Saudi-US relationship will continue to grow, says charge d’affaires

Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar cuts a cake with Charge D’Affaires Christopher Henzel during US Independence Day celebration in Riyadh on Monday.
Updated 14 February 2018
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Saudi-US relationship will continue to grow, says charge d’affaires

RIYADH: Christopher Henzel, the charge d’affaires of the US Embassy in Riyadh, reaffirmed on Monday that the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the US is based on fundamental shared interests including economic prosperity, security and stability.
Speaking at a function to celebrate the 242nd year of the independence of the US on Monday at Quincy House, the official residence of the US ambassador in the Diplomatic Quarter, Henzel said the US strongly supports Saudi Arabia’s ambitious goals.
“As the Saudi Arabian government implements its vision, we believe that both sides will continue to benefit from our unique bilateral relationship, and that partnership will continue to grow,” he said. “The government’s plans for the further development of the Kingdom continue at an impressive rate.”
Welcoming guests including Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar, Henzel said, “2017 witnessed remarkable developments in the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the US, with Riyadh welcoming President Donald Trump on the first stop of his first overseas trip, which brought together 55 heads of state at the Arab-Islamic-American Summit.”
Henzel said security cooperation was one of the key areas of the partnership, both historically and at present.
“Countering violent extremism is a very high priority for both of our governments,” he added.
He went on to stress the strength of the two countries’ economic ties, pointing out that bilateral trade in goods between the US and the Kingdom amounted to $35 billion last year.
“Our two countries have long shared a strong economic relationship, with ties in trade and investment that have created jobs for thousands of Americans and Saudis,” he said.
Saudi citizens and companies hold major investments in the US that employ thousands of Americans. For example, Saudi Aramco now owns the largest refinery in the US states, in Port Arthur, Texas, Henzel explained, adding that US companies are working with Saudi partners on additional investment projects in energy, infrastructure, defense, health care, and many other sector.
Henzel also highlighted the increased cultural exchange over the past year, thanks in part to Vision 2030.
US performance artists including Blue Man Group, Nelly and Toby Keith, have all performed in the Kingdom recently, while events such as Monster Jam made history in the Kingdom as part of Saudi Arabia’s new initiative to offer more entertainment options to citizens and residents.
Meanwhile, the embassy has sent a number of Saudis to the US on cultural exchanges.
Another important facet of the US-Saudi relationship is cooperation in the field of education, Henzel pointed out.
“Right now, there are roughly 66,000 Saudi students in American universities,” he said. “The Saudi government is making an incredible investment in the future of its country and I am proud that American higher education is able to play such an important role in that effort.”


126,000 pilgrims from Bangladesh will perform Hajj 2018

Bangladeshi Hajj pilgrims arrive at Jeddah airport. (AFP)
Updated 6 min 54 sec ago
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126,000 pilgrims from Bangladesh will perform Hajj 2018

  • Bangladeshi pilgrims were in a good condition and everything, from accommodation to treatment, was going well

DHAKA: The last Hajj flights from Bangladesh will leave for Saudi Arabia this morning.
About 125,000 Bangladeshi pilgrims have already reached the holy city Makkah, on special flights operated by Biman Bangladesh Airlines and Saudi Arabian Airlines
(Saudia).
The two operators will take the last batch of 1,400 pilgrims from Hazarat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka, after which the Hajj flights will be closed until Aug. 27.
The Bangladesh government has made extensive efforts to cooperate with the Kingdom in arranging travel plans for pilgrims, said officials in Dhaka.
“Our Ministry of Religious Affairs is highly concerned about the well-being of the pilgrims,” Saiful Islam, director of the Hajj Office in Dhaka, told Arab News.
“About 250 Bangladesh officials, including the staff of the Bangladesh mission in Saudi Arabia, have been deployed at places that the pilgrims will visit while performing the rituals of Hajj,” he told Arab News.
Most of the staff of the Religious Affairs Ministry have been sent to Saudi Arabia to assist Bangladeshi pilgrims and provide them with emergency support, Islam said.
“Three medical camps have been established in Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah with 30 doctors and nurses to cater to pilgrims’ medical needs. In case of emergency, arrangements have been made to move a pilgrim in critical condition to specialized local hospitals,” he added.
“This year, so far, everything is under control and running very smoothly,” said M. Shahadat Hossain Taslim, secretary-general of the Hajj Agencies Association of Banglaesh (HAAB).
Speaking to Arab News from Makkah, Taslim expressed his gratitude to the Hajj Ministry of Saudi Arabia for its “better Hajj management this year.”
“Last year, many Bangladeshi pilgrims faced difficulty due to lack of transport in Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah,” he said. “But this year, we have addressed the issue well ahead of time and are not facing any problem in this regard.”
Bangladeshi pilgrims were in a good condition and everything, from accommodation to treatment, was going well, he added.
A total of 126,000 pilgrims from Bangladesh will perform Hajj this year.
The Hajj flights from Bangladesh to Saudi Arabia will be closed after Friday and resume on Aug. 27 to bring the pilgrims back home.