Envoy reassures Saudi Arabia over Maldives emergency

Abdullah Hameed
Updated 10 February 2018
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Envoy reassures Saudi Arabia over Maldives emergency

RIYADH: The Maldives’ envoy in Saudi Arabia has sought to ease fears over escalating tensions in the island republic following the declaration of a state of emergency.
Abdullah Hameed, the ambassador to the Kingdom, said that “there is nothing to worry about since everything is normal — there is no curfew and judicial functions continue.”
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s general secretariat expressed grave concerns on Thursday over rising tensions in the Maldives following the declaration of a state of emergency on Monday by the republic’s president, Abdulla Yameen.
“Unfortunately, as usual, almost all reports (about the situation) are not factual and no one seems to be checking the reality on the ground,” Hameed told Arab News.
He said that a “Maldivian minister will visit the Kingdom soon as the special envoy of the president to explain to the Saudi leadership the correct position of the government.”
In 2017, 21,944 Saudis visited the Maldives, a 39.5 percent increase from the previous year. There are also 24 Saudis working as teachers in the island nation, in addition to embassy staff. Saudi Airlines flies to the Maldives twice a week from both Riyadh and Jeddah.
Hameed said the emergency was declared after consultation with the National Security Council over measures to guarantee citizens’ safety and security.
“Many countries across the world have increased internal security in recent years in response to domestic concerns. The Maldives should be seen in this light and is no different in this regard,” he said.
Freedom of movement and speech remained and there was no risk to tourists, Hameed said.
“The state of emergency has no effect on tourist resorts, tourist island and on tourism in general. (It) is an internal governance matter and has no implications for foreign visitors,” he said.
Schools and businesses are operating normally and the judiciary retains its full power.
Hameed said that the state of emergency affected only Male, the republic’s capital.
The Maldives opposition described the declaration of emergency as a “purge”.
Maldives police on Tuesday arrested Chief Justice Abdulla Saeed, another Supreme Court judge, administrator of the judicial services commission Hassan Saeed Hussein and former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, dramatically escalating the legal battle within the Maldives’ highest court.
Police said the men were arrested for alleged corruption and trying to overthrow the government by issuing illegal orders.


FaceOf: Mohammed Salih Bentin, Saudi Arabia's Hajj and Umrah minister

Mohammed Salih Bentin
Updated 24 May 2018
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FaceOf: Mohammed Salih Bentin, Saudi Arabia's Hajj and Umrah minister

  • A royal decree appointed Mohammed Salih Bentin as Minister for Hajj and Umrah on May 9, 2016
  • Bentin has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals

During the season of Ramadan, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah is considered to be at its second busiest apart from the Hajj season, as many residents and visitors perform Umrah during this sacred time.

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah’s continued efforts are evident with the smooth progress of pilgrims through Makkah.

A royal decree appointed Mohammed Salih Bentin as Minister for Hajj and Umrah on May 9, 2016 and he has been serving in the role ever since.

Bentin has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, where he graduated in 1979. In 1982, he received his master’s degree and later moved to the US to earn his doctorate in computer engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder in 1989.

After returning to Saudi Arabia he was appointed dean of the faculty of sciences and computer engineering at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals in 1997. Despite his busy schedule, he managed to publish 100 research papers and write scientific reports for several international scientific organizations, and participated in local and global conferences and seminars.

Bentin was awarded the Best Technical Director Award in the Middle East in 2002, and received the award for Best Executive Director in the Middle East in 2008. He has achieved much scientifically, in both practical and applied sciences, and is a member of several scientific societies, acting as a scholarly contributor to scientific journals locally and internationally.

Before this he served as deputy minister of Hajj in 1998, and in the same year was nominated to be Umrah affairs deputy. He served pilgrims and provided them with required facilities until he became responsible for the Saudi Postal Corporation in 2004.