Saudi Arabia will now allow visitors holding tourist visas to perform Umrah – Hajj ministry
49 nations eligible under the new rules
Booking online or on arrival, says ministry
Updated 12 August 2022
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has announced that the Kingdom will now allow visitors holding tourist visas to perform Umrah.
Citizens of 49 countries will be able to do so by securing their visas online at Visit Saudi Arabia, or immediately on arrival at airports.
The decision has been taken to allow as many people as possible to perform the ritual.
Those who qualify include holders of visas to the US and the UK, as well as those who have Schengen visas.
The regulations allow visitors to obtain a tourist visa, valid for 12 months, to visit other cities in the Kingdom.
Those who have family visit visas are allowed to perform Umrah, by booking through the Eatmarna app.
To perform Umrah, visitors are required to obtain comprehensive health insurance, which includes covering the costs of COVID-19 treatment, accidents resulting in death or disability, and expenses arising from flight delays or cancellations.
Those wishing to perform Umrah from nations other than those who currently qualify, should apply for visas at the Kingdom’s embassies in their countries.
Documents required include proof of residence and employment, return ticket, bank statement proving financial stability, itinerary, and complete personal information.
Al-Asheikh leads Saudi delegation to G20 Parliamentary Speakers’ Summit
Updated 07 October 2022
JAKARTA: A delegation from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, headed by speaker of the Shoura Council Sheikh Dr. Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Ibrahim Al-Asheikh, participated at the eighth G20 Parliamentary Speakers’ Summit on Oct. 5, 2022.
The summit, held in Jakarta, was themed “Recover Together, Recover Stronger.”
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, President of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Duarte Pacheco, and Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Republic of Indonesia Puan Maharani, were also present.
Widodo delivered the opening speech and welcomed the various parliament speakers, stressing the importance of the group, which seeks to solve all problems facing the world’s population, referring to the significance of communication among all countries to realize economic recovery and create a more prosperous and developed world.
Indonesia is the host of this year's gathering of the world's top 20 economies, coming next after Italy (2021) and Saudi Arabia (2020).
The G20 members are: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, UK, US, and the European Union. Spain is also invited as a permanent guest.
How tech is revolutionizing breast cancer diagnosis and treatment in Saudi Arabia
Breast cancer diagnoses have increased fivefold over 17 years owing to improved screening
Breakthroughs in detection using artificial intelligence could help further improve cancer care
Updated 07 October 2022
JEDDAH: Technological advancements in the early detection and treatment of breast cancer are radically improving the chances of survival, recovery, and quality of life for women in Saudi Arabia, according to health experts.
Breast cancer is among the biggest challenges facing health systems worldwide. Studies have shown that a girl born today has a one-in-eight chance of developing breast cancer during the course of her lifetime.
Women diagnosed with breast cancer worldwide in 2020.
According to the World Health Organization, there were 2.3 million new breast cancer cases and 685,000 deaths in 2020. By the end of that year, 7.8 million women had been diagnosed within the past five years, making it the world’s most prevalent cancer.
Over the last three decades, the number of breast cancer diagnoses has risen, mainly due to the increased use of screening, early detection, and better overall public awareness of self-checking and reporting.
In Saudi Arabia, breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women aged over 40. However, more than 50 percent of cases are detected at a late stage, compared to 20 percent in Western countries, which means the Kingdom has a higher mortality rate.
In most cases, breast cancer does not develop clear symptoms in the early stages. Symptoms usually start to appear only after a tumor begins to grow. But, if detected early, the average recovery rate can be as high as 96 percent.
There are several factors associated with delayed diagnosis. These include age, poor awareness of self-examination and symptoms, social taboos, fear of stigma, and the effectiveness of public health campaigns.
According to a recent study, titled “Breast cancer stage migration in Saudi Arabia: Examining the influence of screening,” published in the Global Journal on Quality and Safety in Healthcare, 2,463 breast cancer cases were diagnosed in the Kingdom between January and December 2017.
It found that breast cancer accounted for 17.7 percent of all cancers reported in Saudi citizens, and 30.9 percent of all cancers recorded among women of all ages.
However, the study also showed that the diagnosis rate had increased fivefold over a period of 17 years, which could be attributed to an improvement in breast cancer awareness and screening programs in the Kingdom.
“A national screening program in the Kingdom was launched in 2012 and targeted women above the age of 40, ten years younger than those of western countries,” Dr. Timor Al-Alshee, a breast oncology consultant at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in Jeddah, told Arab News.
“Though we don’t know the reasons behind early detection in the Kingdom per se, public health awareness campaigns have immensely changed the way the community sees and understands the disease, but we have a long way to go and efforts are being made to increase awareness every year. But it’s still not enough.”
Al-Alshee said more women are getting regular mammograms, especially those with a family history of breast cancer.
“When it comes to breast cancer, it’s no secret about the implications of late detection and what makes people more comfortable today with their diagnosis is how advanced medicine has recognized there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach,” said Al-Alshee.
“Today, we have the tools to personalize a treatment plan and it all starts with getting a mammogram.”
Mammography is one of the greatest innovations in breast cancer care, as it is the only screening technology proven to decrease the breast cancer mortality rate and an essential tool for breast cancer detection.
Today, breakthroughs in the detection, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer with the help of new technologies, particularly artificial intelligence (AI), are improving care even further.
Nearly two years ago, the Saudi Data and AI Authority (SDAIA) began looking into the integration of AI into the breast-cancer screening pathway and has since created an AI system solution that can analyze mammography images and detect abnormalities in scans.
In coordination with the Saudi Ministry of Health (MOH), the SDAIA launched the first phase of the AI system at the Global AI Summit in Riyadh this September.
The system can triage routine mammography exams with a high degree of sensitivity, to support radiologists and oncologists by detecting positively malignant tumors.
With an all-Saudi team, 70 percent of whom are women, the SDAIA has cooperated with specialists to validate the results and to ensure that the AI system is integrable and can be quickly adopted across all systems.
“In its initial phase, the AI system is used in cooperation and is limited to two entities: The National Program for Breast Cancer Detection under the MOH and the Seha-Virtual-Hospital,” the SDAIA told Arab News.
“We seek to make the system available on a national scale, which will require enhancements to scale it up and develop further through the help of local partners. The system is currently working on the screening phase and we’re working to add more features to help with the national efforts to screen 4 million women (above 40 years of age) in the Kingdom.”
Mammograms acquired through population-based breast cancer screening programs, such as Saudi Arabia’s National Program for Breast Cancer Detection, can produce a significant workload for radiologists.
Healthcare providers usually meet to discuss cancer cases and evaluate information to determine a diagnosis, the best treatment, and care plan for an individual patient. This process can take several weeks.
"We’re looking at an 80:20 ratio where 80 percent of the cases can be excluded by the same and the other 20 percent will be the main focus for physicians eventually,” the authority said.
With the AI model system, the screening time will be drastically reduced, and with further enhancements and developments provided by national developers, additional features can be added to the system to increase innovation.
“By coordinating with specialists, we’re training the algorithms to for example detect pathologically proven cancers by mimicking human behaviors and practices. We’re using screening data, diagnostic data, investigations, and more to train the system. The accuracy of AI should exceed the accuracy of radiologists in some cases.”
A common concern for screening efficacy is tissue density. Women with dense tissue have a higher risk of breast cancer misdiagnosis, making it harder for radiologists to see cancer on mammograms.
According to a 2020 paper published in the medical journal European Radiology, 22 percent of the screen-detected cancers are missed, based on a review of prior screening mammograms with diagnostic images.
“Breast density makes the screening test a little more challenging for radiologists and especially for women younger than 50. They may be called back for a follow up,” said Al-Alshee. “The difference between screening today and a decade ago is the advancement in technology that can interpret digital mammograms.
“Advancements also include developing individual treatment plans with less aggressive side effects such as targeted therapies to block the growth of breast cancer cells, new therapeutic approaches in surgeries such as conservative mastectomies for the aesthetic satisfaction of breast cancer patients coupled with the oncological safety, and many more advancements thanks to modern medicine,” he added.
Beyond detection, emerging technologies are also radically improving breast cancer care. The expansion of targeted therapies has increased treatment options for patients, as new areas of research ranging from immunotherapies, to vaccines, and recurrence prevention are being explored.
“Our vision is clear. We want to save lives,” said Al-Alshee. “Once a patient gets a confirmed diagnosis early, they will find the best treatment in the comfort of their home, surrounded by their loved ones, and with a very supportive ecosystem.
“The earlier the diagnosis, the better the prospects of beating the cancer. Coupled with today’s advancement in technology, the success rate will be even greater.”
Grand Mosque’s gate 100 to be named after King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz
Naming is part of Kingdom’s efforts to serve two holy mosques
The Grand Mosque in Makkah has 210 gates
Updated 06 October 2022
JEDDAH: The Grand Mosque’s gate 100 will be named after Saudi Arabia’s late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, the General Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques announced on Wednesday.
The presidency’s chief Sheikh Abdulrahman Al-Sudais said the naming comes as part of the Kingdom’s efforts to serve the two holy mosques by expanding them and providing a high-quality service that enables pilgrims to perform their rituals with ease.
Al-Sudais added that Saudi kings have always taken great care of the two holy mosques and emphasized the importance of providing the finest services to the mosques and those that visit them.
Who’s Who: Al-Mohanad Al-Marwai, CEO of Arabian Coffee Institute
Updated 06 October 2022
Al-Mohanad Al-Marwai is the co-founder and CEO of the Arabian Coffee Institute since January 2022.
The institute, comprised of experts and researchers, educates on all aspects of the coffee value chain, offering a wide range of internationally accredited training courses.
Al-Marwai is also the co-founder and CEO of two other companies in the coffee industry: Coffee Lights and AgriNexsus Ltd.
Coffee Lights specializes in the operation of coffee shops, consultation, training of staff and baristas, and the import and export of coffee.
AgriNexsus Ltd. is a Ugandan-based organic farming and production company that uses Ugandan Community Supported Agriculture, which allows consumers to get high-quality local and seasonal food directly from certified farmers’ communities.
By leading both these organizations, Al-Marwai offers Saudi cafes a transparent supply chain of authentic specialty coffee served to the Kingdom’s public.
Over the past 12 years, Al-Marwai has founded eight companies in Saudi Arabia, Uganda, the UK and the US.
During these years in the coffee industry, Al-Marwai has worked in quality assurance and business consultancy, supporting and empowering small businesses to launch and reach new heights.
He is one of 30 licensed coffee graders in the Kingdom; the total number of licensed coffee graders globally is only 3,000.
He is also among the 36 certified trainers in Saudi Arabia’s coffee industry. He has trained and mentored over 2,000 leaders in the coffee sector and entrepreneurship.
Al-Marwai has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Business and Technology in Jeddah.
He holds three master’s degrees: an MBA in multimedia from the University in Malaysia (2009); an MBA in entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial studies from the Prince Mohammed bin Salman College of Business and Entrepreneurship (2018); and a master’s degree in entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial studies from Babson College in Massachusetts (2018).
In 2018, Al-Marwai also earned a diploma in the coffee skills program from the Specialty Coffee Association in London.
Currently, he is pursuing a master’s degree in coffee excellence from the Zurich University of Applied Sciences and will graduate in 2023.
International publishers exhibit works for first time at Riyadh book fair
One of the exhibitors at the book fair was China Intercontinental Press, a publishing house founded in 1993 by the Chinese government to promote the country’s culture and history abroad
Updated 05 October 2022
RIYADH: The Riyadh International Book Fair 2022 has expanded to welcome many more international publishing houses and distributors to exhibit their works for the first time in the city, including publishers from the UK and China.
One of the exhibitors at the book fair was China Intercontinental Press, a publishing house founded in 1993 by the Chinese government to promote the country’s culture and history abroad.
“This is our first time in Riyadh, and what was interesting is that we found many people here who could speak Chinese very well,” Guo Xi, exhibit marketing manager, told Arab News.
During the publishing house’s first few days at the book fair, many people would approach their exhibit speaking Chinese, and they were pleasantly surprised by how often it happened.
China Intercontinental Press displayed a variety of publications, including genres suitable for both adults and children.
“We have Chinese fiction books, as well as children’s books about Chinese culture and books on politics. They have all been translated into both Arabic and English,” Guo said.
What on Earth Publishing was another publishing house to feature at the book fair. The British company specializes in educational children’s books that present information creatively to help children better understand the material and develop a passion for books.
“This experience has been amazing. Honestly, I love the book fair, and I love the vibes here. Everyone is so helpful. I’m grateful for it,” Juman Salama, What on Earth assistant publishing director, told Arab News.
The publishing house was founded this year, with the initial release of books in May 2022.
“We specialize in non-fiction scientific books aimed at children that discuss the history of engineering and science. We also have books about the Earth and global warming, teaching children how they can take better care of the planet in the near future,” Salama said.
“We try to give this information to children in creative ways so they can actually read and enjoy the books rather than just receive facts or information in a boring way. We are creative about it,” she said.
Britannia Books is another British distribution house that can be found at this year’s book fair in Riyadh. Based in London, the idea behind Britannia Books was conceived one year ago and was brought to life in August.
“Britannia Books was established by three young men from Lebanon in the hopes of distributing English books from the UK to all the Arab world,” Hicham Karan, sales manager at Britannia Books, said.
“We wanted to bring English books for adults and children to our Arab world. We don’t have any specific genre; we are trying to fill all markets,” he said.
Karan has personally participated at the book fair in Riyadh with other publishing houses in the past, but this year marks the debut of his own distribution house.
“For me, the book fair in Riyadh was the pioneer and leader of all Arab book fairs. I have participated in six or seven countries’ book fairs around the world, and Riyadh’s was No. 1.”
Aside from book displays, the fair is also hosting cooking shows, cultural exhibitions and guest lectures throughout the 10-day event, featuring local and international pavilions.
In this year’s edition, Tunisia participated as the guest of honor, with 16 Tunisian publishing houses present. The Tunisian pavilion also highlighted the culture and history of the country through displays, workshops and cultural dialogues open to the public.
The Riyadh International Book Fair will continue until Oct. 8 at the Riyadh Front and is open from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.