Saudi Arabia opens new Baghdad consulate and pledges $1bn in loans for Iraq

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Iraq Foreign Minister Mohamed Al-Hakim raises the Saudi flag during the opening ceremony of the Saudi consulate in Baghdad on Thursday, April 4, 2019. (AP)
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Saudi Arabia’s Commerce and Investment Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi and Iraq Foreign Minister Mohamed Al-Hakim arrive for the opening ceremony of a Saudi Arabia consulate in Baghdad. (AP)
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Saudi flag flying at the new Saudi consulate headquarters in the high security "Green Zone" in the centre of the Iraqi capital Baghdad. (AFP)
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Iraq Foreign Minister Mohamed Al-Hakim shakes hands with Saudi Arabia’s Commerce and Investment Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi, after the opening ceremony of a Saudi Arabia consulate in Baghdad. (AP)
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A Saudi flag flying over the gatehouse to the new Saudi consulate headquarters in the high security "Green Zone" in the centre of the Iraqi capital Baghdad. (AFP)
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Saudi Arabia opened its consulate in Baghdad on Thursday, with the heads of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council in attendance. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia opened its consulate in Baghdad on Thursday, with the heads of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council in attendance. (SPA)
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Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammad Ali Al-Hakim raises the Saudi flag alongside Saudi Arabia's Commerce and Investment Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi during the inauguration of the new Saudi consulate compound
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Iraq's President Barham Salih and Saudi Commerce and Investment Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi meet at Salam Palace in Baghdad, Iraq April 4, 2019. (Reuters)
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Iraq's President Barham Salih meets with Saudi Commerce and Investment Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi and other Saudi delegates at Salam Palace in Baghdad, Iraq April 4, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 05 April 2019
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Saudi Arabia opens new Baghdad consulate and pledges $1bn in loans for Iraq

  • Saudi Arabia will provide Iraq with $1 billion in loans for development projects
  • Three other Saudi consulates will open in Iraqi cities soon

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia opened a new consulate in Baghdad on Thursday after announcing  $1 billion in loans for development projects in Iraq.

Three more diplomatic branches are to be opened in other Iraqi cities soon, Saudi Arabia’s Commerce and Investment Minister Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi said

Saudi Arabia and Iraq have moved to improve relations in recent months.  The Kingdom reopened its Baghdad embassy in 2016 after it was closed in 1991 in response to Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

The opening of the new consulate building came as senior ministers from the Kingdom visited Baghdad as part of a meeting of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council, Saudi Press Agency reported.

Saudi Arabia will provide Iraq with $1 billion in loans for development projects, Al-Qassabi said, plus $500 million to boost exports and a gift of a 100,000-seat sports stadium to be built on Baghdad’s outskirts.

“A new phase of relations between Riyadh and Baghdad has begun,” Al-Qassabi, who is leading the Saudi delegation, said. 

“We have seen from the Iraqi side sincere feelings of brotherhood.”

He said 13 agreements between the two countries were in their final stages. These will “have a significant impact on raising the level of cooperation between the two countries,” Al-Qassabi added.

Trade will also be boosted when the Arar border crossing between the two countries opens in six months.

Al-Qassabi was speaking during a press conference held with Iraq’s Oil Minister Thamir Ghadban.

The second session of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council, started on Thursday in Baghdad.

The meeting discussed ways to improve cooperation and relations. The council previously met in Riyadh in October 2017.

As part of the visit, around 80 Saudi and Iraqi businessmen and investors met on Thursday on improving economic ties.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan visited some of Baghdad’s famous historic and cultural sites on Thursday.

These included Mutanabbi Street, Al-Qashla and the Abbasid Palace.

“Baghdad is distinguished by many cultural and archaeological landmarks, which are immortalized by history as cultural symbols of great importance,” Prince Badr said. “Baghdad is considered a beacon of cultural heritage in the Arab world.”

The first meeting of the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council was held in Riyadh in October 2017.


Innovative Saudi cultural center showcases world-famous ‘The Scream’ artist’s exhibition

Updated 37 min 19 sec ago
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Innovative Saudi cultural center showcases world-famous ‘The Scream’ artist’s exhibition

  • 40 works by Edvard Munch go on display for first time in Middle East

DHAHRAN: A dynamic Saudi cultural center is to showcase the works of one of the world’s most famous painters in an exhibition-first for the Middle East.

Forty pieces by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, best known for his iconic “The Scream” painting, will go on public display at the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra).

The special exhibition, titled “Landscapes of the Soul,” is the latest in a series of high-profile cultural events to be staged at the showpiece exhibition in Dhahran.

Developed by Saudi Aramco with the aim of stimulating knowledge, creativity and cross-cultural engagement, Ithra’s theater, museum, exhibition hall and art gallery complex forms a key part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan to promote culture and entertainment.

The Munch exhibition, which runs until Sept. 3, portrays the artist’s personal life experiences of misery, love, despair, loneliness and reflections of the soul, through his distinctive works.

“It is such an honor to host and introduce to Saudi Arabia, and indeed, the Middle East, the work of the world-renowned artist Edvard Munch,” Rania Biltagi, Ithra’s head of communications and partnership, told Arab News.

Munch’s (1863-1944) original exhibition has been located in Oslo, Norway since 1963, and the Saudi display is being staged in Ithra’s Great Hall in partnership with the Munch Museum in Norway.

As well as a lithograph version of his most famous painting “The Scream,” other works on show will include “Summer Night. The Voice,” 1894, “Self-Portrait,” 1895, and “The Sick Child,” 1896.

“A moment that stood out from the opening was when speaking to a couple visiting the exhibit, they mentioned that they were Norwegian and working in Saudi,” Biltagi said. “They explained that they had never had the chance to visit the Munch Museum in their homeland and what an unexpected pleasure it was to be able to see Munch’s work in Saudi.”

Biltagi added that the event epitomized the aim of Ithra in providing a platform to bring together cultures as well as people.

The center, featured in Time magazine’s list of the world’s top 100 places to visit, is a pioneer on the Kingdom’s culture and arts scene, organizing a variety of events, performances, programs and experiences to suit all ages and backgrounds. Previous exhibitions have included a focus on Saudi contemporary art, Leonardo da Vinci, and installations symbolizing creativity and innovation.