The Saudi Ministry of Health temporarily closed 74 medical institutions for violating COVID-19 safety rules as part of over 300,000 field inspections conducted over the first half of 2022, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Thursday.
Violators forced to shut were four hospitals, 43 medical centers, five pharmacies and 22 other establishments.
Over 6,600 health facilities were also fined, including 729 hospitals, 2310 medical centers, 2,754 pharmacies, and 833 other healthcare facilities.
The ministry urged health providers and practitioners to comply with COVID-19 precautionary measures. Violators face up to $80,000 fines, facility closure and license suspension for up to two years.
“Through field inspection visits, the ministry aims to ensure health facilities are complying with COVID-19 precautionary measures to curb the spread of the pandemic and safeguard public health,” the SPA statement read.
Saudi Arabia condemns Iranian attack on Kurdish region in Iraq
Updated 29 September 2022
DUBAI: Saudi Arabia on Thursday has strongly condemned the Iranian attacks on the Kurdish region of northern Iraq.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said they had fired missiles and drones at militant targets in several Kurdish sites, killing over a dozen people.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expresses its strong condemnation and denunciation of the Iranian attacks that targeted the Kurdish region in Iraq, which caused the death and injury of several innocent people,” the Kingdom’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
“The ministry affirms its total rejection of all attacks that threaten the security and stability of Iraq, stressing the importance of the international community standing up to all Iranian abuses that violate international law,” the statement read.
#بيان | تعرب وزارة الخارجية عن إدانة المملكة العربية السعودية واستنكارها الشديد للهجمات الإيرانية التي استهدفت إقليم كردستان العراق pic.twitter.com/HjbbNwPuCS
The Kingdom also expressed its deepest sympathy and condolences to the government and people of Iraq.
Thirteen people were killed and 58 wounded in the attacks near Irbil and Sulaimaniya in Iraqi Kurdistan, Iraq’s state news agency said, citing its counter-terrorism service in Kurdistan.
Iran’s elite military and security force said they would continue targeting what it called terrorists in the region.
Saudi Arabia’s FM meets Philippines’ Marcos Jr. in Manila
Updated 29 September 2022
DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan met with the Philippines’ President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in Manila, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Thursday.
The two discussed bilateral ties and friendly relations between the two countries, as well as joint cooperation in various fields, according to SPA.
Prince Faisal conveyed King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s greetings to the Philippines’ president.
The reception was also attended by Hisham Al-Qahtani, the Kingdom’s Ambassador to the Philippines, and Abdulrahman Al-Daoud, Director-General of the Minister of Foreign Affairs office.
Maraya’s stunning mirror hall could not contain fan joy
Irish band played mix of old favorites and new songs
Updated 29 September 2022
ALULA: Maraya’s stunning mirror concert hall here was the scene of wild excitement and lump-in-the-throat nostalgia on Wednesday when Westlife performed for what appeared to be some of their most dedicated fans from Saudi Arabia and other parts of the world.
The Irish boy band had the crowd cheering even before they came on stage in AlUla for their “Wild Dreams Tour.” The audience erupted when the four singers eventually emerged to play their most recent hit “Starlight,” with the fans then singing every line in unison.
It was impossible to keep them in their seats. And when the singers shouted “jump,” they were on their feet.
The vocalists Shane Filan, Mark Feehily, Kian Egan, and Nicky Byrne have been through thick and thin. In 2012 they disbanded temporarily, only to come back bigger and stronger in 2018.
Diana Philander from Cape Town said she has been following them since a teenager. “I was 17 back then and I’m 40 now, so this is one of my favorites. I have been practicing the songs for the whole week and I loved every minute of it.”
“Thank you to the Saudi government for making all of this possible, there is just one word I can say and that is, it was just superb.”
The concert was a real treat for fans, with the band playing some of their biggest hits.
Before performing the very first song of their career, “Swear it Again,” Egan stepped forward and said: “Can you believe it? This song came out when we were little boys.”
Later Filan said: “We have played in a lot of places in the world, but honestly Maraya might be the coolest venue we have ever played in.”
“Everything was so beautiful, the ride here was absolutely stunning, and of course, you guys are so beautiful,” Filan said pointing toward the audience. “We have a beautiful family and we have always considered our fans as a part of this family, so thank you for being amazing.”
They also played “When you’re looking like that,” “Money, Money, Money” (originally sung by ABBA), and “Flying Without Wings.”
With fans calling for more, the band returned after briefly walking off the stage and performed “Hello My love” and several other songs.
Jessan Domingo Sanson from the Philippines said she traveled all the way from Dhahran to see the stars. “I have been a fan since I was in sixth grade, and I am now 34 years old.”
Sanson was so excited she could barely form coherent sentences, instead expressing herself with shrieks and gestures. Sitting in the front row, she was over the moon because the band members repeatedly moved forward to wave and make heart signs to her and the other audience members.
“I am just glad that it was their first time here in Saudi Arabia, and I didn’t miss a chance to see them,” she said.
Having been together on the road for 23 years, the singers seemed clearly comfortable on stage, bantering and laughing while performing. They applauded each other when hitting particularly expressive and beautiful notes.
Thomas Wallace Thompson, a Scot who lives in AlUla, said: “It was amazing, a boy band from the 90s was here, all the girls were screaming. I am a man who is nearly 60 years old and still found everything extremely enjoyable. I have so many friends who are fans of Westlife and they are so jealous of me.”
Aisha Ahmed, a Saudi fan who was present at the concert with her husband, said: “The band kept saying that they are taking us through their songs, but it really felt like I went back in time, suddenly I was 13 again and I was listening to them in my bedroom, suddenly I was back with my high school friends dancing with our hairbrushes to their songs.”
KSRelief ramps up aid efforts in Pakistan, Yemen, Sudan
Updated 29 September 2022
RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) ramped up its aid efforts in Pakistan, Yemen and Sudan.
The KSRelief teams continued to distribute various relief aid to people in flood-hit Pakistan, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
About 2,988 food baskets were distributed on Monday in Sindh and Punjab provinces, benefiting 20,916 people, according to SPA.
In Yemen, with the support of KSRelief, the Artificial Limbs Center project continued offering its medical services to Yemenis who lost their limbs.
The center offered 1,613 services to 551 Yemeni patients last month, SPA reported.
The services included manufacturing and rehabilitating artificial limbs for 250 patients, including the delivery of, measuring, and maintenance of limbs, as well as providing physical therapy sessions and specialized consultations to 301 people.
Meanwhile in Sudan, KSRelief distributed 13 tons and 500 kilograms of food baskets in the River Nile State to 1,340 people, according to SPA.
Saudi Arabia reports 132 new COVID-19 cases, 3 deaths
Updated 28 September 2022
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia reported 132 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Health. As a result, the total number of cases in the Kingdom over the course of the pandemic grew to 816,262.
The authorities also confirmed three new COVID-19-related deaths, raising the total number of fatalities to 9,350.
Of the new infections, 48 were recorded in Riyadh and 21 in Jeddah. Several other cities recorded fewer than 10 new cases each.
The ministry also announced that 100 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom over the course of the pandemic to 803,452.
It said that 3,460 COVID-19 cases were still active, adding that 7,302 PCR tests were conducted in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number to more than 44.3 million.
The ministry said that of the current cases, 33 were in critical condition.
More than 68.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered since the Kingdom’s immunization campaign began, with over 25.4 million people fully vaccinated.