Saudi Arabia forms new apparatus of state security

Updated 21 July 2017

Saudi Arabia forms new apparatus of state security

JEDDAH: King Salman on Thursday decreed the consolidation of the counterterrorism and domestic intelligence services under a new body named the Presidency of State Security.
The new state security agency will be headed by intelligence chief Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed Al-Howairini, who will hold the rank of a minister.
In a series of royal decrees, King Salman also appointed Abdullah bin Abdulkarim bin Abdul Aziz Al-Essa as assistant to the head of the Presidency of State Security, with the rank of minister.
The new body will be concerned with all matters related to state security, and will be overseen by the king.
The General Directorate of Investigation, the Special Security Forces, the Special Emergency Forces, General Security Aviation Command, the General Directorate of Technical Affairs, the National Information Center and all matters related to combatting terrorism and financial investigations will be separated from the Interior Ministry and placed under the new Presidency of State Security.
It is well-known that the Interior Ministry did a remarkable job since its inception until the early 1990s with regard to police, traffic, Passport Department and other services that concern citizens and residents.
However, after the rise of the terror threat, the Interior Ministry concentrated much of its efforts on fighting this scourge.
This led to the addition of a large number of responsibilities, which affected the ministry’s other services such as police, traffic and the Passport Department.
The Presidency of State Security will enable the Interior Ministry to provide the best services to citizens and residents in all sectors. The new presidency will be able to focus on the fight against terrorism on the security and intelligence levels, as well as monitor its financing.
Everything related to the Security Affairs Agency and other functions related to the ministry — including tasks involving civil and military employees, budgets, documents and information — will also be added to the Presidency of State Security.
Experts believe the creation of the Presidency of State Security will rationalize state expenditure, increase revenues, achieve economic growth and competitiveness, and increase exports to reduce reliance on imports.
All sectors, bodies and departments of the Interior Ministry and the Presidency of State Security are mandated to cooperate with each other to ensure necessary support, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. All decrees are to be implemented from the start of the next fiscal year.

Other appointments
Also appointed on Thursday were Mohammed bin Abdullah bin Ibrahim Al-Kuwaiz as chairman of the Capital Market Authority with the rank of minister; Bader bin Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz bin Asaker as director of the crown prince’s Special Office with the rank of minister; and Sulaiman bin Naif bin Atallah Al-Kathiri as head of special affairs of the crown prince.
Among other appointments, Lt. Gen. Suhail bin Saqr Al-Mutairi was promoted to the rank of general and appointed head of the Royal Guard, in place of Gen. Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Ohaili.
Lt. Gen. Khaled bin Garrar Al-Harbi was appointed commander of the Special Emergency Forces and promoted to the rank of general.
Maj. Gen. Mufleh bin Sulayem Al-Otaibi, commander of the Special Security Forces, was promoted to lieutenant general.

Russian orchestra brings classical music to Saudi Arabia

Updated 3 min 40 sec ago

Russian orchestra brings classical music to Saudi Arabia

DHAHRAN: The Russian Mariinsky Orchestra treated its Saudi audience with masterpieces created by Prokofiev, Grieg, Vivaldi, Mozart and other maestros at a concert to mark the inauguration of the Ithra Theater in Dhahran in the Eastern Province.

It was the first performance of this renowned Russian orchestra not only in the Kingdom but also in the entire Gulf Cooperation Council region.

The prestigious world-class orchestra was hosted by the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), in collaboration with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) and Saudi Aramco, as part of Eid Al-Fitr celebrations.

“The Mariinsky Theater is one of Russia’s most distinguished and historic theaters. It has amazed audiences worldwide, including in Asia, Europe, North America and now Saudi Arabia,” Fatmah Al-Rashid, the acting director of Ithra, told Arab News. 

She said: “Ithra’s mission is to broaden horizons, and provide its visitors with a cultural window that reflects the richness of our world.”

The event was part of the cultural exchange between Russia and Saudi Arabia, which aims to strengthen the bond between the two countries.  

The CEO of the RDIF, Kirill Dmitriev, who is also a member of the Mariinsky Theatre’s board of trustees, said: “It is a great honor for RDIF to organize the first symphonic concert in the history of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We all saw the admiration of the center’s audience who listened to the enchanting playing of the Russian musicians conducted by the maestro Valery Gergiev, and their enthusiastic standing ovation for the Russian orchestra.”

The orchestra has recorded symphonies and piano concertos by Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich, operas by German composer Richard Wagner, France’s Jules Massenet as well as Russia’s Sergei Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet” and “Cinderella” ballet music.

Led by renowned conductor Valery Gergiev, the orchestra presented its first performance on June 16. In their second performance, they played Prokofiev’s Symphony No.1 and Edvard Grieg’s Holberg Suite and arias from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s opera “The Magic Flute.”

“It is a very important part of our relationship because our Saudi partners can see that we bring the best of Russian art, and we have a lot to be proud of,” the RDIF chief said.

“RDIF will further contribute to strengthening cultural relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia. Our next project will be a week of Russian culture later this year.”   

In 2017, RDIF and Saudi Aramco signed a memorandum to create a $1 billion mutual fund to invest in the energy sector. Relations between Russia and Saudi Arabia have actively developed in recent years due to the support of the leaders of both countries. 

In 2015, during the visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Moscow, the sovereign fund of Saudi Arabia, the Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced its intention to invest $10 billion in Russian projects through a partnership with RDIF. 

The visit of King Salman to the Russian Federation in October 2017 gave a new momentum to these relations. The PIF has invested $2 billion in 15 mutual projects with RDIF. 

The concert was attended by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets, Russian Energy Minister Aleksandr Novak, RDIF CEO Kirill Dmitriev, Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih, Saudi Information Minister Awwad Alawwad, and Saudi Aramco CEO Amin H. Nasser. 

The area of the state-of-the-art Ithra Theater is 1,500 square meters with a capacity for 900 people. It is the only proscenium theater in the Kingdom, a venue in which the audience faces the stage straight on. As a result, the moment a person steps into the auditorium, he is wowed by the look and feel of the famous traditional theaters in Europe, rather than simply a large hall with a stage. The proscenium arch, which frames the stage, is nine meters tall and 16 meters wide.