King Salman Global Academy for Arabic Language Launches Language Immersion Programs

SPA
SPA
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King Salman Global Academy for Arabic Language Launches Language Immersion Programs

SPA
SPA

The King Salman Global Academy for Arabic Language (KSAA) inaugurated the "Cultural School" and the "Tourism School" programs Sunday in Jeddah, spanning eight weeks, with the enrollment of 105 students from 34 countries.

The "Tourism School", with 30 participants, offers a short-term program targeting non-Arab tourists visiting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, SPA.

The program introduces them to various aspects of Saudi culture during their tourist visits, enhances their language proficiency, and refines their communication skills.

The "Cultural School", set to commence its activities with 75 students, is a specialized language school dedicated to teaching Arabic to non-native speakers.



In New York City, Scuba Divers’ Passion for Sport Becomes Mission to Collect Undersea Litter

Atlantic goliath grouper fish swim near Boynton Beach, Florida on September 10, 2023. (AFP)
Atlantic goliath grouper fish swim near Boynton Beach, Florida on September 10, 2023. (AFP)
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In New York City, Scuba Divers’ Passion for Sport Becomes Mission to Collect Undersea Litter

Atlantic goliath grouper fish swim near Boynton Beach, Florida on September 10, 2023. (AFP)
Atlantic goliath grouper fish swim near Boynton Beach, Florida on September 10, 2023. (AFP)

On a recent Sunday afternoon, the divers arrived on a thin strip of sand at the furthest, watery edge of New York City. Oxygen tanks strapped to their backs, they waded into the sea and descended into an environment far different from their usual terrestrial surroundings of concrete, traffic and trash-strewn sidewalks.

Horseshoe crabs and other crustaceans crawl on a seabed encrusted with barnacles and colonies of coral. Spiny-finned sea robin, blackfish and wayward angelfish swim in the murky ocean tinted green by sheets of algae.

Not all is pretty. Plastic bottles, candy wrappers and miles and miles of fishing line drift with the tides, endangering sea life.

The undersea litter isn't always visible from the shore. But it has long been a concern of Nicole Zelek, a diving instructor who four years ago launched monthly cleanups at this small cove in the community of Far Rockaway, where New York City meets the Atlantic Ocean, about 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) south of John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens.

A throwaway culture of single-use plastics and other hard-to-degrade material has sullied the world's waters over the decades, posing a danger to marine life such as seals and seabirds. By 2025, some 250 million tons (226.7 million metric tons) of plastic will have found its way into the oceans, according to the PADI AWARE Foundation, a conservation group sponsoring a global project called Dive Against Debris.

Dive by dive, small groups like Zelek's have been trying to undo some of the damage.

“Every month we have a prize for the weirdest find,” she said. They have included the occasional goat skull, perhaps used as part of some ritual, Zelek surmises.

“The best find of all time was an actual ATM machine. Unfortunately, it was empty,” she said.

The divers' haul one late-summer Sunday wasn’t much, but there were clumps and clumps of fishing line untangled from underwater objects. What the divers can’t pull away by hand is cut with scissors.

“Unfortunately, tons of crabs and horseshoe crabs — which are under threat — get tangled in the fishing line and then they die,” Zelek said.

While more ambitious projects are underway to scoop up huge accumulations of floating debris in deeper waters, small-scale coastal cleanups like Zelek's are an important part of the battle against ocean pollution, said Nick Mallos, vice president of conservation for Ocean Conservancy.

“The science is very clear and that’s to tackle our global plastic pollution crisis,” he said. “We have to do it all.”

Every September, the conservancy holds monthlong international coastal cleanups. Since its inception nearly four decades ago, the cleanups have retrieved about 400 million pounds (181.4 million kilograms) of trash from coastal areas around the world.

The best way to combat plastics going into the oceans, Mallos said, is to reduce the globe's dependence on them, particularly in packaging consumer products. But human-powered cleanup is the least costly of all cleanup options.

The Dive Against Debris project invites what organizers call “citizen scientists” to survey their diving sites to help catalog the myriad items that don’t belong in oceans, lakes and other bodies of water. By the group’s count, more than 90,000 participants have conducted more than 21,000 such surveys and removed 2.2 million pieces of junk, big and small.

Zelek and her fellow divers have contributed their finds to the project.

Surface trash might be easy enough to clear with a rake, but the task is more challenging beneath the water. Over the years, the layers of monofilament fishing line have accumulated. And until a few years ago, no one was scooping out the line, hooks and lead weights.

Untangled, a pound of medium-weight fishing filament would stretch to a bit more than 4 miles (6.4 kilometers). It’s anybody’s guess how many miles of fishing line remain on the channel’s bottom.

“Those small things are really what start to accumulate and become a much larger and bigger problem,” said Tanasia Swift, who has been with the group for a year and works for an environmental nonprofit focused on restoring the health of New York City’s waters.

“If there’s anything that we see that doesn’t belong in the water, we take it out,” she said.

While the drivers work, fishermen cast their lines from a ledge where the city's concrete stops. The beach is frequented mostly by residents who live nearby.

Raquel Gonzalez is one such resident, and she's been coming to the beach for years. She and a neighbor brought a rake with them on the same Sunday the divers were there.

“Needs a lot of cleanup here. There's nobody that does any cleanup around here. We have to clean it up ourselves," she said.

“I love this spot, I love the scuba divers," Gonzalez said. “Look at all the good people here.”


Man Dies in Australia after Whale Collides with Boat

The full moon, a supermoon also known as the "Harvest Moon", rises above Macquarie Lighthouse and the Sydney Opera House in Sydney on September 29, 2023. (Photo by DAVID GRAY / AFP)
The full moon, a supermoon also known as the "Harvest Moon", rises above Macquarie Lighthouse and the Sydney Opera House in Sydney on September 29, 2023. (Photo by DAVID GRAY / AFP)
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Man Dies in Australia after Whale Collides with Boat

The full moon, a supermoon also known as the "Harvest Moon", rises above Macquarie Lighthouse and the Sydney Opera House in Sydney on September 29, 2023. (Photo by DAVID GRAY / AFP)
The full moon, a supermoon also known as the "Harvest Moon", rises above Macquarie Lighthouse and the Sydney Opera House in Sydney on September 29, 2023. (Photo by DAVID GRAY / AFP)

One man died and another was in hospital on Saturday in Australia after a whale struck and flipped their boat during a fishing expedition, authorities said.

Police said one man was pulled unconscious from Botany Bay, off the coast of Sydney, and later died, while the other was taken to hospital in a stable condition, police said.

"A whale has been involved, whoever would have thought that that would have occurred, it's terribly tragic," said New South Wales Police Minister Yasmin Catley.

According to Reuters, State Emergency Services Minister Jihad Dib said it was "an absolute freak accident".

The boat "was likely to have struck or been impacted by a whale breaching, causing the boat to tilt, ejecting both men", police said in a statement. It did not identify the whale's species.

Australia's extensive coastline hosts 10 large and 20 smaller species of whales. While human deaths caused by whales in the region are rare, Australia and neighboring New Zealand are hot spots for mass whale strandings on beaches.

Eight Danes were rescued in June when their sailboat capsized in the Pacific Ocean after a collision with one or two whales.


New Study: Women Are Twice More Prone to ‘Severe’ Reaction to Flu Jab

A medical worker receives a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Tokyo Medical Center. Reuters
A medical worker receives a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Tokyo Medical Center. Reuters
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New Study: Women Are Twice More Prone to ‘Severe’ Reaction to Flu Jab

A medical worker receives a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Tokyo Medical Center. Reuters
A medical worker receives a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at Tokyo Medical Center. Reuters

Women are twice as likely to suffer a “severe” reaction to the flu jab as men, a new study has revealed.

Analysis of 34,000 adults who received the flu vaccination between 2010 and 2018 found that 3 percent of women had a severe reaction, compared to just 1.5 percent of men, according to The Telegraph.

Researchers from the University of Montreal, Canada, classified severe reactions as symptoms such as high fevers over 39 degrees, or significant swelling, pain or rashes known as erythema, that led to people being unable to carry out daily tasks.

The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, found that women were also around a third more likely to suffer from other, less serious side effects than men.

It said that 38.6 percent of the 20,295 women analyzed had suffered side effects like headaches, vomiting, fevers and muscle aches after their vaccination, known as “systemic reactions”, compared with just 28.6 percent of the 13,860 men (around 29 percent fewer on the whole).

Rarely serious

The study said for every 1,000 people getting the flu vaccine, 74 more women would have these side effects than men.

Researchers also found that women were 31 percent more likely to get pain, swelling or an infection around the injection site. It said this happened to 44.6 percent of women and 33.9 percent of men.

Dr. Marilou Kiely, author of the report, said while “most reactions are mild, self-limited and rarely serious”, a bad reaction could “be a barrier” to having another vaccination.

“Transparent communication regarding the increased risk for females would potentially help sustain long-term trust in health authorities and vaccines,” she said.

Dr. Conall Watson, a consultant epidemiologist at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said that “serious side effects are rare following a flu jab”.

Hospitalization and death

“Flu can cause very serious illness, hospitalization and death. Some people are more susceptible to the effects of flu - flu can trigger heart attacks, or lead to pneumonia, and can make existing medical conditions worse,” he said.

The NHS stresses that “severe allergic reactions” like anaphylaxis are very rare at around one in one million and that some of the reactions categorized as severe in this study, such as erythema, usually resolve on their own, even if they are uncomfortable.


Microplastics in Clouds May be Contributing to Climate Change, Research Suggests

Cumulonimbus clouds in Bornos, near Jerez de la Frontera, southern Spain, on Sunday. REUTERS
Cumulonimbus clouds in Bornos, near Jerez de la Frontera, southern Spain, on Sunday. REUTERS
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Microplastics in Clouds May be Contributing to Climate Change, Research Suggests

Cumulonimbus clouds in Bornos, near Jerez de la Frontera, southern Spain, on Sunday. REUTERS
Cumulonimbus clouds in Bornos, near Jerez de la Frontera, southern Spain, on Sunday. REUTERS

Researchers have found tiny particles of plastic in clouds, where they may be contributing to climate change.

Scientists collected water from the clouds surrounding Japan's Mount Fuji and Mount Oyama at altitudes between 1,300-3,776m and then applied advanced imaging techniques to determine whether microplastics were present, reported Sky News.

Nine different types of polymers and one type of rubber were found in the airborne microplastics, at concentrations between 6.7-13.9 pieces per liter and sizes ranging between 7.1-94.6 micrometers.

They also found an abundance of hydrophilic (or water-loving) polymers, which they said might act as "cloud condensation nuclei" - suggesting they play a key role in rapid cloud formation, which might eventually affect the overall climate.

"Overall, our findings suggest that high-altitude microplastics could influence cloud formation and, in turn, might modify the climate," the scientists wrote in the study, published in the journal Environmental Chemical Letters.

"To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first to detect airborne microplastics in cloud water in both the free troposphere and atmospheric boundary layer."

The lead author of the research, Hiroshi Okochi of Waseda University, said: "Microplastics in the free troposphere are transported and contribute to global pollution. If the issue of 'plastic air pollution' is not addressed proactively, climate change and ecological risks may become a reality, causing irreversible and serious environmental damage in the future."

Airborne microplastics degrade much faster in the upper atmosphere due to strong ultraviolet radiation, Okochi added, which "releases greenhouse gases and contributes to global warming."

The researchers said this is the first report on airborne microplastics in cloud water.

In a statement about the study, Waseda University said research shows "microplastics are ingested or inhaled by humans and animals alike and have been detected in multiple organs such as lung, heart, blood, placenta, and feces".

"10 million tons of these plastic bits end up in the ocean, released with the ocean spray, and find their way into the atmosphere. This implies that microplastics may have become an essential component of clouds, contaminating nearly everything we eat and drink via plastic rainfall," it said.


Cyprus Releases Endangered Vultures to Boost Population

A griffon vulture is seen in an acclimatization aviary near the village of Korfi, Cyprus September 28, 2022. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou
A griffon vulture is seen in an acclimatization aviary near the village of Korfi, Cyprus September 28, 2022. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou
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Cyprus Releases Endangered Vultures to Boost Population

A griffon vulture is seen in an acclimatization aviary near the village of Korfi, Cyprus September 28, 2022. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou
A griffon vulture is seen in an acclimatization aviary near the village of Korfi, Cyprus September 28, 2022. REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Conservationists in Cyprus released griffon vultures into the wild on Friday, in the latest attempt to boost a critically endangered population of the scavenger birds.
Once thriving, the number of vultures on the east Mediterranean island is the smallest in Europe as accidental poisoning or changing farming techniques have left them short of food.
Fourteen vultures from Spain were released into the hills north of the city of Limassol on Friday, bringing the vulture population now to "about" 29, Reuters said.
Project coordinators BirdLife, the island's Game Service, the Vulture Conservation Foundation and Terra Cypria released 15 griffons into the wild last year. Of those, 11 have survived.
Conservationists have in the past made several attempts to boost the vulture population, including importing birds from Crete. Surveys have shown that without timely intervention to address the causes of vulture deaths the birds could become extinct on the island within 15 years, the organizations said.
"Losing a vulture is frequent, and that is something that is particularly worrying," conservationists said in a statement.
Considered a natural garbage disposal unit, vultures feed off dead animal carcasses, which is an effective way to prevent the spread of disease.
But they can die if they feed off a carcass which had itself been poisoned - the fox, considered a threat by some farmers to livestock, is frequently targeted. The use of poisonous baits in Cyprus is illegal but is known to occur.
A number of the birds were fitted with satellite trackers a day before their release on Thursday to monitor their movements.
All vultures released in the past year were donated by the Extremadura region of Spain, which hosts 90-95% of Europe's vulture population. Another 15 vultures will arrive and be released next year.


Red Sea International Film Festival Announces Baz Luhrmann as Head of Jury for 2023 Edition

Red Sea International Film Festival Announces Baz Luhrmann as Head of Jury for 2023 Edition
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Red Sea International Film Festival Announces Baz Luhrmann as Head of Jury for 2023 Edition

Red Sea International Film Festival Announces Baz Luhrmann as Head of Jury for 2023 Edition

The Red Sea International Film Festival has said that internationally renowned writer, director and producer Baz Luhrmann will preside over the festival's Red Sea: Features Competition Jury this year.
The festival's third edition will take place from November 30 to December 9 in Jeddah.
The Red Sea: Features Competition will showcase various films from filmmakers from the Arab region, Asia and Africa.

SPA quoted Luhrmann saying: "After visiting Saudi Arabia, I felt truly inspired by the remarkable young filmmaking talent coming up across the region. It's an honour to be presiding over this year's Red Sea International Film Festival's Jury and to be part of the evolution of change that is happening through cinema across the Arab region, Asia and Africa."

For 2022, the Golden Yusr for Best Feature Film was awarded to "Hanging Gardens", directed by Ahmed Yassin Al Daradji.


KSrelief Medical Team Conducts Open-heart Surgery with New Technology in Yemen

SPA
SPA
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KSrelief Medical Team Conducts Open-heart Surgery with New Technology in Yemen

SPA
SPA

The Cardiology professor at Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University Dr. Yasser Elghoneimy led a medical team at the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) to perform the first open-heart surgery with new technology for a man in his 30's from Taiz Governorate, Yemen.

This assistance comes as part of the "Saudi Pulse" voluntary program for heart diseases and surgeries, which is being implemented in Al-Mukalla in Hadramout Governorate, SPA reported.

The KSrelief funds this program and aims to provide open-heart and cardiac catheterization procedures to low-income families who cannot afford the treatment.


Flooded Homes, Streets as Another Storm Hits Battered Central Greece 

A view of a flooded street amid storm Elias in the city of Volos, Greece, September 28, 2023. (Reuters)
A view of a flooded street amid storm Elias in the city of Volos, Greece, September 28, 2023. (Reuters)
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Flooded Homes, Streets as Another Storm Hits Battered Central Greece 

A view of a flooded street amid storm Elias in the city of Volos, Greece, September 28, 2023. (Reuters)
A view of a flooded street amid storm Elias in the city of Volos, Greece, September 28, 2023. (Reuters)

Torrential rain battered central Greece, flooding streets, homes and businesses in the city of Volos just three weeks after devastating Storm Daniel killed 16 people in the wider region.

More than 250 people have been evacuated from the area since Storm Elias struck on Wednesday afternoon, the fire brigade said on Thursday, adding that it had so far received 1,200 calls for help.

The storm hit Volos with rain so heavy that water levels in the city and its suburbs rose rapidly in a few hours. A nearby stream overflowed, adding to the flooding.

The mayor of Volos said that by Wednesday night, power outages caused by the storm and flooding had plunged 80% of the city into darkness. Authorities have stopped all vehicles from going onto the roads.

"People can't stand this anymore. I cannot understand nature's rage. Protect yourselves," said Mayor Achilleas Beos, urging people to stay home.

By Thursday morning, the storm had moved towards the island of Evia, a fire brigade official said. Some villages in northern Evia have been ordered to evacuate, state ERT TV said.

Storm Elias is the second major storm to hit the region since Daniel, the most intense storm to hit Greece since records began in 1930, battered the region for three days earlier in September.

Many Volos residents said the authorities were still dealing with the aftermath of Daniel and had not been adequately prepared for another storm.

"This was foretold," said Yannis Gavanoudis, a 70-year-old pensioner. "They (authorities) didn't do their job properly."

Daniel turned central Greece into an inland sea, flooding homes, damaging road infrastructure and farms near Volos, Karditsa and Larissa.

Tens of thousands of animals drowned and crops were washed away, and residents of the flooded areas are still struggling to recover from the impact.

Storm Daniel also wrought devastation across the Mediterranean, moving from Greece to Libya, where over 2,500 died in a huge flood in the city of Derna.


Washington Says Goodbye to Pandas Amid Bitter US-China Backdrop 

Mei Xiang, a female Giant Panda, investigates a birthday cake presented to her on his 25th birthday at the National Zoo in Washington, US, July 22, 2023.
Mei Xiang, a female Giant Panda, investigates a birthday cake presented to her on his 25th birthday at the National Zoo in Washington, US, July 22, 2023.
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Washington Says Goodbye to Pandas Amid Bitter US-China Backdrop 

Mei Xiang, a female Giant Panda, investigates a birthday cake presented to her on his 25th birthday at the National Zoo in Washington, US, July 22, 2023.
Mei Xiang, a female Giant Panda, investigates a birthday cake presented to her on his 25th birthday at the National Zoo in Washington, US, July 22, 2023.

No matter the distance or the weather, Jane Christensen was determined to see the giant pandas before they left Washington.

Now in her 60s, Christensen told AFP she had been captured by the species' magical cuteness over a half-century ago, when China first gifted two pandas to the United States.

"I've had 'panda-monium' ever since,' she said under a chilly rain outside the Smithsonian National Zoo's panda exhibit - hundreds of miles from her home in Michigan.

All three of the zoo's pandas are leaving for China by the end of the year, bringing at least a temporary end to a decades-old connection between the cuddly animal and the US capital.

The zoo has kicked off a week-long "Panda Palooza" event ahead of the departure, welcoming thousands of fans, many outfitted in panda-themed hats and shirts.

And while the pandas' departure had been expected due to contractual obligations, many can't help but see the shift as reflective of the growing strains between Beijing and Washington.

The first black-and-white furballs arrived from China in 1972, as a gift following then-president Richard Nixon's historic visit to the Communist-led nation.

Recognizing the species' uncanny ability to attract fans -- and a potential source of income for its conservation program -- China continued to loan out pandas to Washington and other zoos around the world, since dubbed "Panda Diplomacy."

At the Smithsonian zoo, millions of dollars have been spent on the pandas' enclosure and studies, especially related to breeding, including a popular 24-hour "Panda Cam" to monitor their behavior and health.

"We've been watching on the live cam every day leading up to this point," said Heidi Greco, who traveled hours by car from Ohio with her family.

Her daughter Stormy, who had on a panda hat and carried a just-bought panda umbrella, is "obsessed with pandas," Greco said.

The family had watched the pandas make some laps around their separate outdoor enclosures, then passed through an indoor viewing area where visitors can watch the animals eat snacks and bamboo up close.

"When I heard that these pandas were leaving, and the Atlanta Zoo pandas were leaving, and there would be no panda bears left in all of North America... (except) one very old one in Mexico, I was really, really upset," said Greco.

Zoo Atlanta, in the southern US state of Georgia, will send its four pandas to China by late 2024.

'Soft power'

Pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian arrived in Washington in 2000, and have since had four surviving cubs. Xiao Qi Ji ("Little Miracle" in English) was born in 2020 and will also depart by December.

During Xi Jinping's state visit in 2015, the last by a Chinese leader to the United States, his wife and the US first lady held an official ceremony to unveil the name of panda cub Bei Bei.

Eight years later, with mounting tensions over Taiwan and continuing trade disputes between the two powers, the panda exhibit is about to be closed.

The Chinese government tends to "bestow" pandas on "nations with whom China's relations are on the upswing, as a form of soft power projection," said Kurt Tong, a former high-ranking US diplomat and managing partner of the Asia Group consultancy.

"In that respect, given the current tenor of US-China relations it is not surprising that Chinese authorities are allowing panda contracts with US zoos to expire," Tong said in an email to AFP.

He noted that the loans also help China "augment the panda conservation budget."

The Smithsonian pays $500,000 annually to its Chinese conservation group partner, the zoo said.

The pandas' departure "closes a major chapter of an international animal care and conservation success story," the zoo said in a statement, adding that it "remains committed to continuing its efforts to secure and safeguard a healthy future for giant pandas."

One attendee saying her goodbyes at the zoo highlighted successful efforts to grow the wild population of pandas.

"We've come a long way in getting the numbers back up," said Michaela from Maryland, who had her face painted like a panda. The species remains listed as vulnerable.

As the rain let up, a steady stream of visitors began filling the area around the panda's outdoor enclosure.

Known for being a bit sluggish, the panda made repeated laps around the acre-sized plot, climbing up and down the hills -- making sure everyone got one good, final snapshot.


Guinean Student Cycles Across Africa for Place at Egypt's Al-Azhar University 

Mamadou Safaiou Barry, a 25-year-old from Guinea, looks on in front of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, September 23, 2023. (Reuters)
Mamadou Safaiou Barry, a 25-year-old from Guinea, looks on in front of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, September 23, 2023. (Reuters)
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Guinean Student Cycles Across Africa for Place at Egypt's Al-Azhar University 

Mamadou Safaiou Barry, a 25-year-old from Guinea, looks on in front of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, September 23, 2023. (Reuters)
Mamadou Safaiou Barry, a 25-year-old from Guinea, looks on in front of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, September 23, 2023. (Reuters)

Mamadou Safaiou Barry was determined to study Islamic theology at an elite school. Unable to afford a flight to Egypt from Guinea, he drew a map of Africa in his spiral notebook and set off on a second-hand mountain bike.

Carrying only a change of clothes, a flashlight and a screwdriver, the 25-year-old cycled thousands of kilometers across the continent, passing through jungles, deserts and conflict zones in the hope of landing a place and finding a way to fund it.

Four months and seven countries later, he is in Cairo with a full scholarship to Al-Azhar University, one of the world's oldest and most renowned Sunni Muslim learning institutions.

"If you have a dream, stay with it and be strong," Barry said. "God will help you."

Thousands of West Africans like Barry undertake risky journeys across the Sahara desert each year, searching for a better life.

Many never make it. Nearly 500 people died or disappeared on West African migration routes last year, data from the International Organization for Migration shows.

Barry decided the risk was worth the reward.

"I had to fight," Barry said last month in Chad.

Covering approximately 100 km each day, Barry pedaled through Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin, and Niger before stalling in N'Djamena, the Chadian capital, shaken from his planned route by an ongoing conflict in Sudan.

He said he had already been detained three times - twice in insurgency-plagued Burkina Faso and once in Togo, where security forces held him for nine days without charge before releasing him in exchange for 35,000 CFA francs ($56).

This was the entirety of his savings for the remainder of the journey, he said.

"I often slept in the bush because I was afraid of people in the cities," Barry said. "I thought they would take my bike and hurt me."

Barry's luck changed again in Chad after a local philanthropist, who had read online about his journey, offered to fly him directly to Egypt and bypass the fighting in Sudan.

Barry arrived in Cairo on Sept. 5 and days later secured a full scholarship to Al-Azhar. A photo shared widely on social media shows him meeting a beaming university representative.

He intends to return to Guinea when his studies are complete, to spread the faith that has taken him so far.

"When I return to my country, I would like to be someone who teaches Islam and tells people how to do good things," he said.