Detainees were pushing ‘extremist agenda,’ Saudi foreign minister claims

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir attends a high level meeting to discuss the current situation in Libya during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly in New York on September 20, 2017. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)
Updated 23 September 2017
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Detainees were pushing ‘extremist agenda,’ Saudi foreign minister claims

NEW YORK: A group of prominent clerics, academics and businessmen in Saudi Arabia who were arrested earlier this month were “pushing an extremist agenda,” according to Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir.
The minister also claimed the detainees had taken funding from foreign countries.
Many of those arrested had previously been critical of the government or its policies, and some have ties to a brand of political Islam the country’s rulers have long opposed. While there have been social media posts apparently identifying some of those arrested, the government’s Center for International Communication has not responded to requests for comments and the names cannot yet be independently confirmed.
In an interview with Bloomberg Television in New York on Wednesday, Al-Jubeir said that more information would be released “when the investigations are concluded,” and stressed that “(those) detained were pushing an extremist agenda. They were inciting people, and this was not going to stand.”
He added that, since Saudi Arabia expected others to have “zero tolerance for extremism and terrorism,” then “we ourselves will live by this.”
In contrast, he later referenced Qatar, saying Saudi Arabia’s neighbor — currently embroiled in an ongoing feud with the Kingdom, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt — “has to stop supporting terrorists, stop financing terrorists, stop providing safe harbor to people implicated and wanted for terror financing.”
Al-Jubeir went on to name Iran as “the No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism,” claiming Saudi Arabia’s longtime rival was “on a rampage” that is destabilizing the Middle East.
“Iran is a huge threat to all of us in the region and unless it changes its policy our region will always be troubled,” he said.
Asked about the Kingdom’s commitment to Saudi Vision 2030, a blueprint announced last year to diversify the economy away from oil, Al-Jubeir said the government has taken tangible steps toward implementing the plan, citing the building of entertainment venues, the introduction of laws giving companies “direct licensing to have retail operations in Saudi Arabia,” and the diversification of the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund to invest more overseas as examples.
“These are things that are noticeable,” he said.


Holy Sites metro project to transport 350,000 pilgrims this year

Updated 4 min 43 sec ago
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Holy Sites metro project to transport 350,000 pilgrims this year

JEDDAH: The opening of the Al-Mashaaer Al-Mugaddassah Metro Project (MMMP) in 2010 introduced a new means of transport for pilgrims in the Kingdom.
The MMMP (South Line) links the southeast of Arafat and southwest of Mina through Muzdalifah. The trains pass through three stations in each of Arafat, Muzdalifah and Mina. The track stretches over roughly 20 kilometers and the driverless trains run at speeds between 80-120 kph.
The project includes nine overground stations, each with a 300-meter long platform that can be accessed by pilgrims via specific routes to the waiting areas under the stations, each of which can accommodate more than 3,000 people.
During this year’s pilgrimage season, the service is expected to transport 350,000 pilgrims over the course of seven days, running a total of over 1,000 journeys on its 17 air-conditioned trains, in which each carriage accommodates 300 pilgrims.
The project won Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs a FIDIC Centenary Award of Merit in 2013 — when it was selected as one of the top 24 engineering projects in the world from the previous 100 years by the International Federation of Consulting Engineers.
The MMMP(South Line) also won the US-based Franz Edelman Award for Achievements in Operations Research and the Management Sciences.