New Saudi ambassador to Lebanon formally takes charge

Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Walid Al-Yaacoub presents his credentials to Lebanese President Michel Aoun in Beirut on Wednesday. (AN photo)
Updated 03 January 2018
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New Saudi ambassador to Lebanon formally takes charge

BEIRUT: Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Walid Al-Yaacoub presented his credentials to Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Wednesday.
The ceremony took place less than two weeks after the Lebanese Foreign Ministry informed the relevant authorities in the Kingdom of their decision to approve the designation of Fawzi Kabbara as Lebanese ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
Future Movement MP Ammar Houri told Arab News that this step “is clear proof that Lebanese-Saudi relations are solid and the two sides insist on maintaining the best relations.”
He also said that the Kingdom’s commitment to a permanent ambassador with full powers in Beirut “amid the current conditions in the region is a positive step in promoting relations with Lebanon.”
On arrival of Ambassador Al-Yaacoub at the Presidential Palace, the requisite ceremonies were held and the Saudi flag was raised alongside the Lebanese flag. Al-Yaacoub was one of five ambassadors who presented their credentials to President Aoun.
The Lebanese president’s press office said that the ambassadors who presented their credentials have assured Aoun that “they are working to promote relations between Lebanon and their countries” and stressed “Lebanon’s concern to promote bilateral relations in different fields.”
The new Saudi ambassador was born in Hail in 1975 and received a bachelor’s degree in political science from King Saud University in Riyadh. He then joined the Foreign Ministry and received a higher education diploma from the ministry’s Institute of Diplomatic Studies. He later joined the diplomatic service and became an adviser. He worked in the Saudi Embassy in Beirut between 2010 and 2014 and in the Saudi Embassy in Paris between 2014 and 2017. He has also worked with the minister of state for Arab Gulf affairs and was responsible for the Lebanese desk.
The Saudi diplomat paid a visit to Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and said afterward that the visit was “according to protocol.” He added: “Things are good. Think positive and you will get positive.”
He also made a protocol visit to Prime Minister Saad Hariri.
Al-Yaacoub on Tuesday presented his credentials to Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil.
In late August 2016, the adviser Walid Al-Bukhari was appointed charge d’affaires at the Saudi Embassy in Beirut, after the retirement of Ali bin Saeed Al-Awwad Al-Asiri. Since then, no new ambassador had been appointed until the beginning of February 2017 when Al-Yaacoub was appointed. He had not, however, presented his credentials to the Lebanese government. At the end of 2017, the Kingdom sent the Lebanese Foreign Ministry an official letter announcing its approval of Kabbara as Lebanese ambassador to Saudi Arabia.


Kuwait arrests 2 Filipinos accused of helping runaway maids

Updated 23 April 2018
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Kuwait arrests 2 Filipinos accused of helping runaway maids

  • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has banned workers from heading to Kuwait over abuse cases
  • The two countries have since been negotiating for new rules governing Filipino workers there
KUWAIT CITY: Kuwaiti police arrested two Filipinos for allegedly convincing housemaids to run away from their employers’ homes as the Philippines’ ambassador faced questions for comments about his embassy’s work in aiding abused workers, authorities said Sunday.
The arrests, reported by the state-run KUNA news agency, come as relations are tense between Kuwait and the Philippines, which sends many domestic laborers to the Gulf Arab emirate.
Already, the government of President Rodrigo Duterte has banned workers from heading to Kuwait over abuse cases, culminating in a February incident that saw a Filipino’s body discovered in a freezer at a Kuwait City apartment abandoned for more than a year.
KUNA said Sunday the two Filipinos acknowledged convincing the maids to leave. It wasn’t clear what law the two men were accused of breaking, though KUNA said the two “confessed to the crime in addition to other similar offenses that had been committed in various regions of the country.”
The arrests came after Kuwait summoned the Philippines ambassador over comments he made that were reported in local press about the embassy’s effort to rescue domestic workers who are abused by their employers. Ambassador Renato Villa was quoted as saying his embassy moves in to help the abused if Kuwaiti authorities fail to respond within 24 hours.
Villa’s office said he was unavailable for comment Sunday.
Duterte in January complained that cases of abuse reported by Filipino domestic workers “always” seem to be coming from Kuwait.
There have been prominent cases of abuse in the past, including an incident in December 2014 where a Kuwaiti’s pet lions fatally mauled a Filipino maid.
The Philippines banned workers entirely from Kuwait after the discovery of Joanna Demafelis’ body in a freeze in February. In late March, Lebanese officials said 40-year-old Lebanese national Nader Essam Assaf confessed to killing the woman along with his Syrian wife, who remains at large. Authorities say Assaf faces a possible death sentence.
More than 260,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, many of them as housemaids. Kuwait and the Philippines have since been negotiating for new rules governing Filipino workers there.
Philippine officials have demanded that housemaids be allowed to hold their passports and cellphones, which is normal for skilled workers like teachers and office workers. But many Kuwaiti employers seize their phones and passports.