UNESCO forum concludes with an eye on sustainable development

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King Salman holds talks with Irina Bokova, director general of UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), at Al-Salam Palace in Jeddah on Thursday. The two sides discussed ways of enhancing cooperation between the Kingdom and UNESCO in the fields of education, science and culture, and reviewed the UNESCO’s various activities, including preserving the world heritage. (SPA)
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Bader bin Mohammed Al-Asaker, third left, secretary-general of the MiSK Charity Foundation, honors winners of International NGO Award at the 7th UNESCO NGO Forum 2017 in Riyadh on Thursday. (SPA)
Updated 05 May 2017

UNESCO forum concludes with an eye on sustainable development

RIYADH: The Mohammed bin Salman Foundation (MiSK) on Thursday recognized the Water Youth Network with its first place International NGO (non-government organizations) Award and a $30,000 fund on the concluding day of the seventh UNESCO (UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) NGO Forum 2017.
The MiSK Award aims to highlight and empower projects, create positive change in communities, support youth and promote community partnership.
Bader bin Mohammed Al-Asaker, secretary-general of the MiSK Charity Foundation, presented the award and the foundation’s shield during a ceremony.
Water Youth Network is an NGO that links youth initiatives in the provision of clean water to remote areas without water by providing a database of all organizations, initiatives and individuals interested in this area.
The jury of the competition was keen to select the most outstanding projects or presentations from non-profit organizations working in the field of encouraging young people to lead the social change positively among the 70 participating organizations from around the world.
MiSK has also awarded the foundation’s shield and $20,000 each to Hive Colab of Uganda, Fa.Vela organization of Brazil, International Council of Organizations of Folklore Festivals (CIOFF NGO) of Paris and SOM Editorial Colectiva.
The jury members of MiSK NGO Pitch Competition were Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales, MiSK Foundation representative Shaima Hamidaddin and Alexander Schischlik, chief of youth and sport sector for social and human sciences at UNESCO.
Addressing forum participants, Ahmad bin Muhammad Al-Essa, minister of education, said that Saudi schools and universities have made direct initiatives that made a difference in supporting the educational process, while depending on individual efforts filled with ambition to achieve a bright future for the present and future generations.
Al-Essa noted the positive role of these initiatives that coincide with the ministry’s plans and policies that focus on issues that are of interest to the society such as the environment, water resources, desertification and sustainable development.
He said the environment of education is adequate to research many of the issues that are of concern to the international community. He expressed the ministry’s readiness to cooperate with NGOs in seeking solutions to the issues related to environment and sustainable development within the framework of the Kingdom’s efforts in that regard.
Saudi Arabia has adopted the goals of the landmark Paris accord of 2015 that sparked an important change in countries’ sustainable development agendas. Under that agreement, countries have committed to redirect their economies toward achieving justice and sustainable environment.
Speakers in the session focused on the necessity of involve all segments of societies in tackling the issue of climate change and the significance of education in that regard.
Labor Minister Salem Al-Dini said the ministry is responsible for establishing associations and civil institutions in the Kingdom under the new NGO system.
He added that the ministry receives any applications for registration of associations through the ministry’s website.
Al-Dini pointed out that the ministry is developing regulations to preserve the rights of volunteers in NGOs. As for volunteering in the private sector, Al-Dini said it is important not to create voluntary opportunities that lead to the private sector benefiting financially directly, such as reducing the number of employees in the private facility.
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova delivered a closing speech thanking MiSK Foundation and NGO-UNESCO for “giving voice to youth aspirations.


Iraq denies links to drone attack on Saudi oil facilities

Updated 15 September 2019

Iraq denies links to drone attack on Saudi oil facilities

  • The operation was claimed by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen
  • ‘Iraq is constitutionally committed to preventing any use of its soil to attack its neighbors’

BAGHDAD: Baghdad on Sunday denied any link to drone attacks on Saudi oil plants, after media speculation that the strikes were launched from Iraq despite being claimed by Yemeni rebels.
The attacks early Saturday targeted two key oil installations, causing massive fires and taking out half of the kingdom’s vast oil output.
The operation was claimed by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition is bogged down in a five-year war.
But the Wall Street Journal has reported that officials were investigating the possibility the attacks involved missiles launched from Iraq or Iran.
Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi on Sunday denied reports Iraqi territory “was used for drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities.”
“Iraq is constitutionally committed to preventing any use of its soil to attack its neighbors,” he said in a statement.
“The Iraqi government will be extremely firm with whomever tries to violate the constitution.”
Iraq is home to several Iran-backed militias and paramilitary factions, placing it in an awkward situation amid rising tensions between its two main sponsors, Tehran and Washington.
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo squarely accused Tehran of being behind Saturday’s operation, saying there was no evidence the “unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply” was launched from Yemen.
Iraq has called for its territory to be spared any spillover in the standoff between the US and Iran, which has included a series of attacks on shipping in sensitive Gulf waters.
Recent raids on bases belonging to Iraqi Shiite paramilitary groups linked with Iran, attributed to Israel, sparked fears of an escalation.
There have been no military consequences so far, but the strikes have heightened divisions between pro-Tehran and pro-Washington factions in Iraq’s political class.
Baghdad has recently moved to repair ties with Saudi Arabia, a key US ally — much to Iran’s chagrin.
Riyadh recently announced a major border post on the Iraqi frontier would reopen mid-October, after being closed for almost three decades.