YEAR IN REVIEW 2017: Together we prevail: Trump’s Saudi visit celebrates a healthy partnership

US President Donald Trump dances with a sword as he arrives at a welcome ceremony by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman at Al-Murabba Palace in Riyadh on May 20, 2017. (Reuters)
Updated 31 December 2017
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YEAR IN REVIEW 2017: Together we prevail: Trump’s Saudi visit celebrates a healthy partnership

JEDDAH: The president of the world’s strongest political and military power made the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia his first destination after being inaugurated as president of the US. His visit on May 20, 2017, was a landmark occasion that announced to the world the importance of Saudi-US relations.
“Together we prevail” was the slogan celebrated throughout the Kingdom, specifically in Riyadh. The streets were decorated with Saudi and US flags. Posters of the two leaders were seen on every corner. If anything, this was a clear message for the world to witness the importance of these relations and the Kingdom’s strong stance and influence, as opposed to during the Obama administration when Saudi-US relations were strained because of disagreements on policies.
King Salman presented Donald Trump with the Kingdom’s top civilian honor when the president was recognized for “his quest to enhance security and stability in the region and around the world.”
Three major summits took place that cemented Saudi-US relations and fortified them for all the world to see. The Saudi-US Summit, which featured a series of bilateral meetings between King Salman and Trump, focused on reaffirming the long-standing friendship, and strengthening the close political, economic, security and cultural bonds between the two nations.
At the GCC-US Summit, Gulf Cooperation Council leaders met with Trump and discussed threats to regional security and stability, and the building of stronger commercial ties between the US and the Gulf. This was followed by the Arab-Islamic-American Summit.
During his visit, Trump and King Salman inaugurated the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology (GCCEI), which aims to promote moderation and counter the spread of extremism. The center is “the fruit of collaboration between Muslim countries that believe in the importance of combating terrorism,” said Nasir Al-Biqami, secretary-general of the GCCEI.
While the president was in Saudi Arabia, he enjoyed Arab hospitality, entertainment and coffee. A concert was held with Saudi singer Rabeh Saqer and American country singer Toby Keith. The concert proved that the two countries not only have strengthening relations in the arenas of politics, business and the economy, but also in music and entertainment.
A video surfaced during Trump’s visit in which he was instructed by King Salman on how to drink Arabic coffee. The king informed him that he should drink with his right hand, and Trump smiled and quickly moved the coffee to his other hand.
The king ended the visit with a speech touching on important points that concern both nations, focusing on terrorism and how to counter it, and abolishing all forms of extremism that lead to terrorism.


Saudi Arabia greets 1.68m pilgrims, passport chief reveals

Maj. Gen. Sulaiman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Yahya speaks in Jeddah on Wednesday. (SPA)
Updated 16 August 2018
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Saudi Arabia greets 1.68m pilgrims, passport chief reveals

  • The Ministry of Interior has been working hard every year to make Hajj successful and easy by using technology to facilitate Hajj permits
  • The number of pilgrims increases annually which is a good sign of a successful Hajj

JEDDAH: More than 1.68 million Hajj pilgrims had arrived in the Kingdom by noon on Thursday, the General Directorate of Passports announced.
Maj. Gen. Sulaiman bin Abdul Aziz Al-Yahya, director general of passports, told a press conference: “Up to this moment, our air, land and sea checkpoints have warmly received 1,684,629 pilgrims from different countries of the world.”
According to Al-Yahya, 1,584,085 pilgrims have arrived by air, 84,381 entered the country via land crossing points, and 16,163 came by sea.
“Under close supervision by the minister of interior, Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif, and a daily follow-up by the Makkah governor, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, we had an early plan to efficiently receive Hajj worshippers. For that reason, we have all qualified personnel and modern technology available for their service so that the arrival process is done in a short time as possible,” he said.
Al-Yahya said that well-trained staff members were present to prevent lawbreakers from entering the holy sites.
“The role of these workers is to take hold of law violators and impose penalties on them. They are working 24 hours a day. For example, a driver who illegally transports pilgrims into Makkah will be fined SR10,000 ($2,600) for every passenger he is caught transporting,” Al-Yahya said.
The violation would also bring a 15-day jail sentence.
“When the same violator commits the same felony, a SR25,000 fine will be imposed for every passenger he is carrying, in addition to two months in jail. Third-time offenders will spend six months in jail and will have to pay a fine of SR50,000,” he said.
He said that about 18 drivers have been detained following violations. Punishments will vary since some were caught using relatives’ cars.
Al-Yahya said a pilgrims’ departure plan was in place to assist worshippers in departing for their countries after their rituals have been completed.
Al-Yahya highlighted the contribution of women in the passports system during Hajj.
“We have 107 women officials working at the King Abdul Aziz International Airport. There are others in different locations, such as Prince Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz International Airport in Madinah, where 58 female agents are working.”
Al-Yahya said that the directorate is using the latest technology to counter passport counterfeiting, a growing problem around the world.
He praised the Makkah Route project, saying pilgrims had been able to enter the Kingdom with minimal delay and without complications.
Pilgrims on this route took no more than 35 minutes to leave their flights and board buses for the holy city.
“Even on their way to Makkah, they don’t need to stop at checkpoints,” he said.

‘Makkah Road’ pilgrims
Thursday morning saw the arrival in Saudi Arabia of the final flights of this year’s “Makkah Road” initiative. The project, which was implemented this year, has seen 103,057 pilgrims arrive to perform Hajj on 240 flights from Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta to Jeddah and Madinah.
Al-Yahya said that the initiative has been a huge success, and represents just one of many projects that the Supreme Hajj Committee is developing under the direction of Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif.