Saudi Arabia’s virus recovery rate stable and well within control

Saudi Arabia announced 5 deaths from COVID-19 and 140 new infections on Saturday. (File/SPA)
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Updated 17 January 2021

Saudi Arabia’s virus recovery rate stable and well within control

  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 356,541
  • A total of 6,318 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s coronavirus disease (COVID-19) recovery rate continues to hold steady at 97 percent, as the daily confirmed case and recovery rates continue to be recorded at numbering between 100-200.
The Ministry of Health reported 159 new recoveries on Saturday, raising the total number to 356,541. The city of Riyadh has seen the highest rate of recoveries since the beginning of the pandemic, with over 59,000 recoveries to date; Makkah in second place with 34,103, and Jeddah a close third with 33,721 recoveries so far.
The ministry also reported 140 new cases on Saturday, raising the total number of those infected with COVID-19 to 364,753. The Riyadh region reported 58 new cases, Makkah 28 cases and the Eastern Province  26 new cases. Baha region reported no cases on Saturday.
There are currently 1,894 active cases, 321 of which are in critical care. In addition, five new fatalities were reported, raising the total mortality rate to 6,318. Saudi Arabia has so far conducted over 11.6 million PCR tests, with 43,255 carried out in the past 24 hours.

KSrelief launches medical campaign in Djibouti

Updated 25 February 2021

KSrelief launches medical campaign in Djibouti

DJIBOUTI: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) has launched a voluntary medical campaign for specialized surgeries in Djibouti.

The center’s medical team has to date performed 41 urinary tract operations on children in the east African country and provided the necessary treatment for 60 other cases.

The health initiative is part of Saudi Arabia’s relief and humanitarian efforts, through the center, to help crisis-hit countries and the suffering of people around the world.

Aid chief thanks Saudi Arabia for supporting Yemen relief program

Updated 25 February 2021

Aid chief thanks Saudi Arabia for supporting Yemen relief program

JEDDAH: World Food Program (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley expressed his sincere thanks to Saudi Arabia for providing effective food support through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) to the most vulnerable groups in Yemen.

Beasley noted that the Kingdom’s contribution through the center will “undoubtedly help to avert famine in Yemen and feed at least 2.2 million people.”

KSrelief signed a $40 million joint cooperation agreement with the WFP on Tuesday to improve food security for the most affected families in Yemen.

“We have a lot of work to do now and in the future, and this agreement will provide us with the tremendous support we need,” the executive director said in a press release.

He added that the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has brought many tragedies and much economic degradation across the globe, and this support will make a big difference “as the pandemic has greatly affected vulnerable groups and exacerbated the problem of famine in the world."

The living conditions in Yemen are among the most difficult in the world, he said.

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

Updated 24 February 2021

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

  • Fans of traditional fragrance stay loyal despite fast-rising prices

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.

Saudi, Somali envoys discuss OIC cooperation

Updated 24 February 2021

Saudi, Somali envoys discuss OIC cooperation

  • The envoys discussed ways to enhance their cooperation

JEDDAH: Saleh Hamad Al-Suhaibani, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), met with his Somali counterpart Dr. Abdur Razzaq Sead Abdi on Wednesday.

The envoys discussed ways to enhance their cooperation as the OIC aims to serve Islamic causes in the midst of current challenges.

The two sides also discussed areas of joint Islamic action and how to best serve the OIC and its 35 active bodies and institutions. Al-Suhaibani said cooperation and coordination among the organization's bodies are a top priority for Saudi Arabia.

Abdi stressed the importance of lasting peace, stability and development within Somalia. He also praised the Kingdom for the humanitarian support and developmental contributions it provides to the Somali people.

Saudi and Omani foreign ministers meet in Muscat

Updated 24 February 2021

Saudi and Omani foreign ministers meet in Muscat

  • The foreign ministers reviewed ways to support trade, investment and tourism opportunities
  • Prince Faisal arrived in Muscat earlier on Wednesday and has left the sultanate

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister met his Omani counterpart during a visit to the Gulf state on Wednesday.
During the meeting, Prince Faisal bin Farhan and Sayyed Badr Al-Busaidi discussed the importance of joint Gulf action within the framework of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and following up on the results of the AlUla summit hosted by the Kingdom in January.
They also discussed bilateral relations and ways to strengthen cooperation in various fields that would lead to mutual benefits.
The foreign ministers reviewed ways to support trade, investment and tourism opportunities and developing scientific cooperation in the areas of energy, technology, transportation, cybersecurity, health and agriculture.
Prince Faisal arrived in Muscat earlier on Wednesday and has left the sultanate.