First instructor to teach driving to Saudi women awarded gender equality prize

First instructor to teach driving to Saudi women awarded gender equality prize
Francesca Pardini was the first instructor to teach driving to women in Saudi Arabia. (File/@forumautomotive)
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Updated 24 March 2022

First instructor to teach driving to Saudi women awarded gender equality prize

First instructor to teach driving to Saudi women awarded gender equality prize
  • Francesca Pardini won ‘#FORUMAutoMotive Character of the Year 2022’ award
  • Forum chairman: Pardini contributed to “achievement of gender equality and women’s emancipation”

ROME: The first instructor to teach driving to women in Saudi Arabia has received a prize in her country for her contribution to “the achievement of gender equality and women’s emancipation in the world.” 

Francesca Pardini, an Italian former Formula 3 racecar pilot, won the “#FORUMAutoMotive Character of the Year 2022” award, organized by an Italian think tank focusing on a responsible and sustainable automotive industry.  

The recognition is awarded annually to an individual who, during the previous year, distinguished him or herself “in carrying out tangible initiatives for the benefit of sustainable mobility as a whole.”

After concluding her career in the world of car racing, Pardini began working as a senior instructor at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. She has been a driving instructor for women in Saudi Arabia since June 2018.

“My students, who mostly were Saudi young girls, had great curiosity for cars and a huge desire to be behind the wheel. Now women in KSA are buying their own cars and [have become] much more independent than in the past. They prefer to drive Japanese brands,” Pardini said at the event in Milan, which was remotely attended by Arab News.

The Italian instructor also explained that it was “a pleasure working with Saudi young girls as they showed that [they] really want to learn how to drive and were already into cars and safe driving.”

Pierluigi Bonora, FORUMAutoMotive chairman, explained that Pardini received this year’s award “for having contributed to the achievement of gender equality and women’s emancipation in the world,” teaching the women of Saudi Arabia how to drive and promoting “full social inclusion and the removal of any residual barrier.” 

 


Uzbekistan president meets with Organization of Islamic Cooperation head

Uzbekistan president meets with Organization of Islamic Cooperation head
Updated 35 min 51 sec ago

Uzbekistan president meets with Organization of Islamic Cooperation head

Uzbekistan president meets with Organization of Islamic Cooperation head
  • Officials discussed issues of interest, including supporting peace and security in the region and the world

RIYADH: The president of Uzbekistan met with the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation during an official trip to the Kingdom on Thursday.

During the meeting, Shavkat Mirziyoyev praised Hissein Brahim Taha for leading the OIC’s efforts to promote joint Islamic action and consolidate the spirit of Islamic solidarity.

The president stressed that the organization receives special attention from his country’s government which is looking forward to strengthening cooperation with the OIC.

Taha expressed his appreciation for Uzbekistan’s role in the OIC and its efforts to support the activities of the organization and promote joint Islamic action through various initiatives.

He stressed the OIC’s keenness to enhance cooperation with Uzbekistan in all areas of common interest.

The two officials also discussed issues of common interest, including supporting peace and security in the region and the world and taking care of the interests of the organization and its member states.


Saudi beauty brands champion sustainable, cruelty-free values

Saudi beauty brands champion sustainable, cruelty-free values
Updated 18 August 2022

Saudi beauty brands champion sustainable, cruelty-free values

Saudi beauty brands champion sustainable, cruelty-free values
  • Muzon Ashgar, founder and manager of Saudi brand MZN Bodycare, put together her own recipes for natural skincare products and packaged them herself
  • Managing partner Mama’s Alchemy Dina Horanieh: We wanted to offer vegan options in the bodycare category in Saudi and the region, as there are very few brands that cater to the cause

RIYADH: Muzon Ashgar, founder and manager of Saudi brand MZN Bodycare, has always had an interest in natural skincare products, which she sourced from the US.

But after throwing a recreational “spa party” for friends a few years ago, she realized there was no need to look abroad to be ethically conscious.

Ashgar put together her own recipes for natural skincare products and packaged them herself. She went from giving the products away as gifts at her at-home spa to selling at local markets and events, eventually establishing her own company.

Now her cruelty-free and sustainable products can be found at major pharmacy chains, premium retailers, and spas across Saudi Arabia.

“We are impressed that most of our customers actually care about MZN being a sustainable brand. There is a remarkable awareness within our community of the benefits of buying sustainable local brands,” Ashgar told Arab News.

But this awareness was not always apparent, and is nonexistent in some communities.

A report by business consultancy Mordor Intelligence found that the major players in the Saudi beauty industry are non-cruelty-free firms, including Beiersdorf AG (parent company to brands such as Nivea and Labello) and Estee Lauder.

When a brand is not cruelty free, the company either conducts individual testing on animals itself, through their supplier, or through a third party.

Ranked top in the huge global market is Procter & Gamble, which holds brands such as Herbal Essences, Pantene, Olay and SK-II. The consumer giant recently announced its commitment to #BeCrueltyFree throughout its 19 companies, highlighting moves by the industry to become more sustainable.

Coming in third is Avon, a brand that is completely cruelty free. While Estee Lauder is not, some of the brands in its portfolio, including Smashbox and Too Faced, both popular with Saudi consumers, have cruelty-free certification by the US-based animal rights group PETA.

The issue becomes complicated because some brands cannot fully develop a cruelty-free approach because they sell products in countries that require animal testing by law, such as China. Pulling their supply from such countries would result in a huge revenue loss.

However, Saudi Arabia does not insist on animal testing for skincare and beauty products. This creates an easy market for local sustainable and vegan cosmetics to step up and answer the demand for those items.

Saudi environmentalist Zahra Alqatari told Arab News that there is only limited awareness of sustainability as an issue in the Kingdom.

“That makes demand for cruelty-free and sustainable beauty products low. As a result, the beauty industry continues to produce products that harm us, animals and the environment.” 

However, this is changing as local brands, such as MZN Bodycare, champion natural, vegan and cruelty-free products for the everyday consumer.

The brand, established in 2015, believes in using local plants to create environmentally friendly products.

“Our region is full of plantations that have amazing benefits like the moringa, olive oils, rose and lavender essential oils, and date seed powder and oils. We found through published research that those oils are very high in antioxidants and vitamins which are beneficial to the skin,” Ashgar told Arab News.

The company has seen a growing interest among Saudis in developing sustainable and environmentally friendly living habits.

“We actually had some customers ask for a ‘return packaging’ program from us, where we take back the used packaging and refill it for them. Some call us to verify the source of our raw materials and that we are actually a cruelty-free brand,” said Ashgar.

Another cruelty-free brand, Mama’s Alchemy, is based on veganism as a core value and motivator.

“We wanted to offer vegan options in the bodycare category in Saudi and the region, as there are very few brands that cater to the cause. We believe veganism plays a vital role in keeping our planet clean and reducing waste,” Dina Horanieh, the firm’s managing partner, told Arab News.

The brand founders went on the hunt for vegan body products for their personal use, but were unable to find any — so they made their own. Mama’s Alchemy caters not only to vegan consumers, but also anyone looking for clean and sustainable body products.

 “The response (from the Saudi public) has been heartwarming. We hope to see more local suppliers offering sustainable options. We are continuously working to offer more vegan and sustainable products,” said Horanieh.


Rescue team saves life of man lost in mountains

Rescue team saves life of man lost in mountains
Updated 18 August 2022

Rescue team saves life of man lost in mountains

Rescue team saves life of man lost in mountains
  • Family alerted police and volunteers to the plight of the missing Sudanese man, who was located just in time
  • The man was located by the Wassem Volunteer Team, which has specially-equipped cars and gliders for use in the Wadi Al-Dawasir area

RIYADH: A Sudanese man lost in the mountains near the town of Al-Khasra, 320 kilometers southwest of Riyadh, has been rescued by the Wassem Volunteer Team.

The team, which has specially-equipped cars and gliders for use in the Wadi Al-Dawasir area, launched a large search for the missing Sudanese, managing to find and rescue him before he succumbed to heat exhaustion or dehydration.

“We were contacted about the missing man by his family, who provided us with an official letter from the police, and we headed to the site. Thank God, within an hour, we found the man, who was in (a) bad condition, and he was rescued and taken to safety,” Abu Abbas, a member of the team, told Arab News.

“We can consider this a good day, because (in) some cases (people) are found dead, like (a case we had) yesterday.”

The Sudanese man was rescued by the Wassem Volunteer Team.

The story and videos of the search and rescue were shared by people on social media and through mainstream news outlets, prompting praise for the volunteers.

Abbas advised people who want to go to the mountains or desert to download navigation apps on smart devices that operate outside mobile networks via satellites before travelling.

The Wassem Volunteer Team uses gliders.

“Prior to any outing, especially one that takes place outside of the (mobile) network, the person needs to let his family know where he is going and how long he will be in the desert. Then he checks his vehicle and everything he needs. By extending the number of days as a precaution, he must also bring food and water for a longer period of time than he will be staying.”

The team of volunteers was established two years ago, and so far more than 120 missing or stranded people have been rescued with their help and the help of other volunteers in the area.


Ksrelief chief meets Omani former conjoined twins 15 years after their separation

Ksrelief chief meets Omani former conjoined twins 15 years after their separation
Updated 18 August 2022

Ksrelief chief meets Omani former conjoined twins 15 years after their separation

Ksrelief chief meets Omani former conjoined twins 15 years after their separation
  • Al-Rabeeah met with Safa and Marwa Muhammad bin Nasser Al-Jardani and their parents in Riyadh
  • The twins were successfully separated 15 years ago

RIYADH: The supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center received on Wednesday a set of Omani former conjoined twins whom he operated on in 2007.

Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah met with Safa and Marwa Muhammad bin Nasser Al-Jardani and their parents at the KSrelief headquarters in Riyadh.

The twins underwent successful surgery to separate adhesions in their skulls, brain membranes, and intervening veins at King Abdulaziz Medical City in Riyadh fifteen years ago.

Al-Rabeeah said Saudi Arabia’s program to separate conjoined twins enjoys a high international status that would not be possible without the support of the Kingdom’s leadership.

The supervisor general of Ksrelief Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah talks to Omani former conjoined twins Safa and Marwa and their father in Riyadh. (SPA)

He added that the Kingdom has become specialized in performing complex surgical operations due to its advanced human and technical capabilities that make it a desired destination for anyone who requires treatment, whether from inside or outside Saudi Arabia.

He noted that the program embodies the humanity of the Kingdom, which transcends continents, borders and races to heal wounds and relieve human suffering.

The latest beneficiaries of the program are Yemeni twin girls Mawaddah and Rahma who were born conjoined at the lower chest and abdomen.

The baby girls from Aden were successfully separated in July.

The parents of the Omani twins expressed their gratitude to the Kingdom for facilitating the necessary efforts to separate and treat their daughters, adding that the kind gesture had had a great impact on their lives.


Saudi Heritage Commission to survey Red Sea for archeological finds

Saudi Heritage Commission to survey Red Sea for archeological finds
Updated 18 August 2022

Saudi Heritage Commission to survey Red Sea for archeological finds

Saudi Heritage Commission to survey Red Sea for archeological finds

JEDDAH: The Saudi Heritage Commission has announced that it will implement plans to survey and uncover buried heritage in the Red Sea in collaboration with the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, the King Abdulaziz University and the University of Naples in Italy.
The commission said that plans will include surveying the Red Sea waters, from Umluj to Ras Al-Sheikh Hamid, in search for archeological findings, a project that had initially begun on July 13 and will continue to Sept. 5.
The project has thus far monitored more than 25 specific locations along the survey path including the Ras Al-Sheikh Hamid, Duba, Al-Wajh and Umluj areas using sonars. The devices will retrieve underwater and mosaic maps as well as high-quality photographs of the areas.
Saudi Heritage Commission CEO Dr. Jasir Al-Herbish said that the announcement is in line with the commission’s policy to notify media agencies, the general public and those interested in archeology of plans and efforts made in collaboration with scientific institutions and international organizations to discover these historical sites.
Its goal with this initiative is to develop the field of archeological diving and share the results of the historical site surveys in order to educate the public about areas in the Red Sea that are rich with cultural heritage — and just as essential as archeological findings on dry land.
Al-Herbish highlighted the efforts that are already in progress, such as a specialized center for the protection of underwater cultural heritage in the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf.
He stressed that the waters of the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf are still incubating many secrets about the Kingdom’s cultural heritage, and the center hopes it will contribute to discovering them.
Vice President and Senior Associate of KAUST Dr. Najah Ashry said: “We at KAUST Basic Laboratories are exploring the secrets of the Red Sea using advanced marine technologies and building advanced capabilities with our partners,” the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The Umluj shipwreck area was previously surveyed in a collaborative effort by the commission and an Italian team from the University of Naples in 2015 and 2016, which determined that the wreck dates back over 100 years.
Some of the survey findings included a mound of pottery next to the wreck, hundreds of high-quality Chinese porcelain pieces, a coconut shell and various metals.