Riyadh hosts high-level talks with former world leaders to address global issues 

Chairing the panel as a keynote speaker was Prince Turki Al-Faisal,  chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies. (AN photo by Abdulrahman bin Shalhoub)
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Chairing the panel as a keynote speaker was Prince Turki Al-Faisal,  chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies. (AN photo by Abdulrahman bin Shalhoub)
Shoura council member Huda bint Abdulrahman Al-Halisi takes part in the talks in Riyadh. (AN photo by Abdulrahman bin Shalhoub)
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Shoura council member Huda bint Abdulrahman Al-Halisi takes part in the talks in Riyadh. (AN photo by Abdulrahman bin Shalhoub)
Two days of talks in Riyadh are focused on several issues, including the regional politics of the Middle East and challenges of maritime security. (AN photo by Abdulrahman bin Shalhoub)
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Two days of talks in Riyadh are focused on several issues, including the regional politics of the Middle East and challenges of maritime security. (AN photo by Abdulrahman bin Shalhoub)
Two days of talks in Riyadh are focused on several issues, including the regional politics of the Middle East and challenges of maritime security. (AN photo by Abdulrahman bin Shalhoub)
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Two days of talks in Riyadh are focused on several issues, including the regional politics of the Middle East and challenges of maritime security. (AN photo by Abdulrahman bin Shalhoub)
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Updated 19 May 2024
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Riyadh hosts high-level talks with former world leaders to address global issues 

Riyadh hosts high-level talks with former world leaders to address global issues 
  • Theme of the talks is “The Middle East in a Changing World: uncertainties, risks, and opportunities”
  • Topics at the meeting will build on and further develop the actions decided at the sustainable development goals summit in September 2023 as well as COP28

RIYADH: Two days of talks in Riyadh are focused on several issues, including the world order, its challenges and opportunities, the regional politics of the Middle East, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and challenges of maritime security.

The talks, from May 19-20, are being hosted by the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in partnership with Nizami Ganjavi International Center and the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. The theme of the talks is “The Middle East in a Changing World: uncertainties, risks, and opportunities.”

“By having these kinds of sessions, we develop our own thinking,” Ismail Serageldin, co-chair of Nizami Ganjavi International Center, told Arab News. 

“You hear one point of view and the counterpoint of view, and you weigh all of that, and these are all very influential people. They were all former presidents and prime ministers, and they had influence on their delegations of the countries there. And they may be able to mediate between different opinions when we have a more formal proposal coming up later,” he said. 

Other topics of discussion include the urgency of global dialogue, climate change, economies in the Middle East, and the Middle East in the age of artificial intelligence. 

“We hope to gather these insights for the summit of the future in the United Nations in September and then again in the COP29, in Baku in November,” Serageldin said. 

Topics at the meeting will build on and further develop the actions decided at the sustainable development goals in September 2023 as well as the COP28 meeting in Dubai in December 2023. 

Chairing the panel as keynote speakers were Prince Turki Al-Faisal,  chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, and Vaira Vike-Freiberga, co-chair of Nizami Ganjavi International Center and former president of Latvia.

Also attending were Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Waleed El-Khereiji, Miguel Angel Moratinos, the high representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations, and Maria Fernanda Espinosa, president of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly and former minister of foreign affairs and minister of defense of Ecuador. 

Other participants on the panel included Ivo Josipovic, the former president of Croatia, Mladen Ivanic​​​​​, former president of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Stefan Lofven​​​​​, former prime minister of Sweden, Rosen Plevneliev, former ​​​​president of Bulgaria, and Montenegro’s former minister of defense, Milica Pejanovic.

Discussing the list of high-level officials on the panel Serageldin said: “Many of them are former presidents, former prime ministers, who have had enormous international and national and regional experience. We want to develop insights in a framework that allows us to discuss, without the formality of official delegations presenting proposals and reacting to the proposals of another country. Global challenges require global responses.

“The first session discussed the new global order, not just how to deal with the problems of the Middle East,” Serageldin said. 

Another speaker at the session, Volkan Bozkir, president of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly and former minister of EU affairs for Turkiye, said: “We must not only concentrate on Russia and Ukraine issues.

“There are horrible things happening in other parts of the world, like Sudan, there is famine, people are dying there, we must show our coordination to help those countries, there is a fight in the Latin American countries, drug lords are capturing societies,” Bozkir said. 

He emphasized the need to go beyond the Russia-Ukraine conflict and jointly tackle other challenges around the world. 

Plevneliev discussed the crises in Gaza and put a question to the meeting: “What happens on the day after in Gaza?”

He highlighted the importance of having a strategy for the future of Gaza, underlining the need for “sustainable solutions for peace.”

Shoura council member Huda bint Abdulrahman Al-Halisi discussed multilateralism and the need to bridge local and global. 

“If we all agree that multilateralism is in crisis, we need to discover the root causes and the possible solutions,” she said. “We all agree that all countries have or should have an equal voice.  

“We all want justice, we want development, we want peace, but we are not achieving this globally because there is a weakening of democracy around the world, we see that it is only right that we hold governments into account for not keeping to their commitments,” Al-Halisi said.

She called for the need to push for transparency and accountability, the rule of law, responsiveness, and inclusivity. 

“We need to bridge the local with the global,” she said. 

In an interview with Arab News, Serageldin emphasized the need to turn back to the UN. 

“It was rightly said that the UN is the only institution that has global legitimacy. Everywhere in the world somebody recognizes the UN, but we all recognize that it is hampered, it is tied up, it can’t function,” he said. 

“We need to find ways of reviving it (UN) and giving it the hope that we all have to bring to the task of global peace and security,” he said. 


Specialist hospital organizes Advanced Therapies Forum

Specialist hospital organizes Advanced Therapies Forum
Updated 15 sec ago
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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.


Award-winning Saudi film ‘Norah’ premieres in theaters across the Kingdom

A special screening of award-winning Saudi film “Norah”  was held on Wednesday night at Roshn Front’s Vox Cinema.
A special screening of award-winning Saudi film “Norah” was held on Wednesday night at Roshn Front’s Vox Cinema.
Updated 14 min 36 sec ago
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Award-winning Saudi film ‘Norah’ premieres in theaters across the Kingdom

A special screening of award-winning Saudi film “Norah”  was held on Wednesday night at Roshn Front’s Vox Cinema.
  • “Norah” achieved great success at the 78th annual Cannes International Film Festival
  • Film was first screened last December at the Red Sea International Film Festival, where it won the “Best Saudi Film” award

RIYADH: The award-winning Saudi film “Norah” made its premiere in the Kingdom on Thursday after its international success at the Cannes Film Festival.

A special screening was held on Wednesday night at Roshn Front’s Vox Cinema, where director Tawfik Al-Zaidi was in attendance alongside the film’s star, Maria Bahrawi, and her acclaimed co-stars Yaqoub Al-Farhan and Abdullah Al-Sadhan.

Al-Farhan told Arab News: “To be accepted in Cannes is an indication of how important this film is, and also an indication of how much progress the film industry (has made) here.

“Although it’s still the beginning of it, we’re starting to see the results of the huge work that’s happening right now.

“I’m very positive about the future. If this is the beginning, I think after five or 10 years, we’ll be seeing a lot of great films from Saudi.”

“Norah” achieved great success at the 78th annual Cannes International Film Festival, where it was the official selection for the “Un Certain Regard” competition, one of the most critical titles of the event. It also received the Special Mention from the jury, making it the most notably recognized Saudi film at Cannes.

The film takes place in a remote Saudi village in the 90s, where Norah (played by Bahrawi) dreams of seeing horizons beyond her small village. As a new teacher, Nader (played by Al-Farhan) makes his way to her hometown, and Norah’s world begins to open up through art, knowledge and creativity, leading her to discover more about her own family history.

“The fact that they chose me for the role only two weeks before production was a surprise for me. But, thankfully, my first role in a film was a success and reached international audiences. I’m very proud and happy that today it’ll be in cinemas and the world can see it, and I’m excited to see people’s reactions,” Bahrawi told Arab News.

While it was first screened last December at the Red Sea International Film Festival, where it won the “Best Saudi Film” award, the nationwide cinema premiere is a culmination of the film’s journey to its intended audience: the Saudi public.

Bahrawi said: “The fact that they chose me for the role only two weeks before production was a surprise for me. But, thankfully, my first role in a film was a success and reached international audiences. I’m very proud and happy that today it’ll be in cinemas and the world can see it, and I’m excited to see people’s reactions.

“Since I was young, I’ve always dreamed of being an actress, and today I can say that I’ve reached that and acted in my first film as a lead role… AlUla was the city that made my first dream come true.”

Taking public participation even further, a competition was presented to the public last Thursday inviting all girls named Norah to play a part. About 500 girls took part, and two winners received tickets to the special pre-screening event.

“Norah” is the first Saudi feature to be filmed entirely in AlUla. “The city itself and its locations really complemented the film’s story, so that was a wonderful choice for the location,” Bahrawi said.

While the film is both Bahrawi’s debut on the big screen and Al-Zaidi’s first feature film, it was also a personal experience for Al-Farhan, who is widely known for his role in the TV mini series “Rashash.”

“There’s so many similarities between me and the character, which is why it’s a very personal project for me and it’s so dear to my heart, especially after the achievement of the Cannes Film Festival,” he said.

In preparation for the role, Al-Farhan spent time with a professional sketch artist in order to learn the craft for his role — even simple things like holding a pencil the right way.

He said that the beginning sketches featured in the film were his own work, but the final results were “by a real artist.”

Production was supported by the Film Commission through Daw, a national initiative to support and encourage Saudi filmmakers. The film also received support from Film AlUla, the Red Sea Film Fund and Generation 2030.

The inspiration for “Norah” came to Al-Zaidi in 2015 from his need to express something within him. In the same way that Al-Farhan’s character, Nader, portrays his feelings on sketchbooks and canvases, Al-Zaidi uses the big screen.

He told Arab News: “I’m a lover of art in all its forms, whether its music, drawing or visiting museums, cinema encapsulates all of these arts and shows them beautifully through a film’s crew.

“I wanted to create these emotions between two people who love art, Norah and Nader. Art is a means of communication between people, and a means of expression as well.”

As the Saudi film scene continues to develop and grow toward global horizons, Al-Zaidi is confident that the industry can overcome challenges.

“Challenges will always be there, but as they say, ‘success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan’ ... if you believe in yourself, you will get there,” he said.


OIC marks World Refugee Day

OIC marks World Refugee Day
Updated 42 min 15 sec ago
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OIC marks World Refugee Day

OIC marks World Refugee Day
  • Hissein Brahim Taha called for prioritizing the humanitarian needs of vulnerable people forced to flee their homes due to wars, conflicts and natural disasters
  • Brahim Taha said that offering aid and protection to migrants is not only a humanitarian obligation, but also an Islamic duty

JEDDAH: Organization of Islamic Cooperation Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha has reiterated the OIC’s support and solidarity with world refugees.

He called for prioritizing the humanitarian needs of vulnerable people forced to flee their homes due to wars, conflicts and natural disasters.

In a statement released on Thursday to mark World Refugee Day, observed annually on June 20, Taha expressed deep gratitude and admiration toward OIC member states for their efforts in providing refuge to displaced people.

He said that offering aid and protection to migrants is not only a humanitarian obligation, but also an Islamic duty.

Taha acknowledged that OIC member states shoulder the largest share of global responsibility in hosting more than half of the world’s refugees. He urged the international community to stand in support of the OIC member states and highlighted the importance of establishing equitable partnerships.

The secretary-general praised the pivotal role played by UNRWA in alleviating the suffering of Palestinian refugees.

He called on the international community to exert concerted efforts to hold the Israeli occupation accountable for its disregard of international laws.


Authorities at Halat Ammar crossing see off departing Hajj pilgrims

Saudi authorities at the Halat Ammar border crossing, in the northwest of the Kingdom, continue to bid farewell to pilgrims.
Saudi authorities at the Halat Ammar border crossing, in the northwest of the Kingdom, continue to bid farewell to pilgrims.
Updated 49 min 9 sec ago
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Authorities at Halat Ammar crossing see off departing Hajj pilgrims

Saudi authorities at the Halat Ammar border crossing, in the northwest of the Kingdom, continue to bid farewell to pilgrims.
  • Worshippers expressed their gratitude to the Saudi government after being offered copies of the Qur’an, SPA said

RIYADH: Saudi authorities at the Halat Ammar border crossing, in the northwest of the Kingdom, continue to bid farewell to departing pilgrims.

Pilgrims expressed their gratitude to the Saudi government after being offered copies of the Qur’an, Saudi Press Agency reported. 

Hajj 2024 ended on Tuesday and those pilgrims who visited Madinah before the annual pilgrimage have started to leave the Kingdom.  


Ministry supervises Riyadh slaughterhouses for Eid

Slaughterhouses in the Riyadh region received 8,623 slaughters on the fourth day of Eid Al-Adha. (SPA)
Slaughterhouses in the Riyadh region received 8,623 slaughters on the fourth day of Eid Al-Adha. (SPA)
Updated 20 June 2024
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Ministry supervises Riyadh slaughterhouses for Eid

Slaughterhouses in the Riyadh region received 8,623 slaughters on the fourth day of Eid Al-Adha. (SPA)
  • Ministry said its technical teams carried out 277 regulatory tours of markets and slaughterhouses in Riyadh and 510 visits to shops, stalls and yards

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture said that slaughterhouses in the Riyadh region received 8,623 slaughters on the fourth day of Eid Al-Adha.

This was through both fixed and mobile slaughterhouses supervised by the specialized teams from the ministry’s branch in the region, conducting regulatory operations and providing veterinary inspection services for all livestock.

The ministry said that its technical teams carried out 277 regulatory tours of markets and slaughterhouses in Riyadh and 510 visits to shops, stalls and yards in the region’s markets. These activities resulted in issuing 14 warnings and one violation for non-compliance with health regulations and requirements in slaughterhouses.

In addition, citizens and residents continued to respond positively to the community initiative, “One-third of the sacrifice,” contributing to meat donations for families in need. 

The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture’s branch in the Riyadh region has made significant efforts during this year’s Eid Al-Adha season.

These included early preparations for organizing the main and temporary sheep markets, as well as the regular and mobile slaughterhouses.