Space medicine opens new frontier for aspiring Saudi physicians: expert

Rayyanah Barnawi — the first Saudi woman in space and the first Arab woman on the iSS — conducted scientific experiments during the Ax-2 mission, including tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. (Twitter/Astro_Rayyanah)
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Rayyanah Barnawi — the first Saudi woman in space and the first Arab woman on the iSS — conducted scientific experiments during the Ax-2 mission, including tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. (Twitter/Astro_Rayyanah)
Space medicine opens new frontier for aspiring Saudi physicians: expert
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Dr. Farhan M. Asrar with Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen. (Supplied)
Space medicine opens new frontier for aspiring Saudi physicians: expert
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Saudi astronaut Rayyanah Barnawi using the live science gloves box to conduct experiments on human immune cells and their inflammatory response in microgravity. (AN photo)
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Updated 15 July 2023
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Space medicine opens new frontier for aspiring Saudi physicians: expert

Space medicine opens new frontier for aspiring Saudi physicians: expert
  • ‘A unique opportunity for the Kingdom to become a leader in the region,’ says expert

RIYADH: In a new age of space exploration, Saudi Arabia is becoming a regional leader in space, with its astronaut program and opportunities for research in aerospace medicine opening new opportunities for medical professionals, an expert has said.

In an interview with Arab News, Dr. Farhan M. Asrar, a professor of family and community medicine at the University of Toronto and a collaborator with the ISS Immunoprofile Study in conjunction with the Canadian Space Agency and NASA, said: “Saudi Arabia is becoming a regional leader in space and its astronaut program needs space medicine to help support the program, and introducing such field in the Kingdom will help it rely on its own developed expertise and resources.”

Space medicine is an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary branch of medicine that looks at managing human health in space, and ensures adequate health for those living and working in space, catering to the unique challenges of space flight, said the professor, adding: “Space medicine encompasses the physiological changes, study or research, prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and management of medical concerns in space.




Farhan M. Asrar, University of Toronto medical professor

“Managing health is key to get the green light for astronaut space missions. Even if you can ensure that you have the best technology, the best rocket and other measures on the planet, no astronaut mission will get approved if you have not addressed the health aspects, safety and risks of the mission,” said the professor.

“Something like this has not been done before in the Kingdom and the Gulf states, thus such initiatives will be a first for the region,” he said.

“One will notice a number of Saudi universities or institutions that organized events and initiatives related to space but those so far there have been related to engineers, communication and satellites, business and astronomy, but not in health. They have some space health and physiology-related research projects that have been conducted with the astronauts but that is it and none have focused on space medicine as a whole,” he added.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Space medicine is an interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary branch of medicine that looks at managing human health in space.

• The practice of aerospace medicine goes beyond clinical care for crew members.

• The field will bring together engineers, policymakers, health professionals, nutritionists, and lawyers to work together.

Asrar said that developing and establishing space medicine and health does not mean the focus is only on doctors or health professionals.

The field will bring together engineers, policymakers, health professionals, nutritionists, and lawyers to work together on space medicine and health, he added.

Saudi Arabia’s two astronauts Ali Al-Qarni and Rayyanah Barnawi, who recently completed the Axiom 2 Space Mission, their 10-day successful trip to the International Space Station, conducted science operations and media outreach.




Astronaut Ali Alqarni measuring the effects of microgravity on the brain’s electrical activity, during the Ax-2 mission in May. (Twitter/AstroAli11)

Barnawi — the first Saudi woman in space and the first Arab woman on the ISS — conducted experiments into a wide range of nanomaterial therapeutic applications, such as drug delivery, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. She also produced the first DNA nanomaterials on the ISS.

Al-Qarni and Barnawi also performed a test run of the DreamUp Nanoracks Space Kite payload, which will demonstrate the aerodynamic behavior of kites in microgravity.

Prince Sultan bin Salman became the first Muslim, Arab and Saudi to fly into space in 1985. Saudi Arabia has since made strides in the field, making significant investments in the space sector, launching over a dozen satellites into space — including locally made satellites — and collaborating with NASA and the space agencies of other countries, including Russia and the UK.

Space and space medicine is very relevant to all of Saudi Vision 2030’s three pillars: Vibrant Society, Thriving Economy and Ambitious Nation.

Farhan M. Asrar, University of Toronto medical professor

The various initiatives the Kingdom is undertaking will play a key role in the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Asrar told Arab News: “I have spoken to and had meetings with a number of physicians, leaders, faculty members and researchers from a number of universities in Saudi Arabia, as well as professionals from the Saudi Space Agency and the planned Saudi smart city NEOM.

“There are a number of additional leaders, educators, universities and physicians who continue to reach out to also set up meetings and discuss collaboration with me. So I have a number of upcoming meets as well,” he said.




Saudi Arabia is aiming to be the leader in the GCC and also play key strategic and diplomatic roles and enhance its global partnerships and collaborations. (Supplied)

“I also welcome further opportunities for others to reach out to me and connect on this as well, whether it may be other universities, relevant ministries or even other upcoming major projects interested in space such as the ilmi Science, Discovery and Innovation Center in Riyadh or others,” he added.

Asrar told Arab News: “Space and space medicine is very relevant to all of Saudi Vision 2030’s three pillars: Vibrant Society, Thriving Economy and Ambitious Nation.”

Space as a whole has united Saudi Arabia and made it very proud of its achievements, with space medicine and health bringing a unique opportunity for the Kingdom to become a leader in the region, he said.




The practice of aerospace medicine goes beyond clinical care for crew members. (Supplied)

Additionally, healthy living, regular exercise and innovative medical approaches can be helpful to healthcare on Earth, supporting a good quality of life and well-being.

On a thriving economy, Asrar said that by bringing something unique, space medicine is developing into a new career focus and bringing the prospect of new lines of work for physicians, researchers and world-class talent.

“Saudi Arabia is aiming to be the leader in the GCC and also play key strategic and diplomatic roles and enhance its global partnerships and collaborations. Space medicine and health offers that opportunity to bring in something unique to the Kingdom and also the GCC, and thereby aims to make Saudi Arabia a leader in the region, and be among established leaders in the field,” said the professor.




The Aero Medical Association was formed in the US in 1929 after the First World War accelerated advancements in aviation. (Supplied)

Asrar, a medical doctor, researcher and academic trained in a dual role of public health and preventive medicine, and family medicine, said he had over a decade of expertise in space sciences involving teaching, outreach, education, research, building partnerships and working with experts from universities, space agencies and organizations around the world.

He has held meetings and discussions with a number of physicians, researchers, educators, universities and space program personnel in Saudi Arabia about ways to collaborate on space medicine.

“There is an increasing interest with the faculty and universities interested in reaching out to me and discussing collaboration,” he said.

Though a relatively small field, aerospace medicine has existed for almost a century. The AsMA (known at its inception as the Aero Medical Association) was formed in 1929 after The First World War had accelerated advancements in aviation.

The practice of aerospace medicine goes beyond clinical care for crew members. Though only a small number of humans have experienced outer space, the impact of the space environment on their physiology can expand scientific knowledge for the general population back on Earth.

 


KSrelief chief and WHO’s Tedros meet in Geneva, sign agreements worth $20m

KSrelief chief and WHO’s Tedros meet in Geneva, sign agreements worth $20m
Updated 17 sec ago
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KSrelief chief and WHO’s Tedros meet in Geneva, sign agreements worth $20m

KSrelief chief and WHO’s Tedros meet in Geneva, sign agreements worth $20m
  • Al-Rabeeah also signed five executive programs with WHO for Yemen, Sudan, and Syria, with a total value of $19,496,000.

GENEVA: The chief of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) Dr. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabeeah met with Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Saturday in Geneva.

The meeting was held on the sidelines of the 77th World Health Assembly currently being held in the Swiss city. 

Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN in Geneva Abdulmohsen bin Khothaila also attended the meeting.

During the meeting, the two sides discussed issues of common interest related to joint relief and humanitarian projects in the health sector, as well as the mechanisms for delivering medical assistance to patients and the injured worldwide.

Tedros praised the medical projects and programs carried out by the Kingdom, through KSrelief, to improve the health situation of those in need in various countries.

Also on Saturday, Al-Rabeeah signed five executive programs with WHO for Yemen, Sudan, and Syria, with a total value of $19,496,000.

The first agreement aims to address the severe shortage of kidney dialysis supplies in Sudan to reduce mortality among kidney failure patients across various Sudanese states by providing dialysis supplies sufficient for some 235,000 dialysis sessions, securing 100 dialysis machines, and paying the salaries of medical staff in 77 dialysis centers, with a value of $5 million.

The second agreement entails providing medical assistance to earthquake victims in Syria, with a total cost of $4,746,000.

The third agreement focuses on combating the spread of measles among children under five in Yemen, with a total cost of $3 million.

The fourth agreement aims to improve water and sanitation services in healthcare facilities, ensuring sustainable water supplies to serve the neediest populations in Yemen, valued at $3,750,000. The agreement includes drilling solar-powered wells in 10 healthcare facilities.

The fifth agreement aims to reduce the spread of cholera across Yemen, with a value of $3 million.


First group of Moroccan pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia through Makkah Route Initiative

First group of Moroccan pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia through Makkah Route Initiative
Updated 55 min 54 sec ago
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First group of Moroccan pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia through Makkah Route Initiative

First group of Moroccan pilgrims arrive in Saudi Arabia through Makkah Route Initiative
  • The Saudi leadership has prioritized caring for the pilgrims and creating an atmosphere of faith during their Hajj journey

RIYADH: The first group of Hajj pilgrims from Morocco arrived at the Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah on Saturday, having departed from Mohammed V International Airport in Casablanca.

The pilgrims have traveled to the Kingdom through the Makkah Route Initiative.

The initiative aims to make the journey for pilgrims to complete Hajj as easy as possible, through electronic registration in their country of origin, including those related to immigration, health, luggage, travel, and housing in Makkah and Madinah.

They are transported by buses on designated routes, with service agencies delivering their luggage to their places of stay, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The MRI is part of the Ministry of Interior’s Pilgrim Experience Program (PEP), a pillar of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Now in its sixth year, the initiative is carried out in cooperation with a host public and semi-government authorities, including the ministries of foreign affairs, health, Hajj and Umrah, media, civil aviation, the Zakat, Tax and Customs authority, SDAIA and PEP.

The Saudi leadership has prioritized caring for the pilgrims and creating an atmosphere of faith during their Hajj journey.

Pilgrims who have been arriving in recent days have expressed their “gratitude to the Kingdom’s government for the services and facilities that have been provided, making their pilgrimage safe and reassuring,” Saudi Press Agency said.


King Salman, Crown Prince congratulate King Abdullah II on Jordan’s national day

King Salman, Crown Prince congratulate King Abdullah II on Jordan’s national day
Updated 25 May 2024
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King Salman, Crown Prince congratulate King Abdullah II on Jordan’s national day

King Salman, Crown Prince congratulate King Abdullah II on Jordan’s national day

RIYADH: King Salman sent a cable of congratulations to King Abdullah II of Jordan on the occasion of his country's independence day on Saturday, Saudi Press Agency reported.

King Salman wished King Abdullah continued good health and happiness, and the government and people of Jordan further progress and prosperity.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also sent a similar cable to the Jordanian king.

The messages from the Saudi leadership were among dozens sent by global leaders and heads of international organizations, including the speaker of the Arab Parliament.

Adel bin Abdulrahman Al-Asoumi wished Jordan and its people “more security, stability, and prosperity.”

He also praised the “civilizational achievements made by the kingdom under the leadership of King Abdullah II in all areas that have made the kingdom a leading regional and international model.”  


Saudi, Kosovo officials discuss parliamentary ties

Saudi, Kosovo officials discuss parliamentary ties
Updated 25 May 2024
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Saudi, Kosovo officials discuss parliamentary ties

Saudi, Kosovo officials discuss parliamentary ties

RIYADH: The Saudi-Kosovo Parliamentary Friendship Committee, led by Khalid Al-Bawardi, the committee’s chairman and Saudi Shoura Council member, met with Kosovo’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Kreshnik Ahmeti and other officials in Pristina.

Discussions aimed to boost bilateral relations and parliamentary cooperation between the Shoura Council and Kosovo Parliament, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.

Faisal Hifzi, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Albania and non-resident ambassador to Kosovo, Montenegro, and North Macedonia, attended the meeting.

Additionally, the committee met with Podujeva’s Mayor Shpejtim Bulliqi and discussed cooperation in municipal affairs. The mayor praised Saudi Arabia’s environmental conservation efforts.

The Shoura Council delegation also engaged with local companies, reviewing Kosovo’s future projects and discussing opportunities for economic cooperation.


Saudi authorities arrest 17,030 illegals in one week

Saudi authorities arrest 17,030 illegals in one week
Updated 25 May 2024
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Saudi authorities arrest 17,030 illegals in one week

Saudi authorities arrest 17,030 illegals in one week

RIYADH: Saudi authorities arrested 17,030 people in one week for breaching residency, work and border security regulations, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.

According to an official report, a total of 10,662 people were arrested for violations of residency laws, while 4,147 were held over illegal border crossing attempts, and a further 2,221 for labor-related issues.

The report showed that among the 1,119 people arrested for trying to enter the Kingdom illegally, 71 percent were Ethiopian, 27 percent Yemeni, and 2 percent were of other nationalities.

A further 65 people were caught trying to cross into neighboring countries, and 17 were held for involvement in transporting and harboring violators.

The Saudi Ministry of Interior said that anyone found to be facilitating illegal entry to the Kingdom, including providing transportation and shelter, could face imprisonment for a maximum of 15 years, a fine of up to SR1 million ($260,000), as well as confiscation of vehicles and property.

Suspected violations can be reported on the toll-free number 911 in the Makkah and Riyadh regions, and 999 or 996 in other regions of the Kingdom.