Saudi Vision 2030 and CPEC: heralding regional prosperity 

Gwadar Port, which is the apex of the CPEC project, is strategically located in the Arabian Sea. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 23 March 2019
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Saudi Vision 2030 and CPEC: heralding regional prosperity 

  • Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are making common efforts to develop their economies and increase trade volumes
  • Gwadar Port, which is the apex of the CPEC project, is strategically located in the Arabian Sea

The development of infrastructure — such as better roads, ports, highways and airports, along with elements such as power, water and human capital — are important factors that help define the economic prosperity of a nation. It is a universally recognized fact that countries cannot fully take their place in the league of developed nations unless they invest in all aspects of infrastructure.

A key factor in the modern economic world is linkage or connectivity, within a country and with its neighbors. This increases the flow of goods, information and people across regions. Regional connectivity and progress are related to each other as visions of shared development. This is the perspective behind the development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Gwadar Port, which is the apex of the CPEC project, is strategically located in the Arabian Sea. It occupies a key position between South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East, and lies close to the Strait of Hormuz, which is the gateway for the supply of about 20 percent of the world’s oil.

The corridor aims to transform the region and act as a catalyst for economic change by integrating South, Central and Western Asia. Afghanistan, a landlocked country, can be a major beneficiary of the project. Pakistan has pledged to construct a 265-kilometer motorway between Peshawar and Kabul to link Afghanistan with CPEC. This will connect Afghanistan with other regions and also allow the country to start conducting commercial activities through the Indian Ocean. CPEC also offers opportunities to landlocked Central Asian Republics to diversify their energy channels.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia are making common efforts to develop their economies and increase trade volumes. The Vision 2030 project of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is a package of social and economic policies designed to free the Kingdom from its dependence on oil exports and to build a prosperous and sustainable economic future by focusing on country’s strengths and policies. Pakistan is also following an ambitious development plan, Pakistan Vision 2025, designed to help the country to develop and take its place among the world’s leading economies.

An important aspect of the Saudi Vision 2030 is diversification of the economy to increase non-oil revenue by gradually shifting its economic base. This diversification plan needs new markets and trade routes. CPEC offers a host of opportunities for trade with Central Asia, East Asia and the Far East.

CPEC will considerably reduce the distance of current sea routes from the Middle East and Africa to East Asia, and the cost will be significantly reduced. Currently, oil imported by Beijing from Gulf countries reaches China after a journey of 16,000 km. After the completion of Gwadar Port project, the distance will be reduced to about 3,000 km, making it safer, more efficient and more feasible. In the same way, imports to the Middle East from China will take less time to transport and the cost will be lowered.

The CPEC routes will not only provide a means for the carrying of goods and materials but also for the transfer of knowledge and innovations. People-to-people contact will rise. Intercultural communication will result in increased commerce, technological growth and cooperation. This interdependence will help foster prosperity, peace and tranquility.

It can be concluded therefore that Vision 2030 and CPEC are not only linchpins of regional connectivity but will enhance economic activity and be beneficial for the prosperity of people throughout the region.

 

•  Muhammad Arshad Munir is press counselor at the Pakistan Consulate in Jeddah.


KSRelief signs agreements for relief to Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians

Updated 25 April 2019
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KSRelief signs agreements for relief to Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians

  • Al-Rabeeah: We have no hidden agenda in Syria and we work through international organizations

BEIRUT: The general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, signed on Wednesday seven agreements with Beirut and international and civil organizations operating in Lebanon to implement relief projects targeting Syrian and Palestinian refugees as well as the most affected host communities in Lebanon.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who participated in the symposium at the Four Seasons Hotel Beirut to sign the agreements, praised the strong Saudi-Lebanese relations, which have existed for decades, and stressed Lebanon’s keenness to ensure their permanence and development.

He said: “The meetings Al-Rabeeah has held with different Lebanese political and religious authorities over the past two days during his visit to Lebanon, under the guidance of King Salman, indicate the Saudi leadership’s true desire to deepen the fraternal ties with the Lebanese, support Lebanon’s unity, independence, sovereignty and coexistence formula, and protect its existence from the repercussions of all the fires, crises and interventions that plague many countries.”

During the symposium, which was attended by a large group of political, religious and social figures, Al-Rabeeah called on the international donor community to shoulder more responsibility.

Addressing the implementing bodies, he said: “It is time to reconsider your working mechanisms in order to develop them and improve procedures to avoid negative impacts.”

“What I mean by reconsidering working processes is that there is a need to work professionally and skillfully because there are not many resources, and we must eliminate bureaucracy and speedily make the most of resources,” Al-Rabeeah told Arab News.

He stressed the importance of developing a close partnership between the donor and the implementer of projects, highlighting that KSRelief’s work is subject to international and regional oversight mechanisms as well as its own internal control mechanisms.

“We have two strategic partners, and when agreements are signed with the recipients of assistance, this means accepting oversight terms,” he said.

Al-Rabeeah said: “Saudi Arabia supports the safe return of Syrian refugees to their country, and so is the case for Yemen.”

“Saudi Arabia has supported peaceful dialogues, which restore security and stability,” he said. “In order for this to happen in Syria, we support the efforts of the United Nations and implement (as KSRelief) relief programs inside Syria. We also have major programs and we count on the UN to ensure a safe return for Syrian refugees.”

On the Syrian regions in which KSRelief is implementing its programs and the difficulties faced, Al-Rabeeah told Arab News: “We have nothing to do with military or religious matters, and wherever there is security, we work. We also work through the UN and the international organizations inside Syria, and we do not have any hidden agenda in this field.”

He stressed that “participating in rebuilding Syria requires security and stability, and the Saudi leadership hopes for a peaceful solution as soon as possible. Until this is achieved, the relief work will continue and won’t cease.”

Al-Rabeeah announced that KSRelief is implementing a quality program to rehabilitate recruited children in Yemen alongside its education, protection, health and environment projects.

“There are those who recruit children to fight in Yemen, violating all humanitarian laws. Our center rehabilitates them so that they are not used as terrorist tools in the future,” he said.

Al-Rabeeah emphasized that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 has given relief work its share, especially in terms of volunteering programs. “We have great examples involved in the field,” he said.

Among the signed agreements was one with the Lebanese High Relief Commission (HRC) to carry out a project to cover the food needs of Lebanese families.

Chairman of Lebanon’s High Relief Commission Maj. Gen. Mohammed Khair told Arab News that the agreement targets distributing 10,000 food rations to orphans, widows and destitute families in the poorest and most disadvantaged areas in Lebanon. “This project is encouraging and gives hope to people,” he said.

Khair said that there are 100,000 people in need in Bab Al-Tabbaneh district alone, pledging to commit to transparency during the implementation of the project. “It is not a question of sectarian balance; we are focused on those who are most in need,” he said.

The signed agreements include one for repairing, equipping, and operating the Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz Center for Dialysis at the Makassed General Hospital, an agreement with the UNHCR worth $5 million to implement a project for assisting the most affected Syrian families for six months, an agreement to support Souboul Assalam Association in Akkar (northern Lebanon), an agreement with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to implement a project worth $3.8 million to cover the needs of Syrian families that are below the poverty line for a year, and an agreement with UNRWA to cover the medical needs and treatment of cancer and multiple sclerosis in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Pierre Krahenbuhl said: “The challenge facing UNRWA after the reduction of its budget is maintaining the operation of its 715 schools in the Middle East.”

“Saudi Arabia is a key partner for us, and owing to its help, we will be able to help cancer and multiple sclerosis patients,” he said.