RIYADH: Saudi Arabia launched the Makkah Route initiative in Cote d’Ivoire at Abidjan International Airport on Saturday.
The event was attended by the chairman of the supervisory committee of the initiative and director general of the General Directorate of Passports, Lt. Gen. Sulaiman bin Abdulaziz Al-Yahya, Saudi Ambassador to Cote d’Ivoire Saad bin Bakheat Al-Qathami, and several other key officials.
The Makkah Route initiative aims to receive pilgrims and help them complete their procedures from their countries with ease. The process begins with the issuance of electronic visas and collection of vital information, followed by streamlined passport procedures in before departure for the Kingdom.
These steps are fulfilled after verifying health requirements, in addition to coding and sorting luggage according to transportation and accomodation arrangements in Saudi Arabia.
Upon their arrival, they go directly to buses to take them to their places of residence in Makkah and Madinah, while service agencies deliver their luggage.
The Ministry of the Interior has implemented the initiative in seven countries this year, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Morocco, Bangladesh, Turkiye, and Cote d’Ivoire, with the participation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, the General Authority of Civil Aviation, Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority, Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority, Pilgrim Experience Program and the General Directorate of Passports.
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
Updated 23 September 2023
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
Updated 23 September 2023
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
Updated 23 September 2023
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, awards.media.gov.sa.
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
Updated 23 September 2023
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.”
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.