Curbs slapped on Dutch firms

Updated 22 May 2014

Curbs slapped on Dutch firms

Saudi Arabia has started imposing sanctions on Dutch companies after the Netherlands failed to take action against a right-wing politician for abusing Islam and the Kingdom, a Foreign Ministry source said on Tuesday.
“Religion is the red line which nobody will be allowed to cross,” the source said, adding that Riyadh’s action was aimed at putting an end to such irresponsible behavior.
“Saudi Arabia is a leading country in the Islamic world. Muslims in Holland and other parts of the world have supported the Kingdom’s action,” the source said and hoped the Netherlands would pass a law to combat abuse of religions.
The Dutch government has reportedly distanced itself from Wilders' actions, pointing out that the populist firebrand is not part of, or representative of it. Wilders previously compared the Qur’an to Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf. He also blamed Saudi Arabia for terrorist attacks around the globe.
Earlier, an official of the Dutch Embassy in Riyadh said The Hague is sending an envoy to the Kingdom this week for high-level talks as part of all-out efforts to improve relations.
Maurice Pourchez, first secretary for economic and cultural affairs at the embassy, said that Dutch Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans had told the country’s official television outlet that he would send the executive director for political affairs to the Kingdom.
“Timmermans has also expressed his desire to visit Saudi Arabia shortly to strengthen relations,” said the official, noting that trade between Saudi Arabia and the Netherlands stands at 6 billion euros (about SR31 billion) with Saudi exports to the country reaching nearly SR20 billion.
Pourchez said the embassy has not received any official information about Saudi Arabia’s decision to slash trade ties.
The Council of Saudi Chambers had said that it had received an order from the Saudi government banning Dutch firms from taking part in future projects in the Kingdom, directly and through subcontracting.
About 30 Dutch companies operate in Saudi Arabia and there are many in the Netherlands that have trade relations with the Kingdom.


Rural tourism recovers after months of forced isolation

Updated 10 July 2020

Rural tourism recovers after months of forced isolation

  • Saudis turn to domestic traveling and flock to their nation’s cooler cities and rural areas

TAIF: As Saudi citizens turn to domestic tourism in the country’s summer resorts, adapting to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, rural areas have become targeted by local tourists wishing to get away from the soaring temperatures in most of the Kingdom’s cities.

Visitors are now choosing cold Saudi cities instead of Europe, which they are accustomed to visiting, such as Taif, Al-Baha, and Abha.

COVID-19 has postponed all plans to travel abroad, and attention has now focused on domestic tourism amid strict health protocols in parks, gardens and recreational areas.

Walid Al-Hamidi, vice president of the Tourism Development Council, confirmed to Arab News that Asir, with its facilities and attractions, was ready to receive summer visitors from across the country.

He said that under the directives of Asir's governor, who supervises all activities and events directly and constantly, many committees had been formed to prepare a successful summer tourism season, to optimize the opportunity and allow people to enjoy the exceptional ambiance of Asir.

“A comprehensive tourism plan was set up two years ago, which resulted in a successful Al-Soudah Season with the support of Asir’s Investment Authority,” Al-Hamidi added.

He noted that Asir’s directives aimed this year to build an exceptional tourism model that meets optimal health standards in dealing with COVID-19.

The model is supported by the “Nashama Asir” team — consisting of 4,000 volunteers — who have been trained for months and have all the necessary skills to make the season successful. Their work will continue until the end of the pandemic and throughout the summer.

“Everyone is ready at public facilities, gardens and parks, to serve tourists,” he said, adding “tourists coming from all the over the Kingdom will be welcomed with smiles, enhanced services, and warm welcomes.”

Dr. Sami Al-Obaidi, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Taif, told Arab News that the tourism sector was the economic backbone of any country or city.

He said that Taif was considered one of the most important tourist cities, given its many attractions  that made it top of any list of places to visit in the Kingdom.

“Suspending travel abroad, and limiting tourism … due to the coronavirus pandemic, makes us, as officials and citizens in Taif, well placed for a beautiful and safe tourism season for Taif’s citizens and visitors,” said Al-Obaidi.

“Meetings are held around the clock, headed by Saad Al-Maimouni, the governor of Taif, with the participation of the relevant authorities.”

He expected all sectors, especially tourism, hospitality and a few other businesses in Taif, to recover to some extent during this season, especially now tourists have already started flocking to the region, with numbers set to increase over the coming weeks.