Saudi tour guides shine at NEOM’s The Line exhibition

The Line follows a human-first approach with health and well-being prioritized over transportation and infrastructure. (Supplied)
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Updated 12 August 2022

Saudi tour guides shine at NEOM’s The Line exhibition

  • Details of NEOM project on full display at the exhibition
  • About 49 tours are organised per day, allowing visitors to grasp the scope and complexity of the project’s designs

JEDDAH: An exhibition exploring Saudi Arabia’s ambitious The Line project is leaving visitors enthralled thanks to the work of specialist tour guides.

The details of the NEOM project are on full display at the exhibition, hosted at the Jeddah Superdome. Visitors of all age groups will get first-hand insights with the help of the Saudi tour guides, who explain visual displays in both Arabic and English.

The guides are bringing the exhibition to life with about 49 tours per day, allowing visitors to grasp the scope and complexity of the project’s designs, architectural concepts and engineering capabilities.  

Speaking to Arab News, several tour guides expressed their enthusiasm at taking part in the exhibition and playing a small but important role in NEOM. 

One of the guides, Ragad Seit, said: “The experience is beyond wonderful. I love the excitement on the people’s faces while we explain the details of The Line. It is amazing to see the excitement they have for this revolutionary project and watching that makes me feel that it’s worth being a part of this exhibition. I am sure this will be a great movement for the future and we can’t wait to see the completion of The Line.”

Another young guide, Ghalya Faisal Alsahhaf, said: “My job here is to explain the unique and rare NEOM flora that will be grown in The Line. The experience is definitely one of a kind where I get to educate people on the vegetation aspect.

“The look on the people when they learn about the different kinds of flora is incredible. Also, I get to meet people from different cultures and backgrounds where I interact with them about the exhibition, and have discussions. The enthusiasm of the visitors is unimaginable.”

Abdulaziz Salmin said: “Although I am here as a tour guide, I am very proud to be a part of NEOM and work on this project.

“I work on sections one and two where I explain to the people what The Line is all about. The thrill and anticipation that the public show is very similar to my excitement. I am eagerly waiting to see how the city will turn out, especially after learning a lot more about it through this exhibition,” Salmin added.

Apart from tour guides, NEOM officials are also present at the exhibition to assist those looking for in-depth answers. 

The Jeddah exhibition opens its doors from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. until Aug. 14, before moving to the Eastern Province and then staying in Riyadh.

“I learned about the project for the first time on social media and I was so excited to get my own first impression of the revolutionary model of The Line. I’m so excited to see this in reality,” Mohammad Ali, a visitor, said.

“Besides, we now understand more about the project with the help of the tour guides. It’s true that they can take the visitors on a whole different journey,” he added.

Another visitor, Raees Ali, said: “The tour guide turned my experience into a most pleasurable one by answering my questions and providing the information available in a clear and simple way.

“The project definitely looks futuristic and promising. After the tour, I did have many technical questions in my mind, but I am certain that they will be answered in the coming days. Hopefully, I would really like to relocate to this dreamy place.”

Saed H. was awestruck at The Line’s designs on display at the exhibition and is excited to see how the city will look after construction. 

“It is definitely a good idea to have a guide who gives some interesting details. I was surprised to learn about the football stadium in the city which will be embedded in a way where the city itself will turn towards the stadium and become the venue. All these details are so mind-blowing that the visitors were awe-inspired by this dreamy world. We really look forward to seeing it come to life,” said Saed.

Divided into different sections, the displays at the exhibition detail urban living plans being implemented in the city. The Line follows a human-first approach with health and well-being prioritized over transportation and infrastructure.

Free tickets can be booked through the Hala Yalla application for events.

Al-Asheikh leads Saudi delegation to G20 Parliamentary Speakers’ Summit

Updated 07 October 2022

Al-Asheikh leads Saudi delegation to G20 Parliamentary Speakers’ Summit

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

Updated 07 October 2022

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

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. 


2.3 million

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. 

Riyadh’s Kingdom Centre skyscraper is lit pink every October. (Shutterstock)

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.

A bus for an awareness walk from King Saud University in Riyadh to Diriyah Gate. (Supplied)

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.” 

Dr. Timor Al-Alshee. (Supplied)

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.”

Saudi Health Ministry info​​​graphic

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.

Saudi schoolchildren go pink as part of the Breast Cancer Awareness Month's activities. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

“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.

Saudi Health Ministry info​​​graphic

“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. 

Shutterstock illustration image

“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

Updated 06 October 2022

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

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.

The Grand Mosque in Makkah has 210 gates.

Who’s Who: Al-Mohanad Al-Marwai, CEO of Arabian Coffee Institute

Updated 06 October 2022

Who’s Who: Al-Mohanad Al-Marwai, CEO of Arabian Coffee Institute

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

Updated 05 October 2022

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

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. 

The 2022 Riyadh International Book Fair is expanding to welcome many more International publishing houses and distributors to exhibit their works for the first time in Riyadh, including publishers from the United Kingdom and China. (AN photo)

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 2022 Riyadh International Book Fair is expanding to welcome many more International publishing houses and distributors to exhibit their works for the first time in Riyadh, including publishers from the United Kingdom and China. (AN photo)

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. 

The 2022 Riyadh International Book Fair is expanding to welcome many more International publishing houses and distributors to exhibit their works for the first time in Riyadh, including publishers from the United Kingdom and China. (AN photo)

“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.