OIC urges cooperation to alleviate poverty

1 / 2
During the OIC meeting in Ankara, Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha called on all member states to collaborate more closely and exchange experiences towards accelerating poverty alleviation especially in the least developed states. (Twitter: @OIC_OCI)
2 / 2
The 9th Follow-up Committee Meeting of the OIC Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation was held in Ankara, Turkey, on May 23-24, 2023. (Twitter: @OIC_OCI)
Short Url
Updated 26 May 2023

OIC urges cooperation to alleviate poverty

JEDDAH: The Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Hissein Brahim Taha has called on member states to work more closely and exchange experiences to help accelerate efforts to alleviate poverty, especially in the least developed countries.

The request came during a meeting of the OIC’s Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation in Ankara, which was held on May 23-24.

Taha urged member states to actively participate in October’s OIC Ministerial Conference on Food Security and Agricultural Development, in Doha.

The conference aims to speed up the recovery process in the agricultural and food security sectors following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The recent meeting focused on several issues, including the implementation status of several COMCEC projects in trade, investment, agriculture, tourism, financial development, and poverty alleviation.

The meeting also approved the draft agenda for the 39th session of the COMCEC General Assembly in Istanbul, from Dec. 2-5.

The COMCEC follow-up committee meets annually to review the implementation status of the resolutions of the ministerial sessions on economic and trade development, and to prepare the necessary working documents for the forthcoming COMCEC ministerial sessions.

Design hopefuls from across MENA draw up plans to nurture nature

Sultan Al-Badran, creative programs developer at Ithra’s Idea Lab. (Supplied)
Updated 3 sec ago

Design hopefuls from across MENA draw up plans to nurture nature

  • From fashion to furniture, Ithra challenge seeks ideas to protect biodiversity

DHAHRAN: Promising designers from the MENA region are preparing to outline their solutions to some of the world’s most pressing nature-related problems as part of an annual creative competition hosted by the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra).

As part of Tanween, Ithra’s Season of Creativity, Tanween Challenges selected 80 designers from a pool of applicants to take part in the six-day challenge, with a July 20 deadline to deliver a tangible product or solution.

Designers across a range of disciplines will be aiming “to harmonize human activities with the planet’s biodiversity in an era where nature is affected by elements such as technological advancements, growing inequalities, and urbanization,” Sultan Al-Badran, creative programs developer at Ithra’s Idea Lab, said.

Each of the challenges will involve 20 participants, either as individuals or in teams. Competitors will also be offered workshops and talks with experts in their chosen disciplines to ensure they have the tools to tackle their challenge briefs.

Tanween Challenges asked designers to craft practical solutions in the key areas of urban development, graphic design, furniture, and fashion. Event partners include NYXO, Albawardi Group, AM Unique by NamtHajja, and Vanina.

Ithra said in a statement that the competition seeks solutions that “nurture all forms of life, supported by a cross-disciplinary blend of expertise to tackle these complex issues courageously and innovatively.”

The four categories are:

- Pavilion Design Challenge asks participants to reimagine how people can coexist with their environment — and each other — more harmoniously amid rapid urban development and industrial activities that have compromised air quality and contributed to pollution that affects people’s health and the health of natural habitats within their cities.
- Graphic Design Challenge asks designers to develop visual communication to transform complex data into insights that will lead to a sustainable future, countering current threats to biodiversity and ecological balance.
- Participants in the Furniture Design Challenge will design public spaces that prioritizes people without neglecting the needs of other species that share the environment. Designers have been asked to answer the question: How can we create urban spaces that promote cohabitation between humans and other species?
- Fashion Design Challenge looks to provide answers to problems associated with the fashion industry, such as overproduction, overconsumption and the dominance of fast fashion — issues that have not only harmed the environment but also erased much of the culture that was once celebrated in fabric form.
One winning project from each challenge will be selected for commercial production. Successful projects will be displayed as part of a design exhibition at the Tanween Conference in November at Ithra’s headquarters.

Saudi Central Bank says unaffected by global tech outage

Updated 19 min 54 sec ago

Saudi Central Bank says unaffected by global tech outage

  • SAMA said it adheres to the highest internationally recognized standards for operational, cybersecurity practices

RIYADH: The Saudi Central Bank, or SAMA, assured the public on Friday that its national payment and banking infrastructure systems were unaffected by the worldwide tech outage that disrupted industries, from travel to finance.

A software update by global cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike appeared to have triggered system problems that grounded flights, forced some broadcasters off air and left customers without access to services such as healthcare or banking.

SAMA emphasized that it adheres to the highest internationally recognized standards for operational and cybersecurity practices.

This includes rigorous protocols for its systems and national payment networks, as well as those connected with other financial institutions.

The bank further highlighted its commitment to regularly updating precautionary measures to ensure the effectiveness of business continuity plans and the resilience of banking and payment systems.

These measures are aimed at enhancing infrastructure safety and service efficiency, it said.

Although CrowdStrike said it had rolled out a fix for the problem, experts have questioned how easy it would be for millions of users to patch their damaged systems.

Nahj launches innovative summer training program to empower youngsters

Updated 2 min 52 sec ago

Nahj launches innovative summer training program to empower youngsters

  • Initiative aims at a unique internship

JEDDAH: Nahj, a nonprofit organization, has recently launched its Summer Training Program to empower youngsters, which is set to run until Aug. 15 in Riyadh and Jeddah.

The initiative aims to create a unique internship and training experience, in collaboration with leading companies such as Mrsool, Najm, and Care Hospitals, covering diverse sectors including healthcare, law, business development, engineering, and technology.

Nahj is to select between 70 and 100 top students, focusing on those at high school and those under 20, and match them with companies based on their interests, skills, and CVs. The program aims to guide students toward their desired career paths by providing experience and insights.

Rakan bin Bader, CEO and founder of Nahj, said: “As a young leader, I understand the importance of exposing young trainees to market demands. Vision 2030 places a significant emphasis on the role of youth in driving our country’s future.

“This unique chance excites me and motivates me to create opportunities for youth development and empowerment. By equipping young people with the necessary skills, we can prepare them to become great leaders who will contribute to our community and help realize this ambitious vision.”

Bader spoke of the key objectives of the initiative, emphasizing the need to bridge the gap between education and employment, provide practical training, and enhance the skills of young professionals.

He added: “We aim to equip them with the necessary tools to meet market demands and become successful leaders. By offering hands-on experience and mentorship, we hope to inspire and empower the youth to contribute positively to the Kingdom’s development.

“Our ultimate goal is to support Vision 2030 by creating a generation of well-prepared, capable, and innovative young leaders who will drive our nation’s progress.”

While addressing the challenges facing young professionals in Saudi Arabia, he highlighted the misalignment between educational outcomes and market needs.

He explained that although the educational system is robust, there is often a gap between academic knowledge and the practical skills required.

He added: “There is a growing emphasis on innovation, entrepreneurship, and the development of digital skills. The government and private sector are increasingly investing in programs and initiatives that support youth empowerment and career readiness.”

Jenan Kamal, chief operating officer and co-founder of Nahj, said: “One of the main challenges, particularly from an operational perspective, is selecting a limited number of students from a pool of highly qualified and experienced applicants.

“To address this, we partnered with multiple companies to increase the number of available seats. Additionally, we set high standards and implemented a rigorous application process to ensure we selected the best of the best.”

Kamal added: “We expect this program to lead change in both the private and public sectors, advocating for greater youth empowerment for those under 20.

“By raising expectations and setting a higher bar for young people, we aim to align with Vision 2030’s goals, fostering a culture of excellence and innovation among the youth.”

Rozana Al-Banawi, the founder of Qeema, the first Arabic personal financial coaching group, said: “Our program offers students a unique opportunity to enhance their understanding of startup culture, fintech, and personal financial coaching. By focusing on the intersection of these fields with well-being, research, and data, we aim to equip students with both soft and technical skills relevant to various professions.

“Emphasizing the development of a growth mindset, leadership, teamwork, self-discipline, and emotional intelligence, our program provides a practical, real-world learning experience. It encourages students to explore their motivations, expand their networks, and understand workplace complexities, ultimately fostering long-term benefits and personal growth.”

Danah Al-Jarboua, a high-school student entering 12th grade, shared her aspirations and expectations for the Nahj/Mrsool internship.

She said: “As I approach graduation, clarity in my career path is crucial. (I am) interested in industrial engineering (and) this program offers me the opportunity to explore and gain practical experience in a field that captivates me. It will help me discern if industrial engineering aligns with my ambitions, and illuminate the path ahead.

“Through practical assignments and mentorship, I aim to bolster my problem-solving, project management, technical, teamwork, and communication skills.

“These insights will not only guide my academic decisions but also fortify my college applications and lay a strong foundation for my future career.”

Bayan Kamal, a driven business intern with aspirations in marketing, reflected on the impact of the internship program, saying: “My career path is firmly set on marketing, and this internship has reaffirmed my direction by providing invaluable hands-on experience and strategic insights into marketing strategies.

“Through managing and engaging with audiences on social media platforms, I aim to enhance my social skills and public-speaking abilities, crucial for effective communication in marketing roles.

“This program offers me early exposure and practical knowledge that will undoubtedly give me a competitive edge in my future career. I look forward to showcasing my acquired experience and skills, setting a strong foundation for my journey in marketing.”

Bader is optimistic regarding the future of career development and talent acquisition in Saudi Arabia.

He said: “We are moving towards a more dynamic and inclusive job market. Emphasis on continuous learning, upskilling, and reskilling will become crucial. Companies are recognizing the value of investing in young talent and creating environments that foster growth and innovation.

“By leveraging technology and embracing new educational models we can ensure that young professionals are well prepared to meet future demands and contribute significantly to the Kingdom’s progress.”

Saudi team wins four international awards at 2024 European Physics Olympiad

Updated 42 min 7 sec ago

Saudi team wins four international awards at 2024 European Physics Olympiad

  • The team members were among 275 high-school students from 55 countries competing at the 5-day event in Georgia this week

RIYADH: The Saudi team won four international awards at the 2024 European Physics Olympiad this week in Georgia.

The team members were among 275 high-school students from 55 countries competing at the five-day event, which began on Monday and concluded on Friday, the Saudi Press Agency reported. Their success brings the total number of academic Olympiad awards won by Saudi students to 21.

Mazen Al-Shakhs, from Al-Ahsa, won a silver medal, while Wissam Al-Qanbar, from the Eastern Province, and Ahmed Arif, from Jeddah, each won bronze. Ahmed Fadlallah, from Makkah, received a certificate of appreciation.

The students were participating in the contest with the support of the King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity, also known as Mawhiba, and the Ministry of Education.

Amal Al-Hazzaa, the secretary-general of Mawhiba, said she was proud of what the students accomplished, describing it as yet another achievement by talented Saudi individuals in international competitions.

“Mawhiba is dedicated to empowering talented Saudis by developing their skills and competencies using the latest global methods for discovering and nurturing talent,” she added. “This effort aligns with, and contributes to, the goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.”

The Saudi team members competing at the event underwent intensive preparation, including tuition from an elite group of Saudi and international experts. They took regular tests and developed their higher-level thinking skills by carrying out physics experiments with which they were unfamiliar, that were designed specifically for such local and international competitions. They also used tools tailored to prepare them for the kinds of questions and tasks they would face, which included challenging ideas and puzzles.

The European Physics Olympiad is a competition in which high-school students are presented with problems that require creative solutions. It is open to countries in Europe and beyond, which can send five students and one leader. The inaugural event took place in Estonia in 2017. The concept behind the Olympiad is based on real-world research situations, with problems that allow space for creative solutions.

Mawhiba thanked its partners, including the Ministry of Education and other strategic collaborators, for their help to train and hone the skills of Saudi students for the event. This formed part of the Mawhiba International Olympiad Program which, in a strategic partnership with the ministry, offers students the chance to attend training camps throughout the year. It is one of 20 initiatives that offer advanced curricula and enrichment programs in subjects related to science, engineering and health.

Saudi border authorities thwart multiple drug-smuggling operations

Updated 19 July 2024

Saudi border authorities thwart multiple drug-smuggling operations

  • Officers in the Al-Raboah and Al-Farsha areas of Asir seized more than 137000 tablets

RIYADH: The Kingdom’s Border Guard has thwarted several attempts by criminals to smuggle drugs into the country, the Saudi Press Agency reported late Thursday.

Officers in the Al-Raboah and Al-Farsha areas of Asir seized 125,500 and 11,893 narcotic pills, respectively.

In Asir’s Dhahran Al-Janub area, three Ethiopian nationals were arrested for attempting to smuggle 27 kg of hashish into the country.

The authorities have urged citizens and residents to report any information related to drug smuggling or selling by calling 911 in Makkah, Riyadh and the Eastern Province, and 999 in other regions of the Kingdom.

They can also call the General Directorate of Narcotics Control at 995 or contact via email at [email protected]. All reports will be treated with strict confidentiality.