Pakistani scientist among first recipients of Saudi citizenship

In this file photo, released by Hospitals Magazine, Pakistani scientist Dr. Mehmoud Khan speaks at the Global Healthspan Summit in Riyadh on November 29, 2023. (Photo courtesy: Hospitals Magazine/File)
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Updated 07 July 2024
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Pakistani scientist among first recipients of Saudi citizenship

  • Saudi Arabia has opened its citizenship to highly skilled professionals to attract and retain exceptional global talent
  • People belonging to specialized fields such as science, culture, sports and technology can apply for Saudi citizenship

ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani scientist who was brought up in England and went to a medical university is among the first recipients of Saudi citizenship, according to a list published by the financial news portal Argaam.
Saudi Arabia opened its citizenship to highly skilled professionals as part of its Vision 2030, aiming to attract and retain exceptional global talent to enhance the kingdom’s economic and social development.
A royal decree to this effect was issued in November 2021, allowing people belonging to specialized fields such as science, medicine, culture, sports and technology to apply for citizenship.
Dr. Mehmood Khan, who earned his medical degree from the University of Liverpool Medical School in England, was also mentioned in the list of all the high achievers who received Saudi citizenship.
Khan’s distinguished career includes a number of senior corporate roles, including Vice Chairman and Chief Scientific Officer of Global Research and Development at PepsiCo. and President of the Global R&D Center at Takeda Pharmaceuticals.
“I grew up in England. I haven’t had the chance to grow up in Pakistan,” he told OPEN Silicon Valley, an international organization of Pakistani entrepreneurs, in an interview wherein he said he was “proud to be Pakistani.”
Khan is now the CEO of Hevolution Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Riyadh that funds research through grants and provides investments in biotechnology to stimulate health sciences.
He has also managed academic programs like the Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Nutrition Trials Unit at the Mayo Clinic.
Other recipients of Saudi citizenship include:
Islam Zween, CEO of Argaam




Mohammed Zween is deemed a pioneer in the Arab world of a media model that emphasizes qualitative and educational content aimed at profitability. (File/Argaam)

Zween holds a Master’s degree from Alexandria University in Egypt, with over 25 years of experience in technology, media, and business management.
Over the past 18 years, Zween has dedicated his efforts to building pioneering digital projects in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt, including “Argaam Financial Portal” and Akhbaar 24.com.
Since 2013, he has implemented a new strategy at Argaam, transforming it into the leading provider of financial media and data journalism in Saudi Arabia and the GCC. He also revamped the company’s business model, contributing to diversifying its revenue streams and achieving profitability.
Through Argaam, Zween has launched numerous initiatives and projects that enriched content related to financial data and investment awareness in the Kingdom. He has led many successful partnerships in the media and financial data fields with local and Gulf entities and made significant contributions to the development of financial media in the Kingdom and the Gulf. Under his leadership, Argaam won the Dubai Media Award for the best economic platform in 2023.
Jackie Y. Ying, Chair, Bioengineering & Nanomedicine Department, King Faisal Specialist Hospital & Research Center
Ying is an American scientist of Singaporean origin, who served as the founding executive director of the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore (2003-2018). She currently leads the NanoBio Lab and is a senior research fellow at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). She has published extensively on biomedical engineering and nanotechnology topics. Professor Ying was elected a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, a member of the German National Academy of Sciences, and named one of the “100 Engineers of the Modern Era.” Professor Ying was elected a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and a member of the German National Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina.
Niveen Khashab, founding member of KAUST




Following the completion of her ​​​​​PhD at the University of Florida, Niveen Khashab joined KAUST and became a professor of chemical science. (Supplied)

Khashab is a Lebanese scientist with advanced expertise and contributions in bioengineering and nanomaterials. She is a founding member of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and has been an associate professor of chemical science and engineering there since 2009. She is one of the laureates of the L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Award in 2017 for her contributions to inventing innovative smart hybrid materials aimed at drug delivery and developing new technology to observe antioxidant activity between cells.
Noreddine Ghaffour, Water Desalination and Reuse Center, KAUST
Ghaffour is a French scientist who holds a PhD in membrane separation techniques from the University of Montpellier (1995) and is currently a professor of environmental science and engineering at KAUST. He specializes in water desalination techniques and has published articles and research on environmental science, renewable energy, and membrane separation.
Faraz Khalid, CEO of Noon




Khalid, who holds an MBA from The Wharton School, played an instrumental role in the success of Namshi, which was launched in 2012. (Supplied)

Khalid is an Indian entrepreneur with an MBA in entrepreneurial project management from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He is the CEO of the e-commerce platform Noon and co-founded Namshi, where he served as managing director and was responsible for creating, launching, and expanding the website.
Dr. Moutassem Azzubi, Chief Pediatric Neurosurgery at King Abdullah Specialized Children’s Hospital




Neurosurgeon Dr. Moutassem Azzubi has been recognised for his expertise and success in numerous conjoined twins separation surgeries. (X: @Moutasem7)

Azzubi is a Syrian neurosurgeon who has performed numerous conjoined twin separation surgeries in the Kingdom and abroad. He was recognized for his extension contributions to the Saudi Conjoined Twins Programme and the team of surgeons under Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah, adviser to the Royal Court, supervisor general of KSrelief.
Rami Al-Qawasmi, CEO of Mawdoo3.com




Rami Al-Qawasni holds a bachelor`s degree in Economics from Sussex University in the United Kingdom and started his business journey in Jordan. (Supplied)

Al-Qawasmi is known for his passion for artificial intelligence and startup development. He has created and developed over 10 companies before the age of 30. Under his leadership, Mawdoo3.com raised $23.5 million in a funding round.
Ahmed Mirghani, partner at BIM Ventures




Ahmed Mirghani has contributed to bringing many traditional investors into the world of venture capital. (Supplied)

Mirghani is a Sudanese entrepreneur with an MBA in entrepreneurship from Prince Mohammed bin Salman College of Business and Entrepreneurship. He is a co-founder and a leading figure at BIM Ventures and founded the “Angel Investor Mine” network, which has significantly contributed to bringing many traditional investors into the world of venture capital and the entrepreneurship ecosystem.


Pakistan interior minister orders ‘strict adherence’ to security plan for Muharram processions

Updated 16 July 2024
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Pakistan interior minister orders ‘strict adherence’ to security plan for Muharram processions

  • Militants have attacked Muharram processions in Pakistan in the past 
  • The South Asian nation has seen a surge in militancy in recent months 

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi on Tuesday directed authorities to ensure security in all parts of the country and urged “strict adherence” to a special Muharram security plan put in place ahead of Ashura.

Ashura occurs annually on the tenth of Muharram and is marked worldwide by Shi’te Muslims as a day of mourning over the seventh-century battlefield death of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

Militants have attacked Muharram processions in the past in Pakistan, which has seen a surge in militancy in recent months.

“The Minister directed the authorities concerned for ensuring security in all four provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir and emphasized strict adherence to the special Muharram security plan,” state-run Radio Pakistan reported as Naqvi reviewed security arrangements at a main procession held in Islamabad on Tuesday, the 9th of Muharram.

“Naqvi said the federal government is extending every possible cooperation to provinces, Gilgit Baltistan and Azad Kashmir for maintenance of peace and law and order.”

While the Pakistani Taliban and separatist groups have been the major source of instability in Pakistan, sectarian militants who regard Shiites as non-Muslims also pose a significant security threat.

Large-scale sectarian attacks, which killed thousands in the 1980s and 1990s, are now less frequent in Pakistan but the rise of a local Daesh franchise has presented new challenges for the government. 


Pakistan-origin Shabana Mahmood is UK’s first Muslim woman Lord Chancellor

Updated 16 July 2024
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Pakistan-origin Shabana Mahmood is UK’s first Muslim woman Lord Chancellor

  • 43-year-old barrister has been a Member of Parliament for Birmingham Ladywood since 2010
  • Mahmood’s family roots are from Mirpur in Azad Kashmir, she graduated in 2002 from Oxford 

ISLAMABAD: Shabana Mahmood, a British-Pakistani MP from Birmingham, was sworn in this week as the United Kingdom’s new Lord Chancellor at a ceremony at the Royal Courts of Justice in London, becoming the first Muslim woman to head the Ministry of Justice as the Secretary of State for Justice. 

A member of the Labour Party, the 43-year-old barrister has been an MP for Birmingham Ladywood since 2010 and previously held various shadow junior ministerial and shadow cabinet positions under leaders Ed Miliband, Harriet Harman, and Keir Starmer between 2010 and 2024.

“I must say what an honor it is to take my own oath as Lord Chancellor today,” Mahmood, 43, said in a speech on Monday as she was sworn in. “There once was a little girl in Small Heath, one of the poorest areas of Birmingham who worked behind the till in her parents’ corner shop ...

“I hold this office in the very highest regard. I do so not just as a former barrister, but as the child of immigrants. My parents weren’t steeped in Magna Carta, Habeas Corpus and the Bill of Rights – as I would one day be. But they did have a strong sense, arriving here in the UK from rural Kashmir, that this country was different: That there are rules, some written and some not, that we abide by.”

Speaking about her inspirations, Mahmood mentioned Elwyn-Jones who served as Lord Chancellor for five years between 1974 and 1979.

“I certainly hope to emulate his longevity. It is said that he was the first Welsh speaking Lord Chancellor for centuries,” she said. “I wonder what he would’ve made of the first Lord Chancellor to speak Urdu.

“I’ve carried the weight of many identities in this career. It is a privilege, but also a burden … So, at the very least, I hope my appointment shows the next little girl in Small Heath, or wherever she may be that, in this country, even the oldest offices in the land are within reach of us all.”

Mahmood concluded by quoting Chapter 4 Verse 135 of the Qur’an: “O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin and whether it be (against) rich or poor: For Allah can best protect both.”

“This is the fundamental articulation of how we, as Muslims, view justice in how we deal with the world,” Mahmood said. “It places justice above all else,” the justice secretary said. 

With roots in Mirpur, Azad Kashmir in Pakistan, Mahmood was born in 1980 in Birmingham and lived from 1981 to 1986 in Taif, Saudi Arabia, where her father was working as a civil engineer on desalination. After that, she was brought up in Birmingham where her mother worked in a corner grocery shop that the family had bought after returning to England. Her father became chair of the local Labour party and as a teenager, Mahmood helped him with campaigning in local elections.

Mahmood graduated in 2002 from Lincoln College, University of Oxford and went on to complete the Bar Vocational Course at the Inns of Court School of Law in 2003 after receiving a scholarship. As a barrister, her specialism is in professional indemnity.


Pakistan Navy conducts sea training of Saudi officers and cadets

Updated 16 July 2024
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Pakistan Navy conducts sea training of Saudi officers and cadets

  • 96 Royal Saudi Naval Forces trainees from King Fahad Naval Academy completed comprehensive sea training
  • Pakistan has close military ties with Saudi Arabia, providing extensive support, arms, training for Saudi army

KARACHI: The Pakistan Navy said on Tuesday it had conducted a sea training exercise for officers and cadets of the Royal Saudi Navy Forces, describing the collaboration as a testament to the two nations’ mutual commitment to enhancing military capabilities and strategic cooperation.

Pakistan maintains close military ties with Saudi Arabia, providing extensive support, arms, and training for the Saudi armed forces. Since the 1970s, Pakistani soldiers have been stationed in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan has also been providing training to Saudi soldiers, sailors and pilots.

“Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have long enjoyed robust collaboration in military training. Saudi Navy Officers and Cadets frequently undergo training at various PN training units, Ships & Naval Squadrons,” the Pakistan Navy said in a statement shared with media. 

The picture shared by the Pakistan Navy on July 16, 2024, shows officers and cadets of the Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) attending a sea training exercise. (Pakistan Navy)

“In a recent episode, 96 x Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) trainees from the King Fahad Naval Academy completed comprehensive sea training. They went through modules of tactics, weapon handling, combat training, navigation, naval operations and seamanship. A familiarization tour to Naval Aviation was also arranged.”

The statement added that the collaboration underscored the “multifaceted defense relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.”

The picture shared by the Pakistan Navy on July 16, 2024, shows officers and cadets of the Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) attending a sea training exercise. (Pakistan Navy)

“It serves as a testament to the mutual commitment to enhance military capabilities and strategic cooperation, reflecting a shared vision for sustained military excellence and cooperation,” Pakistan Navy said. 


Four Pakistanis killed, 30 injured in ‘terrorist attack’ near mosque in Oman

Updated 16 July 2024
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Four Pakistanis killed, 30 injured in ‘terrorist attack’ near mosque in Oman

  • Attack took place at Shiite mosque in Wadi Al-Kabir, a district east of Omani capital city of Muscat
  • Omani police have not confirmed motive for rare attack in one of most stable countries in Middle East

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday four Pakistanis had been killed in what it described as a “terrorist attack” near a mosque in Wadi Al-Kabir, a district east of the Omani capital of Muscat. 

The Royal Oman Police have confirmed the attack but given no motive nor said who was suspected of being behind the assault, a rare breach of security in one of the most stable countries in the Middle East.

“According to the latest information received from the Omani authorities, four Pakistanis were martyred as a result of gunshots in the dastardly terrorist attack on the Ali bin Abi Talib mosque in Wadi Kabeer area in Muscat,” the foreign ministry said. “Another thirty Pakistanis are under treatment in hospitals.”

Videos shared by the embassy in Oman showed Pakistan’s ambassador to Oman Imran Ali visiting the injured in hospital. 

“This is my message to the Pakistani community that in this emergency situation, please don’t go toward Wadi Al-Kabir, that area is cordoned off,” Ali said in a video message recorded at a hospital. “If anyone has injured relatives, kindly please don’t give up on your patience.”

He said he had visited up to four hospitals and the injured people he had met were in “relatively” stable condition. 

“People in their homes, please stay safe, and don’t go there [toward Wadi Al-Kabir] because our information is that the emergency situation is still ongoing,” the ambassador concluded.

A handout from the embassy said the “terrorist” attack by “unknown assailants” took place around 11pm on Monday night on the Imam Bargah Ali bin Abu Talib in Wadi Al-Kabir. Authorities evacuated people from the area following the attack and started an operation around 230am.

“Assailants have taken worshippers hostages while reportedly [there are] several casualties; authorities have cordoned off the area,” it added. “Hostage evacuation has started now. Military units have reached.”

The Pakistani embassy’s Facebook page said emergency had been imposed at the Khulla Hospital, Nahida Hospital and Royal Hospital, which Ambassador Ali had visited. 

The attack comes during the Islamic month of Muharram when Shiite Muslims commemorate the seventh-century battlefield martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).


10 soldiers killed in two separate militant attacks in northwest Pakistan — army 

Updated 16 July 2024
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10 soldiers killed in two separate militant attacks in northwest Pakistan — army 

  • Eight soldiers killed while blocking militants from entering military cantonment in Bannu on Monday
  • Two soldiers, five civilians killed in militant attack on Rural Health Center in Dera Ismail Khan on Tuesday

ISLAMABAD: Ten soldiers and five civilians were killed in two separate attacks in the country’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Monday and Tuesday, the army’s media wing said, blaming insurgents based in Afghanistan for one of the assaults.

Pakistan has witnessed a spike in militant attacks in recent years, with many of them taking place in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province which borders Afghanistan. Islamabad blames the surge mainly on militants from the Pakistani Taliban, or TTP, and other groups that it says operate out of Afghanistan.

Kabul denies that it allows its territory to be used by insurgents and says Pakistan’s security woes are a domestic issue.

In the first attack, the army said a group of ten militants had tried to enter a cantonment in Bannu in the early hours of July 15, Monday. 

“The attempt to enter the cantonment was effectively thwarted by the security forces personnel, which forced the terrorists to ram an explosive laden vehicle into perimeter wall of the cantonment,” the statement said.

Eight soldiers were killed in the ensuing blast which also led to the collapse of a portion of the outer wall and damaged nearby infrastructure.

“In the ensuing operation, own troops effectively engaged the terrorists as a result of which all ten terrorists were sent to hell,” the army said. “This timely and effective response by the security forces prevented major catastrophe, saving precious innocent lives.”

The military said the attack had been carried out by the Hafiz Gul Bahadur group, a TTP faction, saying it operated from Afghanistan and had used Afghan soil to ‘orchestrate’ attacks inside Pakistan in the past as well. 

“Pakistan has consistently raised its concerns with Interim Afghan Government, asking them to deny persistent use of Afghan soil by the terrorists and take effective action against such elements,” the statement said. 

“Pakistan Armed Forces will keep defending the motherland and its people against this menace of terrorism and will take all necessary measures as deemed appropriate against these threats emanating from Afghanistan.”

In a second attack early on Tuesday morning, militants opened fire at staff at a Rural Health Center in KP’s Dera Ismail Khan district, killing two women health workers, two children and a guard. 

“Security Forces in vicinity were immediately mobilized for clearance operation in RHC and in ensuing fire exchange, own troops effectively engaged the terrorists as a result of which three terrorists were sent to hell,” the army said. 

“However, during intense fire exchange, Naib Subedar Muhammad Farooq (age 44 years, resident of District Narowal) and Sepoy Muhammad Javed Iqbal (age 23 years, resident of District Khanewal) paid the ultimate sacrifice and embraced Shahadat [martyrdom].”