Prayers for rain performed Kingdomwide on king’s directive

Mohammed Rasooldeen
Fri, 2017-01-27

RIYADH: Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar took part in a Kingdomwide rain-seeking prayer program, “Istisqa,” at the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Mosque on Thursday.
Worshippers performed rain-seeking prayers, with the participation of the respective governors of the regions, their deputies and senior government officials on Thursday. The program included prayers at the Two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Madinah.
In Riyadh, Grand Mufti and President of Senior Scholars Council and Scholarly Research and Ifta Presidency Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al Al-Sheikh also graced the occasion.
Muslims performed the Istisqa (rain-seeking) prayer in pursuit of the Prophetic Sunnah during drought and late rain, praying to Allah Almighty for rainfall.
In Makkah, prayers were performed at the Grand Holy Mosque and attended by Makkah Governor Prince Khaled Al-Faisal.
In Madinah, prayers were performed at the Prophet’s Holy Mosque and attended by Undersecretary of Madinah Region Governorate Wahib Mohammed Al-Sahli.
Prayers were also performed simultaneously in other regions and attended by governors of regions and senior government officials.
Imams urged Muslims in all parts of the Kingdom to perform meritorious deeds, seek forgiveness and give charities magnanimously.
The sermons of the day urged Muslims to abstain from engaging themselves in misdeeds, which would prevent rainfall in the country and the preachers also requested the members of the congregation to seek forgiveness and adhere to the Holy Quran and Prophet’s Sunnah and be good Muslims following the precepts of the religion.
According to Prophet’s Sunnah (Traditions), “Istisqa” prayers are conducted in the event of drought or delay in rainfall.
“Rains will create a conducive environment for wildlife and plantation, we could also expect a higher percentage during the next breeding season in the spring,” an official from the Saudi Wildlife Authority (SWA) told Arab News.
“The wetness will freshen up the vegetation and grasslands in the Central Province,” he said, adding that the rains will benefit the wildlife, providing water and necessary food for its sustenance.

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Forum on children, media urges stronger protection of rights

Arab News
Fri, 2017-01-27

RIYADH: A forum on children and the media, which was held this week in the Saudi capital, drew to a close with recommendations urging greater protection of rights.
The “Media: The Friend of Childhood” forum was organized by the Ministry of Education’s National Committee for Childhood.
It made a number of recommendations, including the activation of laws and regulations that protect childhood, and incorporating the rights and protection of children into public education curriculums.
Other recommendations included establishing specialized university departments on children’s media, and communicating with media professionals to encourage them to disseminate information that promotes children’s rights. The forum also called on more to be done to enable children to better use online applications.
The forum was organized in cooperation with the League of Arab States, the Arab Council for Childhood and Development, the Arab Gulf Program for Development, and the UN Children’s Fund.
Sessions covered topics including ethical media use, children’s experiences and expectations from social media, children becoming targets of advertisements, and programs for protection against violence and abuse.

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Students win 7 ‘Top in the World’ exam awards

Fouzia Khan
Fri, 2017-01-27

JEDDAH: Seven students in western Saudi Arabia won the prestigious “Top in the World” award from Cambridge International Examinations.
An event held in Jeddah on Wednesday celebrated the achievements of 57 outstanding learners from 12 schools in western Saudi Arabia, who took Cambridge IGSCE and A Level exams last May and June.
It was hosted by The British Council, in collaboration with the British Consulate in Jeddah and Cambridge International Examinations.
A total of 73 awards were given out, including seven in the “Top in the World” category.
Kabir Rahman, deputy British consul general, welcomed the guests, students, parents, and teachers to the award ceremony.
He said the celebration was a culmination of dedication and hard work, pointing out that many of the students are now considering their future plans. “I very much hope that you will continue to look to the UK for your higher education,” he said.

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SCTH launches second phase of Old Yanbu’s Al-Sour district renovation project

Fri, 2017-01-27

RIYADH: Prince Sultan bin Salman, head of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), launched the second phase of the Al-Sour district renovation project in Old Yanbu in the presence of Prince Faisal bin Salman, governor of Madinah and chairman of the Tourism Development Council, the mayor of Yanbu Engineer Mosaed Al-Salim, head of the Yanbu Municipality Fahad Al-Mash’aan, and a number of other officials, on Wednesday.
The second phase will refurbish 100 buildings over an area of 8,100 square meters, including 32 commercial buildings, six cultural buildings, 12 residential buildings and five administrative buildings. The project is funded by SABIC, ARAMCO, the Royal Commission of Jubail and Yanbu, and a number of other partners.
SCTH and project partners completed renovation and restoration of Al-Layl Market, one of the oldest markets in the kingdom. The market was reopened upon completion by the president of the SCTH and the governor of Madinah, allowing citizens to resume commercial activity after 50 years of inactivity.
The project is part of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosque’s Program for Care of National Heritage, which is being carried out by the SCTH with support from King Salman himself.
The president of SCTH said the success of restoring life to the Al-Layl Market and Al-Sour District comes in line with directives of King Salman, who strongly believes in the urgency of focusing on national heritage. He praised King Salman’s national program aimed at restoring national heritage to the heart of citizens and the country.
He noted that the success of the first phase of the project was a result of sound coordination between authorities. He also pointed to the significance of the market and district, which serve as promising and attractive location for citizens to earn a decent living.
He also addressed the budget of the SCTH and Program for Cultural Heritage, which will allow for the construction of a new museum and resumption of work on museums that were halted last year due to budgetary constraints, as well as the investments in the tourism sector as part of the national transformation program.

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Jazan govt hospital saves life of soldier injured in explosion

Mohammed Rasooldeen
Fri, 2017-01-27

JAZAN: Jazan’s King Fahad Central Hospital medics and paramedics removed shrapnel from soldier struck by an explosion.
The soldier sustained a direct hit from the explosion when shrapnel had pierced into his neck. The patient was rushed to the Emergency Department of the hospital where he was given treatment by inserting a ventilator tube, according to according to an official from the Ministry of Health.
It was a complicated surgery, the official said, attributing its success to the efficient surgical team of the hospital.
Meanwhile, a specialized medical team at the South Al-Qunfudah Hospital conducted a successful nephrectomy on a 23-year-old woman, who was suffering from acute kidney failure on Tuesday.
The woman had been suffering from severe lower back pain, and after making the required tests at South Al-Qunfudah Hospital; she was diagnosed with a failure of one of her kidneys and the presence of many stones. Finally, she underwent a successful nephrectomy surgery, according to the team.
The same hospital staff also conducted an operation on a patient in his 70s to remove a large prostate tumor that he had for more than six years.
Both patients are in good health and their conditions are stable, an official said.
In addition to the medical treatment given in local hospitals, the ministry also provides services for patients who cannot find treatment in the Kingdom.
The official said those patients considered for treatment abroad are individuals whose diseases cannot be treated in the Kingdom.
The Saudi government spent more than SR1 billion to treat 4,723 Saudi patients abroad, he noted. Under the scheme, the High Medical Commission approved treatment for 2,781 patients, while the remaining patients were treated abroad on royal decrees.
The decision to treat patients abroad is based on a royal decree or on a recommendation made by the High Medical Commission, which deals with these acute cases.
The health official said there is no ceiling for overseas medical allocations and all deserving patients will be given the needed opportunities for medical treatment abroad.

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IDB reaffirms commitment to support development in Gambia

Rodolfo C. Estimo Jr.
Fri, 2017-01-27

RIYADH: Mansour Mukhtar, vice president for sector operations for the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB), said the bank has several capacity building and technical assistance programs, including through its Reverse Linkage project, in which Gambia can benefit to complement its financing activities.
IDB officials said they are committed to supporting development in Gambia.
Muhammad Jameel Yusha’u, senior communications specialist, said that Mukhtar was on an official mission in Senegal.
Mukhtar stressed IDB’s commitment after Adama Barrow, new Gambian president, lauded the bank’s efforts in helping Gambia in developmental projects during their meeting.
A Saudi Press Agency report said,“President of Gambia Adama Barrow has lauded efforts exerted by the Islamic Development Bank for supporting his country in the field of development projects.”
Mukhtar led a delegation to Senegal where Adama Barrow, new Gambian president, is staying. Barrow received the IDB delegation.
He conveyed the goodwill message of IDB President Dr. Bandar Hajjar “who is committed to working with African member countries in several areas to support their social and economic development.”
Mukhtar told Barrow that IDB had been active in Gambia since 1980 and that it had received financing worth $690 million and at present there are 14 active projects totaling $158 million in the African country.
The IDB vice president said that he hoped that the implementation of bank-supported portfolio will improve and opportunities for collaboration strengthened with the support and guidance of the new Gambian president.

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Cameroonian delegation visits Kingdom in preparation for Haj

Rodolfo C. Estimo Jr.
Fri, 2017-01-27

RIYADH: A Cameroon delegation visited the Kingdom recently to hold talks with Saudi authorities and make arrangements for this year’s Haj pilgrimage.
An embassy spokesperson said the delegation was headed by Abdoulkarim Dewa, head of the Cameroonian Haj National Commission.
Cameroonian Ambassador Iya Tidjani and Jeddah Consul General Oumarou Issa joined the delegation to meet with State Secretary Hussein bin Mohammed Sharif of the Saudi Ministry of Haj and Umrah.
The spokesperson said that the delegation, which discussed with Saudi authorities the country’s quota for this year, signed for 4,500 pilgrims although its regular quota is 10,000.
The delegation also signed agreements on housing in Makkah and Madinah, transportation, as well as food catering with local firms.

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Makkah Criminal Court drops crane case citing lack of jurisdiction

Mohammed Al-Sulami
Fri, 2017-01-27

JEDDAH: Makkah Criminal Court issued on Thursday said it was dropping the case of the crane that collapsed in Makkah in September 2015 due to lack of jurisdiction over the case.
The accident resulted in 110 deaths and 209 injuries.
The court issued its ruling in the presence of the defendants on trial and the prosecutor; it came after several sessions of deliberations.
The prosecutor had interrogated the defendants before the judge decided to drop the case due to an issue of jurisdiction.
The court informed the defense team of the 13 people on trial, consisting of Ahmed Al-Qurashi, Attorney Hassan Jomaan Al-Zahrani and Abdullah Bin Laden, that it will inform them later of the date the legal decision will be formally issued.
Reports presented by the Bin Laden Group during the investigation and court sessions had shown that sudden changes in weather conditions, difficult to forecast, resulted in unusual winds, which in turn caused the collapse of the crane.
The company made a point of mentioning the fact that 50 thunderbolts were recorded on the day in Makkah within a period of only one hour due to the inclement weather conditions.
The storm was accompanied by heavy rain and thunder, as well as drop in temperature from 45 degrees to 21 degrees Celsius, the company said.
The Civil Defense Department spokesman said that the heavy rain that fell over Makkah on that day reached 40 millimeters within a very short period of time.
The 13 defendants on trial gave their affidavits to the court. They were absolved of responsibility for the collapse of the crane and the consequent damage due to insufficient evidence.
Of the three judges, two decided to drop the case; the third maintained that the court has jurisdiction over the case.
The prosecutor also insisted that the court had jurisdiction and legal competency to look into the case, based on the royal decree issued following the incident, including into charges of loss of life, property damage and negligence.
The Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution relied on the results of the investigation, which were submitted to higher authorities, and indicated that the main cause of the accident was the fact that the crane was subjected to heavy winds and had been kept idle in the wrong position, in violation of the operation instructions issued by the manufacturer.
According to the instructions, the crane’s main arm should have been lowered when not in use or during instances of heavy winds.
The bureau also pointed to the lack of compliance with safety standards in the operating procedures, no respect for the safety requirements, and poor communication and monitoring by safety officials responsible for the project during the poor weather conditions, despite warnings by the Presidency of Meteorology and Environmental Protection.
The defendants were also accused of failing to measure the speed of the wind and to respond to a number of letters from concerned authorities to review the condition of the several cranes at the site, especially the crane that fell.
The bureau called for holding the contractor, Saudi Bin Laden Group, partially responsibility for the accident, due to these reasons, as well as for reexamining the contract of Kansas Advisory Company and all cranes involved in the project, and to make sure that all safety and security conditions are met.
Following the incident, King Salman bin Abdulaziz called for referring the results of the investigation and related evidence to the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution to complete the investigation of the Bin Laden Group, as well as to prepare a list of charges to be presented to the judiciary.
The order also asked Saudi Bin Laden Group to comply with the decision reached.

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Saudi vulnerable to ‘Shamoon 2’ virus: telco chief

Agence France Presse
Thu, 2017-01-26

RIYADH: Saudi computer security systems are vulnerable to the “Shamoon 2” virus, a senior communications official warned Thursday, confirming reports of a fresh cyberattack on the kingdom.
The virus “has devised a new method that was unexpected by government systems,” Abdulaziz Al-Ruwais, governor of the Commission for Communications and Information Technology, told Makkah newspaper.
He said that “some bodies had been affected” by the program, and detailed measures which companies could take to try to protect their computer networks.
Local media reported early this week that Shamoon 2 hit the private sector and various government agencies including a division of the labor ministry.
Global security firm Symantec on Monday did not mention Saudi Arabia but said it was “currently investigating reports of yet another new attack in the Middle East involving the destructive disk-wiping malware used by the Shamoon group.”
The company in December said Shamoon had been used in attacks against targets in Saudi Arabia.
Arab News reported at the time that the National Cyber Security Center “detected destructive electronic strikes against several government agencies and vital establishments.”
In August, state media reported cyberattacks against government institutions and vital installations they did not identify.
Shamoon was employed in strikes against the Saudi energy sector in 2012.
At that time, US intelligence officials said they suspected a link to the kingdom’s regional rival Iran.
Ties between Riyadh and Tehran have worsened over the past year.

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King Salman inducts high-tech fighter jets into RSAF

Arab News
Thu, 2017-01-26

RIYADH: King Salman on Wednesday attended the 50th anniversary celebrations of the King Faisal Air Academy (KFAA).
The KFAA also marked the graduation ceremony of its 91st batch of students, as well as the launch of the new F-15SA aircraft, which has joined the fleet of the Royal Saudi Air Force.
The event was held in the presence of Omar Al-Bashir, president of Sudan.
Commander of the Air College, Air Vice Marshal Khalid Al-La’aboun, delivered a speech welcoming King Salman and Al-Bashir.
“Today we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of this ancient edifice. The beginning of the training was launched by the late King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz, may God have mercy on him, by raising the banner of the college in this field having the honor to carry his name,” he said.
Al-La’aboun pointed out that the college has become one of the best flight schools in the world. Thousands of pilots and technicians who have served their country in various fields, and participated in the protection of its airspace, have graduated from the academy.
King Salman and the audience watched a film to mark the 50th anniversary of the KFAA, which featured the most prominent achievements of the academy.
King Salman also launched the new F-15SA aircraft which recently joined the fleet of the Royal Saudi Air Force. He watched a film about the plane and its advanced technologies, followed by an air parade show.

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