Saudi ambassador to Turkey: KSA has stood by Rohingyas for 70 years

Filipino Muslims display placards during a rally to protest Myanmar’s persecution of Rohingya Muslims outside the Myanmar’s Embassy in Makati on Friday. (Reuters)
Updated 09 September 2017
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Saudi ambassador to Turkey: KSA has stood by Rohingyas for 70 years

RIYADH: Saudi Ambassador to Turkey Waleed Al-Khereiji said that the Kingdom has been standing by the side of the Rohingya Muslims for 70 years at the international level, and by providing assistance and donations.
The ambassador’s statement, released by the Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah, said that King Salman’s government has given a lot of attention to the protection of human rights, at both the international and regional levels. The Saudi leadership has taken the initiative to join various international human rights organizations and conventions that call for ending discrimination and mistreatment since 1997.
Concerning the Rohingya crisis, the ambassador said: “The Kingdom has exerted all possible efforts to help Myanmar’s Muslims in this human tragedy. The Kingdom is all about action, and not words. Nobody can claim that they have exerted more efforts for the Rohingya people than the Kingdom has during the past 70 years, as history stands witness that the Kingdom was one of the first states that supported their case at the international level and in the UN Human Rights Council.”
“The Kingdom has also condemned Myanmar’s government for denying the Rohingya people citizenship since 1982, considering them illegal immigrants. Thus, the Rohingya people have been restricted from freedom of movement and the simplest human rights, including food and health care services. The Kingdom has also made a donation of $50 million for the Muslim minority, through health rehabilitation and educational programs, and started receiving refugees in 1948. Today, there are 300,000 Rohingya people in the Kingdom.”
He added: “The Kingdom has released many statements condemning the violence against the Rohingyas, including rape, murder, forced eviction, persecution and ethnic cleansing campaigns. The Kingdom has also contacted the UN secretary-general and the Rohingya crisis has become an international issue and thus, Myanmar is facing international condemnation over the Rohingya crisis. As the leader of the Islamic world, the Kingdom will continue its efforts and contacts in order to find solutions.”

The history of the Rohingya Muslims living in Riyadh
The tragedy of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine State once again highlights the story of Rohingya groups which emigrated to Makkah.
Many years ago, Rohingya Muslims, fleeing the persecution of their own government, emigrated to Makkah from Rakhine State in western Myanmar on a journey which lasted about two years. The UN classified the Rohingya as the most persecuted people in the world.
In this context, the director of the Rohingya Media Center, Saleh Abdul Shakur, stated that the Rohingya Muslims form a minority of about 1 million people who live in the west of Myanmar (formerly Burma). They have been stripped of Burmese nationality by the government and subjected oppression for the past 70 years for one reason only — being Muslim.
Abdul Shakur told Alarabiya.net that continuous persecution pushed some Rohingya Muslims to flee to Saudi Arabia. Upon their arrival, the late King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz offered them special residency status, and since then, “the Burmese community has found in the Kingdom the care and mercy they lacked in their home country.”
Abdul Shakur added that four years ago, a special program was launched to revise the situation of the Burmese community, and they were offered free residency permits for four years which entitled them to free education, health care and employment. The program, which was implemented by the governorate of Makkah and offered settlement for more than 250,000 Burmese, was classified by the UN Commissioner for Refugees as the biggest humanitarian program.
Abdul Shakur maintained that the Kingdom is the biggest supporter of the Rohingya case in the world.


On track for 2030? Movers and shakers in KSA look ahead

Kingdom tower in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock)
Updated 24 September 2018
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On track for 2030? Movers and shakers in KSA look ahead

  • “The comprehensiveness of Vision 2030 and the wider horizons it addresses positively transform the Saudi citizen’s life to become more integrative and enjoy new prosperity," says Dr. Saad Saleh Al-Rwaita.
  • Cybersecurity has a crucial role to play in accomplishing Vision 2030 objectives, explained Dr. Areej Alhogail.

RIYADH: Saudi Vision 2030 kicked off with the aim of boosting non-oil revenues through capitalizing on current assets, utilizing resources, and starting up new industries.

In order to reach the objectives outlined in the plan, government bodies have launched many initiatives, which have proceeded with the support of the private sector as firms have cooperated through developing their strategic plans, and overcome many challenges. 

The 88th Saudi National Day provides an opportunity not only to celebrate unification, but also to look back on the achievements of Vision 2030 and take stock of how it is paving the way to economic reforms while carving out enhanced influence for its citizens on the world stage.

Here both public and private sector leaders who contribute to the economic transition plan share their thoughts on Vision 2030. 

Homam Hashem, Chief Executive Officer at Kafalah Fund, a financing guarantee program for small- and medium-sized enterprises, commented: ”One of the main objectives of Vision 2030 is to increase the contribution of the SME private sector to 35% of GDP. Small and medium enterprises have a significant impact on raising growth rates by raising financing opportunities and providing ways of success for the advancement of the sector. The program has contributed by raising the ceiling of guarantees for regular guarantees and developing specialized programs for the sectors (tourism, working capital support, and emerging enterprises). It has also attracted new sectors such as businesswomen and promising regions by providing additional incentives and developing many incentives that contribute to support raising local lending rates for small and medium enterprises up to 20% by 2030. The focus was on supporting the sectors that are compatible with the Kingdom's vision 2030 and diversifying the means of support.” 

Dr. Fahad Al-Shathri, Deputy Governor of Supervision at the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA), said: “In view of the demographic challenges, Saudi Arabia cannot solely rely on the same economic model as during the past five decades, namely oil. Twelve years from now, I would expect the economy to be more dynamic and to have multiple sectors driving growth and job creation, including tourism and logistics. Entrepreneurship will be the central focus for young people in future, inspired by the great accomplishments of their peers. These will be the new drivers of the economy that Vision 2030 is aiming at, and we hope that everyone will strive to contribute to its success.”

As education will play a crucial role in the development of human capital in the Kingdom, we asked Alfaisal University president Dr. Mohammed Al-Hayaza for his take. The former Shoura Council member said: “The Ministry of Education has taken unprecedented measures to ensure that our institutes of higher education are both the best in the region and top-ranked internationally. Vision 2030 has developed job specifications for each field of education, and by utilizing these specifications Alfaisal University is closing the gap between the learning outcomes of higher education and that of the demands of the job market through continued targeted alignment.”

Dr. Saad Saleh Al-Rwaita, Vice-Rector for administrative and financial affairs at Prince Sultan University in Riyadh, commented: “The comprehensiveness of Vision 2030 and the wider horizons it addresses positively transform the Saudi citizen’s life to become more integrative and enjoy new prosperity. 

The Vision will safeguard the Kingdom against dependence on circumstantial changes of the natural resources market and being influenced by external factors that are beyond our control, while empowering the Kingdom to create change and exert influence that surpass the local reality to direct the international compass and take the initiative, particularly in the economic field, in order to guarantee a bright future for the future generations.”

Looking to the real estate sector, Ehab Al Dabbagh, CEO of real estate development firm Ijmal, said the industry was likely to see big changes in future: “Firstly, the demand for housing products would be met. Technology and industrial progression will play a major role in building a variety of eco-friendly housing products. Houses could be ordered through an online application and fabricated in weeks.”

Another vital contributor in Vision 2030 is the food industry. Engineer Abdul-Mohsen Al-Yahya, who founded the chain of fast food restaurants Kudo, and currently an investor in supply and support at the food sector, said: “From my own experience in food services for more than 30 years in Saudi Arabia, I believe that in future the food service sector will continue to grow with more investments, products diversity and quality will increase, while continuing to become an extension of economic growth in Saudi Arabia and a key industry generating employment opportunities.”

Cybersecurity has a crucial role to play in accomplishing Vision 2030 objectives, explained Dr. Areej Alhogail, assistant professor in the Department of Information Systems at Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University in Riyadh, who sits on the Saudi group of information security, said: “The Kingdom has taken pioneering steps, such as establishing the National Cybersecurity Authority, the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, and allocating scholarships in the field of information security. (These initiatives) will enable the Kingdom to be at the forefront of countries in the field of cybersecurity by 2030, and will protect the local economy, perhaps attracting foreign investments in various fields of information to be the ideal environment of trained local professionals and advanced laboratories and legislation protection.”