Regional cooperation vital for Gulf security

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Updated 19 September 2014

Regional cooperation vital for Gulf security

Cooperation among Arabian Gulf countries in combating terrorism and addressing regional issues is vital for security and stability in the region, said guest speakers and strategic affairs experts on the last day of a conference entitled “Arabian Gulf and Regional Challenges.”
The conference was organized by the Institute of Diplomatic Studies (IDS), a premier institution under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in cooperation with the Gulf Research Center.
Nathalie Goulet, a member of the French Senate, reasserted the importance of regional cooperation in the Middle East. “We cannot have a sound society without assessing failures and making efforts to resolve the problem,” she said.
Goulet also advocated for Turkey to help solve problems in the Arabian Gulf since it shares borders with regional countries.
She commended the anti-IS campaign being aired by 30 TV channels, appreciating Tuesday’s Arab News front page coverage of the initiative.
“We should join the campaign to address the challenge,” she said.
She observed that Israeli extremism goes against every UN guideline and said it is vital for Israel to have respect for international law.
The French senator deplored the fact that the US does not react to these outright violations of international law. “When Israel fails to comply with international law, the US also fails to make a point against the violations,” she said.
Joseph Westphal, US ambassador to the Kingdom, said during the subsequent session that “our relationship with the Middle East is important, as we are committed to achieving security and stability in the region.” Westphal referred to the recent visit of Secretary of State John Kerry, who urged joint efforts in the fight against the Islamic State (IS) terror group, with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), led by Saudi Arabia, agreeing to join the US-led campaign. He pointed out that US President Barack Obama has a comprehensive policy for partnership with GCC countries and a will and vision to fight terrorism.
He said the Gulf is a vital region for the US, which is committed to its security and stability.
Michael Clarke, general director of the Royal United Services Institute in the UK, pointed out that the United Kingdom hopes to have strategic changes in the Middle East, as terrorism threatens to send the region into chaos. Rajiv Sikri, former secretary at the Indian External Affairs Ministry, said that GCC countries should initiate talks with Iran to resolve regional issues.
“If the US, as an outsider, can be a party to regional issues, there is no harm in sitting with Iran, a neighboring country, to resolve the sectarian strife plaguing the region and causing upheaval in Iraq, Syria and Yemen,” he said.
Denouncing terrorism, the guest speakers also called for moderation and international cooperation for peaceful coexistence in the region.
Participants pointed out that disunity and instability in the region harm peaceful coexistence.
Several attendees raised questions about the role of outsiders in securing stability in the Arabian Gulf, while others asserted that resolving the Palestine issue is vital for the region and that it is the lack of US strategy that is allowing Israel to continue committing its crimes.

Hajj 2018: What’s on pilgrims’ bucket lists

Masjid Quba in Madinah is a favorite destination for Hajj pilgrims, according to tour guides. Below: The Cave of Hira, Al-Baqi’ cemetery and the Prophet’s Chamber allow visitors to step back in time. (Getty Images)
Updated 15 August 2018

Hajj 2018: What’s on pilgrims’ bucket lists

  • A number of companies in Makkah and Madinah help people organize their trips, making sure they cover the important sites in the two holy cities
  • Most of the sites in the two holy cities are spiritual, giving pilgrims a sense of the prophecies

RIYADH: Hajj is one of the biggest dreams of every Muslim’s life, and pilgrims looking forward to their stay in Makkah and Madinah say a bucket list is the best way to plan the trip. 

Most of the sites in the two holy cities are spiritual, giving pilgrims a sense of the prophecies. Standing in the places of the Holy Prophet transports them back to the past as if they lived those incredible moments. 

A number of companies in Makkah and Madinah help people organize their trips, making sure they cover the important sites in the two holy cities.

Sayed Shafei, an operation manager for City Sightseeing, a tour company in Madinah and worldwide, told Arab News: “We offer a special tour with a multilingual tour guide presented in eight languages. We also offer 24-hour tickets. We have scheduled tourism trips starting from the Prophet’s Mosque to 12 destinations every 30 minutes. The whole trip lasts for 14 hours a day.” 

Asked about the most popular requests, Shafei said: “Our customers always ask to visit Masjid Quba, the Sayed Al-Shuhada Mosque in Uhud, which is considered a vital historic landmark of Madinah, and Al-Qiblatain Mosque.” 

Most of the group’s customers are from East Asia, but many also visit from Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE, Indonesia, Malaysia, the US and Europe.

Munirah Al-Jebreen, an English instructor at Princess Noura University who will perform Hajj this year, told Arab News her bucket list began with an online search. 

“I found a travel guide on Google that has all the best sites in Madinah and Makkah, so I decided to visit Uthman ibn Affan’s Farm and Well in Madinah, the Holy Qur’an exhibition, and one of the most important places I want to visit is the grave of the Holy Prophet,” she said.

The area between the Prophet’s Chamber, which holds his grave, and the Mimbar is known as the Rawdah, which is actually the Garden of Paradise. It is presently distinguished by a green carpet.

Al-Jebreen also listed some of her planned tour destinations in Makkah, including the Cave of Hira, where the Holy Prophet meditated frequently during the first 40 years of his life and the site of the first revelation. 

She will also visit Bilal Mosque and Mount Abu Qubais and, finally, will try Al-Garmushi, one of the famous traditional restaurants in Makkah.