Saudi students’ breakthrough in fight against deadly livestock disease

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Fahad Shaya Al-Mutib (L) and Abdullah Fahad Al-Dosari. (Supplied)
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The two Saudi researchers, Abdullah Fahad Al-Dosari (right) and Fahad Shaya Al-Mutib from Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz University. (Supplied)
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Updated 16 July 2022
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Saudi students’ breakthrough in fight against deadly livestock disease

  • Patent awarded after two-year study into treatment for foot-and-mouth

RIYADH: Two Saudi undergraduate students have been awarded a patent for a breakthrough discovery that could revolutionize the fight against foot-and-mouth disease, the highly contagious viral illness that can devastate livestock herds and ruin farmers.

Fahad Shaya Al-Mutib and Abdullah Fahad Al-Dosari from Prince Sattam Bin Abdulaziz University were given the patent from the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property after discovering a chemical component isolated from the plant Peganum harmala, also known as wild rue or African rue, which is effective against the virus that causes the widely feared disease.




Dr. Ahmed  Suleiman Al Aliwi, Dean of the College of Pharmacy, Prince Sattam Bin Abdulaziz University. (Supplied)

Al-Mutib told Arab News that Maged Saad Abdel-Kader, professor of pharmacognosy at Prince Sattam Bin Abdulaziz University, had urged the two students to identify a research proposal whose content would include plants with a common application in Saudi Arabia.

He said that the idea for the study came to him since Peganum harmala is widely used by livestock owners to treat foot-and-mouth, known colloquially as Abu-Hjae’er disease, which can cause significant economic losses to livestock owners and breeders.

Immunization offers the only protection against the disease. If herds become infected, they are treated with antibiotics and antipyretics, which do not destroy the virus but merely target the symptoms.




Dr. Maged Saad Abdel-Kader, professor of Pharmacognosy at Prince Sattam Bin Abdulaziz University. (Supplied)

Livestock owners have treated “cattle sickness” by soaking a large amount of Peganum harmala in water for at least a day, allowing the plant’s chemicals to dissolve, before it is given to cattle to drink.

The two students’ research to uncover the plant’s secret and identify its useful compounds began in 2019 under Abdel-Kader’s guidance.

Prof. Gamal Abdulhakim Soliman oversaw the partial analysis of the study in collaboration with Prof. Hesham Youssef Elzorba, vice dean of Cairo University’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.

The research was carried out in stages, beginning with collecting the plant, then extracting and fragmenting it for different extracts, and finally sending it to the virology laboratory at the Armed Forces Hospital for Veterinary Medicine in Cairo.




A patent for "extraction and isolation of novel compound from Rhazya stricta active against Foot-and-mouth disease virus Picornavirus" to the two saudi researchers ِA Saudi researcher in Pharmacognosy Fahad Shaya Al-Mutib and Abdullah Fahad Al-Dosari. (Supplied)

Abdel-Kader said that the two students faced significant challenges, including finding a laboratory that was able to conduct experiments on the target virus.

The other challenge was time, since transferring samples to Egypt and waiting for results was a lengthy process. However, all went smoothly.

“I normally do not reject any student’s suggestion, but I always urge them to discuss their ideas with me,” he said. “The two most common reasons for rejecting a study topic are that the requisite experiments cannot be completed or that the same research has previously been conducted.”

Ahmed Suleiman Al-Aliwi, dean of the College of Pharmacy at Prince Sattam Bin Abdulaziz University, said: “The university seeks to promote the research process by providing financial and research support through the development of research programs. It also encourages researchers to publish in international scientific journals and enables researchers to focus on applied research that the world requires.”

He said that the college’s interest in researchers manifests itself in a variety of ways, including “hosting periodic workshops and forming research groups of mutual interest to spark ideas and strengthen research.”

According to Al-Dosari, the biggest challenge facing the two researchers was the employment of several separation methods and the purifying process, “but the team was able to separate seven compounds.”

The structural makeup of the separated compounds was examined using spectroscopic and chemical methods, and what stood out was the presence of two compounds with a complicated structure.

“We used to work in the drug laboratory after school hours and sometimes until after midnight, including on the annual holiday, and in Ramadan for five to six hours a day during the fasting period,” Al-Dosari said.

The two students continued to do research until December 2020, more than five months after graduating.

The pure compounds were tested again on the foot-and-mouth virus. “The most effective was a novel chemical that had never been discovered before, neither from a natural nor synthetic source,” Al-Dosari said.

Working with Abdel-Kader “was a dream come true,” the two students agreed, as the Egyptian academic offered a wealth of experience in scientific research and inventions in the field of drugs.

Abdel-Kader said that he was eager for the students to master all stages of research conducted in the college’s laboratories — from extracting and purifying compounds to identifying their composition.

Al-Dosari said: “The opinion of friends and relatives, as well as their good comments, made us believe that what we had done was amazing and worth the effort and tiredness, and it undoubtedly gave us a moral boost for future creativity in the field of study.”

Al-Mutib added: “Thank God after two years of effort, we are reaping the rewards. We were graduate students who became researchers and inventors.”

Al-Dosari, who is currently working as a marketing representative for Hikma Pharmaceuticals, is a final-year master’s student in pharmacognosy at King Saud University and hopes to get a doctorate in pharmacognosy and join the department’s faculty.

Al-Mutib is a quality controller at Hikma — Jazeera Pharmaceutical Industries, and intends to pursue his graduate education in quality control and business management.

Abdel-Kader hopes to communicate with pharmaceutical companies to deliver the compound or extract as a medicine that can be marketed in the Kingdom and abroad.

Al-Aliwi said that the university’s goal is “to actively engage with stakeholders, including the celebration of joint cooperation agreements with relevant universities and entities to develop the research process and benefit from the human resource represented by distinguished researchers and faculty members to provide consultations and support from both sides to align with the Saudi vision, enhance investment and diversify economy.”


Guidance heroes of Hajj help pilgrims find their way

Updated 17 June 2024
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Guidance heroes of Hajj help pilgrims find their way

  • Scouts can be found in all pilgrimage areas wearing blue caps, brown vests and green neckerchiefs, helping pilgrims

RIYADH: The Technical and Vocational Training Corporation trained scouts to serve during the Hajj season to provide guidance and advice to pilgrims.

These scouts can be found in all pilgrimage areas wearing blue caps, brown vests and green neckerchiefs, helping pilgrims.

Hajj scout Ramadan Swailek says that his duty is to serve and assist the pilgrims at various locations in Makkah.

“We are roaming scouts, and we have specialists from various fields present in the holy sites, such as guidance, health, and safety. The mission of a guidance scout involves guiding lost pilgrims. If a pilgrim is lost, we use maps to help them find their way.”

Swailek said that pilgrims can get cold refreshments and take a rest at the guidance stations.

“This is the first year we are working as roaming guides. In the past, we always provided stationary guidance, helping lost pilgrims who might have been wandering for three or four hours, often frustrated. Guiding them to their destination brings immense relief, and it is a highly rewarding experience. People truly compete for this role because it offers a profound sense of fulfilment,” he said.

Abdulrahim Saad Al-Maliki is another scout helping pilgrims this Hajj season.

“We come here with the intention of serving the pilgrims, as my colleague Ramadan mentioned, and we cover five areas in Mina. There is a lot of roaming, guiding and assisting in various aspects. We thank God for the blessings of Islam, our faith, and the security and safety we enjoy. We are always at the service of the pilgrims. This is my first year, and I hope to continue serving the pilgrims in the coming years, God willing.”

The Scout Commission from the TVTC in the Madinah region won the best headquarters at the camp level this year.

The TVTC was established in 1990 and has 283 training facilities covering all parts of the Kingdom.


KSrelief distribute food aid as Muslims start Eid celebrations

Updated 17 June 2024
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KSrelief distribute food aid as Muslims start Eid celebrations

  • The program is part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts, represented by KSrelief, to strengthen food security in Yemen

RIYADH: The Saudi aid agency KSrelief has distributed nearly 1,600 food baskets across Yemen, benefiting more than 11,000 people, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Monday.

The aid was sent to the districts of Al-Mawasit, Al-Ma’afer and Ash Shamayatayn in Taiz, as well as Al-Hawtah district in Lahij, and Al-Ghaydah district in Al-Mahra Governorate on Sunday.

The program is part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts, represented by KSrelief, to strengthen food security in Yemen.

Also in Yemen KSrelief launched a project on Sunday to distribute adahi meat in Aden Governorate.

The meat of 300 sacrificial animals was distributed on the first day of Eid Al-Adha, in Al-Mansoura city, benefiting 2,800 people who are vulnerable, disabled, displaced and those with chronic diseases.

The project aims to distribute the meat of 2,330 adahi animals to 32,620 families in the governorates of Aden, Marib, Hadhramaut, Al-Mahrah, and Lahij.

KSrelief also distributed 25 tonnes of dates sent to Kazakhstan as a gift.

The aid was handed over in Astana on Sunday by the Saudi ambassador to Kazakhstan, Faisal bin Hanif Al-Qahtani, to the deputy head of the religious administration of the Muslims of Kazakhstan in the presence of a team from KSrelief.

 


Pilgrims perform final rites of Hajj as Muslims celebrate Eid Al-Adha

Updated 17 June 2024
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Pilgrims perform final rites of Hajj as Muslims celebrate Eid Al-Adha

  • More than 850,000 pilgrims had performed Tawaf Al-Ifadah by Sunday night in Makkah
  • The stoning is among the final rites of the Hajj, which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam

MINA: More than 850,000 pilgrims had performed Tawaf Al-Ifadah by Sunday night in Makkah, the ritual marking the final days of the Hajj and the start of the Eid Al-Adha celebrations for Muslims around the world.

The long day started with masses of pilgrims embarking on a symbolic stoning of the devil in Muzdalifah under the soaring summer heat. The stoning is among the final rites of the Hajj, which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

It came a day after more than 1.8 million pilgrims congregated at a sacred hill, known as Mount Arafat, outside the holy city of Makkah, which Muslim pilgrims visit to perform the annual five-day rituals of Hajj. The Tawaf Al Ifadah is performed by Hajj pilgrims after the returning from Mina.

In a press conference on Sunday night, Col. Talal bin Abdulmohsen Al-Shalhoub, spokesperson of the Saudi Ministry of Interior, said that all pilgrims safely returned to their tents in Mina after departing from Muzdalifah.

He emphasized that security forces are continuing their operations to ensure the security and safety of the Guests of Allah throughout their stay in Mina, including their rituals at the Jamarat Bridge and within the Grand Mosque.“These services encompass crowd control and management on all routes connecting their accommodations in tents, the bridge, and the Grand Mosque, as well as during their tawaf. I urge all guests to adhere strictly to the instructions governing their ritual performances,” he stated.

Pilgrims cast stones at pillars in the symbolic stoning of the devil, one of the last rites of Hajj, at the Jamarat in Mina, near the holy city of Makkah, on June 16, 2024. (SPA)

The spokesperson also advised pilgrims not to carry personal belongings when heading to the Jamarat Bridge or the Holy Mosque.

“Furthermore, I urge those intending to leave Mina on the second day of Tashreeq to follow the specified guidelines,” he added.

The days of Tashreeq are the three days that follow the 10th of Dhu al-Hijjah, Eid al-Adha, and are known for the ritual of stoning the three pillars in Mina, symbolizing the rejection of temptation and evil.

However, it is permissible for pilgrims to leave Makkah before sunset on the 12th day of Dhul Hijjah.Al-Shalhoub further reported that the 911 center in the Makkah region had received a total of 78,872 calls on the 10th of Thul Hijjah, covering security reports and service inquiries, all of which were promptly addressed.

He highlighted the close monitoring by Saudi leadership of all security sectors, noting continuous enhancements in their performance each year.“Our security personnel serve as exemplary role models in fulfilling their duties and facilitating the Hajj journey for pilgrims,” he concluded.

For his part, Ayedh Al-Ghuwainem, deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah for Hajj affairs said that the organizational plans and efforts were implemented in harmony with all the participating Hajj agencies.

“The stoning process occurred safely and tranquilly within just ten hours, achieving a compliance rate of 95 percent with the instructions,” he said.

He further added that the plans were designed to accommodate the diverse jurisprudential preferences of pilgrims using modern technology and preplanned schedules for grouping the pilgrims.Al-Ghuwainem stated that more than 800,000 pilgrims had arrived in Mina before dawn on Sunday, and by 8 a.m., all pilgrims had reached Mina.

On their arrival at the Jamarat Bridge, some 70 percent of the pilgrims used the first and fourth floors, while the rest of them went through the second and third floors, according to the deputy minister.

“Moreover, more than 850,000 worshippers have so far performed the Ifadah tawaf since midnight using shuttle bus services from and to the Grand Mosque,” he said.

The deputy minister added that the challenge they faced along with the concerned authorities was that most of the pilgrims preferred to go on foot, despite all the awareness campaigns and the availability of all means of transportation. He also urged the pilgrims to follow the instructions.


Saudi crown prince receives phone call from president of European Council

Charles Michel (L) and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)
Updated 17 June 2024
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Saudi crown prince receives phone call from president of European Council

  • They reviewed Saudi-EU cooperation and ways to strengthen in various areas

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has received telephone call from the president of the European Council Charles Michel on Sunday.

During the conversation, they reviewed Saudi-EU cooperation and ways to strengthen in various areas.

A number of regional and international issues were also discussed as well as efforts made to achieve security and stability in the region, SPA reported.

 


Saudi king, crown prince congratulate South African president on re-election

King Salman (R) and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)
Updated 17 June 2024
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Saudi king, crown prince congratulate South African president on re-election

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman sent separate cables of congratulations on Sunday to South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa on his re-election for a new term.

King Salman expressed his sincere congratulations and best wishes for success to Ramaphosa and for the progress and prosperity of his country, SPA reported.

Saudi Arabia has enjoyed excellent relations with South Africa, which have been strengthened and developed in every aspect.