UK to help reform Saudi economy

UK to help reform Saudi economy
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King Salman holds talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May in Riyadh on Wednesday. (SPA)
UK to help reform Saudi economy
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Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman receives British Prime Minister Theresa May in Riyadh. (SPA)
UK to help reform Saudi economy
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British Prime Minister Theresa May attends a meeting with Rania Nashar, CEO of Samba Financial Group, in Riyadh. (AFP)
UK to help reform Saudi economy
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King Salman honors British Prime Minister Theresa May with the Order of King Abdulaziz in Riyadh. (SPA)
Updated 08 June 2017

UK to help reform Saudi economy

UK to help reform Saudi economy

RIYADH: Britain said Wednesday it would help Saudi Arabia to diversify its oil-dependent economy as British Prime Minister Theresa May visited the Kingdom.

A statement from May’s office said the two discussed several issues including security and strengthening business ties.

An earlier statement from May’s office said she would discuss with the monarch “tax and privatization standards to help Saudi Arabia diversify its economy and become less reliant on oil.”

The prime minister “pointed out that security relationships between the two countries had saved many lives in the UK,” her office said.

Britain will also assist Riyadh in “building a reformed Ministry of Defense” and reviewing defense capabilities, the premier’s office said.

May’s visit came as she seeks to secure investment and trade after Britain officially started a two-year countdown to leave the EU.

May and the chief of the London Stock Exchange (LSE) pitched investments in Britain to the head of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund.

May and Xavier Rolet presented Yasir Al-Rumayyan of the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) with a “high-level overview of investment opportunities,” according to a spokesman for the prime minister’s office.

The LSE and other top stock exchanges are trying to win a slice of state oil company Saudi Aramco’s initial public offering, expected to be the world’s biggest.

Saudi Arabia plans to transfer Aramco’s shares into the PIF before listing up to 5 percent of the company, making the fund a key player in talks with the exchanges.

The IPO, expected in 2018, could be worth around $100 billion, Saudi officials have said, and will likely involve multiple exchanges.

The PIF is also expanding its profile with major investments abroad, including a pledge of up to $45 billion for the Vision Fund, a global technology fund it is creating with Japan’s SoftBank.

Saudi officials said last year they expect the PIF to expand from $160 billion to about $2 trillion after the Aramco share transfer, which would make it the world’s largest sovereign fund.

The PIF has not yet made any direct investments in British firms, but SoftBank is weighing plans to place its $8 billion stake in British chip designer ARM into the Vision Fund.

Before leaving for home, May said Britain was a firm supporter of Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030” which she described as an ambitious reform plan.

“As a world leader across a range of sectors, the UK is well placed to help Saudi Arabia deliver these vital reforms,” she said, according to a statement from her office.

The statement said that senior Cabinet members including Chancellor Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson were expected to visit the Kingdom in coming months.

The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Defense, Stephen Lovegrove, will also visit the Kingdom next month for discussions on Saudi defense reform, which Britain has pledged to assist, it said.

May’s office said she and King Salman “discussed working together to address the humanitarian situation in Yemen.”

On Tuesday, May held talks with a string of officials including Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

May also met with Saudi women leaders before wrapping up her two-day visit.

She met with Princess Reema bint Bandar, vice president for women’s affairs at the General Sports Authority.

They discussed bilateral cooperation to enhance and develop social sports culture and the economic output that could be yielded as a result.

Ahead of the meeting, May said on Monday she would announce that the UK will provide support to Saudi Arabia to increase opportunities for men and women to participate in sport.

She also met with the CEO of the Saudi stock exchange, Sarah Al-Suhaimi, and discussed women’s role in the private sector.

The British Council’s Contemporary Collective program will train young Saudi women in arts management, equipping them with the skills necessary to launch and run largescale cultural projects in the Kingdom.

— An earlier version of this article included a AFP photo in which the businesswoman sitting with UK Prime Minister Theresa May was misidentified by AFP news agency. The woman with Theresa May is actually Rania Nashar, CEO of Samba Financial Group, and NOT Sarah Al-Suhaimi, who is CEO of NCB Capital and the chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Saudi Stock Exchange.


Saudi crown prince extends condolences to Kuwaiti counterpart for death of Sheikh Mansour

Saudi crown prince extends condolences to Kuwaiti counterpart for death of Sheikh Mansour
Updated 44 min 34 sec ago

Saudi crown prince extends condolences to Kuwaiti counterpart for death of Sheikh Mansour

Saudi crown prince extends condolences to Kuwaiti counterpart for death of Sheikh Mansour

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman expressed his “sincere condolences” and sympathy to his highness Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah Crown Prince of the State of Kuwait, after the passing of Sheikh Mansour Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah.

In a phone call on Sunday the crown prince of Saudi Arabia said he prayed for  forgiveness and mercy on behalf of the deceased. 

On Friday, King Salman and the crown prince extended their condolences in a phone call to the emir of Kuwait.


Saudi Arabia announces 19 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 19 more COVID-19 deaths
Updated 13 June 2021

Saudi Arabia announces 19 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 19 more COVID-19 deaths
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 448,093
  • A total of 7,572 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced 19 deaths from COVID-19 and 1,017 new infections on Sunday.
Of the new cases, 344 were recorded in Makkah, 198 in Riyadh, 155 in the Eastern Province, 84 in Asir, 68 in Madinah, 60 in Jazan, 23 in Najran, 18 in Hail, 10 in Tabuk, 10 in Al-Baha, five in the Northern Borders region and two in Al-Jouf.
The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 448,093 after 1,133 more patients recovered from the virus.
A total of 7,572 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.
Over 15.6 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date.


Saudi Arabia’s Tawakkalna app operating in 75 countries worldwide

Saudi Arabia’s Tawakkalna app operating in 75 countries worldwide
A man displays his details on his mobile phone using the Tawakkalna app as he enters a mall in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (REUTERS)
Updated 13 June 2021

Saudi Arabia’s Tawakkalna app operating in 75 countries worldwide

Saudi Arabia’s Tawakkalna app operating in 75 countries worldwide
  • An app launched last year by Saudi authorities to help track coronavirus infections is available in 75 countries worldwide
  • The Tawakkalna app was recently updated to show someone’s COVID-19 health status, showing them to be vaccinated or infected, and now functions as a “passport”

JEDDAH: Countries in the first phase of the app’s international availability include: Kuwait, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Jordan, Algeria, Sudan, Somalia, Morocco, Tunisia, Djibouti, Libya, Egypt, Mauritania, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, South Africa, Lebanon, Nigeria, India, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Bangladesh, Portugal, Czech Republic, Denmark, Sweden, the UK, Norway, Austria, the US, Japan, Greece, Spain, Estonia, Italy, Ireland, Iceland, Brunei, Belgium, Poland, Germany, Singapore, Switzerland, France, Finland, Cyprus, Kazakhstan, Croatia, Canada, Latvia, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Liechtenstein, Malta, Malaysia, Monaco, New Zealand, Netherlands, Maldives, and Azerbaijan.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs office in Jazan temporarily closed the Budaiya Mosque in Abu Arish governorate after it was confirmed that the imam had COVID-19.

Field teams undertook preventive and precautionary measures, including sterilization operations and comprehensive maintenance, in preparation for reopening the mosque and receiving worshippers at a later date.

The ministry noted the keenness of worshippers and their active role in reporting mosques that did not comply with health and safety instructions and failed to implement preventive measures.

FASTFACTS

464,780 Total cases

446,960 Recoveries

It asked everyone to report future similar incidents by calling 1933.

Saudi Arabia on Saturday reported 16 more coronavirus-related fatalities, taking the overall death toll to 7,553.

There were 1,077 new cases, bringing the total number of infections 464,780. There are 10,267 active cases, of which 1,562 are in a critical condition.

Of the newly recorded cases, 348 were in Makkah, 225 were in Riyadh, 149 were in the Eastern Province, and 69 were in Madinah.

Authorities said a further 906 patients had recovered from the disease, increasing the total number of recoveries to 446,960.

The country has so far carried out more than 20.27 million PCR tests, with 75,059 carried out in the past 24 hours.

Testing hubs and treatment centers set up throughout the country have dealt with hundreds of thousands of people since the onset of the pandemic.

Taakad centers provide COVID-19 testing for those who show no or only mild symptoms or believe they have come into contact with an infected individual.

Tetamman clinics offer treatment and advice to those with virus symptoms such as fever, loss of taste and smell, and breathing difficulties.

Appointments for both services can be made via the ministry’s Sehhaty app.

Saudi Arabia has vaccinated 15,633,787 people to date.


Makkah governor inaugurates prototype of new public transport system

Makkah governor inaugurates prototype of new public transport system
Updated 12 June 2021

Makkah governor inaugurates prototype of new public transport system

Makkah governor inaugurates prototype of new public transport system

 

JEDDAH: Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal on Saturday inaugurated the prototype of a public transport bus in Makkah.

This will serve citizens as well as pilgrims and visitors of the holy city by introducing an integrated service system in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

On the sidelines of the Digital Region Projects Exhibition, Prince Khaled was briefed on the operational mechanism of the new transport system, which aims to accommodate needs resulting from the expected growth in the population in Makkah and in the number of visitors to the Grand Mosque and the holy sites.

The new transport system aims to support economic development in Makkah and provide easy access to the Grand Mosque and other mosques in the city as well as educational and health facilities, commercial and recreational areas, and contribute to reducing pollution and protecting the environment by reducing dependence on small cars.

The bus network consists of two stages. The first phase will consist of 12 lines and about 83 stops in which medium-sized buses are used, while the other five lines will be express lines with dedicated tracks, a length of 172 km and about 342 stops, in which buses of greater capacity and frequency are used.

The project also includes operating more than 400 buses, including 240 regular buses that can accommodate up to 85 seats, and 160 buses with a capacity of 125 seats. This is in addition to the construction of a bus accommodation station, which includes a control building, drivers’ management building, gas station, light maintenance workshop, bus washing and maintenance station, heavy maintenance workshop, bus stops and drivers’ housing facilities.

The buses are equipped with environment protection systems that reduce Euro-4 carbon emissions, include protection systems through surveillance cameras inside and outside the bus, a collision-avoidance system, electronic screens showing the destination to be reached, as well as a hydraulic system to help people with special needs, and places for strollers and people with special needs.

The vehicles will also have Internet service (Wi-Fi) and an audio-visual system displaying trip information to passengers. Buses will operate for an average of 22 hours a day.

 


Saudi decision to allow 60,000 vaccinated residents on Hajj and bar foreigners welcomed

Saudi decision to allow 60,000 vaccinated residents on Hajj and bar foreigners welcomed
The event, scheduled to be held in July, will be limited to those who have been vaccinated and are aged 18-65 with no chronic illnesses, the statement added. (SPA)
Updated 13 June 2021

Saudi decision to allow 60,000 vaccinated residents on Hajj and bar foreigners welcomed

Saudi decision to allow 60,000 vaccinated residents on Hajj and bar foreigners welcomed
  • The Muslim World League, in a statement issued on behalf of all scholars under its umbrella, supported the measures taken by Saudi Arabia to confront new mutated variants of the virus

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s decision to only allow 60,000 residents vaccinated against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to perform this year’s Hajj, and to bar Muslims from abroad for a second straight year, has been widely welcomed.

The Hajj — a must for able-bodied Muslims at least once in their lives — packs millions of pilgrims into religious sites and could be a major source of contagion amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year, the pilgrimage will be “open for nationals and residents of the Kingdom, limited to 60,000 pilgrims,” the Kingdom's Hajj Ministry said, quoted by the Saudi Press Agency.

The event, scheduled to be held in July, will be limited to those who have been vaccinated and are aged 18-65 with no chronic illnesses, it added. Those wishing to perform the pilgrimage will have to apply online.

Only around 10,000 Muslims took part in the Hajj in July last year.

Khalifa Shaheen Al-Marar, UAE minister of state, said his country “welcomes the Kingdom’s decision and supports all measures the Kingdom takes as part of its efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, contain its spread and ensure the safety and security of pilgrims and the community.”

Al-Marar added: “The scientific achievements of Saudi Arabia testify to the importance the Kingdom attaches to science as the key driver in supporting healthcare and overcoming the major challenges from the impact of the pandemic.”

Sheikh Khalid bin Ali Al-Khalifa, Bahraini minister of justice, Islamic affairs and endowment, said the decision “falls in line with preserving Hajj rituals and meeting Shariah exigency.”

The Muslim World League (MWL), in a statement issued on behalf of all scholars under its umbrella, supported the measures taken by Saudi Arabia to confront new mutated variants of the virus.

Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, MWL secretary-general and chairman of the Association of Muslim Scholars, said the rules of Islamic law emphasize the inevitability of taking all safety precautions in such a pandemic.

He added that several senior scholars of the Islamic world contacted the MWL expressing support for the Kingdom’s decision.

The statement stressed the “exceptional efforts” made by the Saudi government, “which clearly demonstrates its concern for the safety of visitors and pilgrims of the Grand Mosque and visitors to the Prophet's Mosque.”

Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen, secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said the Saudi decision emanates from the Kingdom’s success in organizing last year’s Hajj season, held following all the precautionary measures, which effectively contributed to preventing the virus’s spread.

He said the Kingdom assumed responsibility toward organizing the Hajj, which required it to take strict decisions and measures based on current health data and well-established Islamic jurisprudence rules.

Egyptian Grand Mufti Shauqi Allam also hailed the decision.

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