President Donald Trump meets with GCC leaders

US President Donald Trump joins GCC leaders for a summit in Riyadh. (AFP)
Updated 21 May 2017

President Donald Trump meets with GCC leaders

RIYADH:  The much-anticipated US-GCC Summit has kicked off as US President Donald Trump sat down with Gulf leaders and officials at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center in Riyadh.

Minutes before the commencement of the meeting, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson exchanged a Memorandum of Understanding on countering the financing of terrorism with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

Gulf leaders and officials from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Kuwait are meeting with Trump to discuss threats to regional security and stability, Iranian influence in the region and Yemen. They will also discuss the building of stronger commercial ties between the US and the Gulf. 

The American president first held bilateral meetings with Bahrain’s King Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and also met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.

Trump said that Washington's relations with Bahrain were set to improve and also said that he would accept an invitation made by the Egyptian president to visit Egypt. Trump said the visit would happen before long.

Of Bahrain, Trump said: "Our countries have a wonderful relationship together, but there has been a little strain, but there won't be strain with this administration," Trump said during a photo session with Sheikh Hamad bin Issa Al Khalifa.
"We're going to have a very, very long-term relationship. I look forward to it very much — many of the same things in common."
The day of meetings will be followed by the Arab-Islamic-American Summit during which Trump is set to give a much-awaited speech on Islam.
Also today, King Salman and President Trump are set to inaugurate the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology (GCCEI), which will counter and prevent the spread of extremist ideology through promoting moderation, compassion and supporting the dissemination of positive dialogue.Yesterday, Saudi Arabia and the US agreed a “Joint Strategic Vision Declaration” covering aspects like diplomacy, trade, security and the fight against terror.
It was co-signed by King Salman and d Trump at the Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh.
The White House said in a statement that the declaration reflects the two countries’ efforts to boost “their strategic partnership for the 21st century” and to chart “a renewed path toward a peaceful Middle East where economic development, trade and diplomacy are hallmarks of regional and global engagement.”
The two nations plan to form a Strategic Joint Consultative Group, hosted by the US president and Saudi king, or their appropriate representatives, to chart the course of this strategic partnership. It will meet at least once a year, alternating between the two countries.
“Our two great countries share a desire to address the threats to our shared security interests. Thus, the United States of America and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia seek to embark on new initiatives to counter violent extremist messaging, disrupt financing of terrorism, and advance defense cooperation,” the White House statement said.

Home alone: Saudis and expats try to beat the holiday blues

Updated 3 min 54 sec ago

Home alone: Saudis and expats try to beat the holiday blues

  • People celebrating Eid alone or abroad find ways to stay positive

JEDDAH: For different reasons many people living in the Kingdom have found themselves alone for the holidays due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, their spirits dampened as they are forced to stay home alone, away from loved ones.

As the pandemic enters its third month in Saudi Arabia, flights have not yet resumed, strict social distancing and safety measures are still in place and curfews have been reimposed to curb the spread of the virus during the Eid holidays.

Many families are stranded in cities across the Kingdom, while Saudis studying and working abroad are either stuck or have chosen to spend summer where they are out of fear they will not be able to return and start their new semesters.

Some people were able to move in with their families and quarantine together, while others were deprived of that chance.

A number of Saudi nationals, including students, have been repatriated in the past couple of weeks while others are still waiting for their turn.

Yousef Al-Ayesh, a 21-year-old senior student at Arizona State University, has been at home since late March as a precautionary measure.

He said that Eid with his family in Jeddah was one event that everyone looked forward to all year long. Under normal circumstances the first three days of Eid would be filled with events — family dinners at night and beach excursions during the day. Although he would be sleep-deprived, he would still make the most of the little time he spent with his family due to his studies.

“With all that’s going on, it doesn’t even feel like it’s Eid,” he told Arab News. 

“It most probably would have been different if I was back in Saudi Arabia but I still wouldn’t have been able to celebrate it the same way. It’s not that bad here (in the US) now since restaurants have reopened and my friends and I have the outdoors to enjoy, have a barbecue, or just hang out. I would have felt worse if I was alone. Ramadan was already odd enough, I don’t think I would have been OK if it were the case without them.”

Although his family lives 8,000 miles away he did not feel alone as his group of friends decided to celebrate together, even without the perks of new clothes and eidiyas from aunts and uncles.

It’s an exceptional year for us and one that is teaching us a lesson on various levels, but we must adapt either way.

Fareed Abdullah Fareed

Al-Ayesh hoped to be repatriated to the Kingdom soon and spend some time with his family after his mandatory quarantine.

Fareed Abdullah Fareed, a 29-year-old expat working and living in Riyadh, said this year’s Eid was tough without his family.

Although he is used to living alone because of his job, Eid was the one occasion he looked forward to the most every year because he got to travel to Cairo and be with his family.

“My family moved from Jeddah to Cairo about four or five years ago and Eid is a significant occasion in the family, Eid Al-Fitr is significantly more special than Eid Al-Adha even,” he told Arab News. “I look forward to traveling to see them every year since moving to Riyadh but wasn’t able to with the lockdown, so we all got together on FaceTime video call and spent the whole day speaking to family members.”

Like many expats, Fareed has spent the past months at home and said it was hard for him and his family but that communication had made the ordeal slightly easier.

“It’s an exceptional year for us and one that is teaching us a lesson on various levels, but we must adapt either way,” he added.