Khaled rambles technology, tea/coffee, consumer rights and other interest from Saudi Arabia

June 18, 2010

Mobily network is down again – Update: Fire in Mobily HQ caused it

Filed under: News — Tags: , — Khaled A. @ 7:43 pm

Update: according to AlArabiya a fire in Mobily’s headquarters caused the network to be down.

Started at about 4 pm Saudi time. Right now 3G data is not working in most parts of Riyadh.

We hope that Mobily fix this soon.

June 14, 2010

5 year old child died stranded in a van in Dammam

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — Khaled A. @ 1:58 pm

This is tragic. From Arab News:

DAMMAM: A private van driver faces charges of criminal negligence following the death on Sunday of a five-year-old girl who was left unattended for five hours in the vehicle in the full glare of the sun outside the International Indian School in Dammam’s Al-Raka district.

The kindergartener, Fida Haris, started attending the school only two months ago. Authorities allege the driver forgot to ensure she came off the 15-seater van when he dropped off other children at the school in the morning. Ostensibly the child dozed off and remained inside the van, which had tinted windows.

On a day when mercury reached 47 degrees Celsius, school officials said Fida apparently suffocated inside the vehicle. “Her body had turned pale because of lack of oxygen and the intensity of the heat,” said her class teacher Gita Radhakrishnan. “It was a horrible sight.”

Read the rest on Arab News.

This is probably the first recorded death in 2010 caused by heat in Saudi Arabia. We’re not even in July.

Anti-smoking campaign targets Saudi youth

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — Khaled A. @ 1:14 am

Published on yesterday’s Arab News:

JEDDAH: Seven commercials about the harms of smoking are being screened on television as part of an anti-smoking campaign that has recently been launched targeting Saudi youth.

Flyers are also being distributed on the harms of smoking and lectures are being delivered on the subject as part of the campaign.

“The idea came to me when I visited a high school in Jeddah and met grade 11 students. I asked them about smoking and realized that 12 out of the 15 I met smoked,” said Kaswara Al-Khatib, managing director of Full Stop Advertising. “I have always been irritated that underage boys and girls are smoking cigarettes or the hookah. It is because of this that I came up with the idea of organizing a campaign to highlight the poor effects of smoking,” he added. “We are targeting young smokers who have begun smoking while at school because they have just started smoking and can easily be pulled back,” said Al-Khatib. “We’re avoiding older smokers because they are harder to convince,” he added.

Concerned Saudi citizen Hamza Khushaim said supermarkets sell cigarettes without giving due consideration to the age of those buying. “I think this campaign should also target supermarkets and restaurant owners who sell cigarettes and serve hookah pipes to youngsters,” he said.

“I once asked a salesman why he was selling cigarettes to young boys when he knows they are bad for their health. The guy told me that he also sells Pepsi knowing that it’s also bad for health and added that he is only concerned with making money,” he added.

Local companies and hospitals are also following suit. Balubaid Group of Companies and International Medical Center (IMC) recently joined together to hold an anti-smoking seminar that ran under the slogan “Extinguish your cigarette and spark hope.” The seminar was hosted by IMC’s Medical Director Dr. Ashraf Ameer and was held to spread awareness among the company’s employees and their families.

“The initiative came from Balubaid to emphasize that we do care about our employees’ health,” said Sana’a Dakheel from Balubaid. “The company has also banned smoking at all of its branches to promote its corporate culture which involves providing employees with healthy working environments,” she added.

End of article.

A good move, but I am also worried about restaurants and coffee shops with no non-smoking sections. I am looking at you, Dunkin Donuts Saudi Arabia.

Always good news to hear, thanks R. Hakim. Please make sure to follow the #SmokefreeRiyadh twitter campaign by following @SmokefreeRiyadh.

May 29, 2010

Jordan to ban smoking in restaurants – What are we doing?

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — Khaled A. @ 9:00 pm

Via Zsafwan: The Ministry of Health decided to fully implement the smoking ban in the Kingdom’s restaurants starting Wednesday, a ministry official said.

Just what are we doing here in Saudi Arabia? WE SIGNED AN ANTI SMOKING PACT IN 2005! Nothing changed: Major coffee shop Dunkin Donuts allow smoking (except one branch, but people are smoking in seating areas near the door). Small stores still selling dirt cheap cigarettes. Restaurants have no real “non smoking sections” and I don’t want to list them all.

A big thanks to Sahara Mall, they claim that they have banned smoking in their mall/foodcourt. Here’s a Gowalla link to their location in Riyadh.

May 28, 2010

Dunkin Donuts, Baskin Robins prepare for IPO in Saudi Arabia

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — Khaled A. @ 10:00 pm

Sha-heiah “شهية” or “appetite” is a name of a Saudi company for food (ltd). I really wanted to link to the official website of Sha-heiah “شهية” but the only thing I found was this email: The link to the company’s site titled: “شركة شهية المحدودة للأطعمة” actually takes you Dunkin’ Donuts’ official website. Again with Saudi companies lacking presence on the Internet.

Anyway according to this, Sha-heiah “شهية” has announced that they are preparing for IPO. Wish they would use the money to turn all of their Dunkin’ Donuts to a non-hazardous, smoke free coffee shop. One can dream, can he not?

Interesting fact: If you check Gowalla there are over 30 Dunkin Donuts in Riyadh! Can you visit them all?

Image from Hoboken411.

May 3, 2010

Riyadh Rain news on Twitter with #RiyadhRain (Update)

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — Khaled A. @ 6:54 pm

It’s raining heavily in Riyadh at the moment and everyone twitter has agreed to use the following twitter hashtag #RiyadhRain. Since the old media has failed covering this.

ArabCrunch is the first to report about this. Keep an eye on RiyadhRain for updates as well.

I also made @RiyadhRain and curating some of the tweets as best as I can.

Update: Ahmed made this post with an updated set of videos.

Update: Jihad Alammar have made this page with auto refresh as well as this form to request help. Here’s a list of these help requests for volunteers.

Saudi Toyota and Lexus dealer finally recall some cars

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — Khaled A. @ 12:01 pm

Abdul Latif Jameel Co. Ltd., Toyota and Lexus’ dealer in Saudi Arabia, has finally announced a recall for the following cars:

  1. Toyota Prado VX manufactured between August 2009 and April 2010.
  2. Lexus GX manufactured between November 2009 and April 2010.

As advertised on today’s newspapers.

Thanks Bander for taking that picture.

April 18, 2010

UAE suspend Lexus GX 460 sales, what about the Saudi distributor?

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , — Khaled A. @ 8:28 pm

Apparently there is an issue with the Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) in the 2010 Lexus GX 460. The distributor of Lexus and Toyota in the UAE, Al Futtaim Motors has suspended sales of this SUV and are contacting all of their customers. As reported by Arabian Business.

The Lexus distributor in Saudi Arabia, Abdul Latif Jameel Co, hasn’t announced or did anything regarding these issues with the car until now.

What consumer rights? Why am I not surprised.

March 28, 2010

From STC: 100 megabyte fiber? wait, MEGABYTE?

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , — Khaled A. @ 3:33 pm

This is downright ridiculous. Another press release with STC lying to their customers once again (example: STC announcing they are the first to have HSPA+ and we saw no HSPA+ devices from them until now!).

But first I have to show you this press release: STC Customers enjoy the Benefits of the 4G/LTE Network. This press release is probably from the future sent via the TARDIS. 4G/LTE plans from STC is behind Mobily and Zain. Now back to topic.

STC’s latest announcement (STC’s English news site hasn’t been updated since 2009) was titled “STC provides its customers with the highest Internet speed in the region (100 megabytes) through FTTH technology”. The press release talked about “package which secures the highest Internet speed 100 megabytes/second through the Fiber to the Home technology FTTH technology.” Yes, 100 mega bytes per second, so it’s 800mega bit per second.

The press release claims “for the first time in the Middle East and North Africa”, “for the first time” is something STC loves to say even if it’s not true. But these services are only available in 3 neighborhoods in Saudi Arabia and only one in Riyadh: An-Nakhil District in Riyadh.

UAE’s Etisalat launched their fiber to the home services in October 2009. It was initially available at 30mbps but it covered over have a million homes in 2008! STC only connected one neighborhood in 2009.

Wikipedia have a list of FTTH countries. Only UAE, Jordan, Kuwait and Lebanon are currently listed from the Middle East, no Saudi Arabia.

Please, STC, fix your weak DSL infrastructure and provide customers with better service. Mobily is already installing Fiber in a lot of neighborhoods in Riyadh!

Press release can be found here.

March 17, 2010

I am on CNN!

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — Khaled A. @ 1:05 am

At least my ugly avatar (and SaudiMac) were on CNN International last Friday in a segment about the Apple iPad and the world wide interest in it. They showed a post on SaudiMac about the iPad pre-order start in Saudi time. So according to CNN I am an Apple Fanatic! Guess it’s official 😉

Here’s a link to the CNN video and here’s a mirror on Youtube.

A big thanks to SaudiMac English and Arabic editions. And hopefully this will push for Apple presence in Saudi Arabia.

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