900,000 copies of the Quran for pilgrims at Madinah airports

900,000 copies of the Quran for pilgrims at Madinah airports
Muslim pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba during the annual Hajj pilgrimage in Makkah, Saudi Arabia, Monday, June 17, 2024. (AP Photo)
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Updated 17 June 2024
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900,000 copies of the Quran for pilgrims at Madinah airports

900,000 copies of the Quran for pilgrims at Madinah airports
  • Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs has meticulously prepared the Al-Khandaq, Sayyid Al-Shuhada, and Qiblatain mosques with an integrated service system
  • Ministry has arranged for the distribution of copies of the Quran — a gift from the Saudi leadership — to departing pilgrims

MADINAH: Osama Madkhali, director of the Madinah branch of the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, said preparations are ongoing to assist departing pilgrims, especially those who quickly proceed to visit Madinah and leave through its airports.

He highlighted that coordination with the King Fahd Complex for the Printing of the Holy Quran in Madinah has ensured the allocation of more than 900,000 copies of the Quran to the region. These copies have been stored and distributed to locations at Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah and Prince Abdulmohsen bin Abdulaziz Regional Airport in Yanbu, where the departure halls at both airports have been prepared to assist pilgrims.

The ministry has also completed its preparations to receive the first group of Hajj pilgrims, especially those departing quickly after fulfilling their Hajj rituals.

The ministry’s branch in Madinah has meticulously prepared the Al-Khandaq, Sayyid Al-Shuhada, and Qiblatain mosques with an integrated service system. This includes thorough cleaning, maintenance, air-conditioning units, water coolers and effective crowd management.

In addition to distributing guidance and awareness books to pilgrims visiting the large mosques, the ministry has arranged for the distribution of copies of the Quran — a gift from the Saudi leadership — to the departing pilgrims.


Saudi Arabia's Mawhiba ties up with UNESCO to promote STEM education in Arab countries

Saudi Arabia's Mawhiba ties up with UNESCO to promote STEM education in Arab countries
Updated 9 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia's Mawhiba ties up with UNESCO to promote STEM education in Arab countries

Saudi Arabia's Mawhiba ties up with UNESCO to promote STEM education in Arab countries
  • The partnership aims to enhance STEM education for students from 6th grade to 12th grade across Arab states
  • Special attention will be given to empowering Arab girls and young women, ensuring they have equal opportunities to excel in STEM fields

PARIS: Mawhiba, an endowment organization that aims to nurture talented Saudi students in the scientific field, has signed a partnership agreement with the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to foster science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education across Arab countries.

The agreement was signed on July 19, 20204 in Paris by Abdulaziz bin Saleh Al-Subail, Mawhiba deputy secretary-general for business development and communication, and Lidia Arthur Brito, UNESCO’s assistant director-general for natural sciences, Mawhiba said in a news release carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Mawhiba is the short name for the King Abdulaziz and his Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity, which was organized in 1999 in honor of Saudi Arabia’s founding king.

As explained by Brito, the partnership aims to enhance STEM education for students from 6th grade to 12th grade across Arab states, ”focusing on refining their scientific knowledge, nurturing creativity, and fostering critical thinking,“ according to news release.

It seeks ”to provide young people with the necessary knowledge and capabilities and to motivate them to use science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to meet global challenges,“ she said.

She said the experience gained by Mawhiba in working with youth in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will help in exchanging these experiences globally, adding that ”there is potential for expanding these efforts to Africa and other parts of the world to promote sustainable development goals.“

Special attention will be given to empowering Arab girls and young women, ensuring they have equal opportunities to excel in STEM fields, she said.

Mawhiba has identified 97,000 gifted students out of more than 300,000 tested in more than 100 cities and villages across the Kingdom. Its sponsorship of over 54,000 students and its participation in international science competitions for talented youth has reaped global recognition for the Kingdom. 

Saudi students have so far won over 397 medals and prizes in these competitions, developed over 16,000 ideas, acquired 15 patents and over 1,000 Saudi students were accepted in the world’s top 50 prestigious universities in distinguished disciplines that meet the needs of national development plans, the SPA report said.

Mawhiba Secretary-General Amal bint Abdullah Al-Hazzaa emphasized the shared commitment to empowering young Arab minds and advancing sustainable development through education and innovation. She underscored the importance of this collaboration within the framework of Saudi Vision 2030.

Central to the initiative is the MAWHIBA-UNESCO Online STEM Oasis, which will serve as a global platform for local, national, and regional science and engineering fairs. 

The partnership will focus on training Arab science teachers to lead research and guide students in scientific projects, thereby enhancing the overall quality of STEM education, said the Mawhiba news release.

”Mawhiba is committed to expanding the use of the UNESCO Open Science Portal and the UNESCO Science-2-Innovation Network to build the capacity of young scientists and women in STEM education globally.

“Over the past three years, Mawhiba has supported 839 students from Arab states through enriching STEM programs, setting a precedent for regional cooperation and development in STEM education,” it added.

By joining forces with UNESCO, Mawhiba aims to amplify its ability to address global challenges such as climate change, health crises, and technological disruptions, it said.


Saudi Arabia, MWL welcome ICJ ruling on Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories

Saudi Arabia, MWL welcome ICJ ruling on Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories
Updated 20 July 2024
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Saudi Arabia, MWL welcome ICJ ruling on Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories

Saudi Arabia, MWL welcome ICJ ruling on Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories
  • The Kingdom calls for practical steps to reach a just solution to the Palestinian cause
  • MWL says the ruling is "a positive step towards the human and legal right of the Palestinian people to reach a just and comprehensive solution to their cause"

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has welcomed a ruling by UN’s top court that Israel’s settlement policy on Palestinian territory breaks international law.
The Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement that the Kingdom welcomed the advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice and called for practical steps to reach a just solution to the Palestinian cause.
The World Court issued the judgment, which is non-binding, on Friday.

A sign stands in the Palestinian village of Battir, a UNESCO heritage site in the occupied West Bank south of Jerusalem, which is now threatened by Israeli settlers trying to build a new, illegal outpost. (AFP)

In a separate statement, the Saudi-based Muslim World League described the ICJ ruling as "a positive step towards the human and legal right of the Palestinian people to reach a just and comprehensive solution to their cause."

MWL Secretary-General Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, who is also chairman of the Association of Muslim Scholars, said the decision, although non-binding, ensures that Palestinians "obtain their legitimate rights to self-determination and establishing their independent state in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative and relevant international legitimacy resolutions."

The court panel found “the transfer by Israel of settlers to the West Bank and Jerusalem as well as Israel’s maintenance of their presence, is contrary to article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”
The ruling comes against the backdrop of Israel’s devastating bombardment on Gaza, following the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants on Israeli settlements adjacent to the Palestinian enclave.
Israel captured the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem in 1967, but Palestinians consider the areas as integral part of a future independent state.

A view of Battir, a UNESCO heritage Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank south of Jerusalem, which is now threatened by Israeli settlers trying to build a new, illegal outpost. (AFP)

The Saudi Cabinet on Tuesday condemned the “continued genocidal massacres” against the Palestinian people amid Israel’s battle with Hamas in Gaza.
The Kingdom wants an independent state for the Palestinian people, encompassing the 1967 borders.
The US and regional players have been attempting to end the conflict in Gaza through a peace deal between Hamas and Israel, which would include the release of Israeli hostages and a form of lasting cessation of military activities.

(With SPA)


How Saudi Arabia and its Asian partners are driving green development ahead of COP29

How Saudi Arabia and its Asian partners are driving green development ahead of COP29
Updated 20 July 2024
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How Saudi Arabia and its Asian partners are driving green development ahead of COP29

How Saudi Arabia and its Asian partners are driving green development ahead of COP29
  • Asian nations share a common vision for climate action that does not hinder growth and prosperity
  • From the Saudi Green Initiative to Azerbaijan’s adoption of solar, Asia seeks harmony between humans and nature

QINGDAO, China: As one of the world’s largest economies and contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, China is seen as having a particular responsibility among nations to help address climate change and promote sustainable development.

As such, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization invited Asian countries to participate in a two-day Green Development Forum in Shandong earlier this month to discuss solutions for a greener future.

China’s President Xi Jinping has expressed his desire to strengthen cooperation with regional parties to work toward common social and economic development goals, while at the same time fostering harmonious coexistence between people and nature.

Representatives from various Asian countries attended the two-day Green Development Forum in Shandong, China, earlier this month to discuss solutions for a greener future. (Supplied)

Shen Yueyue, vice chair of the national committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and chair of the Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation Commission of the SCO, reiterated the need to foster this link between development and the environment.

“Development is development for all, and good development is green development,” Shen said in her keynote address at the forum, which was themed: “Joining hands in green development, together promoting harmony between humans and nature.”

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

Green development is a focus for many countries, including Saudi Arabia. Indeed, one of the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform agenda is ensuring sustainable practices in social and economic development.

Two such strategies launched by the Kingdom to promote green development and a low-carbon future are the Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative.

Together, these initiatives aim to increase vegetation cover in Saudi Arabia and across the region by planting billions of trees to mitigate the effects of climate change and to help slow the rise of global temperatures in line with the Kingdom’s net-zero commitments

Another regional state that is making green development a key priority is Iran.

During the SCO conference in Shandong’s port city of Qingdao, Ali Salajegheh, vice president and head of Iran’s Department of Environment, discussed his country’s commitment to fighting climate change.

One example of this is the country’s role in hosting the International Conference on Sand and Dust Storms in 2023.

Family picture of the participants of the Green Development Forum held in Shandong, China, earlier this month. (Supplied)

However, Salajegheh believes that addressing social and political issues is crucial to preventing a deepening of the environmental crisis in the region, including the need for economic stabilization and poverty reduction.

“Developing countries should make sure of their social and economic development as the main priority because the fight against poverty and the development of health and the provision of housing and energy is still for a significant part of the developing world considered a basic priority,” he said, according to Iran’s state news agency IRNA.

These efforts and more will be on the agenda at the 29th UN Climate Change Conference — COP29 — in Baku this November. In the run-up to this major event, host nation Azerbaijan has been working hard to achieve its green development goals.

DID YOUKNOW?

Azerbaijan’s capital Baku will host COP29 in November.

COP29 Presidency aims to raise ambition and enable action.

Baku is committed to developing the nation’s renewable energy potential.

Policies include tax breaks on electric vehicles and investment in education.

Although Azerbaijan is a major player in the global oil and gas industry, ranking 20th in the world for proven oil reserves, one of the key pillars of its green development strategy is the rapid expansion of renewable energy infrastructure.

The country has made significant changes to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, begin the transition to renewable energy, and participate in the global effort to combat climate change.

The 230MW Garadagh Solar Power Plant project in Azerbaijan. (AN photo by Haifa Alshammari)

In 2020, an agreement was signed between Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Energy and UAE firm Masdar to establish the country’s first solar energy facility — the 230-megawatt Garadagh Solar Power Plant.

The project occupies 550 hectares and currently boasts 570,000 bifacial photovoltaic panels, which capture the direct light of the sun and the reflection of sunlight from the ground.

Murad Sadikhov, the Garadagh Solar Power Plant’s country manager, told Arab News the facility has thus far achieved 24-gigawatt capacity. “But we have set a very ambitious goal to reach 100 GW by 2032,” he said.

Murad Sadikhov, country manager at The 230MW Garadagh Solar Power Plant project in Azerbaijan. (AN photo by Haifa Alshammari)

Alongside the implementation of renewable energy projects, Azerbaijan is also encouraging the public to shift from using fossil fuel-intensive vehicles to adopting green modes of transport.

“The government is promoting a green agenda, not only in terms of establishing generative capacity but also on the demand side,” said Sadikhov.

“They promote electrical vehicles. They started the electromobility master plan. They hired prominent consultants. They established new rules and legislations such as the tax relief for EVs and are promoting EVs for public transportation, trying to maximize the use of electric transportation.”

Significant strides have been made in tapping Azerbaijan's immense wind energy potential. The Azerbaijan 240 MW Wind Farm, for one, is being developed by Saudi Arabia's ACWA Power. 

Azerbaijan is also investing heavily in raising public awareness about environmentally friendly practices and training the next generation of sustainability professionals. “Most of the universities now have special programs for renewable energy,” said Sadikhov.

Although green development strategies have been adopted by several nations across Asia, experts and officials are keenly aware that more needs to be done to respond to the climate challenge without undermining social and economic development.
 

 


Better in the long run: how Riyadh’s running clubs beat the heat

Better in the long run: how Riyadh’s running clubs beat the heat
Updated 19 July 2024
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Better in the long run: how Riyadh’s running clubs beat the heat

Better in the long run: how Riyadh’s running clubs beat the heat
  • From new sports projects, physical activity is soaring, and running is no exception

RIYADH: For many, summer in Saudi Arabia is a time to relax on the couch, turn up the air conditioning, and watch other people play sports on TV, with those who dare to challenge this approach often ending up with heatstroke.

Yet, running clubs in the Kingdom are busier than ever, and show no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

Seema Ghannam, who regularly takes part in Riyadh Road Runner club sessions, told Arab News: “You can keep active wherever you are. There is no limit to movement anywhere you go because you already have hands, arms, and legs. This is what you are born to do, to keep moving.”

Riyadh Road Runner, made up of a variety of ages and nationalities, began with a warmup before moving to strength training and then running laps around the court. (Supplied)

Until recent years, physical activity in the Kingdom was almost nonexistent outside of schools and designated football teams. People were discouraged by the lack of facilities, suitable outdoor spaces, and the hot weather. Now, all that is changing. From the growing number of padel courts to the new projects at Sports Boulevard, physical activity is soaring, and running is no exception.

To find out how these runners manage to keep up their routines in the heat, Arab News visited Riyadh Road Runners, established in 1978, at one of the club’s 7:30 p.m. Monday sessions at the Eid Villas Compound. Runners were doing laps, climbing stairs, and completing full-body workouts.

The group, made up of a variety of ages and nationalities, began with a warmup before moving to strength training and then running laps around the court, focusing on proper technique.

FASTFACTS

• Until recent years, physical activity in the Kingdom was almost nonexistent outside of schools and designated football teams.

• Now, all that is changing. From the growing number of padel courts to the new projects at Sports Boulevard, physical activity is soaring.

Coach Amr Hafez has the runners break up their runs occasionally with bodyweight and stair exercises to increase stamina and muscle strength. The session ends with a final lap around the whole compound. At the end of a very sweaty workout, the runners take a dip in the pool to cool down.

Ghannam, who is also a yoga teacher and swimming instructor, added running to her exercise routine two years ago. She said that she enjoys Hafez’s holistic approach to the body, training the abs, hips, glutes, and thighs.

“We focus on trying to learn different kinds of running, how to run, how to place your toes, what shoes you should use.”

Riyadh Road Runners, Eid Villas Compound. (Photo by Mayas Al-Ahmadi)

Ghannam said that she enjoys running outdoors because “you want your skin and your body to get used to the temperature.” But to manage the heat, runners should choose a time that is best for them, whether at night or early in the morning.

Hafez, a national sales manager at a Saudi food company, has coached with Riyadh Road Runners for more than three years. He has three key rules when it comes to running in summer. One is to stay well hydrated, two is to control your breathing, and three — much to our dismay — is high-intensity interval training.

The coach said that when he first started running, he used martial arts moves as part of his training, a fitness trick he learned from his first running coach.

Riyadh Road Runners, Eid Villas Compound. (Photo by Mayas Al-Ahmadi)

“Runners need to build all their muscles to have great ability,” he said. “Combining strength with fitness helps people develop running ability for doing long distance.”

Hafez said that he used to think running served no purpose, and was simply a means of punishment when a school coach thought someone was slacking off. He never imagined he would one day run a marathon or be teaching other people to do the same.

“Most of the team when they first started couldn’t jog even 1k,” he said.

Omar Al-Ansari, a coach with Riyadh club R7, has six marathons under his belt. R7 runs in Wadi Hanifa, where the location offers protection against the heat.

“The trails are naturally shaded by the trees, and the breeze from the lake provides a 3–4-degree difference in temperature from the rest of the city,” he said.

Like Riyadh Road Runners, R7 emphasizes staying hydrated. “Always run with water, take electrolytes to preserve what is being lost through sweating,” Al-Ansari said.

He also advises runners to wear light-colored clothing, to complete their workouts before sunrise or after sunset, and to choose a garden or wadi as a location, or exercise indoors.

“And never forget your sunscreen,” he added.

Many runners told Arab News there is no longer any excuse for being inactive in the Kingdom.

“We are seeing a broader awareness about the importance of having an active lifestyle in the country, and despite our difficult weather in the summer, there are ways to go about it,” Al-Ansari said.

Hafez offered Arab News this simple suggestion: “Start by walking and go from there.”

 


Saudi economy minister in talks with IMF managing director

The Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning met with Kristalina Georgieva, the IMF's managing director. (SPA)
The Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning met with Kristalina Georgieva, the IMF's managing director. (SPA)
Updated 19 July 2024
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Saudi economy minister in talks with IMF managing director

The Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning met with Kristalina Georgieva, the IMF's managing director. (SPA)
  • Talks focused on global and regional growth prospects amid the latest economic developments, in addition to reviewing the main developments and trends in the local economy

RIYADH: Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal bin Fadel Alibrahim met with Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

Talks focused on global and regional growth prospects amid the latest economic developments, in addition to reviewing the main developments and trends in the local economy. They also looked into strengthening cooperation between the Kingdom and the IMF.

The meeting was attended by Ammar Nagadi, vice minister of economy and planning; Rakan Alsheikh, deputy minister for policies and economic planning at the Ministry of Economy and Planning; Yaser Faquih, general director for the economic research and insights department at MEP; Hattan Mounir bin Samman, general supervisor for international organizations at MEP; and Ismail Salloum, executive director of Saudi Arabia’s National Infrastructure Fund.