Saudi Arabia’s King Salman meets Vatican official to confront violence and extremism

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King Salman meets Vatican official to confront violence and extremism. (SPA)
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King Salman meets Vatican official to confront violence and extremism. (SPA)
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King Salman meets Vatican official to confront violence and extremism. (SPA)
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King Salman meets Vatican official to confront violence and extremism. (SPA)
Updated 19 April 2018
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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman meets Vatican official to confront violence and extremism

  • Etidal, the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, shows its work in combating extremist ideology
  • Cardinal Tauran says the world's two biggest enemies are "extremism and ignorance"

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman received at his office at Al-Yamamah palace in Riyadh on Wednesday the Chairman of the Pontifical Council for Interfaith Dialogue at the Vatican, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, and his accompanying delegation.

During the meeting, they stressed the important role of followers of religions and cultures in renouncing violence, extremism, terrorism and achieving worldwide security and stability.

The meeting was also attended by Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud, Minister of Interior, Secretary General of the Muslim World League, Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir.

Tauran arrived on Friday in a historic visit to the kingdom, which hosts Islam’s holiest sites.

He was hosted on Tuesday by Riyadh-based Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, or Etidal, which showed its work in combating extremist ideology.

Etidal, Arabic for “moderation”, is an effort by the international community to expose, combat and refute extremist ideology, said Etidal Secretary-General Nasir Al-Biqami told the delegation.

The center was established in 2017 and located in Riyadh, the cooperative effort of more than 55 countries. 

Albugami said the center operates mainly around three pivots — ideology, technology and media. He said Etidal uses media and technology to “disrupt extremist recruitment and promote tolerance and coexistence amongst different religions and cultures.” 

“Etidal has designed machine learning systems and algorithms to detect violent and extremist on-line content. We analyze this content and then anticipate how extremist groups use this content to recruit vulnerable audiences. To counter these efforts, we devise strategic programs and projects that encourage tolerance and moderation,” Al-Biqami said in a statement.

Clash of ignorance

Following the visit, Cardinal Tauran commented, “It’s important to see that Etidal has a mission and a vision. The Center is very wise to analyze the causes of extremism. Most of the time, extremism is provoked by injustice.”

“I think we have two enemies: extremism and ignorance. I don’t believe in the clash of civilization but rather in the clash of ignorance. Most of the time people react because they don’t know who you are or who they are,” said Tauran, who is seen as an energetic promoter of dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and Islam.

Al-Biqami said Tauran’s visit represents the importance of partnership and cooperation in the fight against extremist ideologies.

Saudi leaders have met with a flurry of representatives of various Christian traditions in recent months.

In November, the head of Lebanon’s Maronite church, Beshara Rai, met King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a historic visit to Riyadh.

The prince also met a group of Jewish and Catholic leaders in a recent visit to New York, which highlighted a show of interfaith dialogue.

Crown Prince Mohammed has sought to project a moderate image of Islam amid rising "Islamophobia" in the West, where the world's second biggest religion is often associated with jihadist ideology and subjugating women.

He announced the lifting of a ban on women driving and has authorized cinemas for the first time in over three decades as part of social reforms under the Kingdom's Vision 2030 program.


Major boost for Al-Jouf as Saudi king set to announce new city

King Salman arrived in Al-Jouf on Tuesday. (SPA)
Updated 21 November 2018
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Major boost for Al-Jouf as Saudi king set to announce new city

  • The king will launch Waad Al-Shamaal, a new city aimed at boosting the country’s mining infrastructure

JEDDAH: Projects worth several billion riyals are to be unveiled by Saudi Arabia’s king this week as he continues his tour of the country’s regions.
King Salman arrived in the province of Al-Jouf on Tuesday night where he will announce the construction of a new city, bolstering the local economy and creating thousands of jobs in Saudi Arabia’s most northern region.
On Thursday, the king will launch Waad Al-Shamaal, a new city aimed at boosting the country’s mining infrastructure, the Saudi Press Agency reported. 
He will lay the foundation stone for the first phase of the SR85 billion ($22 billion) city in Toriaf province — worth SR55 billion —  and is also set to inaugurate the projects and facilities of the second phase — worth SR30 billion.
In the past two months the king has visited a number of major cities, announcing projects and initiatives to develop the Kingdom inline with Vision 2030 — a broad strategic plan to diversify the economy and end dependence on oil revenues.
Before arriving in Al-Jouf, King Salman visited Tabuk, where several projects worth more than SR11 billion were launched.
He also met the team heading Amaala, the ultra-luxurious tourist destination that was unveiled in September and dubbed the “Riviera of the Middle East,” and was briefed on plans for the new attraction.
King Salman praised Amaala’s objectives to contribute to promoting economic diversification, creating investment opportunities for the private sector, and developing the tourism sector in Saudi Arabia while preserving the cultural and environmental heritage.
Meanwhile, the Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced yet another major project in western Saudi Arabia.
Wadi Al-Disah Development Project, which is expected to become one of the Kingdom’s most environmentally diverse tourist attractions, adds to a number of already launched ventures on western coastal regions.
PIF will establish a company to develop Wadi Al-Disah in accordance with international best practices regarding environmental conservation and sustainable development.
In addition to this week’s tour, the king has so far visited Madinah, Qassim and Hail.