Saudi aid independent of ‘political, racial and religious differences’

Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), speaks during a conference in Makkah. (SPA)
Updated 01 June 2019

Saudi aid independent of ‘political, racial and religious differences’

  • KSRelief chief says Makkah hosting Gulf and Islamic summits is part of Saudi Arabia’s mission toward Islamic world

MAKKAH: “Saudi Arabia has proven its objectivity as it does not link humanitarian aid to political stances of states, race, nor religion,” Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), said at a press conference in Makkah.
Al-Rabeeah added that hosting the Gulf and Islamic summits in Makkah is part of the Kingdom’s mission toward the Islamic world, noting that Saudi Arabia in two decades has already spent $87 billion in humanitarian aid to 81 countries. He emphasized the compatibility of this aid with international law and the norms of international organizations. These humanitarian programs included health, education, rehabilitation of child soldiers and refugee aid.
He praised the sponsorship and guidance of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the humanitarian aid programs of KSRelief. He said that there had been more than 1,011 humanitarian aid programs worth $3.5 billion to 44 countries since 2014, the primary beneficiaries being Yemen, Palestine, Syria, Somalia, Pakistan, Indonesia and Iraq.
Special care is given to empowering women and 225 projects worth $390 million were dedicated to this, benefitting 62 million women, Al-Rabeeah said, in addition to 234 projects that helped 114 million children who benefitted from educational, nutritional, health, protection and environment programs.
Al-Rabeeah stressed the good treatment of refugees in the Kingdom who are considered guests of honor by the Saudi authorities and people. These refugees include 561,000 Yemenis, 262,000 Syrians, 249,000 Rohingyas and hundreds of thousands more from other countries who benefit from the Kingdom’s help to support the economies of their countries.
He said that Yemen is the primary beneficiary of Saudi humanitarian programs, without discrimination between government or Iran-backed Houthi-controlled territories. He added that 345 projects worth $12 billion were launched in that country over the past four years, especially in humanitarian programs and economic development aid, including support to the Yemen Central Bank.
Al-Rabeeah stressed the importance of the Kingdom’s role, especially when the cholera epidemic broke out in Yemen last year. He added: “Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman supervised the humanitarian initiative organized by KSRelief and other Saudi institutions in coordination with the Yemeni Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization and UNICEF to control the epidemic.”
In addition, 150 programs worth $500 million were dedicated to rehabilitating 20,000 child soldiers who were recruited by militias — including psychological, educational, community and family rehabilitation programs — and that nearly 2,000 had been fully rehabilitated.
He declared the launch of a new humanitarian aid program called “Masam” to deactivate and remove 1.1 million mines planted by the militias in Yemen, considered the biggest project since World War II, and said that 71,000 mines had already been removed and deactivated.  
Al-Rabeeah noted that 78 projects worth $352 million were launched in Palestine in coordination with UN agencies, in addition to 191 projects dedicated to displaced children in Syria, including educational, health care and hospitals, and 37 projects worth $175 million in Somalia.

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

Updated 26 June 2019

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.