Dr. Iman Al-Mansour, assistant professor at Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University in Dammam

24/01/21

Dr. Iman Al-Mansour is an assistant professor of epidemiology at the Institute for Research and Medical Consultations (IRMC), affiliated with Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University (IAU), in Dammam.

Al-Mansour led many research projects from conception to execution at the department of epidemic diseases research at IAU and supervised graduate students and junior scientists.

She acted as the principal investigator on a number of key research projects related to the development of nucleic acid-based vaccines, the establishment of several virus bioinformatics databases and analysis resources, and virus immune monitoring studies.

Al-Mansour believes that investment in vaccine research is an important step to combat epidemics and pandemics caused by new viruses. This is followed by the localization of the manufacturing of vaccines and biological medicines.

She served as a Ph.D. researcher at the nucleic acid vaccine (NAV) lab at the University of Massachusetts, US, where she conducted rigorous research in the design, generation, and testing of DNA vaccines expressing HA’s of influenza (H1N1) strains.

Al-Mansour’s research is focused on cutting-edge technology to develop prophylactic vaccines against emerging and re-emerging viruses.

She earned a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering and biotechnology from the University of Massachusetts, US, and a master’s degree in clinical laboratory sciences from the University of Rhode Island, US.

Al-Mansour received her bachelor’s in medical laboratory technology from IAU.

She is also an academic member at the European Virus Bioinformatics Center (EVBC), Germany, and a member at the International Society for Global health (ISoGH), in the UK.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Dr. Ola Abusukkar, executive director of King Salman Center for Disability Research

22/01/21

Dr. Ola Abusukkar has been executive director of the King Salman Center for Disability Research (KSCDR) since 2019.

Abusukkar is also the training and programs director of KSCDR. The center works to implement, fund and conduct field research in all areas of disability science and disseminate knowledge through training and publications.

Abusukkar is the founder of new direction programs for youth and adults with autism in Riyadh and the founder of the youth and adults with autism summer camp.

She became chairman of the scientific committee of the developmental and behavioral disorder program at the Ministry of Health in 2017. She was the educational diploma program project coordinator at the Saudi Health Council during the same year.

In 2020, Abusukkar was awarded the 21st Middle East Leadership Excellence Award for community service sectors, held in the UAE.

She was also honored with the Harry Watkins Outstanding Achievement Award for striving for excellence in higher academic achievement at Ball State University in the US in 2013.

Before her work for KSCDR, she was a consultant at the Saudi Health Council from 2017 to 2018.

In 2015, she became the special education department chairman at the College of Education at Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University until 2017.

Abusukkar holds a doctoral degree in special education for autism spectrum disorder, a partial doctoral degree in applied behavior analysis and a minor in early intervention gained from Ball State University in 2014.

In 2013, Abusukkar completed a master’s degree in applied behavior analysis with an emphasis on autism from the same university.

She also gained a master’s degree in behavioral disorder, special education, from the University of Akron in the US in 2010, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from King Abdul Aziz University in 2005.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi female participation in science rising

17/01/21

Asrar Damdam, founder/CEO of UVERA and PhD. student at KAUST studying electrical and computer engineering. (Supplied)

According to a 2020 study published on statista.com about the gender distribution of 2018 STEM graduates in Saudi Arabia, Communications and IT is the most popular major among female graduates

JEDDAH: In the past five years, Saudi women have taken great strides in scientific fields and, with the support of the government, the best seems yet to come.
Saudi women are now serving as leaders in their research fields, and many have gone on to serve as deans, directors of research centers and more.
In an interview with Al-Arabiya, Hind Al-Zahid, undersecretary for women’s empowerment at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, said that “the percentage of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is higher than men” in the Kingdom.
According to a 2020 study published on statista.com about the gender distribution of 2018 STEM graduates in Saudi Arabia, Communications and IT is the most popular major among female graduates.
Asrar Damdam, founder and CEO of UVERA, is one of the many Saudi women who are not only pursuing degrees in STEM but also working for the empowerment of women by providing them with job opportunities.
She told Arab News that she followed her passion and obtained a bachelor’s degree in electrical and computer engineering followed by a master’s degree. “Now I am a Ph.D. student at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. It wasn’t an easy start but as soon as I entered the job market five years ago, many companies were not only welcoming to women but many were searching for them to join. Times have changed and you now see more women exploring their options in various fields of science.”

Technology. It wasn’t an easy start but as soon as I entered the job market five years ago, many companies were not only welcoming to women but many were searching for them to join.

Asrar Damdam, Founder and CEO of UVERA

With her company based in Silicon Valley, she opened a syndicate in the Kingdom. Damdam has found that her recent female recruits are passionate about their work and are going through the learning curves required to excel in their respective fields.
“Their work ethics are exceptional and their passion is felt as they continue to provide insight and finding innovative ways to reach the company’s goals,” she said. “It’s because of their passion that they are able to contribute and it wouldn’t have been achievable without the programs that provided me and the many women in the fields of STEM with these opportunities.”
This was reiterated by Al-Zahid, who spoke of Saudi Arabia’s eagerness to pursue empowerment for women and to provide them with adequate positions fit for their fields of expertise.
“The numbers tell the story,” she said, adding that international markers have shown the Kingdom’s pursuit in empowering women in the labor market is exceeding expectations.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Mission possible: Saudi Arabia ‘has control over virus spread’

28/12/20

The western region’s first vaccine center is serving 700 beneficiaries a day and operating from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. (Supplied)
  • Eastern Province to begin inoculations with the opening of first vaccine center in the region

JEDDAH: The number of coronavirus cases in Saudi Arabia has fallen by 96.9 percent since a mid-June peak of 4,919, a clear sign that the Kingdom is in control of the outbreak, according to a Health Ministry spokesman.

The past six months have shown a steady decline, with Saudi Arabia recording 154 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday.
The number of patients in critical care units has also fallen by 83.1 percent since reaching its peak during the summer, while deaths have also decreased by 84.5 percent.
Though overall numbers have seen a significant decline in recent weeks, the ministry’s spokesman, Dr. Al-Abd Al-Aly, said that numbers in some areas have been fluctuating in the past two weeks, with half the Kingdom’s regions seeing a 50 percent rise, most notably in the Eastern Province, Qassim, Hail and Jazan, Northern Borders and Baha regions.
“The fluctuating numbers are not indicators that (the spread) is out of control,” Al-Aly said. “On the contrary, some areas have shown significant declines and any slight increase will make a difference.”
He said that the coronavirus vaccine being distributed in Saudi Arabia will be effective against the mutations now being detected in some areas of the world.
The Kingdom is joining the global community in monitoring the changes around the clock in order to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.

FASTFACT

362k The total number of coronavirus cases in KSA reached 362,220.

“More than 700,000 people in high-risk groups have registered for the vaccine so far,” Al-Aly said.
“The number of registrations is increasing. This is a positive indicator that the community’s awareness level is high and people are playing a responsible role in ensuring the safety of the community.”
Vaccine clinics are set to open in Dammam as Saudi Arabia’s nationwide vaccine program rolls out.
With Sunday’s numbers, 362,220 people have been infected with the virus since March 2, 2020.
There are currently 2,856 active cases, 391 of which are in critical care units.
The Kingdom’s regions are again recording numbers below the 50 case mark, with Riyadh leading with 42 cases, Makkah with 33, Eastern Province with 17, Madinah with 16, and Asir region with 12.
A total of 175 new recoveries were also reported, raising the overall number to 353,179. The Kingdom’s recovery rate is currently 97.5 percent.
Nine new fatalities were reported, raising the death toll from complications due to the COVID-19 infection to 6,185.
More than 10.87 million polymerase chain reaction tests have been conducted in Saudi Arabia as part of efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Female workforce boosted in Grand Mosque

20/12/20

A picture taken on July 29, 2020 shows pilgrims circumambulating around the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest shrine, at the centre of the Grand Mosque in the holy city of Makkah. (AFP)
  • Saudi leadership’s plans to empower women and ensure best possible services to female pilgrims and visitors to the Grand Mosque in line with Saudi Vision 2030

MAKKAH: The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques has appointed around 1,500 females in its different departments to serve female visitors to the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
A total of 600 women have been recruited in the Technical and Service Affairs Agency. The rest of the female staff will be deployed in other departments of the presidency such as electric vehicles, Zamzam watering unit, guidance and intellectual affairs, administrative affairs, public relations, media and communication and the General Department of Internal Auditing.
Dr. Al-Anoud bint Khaled Al-Aboud, deputy president for women’s development affairs, said the step is part of the presidency’s transformational initiatives 2024. It aims to raise the level of services provided in the Two Holy Mosques, she said.
Al-Aboud also said it also part of the Saudi leadership’s plans to empower women and ensure best possible services to female pilgrims and visitors to the Grand Mosque in line with Saudi Vision 2030.
The presidency is continuously taking measures to serve pilgrims and visitors in the best possible manner.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Dr. Emtinan Al-Qurashi, assistant director at Philadelphia’s Temple University

14/12/20

Dr. Emtinan Al-Qurashi is the assistant director of educational technology at Temple University’s Center for the Advancement of Teaching in Philadelphia, US.

Al-Qurashi obtained a bachelor’s degree in translation and interpreting at the University of Salford, UK. She received a master’s degree in digital technologies, communication and education from the University of Manchester.

Al-Qurashi joined the King Abdul Aziz University as an English language instructor in 2011, where she remained for two years.

In 2014, she enrolled in Duquesne University (DU), US to pursue a Ph.D. in instructional technology and leadership. At DU, she started as a graduate research assistant before moving on to become an instructional consultant until her graduation in 2017.

Al-Qurashi then joined Temple University as a senior instructional technology specialist. She was promoted to assistant director of educational technology where she oversees the university’s branches in the US, Italy and Japan.

She has been recognized for her work by the Professional and Organizational Development Network and chosen as their Innovation Award Finalist for 2019.

In the same year, she received the “Division of Distance Learning Award” from the Association for Educational Communications and Technology in recognition of her quantitative research.

Al-Qurashi has written several research papers and books on education, educational technology and distance learning.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Frankly Speaking: Saudi Sports Minister on efforts to make the kingdom more athletic, and a destination for global competitions

14/12/20

Frankly Speaking host Frank Kane speaks to Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Sports HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal. (AN Photo)
  • Contribution of sports industry to local GDP grew from SAR2.4 in 2016 to SAR6.5 billion in 2019, says Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal
  • Vice President of Olympic Committee says Saudi Arabia welcomes all athletes to sporting events, even from countries with no diplomatic ties

RIYADH: In a wide-ranging interview for the latest episode of Frankly Speaking, Saudi Arabia’s Minster of Sports, HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal spoke to Arab News’s Frank Kane on the challenges and opportunities of turning the kingdom into a sporting nation, and a destination for international sporting events.

The minister also stressed the positive and influential contribution of the industry to the wellbeing in Saudi society through its inclusion of women and contributions to the country’s GDP.

Answering a question on what the kingdom can do more to prove the repeated western media accusations of “sports washing” wrong, Prince Abdulaziz explained that hosting international sporting events is a part of Vision 2030’s wide ranging strategy that aims first and foremost to benefit Saudi Arabia.

“Call it whatever you want to call it, but this (vision 2030) is a strategy that has been launched, that is ongoing, that is changing social life within the Kingdom,” he said during the interview.

“We’ve seen the first tourist visa happening because of a Formula E event that happened in 2018 which launched which became a tourist visa.”

As for the economical impact of sports, which as per HRH is an integral part of Vision 2030, he said “contribution to the GDP in 2016 was SAR2.4 billion ($640 billion), today it is SAR6.5 billion ($1.7 billion) in 2019”

And as for social impact of athleticism, Prince Abdulaziz said that “All of our programs today that we do in the ministry of sports and the Federation is all about diversity and inclusion.”

“They’re [Women] finding support also from the the players and their families. Things are changing and things are changing to the positive and we have to make sure that it changes in the right way.”

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1776701/sport

Prince Abdulaziz also stressed on separation sports from politics. When asked about if Saudi Arabia will participate in Qatar’s 2022 World Cup if it (the kingdom) qualifies, he said: “Our national team goes there and their national team comes here so that’s not going to be an issue hurting our performance.”

The minister’s comments were echoed by the Vice President of the Olympic Committee Prince Fahad bin Jalawi bin Abdulaziz, who spoke separately in Riyadh with Arab News Assistant Editor-in-Chief Noor Nugali about Saudi Arabia’s bid and efforts to host the 2030 Asian Games.

When asked if the kingdom would welcome athletes from countries it has no diplomatic ties with, Prince Fahad said: “we already hosted a lot of international events and Asian events and there are participants from countries we don’t have diplomatic relations with. We’re talking about sports and sport people are welcome to come to Saudi Arabia in any event.”

Watch the full episode here:

This article was first published in Arab News

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Golf and Aramco show young women the future

29/11/20

Recently, I was invited to an international women’s golf event, which included the Aramco Saudi Ladies Golf tournament, at the Royal Greens Golf Club at King Abdullah Economic City. The event had a strong impact on Saudi sport and tourism as the first of its kind played in the Kingdom. The tournament attracted huge audiences around the world, with extensive coverage by CNN, BBC and other major stations.
It is worth noting that the relationship between golf, women and Aramco goes back decades. Now that Aramco is a publicly listed company with global investors makes organizing such a tournament even more relevant.
Aramco’s president and CEO, Amin Al-Nasser, presented Emily Pedersen from Denmark with the trophy after she beat Georgia Hall in a thrilling playoff on the par-5 18th. As professional golf’s newest high-profile tournament, the event has helped to introduce golf to more than 1,000 women in Saudi Arabia following the launch of the Ladies First Club, an initiative to provide free golf across the Kingdom.
Watching the tournament with my four young children, I could see Vision 2030 come to life. Such events definitely enriches the touristic experience we have been craving. As the COVID-19 restrictions start to ease and the relieving news comes of a potential vaccine, the tourism sector is slowly recovering from the plunge caused by the pandemic. On the sports front, by hosting this international event, the Kingdom has scored another first for an Arab country.
The Saudi vision is focusing mainly on young people, who make up a high percentage of the population, introducing them to sports such as golf and polo. As a board member of the Saudi Polo Federation, one of our plans is to set up an academy for young riders to start learning the sport.
When I met my dear friend Yasir Al-Rumayyan, chairman of the Saudi Golf Federation and the host of the tournament, I told him how much my children enjoyed the event and said that I hoped they would be participants in future competitions.
There are many benefits of organizing high-profile international sports events. These include building self-esteem among young people, overcoming gender stereotypes and encouraging young women to become high achievers. Next month, I sign up my daughter Salma, who is now 12 years old, for golf classes at Royal Greens club.

Basil M.K. Al-Ghalayini is the chairman and CEO of BMG Financial Group.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point-of-view

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Maha Al-Wabel, general supervisor of the Municipal Innovation Center in KSA’s Eastern Province

22/11/20

Maha Al-Wabel is the newly appointed general supervisor of the Municipal Innovation Center in the Eastern Province municipality.
She is a member of several prominent organizations, including the board of the Deanship of Community Service and Sustainable Development at Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University, the Al-Wud Charity, the Saudi Management Association, the International Public Relations Association (Gulf branch), the Dammam Cultural Center, and the International Women’s Contact in The Hague.
Al-Wabel is also a certified trainer in administrative development, an ambassador for social responsibility and an official of public relations and media.
She is known for her work as a prolific opinion writer for Al-Riyadh newspaper, as well as the author of multiple published books in both English and Arabic. She also has bylines in Saudi newspapers Al-Youm and Al-Watan.
She also founded the national, nonprofit initiative “Nisaa Al-Watan,” the first initiative to document the names, achievements and histories of Saudi women since 1999. The initiative also published a book in 2008.
Al-Wabel is committed to giving back to the community. In 2017, she established the “Shahrazad Al-Dhahran” book club, and from 2014-2015, she conducted a program to teach Arabic to expatriate students in The Netherlands.
She has also held several workshops for students and parents on how to write children’s books and offers free courses and workshops in business.
Al-Wabel holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from King Saud University and a master’s degree in public relations and mass media from Ahlia University in Manama, Bahrain.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Adwa Al-Arifi, undersecretary of planning and development at the Ministry of Sports

21/11/20

Adwa Al-Arifi

Adwa Al-Arifi has recently been  appointed as undersecretary of planning and development at the Ministry of Sports.
She attended Al-Yamamah University in Riyadh, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2011. As an undergraduate student, Al-Arifi founded the Al-Yamamah Female Football Club in 2007 and acted as president of the university’s student council.
In 2008, she founded the Riyadh Female Football Committee, with the aim of developing regulations and rules for football leagues, management and planning, as well as training and referee workshops.
Al-Arifi started her journey with Saudi Fransi Capital in 2012 as part of an asset management rotation program for fresh graduates and was recruited a year later as a portfolio officer in that department. Between 2014 and 2016, she served as a fund manager, building up her expertise in the stock exchange and in asset relativity across different markets.
Halfway through 2016, she consulted for Portas Consulting, where she focused on project analysis and strategy implementation in Saudi Arabia’s sports scene. In 2019, Al-Arifi joined the Ministry of Sports as an investment director.
Having accumulated 10 years of experience in the Saudi football scene, she is making history with her accomplishments in the Kingdom’s sports sector.
Al-Arifi was nominated to become a member of the Saudi Olympics Council by the Saudi Olympic Committee. In December 2019, she became a board member.
Earlier that same year, she was the first Saudi woman appointed to the Saudi Football Federation, joining a seven-member committee.

This article was first published in Arab News

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