Saudi Arabia’s most talked about podcast talks about nothing at all!

Saudi Arabia’s most talked about podcast talks about nothing at all!
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Saudi Arabia’s most talked about podcast talks about nothing at all!
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Saudi Arabia’s most talked about podcast talks about nothing at all!
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Saudi Arabia’s most talked about podcast talks about nothing at all!
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Saudi Arabia’s most talked about podcast talks about nothing at all!
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Saudi Arabia’s most talked about podcast talks about nothing at all!
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During radio interviews.
Updated 30 September 2016

Saudi Arabia’s most talked about podcast talks about nothing at all!

Saudi Arabia’s most talked about podcast talks about nothing at all!

The amount of time we spend looking for a good radio channel or playlist at home, the car or office is way more than anyone would like to admit. Finding the right track for your mood, getting the right frequency and getting that song in just the right volume that suits the mood is a challenge! The number of playlists out on the Internet can make your head spin, video playing apps do work at home, but are you sure that it won’t be disconnecting if you’re on the road? How can you be 100 percent sure that this is the right station for you? You really can’t, not to mention sparing yourself from cheesy radio hosts fake laughing their way through a show or playing music that really doesn’t sit with your state of mind. So how about a podcast? I mean who wouldn’t like to hear news on the go for the politicos out there, the latest for you tech-savvy geeks, the hottest new winged liner for the fashionista in you and just about everything else for the chilled individual greedily tapping on the keyboard so as not to forget her next sentence (guilty as charged).
Let’s talk podcasts. These have got to be the best creation that came out since radio; at least that’s my personal opinion (admit it you think so too). With more and more people tuning in to listen to podcasts, it’s gaining a lot more momentum lately than when it first started. So what is a podcast? It’s simply a digital show that you can download to your computer, phone or player, a portable radio show you can listen to whenever you want and wherever you want. Frankly, podcasts are amazing to listen to if you have some free time instead of spending that time in search for the right station or music, you have to learn something either way so why not through a podcast? A group of friends wanted to do just that, create a podcast and combine their different interests, talk about everything and nothing at all, educate but be the cool kids in class and joke around at the same time. After planning it for months and never finding the right time to do it, all it took is one lunch break at KAUST and that’s it, Mstdfr came to be. Ammar Sabban, Rami Taibah, Omair Taibah and Faisal Alaseeri gathered at Ammar’s home, brought out his recording gadgets and microphone and talked, just talked.
I wanted to know more about who the people behind Mstdfr are, they grabbed my attention with their name obviously, such a quirky Arabic slang and the content was intriguing as well. After a couple of podcast episodes, I requested to interview the bunch and I was kindly asked to participate in one of the podcast episodes. The conversation was between Rami, Faisal, Ammar and I and here’s what went down with all three giving their answers at the same time.

Let’s start with the name “Mstdfr”, what does it mean and how did you come up with it?
To start, the name popped up in the middle of our first ever podcast episode, we (Ammar Sabban, Rami and Omair Taibah, Faisal Alaseeri) were trying to find a proper name for ourselves and we didn’t want something normal, we wanted to geek out which was the whole purpose of the podcast actually, to geek out. So we were just talking about geeks at school and how they’re know-it-alls and we figured that “geek” in Arabic is “dafoor” and playing around with the word, “Mstdfr” popped up as a derivative of the word, and there it was, our name. Hi we are the guys behind “Mstdfr”

Tell me a bit about the concept behind the podcast?
We want to have fun basically. We welcome a guest for every podcast, we’re a diverse group of people and it’s in Arablish (mix of both English and Arabic). Each guest of course has a different background and to have a diverse group with diverse ideals and different life views keeps the conversation going sometimes more than the time intended when recording. Of course we do talk about their background and get an understanding of what they do and how they do it, we hear their story and we just go from there. We literally move from one topic to another keeping with the flow of the conversation because we’re having fun. Yeah we do poke around a bit and be all competitive, but all in the spirit of fun

How do you choose your topics? Are they totally random or do you have a list?
We do have a list of topics actually, they’re picked at random and we don’t really define each guest with a topic they’re most comfortable with. We’ll just call them up, ask them to join our podcast and allow the conversation to flow in and out of the topic at hand. We’re a diverse group, we don’t usually agree on everything and we tend to agree to disagree but that’s the fun part, to keep ourselves away from our comfort zones. Some of our topics run through current affairs, culture, technology, media, challenges facing the new Arab generation, and everything in between. This is how most conversations between friends are anyway, we’re just broadcasting it to the world to listen to with us.

How do you see your podcast progressing? Is it attracting as much listeners as you expected?
It was way more than we expected! We now have under our wing eight shows in Arablish, English and Arabic. We get good feedback and some even send long messages wanting to seriously interact and answer and comment as radio shows sometimes do but they can’t because it’s a podcast. Some of the comments that we get are hilarious, it’s a fun side activity for us and we have more ideas coming up and more guests too. It’s a podcast that caters to all.

I’ve been hearing Mstdfr this and Mstdfr that, you’re gaining a lot of momentum and I’ve been hearing people mention you every now and then. It’s been a year since you’ve launched and so far you’re ranking well up in the top 50 podcasts, why do you think so?
We think because of the diversity of our topics, we don’t stick to one topic per podcast, we can start anywhere from movies to bacteria, and we’re thankful for our listeners and followers. Because of them, the Mstdfr show is ranking in 4th place this month under top comedy podcasts in Saudi Arabia, we fell from 1st place last month but it’s all good. We also have “ilm fm” ranking 4th under technology and “eish btswi” in 38th place under education.

You guys are really enjoying this, aren’t you?
Yes we are, how can we not? We gather every few days, talk about anything and nothing. With the help of a guest, who might be shocked by the amount of straight forwardness in the conversation, but it’s how we like the flow to be; easy going, awkward, kinda embarrassing at times, knowledgable and educational not to mention understanding that our listeners want something different, new and fresh; that’s how we feel we represent and at least we don’t have a million cheesy and annoying radio advertisements in one show, that’s the best thing about podcasts, it’s nonstop!
We came a long way from our first episode, no more bleeping but we still get to talk no strings attached. A year later, we’ve created a studio now, people can actually come, rent out the room with an onsite producer at hand, microphones, a 12-track mixer and remote recording capabilities. Through our fun time recording podcasts, we’re encouraging more young Saudis who want to create a podcast to go ahead and do it, just have fun while doing it and innovative ideas are limitless.
You can download the MSTDFR show on your phone from the Apple Store, Windows Store, Google Store or listen to it on SoundCloud. You can also find the other shows on www.mstdfr.com
So check them out, it’s fun and hey, it’s free!


Jordan battles to save rare tiny Dead Sea carp

Jordan battles to save rare tiny Dead Sea carp
Updated 18 June 2021

Jordan battles to save rare tiny Dead Sea carp

Jordan battles to save rare tiny Dead Sea carp
Jordan is racing against time to save a tiny rare fish from extinction as falling water levels partly triggered by global warming threaten to dry up its last habitat.
The Dead Sea toothcarp — scientific name Aphanius dispar richardsoni — has been on the red list of the International Union for Conversation of Nature since 2014.
The IUCN warns that the “exploitation of spring waters and climate change” are major threats facing the four-centimeter-long, silver-colored fish.
“This fish is threatened with extinction at the global level. It is endemic here and does not exist elsewhere,” said Ibrahim Mahasneh, the manager of the fish’s last home, the Fifa Nature Reserve.
Lying some 140 kilometers (85 miles) southwest of Amman in the Jordan Rift Valley and 60 kilometers south of the Dead Sea, the area is the lowest wet reserve on Earth.
Established in 2011, the reserve consists of some 20 square kilometers. It is located some 426 meters (1,400 feet) below sea level and is managed by an independent body, the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN).
Even though the Hashemite kingdom is primarily desert, this area of wetlands is criss-crossed by streams and is home to a variety of plant and wildlife species including birds.
“We have a plan to save and breed this fish... to create a natural habitat for it to breed and at the same time to mitigate the existing threat,” added Mahasneh.
“The reserve is the last home for this endangered species of fish,” said environmental researcher Abdallah Oshoush who works in the reserve.


The male fish also has a streak of blue along its sides, while the female has incomplete black stripes.
It is not known how many still remain, but “monitoring programs have warned of a clear decline in the presence of this fish in recent years,” Oshoush said.
Among the environmental threats causing numbers to drop is the “lowering water level due to low rainfall and the change in its environment, as well as the presence of other fish that feed on it and its eggs.”
Researchers are now preparing to open an artificial pond just for the toothcarp so they can grow safely and their eggs are not devoured by predators. Each season, a female produces around 1,000 eggs.
The aim is then to release the young fish back into the natural environment.
“In Jordan live two unique species of fish that do not exist anywhere else in the world. These are our precious treasures and they must be preserved for our ecosystem,” said RSCN spokesperson Salem Nafaa.
Two decades ago the RSCN succeeded in saving the endangered Aphanuis Sirhani fish in its only habitat in the Azraq reserve, about 110 kilometers (65 miles) east of Amman.
It got its scientific name from the Wadi Sirhan, which extends from the Arabian Peninsula to Azraq, but is commonly known in English as the Azraq killifish.
Only about six centimeters long, it is also silver but the female is spotted while the male has black stripes.

“In the year 2000, there were no more than 500 Azraq killifish in the oasis, which means it was on the verge of extinction,” said Nashat Hmaidan, the director of the RSCN Biodiversity Monitoring Center.
“It was declining sharply, and it reached just 0.02 percent of the number of fish in the oasis,” he said, blaming other predatory fish and migratory birds as well as a fall in water levels.
The RSCN studied the fish’s life cycle and determined it needed shallow water to lay eggs, and should be isolated from other species for the best chance of survival.
“We collected 20 fish over two years and put them in a concrete pond designated for breeding.”
After the first fish were released back into the waters the team saw its presence had increased from 0.02 percent to nearly 50 percent. It “was a great success,” he added.
Twenty years on, the Azraq killifish accounts for almost 70 percent of the fish in the waters. But he cautioned the goal now is that the numbers should “never drop below 50 percent.”
Hazem Hrisha, the director of the Azraq Wetland reserve, highlighted its important biodiversity, with more than 133 plant species and more than 163 species of invertebrates.
The reserve “is located on the most important bird migration paths,” he said, adding two thirds of the bird species found in the kingdom had been recorded in Azraq.

International Camel Organization announces North American association

International Camel Organization announces North American association
Updated 17 June 2021

International Camel Organization announces North American association

International Camel Organization announces North American association
  • Decision comes amid growth in camel ranches in the US

RIYADH: The International Camel Organization (ICO) announced on Thursday the establishment of the North American Camel Ranch Owners Association (NACROA) in the US.

Sheikh Fahd bin Falah bin Hithleen, the ICO’s founder and president, said the step was part of efforts to develop the camel sector.

It follows the setting up of the European Camel Ranch Owners Association in 2019.

 

 

The owners of camel ranches in America decided last year to unify their efforts in developing the camel sector through the ICO.

Aaron Scott Wendell, president of the association, said the increasing number of camel ranches in the US prompted them to establish the association.

He thanked Sheikh Fahd for his efforts and encouragement to establish the association.

His work will be reflected in the development of various aspects in the economic, cultural, medical and sports activities of camels, Wendell said.

Founded by Sheikh Fahd in March 2019, the ICO is a non-profit organization based in Riyadh. Currently it includes about 105 member countries from all continents and aims to develop and serve everything related to camels as a heritage.


Saudi chain ALBAIK opens in Dubai

Saudi chain ALBAIK opens in Dubai
Updated 17 June 2021

Saudi chain ALBAIK opens in Dubai

Saudi chain ALBAIK opens in Dubai
  • ALBAIK was established in Jeddah in 1974 and has grown to more than 120 branches

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s famous fast-food chain ALBAIK opened their first branch in Dubai Mall on Wednesday, bringing its range of dishes to the UAE for the first time.

Following the opening of three branches in Bahrain at the end of 2020, ALBAIK was encouraged to open in Dubai. The new 355-square-meter restaurant will serve a wide array of chicken and seafood, grilled dishes, and vegetarian options.

ALBAIK was established in Jeddah in 1974 and has grown to more than 120 branches throughout Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

Listed by CNN as one of the best eight fast-food chains around the world. ALBAIK has developed a community of fanatics across Saudi Arabia.


Billionaire admits cheating to beat Indian chess champ Viswanathan Anand

Billionaire admits cheating to beat Indian chess champ Viswanathan Anand
Updated 15 June 2021

Billionaire admits cheating to beat Indian chess champ Viswanathan Anand

Billionaire admits cheating to beat Indian chess champ Viswanathan Anand
  • Online brokerage firm founder Nikhil Kamath admitted to using “computers” to gain the upper hand

NEW DELHI: A young Indian billionaire has admitted to cheating in a shock win over five-time chess world champion Viswanathan Anand, saying it was for “fun and charity.”
Online brokerage firm founder Nikhil Kamath took on Anand during an online charity event on Sunday and caused quite a stir when he came out on top in a 30-minute rapid game.
The next day he admitted to using “computers” and the help of “people analyzing the game” to gain the upper hand.
“It is ridiculous that so many are thinking that I really beat Vishy sir in a chess game, that is almost like me waking up and winning a 100mt race with Usain Bolt,” Kamath tweeted.
“In hindsight, it was quite silly as I didn’t realize all the confusion that can get caused due to this. Apologies.”
Anand, acclaimed as the greatest player India has produced, played — and beat — a number of celebrity guests including cricketer Yuzvendra Chahal and Bollywood actor Aamir Khan during the event.
The 51-year-old grandmaster appeared to play down the whole affair.
“Yesterday was a celebrity simul for people to raise money It was a fun experience upholding the ethics of the game,” he wrote on Twitter.
“I just played the position (on the) board and expected the same from everyone.”
India’s chess federation saw the incident as violating the spirit of the game.
“We don’t expect anybody to get help from computers, at the national and state level we are following the protocols,” the federation’s secretary Bharat Chauhan told local media.
“(Kamath) was doing it for charity, he shouldn’t have done. This is really bad,” he added.
Anand won his first world title aged 30, and enjoyed great rivalries with the likes of Russian champions Gary Kasparov, Vladimir Kramnik and Soviet-born Israeli Boris Gelfand.


Joe Biden confuses Syria with Libya repeatedly at G7

Joe Biden confuses Syria with Libya repeatedly at G7
Updated 15 June 2021

Joe Biden confuses Syria with Libya repeatedly at G7

Joe Biden confuses Syria with Libya repeatedly at G7

DUBAI: US President Joe Biden appeared to confuse Syria with Libya while speaking at a G7 press conference where he was discussing ways of working with Russia.

The US president was discussing how he might work with Russian President Vladimir Putin to provide aid to countries torn apart by civil war. 

He then briefly mixed up the two nations, which resulted in several confused glances at the press. 

“And so, there’s a lot going on where we can work together with Russia. For example, in Libya, we should be opening up the passes to be able to go through and provide — provide food assistance and economic — I mean, vital assistance to a population that’s in real trouble.”

“And, for example, the rebuilding of — of Syria, of Libya, of — you know, this is — they’re there. And as long as they’re there without the ability to bring about some order in the — in the region, and you can’t do that very well without providing for the basic economic needs of people,” he further said.

White House officials later clarified the confusion and confirmed that the US President was referring to Syria in his speech.