Setting Saudi Arabia’s image straight, one podcast at a time


I see Western media put a negative spin on our country, so I wanted to show it in a different light, said Mohammad Islam, Saudi podcaster of Mo Show. Right: Lana Nazer, yoga and wellness teacher, a guest on the show. (Supplied)

Mohammad Islam who began Mo Show in UK during lockdown wanted to remove misconceptions about Kingdom
JEDDAH: With the spike in the number of podcast listeners this year, there has been an increase in podcasters as well. “Mo Show” is one such podcast, with just one goal: “To set the narrative about Saudi Arabia straight.”

The “Mo Show” is a way to show Saudis and the outside world what the real Saudi Arabia is like, said Mohammad Islam, 37, who started the show in lockdown in the UK.
“I see Western media put a negative spin on our country and not really talking about the positives, so I wanted to show it in a different light,” he told Arab News.
The podcast focuses on what is changing in the country, including women’s empowerment and their rapidly growing role in the Kingdom, and its progress in general.
The show’s four pillars are female empowerment, personal stories, business, and tech.
“I like the element of personal stories heard from entrepreneurs, startups, people who got out of the corporate life and started businesses of their own, which is commonly seen in the restaurant industry and the health and fitness sector. So, I wanted to highlight that,” said Islam.
“In a nutshell, I want to highlight the progress of Saudi Arabia,” he added.
The idea of the podcast was inspired when he was looking at American podcasters and wanted to have a say on the misconceptions about his own country.
He called some of his close friends and recorded a few episodes. “That was when it started looking doable. I looked at the areas that are changing and decided to focus on that,” he said.
Islam has lived in the UK for a long time and defines English as one of his strengths. The idea of starting a podcast came to him during the lockdown introduced to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease.

• The ‘Mo Show’ is a way to show Saudis and the outside world what the real Saudi Arabia is like.

• The podcast focuses on what is changing in the country, including women’s rapidly growing role in the Kingdom.

• The show’s four pillars are female empowerment, personal stories, business, and tech.

“The lockdown made me take life at my own pace, and when I wasn’t rushing I was more in touch with my mind and my ideas. I also had a lot of time to observe the world and see what it is that I am doing and what I want to do,” he said.
The target audience at first was the English speaking majority of the globe, but later it became anyone who lives in or visited Saudi Arabia, “or anyone who has an open mind and curiosity about this country.

“The reason why I changed the target audience was that I realized that there are a lot of Saudis that don’t know what’s happening in their country,” he said. “That’s when I realized that it is for Saudis as well as pan-Arabs.”
It came as a surprise to the podcaster that pan-Arabs were interested, but he later realized they were the most curious about what was happening in Saudi Arabia and had very little information about it.
Islam was able to provide them a seat at his table as he discussed the progress of the country with his guests.
The guests are not strictly Saudi — one of his episodes featured an expat from South Africa who shared his experience of seeing the country progress over the past five years. He also talked about the negative image of the Kingdom as being an unsafe country, whereas, for him, it is the “safest country” he has ever been to.
Islam would like to see more Saudis joining podcasting. “We still have a lot of space for them, we can have many more podcasters which will allow us to amplify the positivity,” he said.
“It doesn’t have to be in English … (if you speak other languages) we can let our voices reach those countries and show them what the real Saudi Arabia is like.”
The podcast adopts an interpretation mechanism for all episodes to ensure that the information reaches the widest range of audience, and is also advertised on social media on a weekly basis.
“The importance of this initiative increases as it is a basic source for the transmission of information in various fields, specifically for the average citizen in America and Europe who follows up and interacts with what matters to him in terms of events, whether they are economic, political, religious or social events,” said Islam.

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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, Germany’s Merkel discuss G20, tackling extremism

Time: 10 November 2020

A handout picture provided by the Saudi Royal Palace on April 30, 2017, shows German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) standing next to Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud during a welcoming ceremony in Jeddah. – ?Merkel met Saudi King Salman as she began a visit focused on bilateral relations and preparations for the next G20 meeting. (Photo by BANDAR AL-JALOUD / Saudi Royal Palace / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – MANDATORY CREDIT “AFP PHOTO / SAUDI ROYAL PALACE / BANDAR AL-JALOUD” – NO MARKETING – NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS – DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS / ìThe erroneous mention[s] appearing in the metadata of this photo by BANDAR AL-JALOUD has been modified in AFP systems in the following manner: [in Jeddah] instead of [in Riyadh]. Please immediately remove the erroneous mention[s] from all your online services and delete it (them) from your servers. If you have been authorized by AFP to distribute it (them) to third parties, please ensure that the same actions are carried out by them. Failure to promptly comply with these instructions will entail liability on your part for any continued or post notification usage. Therefore we thank you very much for all your attention and prompt action. We are sorry for the inconvenience this notification may cause and remain at your disposal for any further information you may require.î
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hold call to discuss terrorism and G20 summit. (File/Saudi Royal Palace/AFP)
  • King affirms Kingdom’s condemnation of offensive cartoons of the prophet
  • King Salman stresses importance of freedom of expression

RYADH: Saudi Arabia and Germany on Monday agreed on the need to confront all forms of extremism and terrorism, Saudi Press Agency reported.
During a phone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, King Salman affirmed the Kingdom’s strong condemnation of the terrorist attacks that have been committed recently in France and Austria.
Three people were killed in a knife attack at a church in the southern French city of Nice on Oct 29. and, while in the Austrian capital Vienna, gunmen launched attacks fire in multiple locations across the city, including near a synagogue, killing at least four people.
King Salman also stressed the Kingdom’s position, which strongly condemns offensive cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad , saying that “freedom of expression is an important moral value that promotes respect and coexistence among peoples, not a tool for spreading hatred and leading to a cultural and civilizational clash.”
The king also said it was important to promote rapprochement between followers of religions and civilizations, spread the values ​​of tolerance and moderation, and reject all forms of practices that generate hatred, violence and extremism.
During the call, the two sides also discussed bilateral relations and ways to enhance them in various fields, in addition to the efforts made to toward preparing for the upcoming annual G20 summit.
Saudi Arabia assumed the G20 presidency on Dec. 1, 2019 and is set to host the 15th G20 in the capital Riyadh on Nov. 21 and 22.

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Australian envoy to Saudi Arabia hails successful presidency of G20 amid pandemic


Australia’s battle with the coronavirus pandemic took a step closer to ending after the New South Wales state relaxed health restrictions. (AFP)

Balancing health measures and economic growth will be focus of November’s Riyadh Summit
LONDON: Australian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ridwaan Jadwat congratulated Saudi Arabia on its presidency of the G20 during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s been a very difficult year for everybody. We congratulate not only the authorities but all the frontline health care workers who have been doing their very best to keep people safe,” Jadwat told Arab News.

Jadwat remarked on how the meetings scheduled between working groups, engagement groups and ministers hardly skipped a beat this year and praised the decision of the Saudi presidency to continue the G20 meetings virtually.

“The decision for leaders to meet virtually in November was appropriate, given the logistical and health challenges in the current context,” he said. “We hope that the leaders will have another opportunity in the future to visit the Kingdom.

“The G20 is an institution that comes into its own when most needed; it is more a rough-weather friend than a fair-weather one.”

Under the Saudi Arabian presidency, the G20 is bringing members together to address response and recovery measures to COVID-19. “Leaders met earlier this year in March to discuss the crisis at the extraordinary G20 leaders’ summit … and COVID-19 continues to be the key focus leading into the summit in November.”

Jadwat stressed the importance of strong multilateral institutions, such as the G20, in a time of unprecedented global challenges.

“They’re vital to international stability. It is more important now than ever for leaders to have open lines of communication. And this is doubly true for the G20, which brings together the world’s biggest economies, given the significant economic impact of the pandemic.”

Jadwat said that the G20 has a key role in creating the conditions for future prosperity.

“Australia is focused on job creation through supply-side reforms and on restoring demand and enabling a private sector-led recovery, which is very important. The G20 has a key role in promoting the importance of the multilateral trading system and in providing political guidance and support for World Trade Organization reform.”

In commenting on the summit’s theme for this year, “Realizing Opportunities of the 21st Century For All,” the ambassador said that it has taken on a new meaning during the pandemic.

“Saving lives has to be our top priority. Australia is committed to equitable access to a vaccine once it’s developed and is actively engaged in international efforts to this end, through the Gavi-led COVAX facility. We need to support the health capacity of all vulnerable and low-income countries across regions, including the small states in our region closer to Australia,” he said.

Australian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ridwaan Jadwat. (Supplied)

Jadwat emphasized prioritizing economic growth as part of the G20 agenda while also ensuring that the global financial safety net is adequate, well-resourced, and responsive, adding that women’s participation will be vital to an inclusive and sustainable economic recovery.

“This is a key priority for Australia across the G20. We want to hold the pandemic-induced backsliding and resume progress toward the Brisbane 25 by 25 goal,” he said, referring to the 2014 G20 initiative to reduce the gender gap in labor force participation by 25 percent by 2025.

Jadwat applauded the Women 20 (W20) engagement group for hosting a successful summit, which he said will feed strong outcomes into the leaders’ meeting.

“I had the great pleasure of meeting with W20 Sherpa Salma Al-Rashid and Chair Dr. Thoraya Obaid. We are very happy with the work they have been doing over the course of this year, including working with W20 representatives from Australia.”

Since Jadwat first assumed his position as ambassador to Saudi Arabia, strengthening relations between Australia and the Kingdom has been a priority.


Australia’s consumer price index for 2020 rose 1.6% this quarter.

“It’s been an important mission for me to help build bridges between our two peoples. Australia’s relations with Saudi Arabia have been consistently friendly and constructive, but we can do even more together.”

Jadwat said that although the two countries are relatively far away from each other geographically, both economies have strong complementarities. With similarly sized populations, large desert areas, and abundant natural resources, Jadwat pointed out that the cornerstone of Australia’s relations with Saudi Arabia is strong trade-economic ties.

“We have natural strengths in the energy sector, but we are not competitors. We both value technology and finding innovative ways to solve problems. We have much to offer Saudi Arabia in education mining, agriculture and tourism, especially as it diversifies its economy.”

Jadwat highlighted that a goal of Vision 2030 is to develop the tourism sector and that Australia has much experience in managing sustainable, environmentally friendly tourism projects, like in the Great Barrier Reef and other places throughout the country.

“I think we have a lot to offer in terms of our expertise in tourism and environmental management. Australia is a mining superpower that has helped make us the 13th largest economy in the world. I know there are a lot of unexplored natural resources in Saudi Arabia. So in terms of engineering and mineral exploration, Australia has a lot to offer.

“One of the things that I’m most proud of is the education relationship and the number of alumni from Australian universities who are here in Saudi Arabia. We also have thousands of Saudi students who continue to study every year in Australia. I think that’s a testament to the relationship between the two societies. I feel that those Saudi students who come back to the Kingdom become ambassadors for Australia as well,” he said.

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New truce in Abyan brings peace to southern Yemen


Forces from the pro-independence Southern Transitional Council (STC) said that they received similar orders from their commanders to end hostilities in Abyan. (Reuters/File Photo)

  • ilitary units loyal to the internationally recognized government received on Friday orders from the government to immediately put into place a truce
  • The Yemeni government and separatists have been at war during the past couple of years

AL-MUKALLA: Yemen’s soldiers and separatists agreed on Friday to put into place a “comprehensive and permanent” truce in the southern province of Abyan and other contested areas, local army commanders said on Saturday.

The fresh announcement about halting hostilities comes as Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed, prime minister-designate, is closing in on announcing the formation of a new shared government agreed under the Saudi-brokered Riyadh Agreement.

Military units loyal to the internationally recognized government received on Friday orders from the government to immediately put into place a truce, ending military alerts that have been in place in the province of Abyan for months.

“We have received orders to end combat standby state and put into place a comprehensive and permanent truce in the province,” a local government military officer in Abyan, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Arab News on Saturday. “It seems that the politicians in Riyadh reached an agreement,” the officer said, referring to the continuing new government consultation between Yemeni rivals.

Forces from the pro-independence Southern Transitional Council (STC) said that they received similar orders from their commanders to end hostilities in Abyan.

The Yemeni government and separatists have been at war during the past couple of years.

Aimed at ending the STC’s unilateral self rule in southern provinces, the government launched a military offensive in May in Abyan that has claimed the lives of dozens on both sides.

In July, Saudi Arabia, which brokered the Riyadh Agreement in late 2019, proposed a new mechanism for accelerating the implementation of the agreement which led to Yemen’s President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi mandating Maeen Abdul Malik Saeed to form a new government and the naming of a new governor and chief of security for Aden.

On the ground, the Kingdom has deployed military officers to monitor a truce between the rivals and the implementation of military and security arrangements under the deal.

The premier-designate is putting the final touches on his consultations with Yemeni parties on a new government as major ministries were distributed between Yemen’s big and small parties, two sources told Arab News on Saturday.

“A new government might see light this week as combat forces will simultaneously pull out of contested areas and join fighting against the Houthis,” a senior STC source in Riyadh, said preferring anonymity.

Military and security arrangements under the deal, such as the STC withdrawal of military units from Aden, the country’s interim capital, and Abyan, have long blocked the formation of a new government as the legitimate government insists on the implementation of the security and military side of the agreement before announcing the agreement.

To end the impasse, the rivals agreed to announce the government this week, coinciding with the withdrawal of forces from Aden and Abyan, sources told Arab News.

Government and STC sources in Riyadh said that under the current consultations, Yemen’s president would pick names for four “sovereign” ministries — defense, interior, finance and foreign affairs.

The STC was given the ministries of transport, social affairs and labor, civil service and insurance, agricultural and fisheries, as well as the ministry of public works and highways.

The remaining ministries were distributed between the General People’s Congress that has ruled Yemen for three decades, the Islamist Islah Party, the Socialist Party, the Islamist Rashad Party and Hadramout Inclusive Conference.

Reacting to the news of a new government announcement and the halt of hostilities in their province, people in the contested areas in Abyan voiced hope that the factions would this time become serious and end fighting in their areas. “We are tired of fighting. We want to return to our normal life,” a man from Abyan’s Shouqra, who asked to remain anonymous, told Arab News.

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Saudi crown prince calls for global collaboration to unlock benefits of AI for all

Time: 22 October 2020  

October 2020
  • The COVID-19 crisis has provided an extraordinary opportunity to explore the potential of artificial intelligence, he says

RIYADH: As the world faces unprecedented challenges as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year offers the perfect opportunity to test the potential of artificial intelligence, according to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

In a speech on Wednesday on the opening day of the two-day Global AI Summit hosted by Riyadh — which was delivered on his behalf by Abdullah Al-Ghamdi, president of Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence — the crown prince also called for the nations of the world to work together to develop the capabilities of AI so that its benefits are available to all.

He began by highlighting the Kingdom’s desire to play a prominent part in the global development of AI to “unleash its potential for the good of all humanity.”

He said: “2020, undoubtedly, has been an extraordinary year to test the potential of AI, as we witness the formation of a new global normal that is redefining our ways of life, working and learning.

“This requires all of us to think and work hard to take advantage of artificial intelligence and unleash its full potential to advance our societies and economies.”

In recognition of the importance of the technology, the crown prince announced the launch of a national strategy for data and AI, with the aim of positioning Saudi Arabia at the forefront of AI research and development.

“I hereby invite all dreamers, innovators, investors and thinkers to join us, here in the Kingdom, to achieve our ambitions together and to build a pioneering model; to unlock the value of data and AI in order to build knowledge-based economies and advance our present and future generations,” he added.

Acknowledging the digital gap that exists between developed and developing countries, which has widened as a result of the coronavirus crisis, the crown prince said that the Kingdom is working to close this gap so that all nations can benefit from the potential of AI.

“I invite you all to work in a spirit of cooperation to shape the future of artificial intelligence in a way that serves all societies, prioritizes collaboration over competition, and focuses on reliable and responsible uses and applications of AI to serve humanity.”

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Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Russia’s Putin discuss global oil markets

Time: 14 October 2020  

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin. (File/SPA)

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman held a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.
During the call, they reviewed world oil markets, and the efforts made to achieve and maintain stability, support the growth of the global economy, Saudi Press Agency reported.

They also agreed on the importance of all oil-producing countries continuing to cooperate on and abide by the OPEC+ agreement to cut oil production.

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Perpetrators of ideology of hatred and racism must be confronted: Muslim World League chief


MWL Secretary-General Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa speaks at the second Media Forum of the Union of OIC News Agencies. (SPA)

RIYADH: The secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL), Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, has stressed the need for promoting coexistence among followers of different faiths and cultures.

Speaking at an online forum of the Union of OIC News Agencies (UNA-OIC), he called on everyone to confront perpetrators of the ideology of hatred and racism to achieve lasting global peace.

He said Islam promotes peace and harmony and respects diversity. In this regard, the MWL chief cited the “Covenant of Madinah” drawn up by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), which embodied the principles of coexistence in Islam, celebrated civic values, and preserved the legitimate rights and freedoms of all members of society.

Al-Issa also referred to the Makkah Declaration signed last year and endorsed by 1,200 muftis and 4,500 Muslim scholars representing different schools of thought. He said the declaration reiterated the Islamic principles of equality, human rights, and coexistence.

Condemning all elements bent on driving a wedge between different cultures and religions, the MWL chief said peaceful coexistence is the only way forward and promotion of peace is a religious, moral, and humanitarian duty.

The UNA-OIC is keen on hosting international organizations and opening doors for discussion to promote peace and harmony to ensure global peace.

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Saudi official Sarah Al-Tamimi recognized for her anti-human trafficking efforts

Time: 29 July, 2020

Vice-chair of the Saudi National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, Sarah Al-Tamimi, is reviewing the exhibit which includes works of local Saudi artists who volunteered to create works of art around trafficking that can be utilized in their campaign, which was done through the volunteer unit at Human Rights Committee. (Supplied)
  • The report, globally recognized as the most comprehensive analysis of anti-trafficking efforts

RIYADH: Coinciding with World Trafficking Day, the vice-chair of Saudi Arabia’s National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, Sarah Al-Tamimi, has been nominated by the UN Office in Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for her efforts in raising awareness against human trafficking in the Kingdom.

This year, UNODC’s campaign focused for the first time on profiling people that work in human trafficking. Nominations came from various offices around the world and Al-Tamimi was the only person from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to be chosen.

“Enhancing quality of life for all is a key pillar of Vision 2030, which is a goal we also strive for at the committee,” she said.

The US State Department upgraded Saudi Arabia’s ranking in its latest annual Trafficking in Persons Report.

The report, globally recognized as the most comprehensive analysis of anti-trafficking efforts, raised the status of Saudi Arabia from “tier 3” to “tier 2 watch list.”

It highlighted improvements in inter-ministry coordination, greater transparency and data-sharing and “significantly increased” numbers of prosecutions and convictions under the Kingdom’s anti-trafficking laws.

Al-Tamimi said that this is “an achievement we are proud of. Our goal is to reach tier 1.”

She joined the fight against human trafficking when she joined the committee in October 2019. One of her responsibilities was developing strategy.

In March, the Kingdom launched its first National Referral Mechanism. The mechanism coordinates the responsibilities of all relevant Saudi authorities in the protection of victims and the prosecution of trafficking-in-persons crimes.

“Overseeing the National Referral Mechanism is the best practice to tackle this crime,” she said.

In February, she was appointed the committee’s vice-chair. Her work includes coordination with various ministries and authorities that work together as a national team.

She oversees training programs at the committee with partners at the UNODC Office for the GCC region and the International Organization for Migration as part of her capacity-building strategy, along with coordinating protection responses for victims and potential victims of trafficking.

“Human trafficking is a crime that knows no borders, therefore neither can we who fight it,” said Al-Tamimi. “Combatting human trafficking, therefore, requires the participation of a variety of international and local actors that goes far beyond the public sector and operates in many areas –ranging from cyberspace to private-sector supply chains.”

The Kingdom’s work on countering human trafficking falls under the “four Ps of anti-trafficking”: partnerships, prevention, protection and prosecution.

“The most vulnerable are the ones who are most likely to be victims,” she added.

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Opposing sides in Yemen accept Saudi proposal to implement Riyadh agreement

Time: 29 July 2020

RIYADH: An official source on Tuesday night said that the Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) have accepted a proposal by Saudi Arabia designed to accelerate the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement.

The proposal includes the continuation of the ceasefire that came into effect on June 22, and an announcement by the STC that it is abandoning self-rule in favor of the power-sharing Riyadh Agreement, and will appoint a governor and security director for Aden governorate. The Yemeni prime minister will form a government that includes representatives of both northern and southern Yemen within 30 days. In addition, opposing military forces will leave Aden governorate and retreat from Abyan.

Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman thanked Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and the STC for their support of the Saudi effort to accelerate the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement.

“I am optimistic and confident about its implementation and the parties coming together to put the interests of the Yemeni people first,” he said.

The Kingdom’s efforts in encouraging political leaders to talk to each other, resolve their differences and reach a consensus on the implementation of the agreement shows the potential for resolving the disagreements in Yemen peacefully through dialogue, he added.

“A major goal of the coalition to support the legitimate Yemeni government is the security, stability and return of Yemen as an active member of the Gulf and the Arab world. The Riyadh Agreement is a key factor in reaching this, in addition to supporting the efforts of the UN envoy to Yemen,” said Prince Khalid.

“The consent of the Yemeni parties to accelerate the implementation of the agreement reflects a serious desire for dialogue, the resolution of disputes, acceptance of each other, the pursuit of political partnership, and support for a comprehensive political solution to end the crisis.”

Saudi Minister for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir Tweeted: “The mechanism to accelerate the implementation of the Riyadh agreement represents an important step towards activating state institutions to serve all Yemeni citizens, in addition to supporting UN efforts to reach a comprehensive political solution to the crisis in Yemen.”

The source said that with the assistance of the UAE, representatives from the two Yemini sides met in Riyadh and agreed to the proposal as an acceptable solution to the obstacles that have prevented the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement, which was signed on Nov. 5, 2019.

They also agreed to prioritize the interests of the Yemeni people, make preparations for the government to operate from Aden, launch development projects in liberated areas, and work to end the crisis in Yemen in cooperation with the UN and its envoy.

The source added that the Saudi authorities welcomed the positive responses from the Yemeni president and the delegations of the government and the STC, while stressing the importance of both sides adhering to the agreement.

He also reaffirmed the continued support of the Saudi-led Arab coalition for the legitimate Yemeni government and the continuation of UN efforts to reach a comprehensive political solution to the crisis, in accordance with the wishes of the Yemeni people.

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