Riyadh donates additional $150m to help Yemenis

War-displaced Yemeni children stand next to a tent at a camp near Sanaa. (Reuters)
Updated 26 April 2017

Riyadh donates additional $150m to help Yemenis

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia on Tuesday donated $150 million (SR562 million) to the King Salman Center for Humanitarian Aid and Relief (KSRelief) to boost its work in war-torn Yemen.
The donation was announced by Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, head of the center, who led the Kingdom’s delegation to a donors’ conference in Geneva.
Al-Rabeeah said the most recent donation is part of the $8.2 billion the Kingdom has pledged to help its humanitarian and developmental assistance to Yemen since April 2015.
International donors pledged $1.1 billion for Yemen, said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Tuesday. Officials did not immediately provide a full breakdown of the pledges — or specify how much was new.
Guterres appealed to the fighting sides to grant access to humanitarian relief and revive diplomatic efforts to end the conflict in which more than 10,000 civilians have died.
Guterres ended the daylong Yemen aid conference by hailing the “clear generosity and solidarity” of governments and civil society in their efforts to aid people caught up in two years of conflict in the Arab world’s poorest country.
The conference, cosponsored by the UN, Switzerland and Sweden, raised pledges of over half of the $2.1 billion sought by the UN this year.
Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr said the Houthi militias and those loyal to ousted Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh were blocking state salaries owed to employees in areas under their control. He added that the funds pledged are enough to pay state salaries for a period of nine months in Sanaa and other cities.
“We sent 12 billion Yemeni riyals from Aden to Sanaa and Taiz, which are under the control of the Houthis, and we are still sending funds to cities, despite the obstacles, as we do not differentiate between the provinces. We will continue to support the humanitarian aid teams irrespective of where they are as there is no differentiation between provinces under the control of the government and others,” he said.
Bin Daghr stressed that the Yemeni government will continue to lend support to UN efforts and the humanitarian response plan for 2017, adding that millions of Yemeni citizens are awaiting this assistance, some facing starvation.
“Taiz is the largest city after the capital, and it has been suffering from siege and continuous shelling over the past two years. Iranian-made ballistic missiles are continuing to hit cities and neighborhoods. The destruction continued with the march of militias on the cities of Yemen, city after city, including the capital of Sanaa, Taiz, and others, resulting in a clear assault on the legitimate elected government,” said Bin Daghr.
After years of shortfall in funding for Yemen, Guterres said there is a “very encouraging signal” that the target could be met this year.
He said the pledges must now be “translated into effective support” for Yemenis.
“We basically need now three things: Access, access, access,” for humanitarian actors to reach all Yemenis in need, he said.
“On average, a child under the age of five dies of preventable causes in Yemen every 10 minutes,” Guterres said at the opening of the conference.
“This means 50 children in Yemen will die during today’s conference, and all of those deaths could have been prevented.”

Visit to Pakistan, India and China proves strategic for Saudi Arabia

Updated 24 February 2019

Visit to Pakistan, India and China proves strategic for Saudi Arabia

  • Benefits of three-country tour include billions in economic deals as well as security initiatives

JEDDAH: The three-country tour of Asia by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that came to a close this weekend was an economic and strategic success, experts say.

“Saudi Arabia might be seen by some as moving to the East,” Salman Al-Ansari, founder of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee (SAPRAC), told Arab News. “The correct way to put it is that it’s spreading its wings East and West.

“Economic diversification requires strategic diversification. This should not be seen in any way as Saudi Arabia giving the cold shoulder to its most trusted allies, specifically the US,” he said. “And as Joseph Parry said: ‘Make new friends but keep the old; those are silver, these are gold.’”

The tour, which saw Saudi Arabia’s crown prince warmly welcomed by the leaders of Pakistan, India and China, is in line with the crown prince’s Vision 2030, which plans to transform Saudi Arabia’s economy that relies on crude oil exports into a vibrant, diversified economy. The tour resulted in billions of dollars in economic deals as well as initiatives to increase security and combat terrorism.

“Saudi Arabia is the one and only country that can take the leadership position on the global efforts of combating terrorism, specifically in the ideological front,” Al-Ansari said.

Hamdan Al-Shehri, a political analyst and international relations scholar, said that China and Saudi Arabia have the same goals of security and stability. “China shares the Kingdom’s concerns and it knows that our continent has suffered from terrorism issues and international interventions and also troubles in the region.”

The two countries also improved on their mutually beneficial economic ties. As Al-Shehri pointed out: “China needs a huge energy source, and Saudi Arabia is one of these sources that can provide China with energy.”

One significant deal is the $10 billion refining and petrochemical complex, a joint venture between Saudi Aramco and Norinco, to be developed in the Chinese city of Panjin.

Also of great geopolitical significance is the $10-billion oil-refinery in Pakistan’s Gwadar Port, as it is one of the most important parts of China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative, Al-Shehri said. “Global players are willing to invest in this project. The Kingdom’s investment in this field will serve Pakistan and will benefit the Kingdom as well as the (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor).”

And despite its historical relationship with Pakistan, Al-Shehri said that the Kingdom also found common ground with India. For instance, the two countries agreed to set up a working group on counter-terrorism. 

“India shares the Kingdom’s concern about instability in the seas, such as the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea. These are all places of global trade,” Al-Shehri said, adding that he hopes the Kingdom will play a role in resolving border points of contention between Pakistan and India as it did between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

It wasn’t all just business. The crown prince’s tour included some other announcements, including that 2,100 Pakistani and 850 Indian prisoners will be released from the Kingdom’s jails, that the Chinese language will be introduced in the Saudi school curriculum and that Saudi Arabia will soon host several concerts featuring major Bollywood performers.

The crown prince also called for the creation of a health center in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province dedicated to the memory of a Pakistani hero who saved 14 lives in Jeddah’s 2009 floods.