KINGDOM NEWS ROUND UP
Haia men storm liquor distillery
KHAMIS MUSHAYT — The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (Haia) at Wadi Bin Hashbal Center, in cooperation with Khamis Mushayt Police, busted a liquor distillery. They confiscated four barrels of alcohol containing 250 liters of locally-distilled arrack. The barrels were buried underground. The authorities also found five jerry cans, each with a capacity of 50 liters. The bootleggers were not in the distillery and police are still searching for them.
Border Guards seize hashish, narcotic pills
JAZAN — Border Guard patrols at Al-Tuwal sector in Jazan region seized 37 kg of hashish and 27,000 narcotic pills, which smugglers tried to bring into the country. The Border Guard patrols in the sector detected several people with bags on their shoulders trying to cross the Yemen-Saudi border on foot. They were intercepted and warning shots were fired so as to stop them. However, the smugglers managed to escape, leaving behind the bags they were carrying. Meanwhile, in Al-Dayer sector, Border Guard patrols seized 137 kg of hashish, which smugglers had left behind when warning shots were fired.
Baha eatery closed after food poisoning
AL-BAHA – The Environmental Health Administration of Al-Baha Municipality closed down a well-known restaurant after four citizens suffered from food poisoning after eating at the restaurant. The citizens were taken to King Fahd Hospital. An informed source in Al-Baha Municipality said several citizens checked into a local hospital complaining of stomach pains. All had consumed meals at the same restaurant. Samples were taken from food in the restaurant, which was closed for five days as a precautionary measure until the results are released. The matter is still being followed by the municipality.
Umdah of Sabya prevents suicide by young woman
SABYA — A district chief (umdah) in Al-Sabya governorate prevented a young woman from committing suicide after her family refused to allow her to marry a local man who was allegedly a drug dealer. The umdah of Al-Asfal Center in Sabya, Sheikh Muhammad Bin Sulaiman Qanawi, helped the girl’s family after she gave them an ultimatum: Either allow her to marry the man or she would commit suicide. The young woman’s mother said her daughter also went on a hunger strike for several days and threatened to take her own life on numerous occasions. She also tried to stab herself with a knife. Qanawi convinced her that the young man was not fit for marriage.
Ahsa dates auction to start in three weeks
HOFOUF — The first international auction for dates will begin on Sept. 1 after the inauguration of the new King Abdullah City for Dates on the Hofouf-Uqair Road.
Deputy Mayor of Ahsa Abdullah Al-Arfaj told Al-Watan daily that the city’s yard can accommodate 80 trucks at the same time.
The city itself covers an 800,000 square meter area.
“The city was designed to allow for meetings between farmers, dates importers and investors, in addition to providing a fertile ground for farmers to market their products and providing work opportunities for the younger generation,” he said.
He pointed out that the city includes two auction sites, a covered area, dedicated areas for stalls, shopping centers, a hotel for outside visitors and investors, a dedicated area for setting up a packaging plant, offices for transportation and distribution companies, media offices, communication centers, quality control laboratories, conference hall and a special exhibition of palm trees and dates.
“The city will also include a training center for representatives of the date industry, an exhibition of more than 20 types of dates, electronic gates and an electronic screen showing produce and prices,” he said.
Member of the agricultural committee at Al-Ahsa Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Abdulhamid Al-Helaibi, said the Kingdom accounts for 17 percent of total world production.
“Date exports do not exceed 5 percent of the production and concerned bodies should support the industry,” he said.
He claimed that producing dates is no different to producing petrol and that such production should be used in delivering by-products such as sugar and sweets.
Labor Ministry preps 5 new plans to create jobs for Saudi women
RIYADH — The Ministry of Labor will announce, in less than three months, five new plans for creating job opportunities for women in several new businesses, Alsharq newspaper reported on Saturday.
So far, the ministry has created job opportunities for over 65,000 Saudi women who work in over 13,000 businesses.
“We still have a number of brilliant ideas and projects to organize the work of women in the private sector,” said Tayseer Al-Mufarraj, the ministry’s Media Center director. The first project focuses on designing plans for businesses that must be exclusively run by women over the next the three years.
“The plan will, of course, give business owners sufficient time to comply and replace male workers with female ones,” said Al-Mufarraj.
The implementation of the plans will begin in 2015 and end in 2018, starting with stores that sell jalabiyas (long loose garments with full sleeves) in malls, and ending with stores that sell party gowns, wedding dresses, abayas, maternity wear, shoes, purses, ready-made women’s clothes and cosmetics.
The second project is concerned with setting up a database for female job seekers who are registered with the Hafiz unemployment allowance program. The database will be updated quarterly and will be open to employers who are looking to hire female workers.
The third project is centered on training Saudi women and preparing them for the private sector. “We’re conducting an extensive study on developing the sector of women’s accessories,” said Al-Mufarraj.
The fourth project deals with the privileges that should be given to businesses that hire female workers and comply with the ministry’s laws and regulations.
The fifth project focuses on conducting an extensive and accurate study on stores that sell women’s accessories around the Kingdom. The ministry will use the study to build an updated database for all stores.
The challenges and obstacles facing female workers, employers and consumers will be highlighted in the database.
“The ministry will also address the lack of nurseries and transportation, two problems that pose great challenges to working women who have children and live far away from their workplaces,” said Al-Mufarraj.
Haj Ministry amends catering contract for domestic pilgrims
MAKKAH — Minister of Haj Bandar Hajjar has approved a unified contract for catering companies that provide meals to domestic pilgrims in the holy sites of Mina and Arafat, Al-Eqtisadiah daily reported on Saturday.
Of the most prominent amendments made to the contract is a clause that says the ministry will release the bank guarantee provided by catering companies only by the middle of Dul Hijjah after the pilgrimage.
The ministry has circulated directives to all companies saying it will not accept any other form of catering contract.
The contract obliges companies serving domestic pilgrims to pay the catering company in three installments: 50 percent of the contract value upon signing the contract, 30 percent when the catering company begins meal delivery, and the final 20 percent upon the completion of the contract.
The catering company is also obliged to provide the ministry with a bank guarantee representing 20 percent of the contract value and the ministry has the right to cash in or deduct from this amount when necessary.
In case a catering company defaults on its commitment, the local Haj company has the right to sign a contract with another company after it obtains the approval of the ministry.
The catering firm will be held responsible for compensating pilgrims who suffer food poisoning as catering companies are expected to uphold high standards of cleanliness.
The department for domestic pilgrims affairs at the ministry said that it has begun issuing seasonal permits to companies that have presented their bank guarantees and camp rents, beginning last Sunday.
The ministry has reduced the number of local pilgrims this year by 50 percent due to the ongoing expansion projects in the Grand Mosque.
Meanwhile, work to increase the capacity of the mataf (the circumambulation area around the Kaaba) has resumed after Eid Al-Fitr.
The head of project management at the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, Sultan Al-Qurashi, said once the three phases of the expansion project are completed, the mataf’s capacity will increase to 105,000 worshippers an hour.
He stressed that the shape of the expansion project will become clearer after the completion of the second and third stages, which will be executed this year and next year, respectively.
56 Saudi females run Rabigh port
RABIGH — More than 50 Saudi female supervisors run the department responsible for unloading containers at King Abdullah Port here.
The 56 women, who underwent intensive training in cargo handling at seaports, monitor the loading and unloading activity at the port through a computer network inside the control tower.
A port source described their job as very difficult, which entails meticulous planning and requires the full understanding of details to direct crane operators to load and unload containers without any glitch.
“Any mistake in instructions given to the operators could prove catastrophic,” the source pointed out.
SR135b in annual electricity wastage
RIYADH — The Saudi Energy Efficiency Center (SEEC) has estimated that the annual wastage of electricity in the Kingdom is around SR135 billion, accounting for 45 percent of total electricity production. The SEEC said the average electricity bill for residential use is around SR5,000 a year, with air conditioners accounting for more than half the consumption. The center said this wastage will continue to cost the Kingdom SR135 billion a year for the next decade, which will have negative effects on the supply of electricity. A recent Saudi Aramco campaign to conserve electricity use showed that LED lights consume only 20 percent of the electricity consumed by regular lamps and they have a 10-year life span.
Young man donates kidney to father
RIYADH — Saeed Al-Dhaen has ended the suffering his father endured from receiving regular dialysis by giving him his kidney. The 24-year-old underwent tests to confirm whether his kidney is medically suitable for his father and once tests proved positive, the operation was conducted in Riyadh’s King Faisal Specialist Hospital. The young man expressed his happiness over the success of the operation and the father said he was proud of his son.
Virologist: Ebola more dangerous
MADINAH — Virology professor at Taiba University Dr. Ilham Kattan said Ebola is more dangerous than the coronavirus responsible for the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). She said Ebola can be transmitted from a dead individual because the virus can live even when the host dies and countries affected by the disease burn all personal belongings of an infected patient. “Ebola is not linked to any specific climate and is difficult to treat and is rarely curable, with the fatality rate standing between 90 and 95 percent,” she said.
Recreation day for kids with cancer
BURAIDAH — Balsam Society for the Rehabilitation and Support of Children organized a special recreation day for 50 children suffering from cancer and their families at a shopping mall in Buraidah. The deputy chairman of the society’s board of directors, Mariam Al-Harbi, said the event was held in cooperation with Prince Faisal Center for Tumors and it is part of the activities and programs developed for children with cancer. “These programs aim to provide and enforce psychological support to the children and promote hope and optimism in them and their families,” she said while adding that similar activities and programs can be launched in other parts of the country.
Formula milk ads ‘deceptive’
JEDDAH — While more than 170 countries around the world celebrated World Breastfeeding Week, many mothers continue to give their babies formula milk. Companies claim their formula milk products contain all the necessary nutrients infants need, but experts continue to say breastfeeding is the best way at ensuring the long-term health of both mother and child. Nutritionist Dr. Khalid Madani said breastfeeding helps infants acquire immunity against many diseases, in addition to providing all of their nutritional needs. “Mother’s milk is easily digestible, has the right temperature and many antibodies that protect babies from many common infections, and it does not cost anything,” he said.
Matchmakers invade social media
RIYADH — There has been a surge in matchmakers on Twitter and other social networking websites who offer their services to the thousands of Saudis who are seeking marriage, Al-Hayat daily reported.
These electronic-matchmakers are seeking to capitalize on the more than 119,000 tweets for marriage, of which 240 asked for misyar (a form of marriage where both the bride and groom give up some of their rights) during the past month. These matchmakers are targeting young people who seek marriage free from tradition and without any fears of restrictions.
According to sociologist Dr. Hani Al-Ghamdi, the role of matchmakers in Saudi society has been badly exploited due to the spread of technology and social networking sites. He believes that many of the tweets aim to establish relations between the two sexes, something which he said is caused by weak family relations and preventing or delaying women from getting married.
“A number of young matchmakers are exploiting the media for financial gains or to increase followers. Many of them do not know even the basics of the profession they claim to practice,” he said while adding that the lack of a social culture is the main reason for the widespread use of social networking websites.