KSA, Philippines mark 50 years of diplomatic ties

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman during the former’s state visit to the Kingdom in 2017.
Updated 11 June 2019
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KSA, Philippines mark 50 years of diplomatic ties

On June 12, the Philippines commemorates the 121st anniversary of its independence. The theme of this year’s national day celebrations is “Courage of the Nation, Compassion for the People.” It highlights the bravery, patriotism and collective sacrifices of the Filipino people in the struggle for the country’s independence, from the past’s colonial experience to today’s challenges to nation-building including poverty, threats to national security, and many more.

The 121st Philippine Independence Day anniversary coincides with the 50 years of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia, which can best be described as “thriving, productive and mutually beneficial.”

Since the 70s up to today, the Kingdom has been a top destination for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). Currently, there are an estimated 800,000-plus OFWs working in Saudi Arabia, contributing to the Kingdom’s socio-economic development and the Philippines’s phenomenal economic growth in recent years. In this regard, the Philippines is grateful to the government of Saudi Arabia for opening new channels to safeguard the rights and welfare of foreign migrant workers, including the establishment of a call center hotline, which includes Filipino as a language in the system; the establishment of Labor Disputes and Household Violations Settlement Committees in all areas and provinces of the Kingdom; and the establishment of the Support Protection Office by the Ministry of Labor and Social Development as a means to provide protection, welfare and support to household workers in the Kingdom, among others. 

Besides being the Philippines’ top source for its oil needs, Saudi Arabia remains a significant economic partner of the Philippines. 

In 2017, the Philippines and Saudi Arabia further enhanced their relations through various initiatives and agreements entered into during the successful state visit of President Rodrigo Duterte to the Kingdom in April of that year. The relationship has since diversified to include other areas, including peace and security. Today, the Philippines and Saudi Arabia are active partners in the global fight against terrorism and violent extremism.

The Philippines and Saudi Arabia are both guided by long-term national visions. In the case of the Philippines, the vision is enshrined in the AmBisyon Natin 2040 — a 25-year vision for development planning for the Philippines, which will guide its government toward the achievement of the vision and aspiration of a prosperous, predominantly middle class society where Filipinos enjoy a strongly rooted, comfortable, and secure life by the year 2040 or earlier. 

On the other hand, the Kingdom has Saudi Vision 2030 under which it envisages the Saudi economy to be less dependent on oil, with more opportunities for non-oil industries, as well as a more open policy for foreign investors and tourism that will spur growth and development in the country by 2030. The Philippines hopes for the success of Saudi Vision 2030 and stands ready to support it anyway it can.


New Hyundai Sonata a sportier mid-size sedan

Updated 24 June 2019
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New Hyundai Sonata a sportier mid-size sedan

Hyundai’s new Sonata is ready for showrooms, giving the eighth-generation of the mid-size sedan a sleek four-door-coupe look that highlights the brand’s latest “sensuous sportiness” design language.

Created at Hyundai’s California Design Studio, the redesigned Sonata offers a freshly styled cascading grille framed by distinctive lighting architecture, and an entirely new rear. Chrome accents surround the daylight opening (DLO) and fresh wheel designs complete the look. New bodywork is built on Hyundai’s latest third-generation platform for a re-engineered driving experience.

“For more than three decades, each new generation of Sonata has raised the bar for quality and value among mid-size sedans, and this latest evolution also sets the standard for style, innovation and technology,” said Mike Song, Hyundai’s head of operations for the Middle East and Africa. “In a market increasingly divided into niche segments, the all-new Sonata reconsiders customer expectation in the sedan class and offers something sportier and more exciting than what has gone before.”

A hallmark of the new Sonata’s exterior is its Hyundai-first LED daytime running lights — embedded in a chrome strip. The lighting strip appears as chrome when the engine is turned off, but lights up when the driver starts the car. When night falls, available LED headlamps with dynamic bending light illuminate the path ahead.

Inside, the renewed center stack and instrument panel echo the exterior’s new looks. The trend carries down to the instrument design and a strong three-spoke steering wheel. Piano key buttons for audio and HVAC controls give a premium look and touch. The instrument panel follows a winged shape inspired by stealth aircraft. Visual elements combine to create a levitating effect, while designers have worked to maximize the sense of interior space. One clever application of new technology is a shift-by-wire (SBW) gear selector, which is sleek and technologically advanced, and takes up significantly less space than a traditional gear selector.

Interior fittings include a standard seven-inch color display audio touchscreen with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, and a Qi wireless charging pad is available to keep smartphones topped up. Sonata now adds a second-row USB charge port. At the heart of the AVN system is a Bose premium sound system equipped with 12 speakers.

“The all-new Hyundai Sonata delivers a premium experience for driver and passengers,” added Song. “We apply a range of new technologies intuitively, with an emphasis on functional convenience, adding features that we know our customers will use and value.”

The new Sonata features six standard airbags and a range of safety systems, including advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) as part of Hyundai’s SmartSense technologies.