Norway embassy hosts National Day celebration in Riyadh

Thomas Lid Ball hosted his last national day reception as Norway’s representative in Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
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Updated 16 May 2024
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Norway embassy hosts National Day celebration in Riyadh

  • Thomas Lid Ball: At the end of August, I will take up the position as Norway’s representative to the Palestinian Authorities
  • Norway’s national day is celebrated annually on May 17, paying tribute to the constitution of 1814 and honoring the royal family

RIYADH: Thomas Lid Ball, Norway’s ambassador to the Kingdom, hosted his last national day reception as his country’s representative in Saudi Arabia before taking up his new role later this year. 

“This will be the last national day celebration here at the compound for my wife Camilla and me. At the end of August, I will take up the position as Norway’s representative to the Palestinian Authorities,” Ball said in his opening remarks.

“We will remain forever grateful for the invaluable support from the fantastic team here at the embassy over the past years,” he said. 

Norway’s national day is celebrated annually on May 17 and pays tribute to the constitution of 1814 and honors the royal family.

Attending the national day reception as the guest of honor was Prince Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Abdulaziz, the deputy governor of the Riyadh region. 

In his opening address at the reception, Ball discussed a range of topics, including his time in the Kingdom as ambassador, Saudi-Norwegian private sector cooperation, and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. 

“The Saudi-Norwegian private sector partnerships contribute to the implementation of Vision 2030 in the Kingdom – to value creation, sustainability and corporate social responsibility,” Ball said. “They are an essential part of the solid bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and Norway, officially established more than 60 years ago.

“Our relations have further developed over the past year, through bilateral dialogues on a range of issues and various visits and events, including two Saudi ministerial visits to Oslo, and vice versa, two Norwegian ministerial visits to Riyadh,” he said. 

During his speech, the ambassador stressed the need for an “immediate ceasefire, for hostages to be released, for safe and unhindered humanitarian access to alleviate the unprecedented suffering of civilians in Gaza and for an end to the escalating violence elsewhere in the occupied Palestinian territories.”

Still addressing that conflict, he said: “According to local health authorities, at least 35,173 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since October 7. Many of those who have lost their lives are women and children. On the West Bank, 479 Palestinians have been killed, including 116 children. 

“The conflict must be moved into a political track aiming for a political solution – a two-state solution that fulfills the right of the Palestinian people, ensures security for Israel, and paves the way for enhanced security in the wider region,” Ball said. 

The theme of the national day reception hosted in the ambassador’s residence was water.  

“As you may have noticed, we’ve chosen water as the theme for this year’s event. Because ‘water is life’; necessary for the survival of all living organisms on the planet, and because the management of our water resources is of such importance, both for the Kingdom of Norway and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the ambassador said. 

Concluding his speech the ambassador said: “I would like to take the opportunity to also thank our Saudi friends and host country, our honorary consul in Jeddah, Abdullah bin Mahfouz, our friends in Bahrain, Oman and Yemen, our fellow citizens in the four countries, and not least our dear colleagues here in the diplomatic community.”

The celebration featured an open dinner buffet highlighting traditional dishes from Norway. The reception also featured a photograph area where visitors could pose against a boat backdrop while wearing Viking headgear.


Saudi authorities thwart drug smuggling operations

Updated 20 June 2024
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Saudi authorities thwart drug smuggling operations

Arab News RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s drug control authority seized large quantities of narcotics and arrested several people involved in smuggling following a number of operations across the Kingdom, reported Saudi Press Agency.

Border guards in Asir province thwarted an attempt to smuggle 123 kg of hashish and 89,355 narcotic tablets, while in Jazan four Ethiopian nationals were arrested for trafficking 75 kg of qat.

In Riyadh, the General Directorate of Narcotics Control arrested two Pakistani residents attempting to sell 26 kg of methamphetamine.

Saudi security authorities are urging people to report any activities related to drug smuggling or promotion by calling 911 in the Makkah, Riyadh and Eastern Province regions, and 999 in the rest of the Kingdom.

Alternatively, information can be emailed to [email protected]. All reports are treated in confidence.


The art of playing the drums — a popular part of Najran cultural heritage

Updated 20 June 2024
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The art of playing the drums — a popular part of Najran cultural heritage

RIYADH: Drumming is an important and popular part of cultural heritage in Najran, especially during holidays and special occasions.

The art of playing the drums is considered one of the most famous and creative Najran dances and is the only one in which all vocal and movement arts are included. 

Drummers begin collectively in a single straight row as they move in harmony to the beat of drums and tambourines while chanting. 

The dancers then divide into two rows, one beating tambourines and the other the drums. At the same time, they chant poetic verses with a range of melodies and rhythms.

Najran’s cultural dancers once again enthralled families and visitors during this year’s Eid Al-Adha celebrations, treating them to an exhilarating performance.


AI-enhanced visual medical service proved useful during Hajj

Updated 20 June 2024
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AI-enhanced visual medical service proved useful during Hajj

  • The service uses a high-tech capsule to conduct the necessary medical examinations within six minutes for each individual

RIYADH: A high-tech visual medical service trialed by the Saudi Ministry of Interior on security personnel during this year’s Hajj season proved successful, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The service uses a capsule enhanced with artificial intelligence and modern communication technology to conduct medical examinations in the workplace, completing each one within six minutes.

A report from the ministry’s General Administration of Medical Services said the capsule enabled 26 physiological measurements, the most important of which were height and weight, body and muscle mass, blood pressure, temperature, oxygen levels, energy requirements, heart rate, and heart rate variability.

Each person’s health status data is analyzed by the built-in AI system, followed by a remote medical consultation with a doctor. Any necessary medications are then prescribed via the Wasfaty system.

The service reduces the need for hospital or health care center visits and provides a safe, private environment for conducting workplace health examinations and medical consultations.

Personnel currently covered by the service are from the Ministry of Interior and the Presidency of State Security.


Saudi Arabia’s Mashaer Train transports more than 2.2m Hajj pilgrims 

Updated 19 June 2024
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Saudi Arabia’s Mashaer Train transports more than 2.2m Hajj pilgrims 

RIYADH: Saudi Railways on Wednesday hailed the success of the Mashaer Train operation at this year’s Hajj season, saying the metro service had transported more than 2.2 million passengers between the nine stations in Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina, operating 2,206 trips.

More than 29,000 worshippers were transported on the first day of the pilgrimage, while more than 292,000 pilgrims were carried from Mina to Arafat, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Mashaer Train then transported over 305,000 people during the pilgrimage from Arafat to Muzdalifah, and more than 383,000 worshippers from Muzdalifah to Mina.

During the days of Tashreeq, the train carried more than 1.2 million pilgrims from stations Mina 1, Mina 2, and Muzdalifah 3 to Mina 3 station (Jamarat), which offered easy access to the Jamarat Bridge.

Bashar Al-Malik, CEO of SAR, said that the success of the operating plan was built on unlimited support for the railway sector from the Saudi leadership.


Riyadh targets Expo 2030 ‘by the world, for the world’

Updated 20 June 2024
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Riyadh targets Expo 2030 ‘by the world, for the world’

  • Saudi organizers deliver their first progress report to event bureau chiefs in Paris

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is on target to deliver an Expo 2030 “by the world, for the world,” organizers have told event chiefs in Paris in their first progress report since Riyadh was chosen as host city.

Abdulaziz Alghannam, director general of the Riyadh Expo 2030 office at the Royal Commission for Riyadh City, led the Saudi delegation at the general assembly of the Bureau International des Expositions in the French capital.

Efforts were fully underway for Expo registration and preparation for creating the legal framework to enable international participation in the event, he told the bureau.

Riyadh was chosen to host the event at the bureau’s last general assembly in November 2023. The expo will take place  from Oct. 1, 2030 to March 31, 2031, when the Saudi capital will host 197 countries and 29 international organizations.

The theme – “The Era of Change: Together for a Foresighted Tomorrow” – encapsulates Saudi Arabia’s commitment to using the Expo to accelerate progress toward the planned sustainable development goals. The event will focus on harnessing science and innovation for a better future.

Preparations are underway at the highest levels, including infrastructure development, legislative and financial measures, the master plan for the Expo site, and legacy plans.