Makkah Grand Mosque free of disease outbreaks during Ramadan: Saudi health update

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Saudi Arabia ensures the comfort and safety of worshippers visiting the Grand Mosque in Makkah. (SPA)
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Pilgrims circle the Kaaba at Makkah’s Grand Mosque on Thursday. (SPA)
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Updated 22 April 2022

Makkah Grand Mosque free of disease outbreaks during Ramadan: Saudi health update

  • More than 18,000 medical workers serving in Makkah 

RIYADH: Saudi Health Minister Fahd Al-Jalajel has announced that there has been no outbreak of highly infectious diseases among Umrah pilgrims and visitors in Makkah, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

Al-Jalajel said the positive health report was a result of the measures put in place by the government led by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

He said the Ministry of Health continues to provide holistic medical care for pilgrims at hospitals and primary health care centers in Makkah region and at the Grand Mosque.

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More than 4.2 million pilgrims have been allowed to enter the Grand Mosque since the start of Ramadan, with precautionary measures in place.

Al-Jalajel added that the ministry had recruited more than 18,000 workers to provide health services. For the first 20 days of Ramadan, over 7,200 Umrah pilgrims received treatment at Al-Haram Hospital and various other centers. Medical workers conducted 36 emergency surgeries and 291 dialysis procedures.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia on Friday recorded no COVID-19 deaths, with 117 testing positive and 236 recoveries.

Of the new infections, 27 were recorded in Jeddah, 22 in Riyadh, 19 in Madinah and 16 in Makkah. Several other cities recorded fewer than 10 new cases each.

Saudi health authorities have so far registered more than 753,241 COVID-19 infections and 9,075 deaths since the pandemic broke out in the country in March 2020, after a citizen arrived from Iran through Bahrain.

More than 740,244 of these patients have recovered, thanks to the government’s free vaccination program, which has administered more than 64 million doses at 587 centers across the Kingdom.

The ministry announced that 3,922 COVID-19 cases were still active, adding that 10,984 PCR tests were conducted over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of tests to almost 42 million.

Under the slogan “It’s our turn,” the health ministry continued calling on parents to have their children between the ages of 5 and 11 vaccinated, to protect them from variants and other complications.

Testing hubs and treatment centers set up throughout the country have helped millions of people since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Taakad centers provide COVID-19 testing for those who show no or mild symptoms or believe they have come into contact with an infected individual, while Tetamman clinics offer treatment and advice to those who experience fever, loss of taste and smell, and breathing difficulties.

Last December, Saudi health authorities began administering the COVID-19 vaccine to children between the ages of 5 and 11. This was after the Saudi Food and Drug Authority approved the Pfizer vaccine for this age group a month before the manufacturer satisfied the regulatory requirements by providing data showing it was safe for children.

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Jeddah receives 179mm of rainfall, higher figure than 2009 peak

Updated 25 November 2022

Jeddah receives 179mm of rainfall, higher figure than 2009 peak

  • Maximum alert issued in face of weather conditions

JEDDAH: The National Center of Meteorology recorded 179 mm of rainfall on Thursday, the highest amount ever received in the city.

Rain fell from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the south of the province in a heavier downpour than the previous biggest, in 2009.

The Jeddah Municipality announced a maximum alert in the wake of the weather conditions, while the meteorology center warned of moderate to heavy rain in the governorates of Jeddah and Rabigh in the Makkah region, including Thuwal and coastal areas, accompanied by surface winds, hail and flooding, until 7 p.m. on Thursday.

King Abdulaziz Airport announced that some flights had been delayed due to the weather. The airport was hoping to communicate with air carriers to confirm dates and times for rearranged flights.

Makkah Municipality employs 11,800 field workers to prepare for the rainy season. It has machinery and equipment to deal with the expected conditions. Its operation and maintenance department assesses the performance of rainwater drainage network channels in main and side roads, intersections and squares.

It removes sediment which can impede water flow in drainage systems, in accordance with contingency plans.

Task forces and equipment have been deployed throughout Makkah, with some 52 water tanks, each with a capacity of 194,000 gallons, removing floodwaters. Some 146 excavating machines and 89 multipurpose trucks have been dealing with the impact of the rain and removing water from the roads and streets.

The municipality has also organized field teams to remove waste that may have built up in the wake of the downpours.

It has also increased the number of cleaning teams to work on clearing sewers to prevent any dangers that may pose a threat to residents and visitors.

The teams have been deployed along with 520 machines, including lorries, pump tanks, Bobcats, tankers and automated sweepers, as well as a large number of pumps and excavating machines. Work is being carried out around the clock to implement contingency plans.

Makkah contains huge rainwater drainage systems that reach around 540 km and cover all of the region’s neighborhoods and holy sites. The systems include closed trunk water mains and deep tunnel networks, as well as shallow and open drainage channels.

The municipality also carries out maintenance and cleaning operations throughout the year to help reduce the effects of flooding on the region.

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Spanish passions of food and football combine at Riyadh festival

Updated 26 November 2022

Spanish passions of food and football combine at Riyadh festival

  • LaLiga and Spanish gastronomes host feast of Iberian culture at Ritz Carlton

RIYADH: Food and football were flavors of the week in Riyadh as Spanish cuisine experts and LaLiga officials came together to host a feast of Iberian culture.

The Spanish Pantry festival, organized by LaLiga and food experts Provacuno, was held over three days this week in the capital’s Ritz Carlton. 

Mohamad Essa, LaLiga’s delegate in Saudi Arabia, told Arab News that the festival combined two of Spain’s biggest passions, with football activities and displays from a Michelin star chef Rafael Centeno.

Essa said that Saudi Arabia had a passionate fan base for LaLiga football. “It’s my honor to be close to the local fans and to listen to their observations and understand their needs. We would like to achieve many things together. 

“We are here to promote strong relations with local institutions, clubs and media,” he said, adding that his presence helps LaLiga giants such as Real Madrid and Barcelona connect with Saudi fans, clubs and sponsors.

He added that his organization planned many activities for the Kingdom, including parties for Saudi fans to travel and watch LaLiga matches.

The league already helps develop skills in the sports industry with its LaLiga business school, and it has football academies aimed at developing youth talent.

“We want to export these capabilities to the country to create the new generation of footballers,” Essa said.

“As part of this international expansion, we are engaging in the market by hosting events, activities, different sports projects and academic opportunities.”

Ohoud M. Aljabr, of the Ritz-Carlton group, said: “Our main goal of this successful partnership is to introduce the beautiful and rich culture of Spain and present a memorable experience. Hosting the Spanish Festival for the first time in the Kingdom was a pleasure.” 

Provacuno is a promotion organization for Spanish beef and veal, and represents 140,000 farms and processing plants.

Spain produces more than 800,000 tonnes per year of meat to EU standards. Saudi Arabia meanwhile is a growing market for beef, with consumption rates increasing and outstripping local supply. “Spanish beef has been a supplier since 2016. Export figures have been rising in recent years, reaching 350 tonnes a year,” Provacuno said. “Most of our exports to Saudi Arabia are high-quality cuts that meet Saudi demands.”


Al-Harthi receives Rawabi Holding Award in London

Updated 24 November 2022

Al-Harthi receives Rawabi Holding Award in London

JEDDAH: Ghadah W. Al-Harthi has received the Rawabi Holding Award for her contribution to promoting Saudi-British cultural relations.

She was awarded by Abdulaziz Al-Turki, chairman of Rawabi Holding. The award ceremony was held in the presence of Prince Khalid bin Bandar, Saudi ambassador to the UK.

Al-Harthi works in London as a senior cultural consultant delivering research, strategy and content curation to consultancies in the UK with projects in the Gulf countries.

She is also a senior lecturer and associate director of the MA Innovation Management at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London.

Alongside her work as a consultant and academic, she is a young adviser at Chatham House and a member of the Next Generation Committee.

For the past 10 years, Al-Harthi has been collaborating with key arts and culture institutions in the UK and the Gulf.

She aims to build bridges between communities, increase cultural exchange and enhance the multilayered communication between Saudi Arabia and the UK through her work, research and participation in international events.

In her acceptance speech, Al-Harthi said she was privileged “to have been able to strengthen cultural relations and to lead on major projects and research, with talented teams and academics here in London.”

She said: “I’m starting a London-based cultural initiative, which will aim to further continue my contributions to promoting cultural dialogue between the East and the West.”


Two dead, schools and universities close as heavy rains hit western Saudi Arabia

Updated 24 November 2022

Two dead, schools and universities close as heavy rains hit western Saudi Arabia

  • Social media showed standing water snarling traffic and partially submerging vehicles
  • Jeddah's King Abdulaziz International Airport said some flights has been delayed

RIYADH: At least two people died on Thursday as heavy rains hit western Saudi Arabia, including Jeddah, delaying flights and forcing schools to close, officials said.

“Two deaths have been recorded so far, and we call on everyone not to go out unless necessary,” Makkah regional government said on its Twitter page.

The road connecting Jeddah and Makkah was closed on Thursday once the rains began, Saudi Press Agency said, although it was later reopened.

Al-Ekhbariya channel showed footage of worshippers at the Grand Mosque in Makkah circling the Kaaba under a heavy downpour.

In Jeddah, images posted to social media showed standing water snarling traffic and partially submerging some vehicles.

The city's King Abdulaziz International Airport said that “due to weather conditions, the departure of some flights has been delayed” and urged passengers to contact carriers for up-to-date schedules.

SPA reported before dawn that schools in the city would temporarily be closed as rains were forecast to continue throughout the day.

Schools were also closed in the nearby towns of Rabigh and Khulais “to preserve the safety of male and female students", SPA added.


Saudi peak stands tall as global landmark

Updated 24 November 2022

Saudi peak stands tall as global landmark

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is home to one of the most beautiful landmarks in the world, based on a selection of leading geological sites by the International Union of Geological Sciences and UNESCO.

Mount Al-Qadar, the 2,000-meter-high extinct volcano in the Madinah region, took its place among the top 100 geological heritage sites selected from among 181 nominations submitted by 56 countries, including 34 landmarks from North and South America, 28 from Europe, 15 from Africa, and 23 from Asia, the Pacific and the Middle East.

The Saudi Geological Survey said on Thursday that Mount Al-Qadar in Harrat Khaybar “forms an aesthetically pleasing shape with a 400-meter volcanic cone.”

Mount Al-Qadar, which last erupted 1,000 years ago, was chosen along with landmarks such as the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park in the US, the Archean Barberton Greenstone belt in South Africa, and Mount Everest.