Saudi society ‘has a wonderful quality of accepting foreigners’

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Pakistan Ambassador Manzoor ul Haq explains a point in the presence of Arab News Editor in Chief Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi.
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Pakistan Ambassador Manzoor ul Haq and Arab News Editor in Chief Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi with community leaders and Arab News senior editors. (AN photos by Ghazi Mahdi)
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Arab News Editor in Chief Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi addresses the Arab News Dialogue in Jeddah, attended by Pakistan Ambassador Manzoor ul Haq and community leaders Amir Muhammad Khan, S. Qasim Ali Naqvi and Syed Ehsanul Haque. The forum’s theme was: “Expat Communities in Saudi Arabia: Their Contribution and Responsibilities.”
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At the Arab News dialogue are, from left, S. Qasim Ali Naqvi, Amir Mohammad Khan and Syed Ehsanul Haque.
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Updated 14 August 2016
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Saudi society ‘has a wonderful quality of accepting foreigners’

JEDDAH: Saudi society has the unique characteristic of accommodating people from different countries, says Pakistan Ambassador Manzoor ul Haq.
“Saudi society has a wonderful quality of accepting foreigners and that is the reason you will find people of different cultures and values living here,” he told the Arab News Dialogue that took place at the newspaper’s office last week.
The interactive session was based on an innovative concept themed ‘Expat communities in Saudi Arabia: Their contribution and responsibilities.’
Arab News has been holding such dialogues to increase its interaction with top Saudi businessmen, economists, decision-makers and expatriate community leaders.
The ambassador and Pakistan community leaders in Jeddah — Amir Mohammad Khan, Syed Ehsanul Haque and S. Qasim Ali Naqvi — were among those who joined the dialogue.
Welcoming the guests, Arab News Editor In Chief Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi said that the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan serves as a role model for ties between two countries.
He highlighted the importance of the robust Saudi-Pak ties in various fields including trade and counterterrorism.
“There are so many things in common between the two countries and the contribution of Pakistanis living in the Kingdom are very significant,” he added.
Pakistani expats form one of the largest communities in Saudi Arabia, said Al-Harthi.
They are peace-loving people and have played a key role in the development of Saudi Arabia, he said.
“We cannot forget Farman Ali Khan who saved 14 people during Jeddah floods. He lost his life after saving 14 people trapped in the flash floods. He has been recognized as a hero,” Al-Harthi said.
Another Pakistani Shaukat Amin was rewarded on the orders of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif for saving the life of a Saudi national who was drowning in a valley in the Asir region, he added.
Referring to the arrests of some expatriates in connection with the suicide attacks carried out in Madinah, Qatif and Jeddah, the editor-in-chief said those suspects did not in anyway represent the 2.5 million Pakistanis living in the Kingdom.
Arab News Business Editor Khalil Hanware, who moderated the discussion, said Pakistanis are playing a significant role in the economic development of the Kingdom and those few misguided elements from the community cannot hijack the good deeds of the millions of peace-loving Pakistanis living in Saudi Arabia.
Sharing his views on Saudi-Pakistan relationship, Pakistan’s Ambassador Manzoor ul Haq said that the Kingdom is one of the few countries which hosts a large number of expatriates.
Pakistanis form the second expatriate community in terms of number. They have been working here since the beginning of the new era that changed this country into a very developed infrastructural society and they have their contribution in the development of the society.
“And we are so glad that the Saudi leadership appreciates the role played by Pakistanis in the development of the country. Every expatriate I have met gave me the feeling that he is not living in a foreign country,” he said, adding that he feels as if he is a part of the society.
For him, this is his second home and a spiritual land.
Also, the expatriates living here consider Saudi nationals their brothers and there are many examples when people from other countries have put their lives at stake to save Saudis, the ambassador said.
He also referred to the successful surgery of Pakistani twins from Swat whose surgery was carried out on the directive of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman.
“You can imagine the happiness of the parents of the twins who brought their two children tied together and took them back as their two daughters,” said the envoy.
The ambassador highlighted the huge donations made by the citizens to help the flood-affected people of Pakistan.
He also spoke about the food and other help provided by charitable organizations to some 500 to 600 Pakistani workers who were in camps here after their company did not pay them for several months.
“A true Pakistani cannot imagine doing any harm to Saudi Arabia because this land is a sacred land, the land of Two Holy Mosques,” the ambassador said.
A Pakistani living here believes he is earning in two ways — he is earning his living for this world and also for the Hereafter, he said.
A few elements who were involved in terror acts do not at all represent the millions of peace-loving and hard-working Pakistanis living in Saudi Arabia, said the envoy.
“We are happy that evil designs of such people have been foiled,” he added.
He expressed confidence that the Saudi leadership has all the vision and wisdom to continue its progressive journey.
“We hope and wish that Saudi Arabia remains successful and any effort to harm its progress will fail,” said the envoy.
Joining the discussion, Syed Ehsanul Haque, convener of Pakistan Repatriation Council, echoed the ambassador’s remarks saying Pakistanis living here considered Saudi Arabia as their second home.
“Even those who have not been paid for seven, eight months are confident that authorities in this country will intervene and help them receive their dues. And if you ask most of them they will prefer to stay here and this shows their loyalty and love for this country,” he added.
Haque said that many Pakistani companies were operating in Saudi Arabia during the early days and they payed a key role in developing Saudi Arabia’s infrastructure.
On the issue of terrorism, Haque said social media — and partly the electronic media — are to blame for presenting a distorted version of Islamic teachings and instilling in young and immature minds thoughts that are not based on Islam.
People who don’t have the basic Islamic knowledge are swayed by the social media. “We have seen that many educated young people joined Daesh and became part of their evil outfit,” he pointed out.
Haque also called for more interaction between the new and the old generation to bridge the communication gap between them. Parents should also monitor their children’s activities closely, he said.
Answering a question as to how a few Pakistanis were brainwashed into committing terror acts that are completely contrary to what millions of Pakistanis are doing for the development of this country, Haque said these people are inspired by the distorted views purported to be based on the teachings of Islam.
“Since they are unaware of the true Islamic teachings, they are easily brainwashed into believing that whatever they are told in the name of Islam is actually part of the religion,” Ehsan said.
Joining the discussion, Amir Mohammad Khan, chairman of Pakistan Journalists Forum, said that Pakistanis, like Saudis, were shocked when they learned that some Pakistanis were suspected to be involved in terror cases.
Pakistan is itself a victim of terrorism, he pointed out.
“We have lost 50,000 people in the war against terrorism and 50,000 people means 50,000 families are destroyed.”
He said that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are partners in the fight against terrorism and both are successfully coordinating with each other.

Role of digital media
The discussion also focused on the role of digital media with the guests and the Arab News team exchaning views on the growing influence of social and electronic media channels.
Khan said: “We are responsible for feeding the social media and we are also responsible for the consequences. We should show responsibility and try to play our role in curbing negative and harmful feeds that may incite others to violence or terrorism.”
TV channels also need to play a positive role, he said.
It is commendable that the Saudi leadership is doing its utmost to present the true picture of the Muslim society, Khan added
He stressed the need for mainstream media to play its role in countering the propaganda unleashed by the social media.
The panelists agreed that both Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are among the worst victims of terrorism.
The issue of educated professionals getting involved in terror offenses in some countries was also discussed.
Speaking at the dialogue, Pakistani expat community leader Qasim Ali Naqvi reiterated the ambassador’s remarks that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance.
Some youth are being misled to commit terror acts because they are not really aware of true Islam, said Naqvi. “This is due to lack of Islamic education.”
Naqvi stressed that the lack of proper Islamic education makes people vulnerable to anti-social elements.
The main aim of terrorists is to destabilize Islamic countries and damage the strong relationship between these states, he pointed out.
He said that all Islamic countries must confront such threats with unity. “All Islamic countries must come together and discuss ways to discuss this problem.”
The media also has a very important role to play in spreading the right messages among people, Naqvi added.


Saudi cabinet refuses politicization of Khashoggi murder in Istanbul

Updated 9 min 2 sec ago
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Saudi cabinet refuses politicization of Khashoggi murder in Istanbul

  • King Salman chaired a weekly Cabinet session in Tabuk on Tuesday

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia's Cabinet has rejected the politicization of the murder of Saudi citizen and journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul last month.

The announcement came following a weekly Cabinet session, chaired by King Salman in Tabuk on Tuesday.

In statements to the state-run Saudi Press Agency, Information Minister Dr. Awwad bin Saleh al-Awwad said the ministers expressed gratitude to friendly and fraternal nations and organizations for their welcoming of the General Prosecution's statement on the findings in Khashoggi's murder.

Al-Awwad hailed them for refusing to politicize this humanitarian affair that has been referred to the Saudi judiciary and which will issue verdicts against the suspects.

In a speech addressing the Kingdom’s council of ministers, King Salman briefed them on the details of a written message that he delivered earlier this week to Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah.

King Salman also briefed them on the discussions he held on Sunday with visiting Iraqi President Barham Salih, following a meeting in Riyadh, where they discussed bilateral ties and ways of developing them in various fields.

The attending ministers hailed King Salman’s remarks on Saudi internal and foreign policy, as well as his pride in the comprehensive development witnessed in the Kingdom in line with its Vision 2030.

On Yemen, the Cabinet praised Saudi Arabia and the UAE for launching a $500 million initiative to address the humanitarian situation in the war-torn country.

They also announced that the Kingdom and the UAE will launch another initiative for food security that will reach 10-12 million Yemenis.

Al-Awwad pointed out that the Cabinet reiterated the Kingdom's affirmation during an emergency Arab League meeting at the level of Permanent Representatives in Cairo, condemning the Israeli violations in Gaza, based on its permanent stance towards the Palestinian cause. It reaffirmed its solidarity with the Palestinian people in restoring their legitimate historic rights.

Finally, the Saudi Information minister said that the Cabinet has approved a Memorandum of Understanding between Saudi Arabia and Turkey on cooperation in the housing sector.