Rain brings pain back to Jeddah

Volunteers try to remove a car from a flooded street in Jeddah after Tuesday’s downpour. (AN photo by Salman Marzouki)
Updated 22 November 2017
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Rain brings pain back to Jeddah

JEDDAH: Civil Defense forces rescued 400 people in Makkah region who were trapped due to rainfall, and responded to 250 reports of electrocution, said Makkah Civil Defense spokesman Col. Saeed Sarhan. Two of those electrocuted died, and three are in stable condition.
The Disaster Management Center in Makkah announced the continuation of rainfall in the region, extending to the city of Al-Leith, and warned people against being in valleys.
Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal has been monitoring the situation at the center along with the deputy governor of Makkah for security affairs, and representatives of all relevant authorities.
Meanwhile, Saudi Attorney General Sheikh Saud Al-Mojeb on Tuesday issued directives to the head of the Public Prosecution Branch in Makkah region and head of the Department of Jeddah province and all branches and departments in all parts of the Kingdom that the Public Prosecution should be fully ready to proceed with all matters related to any cases associated with the recent flash flooding in Jeddah.
He underlined that all officials should carry out their duty “to the fullest extent with no nepotism, and that they have the power to arrest, investigate and prosecute.”
The General Authority for Meteorology and Environmental Protection (GAMEP) said rainfall will continue in the region, and will include Jeddah, Usfan, Dhaban, Bahra, Khulais, Makkah and Taif.
Flooding is expected, accompanied by active surface winds and possible hail showers. Relevant authorities said they have received thousands of calls from citizens and residents.
Sarhan said the rain has caused some damage to public and private properties, and people are urging authorities to investigate the causes of the delay in implementing drainage projects in Jeddah.
He added that coordination rooms have been set up in the Department of Civil Defense for all affected cities and towns. The rain started in Rabigh and continued south through Thuwal, reaching Jeddah. The Civil Defense said the rain has created pools of water that are dangerous to children.
GAMEP said the weather observatory at King Abdul Aziz Airport was struck by lightning, causing damage to the exterior that is being repaired, but the observatory is functioning as normal.
Meanwhile, Border Guards in Makkah activated the Clouds 38 plan, which is designed to support the Civil Defense in case of rain and flooding in the area.
The Search and Rescue Coordination Center for the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba is implementing the plan.
Regular reports are being sent to the coordination center, as per the instructions of the commander of the Border Guards in Makkah, Maj. Gen. Talal bin Ali Al-Shamrani. Search-and-rescue teams are supporting Civil Defense operations when needed.
Border Guards spokesman Maj. Fares Al-Malki urged all citizens and residents to follow the instructions and heed the warnings of the Civil Defense.


Saudi Crown prince’s visit to India will be a landmark event, says Ambassador Ahmad Javed

Updated 18 February 2019
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Saudi Crown prince’s visit to India will be a landmark event, says Ambassador Ahmad Javed

  • Talking exclusively to Arab News at the Indian Embassy, the ambassador expressed his joy at the upcoming visit
  • Visit by the crown prince will continue the trend of increased cooperation

RIYADH: Ahmad Javed, the Indian ambassador in Riyadh, believes the visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to India will be a landmark event in the history of “our high-level bilateral engagements and they will certainly take an upward strategic direction.”

Talking exclusively to Arab News at the Indian Embassy in the Riyadh Diplomatic Quarter, the ambassador expressed his joy at the upcoming visit. “I began my posting as ambassador in Saudi Arabia with the visit of the Indian prime minister to Riyadh in April 2016, and I am happy that the visit of the Crown Prince will be my last assignment before ending my time in Saudi Arabia.”

The friendly relationship between India and Saudi Arabia is deeply rooted in a shared history that has been nurtured by personal relationships, said Javed. These links have been further strengthened by the development of trade and commercial ties.

“The historic visit by King Saud to India in 1955 and, prior to that, Crown Prince Faisal’s preparatory visit, plus the reciprocal visit by the first Prime Minister of Independent India, Jawaharlal Nehru, to the Kingdom in 1956, laid the strong foundation for our formal interactions,” he said. “The visit of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi to Saudi Arabia in 1982 further improved our bilateral relations.”

Such important official visits have continued, said Javed, and the relationship between the nations has evolved and developed as a result.

“In recent times, the historic visit of King Abdullah to India in 2006 resulted in the signing of the ‘Delhi Declaration,’ which gave a fresh momentum to the bilateral relationship,” he said. “The visit provided the framework for cooperation in many fields of mutual interest. The reciprocal visit by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Riyadh in 2010 raised the level of bilateral engagement to ‘strategic partnership,’ and the ‘Riyadh Declaration,’ signed during the visit, captured the spirit of enhanced cooperation in the areas of politics, economics, security and defense.”

The relationship deepened in 2014, he added, when a memorandum of understanding on defense cooperation was signed during a visit to India by King Salman, who was at that time the crown prince.

Most recently, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Riyadh in April 2016.

“The visit...was a turning point in our growing engagement with Saudi Arabia,” said Javed. “During the visit, a joint statement highlighting the various aspects of our relationship was issued, which involved signing a number of cooperation agreements and MoUs.”

He believes the visit by the crown prince will continue the trend of increased cooperation.

“During the visit, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will have important discussions with the president, vice president, prime minister and senior ministers of the government of India, on key areas of strategic cooperation such as science and technology, agriculture, space, security, defense, maritime, counterterrorism, plus trade and investment,” he said. “Several cooperation agreements/MoUs/programs are also expected to be finalized.”

India views Saudi Arabia as a friend and part of its “extended neighborhood,” said Javed.

“More than 7 million Indians work in the Gulf region,” he said. “Saudi Arabia and the other GCC states have been the time-tested, reliable source of our energy security. The security, stability and prosperity of the region are of great importance to us.

“We attach great priority to our friendly relations with Saudi Arabia. Our traditionally close ties are anchored in shared interests based on centuries-old economic and sociocultural ties, as well as vibrant people-to-people contacts.”

Trade and business links form an important part of the bilateral relationship, said Javed. Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth-largest trade partner and about 17 percent of India’s crude-oil requirement is supplied by the Kingdom, he explained.

“In 2017-18, India-Saudi bilateral trade increased by 9.56 percent to $27.48 billion,” said Javed. “During this period, our imports from Saudi Arabia reached $22.06 billion, an increase of 10.5 percent over the previous year. Our exports to Saudi Arabia were $5.41 billion, an increase of 5.88 percent over the previous year.”

Indian information technology companies, such as TCS, WIPRO and Tech Mahindra, work with Saudi ministries and businesses and contribute in a big way to training Saudi youth, especially women, in line with the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, he said.

The growing cooperation between the two countries extends beyond trade and commerce.

“Defense ties received a major boost after the signing of an MoU on Defense cooperation...in February 2014,” said Javed.

“The India-Saudi Arabia Joint Committee on Defense Cooperation (JCDC) meets regularly; its fourth meeting was held in Riyadh on Jan. 2-3, 2019, and identified credible activities towards defense cooperation to further bolster the ties.

“Delegation-level exchanges take place regularly between the defense ministries of the two countries. Two groups of five officer cadets are currently undergoing training at the National Defense Academy in India. One officer is also at the prestigious National Defense College.”

India recognizes the significance of Saudi Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program, said Javed, and the opportunities it offers to attract investment in India.

“The Saudi minister of energy, industry and mineral resources visited India several times during 2018 and held a series of discussions,” he said. “The Saudi oil giant, Aramco, has signed an MoU with an Indian consortium...to jointly develop the $44 billion Ratnagiri Refinery and Petrochemical Project Limited on a 50/50 basis.

“Since June 2018, Saudi (company) Al-Fanar has been constructing a 300 megawatt power project in Kutch worth $300 million, with the project expected to be completed by 2020. In October 2018, Saudi Aramco signed an MoU...with Mumbai-based GumPro to set up a drilling-fluids facility. A number of other investment projects are also being considered, including in our National Investment and Infrastructure Fund.”

The role that Indian workers play in the development and growth of the Kingdom is a source of pride, said Javed, and they play a key role in strengthening the links between the two countries.

“Saudi Arabia is home to an Indian community of more than 2.7 million,” he said. “The Kingdom has the largest number of Indian-passport holders outside the mother country. It is a matter of great satisfaction that the contributions made by Indians in the development of the Kingdom is well acknowledged and appreciated by the Saudi leadership, as well as by its people.

“I express my sincere gratitude to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for hosting this large Indian community and also for the excellent services provided by the Saudi authorities to Hajj and Umrah pilgrims from India.”

As Saudi Arabia increasingly opens up to arts and culture as part of the process of reform that is underway, there are also increasing opportunities for cultural exchange programs.

“It is a great honor that India was accorded the privilege of being the ‘Guest of Honor’ at the 32nd Janadriyah Festival, the National Festival of Heritage and Culture of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in 2018,” said Javed.

“The cooperation extended to us, and the interest shown by the Saudi leadership, was unprecedented. Apart from formal inauguration of our pavilion by King Salman in the presence of our external affairs minster, the Indian Pavilion was also visited by a number of ministers, Shoura Council members, royal family members, senior Government officials and huge crowds of people.”

Javed believes that the relationship between the Kingdom and India will continue to thrive.

“The state visit of the crown prince to India will not only give fresh momentum to our deep-rooted cordial relations, but also take them to greater heights with a clear reflection of the enhanced importance assigned to India by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”