2,500 prisoners set free

Updated 05 February 2015

2,500 prisoners set free

More than 2,500 prisoners have been released from jails across the Kingdom following an amnesty declared by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman on Thursday.
Disclosing this figure, Maj. Abdullah Al-Harbi, spokesman for the Department of Prisons, said the committees appointed for the purpose of selecting prisoners qualifying for release in different regions are working around the clock to implement the amnesty.
Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif, second deputy premier and interior minister, has instructed law-enforcement authorities to release public rights prisoners on the basis of certain conditions.
Prisoners held for 14 types of crimes such as murder, drug smuggling, crimes related to weapons and bombs, and money laundering would not benefit from the amnesty.
Other crimes that are not covered by amnesty are rape, kidnapping and highway robbery, opening fire at security officers, armed robbery, crimes that affect state security, forging Saudi currency or stamps of government, banks, signatures of officials and legal documents issued by courts or notaries.
On the basis of Prince Mohammed’s instruction, prisoners held for public rights as well as those who have not committed major crimes would be released and their fines up to SR500,000 written off and lashes would not be carried out.
Brig. Ahmed Al-Shahrani, director of prisons in Jeddah, said he was closely monitoring the measures taken for the release of prisoners qualified for the amnesty.
Al-Shahrani met with some of the released prisoners and told them to become good citizens, keeping away from crimes and engaging in constructive activities.
The prisoners, who have benefited from the amnesty, thanked King Salman as well as the prison authorities. “We have benefited a lot from the department’s cultural and vocational programs,” one Saudi said, adding that the programs also contributed to changing the mindset of prisoners.

Saudi Crown prince’s India visit will help expand ties beyond energy

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to India will boost robust interactions that New Delhi has established with Saudi Arabia over the last few years. (Supplied)
Updated 20 February 2019

Saudi Crown prince’s India visit will help expand ties beyond energy

  • New Delhi’s participation in Kingdom’s mega projects a major aspect of renewed ties: Talmiz Ahmad

NEW DELHI: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s first visit to India is a landmark development in bilateral ties between India and Saudi Arabia, according to Talmiz Ahmad, a former ambassador to Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia is India’s largest supplier of crude oil, but since taking office in 2014 Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought to use India’s growing economy to attract more investment from Saudi Arabia beyond energy, and foster cooperation on trade, infrastructure and defense.

Ahmad, author of several books on the Arab world and twice India’s Ambassador to Riyadh, said that while the backbone of New Delhi’s relationship with the Kingdom is energy, the two sides had been discussing “how to give greater substance and longevity to the relationship on the basis of concrete projects.”

Reuters reported this week that India is expecting Prince Salman to announce an initial investment in its National Investment and Infrastructure Fund, a quasi-sovereign wealth fund, to help accelerate the building of ports and highways. Saudi Arabia has also suggested investing in India’s farming industry, with an eye on food imports to the Kingdom. 

Ahmad said Saudi Arabia’s NEOM project, a $500 billion smart city in Tabuk province on the Egyptian and Jordanian borders, would also provide great opportunities for Indian companies. 

He added that Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the crown prince’s blueprint to fundamentally transform Kingdom’s economy, presents another opportunity for Indian businesses to prosper from the relationship.

“India is extremely well placed,” said Ahmad. “We are world leaders in small and medium enterprises and in the services sector. Saudi Arabia also has proposals to develop its tourism and leisure sectors, and I believe India is also well placed in those areas too.”

He also discussed how the strategic partnership had been initiated by former Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who visited Riyadh in 2010, but that Modi, who visited in 2016, had added “considerable substance” to the relationship.

He stressed, though, that Riyadh’s ties with India are independent of its relationship with Pakistan. He added India and Saudi Arabia were also working together to improve the security situation in Afghanistan, to resolve the 17-year conflict between government forces and the Afghan Taliban, as well as in the wider West Asia region. 

“India has excellent relations with all the countries in West Asia, and New Delhi is well placed to address some of the concerns that all the countries have with each other,” he said.