RIYADH: Saudi Arabia reported 57 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, according to the Ministry of Health. As a result, the total number of cases in the Kingdom over the course of the pandemic grew to 815,743.
The authorities also confirmed one new COVID-19-related death, raising the total number of fatalities to 9,341.
Of the new infections, 27 were recorded in Riyadh and 8 in Jeddah. Several other cities recorded fewer than 5 new cases each.
The ministry also announced that 87 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom over the course of the pandemic to 803,035.
It said that 3,367 COVID-19 cases were still active, adding that 3,580 PCR tests were conducted in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number to more than 44 million.
The ministry said that of the current cases, 35 were in critical condition.
More than 68 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered since the Kingdom’s immunization campaign began, with over 25 million people fully vaccinated.
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Friday strongly condemned and denounced a “terrorist attack” on an educational center in the Afghan capital, Kabul, which killed and injured a number of people.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed the Kingdom’s total rejection of all forms of violence, terrorism and extremism,” it said in a statement, affirming that Saudi Arabia stands in solidarity with the Afghan people.
The ministry also offered condolences and sympathy to the families of the deceased, with wished the injured a speedy recovery.
At least 19 people, most of them young women, were killed and dozens more wounded after a suicide bomber attacked the Kaaj Higher Educational Center in the Dasht-e-Barchi neighborhood of western Kabul earlier on Friday, where hundreds of students were preparing for university exams.
Meanwhile, the UAE also strongly condemned the attack and expressed its permanent rejection of all forms of violence and terrorism aimed at destabilizing security and stability and inconsistent with humanitarian values and principle.
Jordan and Pakistan also issued similar statements denouncing the attack and rejecting all forms of violence and terrorism.
RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center has teamed up with UNESCO to launch an educational resources program for teachers in a bid to promote peace building in the Arab states.
UNESCO’s regional bureau for education in Beirut on Thursday announced the publishing of resource packs in Arabic for teachers.
“The packs aim to build and develop their capacities, in order to foster peace building and drive social cohesion in the Arab states within the context of SDG4,” according to a joint statement.
“These resources, grouped under the project titled ‘Education is Peace,’ will benefit Arab children and youth, particularly out-of-school, at-risk children in crisis-affected countries, as well as marginalized communities, by meeting their diverse educational and development needs.”
SDG4 is one of 17 sustainable development goals established by the UN in 2015. Its aim is to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”
The reference guides for the “Education is Peace” project were developed in collaboration with experts from the Arab region, with support and funding from KSrelief.
The resources include guides on general policy and strategy in the education sector in disaster and conflict areas, inclusive education, catch-up education and teaching in multi-grade classes, distance learning and education, as well as education on citizenship and common human values.
To maximize the benefits of the resources, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization organized training sessions for 30,000 teachers and education practitioners.
More than 15 million children in the Arab region need assistance to ensure continuous learning.
Fadi Yarak, UNESCO’s senior regional adviser for education in the Arab states, said: “Children and youth living in difficult circumstances have diverse socioeconomic conditions. Their educational needs are diverse and their challenges require innovative and personalized solutions.
“However, the current educational systems should make use of these resources to meet their psychological, social or academic needs.”
Dr. Hana Omar, director of community support at KSrelief, said: “Access to learning opportunities during crises is lifesaving and life-sustaining.
“KSrelief, in partnership with UNESCO, works to ensure that inclusive and equitable quality education remains a priority in humanitarian response and recovery assistance for the students with disabilities, the elderly, migrants, refugees, internally displaced people, returnees and host communities.
“Part of that work is in preparing a pack of resources produced for teachers that will meet their diverse education and development needs that compete with the requirements of crises in the Arab regions to build peace and to face hazards, mitigate their impacts and build the educational system’s resilience.”
LONDON: A small team of UK explorers have launched an expedition to retrace the 1,300-kilometer 1917 journey of British explorer and scholar, Harry St. John Philby, across Saudi Arabia, in the hope of impacting future generations.
The Heart of Arabia expedition, named after Philby’s book about his journey, was launched on Tuesday at the Royal Geographical Society in London, which was held under the patronage of Britain’s Princess Anne, and with the attendance of Saudi ambassador to the UK Prince Khalid bin Bandar.
Speaking at her first public engagement since the death of her mother Queen Elizabeth II, she said: “The scope for finding more in this expedition is just enormous to add to that level of knowledge, and I think we all have something we can really look forward to, and possibly something that we will envy about those taking part in this expedition, which allows them to be part of that learning exercise.”
Omani-based British explorer Mark Evans MBE, leader of the expedition, said the team, who will be making the journey on foot, and with camels and four-wheel drives, consists of four people. The other members are Swiss photographer Ana-Maria Pavalache, regional expert Alan Morrissey, and Philby’s granddaughter, explorer Reem Philby.
“When Philby reached Riyadh in 1917, he met Abdulaziz ibn Saud and the two of them became almost lifetime companions (and) he and Ibn Saud spent hour on hour, day after day talking, and then he continued to Jeddah, so we will follow the same structure,” Evans told Arab News.
The first leg begins on Nov. 15 in Al-Uqair in the Eastern Province and will pass through Al-Ahsa Oasis, Al-Hadida/Rub Al-Khali, Hofuf, Ramlat Dahna, Abu Jifan and stop in the capital, Riyadh, on Nov. 30, where they will take a short break. The second leg will begin on Jan. 15 with a visit by Princess Anne to the Kingdom, where she will see the team off as they continue to Dhurma, Halban, Qahqa, Taif, Darb Zubaydah, and conclude in the western city of Jeddah on Jan. 30.
“The journeys are incomparable really, because in Philby’s day, no one knew where he was, he had no way of communicating other than by sending back messages via camels, whereas we will have satellite technology, social media, we’ll be doing live Instagram posts from the middle of the biggest desert on Earth, so life is so much easier today,” he said.
Evans added that some of the challenges of the past would not be an issue this time, with regards to finding water and food, but he said the biggest potential weak link may be the camels. They have to choose the right ones and “toughen them up” before the start.
“Camels have gone soft today like human beings, we have Deliveroo, camels have their Bedouin handlers who bring the food to them rather than having to wander to find the grass or water … so camels are not working animals anymore,” he explained, whereas when Philby did his journey, camels would walk over 50 kilometers a day carrying heavy loads.
The aim of the expedition also differs from Philby’s due to its nature. He was sent for political reasons by British writer, traveler, political officer, administrator, and archaeologist Gertrude Bell from Baghdad to meet the future king in 1917 to stop the Ottomans smuggling guns across the central deserts of Arabia. However, their mission now is to “celebrate an extraordinary man and an extraordinary country,” while also collecting cultural, geographical, and scientific data.
“There’ll be young people joining us in all stages of the journey, so we want to inspire the next generation of Philbys to go out there and look and record and just add to our understanding of Arabia,” said Evans, who also heads the NGO Outward Bound Oman.
Reem, who has trekked across the Kingdom, as well as in Peru and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, said the expedition was “completely down her alley” and it was “truly overwhelming” to trace the steps he walked over 100 years ago.
“Having that impact on the young generation is truly important, in my opinion. I am a strong believer of the importance of taking kids to the outdoors and having them experience being uncomfortable, step out of their comfort zones and their homes and their usual environments,” said the 42-year-old mother of two. “I know that it will shape truly humbled (and) strong adults in the future.”
Pavalache, who has been a mountain leader in the Swiss Alps, said it is important to tell the story of an incredible man, who brought enormous information to mapping the region. She thinks “it might be a challenge to get immersed in what he was doing, because today, Saudi Arabia is very modernized and to find that balance” between the past and present.
“We would have a couple of places where we will try to get the same images, but I think it is important for us to see how the environment changed today, and also the people who live in the desert and the community, and after we have three parts of research that we will follow within this context,” she said.
The data and observations generated by the team, in collaboration with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, will support scientific specialists to advance human performance in extreme environments, understanding of pre-Islamic history, and insights into local biodiversity, specifically bats. There are around 30 species in the Kingdom with very little known on the populations, distribution and ecology.
UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia Neil Crompton said Philby was an important figure in the history of relations between Great Britain and the Kingdom, which was known as Arabia when he set out on his expedition, and where he lived most of his life and was an important adviser to Ibn Saud on many matters.
“It’s a chance to learn about his life and the role that he played in the development of relations between the two countries and in Saudi Arabia,” he said, lauding the “immensely strong” ties that exist between the two kingdoms.
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“Saudi Arabia is opening up its tourism sector (and) Britons from many different walks of life are coming in, and it’s great to see the explorers came 100 years ago, but now they’re coming back, and so hopefully, we’ll see more of these sorts of things,” Crompton said. “I think that people-to-people links are ultimately the foundation of the relationship.”
He added: “I think the chance to see an expedition crossing the desert in this way will be very interesting to many people in Britain, and I hope encourage more people to visit the Kingdom in the way that so many Saudis come to the UK.”
Princess Reema Bandar Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States, spoke on Friday with Shafi bin Bijad Al-Otaibi, the Consul General in Houston, to check on the progress of the evacuation of Saudi citizens displaced by Hurricane Ian.
Princess Reema was briefed on the service and care provided to the Saudi citizens, state agency SPA reported.
The ambassador thanked the embassy and consulate staff for their efforts, and urged them to provide comfort to citizens until the crisis was over.
Hurricane Ian, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the US, swamped southwest Florida on Wednesday, flooding streets and buildings and leaving nearly 2 million homes and businesses without power.
US President Joe Biden said the hurricane may be responsible for “substantial loss of life” and could end up being the deadliest storm in Florida history.
The death toll had climbed to 12 by Thursday night, according to local reports.
Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm Thursday morning and is expected to approach the coast of South Carolina on Friday.
DUBAI: Saudi Arabia has been elected by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Thursday to become a member of the agency’s Board of Governors until 2024.
Saudi Arabia received the majority of votes from its geographical group, which includes countries of the Middle East and South Asia, state agency SPA reported.
The announcement was made during the IAEA’s 66th General Conference held from Sept. 26 – 30 in Vienna.
The 35-member Board of Governors is viewed as one of the most important decision-making groups in the energy agency, especially when addressing critical issues.
This includes the safeguards file, which is the IAEA’s responsibility to verify the peaceful activities of state parties in relation to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.