Saudi surgeons separate Syrian conjoined twins in complex 7-hour operation

Bassam and Ihsan were said to be in a stable condition following the complicated surgical procedure. (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Bassam and Ihsan were said to be in a stable condition following the complicated surgical procedure. (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)
Bassam and Ihsan were said to be in a stable condition following the complicated surgical procedure. (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Bassam and Ihsan were said to be in a stable condition following the complicated surgical procedure. (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)
Bassam and Ihsan were said to be in a stable condition following the complicated surgical procedure. (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Bassam and Ihsan were said to be in a stable condition following the complicated surgical procedure. (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)
Bassam and Ihsan were said to be in a stable condition following the complicated surgical procedure. (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Bassam and Ihsan were said to be in a stable condition following the complicated surgical procedure. (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)
The parents of the twins expressed their happiness and sincere thanks for the provision of the necessary assistance by KSrelief. (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)
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The parents of the twins expressed their happiness and sincere thanks for the provision of the necessary assistance by KSrelief. (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)
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Updated 07 July 2023
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Saudi surgeons separate Syrian conjoined twins in complex 7-hour operation

Bassam and Ihsan were said to be in a stable condition following the complicated surgical procedure. (AN Photo by Huda Bashatah)
  • Separation surgery took place in five stages and involved a 26-member medical team comprised of consultant, specialists, technical, nursing, and support staff

RIYADH: A team of Saudi surgeons on Thursday separated Syrian conjoined twins during a seven-hour operation carried out at the King Abdullah Specialist Children’s Hospital in Riyadh.

Bassam and Ihsan, who are 32 months old and weigh around 19 kilograms, were said to be in a stable condition following the complicated surgical procedure.

The twins shared lower chest, abdomen, liver, and intestines, with Ihsan being the more dominant and Bassam missing urinary and reproductive systems including kidney, ureter, bladder, and male reproductive organs.

Separation surgery took place in five stages and involved a 26-member medical team comprised of consultant, specialists, technical, nursing, and support staff.

Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, adviser at the Royal Court and general supervisor of the Saudi aid agency KSrelief, led the operation undertaken on the directives of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The surgery was made all the more complex due to Ihsan having major congenital heart defects and cerebral development atrophy, reducing his chances of survival. Al-Rabeeah pointed out that to save Bassam’s life, the medical team decided to perform the operation to separate the twins.

He said: “The existence of conjoined organs that are important and sensitive makes a twin separation operation difficult, as well as the existence of congenital defects in some organs, such as the heart, urinary system, or the reproductive system and, at times, in the brain, makes the operation complex.

“Therefore, the difficulty lies in how the twins are conjoined, and to what degree exactly, and congenital defect generally makes the operation complex, performed in specific medical centers in the world.”

After the procedure, the twins were transferred to a children’s intensive care unit where they will remain under supervision.

The children’s parents thanked the king, crown prince, and medical team for their support.

Mahmud Salih, their father, said: “We communicated with the Saudi aid agency, and they got back to us, all thanks to them. All procedures were done in the best possible way, from the start until we arrived here.

“It was a critical case, and the separation operation was required. All praise to Allah. The benefactors connected with us, and we were eased by King Abdullah hospital, Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, and the excellent medical staff.”

The surgery was the 58th operation to separate conjoined twins conducted under a Saudi program which has supervised 130 cases from 23 countries since 1990.

Majd Nafea, a nurse and member of the 26-strong multidisciplinary team, started working on the specialist operations in 2019.

She said: “The first operation I worked in was generally difficult for me, as I had never witnessed a twin separation operation. But after that, and with each operation, it has become a bit easier.”

Al-Rabeeah said: “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has invested in its cadres, its citizens, and everyone has obtained a distinguished education in the most prestigious universities in the world.

“Now they are returning to prove that Saudi cadres are representative of the Kingdom, and one such example is the Saudi program for the separation of conjoined twins.”

The twins and their parents were flown from the Turkish capital Ankara to Saudi Arabia on May 22.

“It has been a month since we arrived, and there’s no better welcome than the one we received. May Allah reward them 1,000 times, and bless them,” Salih added.


Turkish ambassador bids farewell, reflects on his time in Saudi Arabia

Turkish ambassador bids farewell, reflects on his time in Saudi Arabia
Updated 29 February 2024
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Turkish ambassador bids farewell, reflects on his time in Saudi Arabia

Turkish ambassador bids farewell, reflects on his time in Saudi Arabia

Riyadh: Turkish ambassador to Saudi Arabia Fatih Ulusoy is bidding farewell to the Kingdom at the end of his tenure in Riyadh, and reflecting on the growth of Saudi-Turkiye relations over the past two and half years.

“I have had a fantastic time here — you usually get more or less emotional when you bid farewell, but if you are a diplomat you are quite used to it changing from one place to another,” Ulusoy told Arab News.

“I feel privileged to serve as the ambassador of Turkiye in Riyadh, as I had the opportunity to personally witness the historic transformation in the Kingdom as well as the concrete progress and positive momentum in the bilateral relations between Turkiye and Saudi Arabia,” the envoy said.

“Having served as the Turkish ambassador for two and a half years, I saw three visits by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Saudi Arabia and the visit by Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman to Ankara in this period.

“On his way back from his visit to Jeddah in April 2022, President Erdogan announced Turkiye’s solid support for Riyadh’s candidature for Expo 2030. We are happy to see Riyadh will host the World Expo 2030 as that year means a lot for Saudi Arabia. Turkish companies will be ready to work with their Saudi counterparts to make Expo 2030 a huge success,” Ulusoy said.

“In the margins of the visit by Erdogan to Jeddah in July 2023, four governmental MoUs and one G2B agreement were signed in the fields of defense, investment, energy, media and defense industry, bringing Turkiye and Saudi Arabia, two brotherly countries, even closer. These areas stand as key areas for our future collaboration, however, our cooperation with Saudi Arabia is not limited to these fields. We have frequent ministerial and high-level visits between Turkiye and Saudi Arabia.

“For example, during FII7 in late October, our Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek signed a deal on cooperation in financial areas with his Saudi counterpart Mohammed Al-Jadaan.

“October 29, 2023 was a special day for us, which is our centennial anniversary, and we celebrated our national day at our embassy with a big crowd of guests.

“I was very happy and emotional to see Turkish flags on the huge screens of Riyadh Boulevard on that day,” the envoy said.

“In mid-February this year, a Turkish-Saudi investment forum was held in Istanbul with the participation of four esteemed ministers from two brotherly countries. I was delighted to see the big interest and hundreds of companies from both sides to this key forum.

“Within the past year we witnessed fruitful contacts between two brotherly countries in the field of military and defense industry. Turkiye participated in the World Defense Show in February 2024 with 63 companies, covering 15 percent of the entire exhibition area.

“I was so happy to see our air acrobatic teams, Turkish Stars and Saudi Hawks perform together up in the sky, side by side during the World Defense Show early this month,” Ulusoy said.

“I want to highlight the field of tourism, which represents a huge potential for cooperation between our brotherly countries. Turkiye is ready to share its experience with Saudi Arabia as we are among the top tourist destinations in the world. We announced visa-free entry to Turkiye for Saudi citizens in December 2023 and we look forward to hosting more and more Saudi brothers and sisters every year.

“Saudi tourists traveling to Turkiye can avail of visa-free entry after Erdogan issued a decision last December granting Saudi citizens a visa exemption. It allows Saudis to visit Turkiye for tourism without obtaining a visa in advance. They are allowed a stay up to 90 days within six months.

“We are expecting the visit of our Trade Minister Omer Bolat in the first week of March to Saudi Arabia, and a Turkish trade fair and business forum will also be held in Riyadh within the same week.

“We also expect more agreements to be signed between two brotherly countries in the near future. The main philosophy of our cooperation with Saudi Arabia is to share our strengths and achieve win-win results. As Saudi Arabia is going through a massive transformation, this era represents enormous opportunities to further prosper our relations and cooperation. We have contributed to the development of Saudi Arabia in the past and we will be walking together with Saudi Arabia through its important journey under the Saudi Vision 2030,” Ulusoy said.

The dean of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Kingdom organized a farewell ceremony at the Cultural Palace in the Diplomatic Quarter in Riyadh at the end of Ulusoy’s mission as Turkish ambassador, which was attended by many ambassadors and their wives.


India’s top business body prepares to open Riyadh office

India’s top business body prepares to open Riyadh office
Updated 29 February 2024
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India’s top business body prepares to open Riyadh office

India’s top business body prepares to open Riyadh office
  • India organized the first trip of the country’s top CEOs and government officials to Riyadh
  • `From the Indian side, the office in the Saudi capital will be led by an FICCI member, the federation’s secretary general S.K. Pathak told Arab News

NEW DELHI: India’s top business federation is preparing to open its office in Riyadh after leading a high-powered delegation to the Kingdom to explore the possibilities offered by Saudi megaprojects.

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, India’s largest and oldest trade association, organized the first trip of the country’s top CEOs and government officials to Riyadh and the site of the flagship multibillion-dollar NEOM project in Tabuk, on Feb. 18-21.

The visit was in the wake of the growth of Saudi-Indian ties during India’s presidency of the G20 last year, which was followed by the state visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Saudi-India Business Forum in September.

During the forum, Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih and his Indian counterpart, Piyush Goyal, agreed to open chamber of commerce offices in their respective countries.

From the Indian side, the office in the Saudi capital will be led by an FICCI member, the federation’s secretary general S.K. Pathak told Arab News.

“We have already identified the location. We are just waiting for the paperwork, and we will launch. This will be in addition to our other offices in GCC. It’s a matter of weeks,” he said in an interview in Delhi on Wednesday.

The office will facilitate better business interactions between Indian companies and those based in the Kingdom.

“Whether you are a FICCI member or not, we are all Team India. Anyone from the Indian industry wanting to have ties in Saudi Arabia, this office will help you. That’s the objective,” Pathak said, adding that following last week’s visit there had already been multiple inquiries from companies interested in the Saudi market, and especially NEOM.

The FICCI delegation met NEOM leaders and executives responsible for projects such as The Line linear smart city, the floating Oxagon city, Trojena futuristic ski resort, Sindalah island resort, TONOMUS — the world’s first ecosystem of cognitive technologies — and ENOWA, which leads the development of NEOM’s sustainable energy and water systems.

“The NEOM project itself is a trillion-dollar project. It’s going to be a multi-decade project, and there is so much that India and Indian companies can do there,” Pathak said. “We have been flooded by inquiries from FICCI members and many who want to become FICCI members saying they also want to participate in this business opportunity.”

There was also an opportunity to learn, he said. The way water will be recycled in NEOM, which is set across desert valleys, and the smart city and biotechnological services designed for the site, were relevant to India too.

“That’s a great lesson for all Indian cities,” Pathak said. “It is quite an exciting opportunity for anyone in infrastructure and services to go and look at.”

Under the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, increasing opportunities have been available for Indian companies and the number of them operating in the Saudi market has grown from 400 in 2019 to 2,900 in 2023. Their biggest presence is in construction, information technology, health, oil and gas, telecommunications and financial services.

“This is a great time for India, and we are looking at the next 10 years, 25 years being a very good time for Indian business,” Pathak said. “Vision 2030 gives us the confidence that India and Saudi will grow even closer together.”


Saudi surgeons begin complex 14-hour operation separating Nigerian conjoined twins

Saudi surgeons begin complex 14-hour operation separating Nigerian conjoined twins
Updated 29 February 2024
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Saudi surgeons begin complex 14-hour operation separating Nigerian conjoined twins

Saudi surgeons begin complex 14-hour operation separating Nigerian conjoined twins

Riyadh: Surgeons in Saudi Arabia on Thursday began the complex procedure of separating Nigerian conjoined twins Hassana and Hasina at King Abdullah Specialist Children’s Hospital in King Abdulaziz Medical City in Riyadh.

The twins, who arrived in Saudi Arabia last October, share areas in the lower abdomen, pelvis, lower spine, and lower spinal nerves.

The separation surgery is expected to take about 14 hours and involves 38 consultants, specialists, technical, nursing, and support staff, state news agency SPA reported.

Med-day on Thursdat Al-Ekhbariya reported that the 4th stage of the operation started.

Head of the medical team Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah said the operation has a 70 percent success rate and will involve nine stages.

This is the 60th operation performed by the Saudi program for separating conjoined twins. Over the past 34 years, the program has cared for 135 sets of twins from 25 countries.


Saudi crown prince, French president discuss cooperation

Saudi crown prince, French president discuss cooperation
Updated 29 February 2024
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Saudi crown prince, French president discuss cooperation

Saudi crown prince, French president discuss cooperation

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a call from French President Emmanuel Macron, the Saudi Press Agency said early Thursday.

The pair discussed bilateral relations and ways to enhance cooperation in all fields, in addition to issues of mutual interest.

They also exchanged views on several regional and international issues and the efforts made regarding them to achieve security and stability. 


Tunisian president receives Saudi health minister

Tunisian President Kais Saied meets with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Health Abdurrahman Al-Jalajel in Tunis on Wednesday. (SPA)
Tunisian President Kais Saied meets with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Health Abdurrahman Al-Jalajel in Tunis on Wednesday. (SPA)
Updated 28 February 2024
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Tunisian president receives Saudi health minister

Tunisian President Kais Saied meets with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Health Abdurrahman Al-Jalajel in Tunis on Wednesday. (SPA)
  • During the meeting, officials discussed cooperation relations between the Kingdom and Tunisia, and ways to support and develop them in the health sector

RIYADH: Tunisian President Kais Saied met with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Health Fahd bin Abdurrahman Al-Jalajel in Tunis on Wednesday, Saudi Press Agency reported. 

During the meeting, they discussed cooperation relations between the Kingdom and Tunisia, and ways to support and develop them in the health sector. 

Al-Jalajel stressed the Kingdom’s keenness to enhance health cooperation between the two countries.

Saied highlighted and expressed appreciation for the pivotal role that the Kingdom plays in the Arab and Islamic world.