What is the Most Secluded Place in the World?

Tiny Pitcairn Island is home to fewer than 50 inhabitants
Tiny Pitcairn Island is home to fewer than 50 inhabitants
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What is the Most Secluded Place in the World?

Tiny Pitcairn Island is home to fewer than 50 inhabitants
Tiny Pitcairn Island is home to fewer than 50 inhabitants

Seclusion can be found while hiking in the Dolomites in Italy or by rowing in Sweden, but civilization is always only a few kilometers away. But what are the really isolated, inaccessible, and so remote places that hardly anyone has ever seen? This remains a question for scientists. Geography has a term for particularly remote places: poles of inaccessibility. According to the University of California's Department of Geography in Santa Barbara, “The pole of inaccessibility is the most challenging to reach owing to its remoteness from geographical features that could provide access.”

The poles of inaccessibility are usually continental or oceanic. The continental poles of inaccessibility are located on the farthest land from coasts. For example, the Eurasian pole of inaccessibility is located in the northwest desert of China, the German news agency reported.

On the other hand, the oceanic pole of inaccessibility is the place located in the ocean or the farthest point from any land. This pole is located in the South Pacific and is known as Point Nemo. It is about 2,700 kilometers from the nearest land, the Pitcairn Islands.

The most isolated island in the world is the uninhabited Bouvet Island, in the South Atlantic and makes part of Norway since 1930. But the island has little to offer to those who dream of seclusion due to its harsh weather conditions. It is mostly home to algae and fungi that only grow in areas where the earth does not freeze, along with albatrosses, penguins and other cold-resistant birds.

The question is: Are these remote places really untouched? Reinhold Leinfelder, a geophysicist at the Free University in Berlin, says humans have changed the earth and left their mark everywhere. Even at Point Nemo, the remnants of a small-scale civilization can be found, for example.



Discovered in Lebanon, Oldest Mosquito Fossil Comes with a Bloodsucking Surprise

 An undated handout image of a view from above of the body of a fossilized male mosquito trapped in amber found in central Lebanon dating to about 130 million years ago. (Dany Azar/Handout via Reuters)
An undated handout image of a view from above of the body of a fossilized male mosquito trapped in amber found in central Lebanon dating to about 130 million years ago. (Dany Azar/Handout via Reuters)
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Discovered in Lebanon, Oldest Mosquito Fossil Comes with a Bloodsucking Surprise

 An undated handout image of a view from above of the body of a fossilized male mosquito trapped in amber found in central Lebanon dating to about 130 million years ago. (Dany Azar/Handout via Reuters)
An undated handout image of a view from above of the body of a fossilized male mosquito trapped in amber found in central Lebanon dating to about 130 million years ago. (Dany Azar/Handout via Reuters)

Hundreds of thousands of people worldwide are killed annually by malaria and other diseases spread through the bite of mosquitoes, insects that date back to the age of dinosaurs. All of these bites are inflicted by females, which possess specialized mouth anatomy that their male counterparts lack.

But it has not always been that way. Researchers said they have discovered the oldest-known fossils of mosquitoes - two males entombed in pieces of amber dating to 130 million years ago during the Cretaceous Period and found near the town of Hammana in Lebanon. To their surprise, the male mosquitoes possessed elongated piercing-sucking mouthparts seen now only in females.

"Clearly they were hematophagous," meaning blood-eaters, said paleontologist Dany Azar of the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology and Lebanese University, lead author of the study published this week in the journal Current Biology. "So this discovery is a major one in the evolutionary history of mosquitoes."

The two fossilized mosquitoes, both representing the same extinct species, are similar in size and appearance to modern mosquitoes, though the mouthparts used for obtaining blood are shorter than in today's female mosquitoes.

"Mosquitoes are the most notorious blood-feeders on humans and most terrestrial vertebrates, and they transmit a certain number of parasites and diseases to their hosts," Azar said.

"Only fertilized female mosquitoes will suck blood, because they need proteins to make their eggs develop. Males and unfertilized females will eat some nectar from plants. And some males do not feed at all," Azar added.

Some flying insects - tsetse flies, for instance - have hematophagous males. But not modern mosquitoes.

"Finding this behavior in the Cretaceous is quite surprising," said paleontologist and study co-author André Nel of the National Museum of Natural History of Paris.

The delicate anatomy of the two mosquitoes was beautifully preserved in the fossils. Both displayed exceptionally sharp and triangle-shaped jaw anatomy and an elongated structure with tooth-like projections.

The researchers said they suspect that mosquitoes evolved from insects that did not consume blood. They hypothesize that the mouthparts that became adapted for obtaining blood meals originally were used to pierce plants to get access to nutritious fluids.

Plant evolution may have played a role in the feeding divergence between male and female mosquitoes. At the time when these two mosquitoes became stuck in tree sap that eventually became amber, flowering plants were beginning to flourish for the first time on the Cretaceous landscape.

"In all hematophagous insects, we believe that hematophagy was a shift from plant liquid sucking to bloodsucking," Azar said.

The fact that these earliest-known mosquitoes are bloodsucking males, Azar added, "means that originally the first mosquitoes were all hematophagous - no matter whether they were males or females - and hematophagy was later lost in males, maybe due to the appearance of flowering plants, which are contemporaneous with the formation of Lebanese amber."

Plenty of animals were present to provide blood meals: dinosaurs, flying reptiles called pterosaurs, other reptiles, birds and mammals.

The researchers said while these are the oldest fossils, mosquitoes probably originated millions of years earlier. They noted that molecular evidence suggests mosquitoes arose during the Jurassic Period, which ran from about 200 million to 145 million years ago.

There are more than 3,500 species of mosquitoes worldwide, found everywhere except Antarctica. Some become disease vectors transmitting malaria, yellow fever, Zika fever, dengue and other diseases. According to the World Health Organization, more than 400,000 people die annually from malaria - a parasitic infection - mostly children under age 5.

"On the other side, mosquitoes help to purify the water in ponds, lakes and rivers," Nel said. "In general, an animal can be a problem but also can be helpful."


Prince Harry Challenges UK Government's Decision to Strip Him of Security Detail When He Moved to US

FILE - Britain's Prince Harry arrives in the gardens of Buckingham Palace in London, Jan. 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)
FILE - Britain's Prince Harry arrives in the gardens of Buckingham Palace in London, Jan. 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)
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Prince Harry Challenges UK Government's Decision to Strip Him of Security Detail When He Moved to US

FILE - Britain's Prince Harry arrives in the gardens of Buckingham Palace in London, Jan. 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)
FILE - Britain's Prince Harry arrives in the gardens of Buckingham Palace in London, Jan. 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth, File)

Prince Harry is challenging on Tuesday the British government’s decision to strip him of his security detail after he gave up his status as a working member of the royal family and moved to the United States.
The Duke of Sussex said he wants protection when he visits home and claimed it's partly because an aggressive press jeopardizes his safety and that of his family.
The three-day hearing scheduled to begin in London’s High Court is the latest in a string of Harry's legal cases that have kept London judges busy as he takes on the UK government and the British tabloid media. It was not clear if he would attend Tuesday's hearing.
Harry failed to persuade a different judge earlier this year that he should be able to privately pay for London’s police force to guard him when he comes to town. A judge denied that offer after a government lawyer argued that officers shouldn't be used as “private bodyguards for the wealthy.”
Harry, the youngest son of King Charles III, said he did not feel safe bringing his wife, former actor Meghan Markle, and their two young children back to Britain and was concerned about his own safety after being chased by paparazzi following a London charity event.
Harry’s animosity toward the press dates back to the death of his mother Princess Diana, who died in a car wreck as her driver tried to outrun aggressive photographers in Paris. Harry, whose wife is mixed-raced, cited what he said were racist attitudes and unbearable intrusions of the British media in his decision to leave the United Kingdom.
The 39-year-old prince is challenging the decision by the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures to provide his security on a “case by case” basis after moving in 2020 to Canada and then California, where he and his family now reside.
He said the committee unfairly nixed his security request without hearing from him personally and did not disclose the makeup of the panel, which he later learned included royal family staff. He said Edward Young, the assistant private secretary to the late Queen Elizabeth II, should not have been on the committee because of “significant tensions” between the two men.
The Home Office has argued that any tensions between Harry and the royal household staff was irrelevant and that the committee was entitled to its decision because he had relinquished his role as a working member of the family.
The case is one of five that Harry has pending in the High Court.
The four other lawsuits involve Britain's best-known tabloids, including a case that alleges the publisher of the Daily Mail libeled him when it ran a story suggesting he had tried to hide his efforts to continue receiving government-funded security. A ruling is expected in that case Friday.
Three other lawsuits allege that journalists at the Mail, the Daily Mirror, and The Sun used unlawful means, such as deception, phone hacking or hiring private investigators to dig up dirt about him.


Kingdom Participates in Space Agencies Leaders' Summit at COP28

Dr. Mohammed Saud Al-Tamimi chaired the Kingdom's delegation and participated in the Space Agencies Leaders' Summit held in Dubai - SPA
Dr. Mohammed Saud Al-Tamimi chaired the Kingdom's delegation and participated in the Space Agencies Leaders' Summit held in Dubai - SPA
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Kingdom Participates in Space Agencies Leaders' Summit at COP28

Dr. Mohammed Saud Al-Tamimi chaired the Kingdom's delegation and participated in the Space Agencies Leaders' Summit held in Dubai - SPA
Dr. Mohammed Saud Al-Tamimi chaired the Kingdom's delegation and participated in the Space Agencies Leaders' Summit held in Dubai - SPA

The CEO of the Saudi Space Agency (SSA), Dr. Mohammed Saud Al-Tamimi, chaired the Kingdom's delegation and participated in the Space Agencies Leaders' Summit held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The summit, held as part of the COP28 conference, highlighted raising awareness about climate change, the role of space technologies, technical solutions, entrepreneurship in the space sector, and addressing climate change, SPA reported.
It emphasized encouraging private investment and innovation in the space field, exploring opportunities for funding space and climate programs, and securing the necessary financial support for these initiatives.
During his participation in the summit, Dr. Al-Tamimi stressed that the Kingdom stands with all countries committed to harnessing the power of space technology, which has emerged as a beacon of hope for monitoring, understanding, and mitigating the environmental and climate challenges facing the world.
Emphasizing its awareness of the significance of this global challenge, he said the Kingdom has embarked on an ambitious journey to develop and disseminate innovative space solutions that can significantly contribute to building a more sustainable future.
The Kingdom presented 66 initiatives to address climate change during the previous edition of the conference, he noted.


Red Sea Film Festival Continues Activities to Foster Communication among Industry Professionals, Audience

The festival's activities have been focused on enhancing interaction and communication between industry professionals and the audience - File Photo
The festival's activities have been focused on enhancing interaction and communication between industry professionals and the audience - File Photo
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Red Sea Film Festival Continues Activities to Foster Communication among Industry Professionals, Audience

The festival's activities have been focused on enhancing interaction and communication between industry professionals and the audience - File Photo
The festival's activities have been focused on enhancing interaction and communication between industry professionals and the audience - File Photo

The third edition of the Red Sea Film Festival continued its activities Monday for the fifth day, featuring a diverse range of screenings and events, including seminars, panel discussions, and workshops.
The festival's activities have been focused on enhancing interaction and communication between industry professionals and the audience, according to SPA.
Monday's opening screenings included two premieres from the Middle East and North Africa region: "Hajjan," a thrilling family adventure film, and "Four Daughters," the winner of the top documentary prize at Cannes 2023.
The festival is showcasing 130 films from 77 countries performed in 47 languages, including 35 world premieres and 60 premieres in the Middle East and Africa.


Alfadley: Saudi Arabia is Steadily Moving towards Planting 600 Million Trees by 2030

A planted field in Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia. (Photo: Reuters)
A planted field in Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia. (Photo: Reuters)
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Alfadley: Saudi Arabia is Steadily Moving towards Planting 600 Million Trees by 2030

A planted field in Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia. (Photo: Reuters)
A planted field in Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia. (Photo: Reuters)

Saudi Minister of Environment, Water, and Agriculture, Eng. Abdulrahman Abdulmohsen Alfadley, took part in the third edition of the Saudi Green Initiative Forum, held concurrently with COP28 in Dubai.
Eng. Alfadley said that Saudi Arabia is steadily moving towards achieving the targets of the Saudi Green Initiative in planting around 600 million trees by 2030, and 10 billion trees across the Kingdom during the coming decades.

According to SPA, he clarified that the third edition of the Saudi Green Initiative Forum is to continue the achievements of past projects and initiatives initiated since the first edition in Riyadh.

The Saudi Green Initiative has 80 initiatives, and since its adoption, 43 of these initiatives have been launched to meet its primary objectives. Notably, 43.9 million trees have been planted across the Kingdom, and 940,000 hectares of degraded lands have been rehabilitated. Furthermore, a 300% increase in production capacity for reducing carbon emissions as well as the production capacity of renewable energy projects has exceeded 8 gigawatts.

He concluded that the Kingdom's strategy for afforestation is grounded in the principle of sustainability. The strategy focuses on utilizing renewable water sources. Additionally, the Kingdom aims to use cutting-edge technologies to enhance these initiatives.


Arab Energy Fund Plans up to $1 bln for Decarbonization Technologies

Arab Energy Fund Plans up to $1 bln for Decarbonization Technologies
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Arab Energy Fund Plans up to $1 bln for Decarbonization Technologies

Arab Energy Fund Plans up to $1 bln for Decarbonization Technologies

The Arab Energy Fund, formerly known as APICORP, plans to invest up to $1 billion over the next five years in decarbonization technologies, the Middle East and North Africa-focused multilateral financial institution said on Monday.

The planned investment and new name are part of a five-year strategy to 2028 to support the regional energy transition towards net-zero goals. The announcement was made during the COP28 climate summit in Dubai, Reuters reported.

"Our strategy involves diversifying investments by championing technological advancements for enhanced energy efficiencies and driving sustained decarbonisation efforts," Chief Executive of the Arab Energy Fund Khalid Ali Al-Ruwaigh said in a statement.

The institution, which carries an investment grade credit rating from all the major ratings agencies, issued a five-year $750 million green bond after setting up a green bond framework in 2021. $610 million has so far been allocated to 11 regional projects.

Almost 20% of the institution's loan portfolio of $4.5 billion is currently for environmental and socially responsible initiatives, it said in the statement.


AstraZeneca Teams Up with AI Firm to Develop Cancer Drug

The offices of British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca PLC in Macclesfield, England, on July 21, 2020. (Paul Ellis/AFP)
The offices of British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca PLC in Macclesfield, England, on July 21, 2020. (Paul Ellis/AFP)
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AstraZeneca Teams Up with AI Firm to Develop Cancer Drug

The offices of British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca PLC in Macclesfield, England, on July 21, 2020. (Paul Ellis/AFP)
The offices of British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca PLC in Macclesfield, England, on July 21, 2020. (Paul Ellis/AFP)

Anglo-Swedish drug maker AstraZeneca has signed a deal worth up to $247 million with US artificial intelligence (AI) biologics firm Absci to design an antibody to fight cancer, the Financial Times reported on Sunday.

The collaboration aims to harness Absci's AI technology for large-scale protein analysis to find a viable oncology therapy, a leading focus of AstraZeneca, the report said. It did not say what kind of cancer they plan to target.

Absci and AstraZeneca did not immediately respond to a Reuters requests for comment.

The deal includes an upfront fee for Absci, research and development funding and milestone payments, as well as royalties on any product sales, the newspaper said.

Sean McClain, Absci’s founder and chief executive, was quoted as saying the application of engineering principles to drug discovery improved the potential of success and reduced time spent in development.

Absci applies generative artificial intelligence to design optimal drug candidates based on target affinity, safety, manufacturability and other traits.


Living in Green Spaces Could Slow Cell Aging, New Study Finds

Benjakitti Park in Bangkok in January, 2022. (Photo by Jack TAYLOR / AFP)
Benjakitti Park in Bangkok in January, 2022. (Photo by Jack TAYLOR / AFP)
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Living in Green Spaces Could Slow Cell Aging, New Study Finds

Benjakitti Park in Bangkok in January, 2022. (Photo by Jack TAYLOR / AFP)
Benjakitti Park in Bangkok in January, 2022. (Photo by Jack TAYLOR / AFP)

A new research indicates that exposure to parks, trees and other green spaces can slow the rates at which our cells age.

According to The Guardian, the study found that people who lived in neighborhoods with more green space had longer telomeres, which are associated with longer lives and slower aging.

Telomeres are structures that sit on the ends of each cell’s 46 chromosomes, like the plastic caps on shoelaces, and keep DNA from unraveling.

The longer a cell’s telomeres, the more times it can replicate. When telomeres become so short that cells can’t divide, the cells die.

The team looked at the medical records (that included measures of telomere lengths) of more than 7,800 people who participated in a national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey conducted between 1999 and 2002.

The researchers connected that information with census data to estimate the amount of green space in each person’s neighborhood. They found that a 5% increase in a neighborhood’s green space was associated with a 1% reduction in the aging of cells.

“The more green the area, the slower the cell aging,” said Aaron Hipp, a professor of parks, recreation and tourism management at North Carolina State and a co-author of the study.

“Research is now showing that where we live, what we are exposed to, how much we exercise, what we eat, each of these can impact the speed of telomeres degrading and again our aging process,” he added.

Many studies have shown that people living in greener neighborhoods have several health benefits, including lower levels of stress and cardiovascular disease.

Green space promotes physical activity and community interaction, which are both associated with better health outcomes. Neighborhoods with plenty of trees and greenery are also often cooler, more resistant to flooding and have lower rates of air pollution.


18,000 Students from 39 Countries Participate in World Artificial Intelligence Competition for Youth

Organized by the Saudi Data and AI Authority (SDAIA) in collaboration with KAUST, this global competition took place simultaneously in 39 countries, drawing over 18,000 students from public schools. SPA
Organized by the Saudi Data and AI Authority (SDAIA) in collaboration with KAUST, this global competition took place simultaneously in 39 countries, drawing over 18,000 students from public schools. SPA
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18,000 Students from 39 Countries Participate in World Artificial Intelligence Competition for Youth

Organized by the Saudi Data and AI Authority (SDAIA) in collaboration with KAUST, this global competition took place simultaneously in 39 countries, drawing over 18,000 students from public schools. SPA
Organized by the Saudi Data and AI Authority (SDAIA) in collaboration with KAUST, this global competition took place simultaneously in 39 countries, drawing over 18,000 students from public schools. SPA

The World Artificial Intelligence Competition for Youth (WAICY) was held at the headquarters of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia.

Organized by the Saudi Data and AI Authority (SDAIA) in collaboration with KAUST, this global competition took place simultaneously in 39 countries, drawing over 18,000 students from public schools.

ReadyAl CEO Roozbeh Aliabadi, Director of KAUST Academy Sultan Albarakati, and SDAIA representative Ahmed Al-Senan spoke at the opening ceremony, emphasizing the importance of the competition to fostering AI skills and knowledge among young people.

Each team had the opportunity to present its projects in a 15-minute presentation. Following that, Research Professor Dave Touretzky from Carnegie Mellon University delivered a lecture on teaching AI in K-12 education.

A tour of KAUST was also organized for teachers, coordinators and students, followed by a lecture on AI and education delivered by KAUST Instructional Assistant Professor Naeemullah Khan.

The first day concluded with a boat trip from the KAUST marina, providing a memorable experience for all participants.

WAICY is one of the largest global competitions; it was adopted by SDAIA to encourage the younger generation to take advantage of the power of AI. The competition aims to inspire students to develop AI projects that address real-world challenges, understand the AI significance and impact on various aspects of life, and encourage their participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

The event attests to the commitment of SDAIA and KAUST to nurture young talent and promote AI education and innovation on a global scale.


Red Sea Int’l Film Festival Celebrates ‘Women in Cinema’ Once Again

Mohammed al-Turki and Nabilah Ebeid (RedSeaIFF)
Mohammed al-Turki and Nabilah Ebeid (RedSeaIFF)
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Red Sea Int’l Film Festival Celebrates ‘Women in Cinema’ Once Again

Mohammed al-Turki and Nabilah Ebeid (RedSeaIFF)
Mohammed al-Turki and Nabilah Ebeid (RedSeaIFF)

In celebration of female voices in film, the Red Sea International Film Festival (RedSeaIFF) hosted its annual “Women in Cinema” gathering in Saudi Arabia’s Jeddah on Friday.

The event included a large turnout of global stars such as Katrina Kaif, Naomi Campbell, and Sharon Stone.

The ceremony also witnessed the honoring of Egypt’s first screen icon, Nabila Ebeid.

The accolade presented to Ebeid marked a pinnacle in her achievements for the current year.

Ebeid, an artist who achieved unprecedented box office success in the eighties and nineties, received this recognition as a testament to her enduring impact on the film industry.

Moreover, Ebeid expressed profound joy at receiving this honor.

Despite confining her remarks to a brief thank-you on the platform, she joined her fellow actresses in what she dubbed a “dance of joy” during the event, which was enlivened by the performance of Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram.

Notable Arab figures, including cinematic icons such as Yousra, Yasmin Sabri, Amina Khalil, Nadine Njeim, and others attended the event.

The event, organized by the RedSeaIFF and Vanity Fair Europe, didn’t overlook the presence of these esteemed Arab personalities.

It is noteworthy that the annual event brings together key players in the heart of the film industry to celebrate the wise talents of women, both in front of and behind the camera, from around the globe.

The festival continues to support the film industry in addressing and finding solutions to global challenges through a robust year-round program dedicated to supporting Arab, Asian, and African women in cinema.

The aim is to enhance the professional lives of women working in the film industry, empowering a new generation of talented and creative storytellers.

The festival plays a crucial role in ensuring the widest possible audience for women’s stories and providing a platform to amplify their voices.