Saudi Arabia in 'critical phase' of tackling COVID-19, says ministry spokesman – Arab News
JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 are rapidly increasing due to the omicron variant, with cases having more than doubled since the beginning of the year.
In a press conference on Sunday, Saudi Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said the country was currently going through a critical phase in tackling the spread of COVID-19.
He stressed the importance of people receiving the necessary vaccine doses and booster shots. 
He also urged people to follow preventative measures such as wearing face masks, washing their hands, and maintaining social distance during the critical phase, with the ministry saying: “Our immunization is our life.”
Saudi Arabia confirmed 5,477 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday and one new death.
Al-Abd Al-Aly said although Saudi Arabia was witnessing a jump in confirmed infections, the number of critical cases was lower compared to the previous year’s and that this was a result of the vaccine’s effectiveness and national efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Testing hubs and treatment centers set up throughout the country have helped millions of people since the pandemic outbreak.
Taakad centers provide COVID-19 testing for those who show no or mild symptoms or believe they have come into contact with an infected individual. 
Tetamman clinics offer treatment and advice to those with virus symptoms such as fever and breathing difficulties.
The ministry also announced on Sunday that it had begun administering the COVID-19 vaccine to children aged between five and 11.
Health officials began administering the COVID-19 jab late last year after the Saudi Food and Drug Authority approved the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for this age group. Priority was given to those considered vulnerable and at high risk from the virus.
The ministry, which has 587 vaccine centers throughout the Kingdom, urged people who had not yet received a jab to register to receive one through its Sehhaty app.
RIYADH: Renowned artist and producer DJ Khaled made a surprise appearance at XP Music Futures in Riyadh on Wednesday ahead of his headlining performance at the region’s largest music festival, MDLBEAST SOUNDSTORM 2022.
The musician sat down in a panel with music producer Larry Jackson and American rapper Fat Joe to discuss the global music industry, their experiences as experts in the field and the bright future of Saudi talent.
Despite his extreme fear of flying, DJ Khaled made the trip to the region right after a stop in Paris to recreate the Air Jordan Jumpman logo, “Air Khaled,” with fellow musician and longtime friend and supporter Fat Joe.
The industry legend said: “To come all the way to Saudi Arabia to be able to represent hip hop is a proud moment for me. I’ll speak from my own experience, coming from (being) in my garage with two turntables and a drum machine and a bunch of vinyl records to where I’m at now, it was something I knew I was going to do for the rest of my life.”
The producers can spot hit songs from a mile away, Chief Creative Officer of MDLBEAST Ahmad Al-Ammary said, which requires great experience in knowing the wants of a global market.
“For me, it’s all about feelings…If it touches my soul a certain way, I just know,” DJ Khaled said.
Regardless of genre or the feel of the song, the music needs to resonate with not just local, but international audiences. he explained.
The DJ said that there are many hit records that they have worked on that have made it onto the main stage, engaging audiences to sing to every word, but in other circumstances, the emotional connection to a track or an album trumps the chart numbers.
“It’s not always about a hit record that we all strive to make the No. 1 record on Billboard…There (are) other records that we consider (hits) that are personal to somebody’s life. I have a song out called ‘GRATEFUL.’ It might not be the No. 1 record on the album, but everybody loves that record because it’s talking about being grateful for all the blessings, and people can resonate,” DJ Khaled said.
For the talent, staying grounded and being family oriented are priorities. DJ Khaled credits his success to God and the support of his parents, who stood by him while he was still building his career.
“I feel like God has put me on this earth to try to make the world better…I want to find a way to make the world better and make the world happier because I have kids, and I want them to come out to the real world and make sure they’re safe,” he said.
Coming to the region for the first time, his experience of the culture and people was unlike any other. The quality of life and overarching excitement appealed to the artist.
“When we were driving over here and I was looking around, I put my head out the window and somebody screamed ‘Khaled!’ and I appreciate the love, and I said ‘Joe, man, people here are just happy,’” he said.
The esteemed guests showed their support for the growing talent in the region and the rise of the industry regionally.
“I’m so fascinated and so compelled to see what’s going on (in Saudi Arabia) culturally right now because I’m telling you…the next big artist could come from Saudi Arabia, I swear to God. I’m telling you, there are no gatekeepers right now,” Jackson said.
RIYADH: Two Saudi citizens and one resident have been sentenced to 18 years in jail and fined $133,000 for money laundering, the Saudi Public Prosecution said on Thursday.
Police investigations earlier revealed that the Saudi citizens had issued commercial registers for several entities and opened bank accounts.
The citizens then handed the resident the commercial registers and the bank accounts, through which they made financial transactions and transferred huge sums of money outside the Kingdom, reported the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
The Public Prosecution said funds were generated through “illegal” means as the accused used the commercial registers as a cover to transfer the money abroad.
The court ruled confiscating a similar value of the funds transferred abroad and the proceeds of the crimes.
The resident will be deported after serving his jail term, read the Public Prosecution statement.
RIYADH: UNESCO on Wednesday added Saudi Khawlani coffee, and the skills and knowledge associated with its cultivation, and Camel Heda’a to this year’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The decision was taken in Morocco during the annual meeting of the UN’s Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The Kingdom, in cooperation with Oman and the UAE, led the joint application to register Camel Heda’a, which is an oral tradition where herders communicate with their animals. The communication includes guiding camels to safety during sandstorms, instructing them to open their mouths to feed and having them drop onto their knees to be mounted.
The registration of Saudi Khawlani coffee involved the efforts of several bodies including the Heritage Commission, Ministry of Culture, the National Committee for Education, Science and Culture, the Permanent Saudi Delegation to UNESCO, the Culinary Authority, and the Saudi Society for the Preservation of Heritage.
Khawlani coffee is one of the most luxurious and famous types in the world and has been cultivated in the south of the Kingdom for more than eight centuries. It is associated with the customs, poetry and songs of the people of the region.
With these new additions, Saudi Arabia has now registered 11 cultural elements with UNESCO including the Majlis, Arabic coffee, the Najdi Ardah dance, the flute, falconry, the Asiri cat, the palm tree, the Sadu weaving craft and Arabic calligraphy.
This registration forms part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 that aims to document the nation’s rich heritage for future generations locally and abroad.
RIYADH: The Saudi Program for the Development and Reconstruction of Yemen (SDRPY) delivered 150 homes in Aden, Yemen, to improve the living conditions of low-income families.
The new residences were part of the ‘adequate housing’ project, carried out in partnership United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-HABITAT) and Alwaleed Philanthropies, reported the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).
The project also included the repair of 600 homes, benefiting over 4,000 beneficiaries in Aden.
It also provided vocational training for Yemeni construction workers in electricity, solar energy, photography, and painting, and upskilled 40 engineers in advanced geographical information systems, construction project management, specialized procurement and project cost calculation, and technical and economic feasibility studies.
Engineers from the Ministry of Public Works and Roads have also been trained in project management, according to SPA.
Ahmed Medkhali, SDRPY director in Aden, said the project was part of Saudi Arabia’s intensified effort to rehabilitate damaged homes and build safe residences that provide proper living conditions for the Yemeni people.
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s defense ministry and Saudi General Authority for Military Industries signed an agreement with Spain’s Navantia company to acquire and build a number of multi-mission combat ships for the Royal Saudi Naval Forces, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday.
The Kingdom’s Defense Minister Prince Khaled bin Salman and Spain’s Minister of Industry, Commerce, and Tourism María Reyes Maroto attended the agreement’s signing ceremony.
Prince Khaled said on Twitter that this agreement falls within Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s vision to strengthen the capabilities of the Saudi defense ministry.
“This MOU represents the latest effort to fulfill the vision of HRH the Crown Prince and Prime Minister to localize our military industry and empower and strengthen the capabilities of the ministry of defense, which will help provide security for our country and region,” he said.
The agreement aims to raise the level of readiness of the Royal Saudi Naval Forces to enhance maritime security in the region, protect the Kingdom’s vital and strategic interests, and support defense ministry’s  operational and tactical goals.
According to the agreement, Navantia will localize up to 100% of naval shipbuilding, integration of combat systems, and ship maintenance, in line with Saudi Vision 2030 objectives.
It also focuses on integrating combat systems into new ships, engineering and designing systems and hardware, and developing software.
Testing, systems verification, prototyping, simulation, as well as logistical support and training program design will also be within the scope of the agreement.


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