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EDITORIAL

EDITORIAL

6

Saudi Gazette, Saturday, January 21, 2017

Perspectives

OPINION

OPINION

Editor-in-Chief

Somayya Jabarti

sjabarti@saudigazette.com.sa

Executive Editor

L. Ramnarayan Iyer

riyer@saudigazette.com.sa

Managing Editor (National)

Mahmoud Ahmad

mahmad@saudigazette.com.sa

Managing Editor (International)

Shams Ahsan

sahsan@saudigazette.com.sa

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Writers’ and readers’

opinions do not

necessarily reflect

SG’s views unless

otherwise stated.

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Chairman

Abdullah S. Kamel

akamel@okaz.com.sa

Director General

Waleed J. Kattan

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Abdulaziz Alsehli

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Samar Fatany

is a radio

broadcaster and writer.

She can be reached at

samarfatany@hotmail.com

A move to revive Arab art and

culture to combat terrorism

Arabs today need to

show the world that

art and culture are an

inherent part of their

history. Promoting art

and culture in our region

is the only way to combat

terrorism, extremism,

sectarianism and violence

that are threatening the

once peaceful and most

historical and cultural

Arab cities in the world.

A

HIGH-POWERED delega-

tion of Saudi culture and

heritage enthusiasts and

connoisseurs of art joined

Shaikha Mai Al- Khalifa the Minis-

ter of Culture of Bahrain to celebrate

the 15th anniversary of the Shaikh

Ebrahim Bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa

Center for Culture and Research on

January 12-14 in Manama. Over 90

prominent Arab and international

artists, curators, archeologists, re-

searchers, poets and music lovers

attended the three-day celebration

that portrayed a unique contempo-

rary and artistic architectural model

that reflected the cultural heritage

of Bahrain. Shaikha Mai graciously

guided her guests through beautiful-

ly designed museums documenting

Bahrain’s heritage and restored his-

torical sites and houses of Bahraini

personalities established as cultural

centers to preserve Bahrain’s rich

culture and history. It was impres-

sive to see the amount of efficiency

and finesse applied to the restora-

tion project. Moreover, the presence

of many distinguished Arab women

from the Gulf, Lebanon, Syria, Jor-

dan, Palestine and Egypt who are

dedicated to promoting Arab culture

added a sense of pride in Arab iden-

tity and heritage to the festivities.

The audience was entertained

for three days visiting historical sites

and museums during the day and in

the evening enjoying breathtaking

musical performances by interna-

tionally acclaimed singers. Everyone

was mesmerized by the beautiful

voices and songs of the Egyptian op-

era singer Yasmeen Ali and the cel-

ebrated singer and academic Ghada

Shbeir, one of the leading voices

singing Andalusian and Assyrian re-

ligious chants. The performance of

Zade Dirani a Jordanian pianist and

composer whose music is a blend

of Arabic, Latin, pop and classical

music was quite a treat. The young

pianist has been appointed by UNI-

CEF as Regional Ambassador for the

Middle East and North Africa as an

advocate for the children caught in

conflict, violence and poverty. He is

well known for expressing cross-cul-

tural understanding through the arts.

The guests included Princess

Jawaher Bint Majid, a genuine pa-

tron of the arts, who heads the Al-

Mansouria nonprofit art foundation to

support Saudi artists and promote the

culture of art among Saudi citizens;

Sheikha Hussah Sabah Al-Salem Al-

Sabah, princess of Kuwait who is a

curator of Islamic art and the Direc-

tor General of the Dar Al-Athar Al-

Islamiyah in Kuwait. She has played

a leading role in the presentation of

Islamic art and cultural heritage.

Among the guests were also Prof.

Dr. Heba Aziz, head of the depart-

ment of logistics, tourism and service

management at the German Univer-

sity of Technology in Oman; Asma

Al-Mutawaa founder of the Al-Mul-

taqa literary salon in Abu Dhabi and

Rasha Al-Ameer, a popular Lebanese

writer, publisher and cultural critic.

There were also many more pro-

fessionals in the field of Arab and

Islamic art and architecture from the

Arab world. Indeed the caliber of

Shaikha Mai’s network of experts

and professional supporters is the se-

cret of her successful role in the pres-

ervation and protection of culture and

heritage in Bahrain.

Under her leadership, Manama,

the capital of Bahrain, was officially

declared the Asian Capital of Tour-

ism in 2014, and since then the dy-

namic minister of culture has stepped

up meaningful efforts to highlight the

rich Bahraini cultural and archeolog-

ical heritage.

Shaikha Mai is the founding

member of the Arab Regional Cen-

ter for World Heritage. She, has won

the First Class Order of Merit from

HM King Hamad of Bahrain and

many international awards as well as

the Arab Thought Foundation Civil

Creativity Award in recognition of

her distinguished efforts in promot-

ing programs of the Shaikh Ebrahim

Al-Khalifa Center for Culture and

Research to increase interest in art,

architecture, music, literature, poetry

and culture in general. She has also

been recognized for her role in cre-

ating awareness among the new gen-

eration through cultural projects and

activities. Reviving our

Islamic culture and changing the

rigid mindset remains a major chal-

lenge for all Gulf countries today.

The leading role model has inspired

many and to her credit she has set the

ball rolling. Shaikha Mai continues

to urge the need for an Arab Regional

Center for Human Heritage project.

Arabs today need to show the

world that art and culture are an in-

herent part of their history. Promot-

ing art and culture in our region is the

only way to combat terrorism, ex-

tremism, sectarianism and violence

that are threatening the once peaceful

and most historical and cultural Arab

cities in the world.

Freezing to death at Europe’s door

A

BLAST ofArctic air moving

over Europe to the Mediter-

ranean last week put thou-

sands of refugees and mi-

grants trapped in tent camps, stranded

in abandoned buildings and slogging

across snow-packed routes at risk of

frostbite and hypothermia. At least five

have died in Greece and in Bulgaria.

Nearly 60,000 people seeking

refuge in Europe are being ware-

housed in Greece in squalid camps,

many in tents that are no protec-

tion from snow and freezing tem-

peratures. Many have been there for

months. Under a Turkey-European

Union deal implemented last year,

those who do not qualify for asylum

are to be sent to Turkey, where their

human rights are far from assured. As

for those who do qualify, it’s unclear

where they can go; anti-immigrant

sentiment is running high, and Euro-

pean Union countries are still balk-

ing at taking in most of the 160,000

refugees they agreed to accept from

Italy and Greece in 2015.

In the Balkans, the situation is

also dire. Save the Children warned

that children in makeshift shelters

in Serbia are at risk of freezing to

death. The “EU’s failure to respond

is leaving thousands of refugees and

migrants, including unaccompanied

children, literally out in the cold,”

complained Andreas Ring, the orga-

nization’s Balkans representative.

Last Wednesday, Greece did

send a navy ship that could house

around 500 refugees to Lesbos, and

scrambled to house others in hotels.

The United Nations refugee agency

is working with authorities in Serbia

to distribute heaters, blankets, warm

clothes and shoes. But Europe has no

excuse for failing to prepare for the

winter. In November, 78 children’s

rights agencies, including UNICEF,

urged the European Union and its

members to do more to protect refu-

gee children. Stéphane Moissaing,

the head of Doctors Without Bor-

ders mission in Serbia, said: “For

months we have called on the EU,

the UNHRC and Serbian authorities

to put in place long-term solutions to

avoid this catastrophic situation.”

Whether Europe likes it or not,

more people are on the way. At least

550 people heading for Italy were

rescued last Friday and at least 180

people drowned on Saturday off the

coast of Libya. There will be more

deaths if desperate people continue to

be cut off from legal routes to safety,

and more suffering for survivors,

cruelly shunned when they reach Eu-

rope’s door.

— The New York Times

editorial

How to avoid a post-antibiotic world

NICHOLAS BAGLEY

AND

KEVIN OUTTERSON

L

AST week, the Centers for Dis-

ease Control and Prevention re-

leased a disturbing report about

the death of an elderly woman

in Washoe County, Nev. What killed her

wasn’t heart disease, cancer, or pneumo-

nia. What killed her were bacteria that

were resistant to every antibiotic doctors

could throw at them.

This anonymous woman is only the

latest casualty in a war against antibiot-

ic-resistant bacteria — a war that we are

losing. Although most bacteria die when

they encounter an antibiotic, a few hardy

bugs survive. Through repeated exposure,

those tough bacteria proliferate, spread-

ing resistance genes through the bacterial

population. That’s the curse of antibiotics:

The more they’re used, the worse they get,

especially when they’re used carelessly.

Already, more than 23,000 people in

the United States are estimated to die every

year from resistant bacteria. That death toll

will grow as microbes develop new mecha-

nisms to defeat the drugs that, for decades,

have kept infections at bay. We are on the

cusp of what the World Health Organiza-

tion calls a “post-antibiotic era.”

And we will miss antibiotics when

they’re gone. Minor scrapes and routine

infections could become life threaten-

ing. Common surgeries would start

looking like Russian roulette. Gonor-

rhea and other sexually transmitted

infections might become untreatable.

Diseases that our parents defeated —

like tuberculosis — could come roar-

ing back. The economic costs would

be staggering: In September, the World

Bank estimated that between 1.1 and 3.8

percent of the global economy will be

lost by 2050 if we fail to act.

Yet few new antibiotics are in de-

velopment. Most large drug companies

have fled the field. The reason is simple:

To conserve their effectiveness, new an-

tibiotics are put on the shelf to be used

only when older antibiotics stop work-

ing. That makes perfect sense for public

health, but companies can’t make a profit

on what they can’t sell. This mismatch

between the huge social value of new an-

tibiotics and the relative indifference of

drug manufacturers could spell disaster.

Aware of the problem, Congress

has taken some initial steps to address

it. In particular, the 2012 Generating

Antibiotic Incentives Now Act grants

to manufacturers an extended, exclusive

period to sell newly approved antibiot-

ics. By keeping generics off the market

for longer, Congress hoped to sweeten

the pot for manufacturers and encourage

needed research.

But the law probably won’t stimu-

late much innovation. A couple more

years of poor sales are a small incentive

and may actually promote overuse of an-

tibiotics. The law is also poorly targeted.

Some “new” antibiotics are similar to

existing compounds — so similar that

bacteria are already resistant to them.

We don’t need to reward manufacturers

for tweaking antibiotics that we already

have. We need them to develop entirely

new antibiotics.

AfewUS federal agencies have shown

more initiative. Medicare, for example, has

moved to require hospitals and nursing

homes to adopt plans to prevent the spread

of drug-resistant infections and to assure

the proper use of antibiotics. The Centers

for Disease Control and Prevention is tak-

ing steps to limit the spread of resistant

infections and to reduce unnecessary use

of antibiotics. The Food and Drug Admin-

istration has simplified approval standards

and has worked with industry to limit the

use of antibiotics in livestock, which today

accounts for three-quarters of antibiotic

sales in the United States.And the Biomed-

ical Advanced Research and Development

Authority has been working creatively to

build public-private partnerships to support

the most promising research.

But Congress needs to think bigger if

it wants to fix the broken antibiotic busi-

ness model. Although the patent system

is good at producing new blood-pressure

medications and cardiovascular drugs,

it’s not the right fit for antibiotics. Be-

cause new antibiotics may be held in

reserve for years, manufacturers can’t

sell enough during the patent term to jus-

tify large research investments. Congress

should instead reward manufacturers that

bring a targeted, highly innovative antibi-

otic to market with a substantial financial

prize; in exchange, manufacturers would

surrender their patent.

This kind of “market-entry” reward

would enable public health officials and

physicians to deploy new drugs precisely

where they’re needed. Manufacturers

would no longer have an incentive to milk

their patent, marketing the drug for inap-

propriate uses. The antibiotic could also

be sold at a reasonable price in developing

countries, which might otherwise be un-

able to afford a patented antibiotic.

Financing market-entry rewards

would be expensive, perhaps $4 billion

per year in total, or about 10 percent of

the annual global bill for antibiotics. But

you can’t defeat bacteria on the cheap.

They’ve survived for billions of years be-

cause they’re so good at adapting to new

threats. Staying one step aheadwill require

ingenuity, money and radical change. Tin-

kering around the margins isn’t going to

cut it.

— The New York Times

Nicholas Bagley

is a law professor

at the University of Michigan.

Kevin

Outterson

is a law professor at

Boston University and the executive

director of Carb-X, which promotes

public-private partnerships combating

antibiotic resistance.

Gambia’s one

president

I

T was an extremely disorderly election

campaign but in the end Donald

Trump became president of the US

in a relatively orderly transfer of

power. However, the same cannot

be said about another inauguration

held a day earlier in a different part

of the world. Gambian President-elect

Adama Barrow was sworn in Thursday

after he won 45 percent of the vote

but the sitting president Yahya Jammeh has

refused to step down, rejecting the results of the

presidential elections he lost in early December

and ignoring repeated attempts by African

leaders and others urging a peaceful transition.

Jammeh originally conceded, but one week later

announced his total rejection of the election

results, claiming electoral fraud and “serious

and unacceptable” violations during the electoral

process and demanding new elections.

As it currently stands, Senegalese troops

entered Gambian territory to resolve the standoff

hours after Barrow took the oath. The 15-member

UN Security Council has given them its backing,

while stressing that a political solution should be

attempted first. The West African regional bloc

ECOWAS has demanded that Jammeh leave office.

The entrance of Senegalese troops was the

major decision ECOWAS announced it would be

taking regarding the ongoing crisis in Gambia. It

was reported that ECOWAS wanted a diplomatic

solution but the use of force also now looms.

A delegation of ECOWAS leaders had been to

the Gambian capital Banjul to convince Jammeh

to accept the results of the presidential elections.

But these last-ditch efforts apparently failed.

So far Jammeh has shown little sign of stepping

down. Now that foreign troops are on the move,

he might change his mind.

West African leaders are nervous about

matters deteriorating in Gambia, the smallest

country in the region, as this could destabilize

Senegal and impact the already unstable larger

region. The instability includes confrontations

with the terrorist group Boko Haram in the Lake

Chad Basin, radical groups in Mali, and terrorists

in southern Algeria and Libya. The latter two

countries are not ECOWAS members, but they are

influential in the region.

Barrow has said that the new administration

intends to investigate all the crimes that were

committed in the country under Jammeh’s rule

when it takes office, including those said to have

been committed by army officers. The army is

the key to a solution in Gambia because it can

guarantee stability. Therefore, many observers

say that ECOWAS must reach out to army officers

in Gambia if a peaceful transfer of power is to

take place.

The army’s demand is that officers must

be given amnesty from prosecution in return

for abandoning Jammeh. However, this would

weaken the opposition before it takes over power,

especially since many opposition supporters

want to see those said to be responsible for

two decades of extrajudicial killings, detentions,

kidnappings and torture put on trial.

Jammeh, who seized power in a 1994 military

coup and was running for his fifth term, declared

a state of emergency a day before his mandate

was due to end. His rejection of the results of

the election has thrown the West African nation

into political turmoil. The potential for military

intervention and civil disturbance is high. One

way out is for Gambia’s National Assembly to

pass a resolution allowing Jammeh another 90

days in power. This might allow the parties some

breathing space until the situation is resolved.

Barrow insists that the election result stands but

the widespread uncertainty in Gambia is such that

he was forced to hold his swearing-in ceremony in

Gambia’s embassy in neighboring Senegal.

Barrow has been recognized internationally.

Jammeh is in an unwinnable position. A country

can have only one president at a time. He should

step down voluntarily before he is forced to do so.

SAMAR

FATANY