Saudi medical volunteers help to combat blindness in Bangladesh

KSrelief volunteers help to combat blindness in Bangladesh. (SPA)
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KSrelief volunteers help to combat blindness in Bangladesh. (SPA)
Saudi medical volunteers help to combat blindness in Bangladesh
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KSrelief volunteers help to combat blindness in Bangladesh. (SPA)
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Updated 21 June 2022

Saudi medical volunteers help to combat blindness in Bangladesh

KSrelief volunteers help to combat blindness in Bangladesh. (SPA)
  • Between June 2 and 14, the Saudi aid organization helped 5,282 patients, carrying out 3,618 consultations and 502 cataract surgeries

RIYADH: Medical volunteers working with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, also known as KSrelief, treated 5,282 patients in Bangladesh between June 2 and June 14 as part of the organization’s mission to combat blindness in the country.

During the project, in Joypurhat, they carried out 3,618 medical consultations, 502 cataract surgeries, and provided 1,162 patients with glasses.

KSrelief is a leading international humanitarian organization that helps people and communities in 84 countries. This year, it signed a joint agreement to implement campaigns to combat blindness and its causes in eight countries: Bangladesh, Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Sri Lanka, Yemen and Morocco.

The center previously completed a project to tackle blindness in Bangladesh in 2019, during which 6,700 patients were examined and 717 surgeries performed. Since 2017 it has taken part in a number of similar initiatives in Cameroon, Pakistan, Morocco, Senegal, Gabon, Congo, Yemen, Nigeria, Sudan and Chad.


Saudi culture minister meets Jordanian, Iraqi counterparts at UNESCO meeting in Mexico

Saudi culture minister meets Jordanian, Iraqi counterparts at UNESCO meeting in Mexico
Updated 30 September 2022

Saudi culture minister meets Jordanian, Iraqi counterparts at UNESCO meeting in Mexico

Saudi culture minister meets Jordanian, Iraqi counterparts at UNESCO meeting in Mexico

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan on Friday held talks with his Jordanian counterpart, Haifa Najjar, on the sidelines of the UNESCO World Conference on Cultural Policies and Sustainable Development — Mondiacult 2022 in Mexico.
At the beginning of the meeting, Prince Badr congratulated Najjar on the Jordanian city of Irbid being chosen as the Arab Capital of Culture in 2022.
He also praised the success of the Jerash Festival for Culture and Arts, and thanked Najjar for the support in organizing the “Saudi Cultural Week” in Jordan from Spet. 12-15, stressing the depth of the relations that bind the two kingdoms, their governments and people.
During the meeting, they discussed ways to intensify and deepen cultural cooperation between their two countries in various cultural and artistic fields, exchange visits and establish cultural activities, and enhancing joint cooperation in preserving their antiquities and historical sites.
Prince Badr also met with Iraqi Minister of Culture, Tourism and Antiquities Dr. Hassan Nazim, where they praised the depth of the relations and stressed the importance of strengthening joint cultural cooperation.
The Saudi minister also praised the joint efforts between the Saudi-Iraqi work teams specialized in heritage, under the umbrella of the growing cooperation between the Kingdom’s Heritage Commission and the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities and Heritage, calling for more cooperation in all cultural fields.
During his meeting Malaysian Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Nancy Shukri, the two sides reviewed bilateral cultural relations and ways to develop cooperation and cultural exchange.
The Saudi minister also met Burkina Faso Minister of Communication, Culture, Arts and Tourism Valerie Kabore, where they discussed opportunities for cultural cooperation in the fields of crafts and folklore, artistic residency programs, seminars and events aimed at building capacities and introducing the cultures of the two countries.
He also held similar talks with his Chadian counterpart of the sidelines of the conference.


Lights, cameras, action as Saudi directors win 48hr film challenge

Lights, cameras, action as Saudi directors win 48hr film challenge
Updated 30 September 2022

Lights, cameras, action as Saudi directors win 48hr film challenge

Lights, cameras, action as Saudi directors win 48hr film challenge
  • The challenge encourages Saudi and Saudi-resident filmmakers aged from 18-25 to produce new works

JEDDAH: Two young Saudi film directors have been presented with trophies after winning the second edition of a 48-hour filmmaking challenge, with participants racing against the clock to create a short film within a two-day limit.

Khaled Zidan and Tala Alharbi received their awards on Thursday during a special screening held at Vox Cinemas in Red Sea Mall, Jeddah.  

The 48HR Film Challenge was part of a collaboration between the Alliance Française of Saudi Arabia, the Consulate General of France in Jeddah, the French Embassy in Riyadh, the Red Sea International Film Festival, Cercle des Amis de la Culture Francaise and Vox Cinemas.

The challenge encourages Saudi and Saudi-resident filmmakers aged from 18-25 to produce new works.

A team of between two and five participants, led by a Saudi director or scriptwriter, received two days’ training to develop their film before the challenge.

Mohammed Al-Turki, CEO of the Red Sea Film Festival Foundation, congratulated the winners and said: “We watched some really amazing short films that were very intriguing and projected a lot of creativity from the young Saudi filmmakers, especially to create it within 48 hours only.” 

He told Arab News: “I believe this platform will help them reach their goals with the support of the Red Sea Fund.”

During the event, Al-Turki said that the two films will be screened at the Red Sea Film Festival as a part of the “New Saudi New Cinema Shorts” segment.

Zain Zedan, Red Sea Souk manager, described the winning efforts as “a great achievement and accomplishment.”

He added: “This will encourage other filmmakers not to be hesitant to produce the films they like.”

Catherine Corm-Kammoun, Consul General of France in Jeddah, told Arab News that she was impressed by the exceptional work of all participants. 

“It was surprising to see the deep thoughts of the young filmmakers and learn the way they see life. As the Consulate General of France, we are eager to generate new filmmakers among the youth in Saudi Arabia. Our aim is to strengthen the film industry in the Kingdom,” she said.  

“With this successful partnership with the Red Sea Film Festival, we decided to renew this challenge for the next year as it is a good cooperation and hope to keep on working like this.”

Charles-Henri Gros, cultural attache of the Consulate General of France, told Arab News: “As this was the second edition, we added a new initiative by challenging the participants to create a film in just two days. We hosted them at the residency of the French General Consulate in Jeddah and dedicated the two days to the young talents, and introduced them to some Saudi and French experts in cinema.”

He added: “This is just the beginning of a great future for them in the cinema, which is a masterpiece of arts and culture. As a French consulate, we consider ourselves lucky to initiate this with the Red Sea Film Festival.”

Zidan, who won with a short film titled “The Kid in the Closet,” told Arab News: “It wasn’t an easy challenge. There were some limitations, especially the time. Making a film in 48 hours isn’t an easy thing. We used to work on films in the pre-production area and I know it takes a lot of time to make films.” 

He said that creating a film with just three team members was also challenging. “But I am happy that it was a great learning experience, which in itself is a reward. The workshops at the French consulate allowed us to get expertise from a number of directors, producers and actors.”

Alharbi, who created a winning film titled “When Red Blooms,” said: “It is unbelievable and feels like a dream to have won. It has definitely been a lot of hard work. It was an exciting experience, but very stressful.”

The jury, chaired by award-winning actor Dhafer L’Abdine, and filmmaker and journalist Wael Abu Mansour, presented the two teams with trophies designed by the artist Rabi Alakhras. Winning team leaders will also attend an educational residency program led by leading French cinematographers.

Jana Mazin, writer and director of another of the short films, “LuLu,” will receive support to create a movie with the help of Vox Cinemas.


Saudi Arabia condemns suicide attack on Afghan educational center that killed 19 people

Saudi Arabia condemns suicide attack on Afghan educational center that killed 19 people
Updated 30 September 2022

Saudi Arabia condemns suicide attack on Afghan educational center that killed 19 people

Saudi Arabia condemns suicide attack on Afghan educational center that killed 19 people
  • UAE, Jordan and Pakistan issued similar statements condemning the deadly attack
  • The bomber hit while hundreds of students inside were taking practice entrance exams for university

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Friday strongly condemned and denounced a “terrorist attack” on an educational center in the Afghan capital, Kabul, which killed and injured a number of people.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed the Kingdom’s total rejection of all forms of violence, terrorism and extremism,” it said in a statement, affirming that Saudi Arabia stands in solidarity with the Afghan people.
The ministry also offered condolences and sympathy to the families of the deceased, with wished the injured a speedy recovery.
At least 19 people, most of them young women, were killed and dozens more wounded after a suicide bomber attacked the Kaaj Higher Educational Center in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood of western Kabul earlier on Friday, where hundreds of students were preparing for university exams.
Meanwhile, the UAE also strongly condemned the attack and expressed its permanent rejection of all forms of violence and terrorism aimed at destabilizing security and stability and inconsistent with humanitarian values ​​and principle.
Jordan and Pakistan also issued similar statements denouncing the attack and rejecting all forms of violence and terrorism. 
(With AFP)


KSrelief, UNESCO launch educational program to boost peace building in Arab states

KSrelief, UNESCO launch educational program to boost peace building in Arab states
Updated 30 September 2022

KSrelief, UNESCO launch educational program to boost peace building in Arab states

KSrelief, UNESCO launch educational program to boost peace building in Arab states
  • Scheme provides resource packs for teachers with aim to ‘drive social cohesion’
  • ‘Access to learning opportunities during crises is lifesaving,’ KSrelief says

RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center has teamed up with UNESCO to launch an educational resources program for teachers in a bid to promote peace building in the Arab states.

UNESCO’s regional bureau for education in Beirut on Thursday announced the publishing of resource packs in Arabic for teachers.

“The packs aim to build and develop their capacities, in order to foster peace building and drive social cohesion in the Arab states within the context of SDG4,” according to a joint statement.

“These resources, grouped under the project titled ‘Education is Peace,’ will benefit Arab children and youth, particularly out-of-school, at-risk children in crisis-affected countries, as well as marginalized communities, by meeting their diverse educational and development needs.”

SDG4 is one of 17 sustainable development goals established by the UN in 2015. Its aim is to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

The reference guides for the “Education is Peace” project were developed in collaboration with experts from the Arab region, with support and funding from KSrelief.

The resources include guides on general policy and strategy in the education sector in disaster and conflict areas, inclusive education, catch-up education and teaching in multi-grade classes, distance learning and education, as well as education on citizenship and common human values.

To maximize the benefits of the resources, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization organized training sessions for 30,000 teachers and education practitioners.

More than 15 million children in the Arab region need assistance to ensure continuous learning.

Fadi Yarak, UNESCO’s senior regional adviser for education in the Arab states, said: “Children and youth living in difficult circumstances have diverse socioeconomic conditions. Their educational needs are diverse and their challenges require innovative and personalized solutions.

“However, the current educational systems should make use of these resources to meet their psychological, social or academic needs.”

Dr. Hana Omar, director of community support at KSrelief, said: “Access to learning opportunities during crises is lifesaving and life-sustaining.

“KSrelief, in partnership with UNESCO, works to ensure that inclusive and equitable quality education remains a priority in humanitarian response and recovery assistance for the students with disabilities, the elderly, migrants, refugees, internally displaced people, returnees and host communities.

“Part of that work is in preparing a pack of resources produced for teachers that will meet their diverse education and development needs that compete with the requirements of crises in the Arab regions to build peace and to face hazards, mitigate their impacts and build the educational system’s resilience.”


UK expedition tracing steps of Philby hopes to inspire next generation to explore Saudi Arabia’s beauty

UK expedition tracing steps of Philby hopes to inspire next generation to explore Saudi Arabia’s beauty
Updated 30 September 2022

UK expedition tracing steps of Philby hopes to inspire next generation to explore Saudi Arabia’s beauty

UK expedition tracing steps of Philby hopes to inspire next generation to explore Saudi Arabia’s beauty
  • Granddaughter Reem Philby part of homage to Ibn Saud and explorer
  • Pact with KAUST to collect data on culture, desert life, biodiversity

LONDON: A small team of UK explorers have launched an expedition to retrace the 1,300-kilometer 1917 journey of British explorer and scholar, Harry St. John Philby, across Saudi Arabia, in the hope of impacting future generations.

The Heart of Arabia expedition, named after Philby’s book about his journey, was launched on Tuesday at the Royal Geographical Society in London, which was held under the patronage of Britain’s Princess Anne, and with the attendance of Saudi ambassador to the UK Prince Khalid bin Bandar.

Speaking at her first public engagement since the death of her mother Queen Elizabeth II, she said: “The scope for finding more in this expedition is just enormous to add to that level of knowledge, and I think we all have something we can really look forward to, and possibly something that we will envy about those taking part in this expedition, which allows them to be part of that learning exercise.”

The planned 1,300-km Heart of Arabia coast-to-coast trek across the peninsula was launched by Anne, Princess Royal of the UK, in her first public engagement since the death of her mother, Queen Elizabeth II. (AN Photo)

Omani-based British explorer Mark Evans MBE, leader of the expedition, said the team, who will be making the journey on foot, and with camels and four-wheel drives, consists of four people. The other members are Swiss photographer Ana-Maria Pavalache, regional expert Alan Morrissey, and Philby’s granddaughter, explorer Reem Philby.

“When Philby reached Riyadh in 1917, he met Abdulaziz ibn Saud and the two of them became almost lifetime companions (and) he and Ibn Saud spent hour on hour, day after day talking, and then he continued to Jeddah, so we will follow the same structure,” Evans told Arab News.

The first leg begins on Nov. 15 in Al-Uqair in the Eastern Province and will pass through Al-Ahsa Oasis, Al-Hadida/Rub Al-Khali, Hofuf, Ramlat Dahna, Abu Jifan and stop in the capital, Riyadh, on Nov. 30, where they will take a short break. The second leg will begin on Jan. 15 with a visit by Princess Anne to the Kingdom, where she will see the team off as they continue to Dhurma, Halban, Qahqa, Taif, Darb Zubaydah, and conclude in the western city of Jeddah on Jan. 30.

The Heart of Arabia journey will set off in November, a century after Philby’s crossing, and is led by veteran British explorer Mark Evans (C). (AN Photo)

“The journeys are incomparable really, because in Philby’s day, no one knew where he was, he had no way of communicating other than by sending back messages via camels, whereas we will have satellite technology, social media, we’ll be doing live Instagram posts from the middle of the biggest desert on Earth, so life is so much easier today,” he said.

Evans added that some of the challenges of the past would not be an issue this time, with regards to finding water and food, but he said the biggest potential weak link may be the camels. They have to choose the right ones and “toughen them up” before the start.

“Camels have gone soft today like human beings, we have Deliveroo, camels have their Bedouin handlers who bring the food to them rather than having to wander to find the grass or water ... so camels are not working animals anymore,” he explained, whereas when Philby did his journey, camels would walk over 50 kilometers a day carrying heavy loads.

 

 

The aim of the expedition also differs from Philby’s due to its nature. He was sent for political reasons by British writer, traveler, political officer, administrator, and archaeologist Gertrude Bell from Baghdad to meet the future king in 1917 to stop the Ottomans smuggling guns across the central deserts of Arabia. However, their mission now is to “celebrate an extraordinary man and an extraordinary country,” while also collecting cultural, geographical, and scientific data.

“There’ll be young people joining us in all stages of the journey, so we want to inspire the next generation of Philbys to go out there and look and record and just add to our understanding of Arabia,” said Evans, who also heads the NGO Outward Bound Oman.

Reem, who has trekked across the Kingdom, as well as in Peru and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, said the expedition was “completely down her alley” and it was “truly overwhelming” to trace the steps he walked over 100 years ago.

The expedition will honor the undertaking and achievement of adventurer, Arabist and intelligence officer Harry St. John Philby, who traveled from Al-Uqair to Jeddah, on a mission in support of Ibn Saud. (Heart of Arabia)

“Having that impact on the young generation is truly important, in my opinion. I am a strong believer of the importance of taking kids to the outdoors and having them experience being uncomfortable, step out of their comfort zones and their homes and their usual environments,” said the 42-year-old mother of two. “I know that it will shape truly humbled (and) strong adults in the future.”

Pavalache, who has been a mountain leader in the Swiss Alps, said it is important to tell the story of an incredible man, who brought enormous information to mapping the region. She thinks “it might be a challenge to get immersed in what he was doing, because today, Saudi Arabia is very modernized and to find that balance” between the past and present.

“We would have a couple of places where we will try to get the same images, but I think it is important for us to see how the environment changed today, and also the people who live in the desert and the community, and after we have three parts of research that we will follow within this context,” she said.

The team, which will travel by foot and on camels, includes Swiss photographer Ana-Maria Pavalache (C), regional expert Alan Morrissey and Philby’s Saudi granddaughter, Reem. (AN Photo)

The data and observations generated by the team, in collaboration with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, will support scientific specialists to advance human performance in extreme environments, understanding of pre-Islamic history, and insights into local biodiversity, specifically bats. There are around 30 species in the Kingdom with very little known on the populations, distribution and ecology.

UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia Neil Crompton said Philby was an important figure in the history of relations between Great Britain and the Kingdom, which was known as Arabia when he set out on his expedition, and where he lived most of his life and was an important adviser to Ibn Saud on many matters.

“It’s a chance to learn about his life and the role that he played in the development of relations between the two countries and in Saudi Arabia,” he said, lauding the “immensely strong” ties that exist between the two kingdoms.

“Saudi Arabia is opening up its tourism sector (and) Britons from many different walks of life are coming in, and it’s great to see the explorers came 100 years ago, but now they’re coming back, and so hopefully, we’ll see more of these sorts of things,” Crompton said. “I think that people-to-people links are ultimately the foundation of the relationship.”

He added: “I think the chance to see an expedition crossing the desert in this way will be very interesting to many people in Britain, and I hope encourage more people to visit the Kingdom in the way that so many Saudis come to the UK.”

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