Saudi crown prince says anti-corruption drive is essential for the Kingdom’s reputation

Saudi crown prince says anti-corruption drive is essential for the Kingdom’s reputation
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (AFP/Fayez Nureldine)
Updated 25 November 2017

Saudi crown prince says anti-corruption drive is essential for the Kingdom’s reputation

Saudi crown prince says anti-corruption drive is essential for the Kingdom’s reputation

JEDDAH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has dismissed claims that the anti-corruption drive in the Kingdom, which led to the arrest of several prominent royals, was a power grab, saying such comments were “ludicrous.”
He added that the public prosecutor believed the amount of funds that could eventually be recovered could amount to $100 billion.
The crown prince told the New York Times that many of those being held in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton had pledged allegiance to him and the proposed reforms.
Adding that he also had the support of most key royals, he said: “Our country has suffered a lot from corruption from the 1980s until today. The calculation of our experts is that roughly 10 percent of all government spending was siphoned off by corruption each year, from the top levels to the bottom. Over the years the government launched more than one ‘war on corruption’ and they all failed. Why? Because they all started from the bottom up.”
He said when his father King Salman, who was clear of any corruption charges, came to power, they decided it was time to put an end to the problems tarnishing the country’s reputation.
“My father saw that there is no way we can stay in the G-20 and grow with this level of corruption. In early 2015, one of his first orders to his team was to collect all the information about corruption — at the top,” the crown prince said.
He added that the team took two years to piece together the “most accurate information,” which finally led to the production of a list of 200 names.
Each of the billionaires and princes accused of corruption was arrested, presented with the evidence and given the choice to come clean, the crown prince said.
He added that about 95 percent agreed to settle, signing over cash or shares in their businesses to the Saudi State Treasury.
The crown prince said a further 1 percent were able to prove their innocence, while the remaining 4 percent insisted they were not corrupt and wanted to go to court with their lawyers.
He said it was not possible to get rid of all corruption, but the current drive would send a signal that there is no escape.
Asked about his recent comments about moving Saudi Arabia to a more moderate and tolerant form of Islam, he said: “Do not write that we are ‘reinterpreting’ Islam — we are ‘restoring’ Islam to its origins — and our biggest tools are the Prophet’s practices and (daily life in) Saudi Arabia before 1979.”
During this time, he explained, the Kingdom had musical theaters, men and women mixing, and respect for Christians and Jews. He added that the first commercial judge in Madinah was a woman.
The crown prince praised US President Donald Trump, describing him as “the right person at the right time.”
He said Saudi Arabia is slowly building a coalition with its allies to “stand up to Iran.”
The crown prince said Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is the “new Hitler of the Middle East,” adding: “But we learned from Europe that appeasement doesn’t work. We don’t want the new Hitler in Iran to repeat what happened in Europe in the Middle East.”
Asked why he was implementing reforms at such a determined pace, he replied: “I fear that the day I die I am going to die without accomplishing what I have in my mind.”
He said life is too short, but he is determined to make change happen in his lifetime.


KSrelief launches medical campaign in Djibouti

KSrelief launches medical campaign in Djibouti
Updated 13 min 18 sec ago

KSrelief launches medical campaign in Djibouti

KSrelief launches medical campaign in Djibouti

DJIBOUTI: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) has launched a voluntary medical campaign for specialized surgeries in Djibouti.

The center’s medical team has to date performed 41 urinary tract operations on children in the east African country and provided the necessary treatment for 60 other cases.

The health initiative is part of Saudi Arabia’s relief and humanitarian efforts, through the center, to help crisis-hit countries and the suffering of people around the world.
 


Aid chief thanks Saudi Arabia for supporting Yemen relief program

Aid chief thanks Saudi Arabia for supporting Yemen relief program
Updated 16 min 56 sec ago

Aid chief thanks Saudi Arabia for supporting Yemen relief program

Aid chief thanks Saudi Arabia for supporting Yemen relief program

JEDDAH: World Food Program (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley expressed his sincere thanks to Saudi Arabia for providing effective food support through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) to the most vulnerable groups in Yemen.

Beasley noted that the Kingdom’s contribution through the center will “undoubtedly help to avert famine in Yemen and feed at least 2.2 million people.”

KSrelief signed a $40 million joint cooperation agreement with the WFP on Tuesday to improve food security for the most affected families in Yemen.

“We have a lot of work to do now and in the future, and this agreement will provide us with the tremendous support we need,” the executive director said in a press release.

He added that the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has brought many tragedies and much economic degradation across the globe, and this support will make a big difference “as the pandemic has greatly affected vulnerable groups and exacerbated the problem of famine in the world."

The living conditions in Yemen are among the most difficult in the world, he said.
 


Saudi crown prince undergoes successful appendicitis surgery

Saudi crown prince undergoes successful appendicitis surgery
Updated 6 min 27 sec ago

Saudi crown prince undergoes successful appendicitis surgery

Saudi crown prince undergoes successful appendicitis surgery
  • The crown prince left the hospital later on Wednesday

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman underwent a successful surgical procedure on Wednesday morning to treat appendicitis at King Faisal Specialist Hospital, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The crown prince left the hospital later on Wednesday. 


Forget the cost, Saudi love affair with oud makes perfect scents

Forget the cost, Saudi love affair with oud makes perfect scents
Updated 24 February 2021

Forget the cost, Saudi love affair with oud makes perfect scents

Forget the cost, Saudi love affair with oud makes perfect scents
  • Fans of traditional fragrance stay loyal despite fast-rising prices

RIYADH: The traditional scent of oud enjoys an enduring popularity among Saudis, but high prices and uncertainty about quality are making many think twice before buying it.

Oud is extracted during winter from trees aged between 70 and 150 years and growing up to 20 meters in height.

These trees generally grow in tropical areas in Asia, especially on mountains and hillsides in India, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Gulf countries are the major importers of oud.

Wood oud emits an enjoyable fragrance when burned. Made of aromatic plants, wood oud has been increasingly mixed with aromatic oils in recent years. In Saudi Arabia, people often put wood oud in an electronic incense burner to deliver the desired fragrance.

Bader Al-Mansuri, a Saudi consumer, said that oud is an important tradition in Saudi society and is used for special social occasions as well as religious events, such as the Friday prayer.

Cambodian oud is the go-to option for most Saudis when shopping for the traditional fragrance, followed by the Morki and Kalamantan.

“My favorite is Cambodian oud, which I have been using for a long time,” Al-Mansuri told Arab News. “It’s part of our family tradition and culture, and my grandparents used it and passed it down to us. Oud has a positive moral impact, and is a sign of generosity and respect when you have visitors.”

Al-Mansuri that he only buys oud from well-known brands and companies.

Hammad Al-Shouraihi, another consumer, is a regular user of oud and buys 2 kg every year at a cost ranging from SR4,500 ($1,200) to SR6,000.

“When the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) emerged, I bought oud off websites instead of going to incense shops,” he said, adding that it is difficult to judge the quality of oud bought online since the buyer cannot test the fragrance.

In addition to Cambodian oud, Al-Shouraihi also enjoys the Morki variety as well as other types with mixed substances.

“Vintage Cambodian oud, which is stored for longer periods, is the best. It is an ideal gift for friends or family members,” he said. “I love all perfumes that have oud fragrance or scent. The pandemic has affected oud purchases due to the way it is used and fears that it can transmit the virus.”

However, Ahmed Al-Mutairi believes the pandemic has had little impact on the oud industry.

He buys 100 gm of liquid oud and quarter a kilo of wood oud, paying about SR5,000 for his purchases every year.

“Some oud vendors on streets demand a high price, but they reduce the price to half after one bargains with them,” Al-Mutair told Arab News.

Hassan Al-Rashdi, a sales officer at Nada Oud Store, said that sales reach 5 kg  some days and 10 kg other days.

“Some people prefer different types of oud qualities,” he added, noting that a kilogram of oud can range between SR500-SR5,000, based on its quality and origin.

Al-Rashdi told Arab News that some Saudis prefer the Kalamantan variety. However, he believes Morki oud is the most popular incense for parties, official events and use in mosques.

Khalid Al-Johani, the owner of an online oud store, agrees that Morki oud is the most popular variety among his clients, followed by Kalamantan and Indian in terms of quality.

According to Al-Johani, Indian liquid oud is preferred by the elderly, though Thai oud is fast gaining in popularity.

“To judge the quality of oud, one should check the scent, weight, color and size,” he said.

“Most people buy oud based on the recommendations of others. But experts always check the quality of oud products inside out and ask about the substances inside and the structure.”

Women often prefer liquid mixtures, while men prefer wood oud, Al-Johani said.

Some people are superstitious and believe that oud can cast out devils and genies, he said. However, people say they feel “relieved” and “in good mood” after they smell incense.

Most sales take place before and during Ramadan as well as Eid Al-Adha holidays, he added.

Zaid Al-Qaoud, chairman of Oud Albaraka, said that sales of oud have plummeted in the past year due to the absence of parties and weddings.

“Sales have fallen by 80 percent compared with the previous years,” he told Arab News. “Demand has also decreased because of coronavirus and many people have turned to social media websites to buy oud.”

Most oud stores can be found in central Riyadh, which has about 400 outlets, he added.

“Indonesian oud is very popular in the Gulf region and is the main source of many types of oud in the market that come with different scents.”

He added that old oud gives a better and more beautiful smell than newer products.

It can be difficult for regular consumers to distinguish a high-quality oud from an inferior product. “People have different tastes for oud, but most of them cannot tell original oud from a false one.”

Al-Qaoud, who has been in the business for 20 years, said that many Europeans in Saudi Arabia understand the quality of oud, recalling a regular French customer who said: “I have never smelled a sweet smell like the Taif roses and oud oil.”

Ayed Al-Falih, who is interested in artefacts, said incense burners are made of a type of wood found in Hail farms, with a price ranging between SR100 and SR500.


Saudi, Somali envoys discuss OIC cooperation

Saudi, Somali envoys discuss OIC cooperation
Updated 24 February 2021

Saudi, Somali envoys discuss OIC cooperation

Saudi, Somali envoys discuss OIC cooperation
  • The envoys discussed ways to enhance their cooperation

JEDDAH: Saleh Hamad Al-Suhaibani, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), met with his Somali counterpart Dr. Abdur Razzaq Sead Abdi on Wednesday.

The envoys discussed ways to enhance their cooperation as the OIC aims to serve Islamic causes in the midst of current challenges.

The two sides also discussed areas of joint Islamic action and how to best serve the OIC and its 35 active bodies and institutions. Al-Suhaibani said cooperation and coordination among the organization's bodies are a top priority for Saudi Arabia.

Abdi stressed the importance of lasting peace, stability and development within Somalia. He also praised the Kingdom for the humanitarian support and developmental contributions it provides to the Somali people.