Pakistan-Saudi trade ties to scale new heights

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The Saudi trade delegation with Saudi Arabia Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf Al-Malki and Commerce Secretary Mohammed Younus Dagha during a dinner. (AN photo)
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From right, Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Trade Abdul Rahman Al-Harbi, Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaz Al-Malki (center) and Commerce Secretary Mohammed Younus Dagha exchange views. (AN photo)
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From right, Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Trade Abdul Rahman Al-Harbi, Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaz Al-Malki (center) and Commerce Secretary Mohammed Younus Dagha exchange views. (AN photo)
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Officials attend an informal meeting as Saudi Arabia trade delegation visits Pakistan. (AN photo)
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From right, Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Trade Abdul Rahman Al-Harbi, Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaz Al-Malki (center) and Commerce Secretary Mohammed Younus Dagha exchange views. (AN photo)
Updated 07 September 2018

Pakistan-Saudi trade ties to scale new heights

  • Delegation identifies key areas of development in Islamabad
  • Riyadh says it looks forward to cement relationship with newly-formed government

ISLAMABAD: Following on the heels of a high-powered business meeting between Islamabad and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia's Deputy Minister for Foreign Trade Abdul Rahman Al-Harbi pledged an increase in bilateral trade volume with a focus on expansion in the oil, gas and petrochemical sectors.

“Current bilateral trade relationship is now around $3.2 billion and it is not meeting expectations… I think there is a great room for improvement [in the existing trade volume],” Al-Harbi told Arab News, on the sidelines of a dinner hosted by Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Pakistan, Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki, on Wednesday.

Al-Malki said relations between Pakistan and Saudi are deep-rooted, with both countries looking to expand in major sectors. “We will further cement our strong ties with the new government,” Al-Malki said.

Pakistani officials from the ministry of trade and commerce were also present at the meeting, including the Secretary of Commerce Mohammed Younus Dagha. 

Dagha, on his part, said that result-oriented meetings have been held between the two sides and the response from “Saudi Arabia side was very very positive.” “We want a very large investment from Saudi Arabia. And we are talking in [terms of] several million dollars … [specifically] in the petrochemical sector,” he said.

Referring to the role of the private sector in enhancing bilateral trade ties, Al-Harbi said they had held meetings with representatives from SABIC, Maaden and Aramco which helped identify “many areas of cooperation”.

“Personally, I’m very optimistic and I think it (bilateral trade) has a great potential and it is in the right direction now. We [just have to] make sure that the private sectors get access to those opportunities,” he said.

Dagha said Pakistan has huge investment potential, especially in the agricultural sector, and Saudi Arabia would be extended all help to advance in the field. “We are willing to give Saudi large areas of land. They can come and develop [their resources],” Dagha said.


Pakistani breast cancer detection startup hopes to get FDA approval by next year

Updated 59 min 59 sec ago

Pakistani breast cancer detection startup hopes to get FDA approval by next year

  • Xylexa Inc. has developed software that produces mammogram results within seconds, pushing diagnosis accuracy up to 90 percent
  • Pakistan has the highest rate of breast cancer in Asia with approximately 90,000 new cases diagnosed every year

ISLAMABAD: The CEO of a Pakistani startup that uses artificial intelligence and image processing to detect breast cancer said this week he was hopeful his software would break onto the global stage next year after getting approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Xylexa Inc., a computer-aided diagnostics platform, has developed software that processes mammograms within seconds and produces results, pushing diagnosis accuracy up to 90 percent while also cutting costs and time.
Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, and Pakistan has the highest rate of the disease in Asia, with approximately 90,000 new cases diagnosed every year. Of those, 40,000 patients do not survive, according to data from the Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association, which says approximately one out of every nine Pakistani women are likely to suffer from breast cancer. Around 77 percent cases of invasive breast cancer occur in women above 50 years, though if diagnosed early, the survival rate is close to 90 percent.
“Breast cancer’s early diagnosis is the biggest challenge [and] when a radiologist reads a mammogram with a naked eye, the [chances of] misdiagnosis are over 30 percent,” Shahrukh Babar, Xylexa’s chief executive officer, told Arab News on Monday.
“We have developed an artificial intelligence-based decision support system which reads mammograms, processes them through innovative algorithms and exactly pinpoints where the anomaly is present and what type of anomaly it is, either it is benign or belligerent,” Babar said. “There is no subscription fee for our service as hospitals and individuals can pay per study. It is a cloud based application which can be accessed easily anywhere and anytime. Even patients will be able to upload their mammograms to get the diagnosis.”
The company began to develop the software in early 2017, and it is now being used on a trial basis in hospitals in The Netherlands and Germany. Xylexa hopes to release its application performance results by November and is developing partnerships with hospitals in Dubai, Europe and the US before it launches the software commercially next year after getting FDA certification, the CEO said.
“We are launching it in Pakistan by first quarter of next year, and will be launching it globally in 2021,” Babar said, adding that his company was closely working with an advisory board of oncologists and radiologists from North America and Canada to fine-tune the product.
Healthcare specialists say death by breast cancer can be prevented in one third of women if routine mammography was performed in women over 50 years of age.
“It is quite alarming that breast cancer is becoming common in younger age groups,” said Dr. Erum Khan, a surgeon and healthcare specialist at Polyclinic hospital in Islamabad. “The the only way to tackle it effectively is early and accurate detection.”