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.

 


Saudi, Norway foreign ministers discuss Gaza during call

Saudi, Norway foreign ministers discuss Gaza during call
Updated 1 min 17 sec ago
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Saudi, Norway foreign ministers discuss Gaza during call

Saudi, Norway foreign ministers discuss Gaza during call

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Saturday received a telephone call from his Norwegian counterpart Espen Barth Eide, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said.
During the call, they discussed the latest developments in the Gaza Strip and efforts to contain the crisis.
The call comes a day after Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said that Norway was ready to recognize a Palestinian state together with other countries,


Saudi fashion graduate who dared to dream

Saudi fashion graduate who dared to dream
Updated 13 April 2024
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Saudi fashion graduate who dared to dream

Saudi fashion graduate who dared to dream
  • Manal Marvelous’ tips for aspiring designers have turned her into social media star

RIYADH: Saudi fashion and lifestyle content creator Manal Marvelous discovered her love of design and sewing while at university and soon began sharing her work on social media.  

“My passion for fashion was a coincidence; actually, I had to take one semester of fashion classes in college because of some weird situation I got myself into and I was supposed to transfer after the semester ended, but I fell in love and never looked back,“ Marvelous told Arab News.

Manal Marvelous loves to share how she develops and sews her creations, and her TikTok has 3 million views and 700,000 followers. (Supplied)

“I love out-of-the box and creative ideas I can share with my audience, which consist of girls around my age with similar interests who either love fashion or got inspired to start their journey after watching my content,” she said.

She loves to share how she develops and sews her creations, and her TikTok has 3 million views and 700,000 followers.  

HIGHLIGHTS

• Marvelous took part in the Sony Creators Convention, where she showcased her work on models, and offered advice to aspiring content creators about the business, how to succeed, and how to make their passions their careers. 

• Marvelous believes that with an abundance of talented and creative Saudi designers, as well as the diversity of Saudi fashion and traditional costume, the KSA scene needs more useful fashion events.

• Aside from TikTok, Marvelous supports up-and-coming fashion designers on her YouTube channel, paving a path for them to enter the industry. 

• She said that constructive criticism is always appreciated, and that she tries to hear what people have to say to improve her material, gain insight into her audience, and receive feedback.

“It felt like magic to me how can you transform a piece of fabric into art just by cutting here and stitching there,” she said.

Marvelous took part in the Sony Creators Convention, where she showcased her work on models, and offered advice to aspiring content creators about the business, how to succeed, and how to make their passions their careers.

Manal Marvelous loves to share how she develops and sews her creations, and her TikTok has 3 million views and 700,000 followers. (Supplied)

“My work as a fashion and lifestyle creator takes me around the Kingdom to collaborate with global and local brands ranging from clothing to skincare to makeup,” she said.  

Aside from TikTok, Marvelous supports up-and-coming fashion designers on her YouTube channel, paving a path for them to enter the industry.  

Manal Marvelous loves to share how she develops and sews her creations, and her TikTok has 3 million views and 700,000 followers. (Supplied)

“In my YouTube channel, I share my love of sewing, but with a twist. From sewing pants out of bandannas and a corset with plastic, to recycling my old jeans into a denim jacket,” she said.

Marvelous had the backing of friends and family from the start, and they were her supporters.

Manal Marvelous loves to share how she develops and sews her creations, and her TikTok has 3 million views and 700,000 followers. (Supplied)

She did, however, mention how some elements of social media, like cyberbullying, were deterring her from sharing and how she overcame it.

“Bullying on social media has become the norm lately. What I do and what I recommend everyone do is ignore the comment, especially when it’s obvious that the person is just trying to hurt you.”

Manal Marvelous loves to share how she develops and sews her creations, and her TikTok has 3 million views and 700,000 followers. (Supplied)

She said that constructive criticism is always appreciated, and that she tries to hear what people have to say to improve her material, gain insight into her audience, and receive feedback.

“But people who just want to put you down and make you feel bad should be muted,” she added.

Marvelous believes that with an abundance of talented and creative Saudi designers, as well as the diversity of Saudi fashion and traditional costume, the KSA scene needs more useful fashion events.

“Saudi Arabia has some of the most talented and creative designers in the field, and their work should be appreciated and celebrated nationally and internationally. Having more shows in the Kingdom could be beneficial not only to the designers but to the country as well.”

Marvelous said that the Fashion Commission has been a significant asset to the sector for many years, planning events and providing support for emerging designers through programs such as 100 Brands.

“I advise upcoming designers to never stop dreaming big; this is our time to shine and create the unexpected. There’s space for everyone.”

Marvelous offers three tips for aspiring fashion content creators seeking to be authentic: “Don’t try to copy other creators; it’s good to follow trends, but only when it suits your content and your personality. Consistency is key. Pick the schedule that suits you and make sure to stick to it.”

 


Thriving gardens: Growing and nurturing plants without destroying soil

Thriving gardens: Growing and nurturing plants without destroying soil
Updated 13 April 2024
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Thriving gardens: Growing and nurturing plants without destroying soil

Thriving gardens: Growing and nurturing plants without destroying soil
  • The foundation of a successful garden is soil health
  • It is critical to take care of the soil before planting seeds by creating organic elements in the soil rather than relying on chemical or synthetic fertilizers

RIYADH: Caring for plants at home reduces stress and increases satisfaction. Gardening allows people to connect with nature and enjoy the beauty of their home garden.
However, it is important to use sustainable methods to ensure that plants are healthy, and the environment is protected from damage. Soil preservation and care are therefore very important for sustainable gardening.
The foundation of a successful garden is soil health. It is critical to take care of the soil before planting seeds by creating organic elements in the soil rather than relying on chemical or synthetic fertilizers.
Compost food scraps, garden waste and other organic products to improve soil fertility will provide nutrients to plants, increasing microbial activity and boosting the health of the soil.
“Synthetic fertilizers aren’t used in the Kingdom. It is rare. Most people use organic products such as animal waste mixed with food waste,” said Haitham Sharbaji, an agricultural technician who works in Riyadh.
Sharbaji, who operates his own nursery, explained how different plants require specific techniques.
When asked about examples of plants that are grown in hot, dry weather like in Saudi Arabia, he mentioned trees including poinciana, racosperma and oleander. According to Sharbaji, these species are especially suitable for the weather in Riyadh.
He highlighted the importance of planting trees in healthy soil.
“Firstly, the soil must be healthy and suitable for the type of plant you want to grow. For example, there are kinds of soil for indoor plants and others for outdoor plants,” Sharbaji said.
“Lighting is also important, as each plant differs in terms of its need for lighting.”
Another method gardeners can use to prevent soil depletion is controlling the rotation of plants. Rotating plants grown in different areas of a garden helps reduce diseases and pests, and prevents nutrient deficiencies.
In addition to changing the position of the plant, covering it with a layer of organic mulch like wood chips or leaves helps maintain soil health. This technique captures moisture as well as moderates the temperature of the soil, which in turn improves the structure of the soil. Over time, it enriches the soil with beneficial organisms.
Chemical pesticides are another tool to avoid or reduce, as they can harm beneficial insects, damage organisms in the soil and disrupt the garden’s ecosystem. Natural pest control methods like introducing insects such as ladybugs and lacewings are a useful alternative.
Water in Saudi Arabia is a precious resource for growing any plant, and using it efficiently is vital. An optimal way to regulate watering plants is to install drip irrigation systems to control the amount of water that is used and deliver it directly to the roots.
People should be mindful of the hot climate in the Kingdom, which may speed up the evaporation of water. Therefore, watering the garden late in the afternoon or evening hours reduces water loss because of low temperatures.
“Water is the biggest enemy for indoor plant soil. The soil that is prepared for indoor plants doesn’t need too much water because it can create toxic fungi,” said Sharbaji.
He recommends watering indoor plants according to room temperatures. Generally speaking, a person can water an indoor plant every 15 to 20 days, he added.
Excessive use of synthetic fertilizers can lead to nutrient imbalance and environmental pollution. It is best to test soil regularly to detect any signs of nutrient deficiencies such as decolorization of leaves or irregular shapes.
Synthetic fertilizers can be useful but only when necessary, and they must be used wisely. This ensures the plant receives the nutrients it needs while minimizing the risk of biomagnification — the increase in concentration of a substance in the tissues of organisms at successively higher levels in a food chain.
By practicing sustainable gardening practices, people can grow and protect their gardens while maintaining soil health. Healthy soil preparation, mulching and natural pest control methods are some examples of healthy gardening, keeping in mind that a thriving garden starts with the soil.


Saudi Arabia arrests 20,667 illegals in one week

Saudi police have arrested hundreds of illegals breaching country’s law. (SPA)
Saudi police have arrested hundreds of illegals breaching country’s law. (SPA)
Updated 13 April 2024
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Saudi Arabia arrests 20,667 illegals in one week

Saudi police have arrested hundreds of illegals breaching country’s law. (SPA)
  • The report showed that among the 959 people arrested for trying to enter the Kingdom illegally, 53 percent were Ethiopian, 44 percent Yemeni, and 3 percent were of other nationalities

RIYADH: Saudi authorities arrested 20,667 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 14,805 people were arrested for violations of residency laws, while 3,860 were held over illegal border crossing attempts, and a further 2,002 for labor-related issues.

The report showed that among the 959 people arrested for trying to enter the Kingdom illegally, 53 percent were Ethiopian, 44 percent Yemeni, and 3 percent were of other nationalities.

A further 58 people were caught trying to cross into neighboring countries, and nine 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.

 


MWL chief visits orphanage in Pakistan

Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa celebrated Eid with the orphans in Pakistan. (Supplied)
Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa celebrated Eid with the orphans in Pakistan. (Supplied)
Updated 13 April 2024
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MWL chief visits orphanage in Pakistan

Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa celebrated Eid with the orphans in Pakistan. (Supplied)
  • The orphanage is affiliated with the MWL in Islamabad

ISLAMABAD: The secretary-general of the Muslim World League, Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, recently met the children of the Ali bin Abi Talib Orphanage in Pakistan.

The orphanage, which serves more than 4,600 orphans, is affiliated with the MWL in Islamabad.

Al-Issa celebrated Eid with the orphans and inaugurated new facilities, including a gymnasium and a training center.