NCWCD may turn some reserves into safari parks

RIYADH- The National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development has announced plans today to privatize part of its operations by turning wildlife reserves into safari parks following concerns raised by the Shoura Council over a lack of funds.

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Seven Saudi-German projects worth SR250 million planned

RIYADH- Suliman Sad Al-Sayyari, general manager of the Saudi German Development and Investment Company Ltd. (SAGECO), said here on Monday that Saudi Arabia and Germany plan to set up seven joint venture projects at a total cost of SR250 million.

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Researchers warn public against observing eclipse

JEDDAH/RIYADH - Two Saudi researchers warned all members of the public not to use any solar protective glasses to observe Wednesday's eclipse. Salih M. Al-Saab, head of the Astronomy Department at King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology in Riyadh, and Samer Al Refaee, assistant researcher in the Astronomy Department, confirmed that even with protective glasses, eyes can be seriously damaged.

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Kingdom and South Africa finalize economic accords

RIYADH- Saudi Arabia and South Africa are working on three major economic agreements, which will be finalized later this year. The accords, which it is hoped will substantially boost commercial relations between the two countries, are part of a major agreement signed during the visit of the Crown Prince Abdullah, Regent, to South Africa in May of this year.

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Kingdom to set up 32 seismic stations

RIYADH- The Kingdom has announced the setting up of 32 earthquake monitoring stations under the Saudi Arabian National Digital Seismographic Network' project, launched by the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology.

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More items added to list of banned imports

RIYADH- Saudi Arabia has added more items to the general list of restricted and banned imports. The revised list contains 21 items like night vision binoculars, frog meat, liquid milk with a long expiry period, animal fats, besides old newspapers and the Holy Quran in commercial quantities.

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Filipinos launch group to fight female abuse

RIYADH- A group of Filipino expatriates have launched a new welfare organization called "MOTHER" (The Movement to Help Eradicate Rape and other Female Abuses), which calls for compulsory teaching of self-defense techniques and martial arts to female students and to all prospective female workers (including housemaids) before they are deployed in foreign countries.

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ISE develops special Net filter for schools

RIYADH -International Systems Engineering Co. Ltd. (ISE), an offset company of Saudi Arabia, formed under the Peace Shield Offset Program, has developed a special Internet filter for schools which can deny students access to improper and the unethical materials on the websites.

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GCC foreign ministers to meet July 3

RIYADH- Foreign ministers from the six-nation GCC will meet here at the General Secretariat on July 3 mainly to conclude their talks on the GCC-Iran relations. This meeting has been convened primarily be- cause the 71st ministerial council meeting held on June 12 in Riyadh remained inconclusive and no official communique was released.

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Jubair leads Shoura team to Iran

RIYADH- A high-ranking Shoura delegation led by its President Sheikh Muhammad ibn Jubair left for Iran Monday evening to attend the first conference of the proposed parliamentary union of the Islamic countries to be inaugurated in Tehran tomorrow. Sheikh Ibn Jubair is accompanied by three senior members of the Shoura Council besides officials and a few support staff.

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GCC finance ministers reaffirm decision to set up customs union

RIYADH - Ministers of finance and national economy from the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) reaffirmed the decisions here Saturday to set up the GCC customs union in March 2001. saving that the Gulf states are close to an agreement on tariffs following the completion of the classification of 286 items.

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National plan to set up sewage systems on cards: Dr Al-Jarallah

RIYADH, May 7 Dr. Muhammad Al- Jarallah, minister of municipal and rural affairs, announced here Thursday night a major national plan to set up sewage systems and a network of sewage treatment plants all across the Kingdom at a staggering cost of SR70 billion. The Council of Ministers is currently discussing this plan as how to fund it and how to implement it on a priority basis.

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USC acquires 10 new container vessels

RIYADH- The United Arab Shipping Company, owned by the five Gulf states including Saudi Arabia and Iraq, has acquired 10 new container vessels at a total cost of SR2.325 billion in order to expand its operations and modernize its fleet. This will help the USC to withstand stiff competition from over 80 shipping lines operating in the Gulf.

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Dr. Al-Rabia opens Medicare '99 expo

RIYADH, May 2 Dr. Othman A. Al- Rabia, Deputy Minister of Health for Planning and Development, announced here today that all obstacles have been cleared to implement the mandatory health insurance plan for Saudis and expatriates. What remains is the clearance of the Saudi Council of Ministers for the draft proposal, he added.

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Bankers said surprised by expat's stealing SR1 million from ATMs

RIYADH, April 27 - An expatriate has been convicted and sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment by a court in Jeddah for breaking seven automatic teller machines (ATMs) and stealing SR1 million in cash. This expatriate worker was caught red-handed by the Jeddah police, following a tip-off, while he was trying to steal cash from an automatic teller machine of a bank.

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Prince Sultan to begin 3-nation tour today

JEDDAH, April 26 - Prince Sultan, second deputy premier and minister of defense and aviation, will begin a three-nation tour tomorrow which will take him to Tunisia, Iran and Pakistan, it was announced here today. Prince Sultan is scheduled to leave here tomorrow for a five-day official visit to Tunisia. During the visit, he will hold talks with President Zaine Al-Abidine Ben Ali and high-ranking Tunisian officials.

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Riyadh set to become the first megacity in region by 2020

RIYADH, April 13 -Riyadh is set to become the first megacity of the Gulf with its population projected to touch 11.1 million by the year 2020. This figure will account for between 33 and 36 percent of the population of Saudi Arabia, one of the highest ratios of capital to national population in the world.

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GCC Traffic Week to begin today

RIYADH, April 9 Saudi Arabia will observe the "GCC Traffic Safety Week" beginning tomorrow. The six-nation GCC has drawn up major plans to observe the 'GCC Traffic Week which is primarily designed to generate traffic awareness among Gulf nationals and among hundreds of thousands of expats working in the Gulf countries,

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Abdullah likely to visit S. Africa to boost ties

RIYADH, April 6 Crown Prince Abdullah, deputy premier and commander of the National Guard, has been invited by South African government to visit Pretoria. A senior South African diplomat said here today that Prince Abdullah will visit South Africa before President Nelson Mandela re- tires from active politics following June 2 general elections.

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SOS chief calls on agencies to combat threat of blindness

RIYADH, April 5 -Prince Abdulaziz ibn Ahmad called on the public and private sector organizations, including the Gulf governments, to exert greater efforts to prevent blindness. The call was made last night following the WHO's revelation that close to two million people will become blind every year if major prevention measures are not taken on local, regional and global levels.

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Kingdom launches trial of biological control system

RIYADH, April 4 - The Kingdom has launched a major trial program for biological control system, which will lower costs of crop protection and improve quality and quantity of yields besides being environmentally and economically advantageous. The Ministry of Agriculture and Water has given permission to two leading Saudi farms, Al-khalidiah  and Al- Shafi Farms, to  conduct maiden experiments on biological control systems.

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1.5m free Quran copies to be given to pilgrims

RIYADH. March 17 - Dr. Adnan Muhammad Al-Wazzan, deputy minister of Islamic affairs, said here today that his ministry has set up a Holy Qur'an distribution committee to ensure that every pilgrim receives a free copy of the Holy Qur'an. These will be distributed among pilgrims during Haj this year from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd.

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Al-Turki inaugurates first Islamic website on Net

RIYADH, March 6 - Dr. Abdullah Al- Turki, Minister of Islamic Affairs inaugurated a well-equipped Internet Unit of the ministry and the first website on Internet about Islam here tonight following the approval granted by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd. This is the first project of its kind, which has been launched on Internet to counter anti-Islamic propaganda.

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GCC states to observe Gulf Water Week next month

RIYADH, Feb. 27 - In a move to generate awareness about the rationalization of water use in the public of the Gulf states, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will observe a Gulf Water Week next month from March 15 to 22.

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SNTN to be expanded with 7 more centers: Shubokshi

RIYADH, Feb. 7 Health Minister Dr. Osama Shubokshi said here last night that the Saudi National Telemedicine Network (SNTN) will be expanded shortly with the setting up of seven more regional telemedicine centers in different regions of the Kingdom. This will bring the total number of such centers to 13.

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Ghazanfar Ali Khan