Saudi-Canada diplomatic row will not affect oil supplies, says energy minister

Updated 09 August 2018
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Saudi-Canada diplomatic row will not affect oil supplies, says energy minister

  • Riyadh on Sunday froze new trade with Canada and expelled the Canadian ambassador
  • The dispute was sparked by Canada's "interference" in the case of jailed Saudi rights activists

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's petroleum supplies to countries around the world will not be affected by the ongoing diplomatic dispute between Canada and the Kingdom, Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said on Thursday.

Al-Falih reaffirmed the policy that the Kingdom’s petroleum supplies are not to be impacted by political considerations, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) quoted the minister as saying.

"He reiterated that this is a firm and longstanding policy that is not influenced by political circumstances," the SPA report said.

Riyadh on Sunday froze new trade with Canada and expelled the Canadian ambassador in a dispute sparked by Canada's demanding the release of jailed Saudi rights activists. It also ended state-backed educational and medical programs in Canada.

On Wednesday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir ruled out the possibility of a third party mediating to mend the rift between the two countries.

He said Canada needed to “fix its big mistake”. He also said Saudi Arabia is "considering taking further measures".

Despite the dispute, Al-Falih said the current diplomatic crisis will not, in any way, impact Saudi Aramco's relations with its customers in Canada.

He stressed that the Kingdom continues to invest in its production capacity, which is considered a key factor in protecting from market volatility that is damaging to the interests of producers and consumers alike and the global economy at large.


Umrah pilgrims now free to move around Saudi Arabia

Updated 11 min 33 sec ago
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Umrah pilgrims now free to move around Saudi Arabia

  • Previously, Umrah pilgrims were restricted to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah and the port city of Jeddah
  • Nearly 8 million Muslims are likely to perform Umrah this year

JEDDAH: Millions of Umrah pilgrims are to be granted the freedom to visit anywhere in the Kingdom during their stay, the Saudi Cabinet decided on Tuesday.

Muslims making the holy pilgrimage will be allowed to tour anywhere in the country as part of Saudi Arabia’s plans to boost tourism and the economy.

“The Cabinet has decided to exclude people coming to perform Umrah and to visit the Prophet’s Mosque (in Madinah), of the prohibition of movement outside Makkah, Madinah, and Jeddah. A royal decree has been prepared to this effect,” the acting media minister, Issam bin Saeed, said in a statement to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Previously, Umrah pilgrims were restricted to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah and the port city of Jeddah.

FASTFACT

 

Vision 2030 aims to increase the country’s capacity to welcome Umrah visitors from 8 million to 30 million every year.

Nearly 8 million Muslims will perform Umrah in the Kingdom this year, and the Cabinet’s move will enable them to enjoy a broader experience of Saudi Arabia by visiting key landmarks, historic sites, tourist attractions and shopping centers.

“We are looking to enrich the experience of pilgrims and facilitate their arrival,” Dr. Amr Al-Maddah, chief planning and strategy officer at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, told Arab News. “Traveling around the Kingdom is an opportunity for pilgrims to visit cultural and tourist sites.

“At the same time, they will be allowed to arrive at any port in the country which will facilitate their arrival and expand the capacity to receive more pilgrims.”

Ministers hope their decision will help toward reaching Saudi Arabia’s goal of receiving 30 million Umrah pilgrims by 2030.

In the past, pilgrims were allowed to convert their visas into a tourist visa on the condition that they were registered with a tourism program. “This is no longer a requirement,” said Al-Maddah.

He added that they would now be free to plan visits to other Saudi cities, tourist destinations, festivals and events, within the period of their visa validity.

Al-Maddah said: “We want to make it available to everyone in order to enrich the experience of the pilgrims, which is one of the goals of Vision 2030.”

He noted that the authority responsible for implementing the Cabinet’s decision would be the Interior Ministry.