Exclusive: Pakistan’s Defense Minister slams ‘internationalization’ of Hajj debate, reiterates Islamabad commitment to Riyadh

Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan speaks at the launch ceremony of the Arab News Pakistan edition at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on Thursday. (AN photo)
Updated 09 February 2018

Exclusive: Pakistan’s Defense Minister slams ‘internationalization’ of Hajj debate, reiterates Islamabad commitment to Riyadh

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Minister of Defense Khurram Dastgir Khan has slammed media reports calling for the “internationalization” of the Muslim holy pilgrimage (the Hajj).
Speaking exclusively to Arab News, Dastgir said: “We are determined not to be misled or waylaid by such stratagems. The custody of the Two Holy Mosques is a sacred trust that has been held by the Kingdom and we expect and hope that it shall continue to be,” he said.
Dastgir’s comments came on the sidelines of a keynote speech that he gave at the inauguration of the Pakistan edition of Arab News at the Islamabad Marriott on Thursday evening.
He said the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan has “turned a new page,” going beyond the “traditional friendship” both nations have enjoyed over several decades.
The Pakistani defense minister said the relationship had been “stuck in the eighties” but is now transforming “into a more serious and determined partnership not only (in the field of) defense but also in the realm of economics and trade” to enhance and expand bilateral ties.

“Pakistan intends to be an important part of the Vision 2030 of his Highness, the Crown Prince (which) he has (envisaged for) Saudi Arabia,” Dastgir said.
Part of the defense cooperation plan Pakistan wishes to have is to manufacture “some measure of defense equipment” in the Kingdom. He said it was imperative for Islamic countries to take concrete steps toward “self-reliance” for their own “security and defense.”
“Talks are proceeding very fruitfully and we expect to have very good results,” Dastgir said.
He added that Afaal Al-Sahil, the fourth joint exercise of Pakistan and Saudi Navy operation forces currently underway until Feb. 16, is just one of “many more exercises” to come. Pakistan expects to hold combined training with Saudi security forces alongside its army and air force to enhance operational skills against terrorism and to exchange professional capabilities.
“This cooperation has turned a new page,” said Dastgir, reiterating his country’s support for Saudi Arabia. “Pakistan has always been there for the Kingdom and we shall continue to be there.”
Speaking earlier to an audience of diplomats, foreign dignitaries, academics and journalists who attended the launch of arabnews.pk online edition, the Pakistani defense minister welcomed the arrival of the media outlet to Islamabad.
“I am delighted that the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, who have been a steadfast partner of Pakistan throughout our existence, in a new and very interesting and exciting way through Arab News have decided to become part of this emerging, remerging, rebirth of the Pakistan story.”
“My congratulations to the Pakistan team, which is launching this new edition. I commend the editors — the rapidly graying editors as they say — of Arab News and its owners for taking this far-sighted decision to become part of the success of the Pakistan story. Congratulations and I wish you success,” he said.


‘Made in Saudi’ design bootcamp opened

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim Alkhorayef, left, said that launching the design camp aimed at creating a unified brand identity for the national industry through local expertise. (Supplied)
Updated 28 November 2020

‘Made in Saudi’ design bootcamp opened

  • Minister Bandar bin Ibrahim Alkhorayef stresses need for program to reflect Kingdom’s global and regional position

JEDDAH: A design bootcamp to create the visual brand identity for the “Made in Saudi” program has been inaugurated by the Kingdom’s Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar bin Ibrahim Alkhorayef.

Nine Saudi designers are taking part in the bootcamp, after being selected by a panel from more than 400 applicants.
The minister, who is also chairman of the Saudi Export Development Authority (SAUDI EXPORTS), said there was a need for the program to reflect the Kingdom’s global and regional position and for it to “serve the Kingdom’s cultural identity and its substantial industrial capacities.”
He said the national industry capitalized on a heritage that spanned more than four decades and was widely acclaimed across all export markets.
The program was a national project for all Saudis and its identity should be designed by nationals in order to indicate that it was fully homegrown, the minister added.
“Launching the ‘Made in Saudi’ brand identity design camp aims at creating a unified brand identity for the national industry through local expertise, which will contribute to repositioning the Saudi product and advancing it toward new standards of reliability and excellence at all levels.”
He highlighted the role of the nation’s youth in promoting the distinctive position of the national industry domestically and globally, saying that the Kingdom firmly believed in the potential of its renewable resources, represented by its youth, and relied on them to take it to a new stage of innovation and creativity for a better future.

Nine Saudi designers, after being selected  from more than 400 applicants, are taking part in the bootcamp. (Supplied)

“Our young talents are the real wealth, and their efforts and innovations will contribute to the fulfillment of our leadership’s goals in terms of driving the national economy, and enhancing the Kingdom’s position as a global industrial power that contributes to empowering global production capabilities for a more sustainable future.”
Saleh Al-Solami, secretary-general of SAUDI EXPORTS, said that substantial efforts and initiatives had been announced by the Saudi leadership to empower the national industry since the implementation of the Vision 2030 reform plan.
“At the forefront of these endeavors is the National Industrial Development and Logistics Program (NIDLP), in addition to several other initiatives that have been launched to raise local content elements in the national product, under the supervision of the Local Content and Government Procurement Authority (LCGPA).
“In this context, the LCGPA issued the price preference policy for local content and the mandatory list for national products aiming to increase the public sector’s demand for local products in all industries.”


He said that the most prominent results of such initiatives were their contribution to the uninterrupted growth of non-oil gross domestic product and the volume of non-oil exports, which reached about SR318 billion ($84.8 billion) at end 2019.
He said that, despite the decline in the volume of non-oil exports during the first and second quarters of this year as a direct result of the COVID-19 outbreak, this indicator had reclaimed its upward trend in June.
Non-oil exports, driven by the industry and mining sector, recorded their highest rise since Jan. 2020 to reach SR16.6 billion in June, a monthly increase of 32 percent compared to May 2020.
“This sends a strong message on the ability of industrial production to be the safety valve for the national economy and a buffer ready to absorb future shocks and challenges,” he said.
The director of marketing and corporate communications at SAUDI EXPORTS and the head of the “Made in Saudi” program, Mazen Al-Jasser, said the design bootcamp was welcomed by the country’s young creatives and had attracted more applicants than expected.
He hailed the creative capabilities and skills of Saudi youth who, he said, had made achievements in many fields.
“These talents will have the honor to participate in designing an innovative brand identity for the national industry, which will be the unified emblem of the national product and a trusted verification of the excellence of Saudi products worldwide,” he added.
Al-Jasser said that companies wishing to join the program must meet the conditions and standards specified for each sector.
Member companies would benefit from competitive advantages including the promotional benefits of using the unified brand, which would provide their goods and services with easier access into local, regional, and global markets.
SAUDI EXPORTS is set to launch the “Made in Saudi” program during the first quarter of 2021.
The nine Saudi designers have been divided into three teams to create three different designs.
The designs will be put forward for an online public vote, but the final identity design has to be endorsed by the minister of industry and mineral resources and also the minister of culture.