Saudi health campaigners think pink for breast cancer awareness month

Known to be the most common cancer in women worldwide, it is the leading cause of death among Saudi women, according to a retrospective epidemiological study conducted in 2012. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 01 October 2020
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Saudi health campaigners think pink for breast cancer awareness month

  • Regular checks are a must to detect and fight the disease in its early stages

JEDDAH: Breast cancer, once a taboo subject in many Saudi social settings, is now openly talked about thanks to years of awareness campaigns led by an organization bearing the name of a victim of the disease, Zahra.

As Breast Cancer Awareness month gets underway, campaigners in the Kingdom will be urging people to think pink, the internationally recognized symbol of October and a color adopted by the Zahra Breast Cancer Association in Saudi Arabia.

The association was one of the first bodies in the country dedicated to raising awareness about the disease and providing support to patients and survivors. And its mission is far from over, with more outreach programs and initiatives in the pipeline.

While most people are aware of breast cancer, many forget to follow the vital steps toward detecting the disease in its early stages, but the association is leading the fight to highlight the need for regular checks.

Known to be the most common cancer in women worldwide, it is the leading cause of death among Saudi women, according to a retrospective epidemiological study conducted in 2012.

The findings showed high-incidence rates occurring at an earlier age in Saudi women than in those in Western countries.

More than 25 years ago, Dr. Suad bin Amer, the head of breast cancer research at King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center, struggled to understand the disease which her mother, Zahra bint Ali bin Harfash, suffered from.

In order to comprehend her mom’s grave situation and treatment, that went on for several years, Amer went on a hunt for information and was able to answer the questions of her ailing mother, who succumbed to the disease years later.

Since early 2003, awareness workshops and seminars have been conducted in a number of institutions in Riyadh, and awareness campaigns run in shopping centers were later expanded throughout the Kingdom.

With a mission to provide a clearer understanding of the disease, support patients, and help them to live a pro-active life after recovery, Amer co-founded the Zahra Breast Cancer Association in 2007, named after her late mother.

In carrying out her awareness work, she took to heart the words of her mother who said: “Women must be made aware of this disease, must seek knowledge and information about it by themselves, and should undergo screening.”

With this message in mind Amer began her journey of spreading awareness in the Kingdom about the importance of early detection with a team of dedicated co-founders and members.

CEO and co-founder, Hanadi Al-Outhah, told Arab News that breast cancer awareness month would go ahead despite the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, using digital means to reach out to as many people as possible, even beyond Saudi  borders.

“This year, we’re focusing on the four main pillars of thought, priorities, behavior, and gratitude toward health and how the events of the year were able to change the mindset of patients and survivors. We’re focusing on their growth and providing them with the support they need after recovery,” she said.

Al-Outhah added that the organization would be participation in the upcoming Civil20 (C20) event at which the importance of supporting cancer survivors, post-treatment, would be discussed.

“It’s an area that we are falling behind on in the Kingdom and regionally. It’s never been discussed before and the aim is to target the G20 countries and encourage them to support them after their treatment, while activating their roles as survivors after. The result would be more impactful as many NGOs are founded by survivors themselves,” she said.

Hala Aseel, a co-founder of the association and a mental-health counselor, said: “I, like everyone at the time, was oblivious to what breast cancer was but understood it with time as I am a daughter of a cancer survivor.

“I believed in the goal of Zahra because people needed to change their view of the disease with survivors who can live to tell the tale. With enough support they can, and they’ll find a wider support group that also includes survivors to help.”

Another co-founder and clinical psychologist, Haifa Al-Shamsi, said: “We went from knocking on people’s doors to people knocking on ours. With the help of the Ministry of Health, this was achieved. With the help of Zahra, we aim at empowering women, survivors, to go out and advocate about the screening process and talk about their journeys.

“With support, we’ll be able to do more to help and ensure that patients and survivors receive proper moral and psychological support that will ensure their continued journey in life.”

Public acceptance and acknowledgement of the importance of screening has encouraged many and helped in generating a better understanding of the risk factors relevant to patients.

“One of the main goals now is to fill in a gap and calculate the impact measurement, to ensure that there are enough people to continue providing psychological and social support by training specialists in the Kingdom, support research projects and empower members of the medical field, and provide them with the needed education,” said Al-Shamsi.

Zahra’s plans for the future include establishing a constant presence at specialist hospitals with cancer treatment centers and recruit community figures to help bring a local flavor to initiatives.

Al-Outhah noted that support would continue to be needed from all levels.

Breast cancer survivor, Awatif Al-Hoshan, who is a member of the board and a Zahra ambassador, said women were often confused and found it daunting to inquire about the disease, sometimes fearing the worst.

“When cancer patients and survivors see other women come forward, it brings a sense of ease and comfort. Zahra ambassadors follow a simple and important therapeutic path, to lend a helping hand,” she said.

“It’s a scientific fact that early detection saves lives and we’ve come a long way as we’ve cooperated with many health organizations to try and complete the circle, health-wise, mentally, and physically.

“The support I had while getting treatment wasn’t what I needed. I understood that and learnt from the experience. I am now a proud Zahra ambassador helping out patients and creating a community of caregivers with hopes to expand and have more people join,” Al-Hoshan added.

The association’s mission is far from complete, but its outreach has expanded throughout the Kingdom, and participation in this year’s C20 will provide a platform for its message to be heard around the world.

“Working with various entities throughout the years has helped to spread awareness at unprecedented levels. But support is everything,” said Al-Outhah.


Skill meets heritage in initiative boosting Saudi handicrafts sector

Updated 13 July 2024
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Skill meets heritage in initiative boosting Saudi handicrafts sector

  • Saudi Artisanal Company is ‘leveraging the country’s cultural wealth to empower local artisans’

JEDDAH/RIYADH: The Saudi Artisanal Company is playing a central role in the development of Saudi Arabia’s flourishing handicrafts sector — a reminder of the Kingdom’s rich heritage and commitment to honoring its traditions.

According to the company’s acting CEO, Ibrahim Al-Dulaijan, the SAC is “leveraging the country’s cultural wealth to empower Saudi artisans, build sustainable partnerships, and deliver Saudi-crafted goods that are an integral part of the nation’s legacy.

Saudi Artisanal Company equips skilled local artisans with the latest technologies to create their pieces. (AN photos by Loai Al-Kellawy)

“The company not only supports its skilled local artisans but also equips them with the latest technologies to create their pieces blending heritage, tradition, and innovation.”

Al-Dulaijan told Arab News in a written statement: “Empowering local artisans and designers is a key element of the company’s operations. We have activated a strategic partnership with the Royal Institute of Traditional Arts, through which practical training is provided for artisans, offering them practical and profitable opportunities in the artisanal field.”

HIGHLIGHT

Saudi Artisanal Company’s strategic partnership with the Royal Institute of Traditional Arts provides practical training to artisans.

Part of the training includes extensive research on the history and cultural significance of various products.

Saudi Artisanal Company equips skilled local artisans with the latest technologies to create their pieces. (AN photos by Loai Al-Kellawy)

“The team believes in the importance of preserving heritage and reviving and empowering crafts approved by the Heritage Authority. This belief is reflected in the communication, implementation, and supervision processes with artisans and designers.” Al-Dulaijan added.

The resulting products “reflect genuine heritage” and “tell enriching stories,” he said.

Saudi Artisanal Company equips skilled local artisans with the latest technologies to create their pieces. (AN photos by Loai Al-Kellawy)

During a recent visit to the company’s studio in Riyadh’s JAX district, Arab News witnessed some of these skilled artisans at work. Each of them has dedicated years to perfecting their craft, whether working with wool, wicker, wood, plaster, or engraving.

Abeer Al-Rabiah, the product design manager at the company, spoke to Arab News about her background and approach to design.

We aim to enhance our culture, preserve our identity, and pass on our heritage to future generations.

Sadiq Al-Hajri, Artisan supervisor, Saudi Artisanal Company

Growing up in an artistic household, she was surrounded by art and design but also had a strong interest in science. Al-Rabiah felt torn between these passions until discovering industrial design, which combines elements of both.

The Saudi Khawlani coffee collection, a piece that celebrates Saudi coffee, was one of the award-winning products featured in their studio. (AN photo by Loai El-kellawy)

She emphasized that product design is not just about creating beautiful objects but also about considering their functionality and manufacturability.

Al-Rabiah highlighted the responsibility designers have toward the environment, especially when creating products for mass production.

“Handmade products are a lot more sustainable and eco-friendly than products designed in factories,” she said. “This is the main thing that drew me into the crafts field — the materials used, usually natural materials. You’re not using an entire factory that’s producing a lot of toxins into the environment.

Sadiq Al-Hajri, the artisan’s supervisor showcased the steadiness and intricate carving techniques perfected by the artisans. (AN photo by Loai El-kellawy)

“We do a lot of research before making every product and try to connect our history, culture, and heritage into the design,” she added. “Every product that we make either has a story or a meaning that is related to our heritage and culture. The fact that the products are handmade by Saudi hands, with crafts that have been in the region for years, also connects it to our heritage.

“We try to highlight parts of our heritage that are kind of forgotten or not widely talked about. A good example would be our Khawlani coffee collection. The Arabian Peninsula had a Golden Age when coffee was produced here and sent throughout the entire world.”

Many of the craftsman at the Saudi Artisan Company dedicate hours of their day carving, weaving, and designing products that highlight the Kingdoms culture and heritage. (AN photo by Loai El-kellawy)

The collection is an award-winning piece that celebrates Saudi coffee. The 3D-modeled cover and hand-crafted wooden box reflect the mountainous terrains of the coffee-producing regions of the Kingdom, specifically Mount Talan.

Inside the box sit two porcelain coffee cups inspired by coffee fruits, along with coffee capsules filled with a blend of espresso and Saudi Khawlani coffee.

Saudi Artisanal Company equips skilled local artisans with the latest technologies to create their pieces. (AN photos by Loai Al-Kellawy)

The Khawlani coffee collection won Best Luxury Item at the International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts and Tourism Awards earlier this year, while the dates bowls collection won Best Contemporary Interpretation and Design.

“It’s a global award that we’re very proud of,” Al-Rabiah added.

The craftsman at the Saudi Artisan Company dedicate their careers to preserving and showcasing the Saudi heritage through their handmade products. (AN photo by Loai El-kellawy)

The SAC also has an online store offering more than 100 products, with local and international shipping options available.

“The company also participates in certain seasons and events. For example, we displayed artisans’ products during this year’s Hajj season,” Al-Dulaijan said. “Additionally, we’ll be opening stores in several cities in the Kingdom to serve citizens, residents, and tourists by providing high-quality artisanal products, supporting local products, and empowering local artisans and designers.”

Fatima Al-Thubyani, production unit manager at the company’s workshop, has eight years of experience in the field of handicrafts and an academic background in fashion design.

Al-Thubyani told Arab News, “To support the emerging generation, we use modern materials paired with traditional heritage patterns, creating contemporary and innovative outcomes. This approach integrates designers and artisans, providing sustainable job opportunities.”

The company invites artisans and designers from all over the Kingdom to collaborate, whether by showcasing their products on various sales platforms, participating in training programs, or working on business opportunities together. This mutual collaboration provides sustainable income sources for them and is, the company says, “pivotal in driving a significant transformation in the artisanal sector.”

Sadiq Al-Hajri, the artisan’s supervisor, who has more than 14 years of experience in the field, said: “We aim to enhance our culture, preserve our identity, and pass on our heritage to future generations. We strive to convey what our ancestors were, what we have added, and what the next generation will add.

“My interest in handicraft industries began at a young age, specifically with wood carving. Through workshops, I aim to demonstrate to artisans how an artisan as an artist differs from an artisan as a producer. We work to value artisans by providing the necessary tools to achieve outstanding work.”

The SAC has participated in numerous local and international events and exhibitions, such as the Artigiano in Fiera exhibition in Italy and the Benan exhibition in the Kingdom. International participation is a “significant focus” for the near future, according to Al-Dulaijan, in order to “introduce Saudi heritage to the world.”

 


Natural beauty of Baha’s Raghadan Park attracts visitors

Raghadan Park in Baha boasts a forest with a lavender garden and a central area which spans over 20,000 sq. meters. (SPA)
Updated 13 July 2024
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Natural beauty of Baha’s Raghadan Park attracts visitors

  • Mayor welcomes tourists to popular location

RIYADH: With its vast green spaces, dense forest and mild climate, Raghadan Park is among Baha’s most popular destinations for tourists looking for outdoor fun.

In an interview with the Saudi Press Agency, Ali Al-Sawat, the mayor of the Baha region, spoke of the municipal projects within Raghadan Forest Park.

Raghadan Park in Baha boasts a forest with a lavender garden and a central area which spans over 20,000 sq. meters. (SPA)

He said: “These projects encompass Bahjat Raghadan Park, which spans an estimated 20,000 sq. meters, (with a) 700-meter main walkway, and 18,000 sq. meters of green spaces.

“The park also boasts a 30-meter waterfall, an interactive fountain, 156 decorative columns, three children’s areas, three photography zones, and a 25-meter decorative pedestrian bridge.”

Raghadan Park in Baha boasts a forest with a lavender garden and a central area which spans over 20,000 sq. meters. (SPA)

The site, which includes cafes and eateries, also boasts a forest with a lavender garden and a central area which spans over 20,000 sq. meters, he added.

The central square covers 8,000 sq. meters and is connected to the garden, which occupies some 5,000 sq. meters. Adjacent to it is a 500-meter walkway covered with natural stone and featuring waterfalls.

Raghadan Park in Baha boasts a forest with a lavender garden and a central area which spans over 20,000 sq. meters. (SPA)

The project is illuminated by about 270 decorative lighting poles and includes statues, flower beds, seating areas, wooden bridges, and kiosks.

The mayor welcomes tourists and visitors to the location to enjoy its atmosphere, stunning views, valleys, and lush vegetation.

 


Saudi ambassador to UAE received by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid in Dubai

Updated 13 July 2024
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Saudi ambassador to UAE received by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid in Dubai

  • Sheikh Mohammed, who is also vice president and prime minister of UAE, wished ambassador success in his mission

DUBAI: Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum received the Saudi ambassador to the UAE Sultan bin Abdullah Al-Angari on Saturday during a reception in the emirate, Saudi Press Agency reported.

Sheikh Mohammed, who is also vice president and prime minister of UAE, wished the ambassador success in his mission.

Al-Angari passed on the greetings of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Sheikh Mohammed, along with their wishes for continued progress and prosperity to the government and people of the UAE.

The envoy was appointed last year and presented his credentials to Minister of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Shakhboot Nahyan Al-Nahyan in October.


Saudi foreign ministry condemns continued genocide against Palestinian people

Updated 37 min 20 sec ago
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Saudi foreign ministry condemns continued genocide against Palestinian people

  • Saudi Arabia renewed its call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and the provision of protection to unarmed civilians

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed on Saturday the Kingdom’s condemnation and denunciation in the strongest terms of the “continued genocidal massacres against the Palestinian people at the hands of the Israeli war machine.”

The ministry drew particular attention to the latest targeting of displaced Palestinians at camps in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, which claimed the lives of 100 people.

Saudi Arabia renewed its call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and the provision of protection to unarmed civilians in all occupied Palestinian territories.

The ministry also stressed the need to activate international accountability mechanisms regarding the continued Israeli violations of international humanitarian law and resolutions.

The UAE and Bahrain condemned and denounced on Sunday the continuing Israeli violations in the Gaza Strip, and the most recent targeting of camps for displaced people in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, which led to numerous deaths and injuries to dozens of innocent civilians.

In a statements issued by both foreign ministries, they called for the respect of international law and international humanitarian law regarding the protection of civilians and civilian objects, an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, and to allow unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance at scale directly to Palestinian civilians

Also on Saturday, the Muslim World League condemned the massacre in Khan Yunis.

The League’s Secretary-General, Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, in a statement denounced the “heinous crime” and the Israeli occupation’s “continued flagrant violations of all international and humanitarian laws and norms.”

Al-Issa stressed the urgent need for the international community to intervene to stop the violence raging in Gaza.


Who’s Who: Ahmad Alshubbar, chief financial officer of Rawabi Holding Group

Updated 13 July 2024
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Who’s Who: Ahmad Alshubbar, chief financial officer of Rawabi Holding Group

Ahmad Alshubbar is the chief financial officer of Rawabi Holding Group, a diversified conglomerate headquartered in Alkhobar.

He is a member of the Rawabi Holding Board Investment Committee; the executive committee of Rawabi Electric; and the board of Rawabi Energy Co., Human Resources Business Support Co., and Equatoriale Energy in Singapore.

Alshubbar provides financial insight to the leadership of the group’s core operating entities. He works with the C-suite in developing the future equity capital market and debt capital market transactions.

Alshubbar’s journey in Rawabi Holding Group began in 2019 as the vice president of treasury and strategy. In this role, he contributed to the organic and inorganic growth initiatives, and deployed global best practices in corporate finance.

In 2017, he worked as Gulf International Bank Capital’s vice president of debt capital markets offering debt origination, structuring, and distribution expertise.

He previously worked in Banque Saudi Fransi’s corporate banking division as senior executive manager, serving high-tier corporate clients in the Eastern Province.

Alshubbar’s portfolio covered diverse economic sectors including civil and industrial construction, real-estate investment, diversified conglomerate, oil and gas services, and marine services companies.

In 2012, he joined Samba Financial Group as a corporate relationship manager and managed a portfolio of multiple diversified group relationships.

In 2008, he worked as a corporate relationship manager at National Commercial Bank.

Alshubbar’s work experience began in 2006 as a Coop Trainee at Arab National Bank.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in finance and economics from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in 2007.

Alshubbar earned a certification in CME-1 from the Capital Market Authority in 2017.