Saudi crown prince’s UK visit draws to close

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ends his UK visit. (SPA)
Updated 10 March 2018

Saudi crown prince’s UK visit draws to close

LONDON: A visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman drew to a close on Friday after a three-day official trip that helped redefine the priorities for both countries. The crown prince’s visit resulted in new agreements with the British government and the signing of a raft of business deals.
Prime Minister Theresa May’s own words captured the mood that surrounded the visit: “The link that we have with Saudi Arabia is historic, it is an important one, and it has saved the lives of potentially hundreds of people in this country.”
The prime minister was referring to the importance of Saudi Arabia as an ally with a special relationship linking the two kingdoms over the past eight decades.
The crown prince and the delegation of Saudi officials and business leaders held talks with the PM at Downing Street, where May extended a warm welcome to the Kingdom’s heir apparent.
That meeting saw the launch of the UK-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council; a broad understanding was agreed for a £65 billion ($90 billion) mutual trade and investment target, which would include direct investment in Britain and new Saudi public procurement from British companies. This would be spread across sectors including finance, education, health care, renewable energy and defense, May’s office said. Britain is also vying to land the stock market listing of state oil firm Saudi Aramco, but no decision emerged during the visit.
“This is a significant boost for UK prosperity and a clear demonstration of the strong international confidence in our economy as we prepare to leave the European Union,” a spokeswoman from May’s office said after the meeting.
On Wednesday, the first official engagement for the crown prince was a visit to Buckingham Palace to see Queen Elizabeth II — a rare honor usually reserved for heads of state.
After lunch with the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William, second and third in line to the British throne, held a dinner party at Clarence House in honor of the crown prince.
On the second day of the visit, the crown prince established a milestone in demonstrating a tolerant and inclusive Saudi Arabia by visiting the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace in south London. The Archbishop showed the prince a rare copy of an ancient Qur’an manuscript that was discovered a few years ago at Birmingham University. The crown prince extended an official invitation for the archbishop to visit the Kingdom, another step demonstrating an open and tolerant Saudi Arabia.
Defense and security are at the heart of bilateral relations between Britain and Saudi Arabia. The crown prince discussed strategic cooperation with UK Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson, in addition to discussing the latest developments in the Middle East and the war on terror, and the fight against extremism everywhere in the world.
During this meeting, the crown prince and defense secretary signed two memorandums to improve Saudi defense capabilities and to increase cooperation and partnership in the fields such as knowledge transfer, manufacturing partnership, training, research and technical support, as detailed by Vision 2030.
“The crown prince’s visit has opened a new chapter in our two countries’ historic relationship,” Williamson said.
The crown prince’s itinerary in London was largely private, including meetings with bankers, executives and lawmakers, and he did not speak publicly during the trip. However, his first visit was accompanied by a large campaign that included adverts promoting the crown prince and Saudi Arabia in national newspapers, on taxis ndon, and praising the “United Kingdoms.”

‘How to set an example’ initiatives promote social responsibility among pilgrims

The program aims to help pilgrims performing Hajj and Umrah. (SPA)
Updated 6 min 37 sec ago

‘How to set an example’ initiatives promote social responsibility among pilgrims

  • The initiatives include an interactive workshop on Feb. 12, run by experts

JEDDAH: Jeddah College of Technology has launched four initiatives as part of the Makkah Cultural Forum titled “How to set an example,” intended to help pilgrims performing Hajj and Umrah.

“These initiatives include a number of goals that serve the Hajj and Umrah sector and contribute to the improvement of the services provided to pilgrims,” Abdulrahman bin Saeed Al-Sarei, dean of the college, said.

The initiatives include an interactive workshop on Feb. 12, run by experts from the tourism and hospitality sectors in Makkah. “It will discuss a new approach to training in these sectors and present recommendations including improving vocational training in a manner consistent with voluntary participation in these sectors,” Al-Sarei said. 

“These recommendations ultimately aim to encourage innovation and improve the efficiency of the Hajj and Umrah sector by 2030.”

The second initiative is a six-month project to paint the roads leading to Makkah’s Grand Mosque in a variety of colors to make it easier for pilgrims to navigate, while the third involves the creation of a map to be handed out to pilgrims on arrival at King Abdul Aziz International Airport during Umrah season. 

“The map will include the city’s landmarks and service centers,” Al-Sarei said. “It will help guide pilgrims — especially those who do not speak Arabic — through the pictures it contains.”

The fourth and final initiative, the dean explained, will last for 60 days and “aims to improve the services provided to pilgrims by ensuring the cleanliness of mosques is maintained, to send a message to society about vocational and technical training through voluntary participation, and to motivate the trainees’ spirit of social responsibility.”