World events behind price spikes, says Saudi minister of commerce

Saudi Minister of Commerce Majid Al-Qasabi. (Supplied)
Saudi Minister of Commerce Majid Al-Qasabi. (Supplied)
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Updated 06 July 2022

World events behind price spikes, says Saudi minister of commerce

Saudi Minister of Commerce Majid Al-Qasabi. (Supplied)
  • After 13 months — specifically March 2021 — there were growing signs of economic recovery, Al-Qasabi said, but warning that there was an increase in demand versus supply

JEDDAH: Major events including the COVID-19 pandemic and war in Ukraine have caused price hikes around the world, Saudi Minister of Commerce Majid Al-Qasabi said in a periodic government communication conference on Tuesday.

The press conference discussed four key areas: Global events that led to price increases, the Saudi leadership’s guidance to address the effects of the hikes, repercussions of global events on prices, as well as a question and answer segment.

“Let us rewind two years and a half back to February 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic was an economic, social and mental tsunami. It was the biggest economic crisis in the world,” Al-Qasabi said.

“This pandemic affected the whole world all at once, and suddenly without any warning. We are still suffering from its effects,” he added.

“We stayed in the pandemic for 13 months, and after that, it was the beginning of recovery.”

After 13 months — specifically March 2021 — there were growing signs of economic recovery, Al-Qasabi said, but warning that there was an increase in demand versus supply.

“The demand was more than the supply, and this causes an imbalance in the market, when the demand exceeds the supply. Of course, the result will be that prices have risen,” he added.

Al-Qasabi pointed to the Suez Canal obstruction in March 2021 as another event that added to global economic woes.

“We saw the blockage of the navigational movement and the cessation of the navigational movement in the Suez Canal, then after three months — in July 2021 — the second variant of the virus appeared and imposed a curfew again, which caused the closure of some ports and some cities,” he said.

In February 2022, the Russia-Ukraine conflict began. The minister said that the war affected transportation, too.

“We had a crisis between Russia and Ukraine, and we still do not know how long this crisis will last. These events combined, overlapped and completed, leading to a crisis in transportation and supply chains,” he said.

The transportation and supply chain crisis includes the disruption of some transportation ports, such as the main port of Shanghai, a sixfold increase in the cost of transportation, as well as surging freight insurance rates.

Al-Qasabi hailed King Salman’s royal order on Monday that approved the allocation of SR20 billion ($5.32 billion) to help citizens mitigate the impacts of rising global prices.

Half of the allocated money will go to social insurance beneficiaries and the Citizen Account Program.


Saudi artist turns her farming passion into creative work

Al-Obaid offers a fusion of art and farming through her project. (Photo/Hadeel Al-Obaid)
Al-Obaid offers a fusion of art and farming through her project. (Photo/Hadeel Al-Obaid)
Updated 2 min 5 sec ago

Saudi artist turns her farming passion into creative work

Al-Obaid offers a fusion of art and farming through her project. (Photo/Hadeel Al-Obaid)
  • Al-Obaid makes these hand-painted pot bags from scratch, sewing the bags according to pot size, and then she selecting a drawing to apply to the fabric, usually flowery

JEDDAH: Hadeel Al-Obaid, a Saudi artist from Eastern Province, with over 20 years of farming experience, took a leap of faith when she turned her childhood hobby into a unique business idea.

Offering hand-painted pot bags, Al-Obaid was creative enough to mix between art, farming, and gifting.

She told Arab News: “I inherited the love of farming from my late father — he taught me a lot of gardening skills since I was 13. So, at first, I used to share on social media tips and tricks on how to take care of plants and a few posts of my paintings.”

Al-Obaid offers a fusion of art and farming through her project. (Photo/Hadeel Al-Obaid)

Al-Obaid has gained extensive knowledge about plants. “I have a good relationship with my plants, I want everyone to benefit from my experience — and I am glad that my art-related business is also related to farming,” she said.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Al-Obaid had the time to practice painting styles inspired by Korean and Japanese art, and also by her indoor home garden and flowers. That was when the idea of her project, “Lavender touches,” was sparked.

“As a self-taught artist, in the beginning, I started with painting on the table serving mats, dinner table linens, and coasters, which (was) admired by many. Then, due to the number of indoor and outdoor plants I am surrounded by, I thought of adding a touch of art to these pots by covering them with hand-painted fabric bags to make them look more vibrant.”

Al-Obaid makes these hand-painted pot bags from scratch, sewing the bags according to pot size, and then she selecting a drawing to apply to the fabric, usually flowery. Then she colors it using paints, and finally, she applies an interesting Arabic phrase or a quote.

“I draw only flowers on the canvas bags after I sew them, most of which are inspired by my home garden (plants) such as peace lily, tulip, French hydrangea, common zinnia, Arabian jasmine, lavender, and pansy,” she said.

The name of her project, “Lavender,” is also inspired by her favorite color and flower.

Al-Obaid said that the main aim of her project, next to offering a fusion between painting and plants, is to change the gifting concept of flower bouquets.

“I personally think that the idea of gifting a flower bouquet to anyone on different occasions is respected, however, it is over-consumed and it really lacks the element of surprise, and if replaced with a well-decorated plant of any type, it will be more valued,” she said.

Al-Obaid also offers custom-made pot bags with customers’ selection of colors, shapes, types of flowers painted, English or Arabic names, or phrases about different occasions, as well as different types of indoor home plants and flowers.

“Each painting takes from an hour to three hours depending on the flower type,” she said.

The fabric pot bags also feature a water resistant color of a velvety texture, to maintain the beauty of the paintings once the plant is splashed with water, and can be found on Instagram @lavender_touches.


Arab News & Misk Foundation conclude 3rd cohort of journalism internship

Photo/Abdulrahman Shalhoub
Photo/Abdulrahman Shalhoub
Updated 35 min 38 sec ago

Arab News & Misk Foundation conclude 3rd cohort of journalism internship

Photo/Abdulrahman Shalhoub
  • The next generation of the Kingdom’s top media minds learned from the newspaper’s reporters and editors during an intensive course

RIYADH: Arab News, the Middle East’s leading English-language daily, and the Misk Foundation, a non-profit organization that empowers Saudi youth in bringing to life a three-week intensive internship program, partnered to provide a unique hands-on training and mentorship program for young Saudi graduates pursuing journalism.

“It was a pleasure welcoming some of the Kingdom’s most promising media practitioners of tomorrow, and working closely with the Misk Foundation on this important partnership and training program,” said Faisal J.Abbas, editor-in-chief of Arab News.

Eight interns were shortlisted by Arab News editors for the journalism internship program through the foundation.

Photo/Meshaal Suliman Al Qadeer

“Misk Skills is thrilled to collaborate with Arab News to provide Saudi youth with a great time of change, challenge, and excitement,” said Ghadeer Hamati, a consultant at the Misk Foundation.

Hanin Alblwi, an enrolled intern in the program and law graduate, highlighted her experience: “This internship paved the way for me to understand the journalism industry and how it works. I really love writing and I want to be a freelance writer.”

She shared in the first week that she didn’t know how to create a story from a news idea. She explained how amazed she was at how easily she was able to compete for a story in the second week of the program.

“The next week I just wrote the news easily, when you know the principles you can easily take it and apply it,” she explained.

“I highly recommend this program to everyone who wants to be a journalist,” she said.

Participants were personally coached by Arab News’ team of experienced and award-winning senior editors and department heads from the Arab News headquarters in Riyadh and its bureaus in Dubai, London, France and Pakistan.

“This internship was a great opportunity for an aspiring writer who wants to learn about this growing field. My experience with Arab News allowed me to learn about journalism from very passionate journalists and leaders at Arab News,” said Amal Alshehry, an intern and a master’s degree holder in English language.

The interns were also able to sit down with the Arab News editor-in-chief to gain insight into the world of journalism.

“The meeting with the editor-in-chief was a life lesson for me. He has inspired us to work and succeed in journalism, and to find passion in whatever we choose to do in life,” said Alshehry.

“I encourage fresh graduates to join this internship because the community here is amazing. I have learned a lot from other colleagues and the instructors,” said Thekra Altamimi, another intern.

The enrolled interns also went on the ground and conducted interviews with attendees of the JAX Art Festival in Riyadh while being guided by some of the newspaper’s most seasoned reporters.

“With no exaggeration, it was one of the best experiences in my life. I enjoyed interviewing people and experiencing it all as a journalist,” said Altamimi.

The partnership was initially struck in 2019 with the first group of students entering the training program. The program was put on hold in 2020 due to the pandemic, but picked right back up in 2021 through a virtual internship program. This year’s installment, the third cohort, was conducted in a hybrid format.

Interns learned about the methods of covering a wide range of topics from regional and global issues through some of the most experienced correspondents at Arab News across the business, lifestyle, politics, local and regional news desks.

“I learned the fundamentals and elements of journalism, and communication, teamwork, and how to write about daily things in our life but to see them from a different perspective,” said Mohammed Almarri, an intern.

Students gained a wider understanding of the basics of news writing, editing, media ethics, fact-checking and ways to strengthen their reporting skills through the power of observation and new story structures.

“I studied journalism and it’s my passion. I love to write and I am so happy to be a part of this program. I hope to pursue journalism as a career, it’s been my dream job forever,” said Alya Allam, an intern in the program.

The internship ran for three weeks through a hybrid teaching program of in-person and online courses. The internship began on July 17 and continued until Aug. 7 in the Arab News headquarters in Riyadh.


US funnels another $4.5 bn to Ukraine through World Bank

US funnels another $4.5 bn to Ukraine through World Bank
Updated 59 min 37 sec ago

US funnels another $4.5 bn to Ukraine through World Bank

US funnels another $4.5 bn to Ukraine through World Bank
  • Funds will help Kyiv pay for services and pensions, key to easing economic impacts of the Russian invasion

WASHINGTON: The World Bank on Monday announced it was mobilizing another $4.5 billion in US-provided financial support for war-torn Ukraine.
The funds will help Kyiv pay for services and pensions, key to easing economic impacts of the Russian invasion, the bank said in a statement.
“This economic assistance is critical in supporting the Ukrainian people as they defend their democracy against Russia’s unprovoked war of aggression,” US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a statement.
The latest tranche of aid, most of which will be disbursed this month, is part of $8.5 billion in total US support “which is helping Ukraine’s government keep hospitals, schools, and other critical government services for the people of Ukraine.”
The World Bank said the funding goes to the Public Expenditures for Administrative Capacity Endurance in Ukraine (PEACE) project, part of the multi-billion-dollar package to help the country.
“Ukraine needs continued government services, including health, education, and social protection to prevent further deterioration in living conditions and poverty,” World Bank President David Malpass said.
The country is currently running a budget deficit that is growing by $5 billion every month, exacerbated by its inability to raise funds or to access financing on external markets.
Allies have rushed to pump Ukraine with aid, with the G7 and the European Union also announcing commitments of $29.6 billion in further money for Kyiv.


Former Saudi footballer Yasser Al-Qahtani signed by beIN Sports as analyst

Former Saudi footballer Yasser Al-Qahtani signed by beIN Sports as analyst
Updated 08 August 2022

Former Saudi footballer Yasser Al-Qahtani signed by beIN Sports as analyst

Former Saudi footballer Yasser Al-Qahtani signed by beIN Sports as analyst
  • He joins the broadcaster in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and will work with its media team in the Middle East and North Africa on flagship channel beIN Sports

LONDON: Former Saudi footballer Yasser Al-Qahtani is joining global sports, media and entertainment group beIN’s line-up of talent, the broadcaster announced on Monday.

A former captain of the Saudi national team, he played for several Arab clubs including Al-Qadisiyah and Al-Hilal in the Kingdom, and Al-Ain in the UAE.

Al-Qahtani said he is happy to be joining the beIN team, especially in the run-up to the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, which kicks off Nov. 21. Saudi Arabia will be one of the 32 teams competing as the finals of the competition are held for the first time in the region.

“I hope this step will be a good addition for viewers, especially with beIN’s existing line-up of top sports analysts,” he said.

He will work with the broadcaster’s media team in the Middle East and North Africa as a football analyst on flagship sports channel beIN Sports.

“Al-Qahtani joins our line-up of best-in-class analysts, with many more noteworthy talent announcements, across the board, to be revealed shortly,” said Tareq Zainal, beIN’s chief financial and human resources officer.

“The new appointment comes at a truly exceptional time in our company’s history, as we’re working around the clock to exclusively broadcast the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, the world’s greatest and biggest show, across the region later this year.”

The Asian Football Confederation’s Asian Footballer of the Year in 2007, Al-Qahtani scored 172 goals in 354 professional appearances during an 18-year career, the highlights of which included playing at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, during which he scored a goal against Tunisia. He was also the top scorer during the 2007 AFC Asian Cup, and played for the Saudi national team for more than 11 years.


Saudi Arabia launches program to develop cybersecurity sector

Saudi Arabia launches program to develop cybersecurity sector
Updated 08 August 2022

Saudi Arabia launches program to develop cybersecurity sector

Saudi Arabia launches program to develop cybersecurity sector

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s National Cybersecurity Authority on Monday launched the “CyberIC” program to develop the Kingdom’s cybersecurity sector, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The program aims to develop national capabilities in the field of cybersecurity, localize cybersecurity technology through training.

According to the authority, the first phase of the  program includes several initiatives including training of employees of national authorities, accelerating cybersecurity activities to stimulate the sector, and encouraging the development of national cybersecurity products, services and solutions. 

The program will also see the launch of the second version of the cybersecurity challenge and programs for chief information security officers in cooperation with international universities. The courses will include a set of cyber exercises that take place in a virtual environment that simulates real cyberattacks and incidents.

HIGHLIGHTS

The program will also see the launch of the second version of the cybersecurity challenge and programs for chief information security officers in cooperation with international universities.

It will support more than 40 startups through the cybersecurity accelerator and establish more than 20 startups through the cybersecurity challenge.

Around 10,000 Saudis in the cybersecurity sector will receive support through CyberIC.

More than 5,000 Saudis will be trained through advanced cyber exercises.

The initiative is based on six main tracks: Innovation and entrepreneurship, cybersecurity officers, cybersecurity trainers, fresh graduates, cybersecurity specialists, and law enforcement agencies. 

The first phase of CyberIC seeks to raise the number of cybersecurity startups in the sector by assisting more than 60 national companies. The program will support more than 40 startups through the cybersecurity accelerator and establish more than 20 startups through the cybersecurity challenge. 

In addition, around 10,000 Saudis in the cybersecurity sector will receive support through CyberIC, including more than 1,500 beneficiaries in national authorities; 150 cybersecurity officials, who will be offered leadership skills training; and more than 5,000 Saudis will be trained through advanced cyber exercises.