Saudi Arabia participates in UN Ocean Conference for first time

Saudi Arabia participates in UN Ocean Conference for first time
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Saudi Arabia participates in UN Ocean Conference for first time
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Saudi Arabia participates in UN Ocean Conference for first time
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Updated 29 June 2022

Saudi Arabia participates in UN Ocean Conference for first time

Saudi Arabia participates in UN Ocean Conference for first time
  • ‘Blue Saudi’ pavilion sheds light on Kingdom’s efforts in ocean regeneration

JEDDAH: June 28 marked the opening of the Saudi pavilion at the 2022 UN Ocean Conference, which takes place in Lisbon, Portugal, and runs until July 1.

The Saudi pavilion, titled “Blue Saudi,” is aimed at shedding light on the health of the Red Sea and the Kingdom’s leading role in researching its unique habitats and ecosystems, and protecting and regenerating the region.

The 2022 UN Ocean Conference, in its second edition, got underway on June 27 and is co-organized by the governments of Portugal and Kenya.

It aims to inspire a global effort to rebuild marine life, emphasizing the critical role that the oceans play in stabilizing climate systems.

The first edition of the conference was in 2017 and took place at the UN’s headquarters in New York.

This year’s conference theme is “Scaling Up Ocean Action Based on Science and Innovation for the Implementation of Goal 14: Stocktaking, Partnerships, and Solutions.”

According to the UN website, Sustainable Development Goal 14 is about “Life below water” and is one of the 17 SDGs established by the UN in 2015. The official wording is to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development.

In line with the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stressed the importance of international unity to help oceans and marine life survive. 




UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Guterres said in a statement during the opening ceremony of the conference: “The ocean connects us all — sadly we have taken the ocean for granted and today we face what I would call an ocean emergency.”

He added: “We must turn the tide. Global warming is pushing ocean temperatures to record levels, creating fiercer and more frequent storms … Much more needs to be done by all of us together.”

Saudi Arabia has previously announced several key commitments as part of broader ambitions to drive sustainability, including increasing the percentage of marine protected areas to 30 percent of its waters and planting 100 million mangroves by 2030.

Dr. Mohammad Qurban, head of the Saudi delegation to the UN Ocean Conference, said: “Our presence at this globally significant conference demonstrates our commitment to not only taking part in the conversation but sharing the lessons learned about our coastline and oceans.

“The goal is to play a connecting role, bringing together countries who border these waters, to ensure a comprehensive approach to protecting the Red Sea is developed and successfully delivered.”

Qurban, who is also the CEO of the Saudi National Center of Wildlife, said: “Ultimately, the Kingdom hopes to export the scientific learnings discovered and the positive application of innovative solutions, with the rest of the world, as we all unite together to confront some of the biggest challenges facing people and planet today.”

The “Blue Saudi” pavilion showcases many ambitions and ongoing efforts in the field of ocean regeneration.

Since the Red Sea is the world’s warmest and saltiest ocean, and provides a home to extensive coral reef banks and a narrow deep central axis as large in area as the Great Barrier Reef, the Kingdom is highly focused on researching these unique habitats to provide a better understanding of their challenging conditions.

It is also aiming to develop technologies to help expand coral habitats and to enable biodiversity to flourish.

On the opening day, the pavilion hosted an event to facilitate conversations around the role of science and innovation in enabling regenerative development of the Red Sea, and how meaningful partnerships and collaboration, coupled with good governance, are driving positive action in the marine environment.

To register interest and attend the event visit: www.bluesaudi.com


Saudi schools to undergo tech-based learning revolution, expert tells panel

Saudi schools to undergo tech-based learning revolution, expert tells panel
Updated 16 sec ago

Saudi schools to undergo tech-based learning revolution, expert tells panel

Saudi schools to undergo tech-based learning revolution, expert tells panel

RIYADH: Extended reality technologies will soon revolutionize the educational environment in Saudi Arabia, NEOM Academy Managing Director Dr. Ali Al-Shammari has told a panel of leading tech experts.

Al-Shammari joined the panel to discuss the future of XR technology, which includes virtual reality, augmented reality and 360-degree video content.

As VR headsets and software become more accessible than ever, fields including education are adopting the technology around the world to enhance knowledge-building, Al-Shammari said.

Speaking to Arab News, Al-Shammari, also dean of e-learning and distance education at the University of Tabuk, said: “Medical science is actually the biggest field that includes some VR immersive learning environment technologies, including natural sciences like physics, chemistry, biology and biochemistry — and it keeps growing.”

Previously, the teacher-centered education system emphasized learning from a sole source while discrediting alternatives, he added.

“Right now, we focus more on students themselves, and how to provide them with the tools and resources in order to develop their skills, knowledge and values,” Al-Shammari said.

As technology begins to play a larger role in all facets of human life, Al-Shammari believes that it is an educator’s job to guide students on finding the appropriate communication methods to learn.

“In the past we used to have a one-size-fits-all model, where we put students all together regardless of the individual differences between them, because we want to have workers.

“We want to have students who can perform a certain list of tasks in a specific job. These days, students can learn on their own; they can learn from different resources … I am not going to say that technology will replace teachers, but I am saying technology will replace teachers who don’t know how to use technology,” he added.

“With personalized learning models, we focus more on the individual differences between students. We try to give them freedom to decide what they want to learn, and how they want to learn it,” Al-Shammari said, comparing new educational trends to past models of strict rote learning.

The prevalent public education system in most countries around the world is “seat-time based,” Al-Shammari said, meaning that students have to be in a classroom for a certain number of hours to be eligible to move forward to the next grade.

But the new personalized learning model taking off in the Kingdom focuses more on individual learning differences, such as interests, abilities, styles and personal beliefs.

And with the growth of that movement comes the introduction of cutting-edge technology: Immersive learning environments are constructed using XR technologies to create simulations that students can use to apply their knowledge.

“In an immersive learning environment, you are the actor. You perform the actions with this — you see the consequences of your actions, you get the immediate feedback and you write the story,” Al-Shammari said.

However, many parents are concerned over the use of technology in the classroom, and often compare it to recreational gaming.

But Al-Shammari said: “Sometimes it’s difficult to bring the reality to your classrooms. Think of the costs or the safety … If I want to teach you about, for example, snakes or explosive weapons, or something dangerous, I cannot bring that to the classroom. But I can put you in a situation where you can see all the environments around you.”

That also applies to the moral education of students. Instead of instructing students to react to a certain situation, you can, figuratively, be in someone else’s shoes and experience it personally through the use of XR technology.

“When I put you in an immersive learning environment and that environment is about homeless people, you will experience what it looks like to be a homeless guy — you will hear what people say about you … your value system will change,” Al-Shammari said.

As the newer philosophy of constructivism begins to play a prominent role in changing educational systems around the world, future technologies like the metaverse also have a role to play, Al-Shammari said.

“In the metaverse, I can learn based on my own speed, my own pace, the way I want and using the technology or the platform I prefer. It’s not like you have to learn that concept through VR, whether you like it or not…. I would say the metaverse is the next big thing in education,” he added.

And the rollout of these technologies could happen sooner than expected in the Kingdom. “I imagine that we will see K-12 in the next few months. I don’t wanna say years, but as I said, it’s growing very fast,” Al-Shammari said.


Tourist visa holders can now perform Umrah

Tourist visa holders can now perform Umrah
Updated 38 min 27 sec ago

Tourist visa holders can now perform Umrah

Tourist visa holders can now perform Umrah
  • 49 nations eligible under the new rules
  • Booking online or on arrival, says ministry

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has announced that the Kingdom will now allow visitors holding tourist visas to perform Umrah.

Citizens of 49 countries will be able to do so by securing their visas online at Visit Saudi Arabia, or immediately on arrival at airports.

The decision has been taken to allow as many people as possible to perform the ritual.

Those who qualify include holders of visas to the US and the UK, as well as those who have Schengen visas.

The regulations allow visitors to obtain a tourist visa, valid for 12 months, to visit other cities in the Kingdom.

Those who have family visit visas are allowed to perform Umrah, by booking through the Eatmarna app.

To perform Umrah, visitors are required to obtain comprehensive health insurance, which includes covering the costs of COVID-19 treatment, accidents resulting in death or disability, and expenses arising from flight delays or cancellations.

Those wishing to perform Umrah from nations other than those who currently qualify, should apply for visas at the Kingdom’s embassies in their countries.

Documents required include proof of residence and employment, return ticket, bank statement proving financial stability, itinerary, and complete personal information.


Crisis and disaster management center inaugurated in Najran

Crisis and disaster management center inaugurated in Najran
Updated 11 August 2022

Crisis and disaster management center inaugurated in Najran

Crisis and disaster management center inaugurated in Najran
  • Gov. Prince Jalawi bin Abdulaziz says opening reflects seriousness with which Kingdom takes safety of citizens, residents and visitors

RIYADH: Najran Governor Prince Jalawi bin Abdulaziz inaugurated on Tuesday a new crisis and disaster management center in Najran after approval from the Political and Security Affairs Council.

The aim is to establish centers in all regions of the Kingdom.

Prince Jalawi stressed that directives to establish new crisis centers reflect the keenness of the government to ensure the safety of citizens, residents and visitors during emergencies.

He also highlighted the importance of working as a unit to strengthen cooperation and integration between government, civil agencies and Saudi society.

The official spokesman of Najran region, Mohammed Al-Ahmadi, briefed the governor on the center’s vision for excellence in managing crises and disasters at the national level, and strengthening the security and stability of the region by raising preparedness levels.

The center is tasked with supervising, monitoring and managing all national resources to confront crises and disasters — depending on the capabilities of the region.

It is also tasked with establishing a solid base for documenting cooperation and integration among all concerned parties in the region efficiently and effectively, and involving the community with government and civil sectors in awareness and volunteer initiatives and programs.

The governor watched a mock crisis scenario — a simulated chemical leak at King Khalid Hospital in Najran and the new Najran General Hospital — and methods to deal with it through the center in coordination with the concerned authorities.

He then toured the center and was briefed on security and service operations by the region’s police director, Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Shammari, the director of civil defense in the region, Maj. Gen. Saad Al-Shahrani, the director general of health affairs in the region, Dr. Ibrahim Bani Hamim, the mayor, Saleh Al-Ghamdi, and the director of the Red Crescent Authority branch in the region, Mohammed Al-Faraj.


Saudi man hailed a “hero” after pulling drowning father and daughter from Austrian lake

Saudi man hailed a “hero” after pulling drowning father and daughter from Austrian lake
Updated 11 August 2022

Saudi man hailed a “hero” after pulling drowning father and daughter from Austrian lake

Saudi man hailed a “hero” after pulling drowning father and daughter from Austrian lake
  • Askar Al-Hajri was visiting Hallstatt with two of his colleagues when he saw young girl fall from a 5-meter-high fence into lake
  • Social media users praised the Saudi citizen as a hero

AUSTRIA, VIENNA: Meet Askar Al-Hajri, he’s a Saudi citizen who was holidaying in Austria, and he’s a hero.

Al-Hajri was visiting Hallstatt, a village in Austria, with two of his colleagues when he saw a young girl fall from a 5-meter-high fence into a lake.
Now the Saudi Embassy in Vienna has hailed him a “hero” for his courageous actions.


“The girl was sitting on the fence as her father snapped photos of her before she suddenly fell into the lake,” Al-Hajri told the Saudi news channel Al Ekhbariya.
Hearing wails and screams from the lake, Al-Hajri said he was first assured when he looked over and found that the father had jumped to his daughter’s rescue.
But Al-Hajri said the situation quickly worsened when both disappeared under the water.
“That’s when I had to take action and save them,” he said during the interview.
Al-Hajri jumped into the lake and with the help of his colleagues, he said he was able to get the girl and her father out of the water.
“I had the feelings of a father watching his daughter in the lake. I did not hesitate for one second to jump in the lake with the thought that we either live together or die together,” he explained.
A video, which appears to be shot by one of the three men, showed Al-Hajri and one of his colleagues in the lake as a group of passersby were comforting the young girl on ground. It widely circulated online with social media users praising Al-Hajri as “a hero.”

 


In a tweet, the Saudi embassy in Vienna acknowledged the Saudi citizen “for his brave act.”
“We offer our gratitude to this Saudi hero,” the embassy said.


KSrelief’s supervisor general meets Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw, pledges $10m aid

KSrelief’s supervisor general meets Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw, pledges $10m aid
Updated 11 August 2022

KSrelief’s supervisor general meets Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw, pledges $10m aid

KSrelief’s supervisor general meets Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw, pledges $10m aid

Abdullah Al Rabeeah, advisor to the Royal Court and supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief), met with Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw on Wednesday, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. 

During the visit Al Rabeeah said the charity would be providing $10 million in emergency health and shelter funds. 

This came during his visit to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Cash Enrolment Centre in Warsaw. 

The KSrelief Supervisor General was briefed on the Cash Enrolment Centre work mechanism and the services provided to meet the urgent material needs of Ukrainian refugees. 

He also praised the efforts of UNHCR in supporting and alleviating the suffering of refugees and internally displaced people.