Ukraine President Zelenskiy’s Life Story Told in New Comic Book

Handout image of a comic book cover about Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, obtained on May 17, 2022. TidalWave Productions/Handout via Reuters
Handout image of a comic book cover about Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, obtained on May 17, 2022. TidalWave Productions/Handout via Reuters
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Ukraine President Zelenskiy’s Life Story Told in New Comic Book

Handout image of a comic book cover about Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, obtained on May 17, 2022. TidalWave Productions/Handout via Reuters
Handout image of a comic book cover about Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, obtained on May 17, 2022. TidalWave Productions/Handout via Reuters

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy's life story - from comedian to war-time leader - has been given the graphic novel treatment in TidalWave Comics' latest biography, "Political Power: Volodymyr Zelenskyy."

The 22-page glossy, set for release on Friday, tells the story of how Zelenskiy, who once played a fictional president in a TV show, swept to power in 2019 promising to end a war with Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine. He had no political experience when he took office as the country's sixth president.

"Who is he? What makes him tick? Why is he the right leader for Ukraine at this moment? Those are the things I was curious about when I started the research," said writer Michael Frizell.

The artist, Pablo Martinena, has also drawn biographies on David Beckham, Nelson Mandela and Donald Trump.

"This book means a lot to me because of my Ukrainian heritage," US-based publisher Darren G. Davis said in a statement.

"Both sets of my grandparents immigrated from Ukraine. I wanted to use this medium to not only tell a story but to somehow donate to the cause at the same time."

A portion of sale proceeds will be donated to the International Red Cross.



South Koreans Bid Farewell to Beloved Panda Fu Bao before Her Return to China

Giant panda Fu Bao eats bamboo at Everland amusement park on Sunday, March 3, 2024, in Yongin, South Korea. (AP)
Giant panda Fu Bao eats bamboo at Everland amusement park on Sunday, March 3, 2024, in Yongin, South Korea. (AP)
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South Koreans Bid Farewell to Beloved Panda Fu Bao before Her Return to China

Giant panda Fu Bao eats bamboo at Everland amusement park on Sunday, March 3, 2024, in Yongin, South Korea. (AP)
Giant panda Fu Bao eats bamboo at Everland amusement park on Sunday, March 3, 2024, in Yongin, South Korea. (AP)

A South Korean zoo on Sunday threw a farewell party for Fu Bao, the first giant panda born in the country, ahead of the beloved animal's scheduled return to China.

Fu Bao, which means lucky treasure, has attracted a huge fan base ever since she was born in July 2020 at the Everland amusement park just south of Seoul. The panda is set to return to China's Sichuan province next month after spending a month in quarantine.

Thousands of visitors queued up in the early morning chill to attend the farewell event, with many saying they will miss the panda once she's gone.

"I was mentally ill three years ago, but Fu Bao has helped me get through it and brought me a lot of comfort," said Kim Min-ji, a 31-year-old visitor. "It's sad to say goodbye, but we need to let her go. I wish she goes safely and will be happy."

Jo Ah-hyeon, 24, said she waited more than four hours to see Fu Bao. "This is our last chance, you never know when we'll see her again so I had to come," she said.

Zookeeper Kang Cher-won, who has been caring for Fu Bao, said the panda had given him so much love as well as teaching him a lot about the critically endangered species. Online videos of Kang caring for Fu Bao, and her clinging to him, are very popular in South Korea.

"Fu Bao is a friend who has played many roles," Kang said. "She was my first panda cub, and my heart is filled with memories of her that I will never forget all my life."

The cub's parents, 10-year-old female Ai Bao and 11-year-old male Le Bao, arrived in 2016 from Sichuan province, the home of the giant pandas, as part of China's "panda diplomacy". Last July, Ai Bao gave birth in South Korea to giant panda twins.

Female pandas can only conceive once a year for a limited period, and cubs have very low chances of survival as they are often born prematurely, usually weighing less than 200 grams (0.44 lb).


Years Removed from War, Iraqis Seek New Desert Escapades

For years, only the most intrepid of hikers and campers would brave the trips into Iraq's desert. Hussein FALEH / AFP
For years, only the most intrepid of hikers and campers would brave the trips into Iraq's desert. Hussein FALEH / AFP
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Years Removed from War, Iraqis Seek New Desert Escapades

For years, only the most intrepid of hikers and campers would brave the trips into Iraq's desert. Hussein FALEH / AFP
For years, only the most intrepid of hikers and campers would brave the trips into Iraq's desert. Hussein FALEH / AFP

Far from the hustle and bustle of major cities, young Iraqis are increasingly taking advantage of a renewed sense of safety to explore the country's serene desert getaways.
Sheltering amidst the golden dunes, Ghadanfar Abdallah and his friends gather around a flickering campfire in the Samawah desert south of the capital, humming tunes, laughing and eating, AFP said.
"When we post pictures, people do not believe that there are such places like the dunes in Iraq," the 35-year-old oil sector worker said.
"My friends ask me if the pictures were taken in Dubai. They are shocked when they learn that they were, in fact, in Iraq."
For years, only the most intrepid of hikers and campers would brave the trips into Iraq's desert. But with the rise of social media and a period of relative stability, it has become a popular destination for those seeking not only adventure and off-roading but also tranquility in the vast, barren landscape.
"It is something I loved since I was a little boy. But I only started doing it with friends in the winter of 2018 or 2019," Abdallah said.
He crossed 200 kilometers (125 miles) from his southern city of Basra to reach an area untouched by the trappings of urban life -- including phone networks.
On a crisp winter weekend, around 20 campers set up their tents amid the serene dunes. The air filled with the aroma of carp grilling over a smoky wood fire, as the hikers prepared to feast on Iraq's national dish, masgouf.
Later, some played dominoes while others bickered over heated games of backgammon, sipping hot cups of tea and smoking hookahs (water pipe). Their voices resonated with traditional Iraqi songs, their laughter piercing the still desert night.
- 'It is safe' –
Abdallah said such desert expeditions have "become more widespread, and today many stores sell camping gear.
"Some are starting to realize that it is safe, it is an adventure."
But for many, the lingering sense of danger remains.
Iraq has been ravaged by successive years of conflict since the 2003 US-led invasion, including most recently the fight against the ISIS group.
Though the militants were driven out of their major strongholds in late 2017, many retreated into desert hideouts, largely in the country's west, from where they still sporadically -- though with increasing rarity -- stage deadly attacks.
"How can someone go to a desert where there is no water or mobile network? If something happens, how would you report it?" Abdallah said.
Iraq's soaring summer temperatures -- often surpassing 50 degrees Celsius (120 Fahrenheit) -- mean these arid adventures are limited to wintertime.
A weekend getaway costs between $75 and $100 per person, covering food, transportation and accommodation. A single trip can bring together a group of up to 30 people.
For Hussein al-Jazairi, the journey is worth every penny.
"The city is full of dust, noise and daily annoyances," the 34-year-old influencer said during his first desert camping trip.
"One can come here, where it is quiet, serene, and there is fresh air."
Jazairi is often glued to his phone, scrolling through his social media accounts. But his recent trip to the Samawah desert proved to be a completely different experience.
"Social media is my work. I receive non-stop notifications. By the end of the day, I have spent a very long time on my phone," Jazairi said.
"Here, there is no network. It has been two days, and my phone's battery is still 70 percent. I haven't used it."
- 'Not a sound' –
While Jazairi encourages people to explore the country's vast sandhills, he warns that "one should not go alone, especially for the first time".
"We came with experts who know the places around."
Iraq's deserts have long attracted hunters, both locals and visitors from neighboring countries, before the years of conflict drove them away.
Today, campers still need to remain vigilant, as some areas are still riddled with mines.
"We don't start any trip without first identifying where we will sleep," said Murad al-Bahadli, a camper with over eight years of experience.
"We plan carefully to avoid any security risk," the 38-year-old added.
Yet the placid desert nights are a far cry from the years of turmoil, and for many their lure is irresistible.
Among those is Ravshan Mokhtarov, an Uzbek who has been living in Basra for six years.
"This area is unique. There is no one, not even a sound," the young man said, expressing gratitude for "Iraqi hospitality".
"It is pretty much safe. I don't feel any danger."


Riyadh Municipality Participates as Strategic Sponsor of LEAP 2024

LEAP
LEAP
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Riyadh Municipality Participates as Strategic Sponsor of LEAP 2024

LEAP
LEAP

The Riyadh Region Municipality will serve as a strategic sponsor for the LEAP International Technical Conference, scheduled from March 4 to 7 at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center, SPA said on Sunday.
The municipality's move aligns with its objectives of fostering effective partnerships, supporting innovation, and enabling smart solutions to elevate Riyadh's international competitiveness and enhance service levels for the population.
The municipality's participation entails the establishment of an interactive pavilion showcasing its latest digital services.
These services, such as the Madinaty application, along with digital twin technology, future smart city solutions, highlights of major city projects, and cutting-edge technologies addressing future challenges, will be featured to provide insights into innovative, proactive solutions.


Saudi General Entertainment Authority Announces Sponsorship of Comedy Factory Initiative

The Saudi General Entertainment Authority (GEA) logo
The Saudi General Entertainment Authority (GEA) logo
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Saudi General Entertainment Authority Announces Sponsorship of Comedy Factory Initiative

The Saudi General Entertainment Authority (GEA) logo
The Saudi General Entertainment Authority (GEA) logo

Chairman of the Board of Directors of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority (GEA) Advisor Turki bin Abdulmohsen Al Al-Sheikh announced the authority's sponsorship of the "Comedy Factory" initiative, aimed at discovering and supporting young talents in the fields of comedy and theater.

Through this sponsorship, the Authority aims to create a supportive environment, enabling young Saudis to unleash their creativity and provide unique comedy content that reflects the Saudi identity and humorously addresses community issues.
The initiative serves as a platform for young Saudis to showcase their humorous talents, fostering the development of creative capabilities in this field and offering an opportunity to refine their skills under the guidance of specialists in comedy art.

The Comedy Factory is part of a series of initiatives organized by the General Entertainment Authority as part of its efforts to boost entertainment activity. The initiative encompasses workshops, training courses, and competitive events designed to refine the skills of emerging comedy actors, preparing them for effective participation in the entertainment industry.


Condition of Nigerian Siamese Twins Stable after Surgery in Saudi Arabia

The surgery took place at King Abdullah Specialized Children’s Hospital of King Abdulaziz Medical City of the National Guard. SPA
The surgery took place at King Abdullah Specialized Children’s Hospital of King Abdulaziz Medical City of the National Guard. SPA
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Condition of Nigerian Siamese Twins Stable after Surgery in Saudi Arabia

The surgery took place at King Abdullah Specialized Children’s Hospital of King Abdulaziz Medical City of the National Guard. SPA
The surgery took place at King Abdullah Specialized Children’s Hospital of King Abdulaziz Medical City of the National Guard. SPA

Advisor at the Royal Court, Supervisor General of King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief), and head of the medical and surgical team for separating Siamese twins Dr. Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al Rabeeah said the condition of the Nigerian Siamese twins Hasnah and Hussaynah remains stable following their successful separation surgery in Riyadh.

The surgery took place on Thursday at King Abdullah Specialized Children’s Hospital of King Abdulaziz Medical City of the National Guard.

Al Rabeeah noted that the twins are currently in intensive care, under anesthesia, receiving intravenous nutrition, and necessary medications to ensure the stability of their condition.

He said all medical indicators for the twins are reassuring, and the medical team is diligently monitoring their health in the pediatric intensive care unit.

He added that the twins will remain in the intensive care unit for approximately ten days to two weeks before being transferred to the children’s ward after a thorough evaluation of their condition. Al Rabeeah also provided detailed explanations about the twins’ health condition to their parents.


Where Will You be for the April 8 Total Solar Eclipse?

FILE - People gather near Redmond, Ore., to view the sun as it nears a total eclipse by the moon, Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
FILE - People gather near Redmond, Ore., to view the sun as it nears a total eclipse by the moon, Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
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Where Will You be for the April 8 Total Solar Eclipse?

FILE - People gather near Redmond, Ore., to view the sun as it nears a total eclipse by the moon, Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
FILE - People gather near Redmond, Ore., to view the sun as it nears a total eclipse by the moon, Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Where will you be watching the April 8 total solar eclipse? There are just a few weeks left to pick your spot to see the skies darken along a strip of North America, whether by land, sea or air.
For those who live inside the 115-mile-wide (185-kilometer-wide) path of total darkness, it may be a matter of just stepping outside and donning special eclipse glasses to watch the spectacle unfold. For the millions outside the path, or those who just want to improve their chances of clear skies, it could mean hitting the road with a game plan.
The eclipse reaches Mexico’s Pacific coast in the morning, cuts diagonally across the US from Texas to Maine and exits in eastern Canada by late afternoon. Most of the rest of the continent will see a partial eclipse, The Associated Press reported.
WHERE TO WATCH THE TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE The weather will be key, and spring weather along the path can be dicey. Mexico and Texas offer the best odds of sunny skies, said retired Canadian meteorologist Jay Anderson.
“There’s no guarantee of sunshine anywhere — just better chances,” he said.
Anderson studies satellite data for the previous 20 years to calculate how often a location has cloudy weather on any eclipse day. Besides Mexico and Texas, he said there are other promising spots on the path of totality, particularly along the Great Lakes.
The advice: If you’re flexible, start paying attention to local weather about 10 days out, and make your plans on the three-day forecast. Die-hard eclipse chasers often line up more than one location and make last-minute decisions based on the best forecast, he said.
HOW TO PREPARE LIKE AN ECLIPSE CHASER One veteran eclipse chaser recommends picking a location and make it a vacation so that the eclipse is “the cherry on top” and not the only highlight — just in case things don’t work out.
Tom Schultz will be traveling from his retirement home in Costa Rica to watch the eclipse from his mother-in-law’s house in Rochester, New York, along with other relatives.
“If we get rained out, we’ll get this great family reunion,” said Schultz.
Veteran Anne Marie Adkins could drive across town in San Antonio to see the total eclipse, but opted to join an astronomer-led tour to Mazatlán, Mexico, betting on clear skies there. She’s been thwarted by clouds on other trips. For the 2017 US eclipse, she went to Nebraska and had to scramble that day to find better skies.
“It’s a gamble. You never know what you are going to get,” said Adkins.
Post-eclipse traffic is a particular worry, especially in more rural areas like the Texas Hill Country. Patricia Moore, of the Bandera visitors center, said last year’s “ring of fire” eclipse provided a dress rehearsal for police and other first responders. Tiny Bandera — the “Cowboy Capital of the World” — expects crowds from nearby weekend music festivals.
“After the eclipse will be a challenge,” she said.
WHERE ARE THE ECLIPSE WATCH PARTIES? With the eclipse falling on a Monday, cities and towns along the path have lined up a weekend full of activities and watch parties to attract visitors. There are a multitude of music festivals and gatherings planned at museums, parks, wineries and other businesses hoping to capitalize on the buzz.
Niagara Falls has a slate of events for days and is expecting July Fourth-sized crowds for the eclipse, said Sara Harvey, spokeswoman for Destination Niagara USA.
There are multiple vantage points to watch the show from Niagara Falls State Park, and the famous Maid of the Mist tourist boats may be running, weather permitting, she said. Even if it’s cloudy, visitors will get “a beautiful view of the falls,” Harvey said.
In Waco, Texas, festivities will culminate on eclipse day with science-themed activities outside Baylor’s McClane stadium, along what's called Touchdown Alley.
It may be too late to snag a cabin on a cruise ship positioned off the Mexico coast for the eclipse, but there are other watery options including a ride on the paddle-wheeler Victorian Princess on Lake Erie from Erie, Pennsylvania.
If the sky beckons, Southwest and Delta have identified flights that will fly along or near the eclipse path. A special Delta flight from Austin to Detroit quickly sold out, prompting the airline to add another from Dallas.
Looking for an different kind of place to watch the sun, moon and Earth align? The Indianapolis Motor Speedway will host NASA astronauts and other guests. Cedar Point amusement park on Lake Erie in Sandusky, Ohio, is opening for the day. And the Little Rock Zoo in Arkansas is throwing a tailgate fundraising party and inviting visitors to watch the zoo’s residents react to the midday darkness.
You can also spend the day visiting the planets. In northern Maine, a scale model of the solar system is displayed along nearly 100 miles (160 kilometers) of US Route 1. Retired geology professor Kevin McCartney expects to unveil a new 23- foot-tall (7-meters-tall) roadside sun at the University of Maine at Presque Isle on eclipse day. “You won’t be able to miss it,” he said.
Anderson, the weather expert, said it's well worth the travel to see the “special magical moment” of a total eclipse: “It's the Taylor Swift of natural events.”


Last Surviving Member of 1st Team to Conquer Mount Everest Says it is Crowded, Dirty Now

Kanchha Sherpa sits on a chair during an interview with The Associated Press at his residence in Kathmandu, Nepal, Saturday, March 2, 2024. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
Kanchha Sherpa sits on a chair during an interview with The Associated Press at his residence in Kathmandu, Nepal, Saturday, March 2, 2024. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
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Last Surviving Member of 1st Team to Conquer Mount Everest Says it is Crowded, Dirty Now

Kanchha Sherpa sits on a chair during an interview with The Associated Press at his residence in Kathmandu, Nepal, Saturday, March 2, 2024. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
Kanchha Sherpa sits on a chair during an interview with The Associated Press at his residence in Kathmandu, Nepal, Saturday, March 2, 2024. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)

The only surviving member of the mountaineering expedition that first conquered Mount Everest said Saturday that the world's highest peak is too crowded and dirty, and the mountain is a god that needs to be respected.
Kanchha Sherpa, 91, was among the 35 members in the team that put New Zealander Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay atop the 8,849-meter (29,032-foot) peak on May 29, 1953.
“It would be better for the mountain to reduce the number of climbers,” Kanchha said in an interview in Kathmandu on Saturday, “Right now there is always a big crowd of people at the summit.”
Since the first conquest, the peak has been climbed thousands of times, and it gets more crowded every year. During the spring climbing season in 2023, 667 climbers scaled the peak, but that brought in thousands of support staff to the base camp between the months of March and May.
There have been concerns about the number of people living on the mountain for months on end, generating trash and waste, but authorities have no plans to cut down on the number of permits they issue to climbers.
There are rules that require climbers to bring down their own trash, equipment and everything they carry to the mountain or risk losing their deposit, but monitoring has not been very effective, The Associated Press reported.
“It is very dirty now. People throw tins and wrappings after eating food. Who is going to pick them up now?” Kanchha said. “Some climbers just dump their trash in the crevasse, which would be hidden at that time but eventually it will flow down to base camp as the snow melts and carries them downward.”
For the Sherpas, Everest is Qomolangma or goddess mother of the world, and is revered by their community. They generally perform religious rituals before climbing the peak.
“They should not be dirtying the mountain. It is our biggest god and they should not be dirtying the gods,” he said “Qomolangma is the biggest god for the Sherpas but people smoke and eat meat and throw them on the mountain.”
Kanchha was just a young man when he joined the Hillary-Tenzing expedition. He was among the three Sherpas to go the last camp on Everest along with Hillary and Tenzing. They could not go any further because they did not have a permit.
They first heard of the successful ascent on the radio, and then were reunited with the summit duo at Camp 2.
“We all gathered at Camp 2 but there was no alcohol so we celebrated with tea and snacks,” he said. “We then collected whatever we could and carried it to base camp.”
The route they opened up from the base camp to the summit is still used by climbers. Only the section from the base camp to Camp 1 over the unstable Khumbu Icefall changes every year.
Kanchha has four children, eight grandchildren and a 20-month-old great-granddaughter.


Saudi Education, Foreign Ministries Launch Study Visa for International Students

"Study in Saudi Arabia" platform
"Study in Saudi Arabia" platform
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Saudi Education, Foreign Ministries Launch Study Visa for International Students

"Study in Saudi Arabia" platform
"Study in Saudi Arabia" platform

The Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have jointly launched the Study Visa Issuance Service on the "Study in Saudi Arabia" platform.

The service is intended for international students who wish to study in the Kingdom and was launched in the presence of Education Minister Yousef Al-Benyan.
The initiative was launched during the "Human Capacity Initiative" conference that took place in Riyadh on February 28 and 29. The conference was held under the patronage of Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince, Prime Minister, and Chairman of the Human Capacity Development Program Committee.
The new visa service aims to facilitate the visa issuance process for international students. The platform aims to achieve integration between the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and related sectors.
The "Study in Saudi Arabia" platform provides a range of services that contribute to providing educational options for students who wish to study in Saudi Arabia. The platform aims to enhance the Kingdom's role as a global educational destination. It enables international students to submit applications for admission to Saudi universities with ease and also provides short-term academic, training, and research programs, as well as long-term educational opportunities within a modern and distinguished educational environment.
The platform also aims to enhance academic and cultural cooperation and to fulfill the Kingdom's Vision 2030 by developing the education sector and attracting talent and competencies to Saudi Arabia.


Saudi Team Successfully Separates Nigerian Conjoined Twins

Saudi team successfully separates Nigerian conjoined twins. (SPA)
Saudi team successfully separates Nigerian conjoined twins. (SPA)
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Saudi Team Successfully Separates Nigerian Conjoined Twins

Saudi team successfully separates Nigerian conjoined twins. (SPA)
Saudi team successfully separates Nigerian conjoined twins. (SPA)

A medical team at King Abdullah Specialist Children's Hospital has successfully separated Nigerian conjoined twins, Hassana and Hasina, SPA said on Friday.
The separation comes under the directives of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister.
Following their arrival in Riyadh on October 31, 2023, the twins underwent extensive examinations, which revealed they shared areas in the lower abdomen, pelvis, lower spine, and lower spinal nerves.
The complex 16.5-hour surgery, which was carried out Thursday morning by 39 medical professionals, marks the 60th operation performed by the Saudi program for separating conjoined twins.
Over the past 34 years, the program has cared for 135 conjoined twins from 25 countries.
"Such successive medical breakthroughs are a testament to the Kingdom's shining examples of progress and development," said Advisor to the Royal Court, Supervisor General of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) and head of the medical team Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah in a statement following the surgery.
He highlighted the Kingdom's commitment to humanitarian and medical excellence, aligning with Vision 2030's healthcare development goals.
The twins' parents expressed their gratitude to the Saudi leadership and medical team for the life-changing surgery and exceptional care.


Saudi Press Agency, Sky News Arabia Sign Cooperation Agreement

Saudi Press Agency and Sky News Arabia sign cooperation agreement. (SPA)
Saudi Press Agency and Sky News Arabia sign cooperation agreement. (SPA)
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Saudi Press Agency, Sky News Arabia Sign Cooperation Agreement

Saudi Press Agency and Sky News Arabia sign cooperation agreement. (SPA)
Saudi Press Agency and Sky News Arabia sign cooperation agreement. (SPA)

The Saudi Press Agency and Sky News Arabia signed a cooperation agreement in the field of news training, SPA said on Friday.
Assistant Minister of Media Dr. Abdullah bin Ahmed Al-Maghlouth attended Thursday's signing ceremony which took place during the Human Capability Initiative (HCI) in Riyadh.
The HCI is held under the patronage of Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister and Chairman of Human Capability Development Program Committee Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud.
The program seeks to realize Saudi Vision 2030.
The agreement focuses on the specialized courses offered by the academy in the field of news, exchange of expertise, and utilization of technology.