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.”


Pilgrims explore museums in Madinah

Updated 5 sec ago
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Pilgrims explore museums in Madinah

  • The exhibition showcases Islamic monuments and cultural landmarks using modern technologies

MADINAH: Pilgrims hosted by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Guests Program for Hajj, Umrah and Visit visited the International Fairs and Museums of the Prophet’s Biography and Islamic Civilization in Madinah.
The exhibition showcases Islamic monuments and cultural landmarks using modern technologies.
This visit was part of the cultural programs organized by the Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah for the guests of the program during their stay in the holy city.


Saudi authorities thwart drug smuggling operations

Updated 21 June 2024
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Saudi authorities thwart drug smuggling operations

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s drug control authority seized large quantities of narcotics and arrested several people following a number of operations across the Kingdom, reported Saudi Press Agency.

Border guards in Asir province thwarted an attempt to smuggle 52 kg of hashish into the kingdom, while in Jazan the authorities foiled the trafficking of 243 kg of qat.

Saudi’s security authorities are urging people to report any activities related to drug smuggling or promotion by calling 911 in the Makkah, Riyadh and Eastern Province regions, and 999 in the rest of the Kingdom.

Alternatively, information can be emailed to [email protected]. All reports are treated in confidence.


Saudi Arabia reaffirms humanitarian efforts for needy, displaced and refugees

Updated 21 June 2024
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Saudi Arabia reaffirms humanitarian efforts for needy, displaced and refugees

  • Support ‘includes all countries of the world without discrimination,’ says KSrelief
  • Kingdom has spent $115 billion on aid in 90 countries over past 4 decades

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia reaffirmed its commitment to strengthen its support for refugees and displaced persons around the world on World Refugee Day, reported Saudi Press Agency.

Saudi aid agency KSrelief said its humanitarian support “includes all countries of the world without discrimination.”

Since it was founded in May 2025, the organization has so far carried out 2,984 projects in 99 countries as it continues to expand its work for the needy and people affected by wars and disasters.

Support for refugees and displaced people in Syria, Palestine, Myanmar and Yemen alone was delivered through 424 humanitarian projects with a value of over $1.18 billion. The schemes have included food and agricultural security, protection and health services, shelter, early recovery and education.

Infographic courtesy of Salam.org

KSrelief also supported those displaced in other countries by implementing 304 projects worth more than $2.19 billion,

The Kingdom hosts a large number of people from countries affected by war, with refugees from Yemen, Syria, and Myanmar alone constituting 5.5 percent of its population. With the latest General Authority for Statistics census citing a total population of 32,175 million, that places the number of refugees at over 1.76 million.

The visitors are provided with “the opportunity for free treatment and education,” said the SPA report, and the Kingdom is keen they are integrated into society.

Saudi’s humanitarian aid and relief efforts go back decades. Non-profit organization Salam records total spending over the past four decades as more than $115 billion in over 90 countries.

“Saudi Arabia has been providing aid to different countries, solving humanitarian crises, and relieving people suffering after wars or natural disasters. These aids are granted without any bias or prejudice to religion or ethnicity,” says Salam on its website, salam4cc.org.


How Saudi startup Braincell is optimizing decision-making and automation through AI

Updated 21 June 2024
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How Saudi startup Braincell is optimizing decision-making and automation through AI

  • AI solutions designed to solve specific business problems are having a profound impact on how firms operate
  • Braincell leverages AI to enhance processes, from logistics and healthcare to banking and smart cities

RIYADH: Automated decision-making allows businesses to make faster, more accurate and more consistent decisions by analyzing large datasets without the risk of human error. That is why, as Saudi Arabia expands its digital economy, such tools are becoming more widely used in the Kingdom.

One firm that is leading the charge in this area is the Saudi startup Braincell, which helps businesses streamline processes and enhance decision-making through automation and artificial intelligence integration.

“Braincell has created a data governance platform and data workflow platform that enables AI solutions to be connected at ease, making it a one-stop shop for data needs,” Abdulhameed Khairaldeen, Braincell’s business development director, told Arab News.

AI solutions, which leverage AI techniques and technologies to solve specific business problems, are poised to have a profound impact on how firms operate. Already, large language models like ChatGPT are taking on rudimentary tasks in a range of industries.

“Braincell clients can choose to work on their own LLMs and on-premises models or even connect to the likes of OpenAI’s ChatGPT,” said Khairaldeen.

Braincell is just one of the many new Saudi companies utilizing AI to optimize technologies. (Supplied)

With the Kingdom’s mission to become a global leader among data-driven economies, new AI startups are emerging every day with the goal of contributing to the fast-growing sector. Braincell is just one of the many new Saudi companies utilizing AI to optimize technologies.

Since its establishment, Braincell has focused on empowering businesses through technology, data and interconnected systems with the mission of enhancing efficiency in business flow regardless of the sector.

In particular, Braincell is connecting leaders, executives, organizations and governments to systems that will allow faster and more effective decision-making.

Braincell leverages AI-powered decision-making to enhance operations. (Supplied)

Asked how Braincell helps firms improve their employee productivity, the company’s senior data consultant, Shatha bin Shaalan, said: “We use AI and automation in our platform to automate the repetitive tasks that we do every day, ensuring that our clients get the benefit of maximum efficiency while reducing human errors and manual efforts.”

Braincell is leveraging AI-powered decision-making to enhance operations across sectors including healthcare, data, banking, supply chains, manufacturing, and smart buildings and cities.

In healthcare, Braincell’s technology fosters an environment for improved patient outcomes by working with clients to build metric-driven healthcare systems, creating scalable digital health ecosystems that reduce errors through automation.

DID YOUKNOW?

• In healthcare, Braincell improves patient outcomes through metric-driven systems that reduce errors.

• In banking, it performs real-time monitoring, streamlines processes, detects fraud, and monitors risk.

• In smart buildings, it collects data on energy consumption, air quality, and occupancy to improve efficiency.

Some of its services include comprehensive insights into personalized care and streamlined clinical processes.

In banking, Braincell is utilizing AI to enhance the customer experience by streamlining and organizing processes that in turn will reduce manual errors.

Shutterstock illustration image

Through Braincell’s banking command center, real-time monitoring also detects fraud, monitors risk management and enhances strategic decision-making.

Applied to smart buildings and cities, Braincell offers new ways to improve the experience of residents. One example is the firm’s data integration and sensor deployment that collects data on energy consumption, air quality, occupancy levels and other relevant parameters.

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Braincell’s use of automation in smart buildings and cities also improves energy efficiency by using advanced AI algorithms to control smart lighting and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems that adjust settings based on occupancy and environmental conditions.

The company has more than 100 active users, and boasts the ability to process 120 billion records in a matter of seconds using AI.

It aims to help businesses make reliable decisions by connecting data sources and consolidating them in a comprehensive way that is easier for clients to access, resulting in higher quality, accuracy and consistency through the use of AI automation.

“The data platform is highly customizable with a very simple setup,” said Bin Shaalan, the firm’s senior data consultant. “It’s dynamic and fits all needs as it integrates with many systems adopted here in the Kingdom.”

Braincell has signed memorandums of understanding with multiple partners including the Ministry of Health, the Public Investment Fund, the National Unified Procurement Company and supply chain specialist XPL Solutions.

The firm has also created a data governance and data workflow platform to help companies comply with National Data Management Office regulations in the Kingdom.
 

 


No normalization with Israel without Palestinian state, Saudi ambassador to UK says

Updated 21 June 2024
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No normalization with Israel without Palestinian state, Saudi ambassador to UK says

  • Prince Khalid bin Bandar was speaking at Chatham House’s London Conference
  • Said Kingdom’s position on Arab-Israeli conflict has never changed

LONDON: Saudi Arabia will not normalize ties with Israel at the expense of Palestinian statehood, the Kingdom’s ambassador to the UK said on Thursday.

Speaking at Chatham House’s London Conference, Prince Khalid bin Bandar said that normalization remained important to Saudi Arabia and other nations in the region because it would ensure peace, stability and security.
He admitted that “compromises would have to be made” to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict, which he said affected the world in a way other conflicts did not.

“If what is happening (in Gaza) keeps happening, we are going to go down a path that is irreversible,” Prince Khalid said. 



“The further we get away from finding a solution, the more people lose hope, the more we’re at that point, it’s going to spread to a regional conflict. It’s important for everyone to recognisze the danger of what lies ahead. The conflict will not remain regional, it will become international very quickly,” he said.

But Prince Khalid said that normalization would be “irrelevant” until the plight of Palestinians was resolved.

“We believe in the creation of a Palestinian state and a solution to the conflict,” he said. “If it was easy, we’d have done it by now but without that, normalization is irrelevant. There is no point having normalization because we would still have conflict and conflict is the problem, not normalization.

“There is no point in discussing everything else until we find a solution. Once we do that, everything is on the table.”

Prince Khalid said that the Kingdom was “one of the most important countries in the region,” which had “leverage” in opening up the Arab and Muslim world to Israel and for it not to play a role in brokering a solution would be “silly.” 



But he added for that to happen, Israel “needs to play ball as well,” adding that the price for finding a solution was an independent Palestinian state.

The ambassador bemoaned how little global coverage the Saudi position on the crisis received, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s recent Hajj address, in which he reiterated calls for an immediate halt to attacks in Gaza.

“It’s important to recognize our position, which has never changed, despite people never listening to us,” Prince Khalid said.

“The crown prince’s positon, Saudi Arabia’s position, his majesty (King Salman)’s position, the government’s position and the will of almost every Saudi I know is we need a Palestinian state.



“The offer was made in the Arab Peace Initiative; on 1967 borders, a Palestinian state, a two-state solution and everyone lives happily ever after. It goes back to 1982, King Fahd presented the same offer, it has not been taken up, I find it mystifying.

“The crown prince stated very clearly, we need a ceasefire, an irreversible solution for the Palestinians and then there’s peace everywhere, it wasn’t even reported.

“It’s annoying and frustrating for us because the world assumes something totally different and that’s not helping the situation,” he said.