Saudi-Russian ties stronger than ever, say experts

A panel of scholars and officials discuss Saudi-Russian ties on the sidelines of King Salman’s state visit, in Moscow on Friday.
Updated 07 October 2017

Saudi-Russian ties stronger than ever, say experts

MOSCOW: Saudi-Russian relations are stronger than ever, scholars and officials from both countries said Friday during a panel discussion in Moscow on the sidelines of King Salman’s state visit.
Houda Al-Helaisi, a member of the Saudi Shoura Council, said both countries are trying their best to improve ties, and the king’s visit has helped in this regard.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Russia last year.
“What we’re witnessing represents solid ground for better relations in various sectors,” Al-Helaisi said.
“We should concentrate more on cultural affairs, because culture is the field of cooperation and communication, while politics is always related to rivalry and competition,” said Maria Dubovikova, president of the International Middle Eastern Studies Club.
Saleh Al-Khathlan, vice president of the Riyadh-based National Society for Human Rights, said despite some differences between Russia and Saudi Arabia, “we’re on the right track.”
He added: “Our two countries are key players in regional stability and in energy. They reached an agreement that stabilized oil prices. We’re the two biggest oil producers, and our cooperation is a must to stabilize the market.”
Shoura member Noura Al-Yousuf said Saudi Arabia is thoroughly implementing its Vision 2030 reform plan.
“We’re working hard to boost small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) to offer job opportunities,” she added.
“SMEs at present contribute only 20 percent of Saudi Arabia’s GDP (gross domestic product). We want to improve it to 35 percent.”
The Kingdom seeks to localize more than 50 percent of its military industries and 75 percent of its oil and gas sector, Al-Yousuf said.
“We seek to rise from our current position of 25 to the top 10 countries on the Global Competitiveness Index,” she added.
“We’re also working on increasing FDI (foreign direct investment) from 3.8 to 5.7 percent of GDP, and raising the private sector’s contribution from 40 to 65 percent of GDP,” she said. “The share of non-oil exports in non-oil GDP will increase from 16 to 50 percent by 2030.”
Saudi businesswoman Basma Omair said women have a major role to play in achieving Vision 2030.
“Women are playing a big role in our economy… There are no hindrances that prevent us from achieving our goals.”

Ronaldinho plans Saudi Arabia football academy in Jeddah

Updated 41 min 25 sec ago

Ronaldinho plans Saudi Arabia football academy in Jeddah

  • Backstage at Misk Global Forum, Brazilian football legend reveals intention to open school some time next year
  • Player offered advice for audience, speaking about the value of teamwork, learning from failure and the rewards of giving back

RIYADH: Ronaldinho plans to open a football academy in Jeddah some time next year, the Brazilian football legend revealed to Arab News backstage in an exclusive interview after his appearance at the Misk Global Forum on Wednesday.

“First of all, I want to say thank you for a warm reception and kindness which I have received from the Saudi people,” he told Arab News. “As for the kids, those who want to be a player some day, dedicate as much as you can and follow your dreams.”

Earlier, Ronaldinho appeared on stage to a chorus of cheers at the end of the day’s sessions, where he gave a talk titled the Discipline – and Fun – of Teamwork. 

”I was lucky enough to be on a team with stars,” he said of his career with European clubs Paris St-Germain, Barcelona and AC Milan, and a World Cup win in 2002 with the Brazilian national team. “We all respected each other.

“For me it was wonderful, because my history with this team and players was a beautiful one: To idolize them and later play with them and later win titles again…”

Ronaldinho said he feels grateful for his God-given talent. “Throughout my career we had a plan, and I always worked hard. God gave me the privilege to play football. It was fun, not a sacrifice.”

“I’ve always liked to have a ball around me, to have contact with the ball.”

His advice for the audience? “Prepare yourself and help your colleague or team member,” he said. “Humility is important. Try to stay humble.”

He also said to train hard, read as much as you can and don’t fear failure. “I failed a lot of times,” he said. “Football is like that. You can’t always win. You have to seek lessons from the defeats and not lose hope.” 

Now that he’s retired, Ronaldinho is more concerned with giving back. “After I stopped playing, I have soccer academies. That’s what I’m proud of, and it has given me pleasure. To give something back (as a)  thanks to football and everything it have given me.”