Stage set for Saudi Arabia to bring menace of dengue under control – Arab News
JEDDAH: While the world has been preoccupied with fighting the COVID-19 pandemic for the past two years, other life-threatening viruses and diseases continued to spread. One of them is dengue, a mosquito-borne virus that causes an illness that in its most extreme form can be fatal. According to experts, urgent action is needed to bring it under control.
Dengue is mostly found in tropical and subtropical regions, and millions of cases of infection are reported worldwide each year. It is most common in Southeast Asia, the Western Pacific, Latin America and Africa but it has been spreading to other regions, cropping up in localized outbreaks in Europe and southern parts of the US.
Transmitted to humans by a number of species of female mosquitoes, dengue has an incubation period of between four and 10 days. Once infected, the patient becomes the primary carrier and can transmit the disease for an average of five days. A mosquito can infect several people during its peak feeding hours of early morning and before dusk.
The result can be severe flu-like symptoms, including a high fever, severe headache, muscle and joint pain, nausea and vomiting, that can last for seven days. Most cases are mild but those who recover from dengue and are reinfected can suffer much more severe symptoms, including internal bleeding and organ damage. Women who contract the virus during pregnancy run the risk of passing it on to their babies.
Dengue has been present in Saudi Arabia for more than two decades and is endemic during the rainy season, between April and September. It is particularly prevalent in the western region, most notably in Jeddah and Makkah.
stage set for saudi arabia to bring menace of dengue under control – arab news
The emergence of dengue in the Kingdom can be traced back to 1993-94 when an isolated case was first detected in Jeddah. Years of surveillance, epidemiological tracking, prevention and control measures have helped lower the proliferation of the mosquitoes that spread the virus but it nevertheless remains a significant challenge for health authorities.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, several countries, mainly in tropical and subtropical zones, were reeling from the effects of mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue, yellow fever, West Nile virus and Zika.
Measures designed to curb the spread of such diseases had been making progress globally. But within months of the coronavirus outbreak, medical personnel were redeployed to help slow the spread of COVID-19. This resulted in a resurgence of other diseases in areas where they had been under control.
Dengue accounts for nearly 70 percent of the disease burden in Asia, its spread fueled in part by rapid urbanization in recent years. With the recent resumption of international commercial flights as pandemic travel restrictions were lifted, the disease is once again traveling around the globe.
Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s biggest hubs for religious tourism, and authorities in the country consider efforts to bring dengue under control to be of paramount importance.
In 2019, the Kingdom was among the countries that recorded some of the highest rates of the disease. In 2018 alone, 6,345 dengue cases were confirmed, mostly in Jeddah.
Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, studies show there was a steep reduction in dengue cases in Saudi Arabia over the past two years, attributed to a collaborative effort by government agencies involved in vector surveillance and control. In public health, vectors are the living organisms that transmit diseases between humans or from animals to humans.

stage set for saudi arabia to bring menace of dengue under control – arab news
More research is needed to overcome the annual dengue epidemic in Saudi Arabi, said Abdullah Algaissi. (Supplied)

“Though dengue is still endemic in some cities and countries around the world, in Makkah, for example, dengue is reported at low levels as a result of several measures that have been taken to decrease its mode of transmission,” Dr. Osamah Barasheed, deputy chief public health officer at Makkah Health Cluster, told Arab News.
“Health education in homes and public areas by the Ministry of Health to increase awareness about dengue played an important role in preventing its spread.”
Municipal authorities in Makkah have also been working to reduce numbers of mosquitoes through sanitation campaigns and the disinfection of sites where they commonly breed.
Studies indicate the spread of dengue in Saudi Arabia has been fueled by several factors, including poor sanitation in some urban districts and the arrival of migrant workers and religious pilgrims from dengue-prone areas of the Middle East, North Africa and Asia.
“Dengue is still under control,” said Barasheed. “Health-education departments in vector-borne and zoonotic diseases (infectious diseases transmitted from animals to humans) administrations at (the Ministry of Health) play a major role in fighting and reducing the spread of dengue cases by their awareness activities in the community.”
• High fever of 104 F
• Headaches
• Muscle, bone or joint pain
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Pain behind the eyes
• Swollen glands
• Rash
Dr. Abdullah Algaissi, a virologist and assistant professor at Jazan University, told Arab News that dengue research in the Kingdom currently focuses on three key areas: understanding of the immune response to dengue infection; the severity of the disease; and control measures and the development of safe and effective vaccines and antivirals. Saudi universities are prioritizing the issue and considerable efforts are being made to develop a vaccine.
“There are several vaccine candidates currently under development,” said Algaissi. “Dengvaxia is one vaccine that has been approved in some countries but only for certain groups. DENVax is developed by a Japanese pharmaceutical company, Takeda.
“Both vaccines are intended to protect against all four serotypes (distinct variations within a species of bacteria or virus) but there are still some issues.”

stage set for saudi arabia to bring menace of dengue under control – arab news
Surveillance and prevention are key to curbing the spread of the potentially fatal illness. (AFP)

Research has found that DENVax mainly provides protection against one form of dengue and is less effective against the other three.
Dengvaxia, meanwhile, benefits patients who have previously been infected with the virus. However, a problem with it is that it can cause more severe symptoms in those who have not previously been infected, throwing its efficacy into doubt.
This is related to a phenomenon known as antibody-dependent enhancement of infection, which means that the antibody generated in response to a first infection by one dengue serotype can lead to more severe disease after a subsequent infection with another serotype.
“Dengvaxia is not recommended for individuals who have not been infected with dengue in the past,” said Algaissi. “Some countries have stopped using it because of this, while others approved it only for use in people who were infected and who live in areas where this infection is endemic.”
stage set for saudi arabia to bring menace of dengue under control – arab news
The US Food and Drug Administration in 2020 approved the use of the vaccine for children between the ages of 9 and 16 who live in areas where the disease is endemic and who have had a previous dengue infection that was confirmed by lab tests.
In addition to vaccine development, another area of dengue research is genetic modification. Luke Alphey from the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford in the UK has developed a technique that hinders the ability of mosquitoes to reproduce. Mosquitoes are produced in the lab that carry a lethal gene. Once released into the wild, they mate with wild species and transfer the deadly gene, which prevents the larva maturing to adulthood.
Clearly, continuing research into the virus and the development of better vaccines hold the key to controlling and, eventually, eliminating dengue from Saudi Arabia.
“Most of the research currently focuses on surveillance and control of the mosquitoes and the virus and the clinical characteristics of the dengue patients,” said Algaissi. “But I hope to see more research on developing effective vaccines and antivirals.”

RIYADH: Yemen’s Houthi militia were roundly condemned for an attack on a Saudi oil facility in Jeddah on Friday with the US implicating Iran for enabling the attack by supplying weapons to the group against international law.

“Unprovoked Houthi attacks against Saudi Aramco’s oil storage facilities in Jeddah as well as attacks against civil facilities in Jizan, Najran, and Dhahran are acts of terrorism aimed to prolong the suffering of the Yemeni people,” said Jake Sullivan, the US national security advisor.

He accused Iran of facilitating the group’s actions by supplying weapons, which are against UN rules.

“Today’s attacks, just like the attacks against water treatment plants and energy infrastructure on March 19 and 20, were clearly enabled by Iran in violation of UN Security Council resolutions prohibiting the import of weapons into Yemen,” he said in a statement on Friday.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US will work with the Kingdom to strengthen defenses “while also seeking to advance a durable end to the conflict, improve lives, and create the space for Yemenis to determine their own future collectively.”

“At a time when the parties should be focused on de-escalation and bringing needed life-saving relief to the Yemeni people ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, the Houthis continue their destructive behavior and reckless terrorist attacks striking civilian infrastructure.”

The Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen said the fire in two tanks at the North Jeddah oil facility had been brought under control, and there were no casualties.

On Saturday morning, the coalition knocked down two drones over Yemeni territory that were on their way to the Kingdom. It said the launch location was an oil installation in Hodeidah, a city on the Red Sea coast. It also said that it carried out a strike in Sanaa.

Plumes of black smoke could be seen across Jeddah on Friday after the Houthi attack, a reminder of the Iran-backed group’s intent to destabilize international energy security. The militia, which seized the capital Sanaa in 2014 and continues to hold large parts of Yemen, has conducted regular attacks against civilian infrastructure in the Kingdom.

The Saudi-led coalition, which has been supporting the internationally recognized Yemeni government against the Houthis, have intercepted numerous drones and missiles in the past.

An attack in Jeddah on March 19 caused a fire at an Aramco distribution center. A day later, the coalition destroyed an explosive-laden boat near Hodeidah, thwarting an imminent attack on shipping in the vital international maritime route.
Previous attacks have also targeted airports in the Kingdom, causing harm to civilians.

In February, 12 civilians were injured by a drone attack targeting Abha airport. In October, ten people where injured at King Abdulaziz Airport in the southern city of Jazan, with another 16 injured by falling shrapnel following an attack at the same airport last month.
I fully condemn the latest Houthi attack against critical sites in Saudi Arabia, including in Jeddah. These strikes put civilian lives at risk and must stop.
The Houthi militia has increased attacks against Saudi energy installations in recent weeks as Iran seeks to revive a nuclear deal that would allow it to begin selling oil again amid increased international energy demand following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Saudi energy ministry reiterated that it cannot bear responsibility for any shortage of oil supplies to global markets, in light of continuing attacks against its facilities. The ministry said the international community needs to realized the role of Iran in supporting the Houthis target oil and gas production sites.
In a letter to the UN Security Council on Friday, Saudi Arabia said it reserves the right to defend itself against Houthi aggression.

Princess Reema bint Bandar, Saudi ambassador to the US, tweeted: “The Iran backed terrorist Houthis continue to attack our civilians, infrastructure & energy facilities with Iranian made missiles & UAV’s with impunity. The international community must act against this aggression that targets innocent civilians and global energy supplies.”

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi condemned the attack on the Aramco facility during a call with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. El-Sisi said Egypt stands in solidarity with the Kingdom to confront hostilities.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who visited the Kingdom last week, tweeted: “I fully condemn the latest Houthi attack against critical sites in Saudi Arabia, including in Jeddah. These strikes put civilian lives at risk and must stop.” His foreign secretary, Liz Truss, called the abhorrent attack a continuation of recent terror acts by the Houthis and urged and “immediate halt to the violence.”

The UAE, which has also faced attacks by the Houthi militia, condemn Friday’s attacks and called on the international community to stand against the repeated acts of aggression, calling for the coalition’s work against the group to be supported.

France, who condemned the group’s attack in the “strongest terms,” said the acts, which threaten the security of Saudi Arabia and the stability of the region, must stop, urging the Houthis to constructively engage with the Yemeni peace initiative under the UN.
Bahrain said it backed all measures Saudi Arabia “deems necessary to maintain its security and stability against these deliberate and systematic attacks that are inconsistent with international humanitarian law.”

Sudan said the Houthi attacks represented a dangerous escalation in the region and said it supports the Kingdom against anything that endangers its security.

Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the attacks pose a grave threat to security in the region and global energy supplies. He urged the international community to take a tougher stand against the Houthi terror and as well as their ongoing violation of humanitarian laws.
We strongly condemn the latest Houthi terrorist attacks on Saudi Arabia, including today’s that struck Aramco’s civilian infrastructure. Ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, the Houthis continue their destructive behavior. Yemenis need parties to halt hostilities, and need relief.
Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, head of the Muslim World League, said the organization stood in solidarity with the Kingdom to protect civilians on its land.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions imposed on Moscow have caused crude prizes to soar. The war in Ukraine, which entered its second month this week, has seen the Kremlin see reduced interest for its gas and oil as customers sought to avoid falling foul of international sanctions against Russia.

Iran is aiming to resurrect a nuclear deal with world powers that was scrapped by former US President Donald Trump.

US President Joe Biden has pledged to renew the deal, displeasing US allies in the region who believe it rewards Iran, who supports the Houthis with weapons, for its destabilizing activities across the Middle East.
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In Feb. 2021, Washington reversed Trump’s designation of the Houthi militia as a terrorist organization, but last month the UN Security Council stamped the group as terrorist.

Concern has also been growing among America’s regional allies that the US may remove Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from its blacklist of terrorist organizations as part of the nuclear deal.

The Revolutionary Guard control a business empire in Iran, as well as military and intelligence forces responsible for terrorist attacks throughout the world.

“The attempt to delist the IRGC as a terrorist organization is an insult to their victims and would ignore documented reality supported by unequivocal evidence,” said Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in a statement.
Talks on the nuclear deal have now paused after Russia wanted an agreement to allow Iran to be exempt from the international sanctions on Moscow. The US said the two issues are unrelated.

An agreement would see Iran being able to sell its oil freely on international markets who are hungry for more supply.

The country may have as many as 65 to 80 million oil barrels on stationary tankers, Bloomberg reported, citing data from intelligence solutions provider Kpler.
Saudi Arabia is hosting the F1 Grand Prix this weekend in Jeddah. Race-goers could see a plume of black smoke from the attack in the distance during afternoon practice.
“I smell burning – is it my car?” said world champion Max Verstappen on his team radio, as he appeared one of the first drivers to notice the fumes in the air.
Despite the drama of the first day, organizers said the race will go ahead as scheduled: “We are aware of the attack on the Aramco distribution station in Jeddah earlier this afternoon and remain in direct contact with the Saudi authorities,” promoter Saudi Motorsport Company said in a statement.
“The race weekend schedule will continue as planned. The safety and security of all our guests continues to be our main priority and we look forward to welcoming fans for a weekend of premium racing and entertainment.”
This is the second time the Kingdom is hosting the event in the Red Sea city.  The race on Dec. 5, 2021, was won by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton after a dramatic stop-start contest with Dutchman Verstappen, who would later become world champion in the final race of the season, in Abu Dhabi.
JEDDAH: Meet Abdullah Al-Qurashi, 30, who is redefining road trips in Saudi Arabia with the help of a campervan nicknamed Aladdin, which he describes as a “little home on wheels.”
Al-Qurashi was studying for a digital media master’s degree in Canada in 2014 but quit after two months of the program to travel and volunteer around the world.
But, before quitting his master’s, he met some travelers from Australia and Germany. “We became very good friends so they invited me to join them for a trip to Colombia,” he told Arab News.
“After we finished the trip I decided to stop my master’s degree program to be able to travel as much as I could. Through my travels, I learned many different styles of traveling. One of them was traveling in a campervan.”
He said the idea of living and traveling in a campervan was very common in Canada.
In 2019, he went back to Canada to work and travel, working on an organic farm, and at the same time, he bought an old van and started converting it into something more liveable.
I could see the beauty of Saudi Arabia and how big our country is. The people I have met along the way and their generosity, inviting me for coffee or meals. In my experience, Saudis are one of the easiest going personalities to start a conversation with, and they would help immediately should you need anything.
Abdullah Al-Qurashi
“I named my campervan Aladdin. Aladdin has all essentials you need or you have in your house, from the bed, sink, small kitchen, storage, air conditioning, tables, refrigerator, solar panels for electricity and lights, and finally a fan,” he said. “We can say it’s a little home on wheels.”
And, because he liked road trips, his “Aladdin” allowed him to experience that adventure and lifestyle.
“Every single day is a totally different day, from the view I would wake to early morning, to the people I meet in every single stop I make, and living on the road here in the Kingdom is different from Canada,” he said.stage set for saudi arabia to bring menace of dengue under control – arab news
“By that, I mean the community of campervans here is still new and, until today, I only met one couple living in their car. Also, where I can stop to sleep at night sometimes could be an issue here because there are no decent places for a campervan to camp overnight.”
Since he moved into his campervan on Jan. 2, 2022, he has traveled in the west of the Kingdom, along the Red Sea, and the north.
“I just came back from AlUla. For now, I’m preparing to go to the southern part of the Kingdom, and I am so excited to discover that part as I have never visited it in my life.”
He said his experience traveling around the Kingdom had been great so far.
“I could see the beauty of Saudi Arabia and how big our country is. The people I have met along the way and their generosity, inviting me for coffee or meals.”
He highlighted the diversity of the Kingdom, with each part having its own tradition, accent, food, and weather.
“In my experience, Saudis are one of the easiest-going personalities to start a conversation with, and they would help immediately should you need anything,” he said.
JEDDAH: The Saudi Ministry of Health, in partnership with the National Health Insurance Council, recently launched its 2022 edition of the Wa’ai Award, an annual health awareness campaign, whose total yearly prizes hit SR1 million ($266,575).
Under the slogan “Arabs Agree on Awareness,” the award aims to encourage all Arab talents to produce creative content that contributes to a healthy lifestyle, through the award’s five tracks, including short films, motion graphics, infographics, photography, and unusual creative ideas.
The organizers have been receiving entries from all over the Arab world through the website: The last chance for those wishing to participate will be April 9.
The organizers have been receiving entries from all over the Arab world through the website: The last chance for those wishing to participate will be April 9.
A participant should only provide their own creative content. Whether individuals or students, people can take part in various tracks of the award, which has so far seen more than 30,000 entries across its previous editions.
In May, a group of specialists and medical experts will nominate the winning projects for voting before the winners are announced in the closing ceremony a month later, in the presence of the ministry’s top officials.
According to the Ministry of Health, contestants in the film category can participate with short awareness films of no more than two minutes discussing a health-related experience or warning against certain diseases that threaten the community. The films can also tackle any health issue or misconceptions about health.
Photography contestants can submit photographs with health awareness messages. The quality of the photos also matters in evaluation.
In the motion graphics category, participants can submit short animated films of no more than two minutes. Submitted works can be either warnings against diseases or promoting health awareness.
In the infographics category, entrants can design creative infographics on any health issues they think would convey an awareness health message to the community.
JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia announced on Friday that it had reinstated the visa on arrival program that allows holders of valid visas from the US, UK and Schengen area to enter the country.
This step comes two weeks after the Kingdom lifted all restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Countries that allow their citizens to enter Saudi Arabia on a tourist visa include the US, Canada, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Netherlands, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Ukraine, the UK, Switzerland, San Marino, Spain, Brunei, China (including Hong Kong and Macao), Japan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
Nationals of the aforementioned countries holding one of the three visas, traveling through Saudia, Flynas and Flyadeal airlines can obtain a 12-month tourist visa upon arrival in the Kingdom, without the need to submit an application in advance.
Holders of a valid visa to the US, UK or Schengen area must use it at least once to enter the area where the visa was issued, before entering Saudi Arabia.
The visa upon arrival is available for residents of states qualified for the e-visa program which was launched in 2019, and all visitors must have medical insurance for COVID risks, which can be obtained from all airports across the Kingdom upon arrival.
Tourism Minister Ahmed Al-Khateeb said: “Today, the Kingdom is among the most accessible destinations in the world for tourism, work and Hajj and Umrah pilgrimage, which will promote accelerated growth in the tourism sector and provide job and investment opportunities.”
He renewed the invitation for all visitors and tourists from across the world, to enjoy the treasures of Saudi tourism, from destinations, landmarks, culture, heritage, generosity and hospitality the Saudi community is known for.
JEDDAH: The rise of the fashion industry in Saudi Arabia can be attributed, at least in part, to the Kingdom’s rising designers and models, many of whom are working hard to gain recognition internationally.
The fashion industry in the Kingdom is striving to be more inclusive and diverse, specifically in menswear. From smart outfits to jewelry, men are catching up to women and hopping on the fashion bandwagon, with social media, celebrities, fashion blogs and brands all influencing consumer behavior trends.stage set for saudi arabia to bring menace of dengue under control – arab news
Munif Al-Shammari, one talented young Saudi fashion designer, is breaking with stereotypes and encouraging individuals to embrace themselves in their own way.
“I firmly believe fashion is genderless, and has the power to make our bodies socially noticeable and reasonable,” he said. “My style is contemporary; I choose the fabric and design the way I want. Fashion, for me, is like a gateway.”
I firmly believe fashion is genderless, and has the power to make our bodies socially noticeable and reasonable. My style is contemporary; I choose the fabric and design the way I want. Fashion, for me, is like a gateway.
Munif Al-Shammari
Al-Shammari launched his own label, MNF, in 2019, which gained a lot of popularity in the Saudi market.
“I started off with (a collection of) six designs combined with simplicity and elegance, which was sold out within 10 days. This encouraged me to invest more in myself and my brand,” he said. “In the year 2021, I got nominated to participate in the 100 Saudi Brands Program, the first fashion exhibition organized by the Saudi Fashion Commission, which generated a great opportunity for everyone in the fashion industry.”stage set for saudi arabia to bring menace of dengue under control – arab news
Being a self-taught designer, Al-Shammari works on creating new design and style that can really stand out. His creations are usually influenced by his birth city, Hail, and its diverse nature that is streamlined into his clothing pieces representing peacefulness and power at the same time.
The fabric incorporated into his designs is not something usually worn or used by men in Saudi Arabia. “I combine my expertise with how the world is evolving nowadays … in terms of freedom of expression, individual empowerment and gender equality, to create a fashion solution and empower both men and women through my designs and help them look elegant and stylish for every occasion.”
Although not a professional model, Al-Shammari considers it a side hobby, and started modeling in 2017. For him, modeling is not just posing or taking good-looking pictures, but more about self-expression.
“Through clothes, I learned how to express myself as if it was a language. This enabled me to empower myself to become the strong person I am.”
To the upcoming generation of young designers, Al-Shammari strongly recommends they never give up on their dreams, follow their passion and find their own touch within it. The fashion industry requires time, effort, accuracy, commitment and never quitting or giving up.
“As a form of self-expression, fashion can make you and others feel empowered. Most importantly, it is essential to humbly accept criticism and make the best out of it,” he said. “As long as you believe you can do it then work hard to do your best at it. Have positive thinking and surround yourself with supportive people.”