Saudi Arabia calls for swift response to energy supply threats

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A video released by the US Central Command (USCENTCOM) on June 13, 2019, reportedly shows an Iranian navy patrol boat in the Gulf of Oman approaching the Japanese operated methanol tanker Kokuka Courageous and removing an unexploded mine. (AFP)
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Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih at a meeting of G20 energy and environment ministers in Karuizawa, Japan. (Al-Ekhbariya)
Updated 16 June 2019
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Saudi Arabia calls for swift response to energy supply threats

  • Energy minister Khalid Al-Falih's comments come as Kokuka Courageous and Front Altair heading to ports in the UAE
  • GCC adds to international condemnation of attacks on two oil tankers in Gulf of Oman

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia called for a swift response to the threat to energy supplies, two days after attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

"There must be a rapid and decisive response to the threat of energy supply, market stability and consumer confidence, which are posed by recent terrorist acts in both the Arabian Sea and the Arabian Gulf, against the major global energy supply chains," Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said at a G20 meeting in Japan.

His comments came as the UAE foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan said the Gulf of Oman attacks and an attack last month on four tankers off the Emirates' coast  were carried out by a state-actor using sophisticated technology.

GCC Secretary-General Dr. Abdullatif Al-Zayani added to the chorus of international condemnation on Saturday, describing the attacks as a dangerous escalation and violation of international laws.

He also said that it was a direct threat to maritime safety and the world’s energy supply. He said that “this attack is a terrorist act that calls for the international community to respond quickly and decisively to protect international shipping lines in this vital region of the world.” 

 

US President Donald Trump said the attack had Iran "written all over it" and Saudi Arabia said it agreed with Washington's initial assessment that Tehran was responsible. 

On Friday, the US military released video footage it said suggested that Iran wanted to hide evidence that it was behind the attacks.

Iran has repeatedly threatened to disrupt the Strait of Hormuz - the narrow shipping lane into the Arabian Gulf through which one fifth of the world's oil is transported.

Iran on Saturday summoned the British ambassador to Tehran after London also blamed it for the attacks, the Students News Agency ISNA reported.
"During the meeting with Iran's foreign ministry official, Iran strongly condemned the unfounded allegations and criticised Britain's unacceptable stance regarding the attacks in the Gulf of Oman," it said.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt issued a statement Friday blaming Iran and its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for the attacks, saying no other state or non-state actor could have been responsible.

Meanwhile, crew members of the Norwegian-owned oil tanker that was attacked landed Saturday in Dubai after two days in Iran.
Associated Press journalists saw the crew of the Front Altair after their Iran Air flight from Bandar Abbas, Iran, landed in the UAE.

Earlier, the oil tanker left Iran's territorial waters and was under tow to the UAE, shipping officials said Saturday.
The Norwegian company which owns the ship said specialists would board the vessel on Saturday to assess the damage.

The other tanker that was attacked, the Kokuka Courageous, was heading to port Saturday, its owners said.

The Japanese tanker's Tokyo-based operator Kokuka confirmed the vessel was heading to the UAE.

"We still don't know if the tanker goes to Khor Fakkan or Fujairah as they are very close," said a spokesman.

Maritime experts would then seek to transfer its highly flammable cargo to shore, according to an unnamed official quoted by Japanese state media.

Earlier, Al-Falih said that he hopes oil producers will be able to balance the oil market before next year.
“We hope that we will balance the market before next year. We are working on it,” Al-Falih told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting of G20 energy and environment ministers in Karuizawa, Japan, when asked about the current oil market situation.
Al-Falih said earlier this month that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) was close to agreeing to extend a pact on cutting oil supplies beyond June, although more talks were still needed with non-OPEC countries that were part of the production deal.


Makkah Route: Health services presented to Hajjis in their home countries

Updated 21 July 2019
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Makkah Route: Health services presented to Hajjis in their home countries

  • 257,981 pilgrims benefited from the "preventive services" since the new initiative’s launch

RIYADH: One of the services provided by the Makkah Route initiative, which aims to smooth the Hajj journey of pilgrims and provide top-quality service, is to ensure that all health requirements are met.

The Communication, Relations and Health Awareness General Department of the Ministry of Health is implementing the initiative in two ways. 

The first is to ensure that the proper application of the health requirements for Hajj and Umrah is followed in targeted countries before issuing the Kingdom’s entry visa (Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Tunisia). 

The second is to check that preventive measures are taken according to the world’s epidemiological situation, for instance in Pakistan.

“Preventive measures” mean, for example, providing polio vaccines for pilgrims. The vaccine, approved by the World Health Organization (WHO), is provided through the Pakistani health authorities at the departure area of the airport.

“The ministry is also deploying a team of five people qualified to supervise the application of health requirements and assess the vaccination procedure and the application of preventive measures,” the department added.   


HIGHLIGHTS

The Makkah Route initiative aims to ensure that the proper application of the health requirements for Hajj and Umrah is followed in targeted countries before issuing the Kingdom’s entry visa.

The initiative also ensures that preventive measures are taken according to the world’s epidemiological situation, for instance in Pakistan.

The workforce at the different land, air, and sea entry/exit points during this year’s Hajj season numbers more than 1,700 individuals.

The teams include 131 experienced doctors, general health specialists, epidemiological monitors, and other staff to provide the necessary treatment and preventive services to pilgrims.


The ministry’s procedures in the departure hall include prepping emergency clinics at the points where Makkah Route pilgrims are received. 

These clinics deal with urgent cases, prepare awareness information for pilgrims and coordinate with the General Authority of Civil Aviation regarding their distribution on the targeted airlines.

The workforce at the different land, air, and sea entry/exit points during this year’s Hajj season numbers more than 1,700 individuals, including 131 experienced doctors, general health specialists, epidemiological monitors, and other staff to provide the necessary treatment and preventive services to pilgrims.

The ministry stated that the number of health practitioners assigned to the service of pilgrims during Hajj “is more than 30,000.”

The ministry encourages volunteering during the Hajj season; it believes that it is a very important and noble service toward fellow citizens, nations and the religion, where Islam highly encourages volunteering and serving others.

The ministry is coordinating the major institutions and commissions via its Hajj volunteering link to register volunteers so that they can participate through the societal partnership program.

The missions affiliated with the pilgrim’s affairs offices provide basic treatment services and refer patients to the ministry’s health facilities, keeping an eye on the overall health situation and reporting any suspicious infectious diseases. 

The ministry monitors all the health institutions and medical missions affiliated with the pilgrim’s affairs offices to make sure the health requirements are being properly applied, to ensure pilgrims’ safety and guarantee an environment free of infectious diseases.

The Health Ministry has confirmed that so far that there has been no incidence of any epidemic diseases or quarantine cases recorded among pilgrims, who arrived and the health situation is reassuring.

Since the first of Dul Qaada, the ministry has provided preventive services, via access points, to 257,981 pilgrims, with a total rate of commitment to vaccination reached  87.4 percent for meningitis, 67.3 percent for yellow fever and 95.3 percent for polio.