JEDDAH: A Saudi dentist and endurance swimmer has set a new women’s world record time for swimming across the Red Sea.
Mariam Saleh Binladen took just four hours to make the crossing from the Saudi island of Tiran to the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.
She was accompanied in the water on her 9-kilometer swim by Lewis Pugh, a British South African endurance swimmer and UN patron of the oceans.
Pugh was on the first leg of his campaign to raise awareness about the destruction of oceans and coral reefs in the run up to the 2022 UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) due to take place in Sharm El-Sheikh next month.
Binladen told Arab News: “During the final moments of the swim, I felt elated, a sense of jubilation, and blessed to have achieved my goal with my body intact.
“I had concerns before embarking on the swim, namely the weather conditions and sharks. As the last moments approached, I thanked Allah that the team had made it safe and sound through what were quite hazardous conditions.”
Due to high winds and rough seas the swim had to be staggered over two days.
She said: “We completed the swim in two segments and fed less often to minimize the risk of shark attacks. I would say that the most challenging aspect was at the midway point when the sea became very turbulent.
“We had also agreed to swim without protective cages, so those sharks were always at the back of our minds.”
Binladen has been involved in open water endurance swimming professionally since 2012.
“I train hard at least three times a week. Over my weekends, I alternate between four to six hours of swims to maintain momentum. I maintain a dedicated fitness regime, and I keep to a physically gruelling schedule when I am preparing for a challenge,” she added.
Her first major world record-breaking swim was in London’s River Thames in 2016, but she pointed out that the Red Sea attempt was for a greater cause.
“I agreed to join this challenge as the cause is near to my heart. These challenges are not for the faint of heart; you really need to be disciplined with your training and build up your physical and mental strength. Those two things are what will keep you going and be the key to success,” she said.
Long-distance swimming, she noted, was physically and mentally challenging and it was only with the support of a sports counsellor and her family that she was able to prepare herself.
“We sift through any fears and concerns together. I cannot stress enough how important it is to always work with professionals and to surround yourself with the right people.
“I’m blessed to also have the support and reassurance of a loving family without whom I could never have embarked on this journey,” she added.
Binladen’s charitable work has included offering support to refugees.
She said: “I am primed and physically and mentally prepared to take on my next challenge.
“In terms of the future, I will continue to use my challenges to raise awareness of issues that concern me, my philanthropic work is ongoing, and I have my career, and I am very busy.”
She now has five world records to her name, including being the first Arab to complete the Dardanelles Strait open water race in Turkey from Asia to Europe, in August 2015, completing the 6.5-km distance in one hour, 27 minutes, and 26 seconds.
In September 2016, she became the first Saudi to complete an assisted swim across the English Channel of 39.7 km, a feat she did in 11 hours and 41 minutes.
And she was also the first swimmer to cross the Dubai Creek and Dubai Water Canal, clocking up a total distance of 24 km in nine hours and 10 minutes.
RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) on Tuesday distributed 1,040 food aid packages to Syrian refugees in several Lebanese regions, benefiting 5,200 people.
The Saudi charity has a project aiming to distribute food aid to the most neediest groups in various countries.
On Sunday, KSRelief distributed 731 food parcels in Marib Governorate, Yemen, benefiting 5,117 people.
And in Niger, KSRelief distributed on Sunday a further 1,000 in Niamey, benefiting 1,000 families, around 7,176 people.
In Pakistan, they distributed 1,130 food packages to 7,910 affected by the floods in Sindh Province, Pakistan.
RIYADH: The Saudi Cabinet on Tuesday reiterated the need to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and called on the international community to live up to its responsibilities in relation to this and to help end the occupation, stop Israeli attacks, and ensure civilians are protected.
It came during the weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers at Irqah Palace in Riyadh, presided over by King Salman, during which members discussed the latest regional and international developments, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
At the start of the session, the Cabinet was briefed on a message sent to the king by the Algerian president, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, and a telephone call Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received from the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.
Ministers then discussed the preparations for the Kingdom’s participation at this year’s G20 meetings, in light of its desire to develop initiatives and solutions that can help address the challenges facing the global economy.
These include a joint framework initiative for debt treatment, and Saudi Arabia’s role in the implementation of the Financial Intermediary Fund for Health Security, including financial support of $50 million, to help prevent pandemics.
They also include the Kingdom’s work in cooperation with the Indonesian presidency of the G20 last year to develop a response to the global food-security crisis, and the implementation of those initiatives in partnership with India, which holds the presidency of the G20 this year.
Acting Minister of Media Majid Al-Qasabi said the Cabinet also reiterated the Kingdom’s condemnation of the burning of copies of the Qur’an in a number of European capitals.
Ministers welcomed the signing of agreements and memorandums of understanding during the Riyadh Global Medical Biotechnology Summit last week, he added, as well as discussions during the event that focused on developments in the sector, investment opportunities, and ways to consolidate and enhance the Kingdom’s leading position in this field, in line with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 to diversify the national economy through research and the development of scientific knowledge.
The Cabinet also noted the outcomes of the Municipal Investment Forum in Riyadh last week, during which investment portals were launched for Saudi cities, and 125 contracts and agreements worth more than SR12 billion ($3.1 billion) were signed, offering more than 5,000 investment opportunities for the private sector. During the event, about 200 projects for entrepreneurs were reviewed, and the largest investment opportunity of its kind in the outdoor advertising sector was launched.
Ministers approved a cooperation agreement between the Saudi and Uzbekistan ministries of energy, and another one between the Saudi Ministry of Education and Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Higher and Secondary Specialized Education.
They authorized the minister of culture to sign a draft memorandum of understanding for cultural cooperation with the Ministry of Crafts, Culture, Hotel Industry and Tourism in Mali, and approved a memorandum of understanding between the Saudi and Senegalese governments for cooperation to encourage direct investment.
The Cabinet also approved a MoU on desalination cooperation between the Saudi Saline Water Conversion Corporation and the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research, and authorized the minister of health to sign a draft MoU for cooperation with the Tunisian Ministry of Health.
The minister of media, and chairman of the board of directors of the General Authority for Audiovisual Media, was authorized to sign a draft MoU with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in India, and the president of the Islamic University of Madinah to sign a draft MoU with the Islamic Development Bank Group.
RIYADH: Authorities in Saudi Arabia have issued a weather alert covering most regions of the Kingdom until Friday, warning of high winds and dust storms, thunderstorms of varying intensity, snow, drops in temperature and frost, and rising tides, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.
Surface winds were expected to reach speeds of more than 60 kilometers per hour and could cause dust storms resulting in little or no visibility in parts of Tabuk, Al-Jawf, the Northern Borders Region, Hail, Al-Qassim, the Eastern Province, Riyadh, Makkah and Madinah. Tides could rise in those areas, reaching more than 2.5 meters.
Moderate to heavy thunderstorms, accompanied by torrential rain and hail were expected on Wednesday in the regions of Tabuk (affecting Tabuk, Haql, Al-Wajh, Duba, Umluj, Neom, Sharma and Taima), the Northern Borders Region (Rafha, Arar and Turaif), Al-Jawf (Sakaka, Dumat Al-Jandal, Al-Qurayyat and Tabarjal), the Eastern Province (Hafar Al-Batin, Al-Khafji, Al-Nairyah and Al-Olaya village), and most parts of Hail and Al-Qassim.
Light to medium rain was forecast for Wednesday in Makkah Province (including Makkah city, Jeddah, Rabigh, Taif, Jamum, Al-Kamil, Khulais and Bahra), Madinah (Ais, Badr, Yanbu, AlUla, Khaybar Madinah, Al-Mahd, Wadi Al-Fara and Al-Hanakiya), the Eastern Province (Qatif, Dammam, Dhahran, Al-Khobar, Abqaiq and Al-Ahsa) and Riyadh (the capital, Al-Kharj, Al-Muzahimiyah, Al-Quwayiyah Al-Majma’ah, Al-Zulfi, Al-Ghat, Shaqra, Ramah, Al-Dawadmi and Afif).
Forecasters said there was a chance of snow on Wednesday on peaks in Tabuk region (at Jabal Al-Lawz, Alaqan, Al-Dhuhr), and temperatures would drop from Wednesday in the regions of Tabuk, Al-Jawf, the Northern Borders, Hail and the north of Madinah. Minimum temperatures were expected to reach between 0 and 4 degrees Celsius, with a chance of frost in some areas. In Al-Qassim, Riyadh and the north of the Eastern Province, temperatures were expected to fall to between 4 and 7 C from Thursday.
The National Center for Meteorology advised the public to check official channels for updates to the forecasts, and urged them to follow any instructions from authorities.
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman sent a cable of condolences to Pakistani President Arif Alvi over victims of the terrorist attack at a mosque in Peshawar that killed 100 people, the Saudi Press Agency reported early Wednesday.
“We strongly condemn this criminal act and we send to your excellency, the families of the deceased and the Pakistani people, our deepest and sincere condolences,” the king said, wishing the injured a speedy recovery and affirming the Kingdom’s stand with Pakistan.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman also sent a similar cable to President Alvi.
A suicide bomber blew himself up inside a crowded mosque in a highly fortified security compound in Peshawar on Monday, the latest in a string of attacks targeting police.
Police said the attacker appeared to have passed through several barricades manned by security forces to get into the Red Zone compound that houses police and counter-terrorism offices in the northwestern city of Peshawar.
A police chief said Tuesday that the blast was a targeted revenge attack.
RIYADH: FIFA President Gianni Infantino on Tuesday visited the “Saudi House” in the Bahraini capital, Manama, which is hosting the 33rd Asian Football Confederation Congress that began on Monday and will continue until Wednesday evening, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
#Saudi2027 has a great vision that will help develop football throughout Asia.”
@FIFAcom President Gianni Infantino during his visit to #SaudiHouse in Bahrain#ForwardForAsia pic.twitter.com/O4l2Slzg9H
Infantino toured the “Saudi House” and was briefed on the most pillars of the Kingdom’s hosting of the 19th Asian Cup, under the slogan “Forward for Asia.”
Infantino was given a briefing on the stadiums proposed to host games and the Saudi national team’s history in the Asian Cup, including the Green Falcons winning the championship three times in 1984, 1988, and 1996.
#SaudiHouse in Bahrain – Day 2
We continue to welcome delegations of the #AFCCongress2023, where we share with our guests the experience of #Saudi2027 #ForwardForAsia pic.twitter.com/zgW9szpPY0