KAUST professor’s epic hand-cycling journey across Kingdom comes to an end

KAUST professor’s epic hand-cycling journey across Kingdom comes to an end
Professor Matteo Parsani, a beacon of determination and resilience, completes his 3,000 km hand-cycling odyssey across Saudi Arabia.(Supplied)
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Updated 19 January 2024
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KAUST professor’s epic hand-cycling journey across Kingdom comes to an end

KAUST professor’s epic hand-cycling journey across Kingdom comes to an end

THUWAL: In a remarkable feat of determination and resilience, Italian academic Matteo Parsani, a distinguished professor of applied mathematics and computational science at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, recently completed an extraordinary hand-cycling journey across 10 cities in Saudi Arabia.

The journey, named “Athar: East to West,” covered a distance of over 3,000 km in just 30 days, showcasing not only Parsani’s physical prowess but also his commitment to promoting physical activities and raising awareness about disabilities.

The journey commenced on Dec. 17, 2023, from Dammam, traversing through Riyadh, Qassim (Buraydah), Hail, AlUla, Red Sea Global, Madinah, Makkah, Jeddah, and concluding at KAUST in Thuwal on Jan. 17, 2024.

Parsani, a paraplegic, averaged an impressive 150 km per day, hand-cycling through diverse terrain and climate.

As the professor reached the finish line at KAUST, he was greeted by jubilant cyclists, including 70 students and members of cycling communities from Jeddah and Makkah.

Over 200 people from the university community, the Saudi Authority for Persons with Disabilities, sponsors, and children cheered his approach.

KAUST President Tony Chan commended Parsani’s extraordinary journey, recognizing it as a showcase of determination and the power of the human spirit. “You are our champion not only at KAUST but in Saudi Arabia, welcome back Matteo. I know how challenging it is in the middle of the winter. This is a showcase of your grit and the power of the human spirit.”

“His accomplishment is a singular reflection of his personal resilience,” he added.

During the journey, Parsani utilized cutting-edge wearable technologies developed by KAUST scientists to monitor his body. These biosensors will contribute to a new rehabilitation program for individuals with spinal cord injuries.

Explaining it to Arab News, Parsani said: “One is to measure the level of energy, potassium and a few other quantities, they work pretty well. I was also wearing a helmet with SPO2 to see the degeneration, and an Internet of body sensor. There were several of these technologies, some new patches for ECG. They are cutting-edge technology that came out completely from KAUST and a few of them are not too far from being deployed to the market.”

Parsani said he trained intensively for a year-and-a-half and adopted a strict diet.

He said that the food situation was challenging, and he had to be cautious about what to eat. Lack of sleep became a constant issue, especially on cold nights without a heater. One notable challenge occurred when he went to Madinah, where he felt the urge to give up due to heat and exhaustion.

His perseverance, though, shone through.

“To cope, I splashed water on my face, listened to various types of music, and endured seven hours per day under the scorching sun, with temperatures reaching 34 C. Despite intending to start early to avoid traffic and peak sun hours, we often ended up starting much later than planned,” he said.

Throughout his hand-cycling journey, Parsani was warmly welcomed in each city, experiencing the genuine hospitality of Saudi Arabia, known as “hafawah,” at every stop along the way.

The professor shared his valuable experience with locals in each city, gaining insights into the unique traditions of each region.

Two days prior to reaching the finish line, Parsani drove from Makkah to Jeddah, where he was received by the Saudi Motorsports Co. at Jeddah Corniche Circuit and was marked as the first person with a disability to race on the track. There, he engaged with over 30 people with disabilities from the city.

KAUST’s enrichment program manager told Arab News: “This is the first chapter of the story, with several follow-up projects in the pipeline. Our main focus is raising awareness about the needs of people with disabilities, highlighting the importance of sports and physical activities and their impact on the body. Additionally, it aims to contribute to university research development, hosting numerous essential studies.

“What makes me proudest in this project is that as we traveled through different regions, we realized our desire to create an impact. However, the individuals we encountered, including those with disabilities, partners, supporters, and the team of over 100 participants, played a crucial role in making a significant impact,” he added.

Parsani concluded by revealing to Arab News: “We are undertaking a larger project, also centered around hand biking, scheduled for around 2028. As for the upcoming year, it’s a venture that shares some similarities, and I am keen on having other Saudi bikers with the requisite skills join, either partially or completely.”


Saudi, Ireland foreign ministers discuss Gaza developments in Brussels

Saudi, Ireland foreign ministers discuss Gaza developments in Brussels
Updated 58 min 50 sec ago
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Saudi, Ireland foreign ministers discuss Gaza developments in Brussels

Saudi, Ireland foreign ministers discuss Gaza developments in Brussels

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Monday met his Irish counterpart Micheal Martin in the Belgian capital, Brussels, to discuss developments in the situation in the Gaza Strip and the efforts made to solve the conflict.

During the meeting, they also discussed bilateral relations between their two countries and ways to strengthen and develop them in various fields, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said.

The meeting was held on the sidelines of a meeting of the ministerial committee, headed by Prince Faisal, which was assigned by the Joint Arab-Islamic Extraordinary Summit with the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels.

It also comes a day before Ireland, along with Spain and Norway, plan to make official their recognition of a Palestinian state.


Saudi industry minister begins official trip to Netherlands

Saudi industry minister begins official trip to Netherlands
Updated 27 May 2024
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Saudi industry minister begins official trip to Netherlands

Saudi industry minister begins official trip to Netherlands
  • Bandar bin Ibrahim Alkhorayef’s visit seeks to strengthen ties in industrial, mining sectors

RIYADH: Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim Alkhorayef traveled to the Netherlands on Monday for an official visit with the objective of strengthening cooperation in the industrial and mining sectors, Saudi Press Agency reported.
The visit aims to explore and expand joint investment opportunities between the two countries.
Alkhorayef is scheduled to meet with several Dutch ministers and senior government officials, along with key leaders from the private sector, to discuss collaboration in the industrial and mining sectors.
The minister’s itinerary will also include several visits to Dutch factories and companies operating within these sectors with the hopes of fostering collaborative ventures between private sector entities in both countries.
The visit underscores Saudi Arabia’s commitment to diversifying its economy and strengthening international ties, SPA added.
In 2023, the Kingdom’s non-oil exports to the Netherlands were valued at about SR2.6 billion ($706 million), while its non-oil imports from the Netherlands amounted to almost SR8.5 billion.


Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union praises Saudi Arabia’s ‘tremendous effort’ to support Palestinian cause

Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union praises Saudi Arabia’s ‘tremendous effort’ to support Palestinian cause
Updated 27 May 2024
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Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union praises Saudi Arabia’s ‘tremendous effort’ to support Palestinian cause

Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union praises Saudi Arabia’s ‘tremendous effort’ to support Palestinian cause

RIYADH: The Arab Inter-Parliamentary Union has praised the “tremendous efforts of Saudi Arabia, led by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in supporting the Palestinian cause,” the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The AIPU released a final statement following the 36th Arab Parliamentary Union Conference, which ended on Monday in Algiers.

A Saudi delegation, headed by the chairman of the Shoura Council, Sheikh Abdullah Al Al-Sheikh, took part in the conference alongside heads of parliaments and councils, and several regional and international organizations and institutions.

During its sessions, the conference discussed developments in the Palestinian issue and the current situation in the Arab region.

The statement also praised the Kingdom’s hosting of a number of Arab, Islamic and African summits to support the Palestinian cause and put an end to the aggression against the Palestinian people.

On Yemen, the statement stressed the importance of the initiatives undertaken by the Kingdom, which call for constructive dialogue to achieve sustainable peace and a comprehensive political solution.

The conference endorsed the recommendations of the political committee, “which highly praised the pivotal and leading role played by Saudi Arabia, which has never hesitated in its significant achievements, contributions, initiatives, and authentic Arab stances aimed at unifying Arab ranks and elevating the status of the Arab and Islamic nations in all international forums,” SPA said.

The conference also praised the Kingdom’s hosting of Sudanese talks in Jeddah between the two conflicting parties to consolidate a truce and reach a final ceasefire agreement to end the crisis in a way that preserves Sudan’s sovereignty and unity and enables it to restore its security and stability.


Saudi economy minister holds talks with UN, OPEC officials in Austria

Saudi economy minister holds talks with UN, OPEC officials in Austria
Updated 27 May 2024
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Saudi economy minister holds talks with UN, OPEC officials in Austria

Saudi economy minister holds talks with UN, OPEC officials in Austria

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal Al-Ibrahim on Monday met Executive Director of the UN Office in Vienna Ghada Waly in the Austrian capital, Vienna.

During the meeting, the two discussed “collaboration between the Kingdom and the UN on the Sustainable Development Goals and other topics of common interest,” the ministry said in a statement.

The meeting was held on the sidelines of the minister’s visit to Austria to participate in the ninth session of the Saudi-Austrian Joint Committee.

Al-Ibrahim also met Abdulhamid Alkhalifa, president of the OPEC Fund for International Development, to explore the fund’s upcoming initiatives.

He also held talks with Austrian Minister of Labor and Economy Martin Kocher on strengthening trade and economic cooperation between the two countries, and the latest developments of joint interest.

The meetings were attended by the Kingdom’s Ambassador to Austria Abdullah Tawlah.


Kuwait emir receives Saudi minister of state

Kuwait emir receives Saudi minister of state
Updated 27 May 2024
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Kuwait emir receives Saudi minister of state

Kuwait emir receives Saudi minister of state

Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah received Saudi Minister of State Prince Turki bin Mohammed bin Fahd bin Abdulaziz and his accompanying delegation on Monday at Bayan Palace in Kuwait.

Prince Turki conveyed the greetings of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

They reviewed the strong fraternal relations between their countries and ways to strengthen them across various fields.

The meeting was also attended by Saudi Ambassador to Kuwait Prince Sultan bin Saad bin Khalid and dignitaries from both sides.