King Salman to convene summit of Gulf and Arab states

FILE: King Salman has convened summits of Gulf and Arab states in Makkah in conjunction with the Islamic Summit to discuss Houthi attacks. (SPA/File Photo)
Updated 26 May 2019
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King Salman to convene summit of Gulf and Arab states

  • Meeting will be held in conjunction with the Islamic Summit

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has called for the convening of two summits of Gulf and Arab states to be held on May 30 in Makkah.
The meeting will be held in conjunction with the upcoming Islamic Summit.
According to a Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement, King Salman has sent an invitation to the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and leaders of other Arab countries to two summits to discuss the recent attacks by the Iranian-backed Houthis in the UAE and on Saudi Arabia’s oil pipelines and their repercussions on the region. 
“The attack on ships in the territorial waters of the United Arab Emirates and the terrorist-backed Iran-backed Houthi militias’ attack on two oil pumping stations in the Kingdom have serious implications for regional and international peace and security and for the supply and stability of world oil markets,” the foreign ministry said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.
The announcement came days after mysterious sabotage attacks against several tankers in highly sensitive Gulf waters and drone attacks on a crude pipeline by Iran-aligned Yemen Houthi militia, which Riyadh claimed were carried out on Iranian orders.
The United States has also deployed an aircraft carrier and bombers to the Gulf over alleged threats from Iran.
The Kingdom’s regional allies welcomed the Saudi invitation.
The UAE’s foreign ministry said the current “critical circumstances” require a unified Arab and Gulf stance.
The meetings will be a “significant opportunity for the countries of the region to achieve their aspirations for establishing peace and stability,” it said.


Saudi sources deny ‘unsubstantiated’ reports of permitting alcohol

Updated 16 June 2019
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Saudi sources deny ‘unsubstantiated’ reports of permitting alcohol

  • “The leadership has made it clear from day one; it is simply not happening,”SCTH source tells Arab News
  • The SCTH is responsible for licensing and rating hotels and restaurants

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has no plans to allow the sale or public consumption of alcohol, a senior government source has told Arab News.

The official with access to relevant decision-makers categorically denied “unsubstantiated” media reports in some international and regional news outlets.

“If you read the fake news, you will notice it is all based on hearsay and tweets by accounts known to have a questionable agenda when talking about the Kingdom,” he said.

“As the country moves forward with its reform plans, we expect much speculation and attempts by critics to hold us back. And while people are allowed to speculate and criticize, their speculation should not be treated as the truth.”

A second source at the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) also denied such reports. “The leadership has made it clear from day one; it is simply not happening,” he told Arab News. “I have not heard of any plans to allow alcohol in major cities, free zones or new projects.”

The SCTH is responsible for licensing and rating hotels and restaurants. Any plans for the sale or consumption of alcohol would have to go through the commission for implementation. 

Saudi Arabia has witnessed substantial social reforms over the past three years, such as the curbing of the previously unchecked power of the religious police, reopening cinemas and allowing women to drive.

There has also been a major shift on previously prohibited public entertainment and gender mixing. International artists including Mariah Carey, Yanni, Andrea Bocelli, Enrique Iglesias and Black Eyed Peas have all performed.

Tourism projects have included pop-up versions of international restaurants such as Signor Sassi, Nusr-Et and Nobu. None has served alcohol.

“Officials have repeatedly said all changes were and will always be in line with Islamic teachings and traditions,” the senior source told Arab News.