Ministers’ visits abroad ‘only if very essential’

Updated 26 February 2013
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Ministers’ visits abroad ‘only if very essential’

All ministers in Saudi Arabia now should limit their visits abroad to urgent matters that require their presence, according to a new circular issued by a prominent government body.
The international travels of ministers have had a negative impact on the Cabinet’s weekly sessions, since some ministers are absent from conferences, meetings, forums and symposiums.
An internal circular issued by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers said these visits would have little benefit since the ministers are not required to personally attend those functions. The circular stressed that the ministers should attend Cabinet sessions and be present in their offices.
The circular stressed the importance of a previous decision issued two years ago to regulate participation of officials in international conferences, meetings, forums and symposiums. It noted that any foreign visit by a minister or official should take into consideration factors such as pressing issues at hand, political situation and financial commitments. Saudi Arabia has 30 ministers.
A minister cannot be represented at the Cabinet by anyone except another minister. The term of a minister is four years.
The new edict comes as part of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah’s political reforms. He set up the National Anti-Corruption Commission for the smooth operation of the government departments.
According to Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, state minister and commander of the National Guard, King Abdullah appointed the Royal Court staff and ministers considering their good qualities. “He gave priority to those who are God fearing and trustworthy,” he added.
King Abdullah appointed trustworthy officials who can deliver, meet the needs of citizens and understand their hopes and aspirations, said Prince Miteb, the king’s eldest son. He said the king removed some ministers and senior officials after completing their four-year terms.


Christchurch Muslims praise King Salman’s Hajj offer

Updated 40 min 12 sec ago
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Christchurch Muslims praise King Salman’s Hajj offer

  • The president of the Muslim Association of Canterbury Shagaf Khan said people will be both financially and spiritually supported during the journey
  • Khan said a trip to Makkah would normally cost around 10,000 New Zealand dollars ($6,769), but King Salman’s offer would cover pilgrims “from the time they leave their house and come back”

CHRISTCHURCH: King Salman’s Hajj offer to host families of those affected by March’s Christchurch terror attacks is “something really special,” said the president of the Muslim Association of Canterbury, Shagaf Khan.
The Saudi king has offered to host and cover the expenses of 200 Hajj pilgrims when they journey to Makkah this year.
Khan said people will be both financially and spiritually supported during the journey. “For some of them, it’ll be a great comfort feeling like they’ve fulfilled the obligations of being a Muslim,” he added.
Khan said a trip to Makkah would normally cost around 10,000 New Zealand dollars ($6,769), but King Salman’s offer would cover pilgrims “from the time they leave their house and come back.”
When asked what the offer would mean for Canterbury’s Muslim community, Khan said it is part of the solidarity and support that has been shown to them since the Christchurch terror attacks, which claimed the lives of 51 people.
“Four months on … people still feel supported and they feel they’re still being remembered,” he added.
Sheikh Mohammed Amir, who is working closely with the local community, Saudi Arabia’s Embassy and its Ministry of Islamic Affairs to implement King Salman’s offer, said it will be available for those who had lost family members or been injured in the mosque attacks.
Canterbury’s Muslims are “very appreciative” of the offer, added Amir, who is chairman of the Islamic Scholars Board of New Zealand.
“I’ll say with full confidence that this will be a big relief for the deceased’s families, for the victims, for all those who’ve been injured and affected,” he said.
When asked how the organization of the pilgrimage is going, Amir said “so far, so good,” but added that it has been challenging without official records to track everyone down.
He said it is an honor and a responsibility to help organize the pilgrimage, which he has been helping to plan since the end of Ramadan. “People are very excited about it,” he added.
He said he believed that the king’s offer had been made to help people’s rehabilitation after the terror attacks.
“The community believes he’s going to contribute in building Christchurch and bringing people to a normal life,” Amir added.