Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE approve $2.5bn aid package for Jordan at emergency Gulf summit

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Saudi King Salman (left) meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah II (center), UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid (right) and Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah (back toward the camera) at the Safa Palace in Makkah early Monday. (SPA)
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Clockwise from left: Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Saudi King Salman, Jordan's King Abdullah II and UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid (back toward the camera). (SPA)
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Left to right: UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Saudi King Salman and Jordan's King Abdullah II during a meeting at the Safa Palace in Makkah early Monday. (SPA)
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Jordan's King Abdullah II, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sabah Al Khalid Al Sabah listen as King Salman speaks at the close of the Makkah Summit early Monday. (SPA)
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Aftermath of the summit. (SPA)
Updated 11 June 2018
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Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE approve $2.5bn aid package for Jordan at emergency Gulf summit

  • The package will include a deposit in the Jordanian central bank, World Bank guarantees, budgetary support over five years and financing for development projects.
  • King Salman called the meeting to muster support for ally Jordan, which had been rocked by mass protests against price rises and a proposed tax hike in recent days.

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates agreed on Monday to provide an economic aid package worth $2.5 billion for Jordan, which is facing an economic crisis following anti-austerity protests.

The package, announced at a summit of the four nations in the holy city of Makkah, will include a deposit in the Jordanian central bank, World Bank guarantees, budgetary support over five years and financing for development projects, said a summit communique carried by the Saudi Press Agency.

The summit, called by Saudi King Salman, was attended by Jordan’s King Abdullah II along with UAE's Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum and Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.

King Salman called the meeting to garner support for ally Jordan, which had been rocked by mass protests against price rises and a proposed tax hike in recent days.

The statement noted that funding for Jordan's economic crisis comes from contributory funds for development projects in the Kingdom.

Following the meeting, King Abdullah II offered his gratitude to King Salman, Kuwait and the UAE for their support. Jordan is struggling to curb its debt after securing a $723 million loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2016.

Austerity measures tied to the loan have seen prices of basic necessities rise across the Kingdom of Jordan — culminating in a week of angry protests over tax proposals that forced prime minister Hani Mulki to resign.

The authorities on Thursday announced they were withdrawing the unpopular legislation, but still face a mammoth task to balance popular demands with the need to reduce the public debt burden.

Jordan blames its economic woes on instability rocking the region and the burden of hosting hundreds of thousands of refugees from war-torn Syria, complaining it has not received enough international support.

The World Bank says Jordan has “weak growth prospects” this year, while 18.5 percent of the working age population is unemployed.
Saudi Arabia and the United States are two of the major donors providing vital economic assistance to Jordan.

(With AFP and Reuters)


First group of Sri Lankan Muslims begin Hajj journey

Updated 17 July 2019
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First group of Sri Lankan Muslims begin Hajj journey

  • 4,000 to partake in this year’s pilgrimage after Saudi Arabia increased quota

COLOMBO: Nearly 180 Sri Lankan Hajj pilgrims left for Saudi Arabia on Monday night, but not before thanking the Kingdom for the comprehensive facilities offered to them.

Mohamed Hashim Mohamed Haleem, Sri Lanka’s minister of postal services and Muslim religious affairs, said that this year’s issuing of Hajj visas was smooth due to the new e-Hajj services introduced by the Saudi government. 

“We were able to process all 4,000 Hajj visas efficiently. All of them were issued well in time,” Haleem said.

He added that officials from his ministry will be available at the airport to assist the pilgrims with their departures.

The minister said the flights of pilgrims this year will be ferried by both Saudi Arabian Airlines and Sri Lankan Airlines. Haleem, who intends to participate in this year’s Hajj, said that the last flight of Sri Lankan pilgrims will leave Colombo on Aug. 7.

Sajjath Mohammed, a journalist from Madawala News, praised the e-Hajj service, saying: “The biometric services for the visas were available to pilgrims in Kandy and Batticaloa in addition to Colombo, the capital of the island.”

Rizmi Reyal, president of the International Airline Ticketing Academy in Sri Lanka, said that this year the Hajj services from Colombo have been enhanced to give a better experience to the pilgrims. He thanked the Saudi government, the Muslim Religious Affairs Ministry in Colombo, the Saudi Embassy in Colombo and the Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh for playing their part in these improvements.

The Sri Lankan government will also send a medical team to attend to any urgent needs of the pilgrims before they are taken to the nearest medical facilities in the two holy cities.