Saudi Arabia slams ‘double standards’ in world’s response to Israel-Hamas war

Saudi Arabia slams ‘double standards’ in world’s response to Israel-Hamas war
Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan at during the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit to discuss Gaza crisis, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Reuters)
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Updated 11 November 2023
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Saudi Arabia slams ‘double standards’ in world’s response to Israel-Hamas war

Saudi Arabia slams ‘double standards’ in world’s response to Israel-Hamas war
  • Reform of the global security structure ‘absolutely necessary,’ Saudi foreign minister tells Arab News

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Saturday denounced “double standards” in the world’s response to the Israel-Hamas war, saying Israel was getting a pass on violations of international law.

“We are watching and observing the double standards, and we are reassessing based on this the credibility of international systems,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan told a press conference following an extraordinary joint Islamic-Arab summit in Riyadh.

He added: “If there is no commitment binding everyone to these foundations, it is difficult to speak of these foundations as unifying foundations.”

At the summit, the Kingdom and other Muslim countries called for an immediate end to military operations in Gaza, rejecting Israel’s justification of its actions against Palestinians as self-defense.

Asked by Arab News if there is any hope for an Arab or Islamic bloc putting pressure on the UN Security Council, or whether the UN body “will continue to fail Palestine,” Prince Faisal said the “Arab League sponsored a resolution in the UN General Assembly that came out with a very strong message.”

The bloc “pointed out the failure of the UN Security Council to live up to its responsibility and this highlights the whole situation, the need for reform of the international security structure,” he added.

Prince Faisal said that the Security Council has shown that “it is unable to live up to the expectations of the international community and that reform is absolutely necessary.”

The global security structure is under evaluation “because if the international community cannot hold Israel to account, then this will sow significant doubts among many of us as to whether or not the parameters of the established international order are actually functional and working,” the Kingdom’s top diplomat said.

Earlier, the summit urged the International Criminal Court to investigate “war crimes and crimes against humanity that Israel is committing” in the Palestinian territories, according to a final communique.

Dozens of leaders, including Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, and Syrian President Bashar Assad, who was welcomed back into the Arab League this year, attended.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman affirmed the Kingdom’s “condemnation and categorical rejection of this barbaric war against our brothers in Palestine.”

Addressing the summit, he said: “We are facing a humanitarian catastrophe that proves the failure of the Security Council and the international community to put an end to the flagrant Israeli violations of international laws.”

President Mahmoud Abbas said Palestinians were facing a “genocidal war” and urged the US to end Israeli “aggression.”

The Middle East has been on edge since Hamas fighters rampaged into Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people.

Israel’s assault on Gaza has killed 11,078 people as of Friday, 40 percent of them children, according to Palestinian officials.


Sustainable alternative to traditional charcoal gains popularity in Saudi Arabia

Sustainable alternative to traditional charcoal gains popularity in Saudi Arabia
Updated 31 sec ago
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Sustainable alternative to traditional charcoal gains popularity in Saudi Arabia

Sustainable alternative to traditional charcoal gains popularity in Saudi Arabia
  • Repurposing olive byproducts supports local economies, contributes to environmental conservation

JEDDAH: Families across Saudi Arabia are preparing for winter, which for many means outdoor picnics and gatherings.

These often involve using charcoal for grilling and warmth, but this traditional practice has taken a toll on the environment.

However, the Kingdom’s versatile landscape has paved the way for innovative industrial substitutes. A natural alternative known as “jift” — or olive pit charcoal — has emerged in local markets, providing a sustainable solution while supporting local farmers and olive oil producers.

A natural alternative to charcoal known as ‘jift’ — or olive pit charcoal — has emerged in local markets, providing a sustainable solution while supporting local farmers and olive oil producers. (SPA/Supplied)

During the October production season, farmers and olive oil presses collaborate to repurpose byproducts such as branches and leaves into materials for use in various commercial products.

Olive oil specialist Ibrahim Lahbib Sabouni, a consultant at the University of London, shed light on the process of making jift charcoal and its significant benefits for both the environment and the local economy.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Jift is the pulpy substance left behind after the majority of oil has been extracted from the olive paste.

• It is made through the slow drying of agricultural residues, which are then fermented, dried, shaped into blocks.

• It is available for around SR40 ($11) per carton.

Jift is the pulpy substance left behind after the majority of oil has been extracted from the olive paste. Sabouni said: “Its value is determined by the concentrations of oil and water within, with moisture content varying based on the production process.”

Olive oil byproducts were ideal raw materials for creating jift charcoal due to their abundance and significant organic matter content, he added.

A natural alternative to charcoal known as ‘jift’ — or olive pit charcoal — has emerged in local markets, providing a sustainable solution while supporting local farmers and olive oil producers. (SPA/Supplied)

The northern regions of Jouf and Tabuk, often referred to as the Kingdom’s “olive basket,” boast around 30 million olive trees covering 7,300 hectares. The rich soil provides an ideal environment, leading to the production of thousands of liters of olive oil each year. This offers numerous options to create products from the extracted jift, which can also be used in animal feed production.

Jift charcoal is made through the slow drying of agricultural residues, which are then fermented, dried, shaped into blocks or molds and burned in special ovens. The result is an eco-friendly alternative charcoal that can be used in heating homes, cooking and generating power.

Ibrahim Lahbib Sabouni, Expert

While jift charcoal is considered superior to traditional charcoal due to its longer burning time, widespread adoption in the Kingdom will require proper ovens.

Sabouni said: “The production of jift charcoal can play a significant role in utilizing olive oil byproducts. However, proper infrastructure and specialized ovens for burning olive oil residues and suspensions must be available.”

Toward a healthier Earth

Jift charcoal not only offers a sustainable alternative to traditional charcoal but also addresses environmental concerns associated with uncontrolled burning.

As the Kingdom explores the potential of jift charcoal production, it takes a significant step towards a greener and healthier future.

Ibrahim Lahbib Sabouni, Expert

Sabouni said: “Traditional charcoal burning in open fires or household stoves releases toxic gases and dense smoke, contributing to air pollution. In contrast, jift charcoal is produced using environmentally friendly methods, minimizing harmful emissions.”

Saudi Arabia has quadrupled its renewable energy capacity in the last two years as part of its move towards net zero emissions by 2060, according to the Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman.

A natural alternative to charcoal known as ‘jift’ — or olive pit charcoal — has emerged in local markets, providing a sustainable solution while supporting local farmers and olive oil producers. (SPA/Supplied)

At the Saudi Green Initiative Forum, Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan emphasized the Kingdom’s commitment to a greener future and said: “We need to invest in innovative technology solutions — such as carbon capture, utilization and storage — and the circular carbon economy to achieve climate change goals, as well as achieving a reliable and just energy transition which will also contribute to supporting the growth of the global economy in a sustained manner.”

With the increasing emphasis on sustainable practices, jift charcoal has become a promising solution in Saudi Arabia. Demand is on the rise, leading to its production using industrial methods. It is conveniently packaged in specialized molds and available for no more than SR40 ($11) per carton.

“By repurposing olive oil byproducts this eco-friendly alternative not only supports local economies but also contributes to environmental conservation,” added Sabouni. “As the Kingdom explores the potential of jift charcoal production, it takes a significant step towards a greener and healthier future.”

 

 


Jeddah provides taste of Asia with Ramen and Anime Festival

The Ramen and Anime Festival will highlight iconic Asian foods and Anime-themed performances. (Instagram/littleasiasa)
The Ramen and Anime Festival will highlight iconic Asian foods and Anime-themed performances. (Instagram/littleasiasa)
Updated 3 min 45 sec ago
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Jeddah provides taste of Asia with Ramen and Anime Festival

The Ramen and Anime Festival will highlight iconic Asian foods and Anime-themed performances. (Instagram/littleasiasa)
  • Workshops and shows on traditional dishes, anime movies and comics
  • Children can make clay sushi, learn Japanese calligraphy, and construct paper lanterns

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Culinary Arts Commission will launch on Wednesday a Ramen and Anime Festival in the Little Asia zone in Jeddah, with the support of the Quality of Life Program.

The festival, which is part of the Jeddah Event Calendar 2023 and will run until Dec. 17, will provide visitors an opportunity to explore the culture of several Asian countries.

The Ramen and Anime Festival will highlight iconic Asian foods and Anime-themed performances. (Instagram/littleasiasa)

Visitors will be able to experience how traditional dishes are prepared and buy souvenirs inspired by anime characters.

One zone of the festival will feature 15 daily performances of Asian-related shows, including some inspired by anime movies.

There will also be 15 workshops on culinary arts provided by elite local chefs.

FASTFACTS

• The Ramen and Anime Festival will run until Dec. 17.

• Visitors will be able to experience how traditional dishes are prepared and buy souvenirs inspired by anime characters.

• Children’s activities include how to make sushi with clay, learn Japanese calligraphy in sand, and construct paper lanterns.

A special zone for children has been set up to show them how to make sushi with clay, learn Japanese calligraphy in sand, and construct paper lanterns.

An outdoor cinema will show anime films every day. Side events include a group of roaming performers dressed in costumes based on popular anime characters.

The festival is part of the Ministry of Culture’s plans to boost cultural ties with Asian nations.

 

 


Over 260,000 Saudi students gear up for AI Olympics

The initiative aimed to raise tech awareness among students. (SPA)
The initiative aimed to raise tech awareness among students. (SPA)
Updated 11 December 2023
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Over 260,000 Saudi students gear up for AI Olympics

The initiative aimed to raise tech awareness among students. (SPA)
  • This competition will test students’ tech skills in problem-solving and AI algorithms, focusing on analyzing problems, designing learning-based algorithms, data structuring, and programming

RIYADH: The National Olympics for Programming and Artificial Intelligence, or ATHKA, achieved a record-breaking enrolment of more than 260,000 Saudi students from over 10,000 schools at intermediate and secondary levels in the Kingdom.

ATHKA, a collaboration between the Saudi Data and AI Authority, the Ministry of Education, and the King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity, or Mawhiba, aims to foster a generation skilled in programming and AI.

The application process starts with a qualifying test and progresses to a remote stage, featuring 30 hours of training for competition readiness. The five-day competition is scheduled to take place in Riyadh, starting April 23, 2024.

This competition will test students’ tech skills in problem-solving and AI algorithms, focusing on analyzing problems, designing learning-based algorithms, data structuring, and programming.

In April 2023, the Kingdom secured second place globally in societal awareness of AI. This achievement follows a survey demonstrating increased confidence among Saudi citizens in utilizing AI products and services.

In October, the Ministry of Education introduced the Artificial Intelligence Hour initiative, a training program for 575,000 students and 9,700 teachers in over 1,300 schools across Saudi Arabia, focusing on the concepts of AI.

The initiative aimed to raise tech awareness among students, inspiring the next generation of programmers as part of the Kingdom’s youth empowerment efforts.

Since 2019, the Saudi Data and AI Authority, under the guidance of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has elevated awareness and built human capabilities in data and AI while Mawhiba, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, trains gifted public school students in various subjects.

 

 


Who’s Who: Hussain Al-Dawood, cybersecurity innovation director at NEOM

Hussain Al-Dawood
Hussain Al-Dawood
Updated 1 min 21 sec ago
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Who’s Who: Hussain Al-Dawood, cybersecurity innovation director at NEOM

Hussain Al-Dawood

Hussain Al-Dawood has been a cybersecurity innovation director at NEOM since December 2022.

He spearheads this unit within the chief information security office and collaborates with diverse sectors and departments to implement cutting-edge processes and lead initiatives on cyber experimentation, resiliency, and cognitive analytics. He is at the forefront of shaping NEOM’s global standing in cybersecurity.

In 2021, Al-Dawood assumed the position of chief information security officer at Arabian Drilling, where he established the cybersecurity department and pioneered a best-in-class strategy. His introduction of unique practices has set industry benchmarks.

From 2019 to 2021, Al-Dawood served as the director of cybersecurity at GulfNet Solutions Co. Ltd. During this time, he provided consulting and advisory services, demonstrating adeptness in aligning security management strategy with business goals. This saw him supporting high-profile clients in navigating operational requirements. During this time, he served as a lecturer at the University of Newcastle, Australia.

Al-Dawood’s journey began at Saudi Aramco in 2010, where he rose through the ranks as a cybersecurity professional. He managed substantial cybersecurity budgets and steered the implementation of the corporate data protection program.

He represents the Global Centre for Cybersecurity at the World Economic Forum and chairs the Global Cybersecurity Forum Institute’s Knowledge Community on Cognitive and Smart Cities. His involvement with the International Telecommunication Union in developing security standards underscores his global influence.

Al-Dawood holds a bachelor’s degree in management information systems from the University of Arizona, a Master of Business Administration qualification from Florida Atlantic University, and a doctorate in cybersecurity and information systems from the University of Newcastle. He has pursued executive education at Harvard University, focusing on cybersecurity leadership and risk management.

He is also professionally certified by leading organizations including the Information Systems Audit and Control Association, the Project Management Institute, the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board, the Computing Technology Industry Association, and the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants.

 

 


Riyadh Theater Festival to kick off on Wednesday

The Riyadh Theater Festival will be held between Dec. 13-24 at Princess Nourah bint Abdul Rahman University. (@MOCPerformArt)
The Riyadh Theater Festival will be held between Dec. 13-24 at Princess Nourah bint Abdul Rahman University. (@MOCPerformArt)
Updated 11 December 2023
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Riyadh Theater Festival to kick off on Wednesday

The Riyadh Theater Festival will be held between Dec. 13-24 at Princess Nourah bint Abdul Rahman University. (@MOCPerformArt)
  • The festival will take place between Dec. 13-24 at Princess Nourah bint Abdul Rahman University

RIYADH: Ten plays by Saudi theater groups will compete for 11 awards at the Riyadh Theater Festival, the Kingdom’s Theater and Performing Arts Commission has announced.

The festival will take place between Dec. 13-24 and its first session will take place at Princess Nourah bint Abdul Rahman University where shortlisted plays will be performed, the CEO of the Theater and Performing Arts Commission Sultan Al-Bazie said.

The plays were shortlisted according to factors including their appeal to audiences, quality, serious and creative presentation, and language used.

The awards that are up for grabs include: best actor, best actress, best theatrical script, best theatrical directing, best integrated theatrical performance, best theatrical lighting, best scenography, best theatrical make-up, best theatrical costumes, best theatrical music, and best theatrical decoration.

The festival will also celebrate the life of the late Saudi writer and playwright Mohammed Al-Othaim by putting on a play based on his vision as a director, displaying an art exhibition related to his artistic career, holding seminars and critical readings, hosting a workshop on theater arts and developing and refining the skills of playwrights, and presenting an international play.

The festival aims to refine and develop Saudi talent by helping participants to carve out successful careers and create content that inspires the audience and elevates the Saudi theatrical sector, which is considered one of the most promising sectors in the Kingdom.

The selected plays are as follows: 

  • “Sea” by the Al-Ahsa Culture and Arts Association Troupe
  • “The Forbidden” by the First Leap Club Troupe
  • “Beginnings of Abandonment” by the Close Media Ensemble
  • “Slap” by the Kalos Ensemble
  • “The Devil’s Memory” by Ruya Ensemble
  • “Light” by Taif Theater
  • “Newspaper Seller” by the Fun Box Ensemble
  • “Yellow Memory” by the Nawras Ensemble
  • “Closed Roundabout” by the Masma Theater Club
  • “The Last Shadow” by the National Theater Ensemble