Animal lovers in Dhahran saving stray local cats

With the population rising, word quickly spread in the neighborhood that the compound’s residents would take in and care for these strays. This resulted in many residents of the nearby neighborhoods dropping off unwanted kittens near the main gate and driving away. (Photos/Supplied)
With the population rising, word quickly spread in the neighborhood that the compound’s residents would take in and care for these strays. This resulted in many residents of the nearby neighborhoods dropping off unwanted kittens near the main gate and driving away. (Photos/Supplied)
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Updated 17 December 2022

Animal lovers in Dhahran saving stray local cats

Animal lovers in Dhahran saving stray local cats
  • Feline whisperers neuter, vaccinate and release
  • Overpopulation saw compound residents take action

DHAHRAN: At the tucked away Al-Mutlaq compound, situated on the main highway at the center of Dammam, Alkhobar and Dhahran, is a community of cat whisperers saving as many felines as they can.

The compound’s residents are being seen by some local residents as the saviors of many unwanted cats in the area. The problem started in 2016 when it began to rain cats and, well, cats. The area was overrun by strays that had sauntered in, had shrieking, fur-flying fights, and seemingly terrorized any and all human night walkers they came across.

With the population rising, word quickly spread in the neighborhood that the compound’s residents would take in and care for these strays. This resulted in many residents of the nearby neighborhoods dropping off unwanted kittens near the main gate and driving away.

These kittens would wander through the gate, pass the friendly security guards and make themselves at home. A group of concerned residents noticed the overpopulation and decided to raise cash so that they could vaccinate and neuter these furry animal friends.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The ‘Trap, Neuter and Return’ group consists of Sally Brown, Jawahir ‘Juju’ Islam, Rekha Nair, Laura Masoni, and Sanaa Tarneem Mohammed. ‘We started this group’s TNR program in 2016 — this was when the problem was overwhelming. We always had cats in the compound, workers were feeding them, families would feed them, but over a period of time, we saw a sudden upsurge of cats,” Mohammed said.

• It costs about SR300 ($79) for each TNR process and so they turned to Sally Brown for help. She had lived in Riyadh and on the west coast and brought in a wealth of information as a doctor, and how to raise funds to help these cats.

• Laura Masoni is responsible for the ‘dirty work’ of trapping with her 10-year-old daughter. They lure the cat with a small plate of food at around 10 p.m. and check on the trap in the morning at 6:30. All those trapped are announced on the social media group and are then taken to the Advanced Pet Clinic. They have to wrap the animals with towels so that they do not claw at their arms.

The group of mostly expats are the unofficial keepers of the Al-Mutlaq community’s “Trap, Neuter and Return” group, known as TNR. For these strays, the TNR is the best option, according to Al-Mutlaq’s community members because it allows these cats to be neutered and returned to their outdoor “homes.” This helps to control the health of the overall population and prevent the spread of disease.

When a cat has a “tipped ear,” it is the universally accepted method to identify a spayed, neutered and vaccinated feral cat. It means that a professional vet removed a tiny bit of the ear tip to signal that the cat is healthy and has been checked.

The group consists of Sally Brown, Jawahir ‘Juju’ Islam, Rekha Nair, Laura Masoni, and Sanaa Tarneem Mohammed. “We started this group’s TNR program in 2016 — this was when the problem was overwhelming. We always had cats in the compound, workers were feeding them, families would feed them, but over a period of time, we saw a sudden upsurge of cats,” Mohammed told Arab News.

“And the breeding cycles are quite close so they have just four-and-a-half months and then … they go into heat, so we will see cats all over, producing and reproducing kittens back-to-back. We found that people were abandoning — literally at the gate of the compound — and so we would have all these abandoned dumped cats coming in, trying to mark their territory and encroaching on the cats that were already there. And that led to a lot of fights and friction.

We want them to be healthier. We want them to be able to survive in the wild because let’s face it, not all of us can allow cats to come in and stay with us. If you look after a few of their needs and necessities like vaccinate them, spay them and neuter them, they’re happier. They’re well fed. They live longer.

Sanaa Tarneem Mohammed

“My children didn’t get to sleep because of the noise. We decided the problem was pressing enough for us to take a look at it. Most of us are expats and we got together and decided now we need to take a look at this,” she said.

Prior to that, and sadly in many parts of the country, people would trap stray cats and kittens and dispose of them in the desert — just abandon them or poison their food.

“We decided no, we couldn’t stomach that. So we got together with the compound management, with the owners and the compound manager, and we signed an agreement, saying that (we would take the) ownership and the responsibility of starting a group that would take care of trapping, neutering or spaying cats and releasing them back in the same place where we found them, to stabilize the population,” Mohammed said.

“So we did that. And then we got together again and raised funds as a community. Of course, some of us were not on board with the neutering and spaying part because they believe it’s un-Islamic and we are in a Muslim country. But I’ve been doing my own personal research about it. The Hadith I’ve read is that if it is (for) the betterment of the cat’s health, then neutering and spaying is okay, right? Because, ultimately, we’re not removing … parenthood from them, we want them to live a better life.

“We want them to be healthier. We want them to be able to survive in the wild because let’s face it, not all of us can allow cats to come in and stay with us. If you look after a few of their needs and necessities like vaccinate them, spay them and neuter them, they’re happier. They’re well fed. They live longer,” Mohammed said.

It costs about SR300 ($79) for each TNR process and so they turned to Sally Brown for help. She had lived in Riyadh and on the west coast and brought in a wealth of information as a doctor, and how to raise funds to help these cats.

“I’ve lived in the Kingdom for about 20 years, lived in this compound for 11 years. I first became involved with TNR cats in Riyadh at the National Guard Medical City due to (it) being overrun by cats. That was not too difficult (an) operation to pull off because you had thousands of people living there. So we could work in groups.

Brown said that in Jeddah, in Rabigh, it was also not difficult to do this because there was a large group of people able to help. The Al-Mutlaq compound, in contrast, is small.

“Then along with my friends, we started this group, we became aware of the fact we were being overrun during the kitten season. It wasn’t uncommon to find a cat lying out on the green as a day-old, they would have to be taken in and cleaned up or they would die.

“The mothers would leave them because they couldn’t deal with them. So we got together and we thought we’ll put together a group. The first thing I did when we set it up was contact the Advanced Pet Clinic that just opened here in Alkhobar.”

She contacted the APC’s owner, who agreed to offer them a 50 percent discount on all purchases. The resources have been used for sick and injured cats. However, Brown admitted that fundraising has been difficult, and compound residents have been asked to “sponsor a cat” with cash. Other fundraising efforts have included holding events, such as selling crafted and baked goods, with children and spouses pitching in to help.

“How we raise money is something of a continual battle, but we always get there somehow. What’s the most important thing also is, over the years, we have really stabilized the population here. The place was swarming at night with feral cats,” Brown said.

Rekha Nair, who became part of the TNR group two years ago, said a WhatsApp group has been set up to share information and concerns. “I go around the compound taking pictures of cats and then we do name them. So whenever we take a picture of a cat we know is tipped, that cat is already fixed, so we don’t have to worry about that one or take it to the vet. We share the photo in the WhatsApp group, that way we know where they’re hanging out and so we can put the trap there,” Nair told Arab News.

Laura Masoni is responsible for the “dirty work” of trapping with her 10-year-old daughter. They lure the cat with a small plate of food at around 10 p.m. and check on the trap in the morning at 6:30. All those trapped are announced on the social media group and are then taken to the APC. They have to wrap the animals with towels so that they do not claw at their arms.

“We have three traps, one cat at a time. They’re like big cages, we put some food inside. I do it almost every night because I used to work around the compound to feed the cats and if there are some new cats that need to be fixed, we share the picture with their location and say ‘yeah, so he needs to be done.’

“And that’s how, so far, we have been able to fix more than 50 cats since 2016. This year, we did around 20. When Juju (Jawahir Islam) was here, she used to set two or three cat traps every night around the compound. So we were able to catch three cats at once. And she (had) her driver … take them to the APC, which was useful,” Masoni told Arab News.

“People can donate directly to the APC, if they wish or they can donate to one of our houses. We tally it all up. Keep a record of all the money, that’s how it works,” Brown said.

 


Arab counter-terrorism strategy draft discussed in Riyadh

Arab counter-terrorism strategy draft discussed in Riyadh
Updated 9 sec ago

Arab counter-terrorism strategy draft discussed in Riyadh

Arab counter-terrorism strategy draft discussed in Riyadh
  • The meeting was chaired by Omani representative Lt. Col. Mohammed bin Salem Al-Shanfari
  • Representatives reviewed the components of the executive plan

RIYADH: Representatives from 14 Arab countries submitted a draft executive plan for the Arab counter-terrorism strategy, which was developed by the Council of Arab Interior Ministers.
It came during the seventh two-day meeting of the Arab high committee, hosted by Naif Arab University for Security Sciences at its headquarters in Riyadh.
The meeting, organized by the Arab Office of Counter-Extremism and Terrorism in Riyadh and the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism, was chaired by Omani representative Lt. Col. Mohammed bin Salem Al-Shanfari, and attended by delegations from Jordan, UAE, Bahrain, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Iraq, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt, Morocco, Mauritania and Yemen, along with a GCC representative.
The meeting reviewed the components of the executive plan, its means of implementation as well as accompanying programs with international partners. Representatives discussed mechanisms for measuring, monitoring and evaluating the plan.
Foreign relations vice president at NAUSS, Khalid Alharfash, said that terrorism tops issues that the university is keen to address, given the impacts of terror on international security and stability.
Alharfash added that the university, in partnership with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, recently inaugurated a specialized center that aims to combat crimes including terrorism.
He expressed hope that the recommendations and resolutions adopted by representatives would achieve the goals and objectives of regional interior ministers, and boost Arab action in the field of counter-terrorism.


Social Responsibility Forum kicks off in Riyadh

Social Responsibility Forum kicks off in Riyadh
Updated 01 February 2023

Social Responsibility Forum kicks off in Riyadh

Social Responsibility Forum kicks off in Riyadh
  • Event agenda highlights role of private sector in promoting civic duties

RIYADH: The 2023 Social Responsibility Forum launched on Wednesday at Riyadh’s InterContinental Hotel, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Representatives from the public and private sectors, company CEOs as well as heads of local authorities and organizations are taking part in the event.

The support of the Kingdom’s leadership in promoting social responsibility was lauded in a speech by Saudi Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Development Majid bin Abdul Rahim bin Salem Al-Ghanmi.

He noted that the Saudi Council of Ministers marked March 23 as an annual Day of Social Responsibility in the Kingdom.

Ahmed Al-Zahrani, founder of the Social Responsibility Association, outlined the programs and activities on the forum’s agenda, which highlight the role of private companies and institutions in promoting social responsibility.

Saud Al-Subaie, chairman of the association’s board of directors, stressed the importance of bridging the gap between the public, private and nonprofit sectors in promoting social responsibility to achieve sustainable development.

The forum featured the screening of a documentary film about the association’s history, goals and achievements.

 


Riyadh meeting for Saudi, Brunei ministers

Riyadh meeting for Saudi, Brunei ministers
Updated 01 February 2023

Riyadh meeting for Saudi, Brunei ministers

Riyadh meeting for Saudi, Brunei ministers
  • The ministers discussed the strong fraternal relations between the two countries

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan received Dato Erywan Pehin Yusof, second minister of Brunei’s foreign affairs, in Riyadh on Wednesday.
The ministers discussed the strong fraternal relations between the two countries and ways to enhance and develop them in all fields.
They also discussed ways to develop a coordinated approach toward regional and international issues of common concern.
The two sides looked at opportunities to enhance partnership in line with Saudi Vision 2030.
 


Jeddah Central Development Co. to transform desalination plant into cultural museum by 2028

Jeddah Central Development Co. to transform desalination plant into cultural museum by 2028
Updated 01 February 2023

Jeddah Central Development Co. to transform desalination plant into cultural museum by 2028

Jeddah Central Development Co. to transform desalination plant into cultural museum by 2028
  • CEO of Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah Central Project Ahmed Abdulaziz Al-Saleem said that the museum will provide a “rich experience” that will detail the process of desalination
  • The contract for engineering and architectural designs with the multi-award-winning British architecture company Heatherwick Studio includes establishing a large cultural center

JEDDAH: The Jeddah Central Development Co. announced that it is currently working on transforming the Jeddah desalination plant into a museum that will document the city’s industrial heritage from the time of King Abdulaziz to the present day.

CEO of Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah Central Project Ahmed Abdulaziz Al-Saleem said that the museum will provide a “rich experience” that will detail the process of desalination “in both its historical and scientific aspects.”

The contract for engineering and architectural designs with the multi-award-winning British architecture company Heatherwick Studio includes establishing a large cultural center on the project’s waterfront.

The museum will open in 2028 and will include, among other features, studios dedicated to creative visual production and exhibitions representing industry and culture.

Al-Saleem is overseeing the SR75 billion ($20 billion) plan to develop 5.7 million square meters of the port city, which will include major international landmarks, such as an opera house, a museum, a sports stadium and coral farms.

It will also feature a marina, restaurants, beach resorts, over 2,700 hotel rooms, and 17,000 homes in the Kingdom’s second-largest city, which has a population of around 4 million.

The Jeddah Central Project is expected to create 25,000 jobs in the city, according to the firm behind the development.

In 2020, the last two chimneys of the desalination plant were shut down for environmental reasons following the directive of the minister of environment, water and agriculture as the plant had a high operating cost and was a major reason behind the spread of polluted fumes in the air since 1990.

The Saline Water Conversion Corp. now depends on more sustainable and innovative desalination technologies for a better environment.


KSRelief distributes food aid in Lebanon, Pakistan, Yemen and Niger

KSRelief distributes food aid in Lebanon, Pakistan, Yemen and Niger
Updated 01 February 2023

KSRelief distributes food aid in Lebanon, Pakistan, Yemen and Niger

KSRelief distributes food aid in Lebanon, Pakistan, Yemen and Niger

RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) on Tuesday distributed 1,040 food aid packages to Syrian refugees in several Lebanese regions, benefiting 5,200 people.

The Saudi charity has a project aiming to distribute food aid to the most neediest groups in various countries.

On Sunday, KSRelief distributed  731 food parcels in Marib Governorate, Yemen, benefiting 5,117 people.

And in Niger, KSRelief distributed on Sunday a further 1,000 in Niamey, benefiting 1,000 families, around 7,176 people.

In Niger, KSRelief distributed on Sunday a further 1,000 in Niamey, benefiting 1,000 families, around 7,176 people.​​​​​ (SPA)

In Pakistan, they distributed 1,130 food packages to 7,910 affected by the floods in Sindh Province, Pakistan.

 In Pakistan, KSRelief distributed 1,130 food packages to 7,910 affected by the floods in Sindh Province. (SPA)