Saudi Hajj Ministry issues new web link for Qatari pilgrims after Doha blocking

(AFP)
Updated 20 July 2018
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Saudi Hajj Ministry issues new web link for Qatari pilgrims after Doha blocking

  • The new link was made available as part of King Salman’s efforts to facilitate the arrival of all pilgrims
  • The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah said it welcomes the arrival of Qatari pilgrims this year irrespective of the on-going Gulf dispute

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has allocated a new website link to receive the requests of Qataris who wish to perform Hajj after the Qatari authorities blocked the old one. Qataris wishing to perform Hajj can use the following link: https://qh1.Hajj.gov.sa instead of the old one (https://qh.Hajj.gov.sa), the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. The new link was made available as part of King Salman’s efforts to facilitate the arrival of all pilgrims and ensure that any obstacles that they may face are overcome. The ministry said that it welcomes the arrival of Qatari pilgrims this year irrespective of the ongoing Gulf dispute. The arrival and departure of Qatari pilgrims will take place via King Abdul Aziz International Airport in Jeddah and through any airlines except Qatar Airways. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE — collectively known as the Anti-Terror Quartet — imposed a boycott on Qatar in June 2017 over Doha’s alleged ties with terror groups. Doha denies the charges.
Health care services The Ministry of Health has intensified its preparations to assure good health care services for pilgrims this year. To equip its facilities to ensure readiness to offer effective health care services to pilgrims during the Hajj season from their arrival by air, sea and land to their safe return to their homelands, the ministry on Thursday announced the completion of 12 health control centers at these access points. “These centers are well equipped with modern medical facilities with more than 1,750 medical staff and 19 clinics to provide the best services to the pilgrims round the clock,” it said. These centers will provide emergency and ambulatory medical services to pilgrims and referral services for patients to specialist hospitals using well-equipped ambulances. The ministry activates field medicine and emergency care during the Hajj by gearing up a fleet of 100 small ambulances operating as mobile intensive care units to deal with emergencies, as well as providing 80 highly equipped big ambulances. More than 29,000 health practitioners, including medical, technical and administrative groups, are commissioned under the workforce program. The ministry follows up developments and changes in the global health situation in coordination with the World Health Organization and other international health institutions including the international centers for disease control.


Saudi Crown Prince takes Pakistan bond ‘to new level’

Updated 18 February 2019
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Saudi Crown Prince takes Pakistan bond ‘to new level’

  • Asseri said Saudi Arabia has deferred payments on oil worth billions of US dollars from time to time in order to ease pressure on the Pakistan economy
  • Pakistan’s relatively young population is also hoping for a stronger relationship with the Kingdom

RIYADH: A major transformation is underway in Saudi Arabia’s economic relationship with Pakistan, according to Dr. Ali Awadh Asseri, a former ambassador to Islamabad.

In a wide-ranging interview with Arab News, the former envoy said greater interaction between business and the private sectors in both countries will take the historical bond “to a new level.” 

Asseri, who spent nine years in Islamabad and was the second-longest serving Saudi ambassador to the country, said: “We know that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have always enjoyed an incomparable level of understanding and friendship based on religion, culture and values. There is a historical bond between the two countries. 

“I have no doubt that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is taking a cohesive approach to strengthen the relationship and take it to another level.” 

Asseri said that while Saudi Arabia and Pakistan cooperated closely on security matters, bilateral trade between the countries remained limited to about $4 billion. 

“We need to ... encourage the private sectors to interact more. We can help Pakistan’s industry and we need to become more involved in the trade sector. There are advanced industries and firms in Pakistan, and they have raw materials — it’s a good environment for investors.”

Asseri said Saudi Arabia has deferred payments on oil worth billions of US dollars from time to time in order to ease pressure on the Pakistan economy. The Kingdom is also making billion-dollar direct investments in the country in line with the China-Pakistan economic corridor. 

“I am happy to see a major transformation underway in Saudi-Pakistani economic relationships with our leadership and government deciding to invest in the economic development of Pakistan,” he said. 

The former ambassador said frequent official visits between the two countries were important. 

“I came back recently from Pakistan, and the vibe of the media, government and people was so optimistic. Pakistanis were excited about the crown prince’s visit. People hope it will bring great opportunities for the economy as well as strengthening the political and social ties between the two countries,” he said.

Asseri said Saudi Arabia and Pakistan had faced many challenges together in recent decades.

In 2001, during Asseri’s first year as Saudi ambassador in Pakistan, the 9/11 attacks on New York led to greater cooperation between Islamabad and Riyadh in dealing with terrorism.

The Kingdom had been closely involved with Pakistan since its independence, he said. “King Abdul Aziz sent King Saud and Prince Faisal to Pakistan at that time. So if we go back through history, we can see that this relationship is truly unique.” 

Asseri also highlighted the ties between the two countries on humanitarian issues, security and military issues, saying: “Pakistan has suffered serious security and humanitarian consequences of the decades-long war in Afghanistan, besides housing millions of Afghan refugees.

“Together Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have worked for peace in Afghanistan and will do whatever it takes to achieve this long-desired goal.”

Asseri said Pakistanis were quick to show their appreciation for Saudi Arabia’s assistance in the past regardless of the change in Pakistani leadership over the years. 

“The relationship is unique because it is between people. Such a relationship (will) keep growing with every generation.

“When Pakistan was in a difficult position in 2005 after a devastating earthquake, Saudi Arabia went out of its way to provide the support it needed. Prince Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz and eight ministers visited Balochistan. Field hospitals were created with Saudi doctors treating people and performing surgery there.” 

Pakistan also has a deep loyalty to Saudi Arabia, Asseri said. “Pakistan has military expertise, and through cooperation between the two countries, it helped the Saudi military during its development.” 

“The Kingdom’s recent appointment of a Saudi commercial attache in Pakistan will also bolster the economic links between the two countries,” he said. 

“There are good minds in Pakistan and good products that could be manufactured in Saudi Arabia.”

Asseri said he is also optimistic that Saudi plans to build a major oil refinery in Gwadar will help create an “economic hub.” 

The former envoy said the Saudi crown prince’s visit to Pakistan will add to the relationship between the countries. 

Pakistan’s relatively young population is also hoping for a stronger relationship with the Kingdom. 

“Young Pakistanis who are advanced in the IT and industrial sectors are looking forward to helping and cooperating with Saudi Arabia, and sharing their experiences and knowledge,” he said.