Saudi Arabia reports 4,884 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths

Saudi Arabia confirmed 4,884 new COVID-19 cases on Friday. (REUTERS)
Saudi Arabia confirmed 4,884 new COVID-19 cases on Friday. (REUTERS)
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Updated 22 January 2022

Saudi Arabia reports 4,884 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths

Saudi Arabia confirmed 4,884 new COVID-19 cases on Friday. (REUTERS)
  • The Ministry of Health said that of the current cases, 591 remain in critical condition

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s health ministry reported on Friday  another 4,884 cases of COVID-19, as the omicron-fueled wave continues to surge.

The ministry also reported two deaths from the virus, bringing the total number of fatalities in the Kingdom to 8,916.

Despite the increased caseloads — 846 infections were reported on Jan. 1. — most omicron infections appear to be milder than some previous variants.

Authorities continue to urge the public to get vaccinated and heed health protocols.

Saudi Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said the country was currently going through a critical phase in tackling the spread of the virus.

He stressed the importance of people receiving the necessary vaccine doses and booster shots.

He also urged people to follow preventative measures such as wearing face masks, washing their hands, and maintaining social distance during the critical phase, with the ministry saying: “Our immunization is our life.”

The Kingdom has now recorded 643,211 cases of the virus since the start of the pandemic, 590,140 have since recovered.

After nearly two years away from their schools due to the coronavirus pandemic, pupils in Saudi Arabia will be heading back to classrooms this Sunday.

They return to a number of changes, including new social distancing rules in class, and the cancellation of morning assembly.

The education ministry has assured parents that kindergarten and elementary students will return to a safe learning environment.

Students were to initially return in October but that was delayed.

Omicron has caused headaches for many governments across the globe as the highly transmissible variant has hampered attempts to move on from a virus that has played havoc with lives and economies worldwide.

The variant, discovered by South African scientists in November, appears more capable of escaping the body’s immune system, even for those who have been vaccinated or have been infected previously.

The Kingdom vs. COVID-19
How Saudi Arabia acted swiftly and coordinated a global response to fight the coronavirus, preventing a far worse crisis at home and around the world

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Education minister heads Saudi delegation to EWF 2022

Education minister heads Saudi delegation to EWF 2022
Updated 17 sec ago

Education minister heads Saudi delegation to EWF 2022

Education minister heads Saudi delegation to EWF 2022

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is participating in the Education World Forum 2022 in London, UK, under the theme “Education: Building forward together; stronger, bolder, better.”

EWF 2022 brings together education ministers and professionals to address key issues and share challenges, solutions, learning, and success stories they have experienced during the coronavirus disease pandemic.

Saudi Minister of Education Dr. Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Sheikh is heading a delegation representing Saudi Arabia at the four-day forum, which kicked off May 22.

On the forum’s first day, Al-Sheikh delivered Saudi Arabia’s speech during the first session. He focused on how the Kingdom learned from the recent challenges, highlighting the Saudi experience in dealing with the repercussions of COVID-19. He also reviewed the Kingdom’s successful experience with e-learning and distance education during the pandemic.

Al-Sheikh met with several education ministers and officials, including UK Secretary of State for Education Nadhim Zahawi, the Special Representative of the Prime Minister for Education Dr. Sir Steve Smith, and the secretary of state at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and head of the British side of the Saudi-British Partnership Council, Kwasi Kwarteng.

He also met with the CEO of the British Council, the CEO of Microsoft International, and the Saudi ambassador to the UK, Prince Khalid bin Bandar bin Sultan, as well as executive leaders of various educational publishing houses and institutions.

Al-Sheikh also visited a number of prestigious UK universities and educational institutions, including University College London, Oxford University, the Center for Artificial Intelligence, and the Oxford/AstraZeneca Vaccine Medical Center, as well as the Saudi Cultural Bureau in London, where he met with Saudi students studying at UK universities.

According to the organizers of the forum, EWF 2022 will assist in planning and developing education to support individual and collective resilience, and foster economic progress.

It will discuss major educational issues, such as ways to improve equity and assign resources more effectively, how education-providing institutions responded to the recent challenges, ways to accelerate collaborative innovation, building better citizens and societies, and improving education.


Saudis are natural-born storytellers, says Saudi Film Commission CEO

Saudi Film Commission CEO Abdullah Al-Eyaf held several discussions with international industry professionals. (Supplied)
Saudi Film Commission CEO Abdullah Al-Eyaf held several discussions with international industry professionals. (Supplied)
Updated 22 May 2022

Saudis are natural-born storytellers, says Saudi Film Commission CEO

Saudi Film Commission CEO Abdullah Al-Eyaf held several discussions with international industry professionals. (Supplied)
  • Abdullah Al-Eyaf discusses the importance of Saudi talent during the 75th Cannes Film Festival

CANNES: Abdullah Al-Eyaf, the CEO of the Saudi Film Commission, aims to drive the Saudi film industry by fostering an environment for young Saudi filmmakers to develop their passions and talents.

During a panel discussion hosted on Sunday in the March du Film pavilion in Cannes, Al-Eyaf expressed his vision for Saudi youth filmmakers and the important role they play in the industry.

“We in the commission strongly believe in the filmmakers in Saudi, actually they are the reason behind all that we do,” Al-Eyaf said.

The Kingdom’s film industry is bursting with talent and passion from Saudi filmmakers, writers, and artisans. What is needed now is the strong support from an entity to facilitate that growth. This is where the Saudi Film Commission plans to come into play.

The Saudi Film Commission, under the Ministry of Culture, has conducted numerous outreach and education programs to help Saudi filmmakers in the industry through masterclasses, workshops and training.

According to the CEO, Saudis play a pivotal role in the industry’s growth on a global and local level.

“These young filmmakers started before the commission was established and they will continue with or without the film commission that’s why we think the industry will not be built in Saudi without these filmmakers,” Al-Eyaf said.

HIGHLIGHT

With many blockbusters films showing an interest in shooting in the Kingdom, doors are opening for Saudi production teams, special effects artists, actors and many more talents to contribute to the industry.

Therefore the commission is striving to establish a wider creative opportunity for Saudi talent through partnerships and representation in global film festivals such as the Cannes festival.

Through the organizations and initiatives of the Saudi Film Commission, the Saudi presence during the Cannes Film Festival has only grown stronger since the 74th Cannes film festival held in 2021.

It is known that Saudi Arabia has a wealth of locations through its 13 diverse provinces. During the initial days of the festival, this is what attracted many producers and filmmakers to the Saudi pavilion to learn more.

With many blockbusters films showing an interest in shooting in the Kingdom, doors are opening for Saudi production teams, special effects artists, actors and many more talents to contribute to the industry.

Al-Eyaf said that Saudis are natural-born storytellers; what is needed now is to support and empower them throughout the film sector.

“We really appreciate what they are doing and our only role is to support them and to have Saudi Arabia as a friendly environment for filmmakers to create their films and tell their stories to the world and to Saudi,” Al-Eyaf said.

The Saudi Film Commission aims to expand and strengthen the Saudi film industry on a local and global level through partnerships, investment and educational empowerment.

During the 75th Cannes Film Festival, the Saudi pavilion welcomed some of the biggest global names in the film industry — producers, directors and actors — to partner on Saudi film projects.

The commission’s role isn’t only to support Saudi talents but it’s also to foster a community where directors explore collaborative initiatives from filming in Saudi to creating films with some of the many Saudi talents in the sector.

In January the commission launched the third phase of the “Film Makers” program that took students through sets of comprehensive training workshops that were spread throughout the Kingdom.

“We have already contacted hundreds (of Saudi filmmakers) via either training programs, grants or the fund that we launched a couple of years ago,” the CEO said.

The commission has developed an incentive package for local and international filmmakers to establish the Kingdom as a global hub for film, creative production and industry talent.


People vaccinated against smallpox likely safe from monkeypox, says specialist‏‏

People vaccinated against smallpox likely safe from monkeypox, says specialist‏‏
Updated 23 May 2022

People vaccinated against smallpox likely safe from monkeypox, says specialist‏‏

People vaccinated against smallpox likely safe from monkeypox, says specialist‏‏
  • Saudi Ministry of Health has also confirmed that no cases of monkeypox have been detected in the Kingdom

JEDDAH: People who have received a vaccination against smallpox are “highly likely” to be safe from getting infected with monkeypox, a Saudi health specialist has said.

Dr. Nizar Bahabri, an infectious disease consultant, said in a video on his Twitter account, that the disease has been a well-known virus since 1950 and added the first case outside Africa was registered in 1970.

The Saudi Ministry of Health has also confirmed that no cases of monkeypox have been detected in the Kingdom, following reports that it has recently begun to appear in some European and North American countries.

“Since the disease is caused by a virus, no antibiotic can be used to cure the disease, some viruses and bacteria can be transmitted through air,” Bahabri said.

He also said that monkeypox is like smallpox in that it can be transmitted via droplets.

“It is difficult that one can get infected if they are two meters away from an infected person. Monkeypox can even only be transmitted from a shorter distance,” he said.

Cases being recorded in Europe are due to parties where people gather close to other infected people, he added.

“Those who have been vaccinated against smallpox are not likely to get infected by monkeypox, and here lies the importance of taking the vaccine,” Bahabri said.

The consultant pointed out that some people in Europe refused in the past to give anti-smallpox vaccines to their children, which has caused the virus to attack again.

Bahabri said that symptoms of monkeypox normally appear 12 days after coming into contact with an infected person. He added that an infected person normally recovers without any medication.

“Five percent of infected people get complications, while less than three percent die of the disease,” he said. “However, no deaths were reported in the countries with advanced health systems, with most of the deaths in Africa.”

The health ministry added in a post on Twitter that the disease can be transmitted by direct contact with blood or mucous of an infected animal.

It added that it can also be transmitted in humans through droplets, touching the blisters on an infected person’s skin or a hand touching contaminated surfaces.

The health ministry noted that the virus has an incubation period of 7-14 days, and that cannot extend to 21 days.

As for the symptoms, the ministry included high temperature, backache, skin rashes, lymphadenopathy, fatigue and muscle pain.

The ministry recommended people to avoid getting in contact with infected people, wearing gloves and face masks when close to patients, washing hands regularly and avoiding touching infected animals.


Saudi Arabia re-elected president of ALECSO’s executive council

Saudi Arabia re-elected president of ALECSO’s executive council. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia re-elected president of ALECSO’s executive council. (SPA)
Updated 23 May 2022

Saudi Arabia re-elected president of ALECSO’s executive council

Saudi Arabia re-elected president of ALECSO’s executive council. (SPA)
  • Members agreed on importance of maintaining council’s new and advanced vision

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has been unanimously re-elected to chair the executive council of the Tunis-based Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization until 2024.

The decision was made by members of ALECSO’s executive council after the 26th session of the general conference, which concluded its activities on Saturday.

Council members expressed their appreciation for the positive results achieved and the complementary work of the executive council during the past 10 months.

They unanimously agreed on the importance of maintaining the council’s new and advanced vision and reiterated that the accomplishments represented an important shift in the council's history toward strengthening its role in supporting the organization and its programs to serve its orientation in the Arab world, as it had worked on several initiatives that strengthened joint Arab action.

The decision to re-elect the Kingdom came after the appreciation of the general conference for the efforts made by the executive council under the Kingdom’s stewardship, which executed its tasks according to a clear methodology and spirit based on integrated work between the executive board and administration of ALECSO.

The Arab ministers praised the initiative of the Saudi representative and chairman of ALECSO's executive council, Hani Al-Moqbil, to develop the council’s road map, which was put together with a transparent methodology based on the involvement of countries in building a common Arab vision to support and enable the organization to achieve its goals.

Al-Moqbil extended his appreciation to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their constant support, empowerment, and care, which was reflected in the Saudi role and its presidency of the executive council to contribute to a beneficial impact and supportive action for the development of ALECSO.

He also thanked Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, who is also the chairman of the National Committee for Education, Culture, and Science, for his support, guidance, supervision, and harnessing of capabilities which gave direct and significant support throughout the Saudi presidency which helped it in serving its goals with all Arab countries.

Al-Moqbil also thanked the Arab countries and members of the ALECSO executive council for their re-election of the Kingdom and for renewing their confidence in the results that had been achieved during the past 10 months.

He added that this could only have been achieved through the spirit of teamwork and keenness to develop the organization's activities and constructive participation in adopting decisions and organizing tracks of action to reach the best possible results to contribute to achieving the goals of the organization, and to promote building dialogue and cooperation thus serving the organization’s joint work among the countries.

Al-Moqbil said: “Saudi Arabia, in its presidency of the executive council, worked to oversee the interests of the countries by listening to their proposals, observations, and visions to ensure that they are reflected on the ground and implemented in stages. The countries will work with greater effort and higher interest in taking care of the organization's interests."


New Saudi academy to train nationals in military sector

New Saudi academy to train nationals in military sector. (SPA)
New Saudi academy to train nationals in military sector. (SPA)
Updated 23 May 2022

New Saudi academy to train nationals in military sector

New Saudi academy to train nationals in military sector. (SPA)
  • Al-Ohali said the authority was committed to supporting national personnel and that the Kingdom’s military industries sector had witnessed qualitative leaps during the past five years

RIYADH: Saudi nationals are to be trained to work in the military and defense industries sector following an announcement from the General Authority for Military Industries to establish a new academy.

GAMI Gov. Ahmed Al-Ohali said it was an extension of the military industry sector’s strategy that was approved by the Cabinet in April last year.

The National Academy of Military Industries would be the largest supporter of the sector’s strategy of backing the country’s human resources, he added.

The launch ceremony was held at the academy’s headquarters in Riyadh and attended by more than 35 local and international companies and government institutions. The academy's board of directors was formed at the event and the establishment license was handed over to the academy's chairman Walid Abu Khalid and other founding partners.

Al-Ohali said the authority was committed to supporting national personnel and that the Kingdom's military industries sector had witnessed qualitative leaps during the past five years.

He praised the special care, interest, and support that the military and defense industries sector received from the government of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to embody the ambitious vision toward enhancing the strategic independence of Saudi Arabia and building a local and sustainable military industries sector.

The Saudi Arabian Military Industries CEO and academy chairman Abu Khalid said the new institution was considered a strategic tool to ensure the success of the supply chain project in the military industries sector through developing and refining people's knowledge and capabilities in specialist technological, engineering, and scientific fields and specialists concerned with the military, defense, and security industries.

He stressed that developing, rehabilitating, and enabling national personnel, creating innovative and new industries and technologies, enhancing the strategic independence of Saudi Arabia, and seeking to localize this promising sector were all considered strategic goals that supported realizing the sector’s targets of localizing more than 50 percent of military expenditure by 2030.