King Salman center for Yemeni aid welcomed

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Updated 17 May 2015
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King Salman center for Yemeni aid welcomed

Saudis and Yemenis have welcomed the government’s move to establish a center named after Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman in Riyadh to coordinate relief and humanitarian activities in Yemen.
The opening of the center by the king on Wednesday follows the launch of Operation Restoring Hope and his directive to correct the legal status of Yemeni workers, including giving them extendable six-month visit visas and allowing them to work.
“This is a wonderful gesture from the humanitarian king,” said one Saudi blogger.
He highlighted the $274 million emergency aid ordered by King Salman to alleviate the sufferings of Yemenis affected by the Houthi attacks.
King Salman’s order to provide jobs to undocumented Yemenis after correcting their status has been widely welcomed. Yemenis staying illegally in the Kingdom by overstaying their Umrah and visit visas will benefit from the royal gesture.
Illegal Yemenis are currently trying to obtain valid passports from the Yemeni embassy and consulate in the Kingdom to benefit from the royal amnesty.
Brig. Mohammed Al-Shahri, director of the Passport Department in Jazan, said his department has deployed more staff members to correct the status of Yemeni workers and answer their queries regarding the amnesty.
He said Yemenis must obtain passports or travel documents from the representatives of their legitimate government to benefit from the royal gesture.
Yemeni Consulate officials operating at Adnan Hotel in Jazan received a large number of their nationals who wanted to correct their legal status and get travel documents.
Ali bin Mohammed Al-Anasi, assistant consul general of Yemen, commended King Salman. “This royal gesture is a continuation of the Kingdom’s ongoing efforts to protect the Yemeni people from the atrocities of the Houthi militia and its allies,” Al-Anasi told the Saudi Press Agency.
Abdu bin Mohammed Al-Shoukhi, head of the Yemeni community in Jazan, also praised King Salman. “Coordination is under way to open more branches of the Yemeni Consulate to issue travel documents,” Al-Shoukhi said. New offices will start functioning in Samtah and Rayan, he said.
He underscored King Salman’s support for Yemenis during the present crisis caused by the Iranian-backed Houthis. He urged all Yemenis to cooperate with the Saudi authorities and correct their legal status as quickly as possible.
“King Salman’s order to allow illegal Yemenis to correct their status and work in the Kingdom reflects his nobility and generosity,” said Abdu Aqel Mohammed, a Yemeni worker. “The king’s gesture raises the hope of Yemenis,” he added.
Ahmed bin Ali Shaawan, another Yemeni, said the king’s gesture would allow Yemeni workers to make a decent living in the Kingdom. Omar Haj, another Yemeni, spoke highly of Saudi Arabia’s aid to Arab and underdeveloped countries over the years.
According to one report, Saudi Arabia has given more than SR250 billion in foreign aid to various countries over the past 24 years. Of this amount, SR85 billion went to nine Arab countries — Yemen, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, Oman, Palestine, Morocco, Sudan and Djibouti. Egypt received the lion’s share of Saudi aid for Arabs at 29 percent followed by Yemen at 17 percent.


Saudi Crown Prince takes Pakistan bond ‘to new level’

Updated 18 February 2019
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Saudi Crown Prince takes Pakistan bond ‘to new level’

  • Asseri said Saudi Arabia has deferred payments on oil worth billions of US dollars from time to time in order to ease pressure on the Pakistan economy
  • Pakistan’s relatively young population is also hoping for a stronger relationship with the Kingdom

RIYADH: A major transformation is underway in Saudi Arabia’s economic relationship with Pakistan, according to Dr. Ali Awadh Asseri, a former ambassador to Islamabad.

In a wide-ranging interview with Arab News, the former envoy said greater interaction between business and the private sectors in both countries will take the historical bond “to a new level.” 

Asseri, who spent nine years in Islamabad and was the second-longest serving Saudi ambassador to the country, said: “We know that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have always enjoyed an incomparable level of understanding and friendship based on religion, culture and values. There is a historical bond between the two countries. 

“I have no doubt that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is taking a cohesive approach to strengthen the relationship and take it to another level.” 

Asseri said that while Saudi Arabia and Pakistan cooperated closely on security matters, bilateral trade between the countries remained limited to about $4 billion. 

“We need to ... encourage the private sectors to interact more. We can help Pakistan’s industry and we need to become more involved in the trade sector. There are advanced industries and firms in Pakistan, and they have raw materials — it’s a good environment for investors.”

Asseri said Saudi Arabia has deferred payments on oil worth billions of US dollars from time to time in order to ease pressure on the Pakistan economy. The Kingdom is also making billion-dollar direct investments in the country in line with the China-Pakistan economic corridor. 

“I am happy to see a major transformation underway in Saudi-Pakistani economic relationships with our leadership and government deciding to invest in the economic development of Pakistan,” he said. 

The former ambassador said frequent official visits between the two countries were important. 

“I came back recently from Pakistan, and the vibe of the media, government and people was so optimistic. Pakistanis were excited about the crown prince’s visit. People hope it will bring great opportunities for the economy as well as strengthening the political and social ties between the two countries,” he said.

Asseri said Saudi Arabia and Pakistan had faced many challenges together in recent decades.

In 2001, during Asseri’s first year as Saudi ambassador in Pakistan, the 9/11 attacks on New York led to greater cooperation between Islamabad and Riyadh in dealing with terrorism.

The Kingdom had been closely involved with Pakistan since its independence, he said. “King Abdul Aziz sent King Saud and Prince Faisal to Pakistan at that time. So if we go back through history, we can see that this relationship is truly unique.” 

Asseri also highlighted the ties between the two countries on humanitarian issues, security and military issues, saying: “Pakistan has suffered serious security and humanitarian consequences of the decades-long war in Afghanistan, besides housing millions of Afghan refugees.

“Together Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have worked for peace in Afghanistan and will do whatever it takes to achieve this long-desired goal.”

Asseri said Pakistanis were quick to show their appreciation for Saudi Arabia’s assistance in the past regardless of the change in Pakistani leadership over the years. 

“The relationship is unique because it is between people. Such a relationship (will) keep growing with every generation.

“When Pakistan was in a difficult position in 2005 after a devastating earthquake, Saudi Arabia went out of its way to provide the support it needed. Prince Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz and eight ministers visited Balochistan. Field hospitals were created with Saudi doctors treating people and performing surgery there.” 

Pakistan also has a deep loyalty to Saudi Arabia, Asseri said. “Pakistan has military expertise, and through cooperation between the two countries, it helped the Saudi military during its development.” 

“The Kingdom’s recent appointment of a Saudi commercial attache in Pakistan will also bolster the economic links between the two countries,” he said. 

“There are good minds in Pakistan and good products that could be manufactured in Saudi Arabia.”

Asseri said he is also optimistic that Saudi plans to build a major oil refinery in Gwadar will help create an “economic hub.” 

The former envoy said the Saudi crown prince’s visit to Pakistan will add to the relationship between the countries. 

Pakistan’s relatively young population is also hoping for a stronger relationship with the Kingdom. 

“Young Pakistanis who are advanced in the IT and industrial sectors are looking forward to helping and cooperating with Saudi Arabia, and sharing their experiences and knowledge,” he said.