Al-Maliki antics ‘attempt to cover up own failures’

Updated 20 May 2014

Al-Maliki antics ‘attempt to cover up own failures’

Saudi Arabia on Monday denounced Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki for accusing the Kingdom of being involved in terrorism, and said the embattled leader was only trying to cover up for his government’s failures and support for terrorist operations in his own country.
The Council of Ministers, chaired by Crown Prince Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, also backed the resolutions taken by the Council of Arab Interior Ministers to root out terrorism in the region.
Prince Salman, who returned to Riyadh on Sunday after visiting five nations, thanked the leaders of Pakistan, Japan, India, Maldives and China for welcoming him so warmly.
He praised the commitment of the leaders of the five countries to expand cooperation with Saudi Arabia in all areas. He hoped that his visits would contribute to global peace and stability.
Culture and Information Minister Abdul Aziz Khoja said the Cabinet commended Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for supporting an online Hadith program supervised by Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh. The program currently consists of 367,000 pages containing 261,942 sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him). It would expand to 450,000 pages at a later stage.
The Cabinet thanked King Abdullah for supporting the Kingdom’s industrial development and his patronage of the third industries forum in Yanbu. The forum called for further infrastructure integration to establish basic industries. The Cabinet welcomed the recommendations issued by the 14th Conference of Ministers of Higher Education and Scientific Research in the Arab world, hosted by the Kingdom. It stressed the need to develop an Arab strategy for scientific and technological research.
Spelling out the decisions taken by the Cabinet meeting, Khoja said it approved the Statute of the Organization for the Development of Women, which forms part of the mandate of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The organization aims to highlight the role of Islam in protecting the rights of women. It will set out plans, programs and projects to implement the policies, directives and decisions of the OIC in various areas of women’s development.
The Cabinet reshuffled the coordination committee overseeing care for people with disabilities. It included representatives from the Youth Welfare Presidency, and the Ministries of Education, Municipal and Rural Affairs, Interior, Higher Education, Health, Labor, Civil Service, and Social Affairs.
The Cabinet authorized the Minister of Civil Service to hold talks with his Japanese counterpart to sign a cooperation agreement.
It appointed Hamoud bin Ibrahim Al-Ghareer minister plenipotentiary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Fares bin Mohammed Al-Aida commander of the 38th Regiment at the Ministry of National Guard; Khaled bin Mohammed Al-Batal undersecretary at the Eastern Province governorate; Salah bin Muad Al-Maayouf director general of consultancy at the Institute of Public Administration; and Dhaifullah bin Saleh Al-Thubaiti administrative advisor at the Control and Investigation Bureau.


Easing visa regulations makes Russia big attraction for Saudis

Russia witnessed a 10 percent increase in international tourists in 2018. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 40 min 39 sec ago

Easing visa regulations makes Russia big attraction for Saudis

  • Tourists can visit the country’s regions by simply applying online

MOSCOW: Walking the cobblestone streets around Moscow’s Red Square, tourists from far and wide enjoy the crisp, cool fall air, surrounded by architectural wonders dating back hundreds of years.
Similar to Saudi Arabia, which has begun promoting tourism for the first time, Russia has opened its doors wider to the world by easing visit restrictions, increasing the flow of tourists.
Zarina Doguzova, head of the Federal Agency for Tourism of the Russian Federation, explains to Arab News the dynamics behind it all. “Russia is now very focused on easing visa restrictions and formalities. At the moment, an electronic visa is used for tourists coming to the regions of the Far East, as well as to the Kaliningrad region. And just a very short while ago, an electronic visa regime went live in the territory of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad region,” said Doguzova.
Doguzova stressed to Arab News the importance of working with Saudi Arabia to increase mutual openness and to develop a successful travel industry in both countries.
“Saudi Arabia is on the list of countries whose tourists can visit Russian regions using an electronic visa. We are always happy to see tourists from your country visiting us. Moreover, from Jan. 1, 2021, an electronic visa will work throughout Russia, and we consider it a real breakthrough for global tourism. The same can be said about Saudi Arabia — the things you are doing are a new step in the development of global tourism,” she added.
Doguzova went on to explain that a significant easing of visa restrictions increases incoming tourism by an average of 10-15 percent for a country.
“Tourism is at the intersection of the economy and the country’s image, and that is why its value is even higher. Therefore, we are now developing the concept of Russia’s systematic promotion in international markets in terms of tourism potential.”
Russia is one of the 49 countries on the list recently announced by Saudi Arabia whose citizens will be able to apply for tourist visas to the Kingdom for the first time.
Ahmed Al-Khateeb, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), announced on Sept. 27, 2019, at an event held in the Kingdom’s capital that international investors agreed to invest SR115 billion ($30 billion) in the tourism sector.
Al-Khateeb and Doguzova met at the 23rd session of the General Assembly of the UN World Tourism Organization held in St. Petersburg in September, the first high-level event hosted by Russia for the UN in the field of tourism.

FASTFACT

14,000 Saudis attended the 2018 FIFA World Cup using FanID, an identification document required by the Russian authorities that provided visa-free entry to Russia for foreigners that purchased tickets to the match.

At 6.6 million sq. miles, Russia is the largest country in the world in terms of landmass and an exotic destination for many. The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia gave it a serious incentive to develop tourism, with 14,000 Saudis arriving under the FanID visa that was launched before the start of the games. The e-visa system allowed fans to enter Russia visa-free once they had purchased their match tickets.
The number of tourists has soared since then, placing Russia on the global travel map. Russia saw a 10 percent increase in international tourists, with 4.2 million tourists overall in 2018, the state-run Vesti news website reported, citing the Federal Security Service (FSB) border guards.
Doguzova said there are many points of interest for both Saudi Arabia and the Russian Federation to maintain a mutual tourist flow.
With President Vladimir Putin’s state visit to Saudi Arabia, Doguzova hopes that both countries will sign the first framework agreement on tourism.
“For the first time, the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism has drafted such a document and agreed on it with the interested parties. This agreement will create a legal basis for further cooperation in tourism and will contribute to the development of tourism between our countries,” she said.
Doguzova noted that Russia has previously raised the issue of a possible visa-free regime between both countries and will continue to discuss the issue. “We are excited about Saudi Arabia’s efforts to promote tourism. A trend to lift visa restrictions is underway in the world because people want to cross the borders at will in order to travel. Visa liberalization is now taking place all over the world, and both Saudi Arabia and Russia are making significant progress in this field.”
“We want millions of tourists from all over the world, including Saudi Arabia, to discover our country,” she added.