Saudi Arabia to suspend domestic flights, mass land transport from Saturday

Travel on public transport within Saudi Arabia has been suspended. (AFP)
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Updated 20 March 2020
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Saudi Arabia to suspend domestic flights, mass land transport from Saturday

  • Taxi services warned against evading the ban

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is suspending domestic flights, trains, buses and taxis for 14 days in a heightened effort to stop the spread of the COVID-19, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said on Friday.

Quoting a directive from the Ministry of Interior, SPA said the new measure will take effect at 6 a.m. on Saturday, March 21, 2020.

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health has confirmed 274 COVID-19 cases so far and no deaths, while globally the pandemic has killed nearly 10,000 and infected over 240,000.

Only flights related to humanitarian and necessary cases, medical evacuation aircraft and private aviation would be allowed, provided that they are covered by the necessary permits issued by the Civil Aviation Authority, SPA said.

Also exempted from the travel ban are buses belonging to government agencies or public or private health facilities, and commercial establishments transporting their employees, or those that are used for health, humanitarian or security purposes.

Bus and taxi operators are obliged to obey the suspension order so as not to suffer penalties, the SPA quoted the Interior Ministry.

Affected in the train services suspension are the Riyadh-Dammam line through Abqaiq and Hofuf, the Riyadh-Jawf line through the Majmaa, Al-Qassim and Hail, and the Haramain Express. 

Allowed to continue operating are commercial transport trains, including the freight train between King Abdulaziz Port in Dammam and the Dry Port in Riyadh, and the mining train of the Saudi Railways Company "Saar".

Transport ferries between Jazan and Farasan Island may also continue operating, but the number of passengers would be reduced to 100 people per trip, "taking into account the employees and residents of Farsan Island, and not allowing travel through them for tourist purposes."

Cargo ships will be allowed to continue with their usual program, provided that the crews take all precautions to limit the transmission of infection.

Transportation related to vital sectors such as health, services and basic commodities such as food, energy, water and communications, etc., air freight and necessary security transfers will not be affected by the temporary ban, said the SPA report.


Arab innovators shine in space exploration contest

Updated 7 sec ago
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Arab innovators shine in space exploration contest

  • Saudi Space Agency awards 10 winners in arts, botany, engineering

RIYADH: The Saudi Space Agency wrapped up its Space Madak competition on Tuesday by awarding 10 winning contestants prizes for their arts, botany and engineering projects.

Hailing from seven Arab countries, the winners were revealed at a ceremony hosted by the agency at the Communications, Space and Technology Commission headquarters in Riyadh.

The event marked the first anniversary of Saudi Arabia’s “Journey to Space” mission and was attended by the agency’s CEO Mohammed Al-Tamimi, officials, experts, and ambassadors from the winning students’ countries.

The competition, engaging ambitious Arab students, showcased their enthusiasm for space exploration and skills development.

The panel of judges comprised scientists, experts and space enthusiasts.

Following rigorous evaluation rounds, the top 10 contenders were chosen for their exceptional contributions.

In the arts category, winners included Yamen Al-Zaabi from Jordan, Preeti Sami from Egypt, Jawaher Farhan from Bahrain, Rafqa Mansour from Lebanon, and Aline Al-Issa from Saudi Arabia.

Sadan Al-Dosari from Saudi Arabia, Hooriya Basheikh from Morocco, and Fatima Al-Khabouriah from Oman won in the botany category.

Engineering-category winners were Abdulrahman Qattan from Saudi Arabia and Yara Reda from Syria.

The ceremony celebrated the winners and acknowledged the creative endeavors of more than 50 finalists, chosen from a pool of 80,000 submissions vying for prizes totaling SR500,000 ($133,320).

The winning projects will be showcased on the International Space Station, offering an opportunity to advance research, development, and innovation in space exploration while enriching Arab contributions in this field.

The competition represents a significant milestone in the Saudi Space Agency’s mission to support research, development, and innovation within the domain of space exploration.

With a focus on nurturing creative thinking among Arab students, the initiative aims to ignite curiosity about space and inspire breakthroughs in this burgeoning field.

The space mission, carried out by astronauts Rayyanah Barnawi and Ali Al-Qarni, included 14 pioneering scientific experiments.

According to a press release issued by the agency, the mission was a part of the “Saudi Toward Space” program, aligning with the Kingdom’s focus on research, development and innovation driven by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Al-Tamimi praised the achievements of the SSA-HSF1, or Saudi Space Agency-Human Space Flight 1, mission. This was a major milestone in the Kingdom’s journey toward leadership in the space sector.

He said there were 14 research experiments conducted in microgravity, yielding valuable contributions to research, development and innovation.

Al-Tamimi said the mission helped foster national expertise and enhance cooperation with leading international institutions.

He added that the agency remained committed to supporting innovative projects.


Manga International launches in Tokyo to showcase Saudi creativity on global stage

Updated 11 min 7 sec ago
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Manga International launches in Tokyo to showcase Saudi creativity on global stage

RIYADH: In a move to bolster its international presence, Manga Arabia, a subsidiary of the Saudi Research and Media Group, announced the launch of Manga International at a ceremony in Tokyo, Japan.

The event drew in prominent officials and media representatives from Saudi Arabia and Japan, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

This expansion follows a series of successful partnerships and agreements with major Japanese manga publishers, such as Kodansha, Shueisha, Kadokawa, Shogakukan, and Hakusensha.

Manga Arabia has a strong track record in the Arab world, having launched two manga magazines — one for children and another for young adults — in both print and digital formats.

The company reaches over 8 million users in 195 countries, with a print distribution network of 220 points in the Arab world, selling over 400,000 copies monthly.

SRMG CEO Jomana Al-Rashid highlighted the significance of this international foray.

“We are strategically expanding through partnerships with leading manga companies and establishing a legal framework equipped with cutting-edge technologies,” she said.

“This will not only generate financial returns but also nurture an educational environment catering to the immense global demand for this content,” Al-Rashid added, emphasizing how this geographic and cultural expansion will help combat content piracy and intellectual property theft.

Manga Arabia and Manga International CEO Essam Bukhary said: “Through the art of manga and creative industries, we have achieved remarkable success in the Arab world, earning the trust of our Japanese and international partners. Now, under the umbrella of SRMG, Manga International seeks to leverage our pioneering experience and development in global markets.”

Bukhary elaborated on plans to translate and produce a range of comic stories targeting international audiences.

He added that the expansion signifies a qualitative leap for Saudi and Arab creativity on the world stage, aligning with Manga Arabia’s vision of empowering imagination, nurturing and developing Arabic content, and delivering it to a global audience across all demographics and generations.

Building on this commitment, Manga Arabia has already translated several of its comic stories into English, Chinese, and Malay for international markets.

Collaborating with the Literature, Publishing, and Translation Commission, it has also adapted a selection of Saudi novels into manga format, aiming to reach diverse audiences and present Saudi literature and culture through the lens of manga.


Saudi Arabia, Japan to collaborate on original anime, gaming content

Updated 21 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia, Japan to collaborate on original anime, gaming content

  • Officials in Tokyo discuss localizing Japanese media through translation
  • Kingdom will host this year’s Esports World Cup in July

TOKYO: Saudi and Japanese officials are exploring plans to localize gaming and digital entertainment offerings in the Kingdom.

The Saudi Arabia-Japan Vision 2030 Business Forum’s digital entertainment roundtable discussed Saudi efforts to build a local gaming industry, which includes localizing Japanese games for the Saudi market, collaborating with esports tournament organizers and investing in digital entertainment.

Saudi Minister of Communications and Information Abdullah Al-Swaha and Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih attended the event in Tokyo, with the former giving a short speech during the opening.

Prince Faisal bin Bandar Al-Saud, vice chairman of Savvy Games Group, was also part of a panel discussion at the event.

The forum focused on promoting cultural exchange by creating content that appeals to both Japanese and Saudi audiences.

Officials discussed how to localize Japanese manga and anime by translating content through Saudi publishers, who will in turn distribute the content throughout the Middle East.

They also agreed to explore co-publishing agreements to create new and original content.

Saudi Arabia’s gaming sector is expected to grow to $1.3 billion in value over the next two years, with 58 gaming companies operating in the Kingdom. About 67 percent of Saudi Arabia’s population (about 24.8 million people) are active video game players.

The Kingdom will host this year’s Esports World Cup in July, which features about $60 million in prize money.

Saudi Arabia has previously collaborated with Japanese companies on entertainment, providing the Kingdom with expertise and cutting-edge technologies to improve the digital entertainment industry.

This article originally appeared on Arab News Japan


Saudi Cabinet: Crown prince reassures council of King’s health

Updated 15 min 47 sec ago
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Saudi Cabinet: Crown prince reassures council of King’s health

RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman assured Ministers of King Salman’s good health during a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, state news agency (SPA) reported.

The king underwent medical tests at royal clinics at the palace earlier on Sunday after he suffered from a high temperature and joint pain, SPA said. 

He was diagnosed with lung inflammation and prescribed a course of antibiotics as treatement at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah.

The crown prince also briefed the council on the outcomes of the Council of the League of Arab States session, emphasizing the Kingdom's commitment to Arab issues, joint action development, regional security enhancement, and defending Arab interests.

Minister of Information Salman bin Youssef Al-Dosari stated after the session that the council discussed recent state activities, particularly efforts to strengthen regional and international cooperation.

The council affirmed the Kingdom's commitment to international cooperation in combating money laundering, terrorist financing, and corruption.

The Saudi cabinet also granted authority to the Minister of Energy, Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman, to finalize a memorandum of understanding with Pakistan on energy cooperation. 

The Saudi also cabinet approved of the Kingdom's accession to an international agreement on wetlands of international importance, particularly as habitats for waterbirds.


KSrelief sends aid to Sudan and Pakistan

Updated 21 May 2024
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KSrelief sends aid to Sudan and Pakistan

  • Agency provided 956 food parcels, benefitting nearly 5,500 people in Sudan
  • Nearly 600 shelter kits distributed in Pakistan's Gwadar to 4,000 people

Saudi Arabian aid agency KSrelief distributed hundreds of food aid packages and shelter kits to thousands most in need in Sudan and Pakistan, state news agency SPA reported on Tuesday.

The agency provided 956 food parcels, benefitting nearly 5,500 people in Sudan, while nearly 600 shelter kits were distributed in the Gwadar district of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, benefitting more than 4,000 people.

The assistance is part of a series of relief and humanitarian projects implemented by KSrelief across the world.