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Saudi Arabia gears up for Eid al-Fitr celebrations

Saudi Arabia is gearing up for three days of Eid al-Fitr celebrations following the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Every year, Muslims all over the world celebrate Eid al-Fitr after a month of fasting, prayer, and reflection during Ramadan which falls on the ninth month of the Islamic Hijri calendar, which consists of 12 months of 345 to 355 days a year.

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The Kingdom officially announced that Eid will begin on Monday. The holiday is determined by the sighting of the Shawwal moon, which was not seen on Saturday, according to the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

After Eid prayers, families and friends gather to celebrate and give gifts which include money, toys, and new clothes, often provided to children. They then enjoy a traditional feast of delicacies, which in Saudi Arabia often includes Mugalgal, a dish comprised of spiced lamb and tomatoes, Jareesh, ground wheat mixed with spiced meat, and several other sweet Arabic deserts.

Eid al-Fitr is about sharing, including giving Zakat al-Fitr, a special payment made by devout Muslims to charity. According to the organization Islamic Relief, Zakat is “the minimum amount due is the equivalent of about two kilograms of wheat flour, even if they do not live in the same house. Approximately $7 per head is a safe estimated amount.”

On the evening of the Eid, people tend to go out in their finest fashionable attire, usually new clothes purchased specifically for the celebration, to watch fireworks and wish each other a happy and blessed Eid.

To mark the end of the holy month, several concerts and events will take place across the Kingdom and many local holiday destination packages have been released.

Jeddah Season 2022

In its second edition, Jeddah Season 2022 will fall on the first day of Eid al-Fitr, offering a range of exciting events to look forward to.

Held under the slogan, ‘Our Good Days,’ the mega-festival will include around 2,800 activities which will be available over the next two months, SPA reported on Sunday.

Based on the Kingdom’s reimagined entertainment industry and new vision, there will be 70 interactive experiences, more than 60 entertainment offerings for gamers, seven Arab plays, two international plays, five marine experiences and events, and the international circus group Cirque du Soleil, as well as four international exhibitions, an interactive waterfall, and over 90 stores and restaurants for visitors to enjoy a wide range of different cuisines.

Eid staycations in Saudi Arabia

AlUla, one of the regions most popular up-and-coming tourism destinations, has launched several packages for Saudis looking for a staycation to celebrate the Eid.

Habitas AlUla offers visitors a wellness program called the ‘Eid Escape’ package, which includes bonus deals to mark the long-anticipated holiday.

The wellness package includes aroma Stone Therapy, Body Energy Harmonization, and Date Seed Body scrub, among many other treatments, ranging from 15 to 60 minutes.

There are also glamping (glamorous camping) experiences on offer at AlUla this year, featuring 22 caravan rooms against a backdrop of the area’s picturesque scenery.

Aside from AlUla, other cities in the Kingdom including Jeddah, Riyadh, Khobar, and Makkah have a range of staycation offerings.

Read more:

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Sharjah Museums Authority launches activities to mark International Museum Day

Sharjah Museums Authority (SMA) is marking the International Museum Day with a number of events held for three days between July 1 and July 3, 2022, at Al Zahia City Centre Mall.

During this year’s celebration under the theme ‘The Power of Museums,’ SMA’s lineup of activities will reflect the importance of museums as significant cultural and educational destinations.

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Members of the public will enjoy replicas of museum’s collections such as one-of-five astrolabes preserved by international museums, pearl sieves that were used to categorize pearl sizes, the ‘Burqa’ which is a traditional face wear that adorned Emirati women’s faces, and a statue of a camel that was uncovered in Muweilah area of Sharjah.

Activities between 10 am and 12 midnight at the mall’s main hall and theatre will also include guidd tours, live performances, and calligraphy workshops.

More events will focus on old Emirati professions and their tools with an aim to better connect community members with the rich history and heritage of the UAE.

“From promoting an understanding of differences, to addressing key social issues, museums are more important today than they have ever been,” said Manal Ataya, Director General of Sharjah Museums Authority.

Being educational centers and social spaces, Ataya said museums have the power to influence both change and development because they broaden knowledge, stimulate new ideas, encourage creative thinking, and help build social cohesion in their respective communities.

“Museums provide visitors with new perspectives and nurtures their curiosity to learn about other cultures, thereby building cultural bridges and supporting diversity in multicultural societies, in particular, as seen in the UAE,” she added.
The list of events also include a number of interactive programs and workshops about Islamic architecture, marine turtles, and pottery making that aim to engage children and adults alike.

Sixteen doors that represent SMA’s themed museums will introduce participants to the diverse offerings of the authority's distinguished cultural and educational centers.

International Museum Day is celebrated annually on May 18 to raise awareness about the importance of museums as means of cultural exchange and as centers of learning that educate people about the history of humankind.

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UAE Minister highlights nature-based solutions to mitigate climate change at UN meet

The UAE Minister of Climate Change and the Environment Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, participated in the UN Ocean Conference (UNOC), co-hosted by the governments of Portugal and Kenya in the Portuguese capital Lisbon, WAM (Emirates News Agency) reported.
Running from June 27 to July 1, UNOC seeks to drive the development of much-needed science-based innovative solutions aimed at starting a new chapter of global ocean action to support the implementation of UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14: Life Below Water. The conference is running under the theme ‘Scaling up ocean action based on science and innovation for the implementation of Goal 14: Stocktaking, partnerships and solutions.’
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Mariam Almheiri said, “It was a pleasure to attend UNOC that comes at a crucial time for ocean conservation. At the 28th UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in the UAE next year, we aim to continue the dialogue on accelerating the deployment of ocean-based climate solutions. We are keen to exchange knowledge and experience with other countries, and explore opportunities for effective partnerships in this space. Because if we want to have a fighting chance of keeping global warming within 1.5˚C, we need to make the most of every solution available to us, and we need to do it together.”
During the interactive dialogue titled ‘Addressing Marine Pollution,’ the Minister explored ways to tackle marine pollution from land- and sea-based sources that has a serious negative impact on the world’s oceans.
Almheiri also attended the high-level meeting on ocean and climate that took place under the theme ‘From Lisbon to Sharm el-Sheikh: accelerating ocean-based climate solutions.’
The event’s outcomes will inform policy and investment decisions to be made in the run-up to COP27 and beyond.
In her opening remarks at the meeting, Minister Almheiri highlighted the importance of leveraging nature-based solutions, especially blue carbon ecosystems, to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
The UAE works to protect its marine and coastal environment and preserve its vital ecosystem services in line with its commitment to implementing SDG 14. These include expanding the network of marine protected areas, implementing fishing regulations, developing the aquaculture industry, combatting marine pollution, and rehabilitating degraded marine ecosystems.
The UAE has achieved the two targets of SDG 14 that had a deadline in 2020. Having designated 16 marine protected areas that account for 12.01 percent of its marine and coastal territory, the country reached Target 14.5 that entails conserving at least 10 percent of coastal and marine areas. In addition, the nation maintains global leadership in the Marine Protected Areas category of the Environmental Performance Index (EPI).
Through integrated management of its marine protected areas, whose effectiveness is being regularly evaluated, the UAE has also achieved Target 14.2 that requires countries to implement measures to sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems, and take action for their restoration.
The world’s oceans face a wide variety of threats – such as acidification, marine litter and pollution, illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and the loss of habitats and biodiversity – that require targeted efforts to address. UNOC’s sessions put each of these threats in the spotlight to spur a productive exchange of ideas aimed at preserving healthy oceans for future generations.

Read more: UAE explores sustainable city design at Green Building event ahead of COP28

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IVF children fare better at school than naturally conceived kids: Study

Children conceived through medically assisted reproduction treatments, such as IVF, artificial insemination, or ovulation induction, appear to perform better at school than those born through natural conception, according to a new study.

The research, conducted by University College London in partnership with Finland’s University of Helsinki, also found that while IVF children fared better at school, they were more prone to anxiety and depression in their teenage years.

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Published in the European Journal of Population, the research involved analyzing the records of over 280,000 children born over a five-year period and tracking them as they grew up. The scientists also studied the educational outcomes and mental health of those born through medically assisted reproduction (MAR).

The team also found that teenagers conceived by MAR were less likely to drop out of school and were at a lower risk of being unemployed or leaving home early compared to naturally conceived children.

“What we’re seeing here is mostly reassuring; children conceived through medically assisted reproduction do better overall and are in fact not more disadvantaged in terms of mental health outcomes,” study co-author Dr. Alice Goisis at UCL’s Centre for Longitudinal Studies said in a university release.

The observational study is thought to be the first to examine the correlations between conception methods, mental health, and wellbeing later in life.

“The fact that we observe an increased risk of mental health disorders once we account for family characteristics could be a cause for concern and merits further attention in future research,” she added.

The researchers said in a statement that the correlation for mental health was only observed when social demographics were taken into consideration, and that there was no evidence to suggest the MAR treatment itself was the source of association for mental health.

“We explicitly put a lot of focus on the social demographics of families who conceived through medically assisted reproduction – and our findings underscore the importance of integrating this perspective in studies of medically assisted reproduction and its consequences,” the statement said.

The research involved examining administrative records on over 280,000 Finnish children born between 1995 and 2000. They compared the educational and mental health outcomes among teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18 who were conceived naturally (266,925) and MAR (13,757).

The authors noted that MAR children are more likely to come from better off families who may provide children with resources (financial, time and emotional) that benefit their educational outcomes. However, they could also suggest that difficulties conceiving may expose parents to mental health issues, which could have impacted their children by putting them at greater risk of psychological distress.

“Whilst we don’t have the data to explain why those born by medically assisted reproduction are at slightly higher risk of mental health disorders, we believe that this may be due to different mechanisms,” lead author Dr. Hanna Remes from the University of Helsinki said.

“The fact that MAR-conceived children tend to be the first-born – around 60 per cent of the children in the study – explained some of the excess risks. It is also possible that because of the process they went through, parents of children conceived by IVF, for example, may have been exposed mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, which may, in turn, have put the children themselves at higher risk of having mental health problems.”

Since the oldest child conceived by IVF treatment is now 43 years old, the researchers noted that this area of study is still relatively new.

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