Saudi Arabia investing in its own future space missions

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Updated 01 June 2023

Saudi Arabia investing in its own future space missions

Saudi Arabia investing in its own future space missions
  • Only a matter of time, says Kingdom’s US embassy spokesperson
  • Current partnership with NASA, Axiom to continue

CHICAGO: The 10-day trip of two Saudi astronauts to the International Space Station this week is part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan and the goal to launch the country’s own space missions, the nation’s US Embassy spokesman Fahad Nazer said Wednesday.

Nazer, during an interview on The Ray Hanania Radio Show, said Saudis were “very proud” of the achievements of Rayyanah Barnawi, the first female Saudi astronaut, and her colleague Ali Alqarni, who are part of a growing Saudi Space Commission.

Barnawi and Alqarni were following in the footsteps of Prince Sultan bin Salman, the first Arab and Muslim to travel to outer space as a member of the weeklong Space Shuttle Discovery mission which launched on June 17, 1985.


“The astronauts were actually able to conduct some experiments along with 12,000 students in Saudi Arabia. So, they had a livestream with them, a webchat, and they conducted basic experiments with the students. But obviously part of the mission, part of the purpose of space exploration is that we are trying to encourage young Saudi men and women students and to pique their interests in science and technology and mathematics and physics, and we are hoping that we achieved some of these goals in addition to the goals of the mission itself,” Nazer explained.

“The Kingdom does have its own Saudi Space Commission. It has a pretty rigorous program of research but also it has a program for selecting and training astronauts. So, we believe that space exploration is very much consistent with our investments in science, technology and innovations that is a part of our Vision 2030. For the foreseeable future we will continue to partner with NASA and Axiom and other organizations. But … it is ultimately a matter of time that we will launch our own space missions.”

Barnawi and Alqarni lifted off in the Axiom 2, or AX-2, from Houston’s Axiom Space Center on May 21 for the ISS, the second private mission to the orbiting outpost, and returned in the SpaceX Capsule, Crew Dragon spacecraft Freedom, splashing down in the Gulf of Mexico near Panama City, Florida, minutes before midnight Tuesday May 30. The first all-civilian space mission was in April 2022.


“As you know Saudi Arabia is undergoing a remarkable transformation known as Vision 2030. The vision is a package of economic and social reforms that has a number of objectives. One of them, or some of them include improving healthcare, improving (the) education system, the transportation system and also combatting climate change among many objectives.

“So (we have) a number of these objectives. We believe that the keys to achieving them is through investing in science, technology and innovation, and certainly our interests in space exploration is very consistent with these goals. In fact our interest in space exploration goes back decades. Back in 1985 His Royal Highness Prince Sultan bin Salman was the first Arab and first Muslim to go into space when he joined the crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery,” Nazer told Arab News during the radio interview.

“More recently, obviously, we had two Saudi astronauts including the first woman ever, Rayyanah Barnawi, and her colleague Ali Alqarni, who went on this 10-day mission to the International Space Station … this was part of the Axiom Space Mission. They were in space for approximately 10 days.

“They conducted 14 different research experiments in different scientific fields including cloud seeding. Six other experiments, is my understanding, (were) focused on the brain and the nervous system and four others focused on the immune system. And like you said they just came back to Earth earlier this morning. They returned to Houston Airport. So, this was a great moment for our space program and a great moment for the Kingdom. We are proud of them.”

The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule carrying Barnawi and Alqarni parachuted down into the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Panama City, Florida, after a 12-hour return flight and blazing reentry through Earth’s atmosphere.

Nazer said Saudis around the world were excited and proud of the two astronauts and what they accomplished during the mission.


“People back in the Kingdom were essentially able to see almost every move that the astronauts made from the launch to the return. The astronauts like I said, did a few webchats and livestreams with the Saudi students. Much of their experience was captured on camera,” Nazer said.

“They (the astronauts) shared everything, from what they ate to their (living) quarters including some of the experiments. So, in that sense I think it was certainly very different than when his royal highness went to space back in 1985. But this was a very proud moment for us. I think it was an indication of the commitment of our leadership to science and technology and innovation. And we are certainly hoping it will encourage a lot of young Saudi men and women to go into, whether it is space exploration or other scientific fields going forward.”

According to its website, Vision 2030 was launched under the leadership of King Salman, as “a roadmap” by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman “to harness the strengths God bestowed upon us — our strategic position, investment power and place at the center of (the) Arab and Islamic worlds. The full attention of the Kingdom, and our leadership, is on harnessing our potential to achieve our ambitions.”

Nazer’s comments were made during an appearance on The Ray Hanania Radio Show broadcast Wednesday May 31 live in Detroit and Washington D.C. on the US Arab Radio Network and sponsored by Arab News. 

You can listen to the radio show’s podcast by visiting

Prince Faisal meets Turkish, Thai FMs on sidelines of UNGA

Prince Faisal meets Turkish, Thai FMs on sidelines of UNGA
Updated 23 September 2023

Prince Faisal meets Turkish, Thai FMs on sidelines of UNGA

Prince Faisal meets Turkish, Thai FMs on sidelines of UNGA
  • The prince discussed relations and ways of boosting cooperation with both ministers

NEW YORK CITY: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan met with the Turkish and Thai foreign ministers on Saturday, the foreign ministry said.

Prince Faisal held talks with Hakan Fidan and Panpree Phahitthanukorn on the sidelines of the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

The prince discussed relations and ways of boosting cooperation with both ministers, the foreign ministry added.

Both meetings were also attended by Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN Abdulaziz Al-Wasil.

Starbucks celebrates Saudi National Day with special cup design

Updated 7 sec ago

Starbucks celebrates Saudi National Day with special cup design

  • Saudi artist Joud Yahya Al-Sultan’s work won public vote in coffee chain’s second design contest

JEDDAH: To commemorate the 93rd Saudi National Day, coffee chain Starbucks has announced the winner of its second design competition, held in collaboration with the Saudi Ministry of Culture.

The contest, which was launched last year to mark the Year of Saudi Coffee, aims to portray the Kingdom’s heritage and culture through art and creativity and encourage the creative community to pay tribute to Saudi Arabia’s history and its beloved coffee traditions.

This year’s winning design, created by Saudi artist Joud Yahya Al-Sultan, will grace Starbucks’ cups throughout the month. Her work was chosen by public vote from a shortlist of 10 designs, selected from a multitude of entries. The top three artists all received cash prizes.

Al-Sultan’s artwork incorporates immediately recognizable elements of Saudi culture including coffee, camels, and traditional houses adorned with vibrant decorations.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, Al-Sultan explained: “Through my illustrations, I tried to highlight elements related to our beloved Saudi culture in a harmonious mixture that represents the Saudi identity. Camels, old houses and Saudi coffee are all elements that are deeply ingrained in the minds of the people, representing a history full of pride and honor.”

She continued: “Frankly, I did not expect to win due to the large number of creative designers and painters in the Kingdom.”

Her winning design was created using Photoshop. She selected a palette of brown tones to represent her country’s heritage and convey a sense of tradition and history.

Al-Sultan added that she is already planning her next creative endeavor for Starbucks — one that will showcase her artistic talents to audiences in the Gulf and beyond.

The artist told Arab News that she has been passionate about drawing since childhood. Her ability to create digital drawings and visual identities has opened up exciting opportunities in the world of art and design, she explained.

“My message to emerging painters and designers is to take advantage of the opportunities available to you because you do not know which of these opportunities will build your future,” Al-Sultan said.


Japanese chef educates Saudis on nutrition, healthy eating

Japanese chef educates Saudis on nutrition, healthy eating
Updated 23 September 2023

Japanese chef educates Saudis on nutrition, healthy eating

Japanese chef educates Saudis on nutrition, healthy eating

JEDDAH: The Consulate General of Japan in Jeddah recently hosted a lecture at its library on nutrition education, as part of its efforts to promote Japanese culinary traditions and cultural exchange with the Saudi community.

Chef Sato Taki, a renowned Japanese Food Goodwill Ambassador for the Middle East since 2019, shared his three decades of culinary knowledge.

During the lecture, the chef focused on “shokuiku,” the Japanese term for nutrition education, and highlighted growing concerns about children’s health, including imbalanced nutrition, irregular eating patterns such as skipping breakfast, and issues related to obesity and weight loss.

Shokuiku nurtures children’s understanding of food, promotes informed dietary choices, and instills healthy eating habits through diverse experiences.

In an interview with Arab News, Sato highlighted the need for a change in Saudi food culture to combat rising diabetes rates. He emphasized the importance of promoting healthier eating habits and suggested that Japan’s culinary traditions could assist in adopting better and more flavorful dietary choices.

He also discussed umami, one of the five basic tastes alongside sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Umami is a savory or meaty taste that enhances the flavor of food and is a significant aspect of Japanese cuisine.

Japanese cuisine is famous for its rich umami flavors achieved through ingredients such as kombu, bonito flakes, soy sauce, miso, seaweed and aged ingredients, as well as grilling and broiling techniques.

When discussing his culinary philosophy, Sato said that food serves as a means of connecting people, acting as a tool for communication and interaction. He sees food as a two-way channel, emphasizing its significance in his approach to cooking.

The chef began his culinary journey in Saudi Arabia in 2016. His work goes beyond simply introducing Japanese cuisine; instead, he focuses on exploring and creating flavors that cater to the preferences of Saudi diners.

His unwavering dedication lies in incorporating Saudi tastes into traditional Japanese dishes as much as possible. His efforts in crafting a distinctive fusion cuisine have played a pivotal role in sparking the interest of many Saudis in Japanese food and, more broadly, Japanese culture.

Izuru Shimmura, consul general of Japan in Jeddah, expressed his gratitude to the chef and the audience for coming together. He also extended his congratulations to the Saudi leadership and people on the occasion of the 93rd Saudi National Day.

“Chef Sato Taki has been very active in promoting Japanese food culture in the Kingdom. I hope this will be a very good opportunity to deepen and widen knowledge and understanding of the Japanese food culture,” Shimmura said.

At a packed venue, the diverse audience shared a common passion for exploring different cultures.

Nawal Al-Khair, a Syrian resident and polyglot cultural enthusiast, expressed her eagerness to explore Japanese culture beyond watching anime and learning the language.

“I was eager to delve deeper into Japanese culture beyond watching anime and learning the language. I yearned for more,” she said. “When I heard that the chef was hosting this seminar, I saw it as an opportunity, and I’m thrilled that I took it.”

Saudi minister launches fourth Media Excellence Award

Saudi minister launches fourth Media Excellence Award
Updated 23 September 2023

Saudi minister launches fourth Media Excellence Award

Saudi minister launches fourth Media Excellence Award

RIYADH: The Ministry of Media, in partnership with the Human Capacity Development Program, has launched the fourth Media Excellence Award.

The award celebrates outstanding media work throughout the year and recognizes individuals who have made a significant impact in the field of media through their efforts.

The ministry has extended an invitation to all institutions and individuals to apply for the award up to Oct. 17.

This year’s award will focus on six categories: photography, creative video-making, press material production, TV production, audio production, and national song production.

The award aims to motivate institutions and individuals who are interested in media work, as well as support and encourage creativity in various media fields among both amateurs and professionals.

Additionally, it seeks to highlight the best work and honor exceptional individuals within the industry.

The award management has established several criteria that must be fulfilled in order to apply for the award. Firstly, the material submitted must have been produced in 2023. It is not limited to a specific topic.

Secondly, the participating entity or individual must possess all intellectual property rights associated with the created material. The material should demonstrate a contribution in terms of the originality of the idea, creativity, and distinctive style.

Additionally, it must adhere to Islamic principles, the values and customs of Saudi society, as well as comply with all Saudi regulations and laws.

The criterion for distinguishing between participants will encompass the following values: determination, perseverance, mastery, and discipline.

The ministry will accept the participation of both institutions and individuals through the dedicated electronic platform,

Saudi Arabia’s health ministry fights back against school bullying 

Saudi Arabia’s health ministry fights back against school bullying 
Updated 23 September 2023

Saudi Arabia’s health ministry fights back against school bullying 

Saudi Arabia’s health ministry fights back against school bullying 
  • The campaign aims to promote a safe, supportive environment, raise awareness on signs of bullying

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health has recently initiated a campaign aimed at tackling bullying in schools and improving the psychological and educational well-being of students in the country.

The awareness campaign will introduce students to the different forms of bullying and their impact, with the aim of decreasing incidents of bullying and fostering a positive school environment.

“Having an initiative that informs students from a young age about bullying is essential, particularly the different forms of bullying, as bullying does not necessarily mean kicking, pushing, or damaging someone’s belongings,” said Nada Al-Yhaya, an English teacher based in Dhahran.

She added: “Most of the time, bullying is verbal, and it can be much more destructive than physical bullying. As a class teacher, most of the cases I deal with are verbal, and unfortunately, they are increasing.”

Ghanem Saad Al-Ghanem, a sociology consultant at King Fahad Medical City, said that signs of depression, changes in mood or behavior, and lack of sleep or loss of appetite are other silent signs of being bullied among children. (Supplied)

According to a study conducted by the National Commission for Childhood in the Kingdom, 57 percent of boys and 43 percent of girls suffer from bullying in schools.

With higher rates of bullying among children in schools, it can be difficult to know if a child is being bullied unless they come forward about it or display visible bruises or injuries.

“There are silent signs to spot that indicate if a child is being bullied, and this includes a decline in their academic level or feeling anxious when receiving a text message or an email, the desire to stop using the computer, avoiding social situations, or withdrawing from family or friend gatherings,” said Ghanem Saad Al-Ghanem, a sociology consultant at King Fahad Medical City.

He added: “Signs of depression, changes in mood or behavior, and lack of sleep or loss of appetite are other silent signs of being bullied among children.”

Similarly to identifying signs of being bullied, understanding the underlying reasons why children become bullies can also be challenging. These may include, but are not limited to, “jealousy, feeling frustrated, being a victim of bullying themselves, the urge to control others, or an attempt to cover up their own weaknesses,” said Al-Ghanem.

The campaign launched by the Ministry of Health aims to foster open discussions with students regarding the various forms and effects of bullying, and, most importantly, educate them on how to respond to bullying situations.

The campaign also hopes to inform parents and families about the dangers of bullying, provide them with guidance on how to respond when their child or someone they know is being bullied and encourage them to monitor their children.

“When children are heard, respected, and understood by their parents, they will feel comfortable reporting if they are being bullied,” said Al-Ghanem.

The ministry has encouraged students who are being bullied to ignore and stay away from bullies and to communicate with teachers, parents, or any other person they trust.

It emphasized the importance of involving teachers and school principals in creating a united team with students and parents to reduce bullying and reminded students that bullying is unacceptable behavior that carries consequences.