King Salman’s visit to bolster Saudi-Japanese ties, says envoy

Japanese Ambassador Norihiro Okuda
Updated 06 March 2017

King Salman’s visit to bolster Saudi-Japanese ties, says envoy

RIYADH: Norihiro Okuda, Japanese ambassador to Saudi Arabia, has described the forthcoming visit of King Salman as “significant,” reflecting the priority the Kingdom attaches to strengthening the relationship with Japan.

As part of his month-long Asian tour, King Salman is scheduled to arrive in Tokyo on a three-day trip that will begin on March 12.
“The visit of King Salman to Japan is mainly intended to strengthen ties in different domains,” said Ambassador Okuda. He said that the king, during his stay in Japan, will hold wide-ranging talks with top Japanese officials covering bilateral, regional and international issues of common concern.
“First of all, I would like to extend my heartfelt welcome to King Salman on the occasion of his visit to Japan,” Okuda said. “It will be King Salman’s first official visit in three years; he was there in Japan in 2014 in the capacity of crown prince.”
Regional issues involving East Asia will also be part of the meeting agenda, he said. The envoy also said that “Japanese officials would also like to exchange views on the Middle East regional issues such as Yemen and Syria with King Salman.”
He further pointed out that Japan will take up the opportunity during the visit of King Salman to consult on diverse issues, not only on economic issues, but also culture and entertainment in order to achieve the goals set in the Saudi Vision 2030, as well as security cooperation.
Ambassador Okuda noted the visit of Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, second deputy premier and defense minister, to Japan last September. “The visit was indeed an opportunity for both Saudi Arabia and Japan to reaffirm their sound bilateral relations over the past six decades, and to kick off an ambitious exercise to enhance collaboration to create (a) vibrant society and thriving economy through implementation of Saudi Vision 2030 and National Transformation Program 2020,” he added.
Asked about the growing relations between Saudi Arabia and Japan, he said: “Japan highly commends a series of initiatives taken by the Kingdom to reform economy and society, and it wants to actively cooperate with Saudi Arabia to achieve the goals that the vision sets out.”
For that purpose, both countries have established the Joint Group for Saudi-Japan Vision 2030, he noted.
Okuda pointed out that a delegation headed by Hiroshige Seko, Japanese minister of economy, trade and industry, had his first meeting with his Saudi counterpart within the framework of the Joint Group in October. During the meeting, the two sides discussed areas of potential cooperation in fields like energy, health care, retail, animation and intellectual property.
He pointed out that the group has established five sub-groups, which will comprise senior officials and experts. These sub panels are in the fields of trade and investment opportunities, investment and finance, energy and industry, SME and capacity building, and culture and sports.
Referring to the outcome of the first meeting of group, Okuda said that both counties have had detailed discussions to identify specific areas and practical ways of cooperation. Areas such as infrastructure, entertainment, energy and the Saudi Aramco initial public offering are considered as priorities, he noted.
“Saudi and Japan hope to agree on high-priority projects at a ministerial meeting in Tokyo, which, we hope, will be held on the occasion of King Salman’s visit,” he added. “We welcome more frequent and more detailed discussions on the regional security issues between the two countries.”
Referring to the developments in the field of defense cooperation, Ambassador Okuda said, “the two countries will also focus on possible future defense cooperation including high-level reciprocal visits of high ranking defense officials and cooperation in the area of defense-related equipment.”
The envoy noted that the Kingdom recently appointed a defense attache in Tokyo, the first to serve in Japan in such a role. “His appointment is the symbol of the deepening relations between the two countries,” he said.
Saudi Arabia and Japan signed a defense agreement in Tokyo during the visit of the Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last September.

‘I’ve been waiting to get to Saudi Arabia for years’: Akon tells Asharqiah crowd

Updated 23 March 2019

‘I’ve been waiting to get to Saudi Arabia for years’: Akon tells Asharqiah crowd

  • “First thing tomorrow morning, I’m headed to Makkah to perform Umrah” Akon said 
  • He entertained the crowd with some of his most popular hits at the Asharqiah Music Festival

DAMMAM: American rapper Akon captivated a packed crowd at the Asharqiah Music Festival on Friday, opening up the second night of musical festivities at Sharqiah Season with a special shout-out to Saudi Arabia.

“You have no idea, I’ve been waiting to get to Saudi for years, man,” Akon said, before launching into his song, “Gunshot.” Later, he told the crowd: “I’m seeing a tremendous change in Saudi Arabia here tonight."

At 8 p.m., under a bright moon on a beautifully cool night, Akon began his set, delighting fans who had spent over 10 minutes chanting his name in anticipation of his arrival.

He entertained the crowd with some of his most popular hits, including “Smack That,” “Mr. Lonely” and “Sorry: Blame It On Me.” And he wrapped things up with “I love you, Saudi... thank you for making me feel at home."

Backstage before the concert, Akon told Arab News how excited he was to be in Saudi Arabia for the first time. He was especially excited to visit one Saudi city in particular.

“First thing tomorrow morning, I’m headed to Makkah to perform Umrah.”