern part of the city, and is open from 4 p.m. to 12 midnight.

The Ministry of Culture, in cooperation with Taif Municipality and under the patronage of Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, have organized the festival for two years in a row.

However, it has been running for the past 17 years, Arab News was told by Ahmad Al-Joaid, a tour guide from Taif who has been operating for 15 years in the field.

Al-Joaid said: “A number of new activities are added to the festival every year. Al-Rudaf Park is an area of over half-a-million square meters … a theater has also been created for the festival … Concerts (are) also a new addition.”

The ministry tweeted on its account @MoC_Engage: “Between the beauty of roses and the creativity of art, we welcome you to Taif roses festival.”

The festival has 13 sections featuring 50 live performances and folkloric dances from across the Kingdom in the park, and music shows by male and female artists.

The organizers have set up a workshop aimed at young people that provides information on how to become involved in the perfume-making industry.

There is also an exhibition titled “Claude Monet,” named after the French painter and founder of impressionism, who portrayed nature with such startling creativity. Several of Monet’s renditions are on display.

The festival also provides an opportunity for aspiring Saudi artists to display their paintings at “Cultural Street,” and drawings and other artwork at “Drawing Exhibit.” 

Many families have set up booths to sell byproducts of Taif’s produce such as rose water, perfumes, deodorants, soaps, body and skincare products, food and sweets.

The festival is also a great place for social media enthusiasts because it has several picturesque backdrops for photographs such as the Rose Dome, which contains a giant painting made of natural roses, the largest basket of the flowers in the city, and models and gates decorated with the produce.

Visitors can also view and listen to various rare birds.

Taif roses have historic, economic and religious importance. The oil is used to perfume the walls of the Kaaba, which is also washed twice annually with its scented water.

The region has more than 2,000 flower farms producing over 200 million roses every season.

Residents of Makkah and Jeddah visit Taif regularly in summer. “People can do plenty of things in Taif in addition to visiting the festival during their one-day visit …  (including) museums, local markets, rose factories in Al-Shafa and Al-Hada, the cable car, strawberry farm, zoo, and historical castles,” the tour guide said.