Saudis mourn loss of courageous nurse to COVID-19

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Updated 12 June 2020

Saudis mourn loss of courageous nurse to COVID-19

  • Nujood Al-Khaibari worked at Ohud Hospital in Madinah

JEDDAH: A Saudi nurse in the frontline of the battle against the coronavirus pandemic died on Tuesday after contracting the virus while working with patients.

Nujood Al-Khaibari, who worked at Ohud Hospital in Madinah, had tested positive for COVID-19 and later died of the virus.

The Saudi Nurses Association released a statement on Twitter paying their condolences to the nurse and her family.

“The Saudi Nurses Association management, subsidiaries and members offer our sincerest condolences to the family of nursing heroine Nujood Al-Khaibari,” the statement said.

Saudis expressed their grief on Twitter using the hashtag #Nurse_Nujood_AlKhaibari where they shared their prayers for the deceased and her family.

“Those who leave a trace upon others never leave, they’re forever with us. May Allah grant her mercy and may she find herself in Paradise,” said Shouq Al-Ali (@shouqalali).

Mohammed Al-Zara (@al_zara1) tweeted: “Nurse Nujood is one of our health heroines now. She passed away after giving so much to her country and people. She set an example of giving and not holding back with her hard work and sacrifice.”

“What she needs is for us to pray for her and others like her, our heroes in the health sector who are working so hard to combat the pandemic. May Allah have mercy on her soul and may he take her to heaven.”

@fahad_CR7 said: “Her sacrifice and the sacrifices of her colleagues should be more of an incentive for all of us to be careful and adhere to safety precautions. Thank you to our health heroes. We will not forget your efforts and your sacrifice for as long as we live.”

Some tweeps requested that nurses and doctors and others on the frontline of the pandemic ought to get the same treatment as fallen soldiers in the Kingdom, where their names are forever honored by the Ministry of Interior and their families are taken care of.


Saudi Arabia announces 5 more COVID-19 deaths

Updated 25 February 2021

Saudi Arabia announces 5 more COVID-19 deaths

  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 367,323
  • A total of 6,480 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

LONDON: Saudi Arabia announced five deaths from COVID-19 and 356 new infections on Thursday.
Of the new cases, 180 were recorded in Riyadh, 80 in the Eastern Province, 37 in Makkah, eight in Asir, six in Madinah, four in Hail, three in Najran and two in Jazan.
The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 367,323 after 308 more patients recovered from the virus.
A total of 6,480 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.


Saudi Arabia announces launch of Soudah Development Company

Updated 25 February 2021

Saudi Arabia announces launch of Soudah Development Company

  • The company aims to attract more than two million visitors annually, and create 8,000 direct and indirect permanent jobs by 2030
  • Investment of $3 billion in tourism infrastructure and attractions to create a world-class mountain destination in the Asir region

RIYADH: Saudi crown prince and chairman of the Public Investment Fund (PIF), Mohammed bin Salman, announced on Wednesday the launch of the Soudah Development Company (SDC) in the Asir region.

The new entity, fully owned by PIF, will lead the development of a luxury mountain destination with immersive cultural experiences. It will be a celebration of natural assets empowering the local and national economies.

Launched to be a key driver of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 ambitions, SDC will infuse SR11 billion ($3 billion) into infrastructure and tourism projects, aimed at enhancing the visitor experience in Soudah and parts of Rijal Alma’a governorate.

The planned developments include 2,700 hotel rooms, 1,300 residential units, and 30 commercial and entertainment attractions.

SDC aims to develop Soudah and Rijal Alma’a into a repeat, year-long sustainable destination for residents and visitors that will contribute an estimated SR29 billion to the Kingdom’s cumulative GDP by 2030.

The company also intends to partner and collaborate with the local community and private sector to build a robust and diverse network of year-long offerings across the hospitality, residential, commercial and entertainment sectors.

It aims to attract more than 2 million visitors annually, targeting adventure-seekers and culture travelers who are looking for one-off experiences. It is also forecast to create 8,000 direct and indirect permanent jobs by 2030.

“Our investment in the Asir region reflects our confidence in the character of the location, which is a rich amalgamation of identity, heritage and experience,” said Yasir Othman Al-Rumayyan, PIF governor. “Through careful and considerate development, SDC will provide yet another remarkable destination in the diverse and growing portfolio of Saudi Arabian experiences capturing the imagination of a broad range of investors and travelers.”

The fund will inject at least SR150 billion a year into the local economy and aims to grow assets under management to more than SR7 trillion by 2030.

The destination adds another dimension to Saudi Arabia’s ambitious tourism goals, and complements those destinations created on the Red Sea coast and around the capital city of Riyadh.

Preserving the environmental integrity of the destination will be a priority for the SDC, and the development will follow a rigorous regulatory framework and urban planning code.


Forget the cost, Saudi love affair with oud makes perfect scents

Updated 25 February 2021

Forget the cost, Saudi love affair with oud makes perfect scents

RIYADH: The traditional scent of oud enjoys an enduring popularity among Saudis, but high prices and uncertainty about quality are making many think twice before buying it.

Oud is extracted during winter from trees aged between 70 and 150 years and growing up to 20 meters in height.

These trees generally grow in tropical areas in Asia, especially on mountains and hillsides in India, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Gulf countries are the major importers of oud.

Wood oud emits an enjoyable fragrance when burned. Made of aromatic plants, wood oud has been increasingly mixed with aromatic oils in recent years. In Saudi Arabia, people often put wood oud in an electronic incense burner to deliver the desired fragrance.

Bader Al-Mansuri, a Saudi consumer, said that oud is an important tradition in Saudi society and is used for special social occasions as well as religious events, such as the Friday prayer.

Cambodian oud is the go-to option for most Saudis when shopping for the traditional fragrance, followed by the Morki and Kalamantan.

“My favorite is Cambodian oud, which I have been using for a long time,” Al-Mansuri told Arab News. “It’s part of our family tradition and culture, and my grandparents used it and passed it down to us. Oud has a positive moral impact, and is a sign of generosity and respect when you have visitors.”

Al-Mansuri that he only buys oud from well-known brands and companies.

Hammad Al-Shouraihi, another consumer, is a regular user of oud and buys 2 kg every year at a cost ranging from SR4,500 ($1,200) to SR6,000.

“When the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) emerged, I bought oud off websites instead of going to incense shops,” he said, adding that it is difficult to judge the quality of oud bought online since the buyer cannot test the fragrance.

In addition to Cambodian oud, Al-Shouraihi also enjoys the Morki variety as well as other types with mixed substances.

“Vintage Cambodian oud, which is stored for longer periods, is the best. It is an ideal gift for friends or family members,” he said. “I love all perfumes that have oud fragrance or scent. The pandemic has affected oud purchases due to the way it is used and fears that it can transmit the virus.”

However, Ahmed Al-Mutairi believes the pandemic has had little impact on the oud industry.

He buys 100 gm of liquid oud and quarter a kilo of wood oud, paying about SR5,000 for his purchases every year.

“Some oud vendors on streets demand a high price, but they reduce the price to half after one bargains with them,” Al-Mutair told Arab News.

Hassan Al-Rashdi, a sales officer at Nada Oud Store, said that sales reach 5 kg  some days and 10 kg other days.

“Some people prefer different types of oud qualities,” he added, noting that a kilogram of oud can range between SR500-SR5,000, based on its quality and origin.

Al-Rashdi told Arab News that some Saudis prefer the Kalamantan variety. However, he believes Morki oud is the most popular incense for parties, official events and use in mosques.

Khalid Al-Johani, the owner of an online oud store, agrees that Morki oud is the most popular variety among his clients, followed by Kalamantan and Indian in terms of quality.

According to Al-Johani, Indian liquid oud is preferred by the elderly, though Thai oud is fast gaining in popularity.

“To judge the quality of oud, one should check the scent, weight, color and size,” he said.

“Most people buy oud based on the recommendations of others. But experts always check the quality of oud products inside out and ask about the substances inside and the structure.”

Women often prefer liquid mixtures, while men prefer wood oud, Al-Johani said.

Some people are superstitious and believe that oud can cast out devils and genies, he said. However, people say they feel “relieved” and “in good mood” after they smell incense.

Most sales take place before and during Ramadan as well as Eid Al-Adha holidays, he added.

Zaid Al-Qaoud, chairman of Oud Albaraka, said that sales of oud have plummeted in the past year due to the absence of parties and weddings.

“Sales have fallen by 80 percent compared with the previous years,” he told Arab News. “Demand has also decreased because of coronavirus and many people have turned to social media websites to buy oud.”

Most oud stores can be found in central Riyadh, which has about 400 outlets, he added.

“Indonesian oud is very popular in the Gulf region and is the main source of many types of oud in the market that come with different scents.”

He added that old oud gives a better and more beautiful smell than newer products.

It can be difficult for regular consumers to distinguish a high-quality oud from an inferior product. “People have different tastes for oud, but most of them cannot tell original oud from a false one.”

Al-Qaoud, who has been in the business for 20 years, said that many Europeans in Saudi Arabia understand the quality of oud, recalling a regular French customer who said: “I have never smelled a sweet smell like the Taif roses and oud oil.”

Ayed Al-Falih, who is interested in artefacts, said incense burners are made of a type of wood found in Hail farms, with a price ranging between SR100 and SR500.


DiplomaticQuarter: Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan discuss strengthening ties

Updated 25 February 2021

DiplomaticQuarter: Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan discuss strengthening ties

RIYADH: Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Shahin Abdullayev recently held a meeting with the joint Saudi-Azerbaijani Parliamentary Friendship Committee of the Shoura Council in Riyadh, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The meeting was held under the co-chairmanship of Dr. Faiz Al-Shehri, member of the Shoura Council and head of the committee, and examined various ways to strengthen cooperation between the two countries in various fields, especially at the level of parliamentary relations between the Shoura Council and the Azerbaijani parliament.
Abdullayev wished the council success in its new session and expressed his appreciation for the Kingdom’s policies to enhance security, peace and stability in the Gulf region and beyond.
Al-Shehri ran through the Shoura Council’s organizational structure, and highlighted the importance of the diplomatic role played by parliamentary friendship committees.
Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan celebrated the 25th anniversary of their diplomatic relations in February 2017.
The then-Azeri Ambassador in Riyadh Rasim Rzayev said at the time: “Azerbaijan and the Kingdom, two brotherly Muslim countries, have unique commonalities of a historical, religious and political nature.”


Eastern Province governor receives Netherlands ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Updated 25 February 2021

Eastern Province governor receives Netherlands ambassador to Saudi Arabia

Eastern Province Gov. Prince Saud bin Naif met Janet Alberda, ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Saudi Arabia, in Dammam on Wednesday.
During the meeting, they discussed bilateral relations between the two countries and issues of common interest, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
Alberda highlighted the development that the Eastern Province has been witnessing, and wished further progress and prosperity for the Kingdom.
The meeting was attended by the Saudi Honorary Consul to the Kingdom of the Netherlands Sulaiman Al-Suhaimi.
Also on Wednesday, Prince Saud received the regional director of Al Arabiya channel, Mohammed Al-Hekmi, accompanied by a number of employees.
Prince Saud praised the role of the media in highlighting the societal and development accomplishments of the Kingdom in general and the Eastern Province in particular.
The media played an influential role and was an important means of communication, he said.
Earlier, Prince Saud met the US consul general in Dhahran, Nicholle Manz-Baazaoui. Issues of common interest and ways to promote relationships between the two countries were discussed.
Prince Saud stressed the solid ties between the two countries and their common vision on various topics.
He also highlighted the two countries’ joint work toward achieving security and peace in the region and the world, as well as their economic and cultural cooperation.