Saudi Arabia among top donors to World Bank fund for poor

Axel van Trotsenburg
Updated 08 December 2016

Saudi Arabia among top donors to World Bank fund for poor

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is among the top donor countries with total contributions to the World Bank and its programs for poor countries exceeding $2.2 billion.
“The World Bank expects more Saudi contributions as the bank is in the final round of negotiations with 50 donor countries including the Kingdom,” said Axel van Trotsenburg, World Bank group vice president for development finance, here Tuesday.
Trotsenburg said that “the final round of negotiations with 50 donor countries, including the Kingdom, will take place in Yogyakarta, Indonesia on Dec. 14.” The negotiations will give a boost to the programs of the International Development Association (IDA), an institution of the World Bank, which generates core funds on which the poorest developing countries, especially in Africa, rely on.
Trotsenburg, who was speaking to Arab News in an interview after his wide-ranging talks with Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan, said that the bank is also supporting the Saudi government across many sectors including education, health, labor markets, transport, energy, urban planning, economic management, public financial management and business climate.
Referring to the role of Saudi Arabia in promoting the policies and programs of the World Bank, especially IDA programs, he pointed out that the Kingdom has been a major contributor to the IDA. “We are, on the other hand, very supportive of the Saudi Vision 2030,” said Trotsenburg.
Saudi Arabia and the World Bank have been in partnership since 1974 when the Kingdom signed a Technical Cooperation Program (TCP) Agreement establishing the World Bank office in Riyadh.
This advisory services program is the oldest of the bank. Under the agreement, upon government demand, the World Bank brings technical expertise and global knowledge to counterpart entities to support the government as it addresses development challenges. The TCP has diversified and grown over the past four years.
Asked about the allocations and assistance provided for poor countries and fragile states like Yemen and Syria under IDA, he said “the major beneficiaries have been Muslim countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Yemen and Syria.”
“We are working closely with other UN agencies to help people in Yemen,” added the World Bank official.
He said that “the IDA will reach about 77 poor and deprived countries in 2018.” To this end, he noted that the Kingdom has actively supported the IDA. Saudi Arabia is a valued, active partner of the World Bank Group. “Through its contributions to select funds, it reinforces its status as a key partner in the effort to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity,” said a Bank statement released on the occasion of the visit of Trotsenburg.
Saudi Arabia has its own chair on the board of executive directors and has been a major donor to the IDA since its inception. The World Bank is also supporting the Kingdom in strategic projects related to its “Vision 2030” and the National Transformation Program 2020 (NTP). The portfolio size under these programs has increased from around $4 million in 2010 to around $11 million in 2016.
“Among the results seen by Reimbursable Advisory Services (RAS) engagements in Saudi Arabia is the World Bank’s support for the development of national strategies such as the national water and transport strategy and the national waste management strategy. Upon demand by the Saudi government, the bank assessed water consumption and agriculture subsidies,” said the statement. It was clear that the wheat production industry was consuming water inefficiently.
The bank advised removing the subsidies on crops generating negative added value. Saudi Arabia stopped its local wheat production, saving the Kingdom water and financial resources. The bank also provided support for the Saudi Food & Drug Authority (SFDA) in the areas of animal feed, goods manufacturing practices and medical devices regulation. These engagements resulted in the automation of the licensing processes and improving inspection practices for SFDA.

Two new academies to boost Saudi arts, heritage and music

Updated 19 August 2019

Two new academies to boost Saudi arts, heritage and music

  • One academy specializing in heritage and traditional arts and crafts will start receiving applications in autumn 2020
  • A second academy dedicated to music will receive 1,000 students and trainees from 2021

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is to set up arts academies, including two in the next two years, offering a step toward academic qualification and enlarging the Kingdom’s footprint in heritage, arts and crafts, and music.

The initiative is part of the Ministry of Culture’s Quality of Life program. 

The minister, Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan, said investment in “capacity building” was one of the most important elements in encouraging the cultural sector, which enjoyed unlimited support from King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Kingdom was rich in diverse arts, talents and artistic production, Prince Badr said, and the academies would be a first step toward academic qualification in the arts within the Kingdom.

One academy specializing in heritage and traditional arts and crafts will start receiving applications in autumn 2020, targeting 1,000 students and trainees in long- and short-term programs. 

A second academy dedicated to music will receive 1,000 students and trainees from 2021.

The music academy in particular will be “the core of music production and talent development in Saudi Arabia,” Saudi musician, composer and producer Mamdouh Saif told Arab News.

The music industry was a large and diverse field, Saif said, and education was crucial. 

“The academy is the right place to launch the music industry in Saudi Arabia, and it will have a significant impact on Saudi youth, and young people in surrounding countries,” he said.

He expects “a very high turnout” for the academy among young Saudis. 

“Due to my expertise in this area, I receive many questions from people who want to learn music, but through private lessons,” he said.

“But the availability of an academy for this purpose, that teaches music in a methodological way, will be the right start for those interested in music.”