Greeted with a hug: Saudi crown prince welcomed to India by PM Modi

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Modi said India was delighted to welcome the crown Prince to India. (SPA)
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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was greeted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his arrival. (Indian Foreign Ministry)
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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was greeted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his arrival. (Indian Foreign Ministry)
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Modi said India was delighted to welcome the crown Prince to India. (SPA)
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Modi said India was delighted to welcome the crown Prince to India. (SPA)
Updated 20 February 2019
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Greeted with a hug: Saudi crown prince welcomed to India by PM Modi

  • The crown prince will receive a ceremonial welcome at the presidential palace on Wednesday
  • Saudi ambassador to India says visit is historic opportunity to consolidate a 'historical friendship'

NEW DELHI: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman arrived in New Delhi for his first trip to India on Tuesday night. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a break from normal protocol, welcomed the Saudi prince at the airport with a warm hug, sending a clear message about the importance India is placing on this royal visit.

“India is delighted to welcome HRH Mohammed Bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia,” Modi tweeted later.

The two-day royal visit takes place against the backdrop of an escalation in tensions between New Delhi and Islamabad after the Pulwama terror attack on Feb. 14, in which 44 security personnel lost their lives. Speaking in Islamabad on Tuesday, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir said that the Kingdom would try to “de-escalate the tension” between the neighboring countries and find a “path forward to resolve those differences peacefully.”

On Wednesday, the crown prince will receive a ceremonial welcome at the presidential palace and meet the Indian foreign minister, before sitting down with Modi for talks that are expected to be wide-ranging. The prime minister will also host a lunch for the visiting dignitaries, while in the evening President Ram Nath Kovind will host a banquet in honor of the Saudi crown prince, who is accompanied by a high-level delegation that includes ministers, senior officials and leading Saudi businessmen.

The royal visit follows the Indian PM’s trip to Saudi Arabia in April 2016, during which the countries elevated the status of their relationship to a strategic partnership. Some reports have suggested that they might now be planning to set up a “Strategic Partnership Council” at a ministerial level, in addition to holding joint naval exercises and upgrading defense cooperation.

As well as the political engagement during the crown prince’s visit, 400 Indian and Saudi business leaders will meet in New Delhi, at the invitation of Saudi General Investment Authority, to explore business opportunities and cooperation.

India is the fourth-largest trading partner of Saudi Arabia, with bilateral trade worth $27.5 billion last year, and Riyadh supplies 20 percent of India’s crude-oil requirement. Last year, Saudi Aramco, in partnership with UAE company ADNOC, entered into a $44 billion joint venture for a stake in the Ratnagiri Refinery and Petro-Chemical project in the western Indian state of Maharashtra.

India considers Saudi Arabia a friend and part of its “extended neighborhood,” said Ahmad Javed, India’s ambassador in Riyadh.

“More than 7 million Indians work in the Gulf region,” he added. “Saudi Arabia and the other GCC states have been the time-tested, reliable source of our energy security. The security, stability and prosperity of the region are of great importance to us.

“We attach great priority to our friendly relations with Saudi Arabia. Our traditionally close ties are anchored in shared interests based on centuries-old economic and sociocultural ties, as well as vibrant people-to-people contacts.”


Saudi camel racing no longer an all-male affair, says Princess Jamila

Updated 23 March 2019
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Saudi camel racing no longer an all-male affair, says Princess Jamila

  • Princess Jamila’s camel will compete in a race marking the conclusion of the King Abdul Aziz Camel Festival
  • King Salman will attend the grand finale of the 46-day event

JEDDAH: A camel owned by a woman will compete in an official race in Saudi Arabia for the first time, a senior figure in the sport said on Friday.

Fahd bin Hithleen, chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Camel Club and the newly appointed president of the International Camel Organization (ICO), said the race is part of the closing day of the King Abdul Aziz Camel Festival on the outskirts of Riyadh, which began on Feb. 5 and ends on March 23.

“The camel race will end this Saturday with the participation of the first female in camel racing,” Hithleen said on his official Twitter account. “I congratulate Princess Jamila Bint Abdulmajeed bin Saud bin Abdulaziz for breaking into the camel world and wish her all the success.”

The festival finale will take place in the presence of King Salman.

Princess Jamila said that camel racing is no longer exclusively the preserve of men, as the ongoing reforms in the country continue to empower Saudi women and open up new opportunities for them across the Kingdom.

The Kingdom established the ICO, the first global group of its kind for camels, on Thursday with the participation of representatives from 96 countries. Riyadh was chosen as the location for its headquarters and Hithleen was appointed to serve a five-year term as its first president.