World should make immediate Gaza ceasefire a priority: Saudi foreign minister

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Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee holds press conference on Gaza ceasefire in Washington. (SPA)
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Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee holds press conference on Gaza ceasefire in Washington. (SPA)
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Updated 09 December 2023
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World should make immediate Gaza ceasefire a priority: Saudi foreign minister

  • ‘Our message is consistent and clear that we believe that it is absolutely necessary to end the fighting immediately,’ Prince Faisal bin Farhan said
  • Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee held joint press conference before meeting with US secretary of state in Washington

WASHINGTON: There must be an immediate end to the fighting in Gaza but governments worldwide do not seem to see it as a priority, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said on Friday in Washington, adding that there must also be a credible roadmap to establish a Palestinian state.
At a joint press conference before meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, a group of foreign ministers said the focus should remain on stopping the fighting immediately in the Palestinian enclave between Hamas militants and the Israeli military.
“Our message is consistent and clear that we believe that it is absolutely necessary to end the fighting immediately,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said.
“One of the disturbing facts of this conflict is that ending the conflict and the fighting doesn’t seem to be the main priority for the international community,” he said.
“I certainly would hope that our partners in the US will do more... we certainly believe they can do more,” the Saudi minister added.

Humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza needed to be significantly increased, he said, adding that it is “unacceptable” that aid “is being restricted and has been restricted” because of “bureaucratic obstacles.”
A UN Security Council vote on a demand for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war was delayed by several hours on Friday until after Blinken’s planned meeting with Arab ministers and the foreign minister of Turkiye. The Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee comprises ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Turkiye.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told the press conference that if the resolution fails on Friday, it would be giving a license to Israel “to continue with its massacre.”
“Our priority for now is to stop the war, stop the killing, stop the destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure,” he said.
“The message that’s being sent is that Israel is acting above international law ... and the world is simply not doing much. We disagree with the United States on its position vis-a-vis on the cease-fire,” he said.
“The solution is a cease-fire,” said Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, while his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi called putting an end to the fighting the number one priority.
“If the UN Security Council fails to adopt the resolution that is simply calling for humanitarian pauses, that is giving Israel a license to continue its massacre against civilians in Gaza,” he said.
Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for an immediate end to the war in Gaza and said an international peace conference should be called to work out a lasting political solution leading to the establishment of a Palestinian state.
(With Reuters and AFP)


Royal Saudi Air Force takes part in multinational exercise

Updated 16 min 14 sec ago
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Royal Saudi Air Force takes part in multinational exercise

  • The Royal Saudi Air Force sent six Typhoon aircraft along with air, technical and support crews to the exercise
  • INIOCHOS is one of Europe’s largest military exercises

RIYADH: The Royal Saudi Air Force took part in multinational air exercise INIOCHOS 2024, held at the Air Tactics Center in Greece, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

Over the course of two weeks, air forces from several countries carried out a variety of simulated combat air operations, involving planning cells, command of air missions and campaigns, intelligence missions and forward air control tasks during close air support operations.

The commanding pilot of the Saudi contingent in the exercise, Lt. Col. Abdulaziz Al-Harbi, said that months of preparation led to achieving planned objectives at all levels.

He praised the efforts of the Saudi air, technical and support crews, who “demonstrated professionalism and high readiness.”

INIOCHOS is one of Europe’s largest military exercises. Deployment began on April 1 and continued until April 7, while the secondary execution phase started on April 8 and ended on April 18. The third phase of the drill, force redeployment, took place from April 19-21.

The Royal Saudi Air Force sent six Typhoon aircraft along with air, technical and support crews to the exercise, the Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense said.

The RSAF members aimed to enhance readiness, exchange expertise, simulate a real war environment and plan complex air operations in an environment involving multinational forces, the ministry added.

Participating countries included Cyprus, France, Montenegro, Qatar, Romania, Spain, the UK and the US.


Saudi universities shine at Geneva invention expo

Updated 25 min 17 sec ago
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Saudi universities shine at Geneva invention expo

  • Between them, the 26 Saudi universities that entered displayed 113 inventions in the Kingdom’s pavilion
  • The Geneva exhibition is a major global event, drawing inventors, researchers, and innovators from around the world

JEDDAH: King Abdulaziz University won 17 awards and medals for its innovations at the Geneva International Exhibition of Inventions.

The 26 Saudi universities that entered — 19 public, two independent, and five private institutions — between them displayed 113 inventions in the Kingdom’s pavilion, with applications in various scientific, theoretical, medical and other fields.

Mosab bin Faleh Al-Harbi, spokesperson and director of the KAU media center, said that the competition boosts the importance of scientific research and innovation in academia.

He highlighted the university’s commitment to fostering innovation and research among students, and said that the university’s contributions came from the colleges of computer science, information technology, medicine, and engineering.

Among the awards won by KAU were the National Research Society of Thailand Prize for a date classification application, and the Malaysian Organization for Research Scientists Prize for a continuous monitoring invention.

Jeddah University also took part in the exhibition, winning two bronze awards. These were for a computer-vision-based smart building health inspection system, and a tool for detecting and preventing distributed denial of service attacks (malicious attacks on a network or server).

Qassim University won a silver medal for its system for desalinating water using halophytic plants, developed by a research team from the College of Agriculture and Food Sciences. The university also received a bronze medal for a project to use date palm waste in the production of pharmaceutical excipients in nano-sized tablets, presented by another research team.

Jazan University was awarded two gold medals. Asim Najmi from the College of Pharmacy received a medal for his work on derivatives of benzylidene 4, 2 thiazolidinones, and their use in diabetes treatment. Mohammed Mashiki from the College of Dentistry, meanwhile, won gold for his modification of a dental crown used in endodontic retreatment.

The university’s acting president, Mohammed Abu Rasin, said these achievements show the institution’s dedication to fostering innovation and promoting a culture of invention through consistent support for inventors.

The Geneva exhibition is a major global event, drawing inventors, researchers, and innovators from around the world. It was held from April 17 to 21, and attracted more than 1,000 innovations from over 50 countries.


Experts to discuss advances in Web3, AI, gaming ecosystem growth in Saudi Arabia

The summit aims to showcase advances in Web3 and gaming ecosystem development in Saudi Arabia. (@NFTLAlive)
Updated 21 April 2024
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Experts to discuss advances in Web3, AI, gaming ecosystem growth in Saudi Arabia

  • Big names set to assemble in Saudi capital

RIYADH: Outer Edge Riyadh, the Web3 innovation forum, is set to bring together some of the biggest names in the blockchain, artificial intelligence, and gaming ecosystems from around the world at The Garage in the Saudi capital on Tuesday.

The summit, in partnership with Animoca Brands and King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, aims to showcase advances in Web3 and gaming ecosystem development in Saudi Arabia.

The Los Angeles-based company Outer Edge is renowned for hosting events that offer invaluable networking opportunities for founders, builders, and venture capitalists in emerging technologies.

Mohammad Hadhrawi, general manager at the Gaming and Immersive Technologies Institute at KACST, said: “We are dedicated to advancing the frontiers of R&D (research and development) in gaming and immersive technologies.

"Our efforts are aligned with the national vision and strategies, aiming to foster an innovative ecosystem that nurtures creativity, technological advancement, and economic diversification.

“By spearheading projects that leverage Web3, AI, and immersive experiences, we aim to impact the global technology landscape and equip our nation with the skills and opportunities to excel in these fields.

“Our commitment is to deliver tangible outcomes that contribute to the Kingdom’s position as a leader in the future economies — a key priority area for the Kingdom — ensuring a sustainable and prosperous future for all.”

Joshua Kriger, Outer Edge co-founder and co-host of the “Edge of NFT” and “Edge of AI” podcasts, said that when launching Outer Edge in Los Angeles, the intention was always to catalyze innovation globally.

He said: “We are thrilled to bring the concept of co-creation, connection, and community to Saudi Arabia and unite regional and global leaders in Web3, AI, and gaming. Our unique format fosters long-term collaboration opportunities at the intersection of culture, entertainment, and technology.”

Yat Siu, the co-founder and executive chairman of Animoca Brands, said: “Through our partnership with Outer Edge Riyadh, we are honored to help support the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region’s progress toward fully harnessing the power of Web3 and blockchain.

“Global leaders at Outer Edge Riyadh will gather to engage in spirited discussions, forge valuable partnerships, create new opportunities, and mobilize on various topics ranging from revolutionizing smart cities to redefining finance and entertainment.”

Topics at the summit will include smart cities, gaming, esports, art, culture, and more. For more information about the Outer Edge Innovation Summit in Riyadh, visit https://www.outeredge.live/riyadh.


Riyadh meeting focuses on modern Shariah issues

Updated 21 April 2024
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Riyadh meeting focuses on modern Shariah issues

  • Leaders from Islamic nations gather to discuss jurisprudence and challenges facing the Islamic world

Riyadh: The grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Asheikh, and senior scholars of the Islamic world are in Riyadh for the Islamic Fiqh Council’s 23rd session to discuss contemporary jurisprudence challenges.

Scholars and researchers from Islamic and Muslim-minority countries are attending the session, which runs from April 20 to 22.

The Islamic Fiqh Council sets out to clarify Shariah rulings for Muslims on a range of issues, show the adaptability of Islamic jurisprudence, and promote its heritage. The council also seeks to explain its terminology in contemporary language.

Al-Asheikh emphasized that Islamic jurisprudence, with its general principles, comprehensive rules, array of jurisprudential branches, fatwas, and diverse research on various topics provides flexibility and broad perspectives for contemporary scholars.

He also expressed appreciation to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their efforts in serving the Two Holy Mosques and their visitors, as well as for the support provided to scholars.

Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League, said in his speech that the session would review Shariah issues, based on in-depth academic research surveys conducted by distinguished scholars.

Hissein Brahim Taha, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said that the session was taking place during a critical period for the Islamic world, filled with significant intellectual and political challenges.

Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa (C), secretary-general of the Muslim World League, said in his speech that the session would review Shariah issues, based on in-depth academic research surveys conducted by distinguished scholars. (SPA)

The president of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy, Dr. Saleh bin Abdullah bin Humaid, mentioned that the topics discussed by the academy’s committees and councils encompass Shariah, family, medical, economic, financial, and intellectual policies, all of which are of interest to the Islamic nation.

The secretary-general of the academy, Dr. Koutoub Moustapha Sano, said: “We are all required to work to unify rulings in Islamic countries in all matters of life, in accordance with the provisions of Islamic Shariah. That is the only way to accomplish Islamic unity among Islamic peoples.”

The session will have several scientific sessions devoted to contemporary jurisprudential issues and challenges.


Saudi Arabia’s Asir magpie faces conservation challenges

Updated 21 April 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s Asir magpie faces conservation challenges

RIYADH: Spring paints a vibrant picture across Saudi Arabia, creating ideal nesting conditions for its feathered residents. The abundant food, comfortable temperatures, and increased rainfall from March to July provide a breeding haven. Yet, amid this avian activity, one particular bird faces an uphill battle for survival: the Asir magpie.

This stunning bird, scientifically known as Pica asirensis, holds a precarious position on the global endangered species list. Restricted to a small pocket in the juniper forests of the Asir region, fewer than 100 breeding pairs remain.

Initially thought to be a subspecies of the Eurasian magpie, the Asir magpie was recognized as a distinct species in 2016. Its geographical isolation — over 1,200 km from its closest Eurasian relative — along with unique physical and genetic characteristics, confirmed its separate classification.

The Asir magpie has darker feathers, with a tail adorned in richer greens and purples. Compared to its Eurasian cousin, it has shorter wings and tail, larger feet, and a noticeably bigger beak. Its call is also distinct, with unique sounds used during foraging.

Ants, bees, and locusts are staples in the Asir magpie’s diet, along with plant seeds and fruits. It also consumes fallen berries and leftover rice found in picnic areas.

During the breeding season, females lay five to seven eggs, with an incubation period of 16 to 22 days. However, chick survival rates are generally low — typically, only two to four chicks survive — due to food scarcity, nest predation, and other hazards.

Recognizing the Asir magpie’s critical status, government agencies have increased conservation efforts. In 2018, Saudi Aramco conducted a vital study, deploying advanced tracking devices to understand the bird’s population density, habitat preferences, and movement patterns. This data is crucial for implementing effective protection measures.

Saudi Arabia boasts remarkable avian diversity, with the National Center for Wildlife documenting an impressive 499 bird species. Of these, 401 are resident or migratory, while 11 are rare species that regularly visit the country. Additionally, 87 vagrant species also grace Saudi skies.

The Asir magpie exemplifies Saudi Arabia’s rich biodiversity. Conservation efforts are essential to ensure the survival of this unique species and to protect the Kingdom’s natural heritage for future generations.