KACST, Mawhiba launch program for gifted students

KACST, Mawhiba launch program for gifted students
KACST has launched the 2024 Generation Research and Innovation Enrichment Program. (SPA)
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Updated 01 July 2024
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KACST, Mawhiba launch program for gifted students

KACST, Mawhiba launch program for gifted students
  • Initiative will help over 90 gifted students from across Saudi Arabia
  • Amani bint Mohammed Al-Shawi, CEO of Academy 32 at KACST, highlighted the program’s pivotal role in nurturing young talents

RIYADH: The King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology launched on Monday the 2024 Generation Research and Innovation Enrichment Program.

This initiative, organized by the organization’s Academy 32 in collaboration with the King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity, also known as Mawhiba, will help over 90 gifted students from across Saudi Arabia cultivate their skills.

In her opening remarks, Amani bint Mohammed Al-Shawi, CEO of Academy 32 at KACST, highlighted the program’s pivotal role in nurturing young talents and preparing them for local, regional, and international competitions.

She cited the outstanding achievements of last year’s participants, who won nine awards at the International Science and Engineering Fair in the US, 13 medals and special awards at the International Invention, Innovation and Technology Exhibition in Malaysia, and 25 special awards and eight grand prizes at the National Olympiad for Scientific Creativity.


US invites Sudan’s warring parties for talks in Switzerland in August

US invites Sudan’s warring parties for talks in Switzerland in August
Updated 10 min 55 sec ago
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US invites Sudan’s warring parties for talks in Switzerland in August

US invites Sudan’s warring parties for talks in Switzerland in August
  • Antony Blinken: ‘The scale of death, suffering, and destruction in Sudan is devastating. This senseless conflict must end’
  • The war in Sudan has forced almost 10 million people from their homes, sparked warnings of famine and waves of ethnically-driven violence

WASHINGTON: The United States has invited the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces for US-mediated ceasefire talks starting on Aug. 14 in Switzerland, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday.
The talks will include the African Union, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and the United Nations as observers, Blinken said in a statement.
“The scale of death, suffering, and destruction in Sudan is devastating. This senseless conflict must end,” Blinken said, calling on the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to attend the talks and approach them constructively.
The war in Sudan, which erupted in April 2023, has forced almost 10 million people from their homes, sparked warnings of famine and waves of ethnically-driven violence blamed largely on the RSF.
Talks in Jeddah between the army and RSF that were sponsored by the United States and Saudi Arabia broke down at the end of last year.
State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters on Tuesday that the goal of the talks in Switzerland was to build on work from Jeddah and try to move the talks to the next phase.
“We just want to get the parties back to the table, and what we determined is that bringing the parties, the host nations and the observers together is the best shot that we have right now at getting the nationwide cessation of violence,” Miller said.


What We Are Reading Today: Divergent Democracy

What We Are Reading Today: Divergent Democracy
Updated 54 min 19 sec ago
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What We Are Reading Today: Divergent Democracy

What We Are Reading Today: Divergent Democracy

Author: Katherine Krimmel

Democratic and Republican party platforms display clear differences on important issues. They reflect a programmatic party system in which policy positions serve as a key basis of electoral competition.

In “Divergent Democracy,” Katherine Krimmel examines this transformation of the American party system, using innovative machine learning techniques to develop and present the first measure of party differentiation on issues since Democrats and Republicans began competing with each other in 1856.


Riyadh rent hike drives demand for home ownership

Riyadh rent hike drives demand for home ownership
Updated 44 min 34 sec ago
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Riyadh rent hike drives demand for home ownership

Riyadh rent hike drives demand for home ownership
  • Ongoing construction boom to improve housing affordability, expert says
  • Harmon described Ejar platform as unresponsive and biased toward landlords, with tenants feeling that their interests are not being adequately protected

RIYADH: The Kingdom’s capital has experienced a significant surge in apartment rental prices in recent years, making it increasingly difficult for many residents to afford suitable accommodation.

This sharp rise in rental costs has led to a growing trend among Riyadh’s population to prioritize home ownership over renting, as they seek to gain more stability and control over their living situations.

According to recent real estate market data, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in central Riyadh has skyrocketed to over SR5,000 ($1,300) per month (numbers differ daily). For larger units, the costs can be even more staggering, with three-bedroom apartments often commanding monthly rents in excess of SR10,000, a CBRE.sa report states.

Exorbitant rent prices have placed a significant financial strain on many middle-class and lower-income families, forcing them to make difficult choices about their housing options. (AN photos by Hajar AlQusayer)

These exorbitant prices have placed a significant financial strain on many middle-class and lower-income families, forcing them to make difficult choices about their housing options.

“It’s become almost impossible for my family to continue renting,” said Shahad Al-Ghamdi, a young administrative manager living in Riyadh. “The rent for even a modest apartment eats up a large portion of my monthly salary, leaving little room for other expenses. I’ve been seriously considering taking out a mortgage and buying a home instead, as it would ultimately be more cost-effective in the long run.”

FASTFACTS

• According to recent real estate market data, the average rent for a one- bedroom apartment in central Riyadh has skyrocketed to over SR5,000 ($1,300) per month (numbers differ daily).

• The Saudi government has introduced mortgage financing programs and other incentives to make it easier for citizens to purchase their own properties.

• Economist and financial analyst Talat Zaki Hafiz cautioned that factors, such as interest rates and inflation, will play a crucial role in determining overall market dynamics.

Al-Ghamdi’s sentiment is echoed by countless other Riyadh residents, who are increasingly viewing home ownership as a more viable and sustainable option compared to the ever-rising rental market.

To address this pressing issue, the Saudi government has introduced mortgage financing programs and other incentives to make it easier for citizens to purchase their own properties. As a result, the demand for home loans has surged, with many banks reporting a significant increase in mortgage applications over the past few years.

However, as highlighted by the experiences of residents like Romana Harmon, the government’s efforts to regulate the rental market through initiatives like Ejar platform have been perceived as largely ineffective.

Exorbitant rent prices have placed a significant financial strain on many middle-class and lower-income families, forcing them to make difficult choices about their housing options. (AN photos by Hajar AlQusayer)

Harmon described Ejar platform as unresponsive and biased toward landlords, with tenants feeling that their interests are not being adequately protected.

Romana said: “I have had experience with them (Ejar), and they do not respond to people who alert them to overly expensive apartments. They should protect both the landlord and tenant, but they don’t. They seem to be on the side of the landlord and owner.”

Harmon’s concerns raises the question of how can the system more effectively serve the people it is designed to help. Harmon’s own rental experience has been a rollercoaster of broken promises and escalating costs, with the landlord apparently increasing her rent by an astonishing 58 percent despite the standard maximum of 5-10 percent.

Exorbitant rent prices have placed a significant financial strain on many middle-class and lower-income families, forcing them to make difficult choices about their housing options. (AN photos by Hajar AlQusayer)

Harmon said that she was able to contact Ejar but they told her that there are no laws that stop the landlord from increasing a new lease.

Harmon, who is an expat working temporarily in Saudi Arabia, is not considering buying a house and has to deal with rent that keeps getting higher.  

Economist and financial analyst Talat Zaki Hafiz acknowledged the ongoing construction boom in Saudi Arabia which has a “value of construction outputs reaching $141.5 billion, a 4.3 percent increase compared to the previous year.”

Hafiz believes that this expansion in housing and office buildings may help narrow the gap between supply and demand, potentially leading to more balanced rental prices and improved housing affordability.

However, Hafiz also cautioned that other factors, such as interest rates and inflation, will play a crucial role in determining overall market dynamics. He remains optimistic about the future, but emphasized the need for continued efforts to address the root causes of the rental crisis and ensure that housing remains accessible and affordable for all.  

“But we are still in good condition compared to countries who are members of G20 and I believe solutions are taking place … it is matter of time to increase the supply of houses,” Hafiz added.

To truly address the rental crisis in Riyadh, the Saudi government must take a more comprehensive and responsive approach. This may involve strengthening rent control regulations, empowering regulatory bodies like Ejar to effectively protect tenants’ interests, and exploring innovative solutions to increase the supply of affordable housing units.

By addressing the systemic issues underlying the rental market, the government can help alleviate the financial burden on Riyadh’s residents and foster a more inclusive and prosperous future for the city.

 


Thriving tree planted by King Faisal a symbol of Saudi-Pakistani relations

The Sapium sebiferum, or Chinese tallow tree, was planted by King Faisal during his 1966 visit to Pakistan. (SPA)
The Sapium sebiferum, or Chinese tallow tree, was planted by King Faisal during his 1966 visit to Pakistan. (SPA)
Updated 56 min 4 sec ago
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Thriving tree planted by King Faisal a symbol of Saudi-Pakistani relations

The Sapium sebiferum, or Chinese tallow tree, was planted by King Faisal during his 1966 visit to Pakistan. (SPA)
  • Dr. Salma Hawsawi: “The Sapium sebiferum tree holds an exceptional place and importance, connecting Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. It represents a model of international bonding for nearly 58 years, since the era of King Faisal”

MAKKAH: In the heart of Islamabad’s International Friendship Garden, a tree stands as a living testament to the enduring bond between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

The Sapium sebiferum, or Chinese tallow tree, was planted by King Faisal during his 1966 visit to Pakistan.

The Sapium sebiferum, or Chinese tallow tree, was planted by King Faisal during his 1966 visit to Pakistan. (SPA)

The tree’s presence in Shakarparian, as the garden is known locally, has inspired a wave of goodwill. Across Pakistan, streets, neighborhoods, mosques, and universities now bear the names of Saudi monarchs, reflecting the deep-rooted affection between the two countries.

The garden, home to trees planted by various world leaders, bursts into bloom each spring. Yet, for many Pakistanis, King Faisal’s tree, as it is locally known, holds special significance. It stands as a living reminder of the shared history and mutual respect between the two nations.

HIGHLIGHT

The presence of the tree planted by King Faisal in Shakarparian, as the garden is known locally, has inspired a wave of goodwill.

King Faisal was among the first guests to plant a tree in this garden, which blossoms with flowers in spring and has become a destination for tourists from around the world.

The Sapium sebiferum, or Chinese tallow tree, was planted by King Faisal during his 1966 visit to Pakistan. (SPA)

Dr. Salma Hawsawi, professor of ancient history at King Saud University, told Arab News: “The Sapium sebiferum tree holds an exceptional place and importance, connecting Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. It represents a model of international bonding for nearly 58 years, since the era of King Faisal.”

The “warmth and enthusiasm” displayed during the state visits are telling, she noted. “They reveal the deep-rooted connection and mutual respect that have grown between our nations over the decades.

“These trees, with their vibrant green hue, have long symbolized hope and prosperity,” Hawsawi explained. “Their robust root systems serve as the foundation for branches, leaves, and fruits. King Faisal laid down the primary foundation.”

The tree is known for its quick growth which “perfectly encapsulates the dynamic expansion of our bilateral ties,” she added, elaborating on how this natural metaphor extends to various facets of the countries’ partnership.

“We have witnessed this accelerated growth in our strategic partnerships, knowledge exchange programs, cultural dialogues, economic investments, and efforts toward political stability and peace. Trees embody growth, prosperity, stability, and continuity. These qualities are deeply ingrained in the multifaceted relationship between our two nations,” Hawsawi concluded.

 


Rescue operation for capsized oil tanker off Oman deactivated, maritime center says

Rescue operation for capsized oil tanker off Oman deactivated, maritime center says
Updated 42 min 49 sec ago
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Rescue operation for capsized oil tanker off Oman deactivated, maritime center says

Rescue operation for capsized oil tanker off Oman deactivated, maritime center says
  • Nine of the 16-member crew were found alive and one dead, the center reiterated, without giving further detail on the fate of the remaining six crew members

CAIRO: The rescue operation for the Comoros-flagged Prestige Falcon oil tanker that capsized off Oman on July 15 has been deactivated, Oman’s Maritime Security Center said on Tuesday.
Nine of the 16-member crew were found alive and one dead, the center reiterated, without giving further detail on the fate of the remaining six crew members.