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.


Women welcomed to Saudi roads

This historic decision will positively impact not only the lives of individuals but also on the future of businesses within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Updated 25 June 2018
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Women welcomed to Saudi roads

  • This historic decision will positively impact not only the lives of individuals but also on the future of businesses within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • Businesses such as spas, cafés, hotels and restaurants were offering something in return for Saudi women showing their licenses

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia eased into its first commuter day with women on the roads without a hitch on Sunday.

In fact, it was a historic day of celebration as police gave female drivers flowers, hotels offered rooms and meals to the first women to arrive driving their cars, cafes served them free coffee, while the Ministry of Transport greeted them with a billboard that read “Dear sister, we wish you safety always.”
Many women were seen driving to their offices on Sunday morning, while a few were driving on the outskirts of Riyadh to acclimatize themselves with the environment before they hit the roads.
“As of 12 a.m., the implementation of the Supreme Court order to enable women to drive and the implementation of traffic regulations to both men and women is officially in effect,” said Col. Sami Al-Shwairkh, the official spokesman for General Security in the Kingdom.
“The security and traffic status on all roads and areas around the Kingdom have been reported as normal. There have not been any records from our monitoring of any unusual occurrences on the road throughout the Kingdom.”
Meanwhile, businesses such as spas, cafés, hotels and restaurants were offering something in return for Saudi women showing their licenses.
The ladies-only spa at Jeddah’s Park Hyatt Hotel, Evania Spa, was giving free access to the first three women who show up to it with a 30-minute massage as part of the day’s celebrations.
Restaurants such as Punjab Grill, Rosso and Rai in Jeddah were offering free lunch or dinner to every female that arrived in her own vehicle and showing her driver’s license.
Hotels such as the Narcissus in Riyadh and Sheraton Damman were also celebrating women driving by offering a free night’s stay and dinners at their top restaurants for the first women to arrive in their own cars.
Women enthusiastically and wholeheartedly cheered on their fellow female drivers, beginning after midnight, packing Jeddah’s Corniche in the middle of the night and then into the day.
Saudi Shoura Council member Lina Almaeena was among the very first women to drive in the Kingdom as soon as the clock struck midnight. “I feel proud, I feel dignified and I feel liberated,” she said.
Almaeena told Arab News that the event was changing her life by “facilitating it, making it more comfortable, making it more pleasant, and making it more stress-free.”
She urged all drivers to follow the traffic and road safety rules. “What’s making me anxious is the misconduct of a lot of the drivers, the male drivers. Unfortunately, they’re not as disciplined as they should be. Simple things such as changing lanes and using your signals — this is making me anxious.”
And this isn’t because Almaeena doesn’t know what she’s doing. “I’m confident: I’ve driven all around the world when I travel, especially when I’m familiar with the area. It’s really mainly how to be a defensive driver because you have to be.”
On how society is adapting to this major change, Almaeena said: “Tomorrow is the first day, mentally and psychologically, it already had that shift. As I mentioned, it’s a paradigm shift. In perception and how they view women, their capabilities — as equal partners.
“Mentally, it’s already there, and physically we will see, as we start, more and more encouragement for both men and women. Even some of the women who weren’t feeling comfortable about driving, it’s going to be encouraging for them, in a live demonstration and evidence that women can do it.”
Dr. Soha Tashkandi, chairperson of clinical pathology in Riyadh’s King Fahad Medical City, also got into her car just after midnight but was back out in the day. “When the clock struck 12am on Sunday, June 24, I drove in my country for the first time,” she said. “It was a memorable night, not only because I took to the wheel in Saudi, but because my 18-year-old daughter was alongside me. She also had the chance to drive.”
She and her daughter were some of the first ladies to register for a license, and her husband supported them all the way.
Tashkandi, with her husband Dr Ismael Baksh in the back seat, took an Arab News reporter for a spin yesterday. When Baksh was asked how he feels sitting in the back seat, he replied: “Finally, I can relax”.
Tashkandi praised the Saudi Driving School (SDS) as a positive experience that was full of ease. Nothing could stop them from getting their licenses, she said. “The SDS team were highly professional and helpful accommodating my training schedule according to my long working hours. Part of the training was during the holy month of Ramadan, but this did not stop me or my daughter from taking the full 30-hour training.”
As she made a right turn, Tashkandi said: “Whether at home or working as an individual, Saudi women have always been supported by their male peers. Today, we all celebrate together.
“This historic decision will positively impact not only the lives of individuals but also on the future of businesses within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”