Stem cell technology to cure spinal cordv injuries introduced in KSA

Updated 06 March 2014

Stem cell technology to cure spinal cordv injuries introduced in KSA

The Sultan bin Abdulaziz Humanitarian City (SAHC) announced Tuesday its intention to take stem cell transplantation to new heights by using the method to cure spinal cord injuries.
The announcement was made by Prince Khaled bin Sultan, chairman of the Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud Foundation (SAAF), during the international spinal cord injury conference 2014, which kicked off at the SAHC headquarters on Tuesday.
The theme of the conference, which ends on Thursday, is “Toward a Better Quality of Life.” The conference, first introduced in Australia and New Zealand, is being held for the first time in the Middle East.
The technology, in collaboration with the US-based University of Miami, will revolutionize the scope of paralysis surgery in the Kingdom, making it a leader in the field.
An accord on collaboration between the SAHC and the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis (MPCP), the first center in the US to receive approval from the supervisory board of the Food and Drug Administration for stem cell therapy, was also signed.
Prince Khaled said that the transfer of this technology comes amid efforts to help families cope with the life-changing effects of spinal cord injuries.
Prince Khaled said many people between the ages of 16 and 22 suffer such debilitating injuries.
“The MPCP works on several research and rehabilitation programs in the field of spinal cord and traumatic brain injury,” he said. “The transfer of this technology to the SAHC will make Saudi Arabia one of the first countries in the region to benefit from the revolutionary treatment of spinal cord injury through stem cell research.”
SAHC Executive President Abdullah Zarah said the conference would address the latest findings of modern science in the field of spinal cord injury and stem cell transplantation.
Around 1,500 Saudis are afflicted with spinal cord injuries every year due to accidents.
Rizman Hamid, a senior neurology lecturer at University College London, told Arab News that being afflicted with this type of injury is a lifelong condition.
“Such critical ailments require follow-up, with radiological investigation to optimize bladder function. Patients should undergo regular investigation as a means of detecting potential problems in the bladder, which can lead to kidney damage,” he said.
He added that another major problem resulting from spinal cord injuries, especially among women, is urinary incontinence, which has severe and adverse effects on patients.
“This condition can be cured through a procedure known as the ‘transobtruator tape.’ This is a minimally invasive procedure that has good long-term results,” he said.
Firas Sirhan, director of the Center of Excellence for Telehealth and Assisted Living (CETAL) at Buckinghamshire New University in Middlesex, England, said that the use of technology and health care practice is becoming more visible in the treatment and management of spinal cord injuries.
“Telehealth represents an entirely new way of managing injury that does not easily fit within existing health care frameworks,” he said. “The use of the telehealth model has contributed to empowering patients to become more involved in the self-management of their condition. Telehealth could be an effective tool that contributes to allowing health care professionals, as well as patients, to recognize and identify any changes in medical conditions.
He added that the center can assist in developing packages that combine tested clinical service models with assessed technology to present workable telehealth services based on specific needs.

Money laundering gang sentenced to over 100 years, have SR465 million confiscated from them

Updated 10 April 2021

Money laundering gang sentenced to over 100 years, have SR465 million confiscated from them

  • Saudi members of the gang will be subject to a travel ban
  • Non-Saudi members will be deported once they have served their sentences

RIYADH: A money laundering gang in Saudi Arabia has been sentenced to a total of 106 years in prison and issued a fine of SR1.08 million ($288,000).
Around SR5 million was seized from the gang and nearly SR2 million was confiscated from their bank accounts, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
Five citizens obtained seven commercial registers to import foodstuffs, opened bank accounts, and handed them over to 16 residents of Arab nationality with the aim of depositing illegal sums of money and transferring them abroad, the Public Prosecution said.
A sum of more than SR465 million was also confiscated and is similar to the amount of money that was transferred abroad.
Saudi members of the gang will be subject to a travel ban and non-Saudi members will be deported once they have served their sentences.
Work is underway to prepare a mandate to recover funds from the countries to which they were transferred, SPA said.

Ramadan health awareness campaign launched in Jubail

Updated 10 April 2021

Ramadan health awareness campaign launched in Jubail

JUBAIL: A campaign to raise awareness about health during Ramadan was launched in Jubail governorate’s Al-Salam Park.

The launch was attended by Jubail Gov. Abdullah bin Nasser Al-Askar.

The two-day campaign covered topics including the COVID-19 vaccine, diabetes and fasting, organizing medication, better eating habits, and featured an interactive theater for children to provide health-related cultural programs.

The governor said the country’s leadership attached great importance to healthcare services and providing integrated healthcare services. He hailed the efforts of the Jubail Health Network, saying they represented the national efforts undertaken by the Ministry of Health. 

“This reflects the quality of healthcare services achieved in the Kingdom and these efforts’ products, which include awareness programs that will raise health awareness among society,” he added.

Saudi Arabia announces ten more COVID-19 deaths

Updated 10 April 2021

Saudi Arabia announces ten more COVID-19 deaths

  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 382,776
  • A total of 6,747 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced ten deaths from COVID-19 and 878 new infections on Saturday.
Of the new cases, 410 were recorded in Riyadh, 149 in Makkah, 141 in the the Eastern Province, 30 in Hail, 28 in Asir, 24 in Madinah, 23 in Jazan, 22 in Tabuk, nine in Al-Jouf, eight in Najran and eight in the Northern Borders region.
The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 382,776 after 578 more patients recovered from the virus.
A total of 6,747 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.
Over 6 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Saudi Arabia to date.

Three soldiers executed for treason — Saudi defence ministry

Updated 10 April 2021

Three soldiers executed for treason — Saudi defence ministry

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Defense has announced the execution of three soldiers - Mohammed bin Ahmed bin Yahya Akam, Shaher bin Isa bin Qasim Haqqawi, and Hamoud bin Ibrahim bin Ali Hazmi on charges of high treason, Saudi Press Agency, SPA reported.
The soldiers were convicted of cooperating with the enemy in a way that violated the Kingdom’s military interests, and were sentenced to death. the report said. 
Denouncing the three convicted, the ministry reaffirmed its confidence in the men of the armed forces “who took their oath and sacrificed their blood to preserve the security and stability of Saudi Arabia.”

Film AlUla to boost Saudi film industry

Updated 10 April 2021

Film AlUla to boost Saudi film industry

  • New film commission will shine a light on Saudi Arabia by attracting international producers

DUBAI: A new regional film commission is launching in Saudi Arabia, Film AlUla, which is being set up by the Royal Commission for AlUla in the northwest region of the country.

Located 1,100 kilometers from Riyadh, AlUla is a place of natural beauty and heritage. It is home to Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hegra, which is a 52-hectare ancient city.

AlUla is also home to other historical and archaeological sites, including an old town surrounded by an ancient oasis and the Lihyan Kingdom, which is considered one of the most developed cities of the first millennium B.C. in the Arabian Peninsula.

Extreme E, the off-road electric race championship, will hold this year’s inaugural race in AlUla.

Arab News spoke to Stephen Strachan, film commissioner at Film Alula, to learn more.

Give us a little background on AlUla’s new film commission, Film AlUla. 

Film AlUla is a new regional film office, established in 2020 and launched officially earlier this year by the Royal Commission for AlUla at the Berlin International Film Festival. It was met with a positive reaction from both the film industry and international media.

Film AlUla has been tasked with the mission of promoting the county of AlUla as a filming destination and attracting local, regional and international productions to shoot films, TV series, commercials and documentary projects. The Film AlUla team is made up of local and international industry professionals who offer a range of services, expertise and resources to support production projects in AlUla. 

A view of an old town in ALUla surrounded by an ancient oasis. (Supplied)

What is Film AlUla’s objective? 

We have a range of objectives. Firstly, we want to attract production companies to shoot film projects in AlUla so as to showcase this county of outstanding natural beauty and cultural significance, which has, until recently, remained undiscovered by filmmakers and the world at large.  

This in turn will encourage tourists from around the world to visit AlUla, and to discover the region and the rest of the country, in support of Saudi Arabia’s 2030 vision. Developing our film industry also puts us in a position to shine a spotlight on the wealth of Saudi talent and to provide a platform to champion and support emerging and established creatives here.  

We aim to build a film hub centered in AlUla that generates local and regional employment and educational opportunities for those interested in pursuing a career in the film industry.  

What is the investment in the film and production industry in the city?

AlUla has been identified as one of Saudi Arabia’s most promising destinations. We are confident that the stunning landscapes, wide range of diverse locations and millennia-old archaeological sites will attract film productions and make AlUla a major filming destination. Preserving our heritage sites and landscapes remains a priority in AlUla and the sustainable building of our local screen industries.

A robust financial strategy is in place to make the AlUla region the Kingdom’s cultural capital. Archaeological, cultural and touristic complex plans are underway so we can support film productions with world-class infrastructure and a range of accommodation options, from luxury and unique hotels to eco-friendly, desert canyon resorts, designed to raise the profile of AlUla on the international stage.

What are the incentives being offered to producers?

Production companies are encouraged to get in touch with the Film AlUla team directly to discuss our financial incentives. 

Production companies can also benefit from a range of incentives such as free bespoke production support; location scouting; expert knowledge of filming in AlUla and the rest of Saudi Arabia; assistance in sourcing equipment and professional crew locally and regionally; and, of course, year-round sunshine.

With a temperate climate nine months of the year, AlUla presents filmmakers with an uninterrupted extended period of time during which to shoot their productions. 

What are the procedures and guidelines for local and foreign companies to shoot their productions in AlUla?

We are very excited to open AlUla’s doors to film production and share with the world the wealth of beauty, history, and diversity on display here. We welcome all types of production, and as a member of the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI), we follow best practices as laid out by the AFCI.  

We have a very effective regulatory system in place that is simple and straightforward to ensure production and crew have all the necessary permits in place. Hosted on our website is a Film Production and Location guide that provides a comprehensive overview of all the benefits of choosing AlUla as your production destination. Of course, preserving and protecting our landscape and heritage remain paramount. And, for anyone interested in filming in AlUla, we suggest you reach out to us so we can support you during every step of the process and ensure a successful and enjoyable filming experience.

For more information, please visit

Can you comment on the Extreme E races being filmed in AlUla?

We are thrilled to be the first location featured in the inaugural Extreme E five-stop global race next month, designed to highlight the impact of climate change and promote switching to electric vehicles to protect the planet.  

AlUla will make for an extraordinary and thrilling backdrop for the event. And with Extreme E set to be aired around the world, this is the perfect opportunity to capture the attention of global audiences, enabling them to see the majestic, cinematic landscapes and breathtaking natural wonders of the region for themselves.