Riyadh Municipality confirms single company was responsible for recent food poisoning cases

Update Riyadh Municipality concluded on Friday that only one food facility had been found accountable for the wave of food poisoning cases caused by clostridium botulinum on Apr. 25, 2024. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Riyadh Municipality concluded on Friday that only one food facility had been found accountable for the wave of food poisoning cases caused by clostridium botulinum on Apr. 25, 2024. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
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Updated 11 May 2024
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Riyadh Municipality confirms single company was responsible for recent food poisoning cases

Riyadh Municipality confirms single company was responsible for recent food poisoning cases
  • Officials said fast-food chain could be fined over the outbreak, which hospitalized dozens of people, and that all its branches and facilities in Riyadh and Al-Kharj remain closed
  • Saudi Ministry of Health said 75 people were affected in the outbreak, including one death

RIYADH: Riyadh Municipality confirmed on Friday that the initial results of an investigation by health authorities suggest a single company was responsible for several cases of food poisoning last week, caused by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum, that left dozens of people hospitalized.

It also confirmed the chain could be fined over the outbreak, which came to light on April 25, and that all of its branches and food-processing facilities in Riyadh and Al-Kharj remain closed.

The amount of any fine will be set according to existing legislation based on a full investigation and taking into account the severity of the effects of the incident on the people who became sick, the municipality added.

It did not say how long the company’s branches and other facilities would remain closed, but said all food products they contained would be destroyed and the process of cleaning and disinfecting all buildings, tools and machinery will be supervised by officials from the municipality.

“We confirm the safety of food products for restaurants, kitchens, cafes and caterers in the Riyadh region, as no cases have been recorded from other than the aforementioned source,” the municipality said.

The statement on Friday did not name the company involved, but Arab News reported last week that a number of food poisoning cases appeared to be linked to the Hamburgini fast-food chain.

Riyadh Municipality said health oversight teams took prompt action to investigate and monitor the situation as soon as they began to receive reports of the food poisoning cases.

On April 26, Nawaf Al-Fozan, the founder and CEO of Hamburgini, shared a video on the chain’s Instagram page in which he confirmed it was involved in the outbreak.

In a separate statement on Friday, the Saudi Ministry of Health also said that all cases in the food poisoning outbreak were linked to the same source.

The MOH said 75 people were affected in the outbreak, including one death, and that no new cases were recorded over the past five days.

"The total number of recorded cases stands at 75, including 69 Saudi nationals and 6 non-Saudis," said the statement shared on social media platform X on Friday by ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly.

The statement noted that 50 of the cases were diagnosed as being caused by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The ministry explained that 43 patients have fully recovered and been discharged from hospital, 11 are currently undergoing treatment and 20 cases are being closely monitored in intensive care units, or ICUs.

"The ministry continues to closely monitor hospitalized cases and provide them with the necessary healthcare while wishing them a swift recovery," said the statement. It stressed "the importance of relying on its official sources for instructions and information, and not spreading rumors and false information."

 


Saudi authorities thwart drug smuggling operations

Saudi authorities thwart drug smuggling operations
Updated 21 June 2024
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Saudi authorities thwart drug smuggling operations

Saudi authorities thwart drug smuggling operations

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s drug control authority seized large quantities of narcotics and arrested several people following a number of operations across the Kingdom, reported Saudi Press Agency.

Border guards in Asir province thwarted an attempt to smuggle 52 kg of hashish into the kingdom, while in Jazan the authorities foiled the trafficking of 243 kg of qat.

Saudi’s security authorities are urging people to report any activities related to drug smuggling or promotion by calling 911 in the Makkah, Riyadh and Eastern Province regions, and 999 in the rest of the Kingdom.

Alternatively, information can be emailed to [email protected]. All reports are treated in confidence.


Saudi Arabia reaffirms humanitarian efforts for needy, displaced and refugees

Saudi Arabia reaffirms humanitarian efforts for needy, displaced and refugees
Updated 21 June 2024
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Saudi Arabia reaffirms humanitarian efforts for needy, displaced and refugees

Saudi Arabia reaffirms humanitarian efforts for needy, displaced and refugees
  • Support ‘includes all countries of the world without discrimination,’ says KSrelief
  • Kingdom has spent $115 billion on aid in 90 countries over past 4 decades

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia reaffirmed its commitment to strengthen its support for refugees and displaced persons around the world on World Refugee Day, reported Saudi Press Agency.

Saudi aid agency KSrelief said its humanitarian support “includes all countries of the world without discrimination.”

Since it was founded in May 2025, the organization has so far carried out 2,984 projects in 99 countries as it continues to expand its work for the needy and people affected by wars and disasters.

Support for refugees and displaced people in Syria, Palestine, Myanmar and Yemen alone was delivered through 424 humanitarian projects with a value of over $1.18 billion. The schemes have included food and agricultural security, protection and health services, shelter, early recovery and education.

Infographic courtesy of Salam.org

KSrelief also supported those displaced in other countries by implementing 304 projects worth more than $2.19 billion,

The Kingdom hosts a large number of people from countries affected by war, with refugees from Yemen, Syria, and Myanmar alone constituting 5.5 percent of its population. With the latest General Authority for Statistics census citing a total population of 32,175 million, that places the number of refugees at over 1.76 million.

The visitors are provided with “the opportunity for free treatment and education,” said the SPA report, and the Kingdom is keen they are integrated into society.

Saudi’s humanitarian aid and relief efforts go back decades. Non-profit organization Salam records total spending over the past four decades as more than $115 billion in over 90 countries.

“Saudi Arabia has been providing aid to different countries, solving humanitarian crises, and relieving people suffering after wars or natural disasters. These aids are granted without any bias or prejudice to religion or ethnicity,” says Salam on its website, salam4cc.org.


How Saudi startup Braincell is optimizing decision-making and automation through AI

How Saudi startup Braincell is optimizing decision-making and automation through AI
Updated 21 June 2024
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How Saudi startup Braincell is optimizing decision-making and automation through AI

How Saudi startup Braincell is optimizing decision-making and automation through AI
  • AI solutions designed to solve specific business problems are having a profound impact on how firms operate
  • Braincell leverages AI to enhance processes, from logistics and healthcare to banking and smart cities

RIYADH: Automated decision-making allows businesses to make faster, more accurate and more consistent decisions by analyzing large datasets without the risk of human error. That is why, as Saudi Arabia expands its digital economy, such tools are becoming more widely used in the Kingdom.

One firm that is leading the charge in this area is the Saudi startup Braincell, which helps businesses streamline processes and enhance decision-making through automation and artificial intelligence integration.

“Braincell has created a data governance platform and data workflow platform that enables AI solutions to be connected at ease, making it a one-stop shop for data needs,” Abdulhameed Khairaldeen, Braincell’s business development director, told Arab News.

AI solutions, which leverage AI techniques and technologies to solve specific business problems, are poised to have a profound impact on how firms operate. Already, large language models like ChatGPT are taking on rudimentary tasks in a range of industries.

“Braincell clients can choose to work on their own LLMs and on-premises models or even connect to the likes of OpenAI’s ChatGPT,” said Khairaldeen.

Braincell is just one of the many new Saudi companies utilizing AI to optimize technologies. (Supplied)

With the Kingdom’s mission to become a global leader among data-driven economies, new AI startups are emerging every day with the goal of contributing to the fast-growing sector. Braincell is just one of the many new Saudi companies utilizing AI to optimize technologies.

Since its establishment, Braincell has focused on empowering businesses through technology, data and interconnected systems with the mission of enhancing efficiency in business flow regardless of the sector.

In particular, Braincell is connecting leaders, executives, organizations and governments to systems that will allow faster and more effective decision-making.

Braincell leverages AI-powered decision-making to enhance operations. (Supplied)

Asked how Braincell helps firms improve their employee productivity, the company’s senior data consultant, Shatha bin Shaalan, said: “We use AI and automation in our platform to automate the repetitive tasks that we do every day, ensuring that our clients get the benefit of maximum efficiency while reducing human errors and manual efforts.”

Braincell is leveraging AI-powered decision-making to enhance operations across sectors including healthcare, data, banking, supply chains, manufacturing, and smart buildings and cities.

In healthcare, Braincell’s technology fosters an environment for improved patient outcomes by working with clients to build metric-driven healthcare systems, creating scalable digital health ecosystems that reduce errors through automation.

DID YOUKNOW?

• In healthcare, Braincell improves patient outcomes through metric-driven systems that reduce errors.

• In banking, it performs real-time monitoring, streamlines processes, detects fraud, and monitors risk.

• In smart buildings, it collects data on energy consumption, air quality, and occupancy to improve efficiency.

Some of its services include comprehensive insights into personalized care and streamlined clinical processes.

In banking, Braincell is utilizing AI to enhance the customer experience by streamlining and organizing processes that in turn will reduce manual errors.

Shutterstock illustration image

Through Braincell’s banking command center, real-time monitoring also detects fraud, monitors risk management and enhances strategic decision-making.

Applied to smart buildings and cities, Braincell offers new ways to improve the experience of residents. One example is the firm’s data integration and sensor deployment that collects data on energy consumption, air quality, occupancy levels and other relevant parameters.

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Braincell’s use of automation in smart buildings and cities also improves energy efficiency by using advanced AI algorithms to control smart lighting and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems that adjust settings based on occupancy and environmental conditions.

The company has more than 100 active users, and boasts the ability to process 120 billion records in a matter of seconds using AI.

It aims to help businesses make reliable decisions by connecting data sources and consolidating them in a comprehensive way that is easier for clients to access, resulting in higher quality, accuracy and consistency through the use of AI automation.

“The data platform is highly customizable with a very simple setup,” said Bin Shaalan, the firm’s senior data consultant. “It’s dynamic and fits all needs as it integrates with many systems adopted here in the Kingdom.”

Braincell has signed memorandums of understanding with multiple partners including the Ministry of Health, the Public Investment Fund, the National Unified Procurement Company and supply chain specialist XPL Solutions.

The firm has also created a data governance and data workflow platform to help companies comply with National Data Management Office regulations in the Kingdom.
 

 


No normalization with Israel without Palestinian state, Saudi ambassador to UK says

No normalization with Israel without Palestinian state, Saudi ambassador to UK says
Updated 21 June 2024
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No normalization with Israel without Palestinian state, Saudi ambassador to UK says

No normalization with Israel without Palestinian state, Saudi ambassador to UK says
  • Prince Khalid bin Bandar was speaking at Chatham House’s London Conference
  • Said Kingdom’s position on Arab-Israeli conflict has never changed

LONDON: Saudi Arabia will not normalize ties with Israel at the expense of Palestinian statehood, the Kingdom’s ambassador to the UK said on Thursday.

Speaking at Chatham House’s London Conference, Prince Khalid bin Bandar said that normalization remained important to Saudi Arabia and other nations in the region because it would ensure peace, stability and security.
He admitted that “compromises would have to be made” to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict, which he said affected the world in a way other conflicts did not.

“If what is happening (in Gaza) keeps happening, we are going to go down a path that is irreversible,” Prince Khalid said. 



“The further we get away from finding a solution, the more people lose hope, the more we’re at that point, it’s going to spread to a regional conflict. It’s important for everyone to recognisze the danger of what lies ahead. The conflict will not remain regional, it will become international very quickly,” he said.

But Prince Khalid said that normalization would be “irrelevant” until the plight of Palestinians was resolved.

“We believe in the creation of a Palestinian state and a solution to the conflict,” he said. “If it was easy, we’d have done it by now but without that, normalization is irrelevant. There is no point having normalization because we would still have conflict and conflict is the problem, not normalization.

“There is no point in discussing everything else until we find a solution. Once we do that, everything is on the table.”

Prince Khalid said that the Kingdom was “one of the most important countries in the region,” which had “leverage” in opening up the Arab and Muslim world to Israel and for it not to play a role in brokering a solution would be “silly.” 



But he added for that to happen, Israel “needs to play ball as well,” adding that the price for finding a solution was an independent Palestinian state.

The ambassador bemoaned how little global coverage the Saudi position on the crisis received, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s recent Hajj address, in which he reiterated calls for an immediate halt to attacks in Gaza.

“It’s important to recognize our position, which has never changed, despite people never listening to us,” Prince Khalid said.

“The crown prince’s positon, Saudi Arabia’s position, his majesty (King Salman)’s position, the government’s position and the will of almost every Saudi I know is we need a Palestinian state.



“The offer was made in the Arab Peace Initiative; on 1967 borders, a Palestinian state, a two-state solution and everyone lives happily ever after. It goes back to 1982, King Fahd presented the same offer, it has not been taken up, I find it mystifying.

“The crown prince stated very clearly, we need a ceasefire, an irreversible solution for the Palestinians and then there’s peace everywhere, it wasn’t even reported.

“It’s annoying and frustrating for us because the world assumes something totally different and that’s not helping the situation,” he said.


Specialist hospital organizes Advanced Therapies Forum

Specialist hospital organizes Advanced Therapies Forum
Updated 20 June 2024
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Specialist hospital organizes Advanced Therapies Forum

Specialist hospital organizes Advanced Therapies Forum
  • Event in Riyadh will bring together 30 representatives from various government organizations and academic institutions alongside advanced therapy manufacturing companies
  • Forum’s agenda seeks to build bridges between academic healthcare institutions, industry stakeholders, funding agencies, investors, regulators, and government agencies

RIYADH: The King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center is set to host the Advanced Therapies Forum which will take place from June 23-24, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The event in Riyadh will bring together 30 representatives from various government organizations and academic institutions alongside advanced therapy manufacturing companies. It will aim to foster a collaborative environment where industrial partners can showcase their research and forge strategic alliances with healthcare institutions.

The forum’s agenda seeks to build bridges between academic healthcare institutions, industry stakeholders, funding agencies, investors, regulators, and government agencies. It also strives to increase the number of clinical research studies in the fields of T-cell therapy and gene therapy.

Industrial partners, including pharmaceutical companies of all sizes, will have the opportunity to explore avenues for launching clinical research initiatives at KFSH&RC.

The forum will feature 15 keynote speeches, over 30 presentations on ongoing projects by industry leaders, five panel discussions, and numerous other sessions. The goal is to cultivate a shared vision for the future of advanced therapies in the Kingdom and to localize manufacturing technology for cellular and gene therapies.

In recent years, KFSH&RC has emerged as a beacon of hope for patients who faced limited treatment options, using genetically modified immune cells to successfully treat more than 120 individuals.

The journey began with a positive outcome for the first child from the region to be treated using T-cells. More recently, the hospital successfully applied advanced gene therapy to eight patients with hereditary hemophilia. The single-dose therapy effectively elevated levels of the missing clotting factor, empowering patients to reclaim their lives.

KFSH&RC has been ranked 20th among the top 250 academic healthcare institutions worldwide, according to SPA, and has held the top spot in the Middle East and Africa region for two consecutive years.

Currently, more than 30 gene and genetically modified cell therapies have been officially approved for clinical use. Experts predict that the global cell and gene therapy market is poised for exponential growth, outpacing the traditional pharmaceutical industry to surpass a staggering $50 billion annually by 2027.

It is estimated that more than 2 million patients will benefit from T-cell therapy within the next decade, with more than a thousand clinical research studies actively underway across the globe.