‘It is in our interest to see a strong Saudi Arabia’

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King Salman receives US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis in Riyadh Wednesday. (SPA)
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Houthi fighters ride on the back of a patrol truck Yemen's capital Sanaa on Wednesday. US Defense Secretary jim Mattis on Wednesday warned of Iranian efforts to create a Yemeni militia “in the image” of Lebanon’s Hezbollah. (REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah)
Updated 20 April 2017
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‘It is in our interest to see a strong Saudi Arabia’

RIYADH: The US wants to see a strong Saudi Arabia, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said during talks with King Salman on Wednesday, aimed at reinvigorating the Riyadh-Washington alliance. 

Mattis said Iran was playing a destabilizing role in the region but its influence would be overcome to try to reach a solution to the conflict in Yemen through UN-brokered negotiations.

“Everywhere you look if there is trouble in the region, you find Iran,” Mattis told reporters in Riyadh after meeting senior Saudi officials. “We will have to overcome Iran’s efforts to destabilize yet another country and create another militia in their image of Lebanese Hezbollah, but the bottom line is we are on the right path for it,” Mattis added. 

Mattis also hinted that President Donald Trump could visit the Kingdom, a longtime US ally which has welcomed Washington’s firmer line against the common adversary Iran. “It is in our interest to see a strong Saudi Arabia,” Mattis said at the start of talks with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, pointing to the country’s “military security services and secret services.”

“What we can do here today could actually open the door possibly to bringing our president to Saudi Arabia,” Mattis said.

The two sides pledged to work closely to broaden security cooperation and to ramp up support for the Saudi-led coalition fighting Iranian-backed Houthi militias in Yemen.

Mattis’ talks with the king at Al-Yamamah Palace focused on “efforts to strengthen US-Saudi partnership,” said Johann Schmonsees, a spokesman of the US Embassy. 

Mattis discussed with the king and the deputy crown prince efforts to strengthen commitments to the US-Saudi security partnership, Schmonsees said.

Saud Al-Awadh, a political analyst, said: “The trip of the US defense secretary marks the first visit of the Pentagon chief to the Kingdom. It has added significance keeping in view the American counterterrorism operations and airstrikes in Yemen, where US forces are also providing moderate intelligence support to the Saudi-led forces.”

Mattis will also visit Israel, Egypt, Qatar and Djibouti. The Pentagon has billed the trip, Mattis’ fourth as defense secretary and second to the Middle East region, as an opportunity for him to discuss the ongoing fight against terrorism throughout the region. 

Mattis traveled to Egypt Thursday after wrapping up his two-day trip to the Kingdom. He will visit Israel Friday before returning to the Gulf Saturday for talks in Qatar. The trip is primarily aimed at boosting the alliance between the US and these five countries, which are important players in the region.


World’s leading young violinist to give two concerts in Saudi Arabia

Updated 18 July 2018
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World’s leading young violinist to give two concerts in Saudi Arabia

  • The performances will take place on July 21 at King Fahd Cultural Center in Riyadh and at Dar Al-Hekma University in Jeddah on July 23
  • Chloe Chua of Singapore will be accompanied at the Riyadh concert by pianist Gordon Back, artistic director of the Menuhin competition

JEDDAH: Chloe Chua, junior winner of this year’s world-renowned Menuhin competition, is to perform in Riyadh and Jeddah.

The performances, organized by the General Authority for Culture (GAC) in Saudi Arabia, will take place on Saturday, July 21 at King Fahd Cultural Center in Riyadh, while Dar Al-Hekma University in Jeddah will host the second concert on Monday, July 23 when Saudi pianist Eman Gusti will also perform.

Chua, the 11-year-old from Singapore, won the competition, considered a major international contest for young violinists.

Her talent began to be recognized when at the age of four she joined the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts in Singapore. She also came first in the Andrea Postacchini International Violin Competition last year.

She will be accompanied at the Riyadh concert by pianist Gordon Back, artistic director of the Menuhin competition.

Back is a key contributor to major international violin competitions including the Queen Elizabeth in Brussels, the Carl Flesch in London, the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow, the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis in the US, and the Menuhin Competition in the UK. 

His recordings include Bach and Schumann sonatas for violin and piano with French violinist Jean-Jacques Kantorow, a series with British clarinetist Emma Johnson, and in 2011 he recorded all of 19th-century Moravian composer Heinrich Wilhelm Ernst’s works with Czech violinist Josef Spacek.

The fact that these two concerts have been organized displays the GAC’s commitment to featuring internationally renowned artists in the Kingdom. This type of event raises awareness of classical music, and is part of the GAC’s drive to provide diverse artistic experiences to audiences in the Kingdom.