Saudi Arabia leads diplomatic efforts to solve key Middle East issues before UN General Assembly

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir (L) is greeted by United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres at the U.N. Headquarters in New York City, U.S., in this September 17, 2017 photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 20 September 2017

Saudi Arabia leads diplomatic efforts to solve key Middle East issues before UN General Assembly

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations, have given a new dimension to their diplomacy in New York, and intensified efforts ahead of the annual UN General Assembly (UNGA) meeting to solve key regional issues that have been hampering peace and security in the Middle East.
Their diplomatic agenda also includes diverse problems faced by the Muslim world, including the systematic genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir, who is leading the Saudi delegation to the 72nd session of the UNGA, met with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Sunday and discussed the whole range of “regional and international issues,” said a Saudi Press Agency (SPA) report published Monday. The meeting was attended by Prince Khaled bin Salman, Saudi ambassador to the US.
The report said that Al-Jubeir also met in Washington with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. “During the meeting, they discussed the distinguished relations between the two friendly countries as well as developments in regional and international arenas,” said the report.
“These meetings are extremely important ahead of the deliberations at the UNGA,” said Ibrahim Al-Qayid, a founding member of the National Society for Human Rights.
Al-Qayid said that “the member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) including Arab nations, should exert more efforts to put pressure on different lobbies at the UNGA to solve the problems faced by Arab countries and the Muslim world.” There is also a need to look afresh at problems faced by Arab nations and the role of the international community on these issues including the systematic ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims, he added.
He said that “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the worsening situation in Syria and the deteriorating situation in war-torn Yemen are priorities on our agenda.”
To this end, it is important to note that the “Donor Coordination Group on Yemen” held its meeting in New York on Monday on the sidelines of the UNGA. The meeting aimed to coordinate the joint efforts of major donors supporting Yemen.
Referring to the agenda, a UNGA statement said that the session started formally on Monday. US President Donald Trump made his debut at the UN at a meeting calling for reforms at the organization as tensions continued to rise over North Korea and elsewhere in the world.
In his first visit to the UN since taking office, Trump said that the “UN has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement.”
The General Assembly is one of the six main organs of the UN, the only one in which all member states have equal representation: One nation, one vote. All 193 member states are represented in this unique forum to discuss and work together on a wide array of international issues covered by the UN Charter.

Saudis, expats ready to restart their lives, vow to stick to health guidelines

Updated 37 min 10 sec ago

Saudis, expats ready to restart their lives, vow to stick to health guidelines

  • The restrictions will be lifted in three phases
  • People said they were excited to see their lives getting back to normal

RIYADH: Saudis and expats on Tuesday cautiously welcomed the government’s decision to ease lockdown restrictions, saying the risk was not over and people should strictly abide by the Health Ministry’s guidelines to keep the coronavirus at bay.

The restrictions will be lifted in three phases, during which the authorities will monitor and assess the situation and introduce changes if needed.

People said they were excited to see their lives getting back to normal after weeks of restrictions to stem the spread of the coronavirus in the Kingdom.

Abdulelah Hamed, a 28-year-old Saudi pharmacist, welcomed the new decisions, saying that strict measures were in favor of the public’s safety.

“Though it was a chaotic period, our government chose to help and educate us so that we emerge from this crisis unscarred and prepared citizens.”

Saudi journalist Nouf Al-Oufi, 30, said that the decisions depend on the awareness of society.

“The Kingdom has taken necessary actions since the beginning of the spread of the virus and was one of the leading countries in taking early measures to protect the health of its citizens.”

She said: “The past three months have served as lessons for citizens on how to take care of their health, the health of their families.”

Shahana Parveen, a teacher at the New Middle East International School in Riyadh, said: “We are very happy that the lockdown will end soon and things will get back to normal.”

She said, however, that risk remained. “It is of utmost importance to comply with the ministry’s health and hygiene guidelines. We should continue maintaining social distance, avoid gatherings, wear masks and sanitize hands and utensils.”

Murshid Kamal, convener at the India Islamic Cultural Center, Middle East region, told Arab News: “It’s a welcome move by the government. Saudi Arabia has done pretty well compared to other countries in the world. I urge community members to take care while going out in terms of hygiene and maintain the highest degree of social distancing norms to combat COVID-19.”

Mohammed Aslam Jameel, a travel supervisor at Global Travel Solutions in Riyadh, said: “It is highly appreciated that the government is taking measures in an excellent way to ease the curfew in phases and allowing reopening of workplaces, mosques and other essential businesses.”

“It is commendable that they have analyzed the situation and taken appropriate steps to boost public morale,” he said.

Since domestic air operations will resume on June 1 as announced, Jameel hoped international flights would also begin soon. 

M. Arshad Ali Khan, a schoolteacher in Riyadh, said: “The whole world is facing a challenging time due to COVID-19. This is a health emergency and an unprecedented situation. People are confined at home, their work and offices are closed. They were experiencing mental stress and anxiety, especially expatriates in the Kingdom.”

“At this juncture I would like to thank and appreciate the role of the Saudi government and also welcome the decision returning to normal life with the blessing of Almighty. I urge people to follow the Healthy Ministry’s guidelines and avoid nonessential travel, gathering, follow all government instructions, and minimize outdoor activity,” he said.

He also emphasized basic health precautions, especially frequent hand washing with soap and water, the practice of good coughing/sneezing etiquette, and the heeding of all security advice.

Zafar Hasan said: “As the coronavirus is still spreading with cases reported daily, I don’t think it is necessary to work from the office; we could work virtually like before to continue working from home.”

He added that attending the office only on a need-to basis was required, and while going out precautionary measures must be taken such as ensuring proper hygiene, disinfection and social distancing.