Saudi Cultural Mission in Japan celebrates Kingdom’s 93rd National Day

Saudi Cultural Mission in Japan celebrates Kingdom’s 93rd National Day
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The event included lectures and a video shown about Saudi Arabia’s founder, King Abdulaziz. (ANJ)
Saudi Cultural Mission in Japan celebrates Kingdom’s 93rd National Day
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The event included lectures and a video shown about Saudi Arabia’s founder, King Abdulaziz. (ANJ)
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Updated 22 September 2023
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Saudi Cultural Mission in Japan celebrates Kingdom’s 93rd National Day

Saudi Cultural Mission in Japan celebrates Kingdom’s 93rd National Day
  • Officials, students laud leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

TOKYO: Saudi Arabia’s Cultural Mission in Japan recently hosted a gathering to celebrate the Kingdom’s 93rd National Day, attended by officials and students from both nations.

Badr Al-Otaibi, director of the office of the Saudi cultural attache in Japan, extended his “sincere congratulations to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, and to His Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and to the Saudi people” in his welcoming remarks at the event on Sept. 20.

“On this day, we remember the sublime principles upon which our beloved country was founded, based on the shariah of Islam and entrenching the values of justice, equality and tolerance,” Al-Otaibi said. “We also remember the heroic historical deeds of King Abdulaziz Al-Saud, may God have mercy on him, along with the first founding fathers to establish this blessed country, unify it and extend its influence over wide areas of the Arabian Peninsula.”

“The subsequent phase of construction and development was led, after the founder, may God have mercy on him, by his sons, the kings, until reaching the era of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, may God protect him, who leads our country with a wise vision and sound steps in all fields. His highness the crown prince supports him in this regard through the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, through which our country seeks to occupy an advanced position among the developed countries in the world,” Al-Otaibi said.

The event included lectures by Dr. Kaoru Yamamoto, assistant professor at Keio University, titled “Arabic Literature in Japan,” and “Saudi National Day” presented by Faisal Sarbland, a master’s student at Tokai University.

A video was shown about Saudi Arabia’s founder, King Abdulaziz, followed by a lecture — “My Journey to Mecca” — presented by Aqeel Qureshi, a bachelor’s degree student at Keio University.

This was followed by the introduction of Takushoku University students, and the awarding of certificates of appreciation.

According to data from the cultural mission, there are 64 students from Saudi Arabia studying in Japan, majoring in nuclear, aerospace and information systems engineering, as well as dentistry, and speech and hearing therapy.


KSrelief projects help people in Pakistan, Lebanon, Sudan

KSrelief projects help people in Pakistan, Lebanon, Sudan
Updated 09 December 2023
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KSrelief projects help people in Pakistan, Lebanon, Sudan

KSrelief projects help people in Pakistan, Lebanon, Sudan
  • The distribution is part of the second phase of the project to secure and distribute shelter materials and winter bags in Pakistan for 2023-2024
  • The program comes as part of the relief efforts provided by Saudi Arabia to help people and countries in need around the world

RIYADH: Vulnerable communities in Pakistan, Lebanon and Sudan are benefiting from assistance provided by the Saudi aid organization KSrelief, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
KSrelief distributed 514 winter bags in the Gupis-Yasin District of the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan, helping 3,598 members of the most vulnerable families in the flood-affected areas.
The distribution is part of the second phase of the project to secure and distribute shelter materials and winter bags in Pakistan for 2023-2024.
The program comes as part of the relief efforts provided by Saudi Arabia to help people and countries in need around the world.
In Lebanon, the center distributed 1,289 shopping vouchers to Syrian refugees and host community members in the northern city of Tripoli, and in the Arsal and Ash-Shouf regions, as part of the second phase of the Winter Clothes Distribution Project for 2023.
The coupons allow refugees and other vulnerable segments from host communities to buy winter clothing at designated stores.
The assistance comes within the framework of the humanitarian and relief projects provided by Saudi Arabia for vulnerable and needy segments around the world.
KSrelief recently signed a cooperation agreement with a civil society organization to equip intensive-care units for children and adults, emergency departments, and surgery sections in seven main hospitals in Sudan’s Gezira, Nile River, White Nile and North states at a total value of SR5 million.
The agreement was signed by KSrelief Assistant Supervisor General for Operations and Programs Ahmed bin Ali Al-Baiz at the center’s headquarters in Riyadh.
The agreement aims to provide medical equipment, such as emergency devices, anesthesia machines, ventilators, automatic injectors, vital-signs monitoring devices, intensive-care beds and operating beds, to selected departments that will ensure a high-quality health service to 7 million people.
The assistance is part of the Kingdom’s efforts to support the health sector in Sudan amid the humanitarian crisis.
Since its inception in 2015, KSrelief has implemented 2,625 projects worth more than $6.4 billion in 94 countries, in cooperation with 175 local, regional and international partners.
According to a report by the agency, the bulk of the support has gone to Yemen ($4.3 billion), Syria ($384 million), Palestine ($370 million) and Somalia ($227 million).
KSrelief’s programs cover food security, health, sanitation, shelter, nutrition, education, telecommunications and logistics.


Scientists see chance for research breakthrough under Saudi longevity program

Scientists see chance for research breakthrough under Saudi longevity program
Updated 09 December 2023
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Scientists see chance for research breakthrough under Saudi longevity program

Scientists see chance for research breakthrough under Saudi longevity program
  • Hevolution Foundation pledges $1bn a year to incentivize longevity research and startups around the world
  • Scientists say Saudi efforts can redefine global healthcare, which is based on treatment instead of prevention

SINGAPORE: Saudi efforts to develop healthspan science are enabling research and democratizing strategies to keep people healthy, the world’s leading longevity scientists say, as the Kingdom supports disruptive ideas to reverse aspects of aging. 

Launched in 2021, as part of the Saudi Vision 2030, the Riyadh-based non-profit Hevolution Foundation provides grants to incentivize independent research and entrepreneurship in longevity. 

Overseen by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Hevolution pledges investment of $1 billion a year into efforts to understand the processes of aging and to find and render accessible ways to increase the number of years people live in good health. 

“The goal is to really extend the healthy years of life. It’s to push our healthy longevity much further, which is something that will benefit every country and every person on Earth,” said Dr. Brian Kennedy, distinguished professor of biochemistry and physiology at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine of the National University of Singapore.

“I think it’s a really noble initiative to try to bring healthcare technology that’s just emerging to the forefront as quickly as possible.” 

Kennedy, who focuses on understanding the biology of aging and translating research discoveries into addressing and preventing diseases associated with aging, spoke to Arab News on the sidelines of the Advanced Tomorrow 2023 Singapore Summit, which was hosted by the NUS this week. 

A member of Hevolution’s scientific advisory board, he said that the foundation supports both academic initiatives and private sector development, as aging research has been greatly underfunded globally. 

“They’re going to fund projects around the world, not just in Saudi or the US, but everywhere,” Kennedy said. “They’re enabling research to democratize strategies that keep people healthy longer.” 

The efforts also have the potential to redefine the current approach to healthcare, which is waiting until people become ill and only then treating them. 

“It doesn’t work because once people get sick, they’ve lost equilibrium. The homeostatic process is to keep them healthy throughout their life … They almost never recover fully to the healthy state (they were in) before they got sick,” Kennedy said. 

“Everybody should be treated when they get sick, but we should be putting an equal amount of effort (into) trying to keep them healthy because that’s what you really want. You don’t want to get treated effectively for Alzheimer’s; you don’t want to get the Alzheimer’s. It’s the early stuff that’s going to keep you from getting sick.” 

In many cases, age-associated illness such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, or dementia is not only treatable but also preventable, saving society and individuals from unnecessary financial and emotional burden. 

For Prof. Luigi Fontana from the Faculty of Medicine and Health at the University of Sydney, who focuses on preventative medicine and the role of nutrition and physical exercise in slowing age-associated chronic disease, the current medical system “is not healthcare but ‘sickcare,’” as it is designed to treat disease instead of preventing it. 

“Most people spend their last 20 years in bad shape, taking multiple medications, in hospital, with cancer, stroke, dementia … It’s terrible because it’s a huge cost on society and also on a personal level, family level,” he told Arab News, adding that no country will be able to afford it in the next two decades. 

“The new line of research around the biology of aging is that many of the common chronic diseases that we see now in hospitals are preventable. The World Health Organization claims that at least 80 percent of cardiovascular disease is preventable. Data from my lab suggests it’s much higher than that.” 

Research into longevity promises not only ways to allow people to have a better quality of life as they age but also to reduce healthcare costs. 

“There are certain pathways, aging pathways, that are controlling the accumulation of metabolic molecular damage leading to multiple diseases. By blocking or inhibiting these pathways, you can prevent multiple diseases at once, so that people would be living healthier. And, typically, when you increase the healthspan, you also increase the lifespan,” Fontana said. 

“It’s backed by a lot of science … Now we have to translate it into humans to develop biomarkers, a range of interventions that are going to keep people healthier for long.” 

For him, programs like Hevolution provide the chance to advance research in the field much faster than state institutions would, as “typically, with philanthropy, they like disruptive ideas” and “it’s like angel investment.” 

Last week, Hevolution partnered with XPrize Foundation and announced a $101 million prize for the first group of researchers that can reverse aspects of aging by 10 years. 

“It’s a great idea,” said Noah Molinski, head of research at Von Ardenne Institute of Applied Medical Research in Dresden, Germany.

“The big problem is how we can bring our innovation to the real world. Researchers have a lot of ideas, but without money, they cannot bring a real impact.” 

Hevolution’s $1 billion a year investment into longevity research and startups is the highest such pledge globally. 

“It aligns a lot with the Saudi Vision 2030. They recognized earlier than others how important longevity is because people can only work to a certain age and normal medicine helps you to prolong your life, but that doesn’t mean that you will have a higher number of years with a higher quality of life,” Molinski said. 

“You have to somehow align this (idea) that people live longer but also that the lives lived longer have to be of higher quality. And that’s the main goal of longevity.” 


Makkah Route serves 618,000 pilgrims in 5 years

Makkah Route serves 618,000 pilgrims in 5 years
Updated 09 December 2023
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Makkah Route serves 618,000 pilgrims in 5 years

Makkah Route serves 618,000 pilgrims in 5 years
  • Launched in 2019 in Muslim-majority countries, the scheme allows pilgrims to fulfill all visa, customs and health requirements at their airport of origin, saving hours of waiting before and on arrival in the Kingdom

Riyadh: Growing numbers of Hajj pilgrims are benefiting from Saudi Arabia’s Makkah Route initiative, which streamlines travel and entry processes for visitors from partner countries.

A total of 617,756 Hajj pilgrims from Morocco, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkiye, and the Ivory Coast have so far benefited from the initiative, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Launched in 2019 in Muslim-majority countries, the scheme allows pilgrims to fulfill all visa, customs and health requirements at their airport of origin, saving hours of waiting before and on arrival in the Kingdom.

The process begins with the issue of electronic visas and individual information collection, followed by streamlined passport procedures before departure.

Stickers are placed on luggage and passports containing information on the flight data and place of residence of each pilgrim. The tagging service is carried out by a specialized team working under the supervision of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah.

Teams at King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah receive the luggage, which is then delivered to pilgrim accommodation.

The Ministry of Interior implements the Makkah Route initiative in cooperation with several agencies, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, the General Authority of Civil Aviation, the Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority, the Saudi Data and AI Authority, the Pilgrim Experience Program and the General Directorate of Passports.


Saudi FM stresses Kingdom’s public and private positions identical on Gaza

Saudi FM stresses Kingdom’s public and private positions identical on Gaza
Updated 09 December 2023
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Saudi FM stresses Kingdom’s public and private positions identical on Gaza

Saudi FM stresses Kingdom’s public and private positions identical on Gaza
  • Prince Faisal disagreed with the US veto on Gaza ceasefire
  • Prince Faisal met with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken for talks on Gaza

RIYADH: Saudi foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, during an interview with PBS NewsHour, confirmed that the Kingdom’s stance on Gaza is the same in public and private.

Prince Faisal was refuting claims from PBS Presenter Nick Schifrin that “[Saudi Arabia’s] public calls do not match your private calls to destroy Hamas. Why the dual message?”

The Saudi foreign minister said, “There is no dual message. What we say in private and what we say in public is exactly the same, not just for the kingdom but for all the Arabs.”

He added, “I am very proud that what we are saying in public and private are the same. I can’t say the same for some of our Western interlocutors.”

Prince Faisal, who is currently leading the Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee’s visit in Washington to call for a Gaza ceasefire, disagreed with the US veto on the UN Security Council resolution on Saturday.

He also voiced disappointment at the Security Council’s inability to “take a firm position” on Gaza.

“We have now seen a level of carnage in Gaza that is unprecedented, that is unjustifiable under any pretext of self-defense,” noted Prince Faisal.

The Arab-Islamic Committee also objected to the US veto that blocked the UN Security Council resolution during a meeting with the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. Prince Faisal said the committee would push for a ceasefire to prevent more civilian deaths.

“This continuing level of civilian casualties does not serve anybody's interests, including the interests of Israel or its security.”

The Saudi foreign minister warned against the risk of the war’s expansion from Gaza to the rest of the region, as well as the rising threat of extremism. “People are losing their trust in the argument for peace in our region, but they're also losing their trust in the international systems of security and legitimacy,” he said.

On Saturday, Prince Farhan met separately with Blinken in Washington to discuss the Israel-Hamas war.

The officials discussed “all possible efforts to reduce the pace of escalation and ensure that the violence does not expand to avoid its dangerous repercussions on international peace and security,” reported the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

The meeting was attended by Princess Reema bint Bandar, the Saudi Ambassador to the United States.


World should make immediate Gaza ceasefire a priority – Saudi foreign minister

World should make immediate Gaza ceasefire a priority – Saudi foreign minister
Updated 09 December 2023
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World should make immediate Gaza ceasefire a priority – Saudi foreign minister

World should make immediate Gaza ceasefire a priority – Saudi foreign minister
  • Prince Faisal bin Farhan says that governments worldwide do not appear to see an immediate ceasefire as a priority
  • Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee held joint press conference before meeting with US state secretary in Washington

WASHINGTON: There must be an immediate end to the fighting in Gaza but governments worldwide do not seem to see it as a priority, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said on Friday in Washington, adding that there must also be a credible roadmap to establish a Palestinian state.

At a joint press conference before meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, a group of foreign ministers said the focus should remain on stopping the fighting immediately in the Palestinian enclave between Hamas militants and the Israeli military.

“Our message is consistent and clear that we believe that it is absolutely necessary to end the fighting immediately,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said.

“One of the disturbing facts of this conflict is that ending the conflict and the fighting doesn’t seem to be the main priority for the international community,” he said.

“I certainly would hope that our partners in the US will do more... we certainly believe they can do more,” the Saudi minister added.

Humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza needed to be significantly increased, he said, adding that it is “unacceptable” that aid “is being restricted and has been restricted” because of “bureaucratic obstacles.”

A UN Security Council vote on a demand for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war was delayed by several hours on Friday until after Blinken’s planned meeting with Arab ministers and the foreign minister of Turkiye. The Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee comprises ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Turkiye.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told the press conference that if the resolution fails on Friday, it would be giving a license to Israel “to continue with its massacre.”

“Our priority for now is to stop the war, stop the killing, stop the destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure,” he said.

“The message that’s being sent is that Israel is acting above international law ... and the world is simply not doing much. We disagree with the United States on its position vis-a-vis on the cease-fire,” he said.

“The solution is a cease-fire,” said Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, while his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi called putting an end to the fighting the number one priority.

“If the UN Security Council fails to adopt the resolution that is simply calling for humanitarian pauses, that is giving Israel a license to continue its massacre against civilians in Gaza,” he said.

Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for an immediate end to the war in Gaza and said an international peace conference should be called to work out a lasting political solution leading to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

(With Reuters and AFP)