Saudi pharmacist provides lift for kids with cancer

Nabila Samir Ben Slimane launched New Smile, a Saudi-based project that provides handmade hats for children suffering from cancer.
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Updated 18 February 2021
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Saudi pharmacist provides lift for kids with cancer

  • Nabila Samir Ben Slimane launched New Smile, a project that makes hats for children battling disease

JEDDAH: Nabila Samir Ben Slimane learned how to knit when she was a young child and now her passion for crocheting is helping children across the Arab world.
Ben Slimane launched New Smile, a Saudi-based project that provides handmade hats for children suffering from cancer. She leads a group of more than 40 volunteers that designs, manufactures, and delivers hats and beanies to patients who have lost their hair while battling the disease.
“I met with many children in the hospital who suffered hair loss due to chemotherapy,” said Ben Slimane, a mother of four, who works at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Jeddah.
“Sometimes they wear normal hats to hide their head and sometimes they wear nothing at all. I see them so embarrassed that they try to hide behind their parents.”
Ben Slimane’s work at a tertiary hospital specializing in cancer studies and treatment, coupled with a video she saw on social media, inspired her to launch New Smile.

In the video, a group of US women started “The Magic Yarn,” a project designed to help cancer patients by making them hats from threads.
Ben Slimane’s first hat featured threads that looked like real hair and it went to a 3-year-old girl named Rafif, who had lost her hair due to cancer treatment.
“The child’s reaction was amazing and shocking to all,” she said. “As soon as I put the beanie on her head, she started running around the corridors of the hospital, dancing with happiness and going to the nurses to show off her new beanie.”
It was not long before Ben Slimane started to recruit other Saudi seamstresses on WhatsApp to join her in the new nonprofit venture.
The hats are handmade using organic cotton threads and high-quality raw materials. Ben Slimane says the seamstresses pay careful attention to the people they are trying to help.
“The skin of cancer patients is very sensitive and some patients suffer sores in the scalp,” she said. “That is why we use no allergenic threads that can be easily washed. The hats last for a long time and can sustain weather changes.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• Nabila Samir Ben Slimane leads a group of more than 40 volunteers that designs, manufactures, and delivers hats and beanies to patients who have lost their hair while battling the disease.

• The hats are handmade using organic cotton threads and high-quality raw materials.

• In the first year of its launch, New Smile partnered with several hospitals in Riyadh, including the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center and the King Khalid University Hospital.

• The project also distributed beanies and hats to some patients of private hospitals upon the request of their parents, doctors and nurses.

• In the second year of the project, Ben Slimane discovered beautiful silk threads in Tunisia, that she used to make soft hats that offered the feeling of real hair to children.

In the first year of its launch, New Smile partnered with several hospitals in Riyadh, including the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center and the King Khalid University Hospital. The project also distributed beanies and hats to some patients of private hospitals upon the request of their parents, doctors and nurses.
In the second year of the project, Ben Slimane discovered beautiful silk threads in Tunisia, that she used to make soft hats that offered the feeling of real hair to children.
“In the third year, the kids’ reaction to the simplest things inspired me to add a new collection,” she said. “So we began to make dolls with the help of my friend Dina Jamjoom.”
The hats and dolls are designed for children starting at 6 months old to teenagers. The group’s popularity started to climb within the Kingdom so Ben Slimane started to think bigger.
“The project began to expand and we started distributing our products to a number of Arab countries,” she said.
Hats and dolls were sent to the Children’s Cancer Hospital in Egypt, the Queen Rania Al-Abdullah Hospital for Children in Jordan, and the Sultan Qaboos Comprehensive Cancer Center in Oman. Some products also found their way to hospitals in Tunisia and Sudan.
The group faced some difficulties in 2020 due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as distribution of the hats and dolls was suspended. But production continued and now the group has a stockpile ready to send out.
“Volunteers did not stop for a second making the beanies and dolls,” Ben Slimane said.
“They are making them with love. I continue to bring them the tools needed to make more, so once the situation returns to normal, we can resume the distribution of our products.”
Before the advent of the holy month of Ramadan last year, New Smile distributed Qur’an covers to mothers to lift their spirits. The group also distributed occasion-related dolls such as the Eid lamb in addition to creating favorite cartoon characters for children.
It was also during the pandemic when the Wareef Charitable Foundation of the King Faisal Specialist Hospital offered financial support for New Smile.
“The charity has provided us with all the project’s needs,” Ben Slimane said. “During the previous two years there had been no funder or financier, but only personal efforts and cooperation between the members.”

The volunteers of the project are from different cities and countries and meet virtually on social media platforms. But the Jeddah volunteers meet for an informal ceremony every year where symbolic gifts are offered to members in recognition of their support.
“My dream is that the project can be based in an official location or a unified known center,” Ben Slimane said. “That would make it easier for people who want to get a gift for their children, friends or neighbors to come and get whatever they need with ease.”
Ben Slimane is hoping the project will continue to expand in the future.
“I want this project to reach every child who is suffering from cancer and lost their hair,” she said. “Our doors are open to everyone, inside and outside of Saudi Arabia.”


Saudi students secure 114 awards at global science, tech contests

Updated 9 sec ago
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Saudi students secure 114 awards at global science, tech contests

  • Minister praises students’ excellence, reaffirms Kingdom’s commitment to education and innovation

RIYADH: Saudi Education Minister Yousef Al-Benyan extended congratulations to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman following the achievements of Saudi students at the Regeneron International Science and Engineering Fair 2024 and International Inventions, Innovations, Technology Competition and Exhibition 2024.

In a significant national triumph, male and female students from the Kingdom excelled in the ISEF 2024 and ITEX 2024, winning a total of 114 medals. The ISEF 2024 event was held May 10-17 in Los Angeles, US, while ITEX 2024 was held May 16-17 in Malaysia.

The outstanding performance of the students reflects the attention given to education under the Saudi leadership in pursuit of global excellence, the minister said.

“This achievement reflects the efforts made to reach global championship platforms and represent the Kingdom in the best manner possible. It also demonstrates to the world the level we plan and aspire to achieve, with national efforts and distinguished partners,” Al-Benyan said.

The minister also extended his thanks and congratulations to the students and their families, teachers, and education partners who contributed to motivating them and enhancing their capabilities.

These include the King Abdulaziz and his Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity, Tuwaiq Academy, and Misk Schools, the minister said.

At ISEF 2024, Saudi students won 27 awards, including nine individual and 18 grand awards. Notable winners include Hamad Al-Husseini and Abeer Al-Yousef, who secured second-place awards in the energy and chemistry categories, respectively. Elias Khan, Sulaiman Al-Misnad, Latifa Al-Ghannam, Turki Al-Dalami, Tahani Ahmed, and Laila Zawawi won six third-place awards across various categories.

The team also won 10 fourth-place awards, with students such as Nasser Al-Suwayyan, Lana Al-Mazrouei, Yara Al-Qadi, Yara Al-Bakri, Shahad Al-Mutlaq, Asma Al-Qaseer, Areej Al-Qarni, Lana Al-Fheed, Layan Al-Maliki, and Tamara Radi excelling in fields ranging from biomedical engineering to plant sciences.

In addition, the Kingdom’s students garnered 87 gold and silver medals and major individual prizes across 48 projects at ITEX 2024 in Malaysia. Among the major prize winners were Lamia Al-Otaibi, Mohammed Abu Ghandar, and Al-Sadeem Al-Odaibi.

Gold medals were awarded to several students from various institutions, including Lamia Al-Otaibi, Sadeem Al-Odaibi, Mohammed Abu Ghandar, and others from the Eastern Province, Makkah, Riyadh, Qassim, Madinah, Jazan, and the Royal Commission in Jubail. Additional gold medalists included students from Tuwaiq Academy and Misk Schools.

Silver medals at ITEX 2024 were awarded to students from the Riyadh, Makkah, and Eastern Province education departments, as well as the Royal Commission in Jubail and the Tuwaiq Academy. Maryam Al-Muhaish, Lamia Al-Otaibi, Ghad Al-Sheikh, Manal Al-Askari, Sadeem bin Tuwaim, and several others from the Tuwaiq Academy won individual awards.
 


Riyadh hosts high-level talks with former world leaders to address global issues 

Updated 19 May 2024
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Riyadh hosts high-level talks with former world leaders to address global issues 

  • Theme of the talks is “The Middle East in a Changing World: uncertainties, risks, and opportunities”
  • Topics at the meeting will build on and further develop the actions decided at the sustainable development goals summit in September 2023 as well as COP28

RIYADH: Two days of talks in Riyadh are focused on several issues, including the world order, its challenges and opportunities, the regional politics of the Middle East, such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and challenges of maritime security.

The talks, from May 19-20, are being hosted by the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in partnership with Nizami Ganjavi International Center and the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. The theme of the talks is “The Middle East in a Changing World: uncertainties, risks, and opportunities.”

“By having these kinds of sessions, we develop our own thinking,” Ismail Serageldin, co-chair of Nizami Ganjavi International Center, told Arab News. 

“You hear one point of view and the counterpoint of view, and you weigh all of that, and these are all very influential people. They were all former presidents and prime ministers, and they had influence on their delegations of the countries there. And they may be able to mediate between different opinions when we have a more formal proposal coming up later,” he said. 

Other topics of discussion include the urgency of global dialogue, climate change, economies in the Middle East, and the Middle East in the age of artificial intelligence. 

“We hope to gather these insights for the summit of the future in the United Nations in September and then again in the COP29, in Baku in November,” Serageldin said. 

Topics at the meeting will build on and further develop the actions decided at the sustainable development goals in September 2023 as well as the COP28 meeting in Dubai in December 2023. 

Chairing the panel as keynote speakers were Prince Turki Al-Faisal,  chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, and Vaira Vike-Freiberga, co-chair of Nizami Ganjavi International Center and former president of Latvia.

Also attending were Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Waleed El-Khereiji, Miguel Angel Moratinos, the high representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations, and Maria Fernanda Espinosa, president of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly and former minister of foreign affairs and minister of defense of Ecuador. 

Other participants on the panel included Ivo Josipovic, the former president of Croatia, Mladen Ivanic​​​​​, former president of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Stefan Lofven​​​​​, former prime minister of Sweden, Rosen Plevneliev, former ​​​​president of Bulgaria, and Montenegro’s former minister of defense, Milica Pejanovic.

Discussing the list of high-level officials on the panel Serageldin said: “Many of them are former presidents, former prime ministers, who have had enormous international and national and regional experience. We want to develop insights in a framework that allows us to discuss, without the formality of official delegations presenting proposals and reacting to the proposals of another country. Global challenges require global responses.

“The first session discussed the new global order, not just how to deal with the problems of the Middle East,” Serageldin said. 

Another speaker at the session, Volkan Bozkir, president of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly and former minister of EU affairs for Turkiye, said: “We must not only concentrate on Russia and Ukraine issues.

“There are horrible things happening in other parts of the world, like Sudan, there is famine, people are dying there, we must show our coordination to help those countries, there is a fight in the Latin American countries, drug lords are capturing societies,” Bozkir said. 

He emphasized the need to go beyond the Russia-Ukraine conflict and jointly tackle other challenges around the world. 

Plevneliev discussed the crises in Gaza and put a question to the meeting: “What happens on the day after in Gaza?”

He highlighted the importance of having a strategy for the future of Gaza, underlining the need for “sustainable solutions for peace.”

Shoura council member Huda bint Abdulrahman Al-Halisi discussed multilateralism and the need to bridge local and global. 

“If we all agree that multilateralism is in crisis, we need to discover the root causes and the possible solutions,” she said. “We all agree that all countries have or should have an equal voice.  

“We all want justice, we want development, we want peace, but we are not achieving this globally because there is a weakening of democracy around the world, we see that it is only right that we hold governments into account for not keeping to their commitments,” Al-Halisi said.

She called for the need to push for transparency and accountability, the rule of law, responsiveness, and inclusivity. 

“We need to bridge the local with the global,” she said. 

In an interview with Arab News, Serageldin emphasized the need to turn back to the UN. 

“It was rightly said that the UN is the only institution that has global legitimacy. Everywhere in the world somebody recognizes the UN, but we all recognize that it is hampered, it is tied up, it can’t function,” he said. 

“We need to find ways of reviving it (UN) and giving it the hope that we all have to bring to the task of global peace and security,” he said. 


Jeddah university hosts forum on technology, creativity

Updated 19 May 2024
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Jeddah university hosts forum on technology, creativity

  • Conference explored best practices in technology and interdisciplinary scientific research

JEDDAH: Dar Al-Hekma University in Jeddah recently wrapped up its third “Creativity, Technology, and Sustainability” conference, sponsored by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.

The two-day event, held on May 15-16, drew a wide range of experts, scholars and local and international officials to explore interconnected themes in pursuit of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr. Abeer Al-Dughaither, the university’s president, highlighted the significance of the conference, saying: “This event embodies the values of the university, which aims to anticipate scientific and practical futures and stay abreast of developments to be an active partner in various aspects of development. There is no doubt that the three pillars of the conference (creativity, technology, and sustainability) represent a fundamental pillar in any cultural renaissance.

“This conference reflects the university’s strategic plan to build bridges of scientific and cultural cooperation between it and local and international institutions, with knowledge and cultural experts participating from within the Kingdom and abroad at the regional and global levels,” she added.

The conference explored best practices in technology and interdisciplinary scientific research, underlining how these advancements foster creativity and development to tackle global challenges.

Discussions also covered the critical role of advanced technology in sustainable development and digital transformation, alongside the significance of effective management, policies and ethics in attaining sustainability objectives.

During his keynote speech on “Innovative Key Facilities for Human-Centered and Sustainable Design,” Prof. Luigi Maffei from the University of Campania Luigi Vanvitelli in Caserta, Italy, emphasized the changing viewpoints within disciplines exploring environmental changes and their effects on individuals.

He said: “Many disciplines are transitioning from a negative, monodisciplinary approach to a positive, multidisciplinary one that is more human-centered and sustainable, recognizing the importance of considering the well-being of individuals in design solutions.”

Ahmed Elmasry, professor of corporate finance and governance at the Centre for Financial and Corporate Integrity, Coventry University, UK, delivered a thought-provoking speech on environmental, social and governance controversies.

He highlighted the importance of leading change and inspiring growth to empower tomorrow by harnessing technology, sustainability and innovation as drivers for business evolution.

In his speech on “Cognitive Cities and the Future of Urban Living,” Joaquim Alvarez, head of cognitive technologies at the engineering technical services department at NEOM, said: “Understanding the evolution of urban areas by examining cities’ development trajectory is crucial. Transitioning from historical reflections to dynamic adaptation for contemporary challenges is imperative.”

Speakers at the conference outlined the significance of education in promoting awareness about sustainability. Panel discussions, moderated by a diverse group of experts, academics, and officials from local and international backgrounds, explored the interconnected themes of creativity, technology and sustainability.

The sessions delved into research topics that deepen our understanding of technological progress, fostering innovation and progress.

The conference offered a range of workshops to nurture creativity and cultivate essential skills crucial for sustainable development.

A dedicated section featured scientific papers and posters from researchers, with several contributions by students from Dar Al-Hekma University.


Makkah Route Initiative streamlines pilgrimage journey using AI

Updated 19 May 2024
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Makkah Route Initiative streamlines pilgrimage journey using AI

  • Services include issuing electronic Hajj visas, biometric data collection, completing passport procedures

RIYADH: The Makkah Route Initiative has adopted an AI-enhanced approach to streamline services for pilgrims arriving from various countries for this Hajj season, Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

Uing technology and digital solutions, the initiative simplifies the pilgrimage journey, particularly through expedited entry procedures into Saudi Arabia via dedicated lounges at pilgrims’ home country airports.

The initiative employs advanced digital technology to provide the best services to pilgrims while also ensuring the highest level of comfort throughout their journey.

Services include the issuing of electronic Hajj visas, biometric data collection, completion of passport procedures in specialized lounges at departure airports, ensuring health requirements are met, and efficient luggage tagging and sorting. After arrival in the Kingdom, pathways are assigned, and partner agencies ensure hassle-free delivery of pilgrims’ luggage to their accommodation.

Chairman of Pakistan Ulema Council President Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi praised the program for simplifying procedures for pilgrims, both in their home countries and on arrival.

He said that the initiative had made the Hajj journey easier, simpler and faster, and thanked the Saudi government and the Kingdom’s leadership for their commitment to serving pilgrims with the highest technological standards.

SPA accompanied pilgrims benefiting from the initiative at Islamabad’s airport, observing the proficient work of Saudi personnel involved in the project.
 


KFUPM’s 10th design expo celebrates student ingenuity

The King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals hosted its tenth Design Expo on Saturday. (AN photo)
Updated 19 May 2024
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KFUPM’s 10th design expo celebrates student ingenuity

DHAHRAN: The King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals hosted its tenth Design Expo on Saturday, with senior students’ graduation projects highlighting solutions to real industry problems.

President of the university, Mohammed Al-Saggaf, spoke to each team and handed out awards. It was during his tenure as president that the new model for the expo was put into place.

“This exhibition is distinguished by the collaborative effort among students from different majors to create innovative projects,” the university said in a statement.

Mimicking industry standards, the university event also briefs the soon-to-be professionals on how to pitch and speak about their projects to the public, potential investors and educators.

“This exhibition will showcase various academic projects presented by our students in diverse fields,” the statement said.

A total of 1,063 students participated to present 185 projects “devising solutions for industrial challenges” in the following categories: artificial intelligence, automation technology, construction technology, digital transformation, drone technology, energy systems, environmental technology, health care technology, renewable energy, sustainability and technology enhancement.

The winning projects included an autonomous wheelchair that uses electromyography — EMG — a technique for evaluating and recording the electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles.

Prizes were also awarded for the most entrepreneurial project, the most innovative project and the best elevator pitch, along with an award based on public voting and the president’s choice award.

The most humanitarian project award was handed to “Quick-Construct Housing for Refugees and the Impoverished,” to six students: Alwaleed Talal Abutaleb and Abdulaziz Talal Abutaleb from the architectural engineering and construction management program; Ayoub Abdullah Alsalamah from mechanical engineering; Ammar Omar Alhawsawi from electrical engineering; and Faris Abdulrahman Alsuhaibani and Bander Nasser Almubaddel from aerospace engineering.

“All of this is Saudi-made, even the manufacturing process. It’s the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia, the mechanism and everything — from designing to construction — was assembled by a Saudi company,” Almubaddel told Arab News.

In a record three minutes, the structure can be built and lived in almost instantly. Their target is the refugees in the Middle East — to offer durable, affordable, portable shelter that can be assembled easily and efficiently.

Abutaleb, who focused on the architectural elements, said: “What we brought to the table (is) that we designed the unit, the dimension, the process and the interior of the unit. We are responsible for the integration of the system within the unit, in addition to the construction and the assembling.”

Electrical engineering student Alhawsawi said: “I contributed the power system and all the connections required; and all the power systems that will be integrated into the unit.”

Aerospace engineering student Alsuhaibani added: “The unit is very simple to assemble — these materials that we used to construct the unit have a very high resistance for the heat. It has item resistance, and it can withstand the harsh environment in Saudi Arabia.”

The team will continue to work on the project beyond the classroom to make it useful in the real world.