Saudi-Pakistan ties — strong and getting stronger

Saudi-Pakistan ties — strong and getting stronger
King Salman receives Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Riyadh in this file photo. (AFP)
Updated 23 March 2017

Saudi-Pakistan ties — strong and getting stronger

Saudi-Pakistan ties — strong and getting stronger

RIYADH: The Saudi-Pakistani relationship is a vast and dynamic web of cooperative linkages, age-old bonds of friendship and undertakings, dating from well before the establishment of diplomatic relations and growing continuously year-on-year. Today, the Kingdom and Pakistan maintain close and robust political, military, economic, security and cultural relations, rarely found in the history of global camaraderie.
In fact, Saudi Arabia’s long-standing and comprehensive relationship with Pakistan operates at many levels and in many areas, including trade, governance and values, health, education and culture besides politics and security. The two countries also work together extensively at the international level, within the framework of several bilateral, regional and global organizations including the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
Moreover, the Kingdom is the biggest exporter of oil and petroleum products to Pakistan, while Saudi Arabia has been a key market for Pakistani goods and services. No doubt, the two sides sought to develop extensive commercial, cultural, religious, political and strategic relations since the establishment of Pakistan in 1947. Pakistan affirms its relationship with Saudi Arabia as their most “important and bilateral partnership” in the current foreign policy of Pakistan, while working and seeking to further strengthen ties with Saudi Arabia, the country that hosts the two holy mosques in Makkah and Madinah.
The bilateral relationship has grown further since Pakistan joined the Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT). The IMAFT, created by Saudi Arabia in December 2015 to combat Daesh and other terror groups, has 39 members, including Turkey and Malaysia with a command center in Riyadh.
All these new developments are the result of the frequent political consultations between the leaders and the high-ranking officials of the two countries, and more so between King Salman and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The leaders of Saudi Arabia command great respect in Pakistan.
According to a survey, Pakistanis hold the most favorable perception of the Kingdom in the world, with 95 percent of the respondents viewing Saudi Arabia favorably. With one of the largest armies in the world and as the only declared nuclear power in the Muslim world, Pakistan has maintained a unique position and works closely with the Kingdom and other member states of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) as well as the world at large.
A report released by the Pakistani Embassy said that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are the leading members of the OIC. “Saudi Arabia has been one of the strongest supporters of Pakistan through the years,” said the report. Saudi Arabia has provided extensive religious and educational aid to Pakistan, being a major contributor to the construction of mosques and madrassas (religious schools) across that South Asian country, including the King Faisal Mosque in Islamabad, named after late King Faisal of Saudi Arabia.
Over the years, the role and the bond between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have been increasingly becoming strong and complementary. The relations between the two countries also reflect widely developing economic ties. Trade between them has grown in recent years. In addition, the number of Pakistani workers in the Kingdom has increased and now stands at about 2.6 million, who remit more than $5.6 billion a year to their families in Pakistan.
In the manpower sector, Saudi Arabia remains a major destination among Pakistanis, who came to the Kingdom for employment in great numbers during the last five decades. Besides manpower, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan can also work closely within the framework of “Saudi Vision 2030.” The two countries have unexploited proven mineral resources. Thus, investment in geophysics and other mining-related disciplines will pay huge dividends in the long run.
The Saudi interest in mining industry is there to stay and Pakistan has the human resource to provide for such a demand. The Vision 2030 offers Pakistan an opportunity to upscale its manpower export to more skilled and managerial levels, inevitably boosting its foreign remittances. The close ties between Riyadh and Islamabad will provide more opportunities for cooperation within the Vision 2030.
Vision 2030 has a mandate to forge closer partnerships with foreign countries. No doubt, Pakistan has enjoyed warm relations with Saudi Arabia since the birth of the country. The relations are rooted in the centuries-old religious, cultural and commercial links between the two peoples. Moreover, the relationship is also based on shared Islamic ideals.

To this end, it is important to mention that Pakistan is the only state founded on Islamic identity, while Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) and home to the two holiest mosques of Islam. Qur’an and Sunnah play a significant role in the constitutional framework of both countries. In fact, the first “treaty of friendship” was signed by the two countries as early as 1951, laying the basis for expanding cooperation.
Over the years, the two countries succeeded in developing a unique synergy for mutual development and prosperity. Saudi Arabia has the largest number of Pakistani passport-holders. No other country has such a massive diaspora, which is composed of top-notch Pakistani professionals. Pakistani engineers and construction experts have played a crucial role in building infrastructure in Saudi Arabia. Similarly, Pakistani doctors, entrepreneurs, academics and financial experts have played a premier role in developing the institutional infrastructure of the Kingdom.
Referring to the progressively growing relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, Shah Faisal Kakar, a senior diplomat at the Pakistan Embassy, said: “The Kingdom and Pakistan enjoy warm and friendly relations, and the two countries have developed strong ties in different fields.”
A number of monuments in Pakistan bear testimony to the depth of bilateral relations.
The International Islamic University (IIU) in Islamabad was established with a grant of $10 million from Saudi Arabia. The third-largest city in Pakistan was renamed Faisalabad after the late King Faisal. In keeping with the high degree of mutual trust and brotherhood, there has been a regular exchange of high-level visits between the two countries.
On the commercial front, the two countries have forged closer ties. Bilateral trade has been on the rise for the past few years. The balance of trade is in favor of Saudi Arabia as Pakistan imports most of its oil from the Kingdom. A centerpiece of bilateral economic and commercial relations is the Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Several agreements provide a firm footing for bilateral relations. The two countries have in place an agreement for political consultations and air service agreement, an extradition agreement, a cultural accord, an agreement on security cooperation, an agreement on scientific and technological cooperation, and an agreement on avoidance of double taxation.


Saudi Arabia confirms 11 COVID-19 deaths, 970 new cases

Saudi Arabia confirms 11 COVID-19 deaths, 970 new cases
Updated 19 April 2021

Saudi Arabia confirms 11 COVID-19 deaths, 970 new cases

Saudi Arabia confirms 11 COVID-19 deaths, 970 new cases
  • The Kingdom said 896 patients recovered in past 24 hours
  • The highest number of cases were recorded in Riyadh with 438

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia recorded 11 new COVID-19 related deaths on Monday, raising the total number of fatalities to 6,834.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 970 new confirmed cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 405,940 people have now contracted the disease. 
Of the total number of cases, 9,508 remain active and 1,087 in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with 438, followed by Makkah with 227, the Eastern Province with 131, Madinah recorded 37, and Asir confirmed 28 cases.

The ministry also announced that 896 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 389,598.
The ministry renewed its call on the public to adhere to the measures and abide by instructions.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 141 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 3.01 million.


AlUla says sustainability key to future growth

AlUla says sustainability key to future growth
Updated 19 April 2021

AlUla says sustainability key to future growth

AlUla says sustainability key to future growth
  • Saudi Arabia’s ancient site declares a series of projects dedicated to the future

AlUla, the ancient valley in Saudi Arabia’s Madinah region, home to 200,000 years of still largely unexplored human history, continues to play a central role in the Kingdom’s tourism strategy.

In a bid to pave the way for the area’s future growth, the Royal Commission of AlUla (RCU) has announced that it will embark on its future projects by adhering to sustainable practices.

“At the RCU, we are constantly looking for new ways to engage and work with our expert partners, stakeholders, and the AlUla community,” Amr Almadani, CEO of RCU, told Arab News. “Our success is driven by these ever- deepening collaborations. These local and global perspectives continually push us as we work to deliver on our objectives towards the goal of sustainable development in AlUla, and more broadly, contributing to the diversification efforts outlined in Vision 2030.”

Dr Maliha Hashimi, executive director of health, wellbeing and biotech at NEOM. (Supplied)

RCU is pursuing a carbon-neutral strategy, supported by the basic principles of a circular economy. It also announced that it will build infrastructure that will help create tens of thousands of jobs, and will empower the local community by providing training and opportunities for new career paths.

AlUla’s new sustainable approach to its future will be discussed during a panel, the first in a series titled “At the crossroads: people and planet: can AlUla unlock a sustainable future?” on April 2 with panelists dialing in from AlUla and virtually. It will focus on integrated, 360-degree approaches to sustainability, where experts will discuss the complex layers, synergies, and conflicts of social, economic, and environmental sustainability. 

Panelists include businessman and entrepreneur Alejandro Agag, former prime minister of Italy Matteo Renzi; architect and leader in sustainable design, William McDonough; James Hardcastle, the director of IUCN’s Green List ; Carlos Duarte, a leader in multiple branches of biological oceanography; Gérard Mestrallet, the Executive Chairman of Afalula, the French agency for Alula Development. Both Renzi and Mestrallet are members of the RCU advisory board. 

Royal Commission of AlUla (RCU) has announced that it will embark on its future projects by adhering to sustainable practices. (Supplied)

“When we think of sustainability, we look to the civilizations of the past for inspiration,” added Almadani. “We seek to apply innovative approaches to ancient wisdom to come up with new ways to protect AlUla’s natural landscape and its people and secure its legacy in the years to come. This is the core inspiration of Crossroads, using the past to chart the best path into the future.”

Through Crossroads, RCU aims to bring together global experts across all sectors to challenge and fine tune its ideas regarding sustainability, pertaining to the ancient region’s future growth.

Proposed by RCU as “solution-driven” discussions, the panels will touch on key elements of its “Journey Through Time” masterplan, outlining the first and most important phase of AlUla’s development.

“The topic of integrated sustainability is being discussed at the forefront of all development projects currently underway in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Dr Maliha Hashimi, executive director of health, wellbeing and biotech at NEOM, Saudi Arabia’s planned cross-border city in the Tabuk province, as well as the first Crossroads panel’s moderator, told Arab News. 

“As we work towards a better, more sustainable future for our people, our environment, and our economic systems, we must embrace new technologies and solutions, but also understand the lessons and traditions of the past.”


Saudi Arabia's National Cultural Awards winners to be announced at closing ceremony

Saudi Arabia's National Cultural Awards winners to be announced at closing ceremony
Updated 19 April 2021

Saudi Arabia's National Cultural Awards winners to be announced at closing ceremony

Saudi Arabia's National Cultural Awards winners to be announced at closing ceremony

RIYADH: Governor of Riyadh Prince Faisal Bin Bandar will patronize on Monday the closing ceremony of the National Cultural Awards Initiative.

The ceremony, organized by the Ministry of Culture, will take place at the Culture Palace in the Diplomatic Quarter in Riyadh.

Winners of the initiative awards will be announced in the various categories of cultural activities. 

The initiative includes 14 cultural awards: the Cultural Personality of the Year Award, Youth Cultural Award, Cultural Institutions Award, as well as Film Award, Fashion Award, Music Award, National Heritage Award, Literature Award, Theater and Performing Arts Award, Visual Arts Award, Architecture and Design Award, Culinary Arts Award, Publishing Award, and Translation Award.

The Ministry of Culture organized the National Cultural Awards initiative as part of the initiatives of the Quality of Life Program, one of the Saudi Vision 2030 programs.


Yemeni conjoined twins ‘Yousuf and Yassin’ to fly to Riyadh under King Salman’s orders for medical examination

Yemeni conjoined twins ‘Yousuf and Yassin’ to fly to Riyadh under King Salman’s orders for medical examination
Updated 19 April 2021

Yemeni conjoined twins ‘Yousuf and Yassin’ to fly to Riyadh under King Salman’s orders for medical examination

Yemeni conjoined twins ‘Yousuf and Yassin’ to fly to Riyadh under King Salman’s orders for medical examination
  • King Salman ordered a speedy transfer
  • The conjoined twins are expected to arrive within the next few days

DUBAI: Yemeni conjoined twins “Yousuf and Yassin” will finally get the necessary medical examinations they need after King Salman ordered for their direct transfer from Yemen to Riyadh for the possibility of a separation surgery.
King Salman ordered a speedy transfer for the twins and their parents, the General Supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center and renowned pediatric surgeon Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al-Rabiah said.
The conjoined twins are expected to arrive within the next few days, state news agency SPA reported on Sunday.
King Salman has previously ordered the transfer of conjoined twins from Mauritania to travel to Saudi Arabia to separate them. Their father, who accompanied them, said the procedures for transferring the twins to Riyadh were carried out easily.


Saudi Arabia offers condolences over Egypt train accident

Saudi Arabia offers condolences over Egypt train accident
Updated 19 April 2021

Saudi Arabia offers condolences over Egypt train accident

Saudi Arabia offers condolences over Egypt train accident
  • The train accident left 97 wounded after it derailed off its tracks

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia said on Sunday it expresses its deep sorrow for the train accident north of the Egyptian capital Cairo.
A passenger train derailed earlier on Sunday in the city of Toukh in Qalyubia province, injuring around 100 people.
“The Kingdom expresses its sincere condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims, and to the Egyptian leadership, government and people, wishing the injured a speedy recovery,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Four train wagons ran off the railway while the train was traveling to the Nile Delta city of Mansoura from Cairo, Egypt’s railway authority said.
(With AP)