Finnish official calls for Gaza ceasefire during visit to Kingdom

Short Url
Updated 28 May 2024
Follow

Finnish official calls for Gaza ceasefire during visit to Kingdom

Finnish official calls for Gaza ceasefire during visit to Kingdom
  • Immediate access to humanitarian aid is ‘cruicial,’ Pekka Puustinen tells Arab News
  • Calls for Russia to be ‘stopped’ in its illegal attack on Ukraine

RIYADH: Pekka Puustinen, undersecretary of state internal and external affairs for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, visited Saudi Arabia for the first time on Sunday, and discussed Finland’s foreign policy regarding the Israeli-Hamas conflict and Russia-Ukraine war.

In an interview with Arab News on the sidelines of the annual ambassadors’ meeting, Puustinen addressed the need for humanitarian aid to reach civilians in Gaza.

“Immediate access to humanitarian aid to Gaza is crucial,” he said.

On the Israeli-Hamas war, he said: “The Finnish stance is very clear. We are for an immediate ceasefire, finishing off the hostilities, immediate release of all the hostages, on both sides. And then this two-state solution, which is not easy to achieve, but the trust must be restored in the region.”

Referring to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Puustinen said that “Russia should be stopped.”

He said: “The illegal Russian attack against Ukraine is actually a blatant, breach of all the international confidence and international agreements.

“We are very concerned about that — Russia should be stopped. They should withdraw from Ukrainian soil, and everything should be done (so) that this won’t happen again.”

He added: “If Russia is not stopped in Ukraine, they will continue elsewhere.”

Puustinen also discussed Saudi-Finnish ties, saying that cooperation is “growing fast.”

“We enjoy a really good relationship nowadays, and we are very happy with the societal opening up of your country as well,” he said.

The Finnish official highlighted that there is a common interest between the two countries in the fields of industrial production, new technologies, energy, mining, and green advances.

Puustinen said he would like to see cooperation grow, with greater investment on both sides.

“We would like to see, of course, increased investments in both directions.

“These large projects under the Vision 2030, in your country, really offer ample opportunities for Finnish companies because of the know-how we can offer.

“I’m predicting a lot of increase (in trade). In the latest figures I have on trade between the two countries, there was an increase of more than 10 percent last year. It’s a huge increase. And if it continues, it’s very welcome news for all of us.”

Puustinen said that Finnish companies are leaders in investment in infrastructure, mining, energy efficiency, and trade, including paper export.

“Finland is one of the leading countries in providing solutions, durable or sustainable solutions,” he said.

He also highlighted that Finland, similar to Saudi Arabia, has a focus on environmental protection.

Puustinen commended Saudi Arabia on its selection to host Expo 2030.

“I want to commend the Saudi Arabian government because you won the bid to become the host of Expo 2030. So it’s rather symbolic to be hosting that in the same year (Vision 2030).

“And, actually, it’s 2030 when the Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations should also be achieved. So, it’s very symbolic,” he said.


Saudi focuses on global economy at G20 development meeting

Saudi focuses on global economy at G20 development meeting
Updated 23 July 2024
Follow

Saudi focuses on global economy at G20 development meeting

Saudi focuses on global economy at G20 development meeting

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Economy and Planning Minister Faisal bin Fadel Alibrahim has been holding talks with officials from several nations on the state of the global economy at the G20 Development Ministerial Meeting in Brazil.

On the sidelines of the G20 meeting, which began on Monday and ends on July 24, Alibrahim held discussions with Brazil’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mauro Vieira on the latter’s agenda while holding the presidency of the G20.

They also discussed efforts to enhance cooperation in various sectors, including infrastructure, agribusiness and renewable energy, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

The minister also met with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Secretary-General Mathias Cormann on regional and global economic developments, and Saudi Arabia’s work with the OECD.

In addition, Alibrahim had discussions with Singapore’s Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education Mohamad Maliki Osman.

They focused on ways to enhance relations including in the industrial, education, investment and financial sectors.

 

 


Mermaids in the Red Sea: Jeddah diving course offers new aquatic adventure

Mermaids in the Red Sea: Jeddah diving course offers new aquatic adventure
Updated 23 July 2024
Follow

Mermaids in the Red Sea: Jeddah diving course offers new aquatic adventure

Mermaids in the Red Sea: Jeddah diving course offers new aquatic adventure
  • It's a whimsical yet invigorating experience for divers wanting to try something new

JEDDAH: Inspired by mythical sea-dwelling creatures, a diving center in Jeddah is offering a first-of-its-kind mermaid diving course for those wanting to splash around in cool waters during the summer.

Scuba Schools International at Al-Haddad Scuba in the coastal city offers a whimsical yet invigorating experience for those in search of an aquatic adventure.

All over the world, mermaids represent beauty, danger, transformation, duality, and feminine power. Today they continue to inspire literature, film, fashion, and even marine conservation efforts.

Ali Ayoub, Al-Haddad Scuba, certified mermaid diver

Arab News spoke to Corinna Davids, an Austrian scuba diving and swimming instructor known for her groundbreaking approach to mermaid diving. She developed the SSI Mermaid Program after years of expertise in free diving and swimming.

Davids became an instructor in swimming and scuba diving at SSI when she was 18 and has since revolutionized the diving industry, making waves with her innovative techniques and passion for the sea.

HIGHLIGHTS

• In April, Corinna Davids held the first mermaid diving course for instructors in Saudi Arabia.

• The course comprises extensive theory sessions, in-water training, and evaluations of teaching abilities.

Mermaid diving, she explained, is an art form that combines the technique of dolphin kick used in swimming with an exaggerated, aesthetically pleasing movement. This unique style not only looks beautiful but also ensures efficiency and safety.

“By mastering various fun skills and tricks, SSI mermaids can perform beautifully while maintaining safety protocols,” she told Arab News.

Saudi model Wafaa Al-Masry said the mermaid diving course was ‘a fun and unique experience.’ (Supplied)

Davids says that to become a mermaid one needs only basic water confidence. “The program is easily accessible, and to become a mermaid instructor, one needs to complete additional steps after becoming a mermaid,” she added.

The mermaid diving experience is incomplete without the mermaid costume. Davids recommends using high-quality monofins, such as the Mahina Monofin, which provides efficiency and aesthetic appeal. The tail skin, made from Lycra or scuba fabric, completes the look and will give mermaids the confidence to shine.

In April, Davids held the first mermaid diving course for instructors in Saudi Arabia, focusing on safety, technique and teaching methods to ensure that trainees are able to teach mermaid diving to students of all levels. The course comprises extensive theory sessions, in-water training, and evaluations of teaching abilities.

Initiatives such as the Vision 2030 plan aim to diversify the economy and promote tourism, which includes the development of new recreational activities like mermaid diving.

Ali Ayoub, Al-Haddad Scuba, certified mermaid diver

“The course received an overwhelmingly positive response from the trainees, who showed significant improvement throughout the program,” she said.

The newly certified instructors will be able to teach the mermaid diving program throughout Saudi Arabia.

“The primary aim of conducting this course in Saudi Arabia was to introduce a new, fun program that would appeal to kids and adults alike. Mermaid diving offers an exciting experience for those who may be hesitant to try scuba diving or freediving,” Davids said.

Corinna Davids, a respected scuba diving and swimming instructor known for her groundbreaking approach to mermaid diving. (Instagram/corinna.flowrebels)

Four participants from diverse backgrounds took part in the course, including a swimming instructor and lifeguard, two scuba instructors (one of whom is a doctor), and a free-diving instructor who is also an air traffic controller.

Ali Ayoub, a certified mermaid diver and scuba instructor from Al-Haddad Scuba, told Arab News: “Saudi Arabia has been undergoing considerable social and cultural transformations, with more emphasis on leisure and recreational activities.

“Initiatives such as the Vision 2030 plan aim to diversify the economy and promote tourism, which includes the development of new recreational activities like mermaid diving.”

Ayoub added that mermaid diving requires strong swimming abilities and good physical fitness. “Practice swimming regularly, work on your breath-holding techniques, and consider taking free-diving courses to improve your underwater endurance,” he advised.

He added that mermaid divers can participate in educational programs for schools, community groups, and public events: “They can share information about marine ecosystems, the threats they face, and how individuals can help. Their captivating presence can make learning about these issues more engaging and memorable.”

Wafaa Al-Masry, 22, a Saudi model, took the mermaid diving course under the supervision of coach Ayoub. She told Arab News: “It was a fun and unique experience. Initially, I thought it would be difficult, but with the training and the coach’s guidance, I found it easy and enjoyable.”

She said that breathing techniques, relaxation, and mastering the fin method were new skills she managed differently throughout the mermaid course. “The trainer was excellent in providing instruction, making the experience fun, and delivering valuable information,” she added.

Davids has written a comprehensive guide for those interested in discovering the magic of mermaid diving in Saudi Arabia. The guide provides all the necessary information for new mermaids to stay safe, make informed decisions, and choose the right equipment.

Having trained more than 3,000 divers in the past five years, Al-Haddad Scuba specializes in unique activities such as snorkeling, deep diving and night diving, providing immersive experiences of the vibrant underwater world alongside a community of fellow ocean enthusiasts.

 

 


Saudi farmer turns worm waste into wealth in innovative move

Saudi farmer turns worm waste into wealth in innovative move
Updated 22 July 2024
Follow

Saudi farmer turns worm waste into wealth in innovative move

Saudi farmer turns worm waste into wealth in innovative move
  • Vermicomposting operation is an example of agricultural ingenuity

RIYADH: A Saudi farmer has developed a technique that transforms a common garden nuisance into a useful resource.

Mohammed Al-Shaer, of Al-Dhafir village in Baha, has established a thriving vermicomposting operation on his farm, producing high-quality organic fertilizer from earthworms, according to a report by the Saudi Press Agency.

Al-Shaer’s venture began approximately a year ago with a simple setup: a single 5-meter-long, 60 cm-high tank housing roughly 2,000 worms. The worms were fed a diet of dry leaves, organic waste, and food scraps and were closely monitored for four months, yielding over 300 kg of nutrient-rich compost and a tenfold increase in their population.

Baha farmer Mohammed Al-Shaer’s worm compost accelerates plant growth, enhances fruit production, and improves overall soil health. (SPA)

“Through extensive field trials and research into global best practices, I have gained insights into worm behavior, needs, and breeding techniques,” Al-Shaer explained in an interview with the SPA. His operation has since expanded to four tanks, producing enough vermicompost to fertilize roughly 250 trees on his property.

The benefits of this organic fertilizer are manifold. It accelerates plant growth, enhances fruit production, and improves overall soil health.

FASTFACT

Mohammed Al-Shaer’s venture began approximately a year ago with a simple setup: a single 5-meter-long, 60 cm-high tank housing roughly 2,000 worms.

Al-Shaer added: “The worms naturally enhance soil quality, optimize nutrient cycling for crops, and develop sound agricultural practices to enhance the production of fruits and vegetables.”

Looking ahead, the farmer aims to scale up his project to develop it into a comprehensive operation that produces large quantities of worm compost.

He also intends to raise awareness about this ecofriendly practice among fellow farmers through agricultural festivals in Saudi Arabia, encouraging his contemporaries to use organic fertilizer as an alternative to chemical fertilizers, which can harm soil, plants, and human health.

Local officials, notably Fahd Al-Zahrani, director general of the branch of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture in Baha, have expressed support for the proposal.

Dr. Lubna Saad, an associate professor of applied nutrition at Al-Baha University, emphasized the scientific benefits of vermicomposting, describing it as a potent mixture of worm castings and processed organic matter.

“These worms consume most of the organic inputs, transforming them into vermicompost,” Saad said in an interview with the SPA.

“The resulting material is then sifted and filtered, producing a ready-to-use fertilizer suitable for all types of agricultural fields. It significantly enhances the soil’s ability to absorb and retain water.”

Farmers participating in the recent Khayrat Al-Baha Festival praised Al-Shaer’s initiative, noting improvements in their crop quality after using organic fertilizer, the SPA reported.

 

 


Al-Baha Honey Festival to begin Tuesday

The festival will continue for 14 days until Aug. 5. (SPA)
The festival will continue for 14 days until Aug. 5. (SPA)
Updated 22 July 2024
Follow

Al-Baha Honey Festival to begin Tuesday

The festival will continue for 14 days until Aug. 5. (SPA)
  • Al-Zahrani added that all types of honey exhibited are tested carefully to ensure quality

AL-BAHA: Under the patronage of Al-Baha Gov. Prince Hussam bin Saud bin Abdulaziz, the 16th International Honey Festival kicks off on Tuesday, July 23, organized by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture and held at the Cooperative Association of Beekeepers headquarters in Baljurashi Governorate.

Fahd Al-Zahrani, director general of the ministry’s Al-Baha branch, said the festival will continue for 14 days until Aug. 5.

The festival will continue for 14 days until Aug. 5. (SPA)

He said the festival will witness the participation of 90 beekeepers from seven countries to showcase their products.

Al-Zahrani added that all types of honey exhibited are tested carefully to ensure quality.

The festival will continue for 14 days until Aug. 5. (SPA)

Nine governmental, civil, and voluntary entities are also participating in the festival, which is one of the most important agricultural festivals in the Kingdom, attracting exhibitors and experts from around the world every year.

 


Financial district in Riyadh earns SmartScore Neighborhood certification

View shows the King Abdullah Financial District, north of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
View shows the King Abdullah Financial District, north of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
Updated 22 July 2024
Follow

Financial district in Riyadh earns SmartScore Neighborhood certification

View shows the King Abdullah Financial District, north of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
  • With this certification, the financial district becomes the first development in the Middle East and Africa to receive WiredScore’s SmartScore Neighborhood certification

RIYADH: The King Abdullah Financial District obtained the SmartScore Neighborhood certification by WiredScore, the world’s leading authority on smart building technologies, for its excellence in advanced digital infrastructure that provides a robust network, sustainability and seamlessness at the level of living, work and leisure.

With this certification, the financial district becomes the first development in the Middle East and Africa to receive WiredScore’s SmartScore Neighborhood certification.

The recognition comes after a rigorous evaluation and certification process that started in Sept. 2023, when WiredScore announced at a Cityscape Global event in Riyadh that KAFD met the pre-certification criteria for the SmartScore Neighborhood certification.