Arab world condemns Canada’s ‘diplomatic failure’

Arab nations have spoken out in support of Saudi Arabia after it took trade and diplomatic measures against Canada, for comments made by the country's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Christia Freeland. (File photo: AFP)
Updated 07 August 2018

Arab world condemns Canada’s ‘diplomatic failure’

  • Bahrain regrets Canada’s position, based on totally erroneous information that have nothing to do with reality on the ground, it absolutely rejects its unacceptable intervention in Saudi internal affairs
  • The UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash tweeted on Monday that “we can only stand with Saudi Arabia in defending its sovereignty”

DUBAI: Arab countries have lined up in support of Saudi Arabia after it took trade and diplomatic measures against Canada on Monday in response to the latter’s interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom.
The move came in response to statements demanding the immediate release of what Canada called “civil society and women’s rights activists” that were made on the foreign policy Twitter feed of Global Affairs Canada, retweeted by the Canadian Embassy in Riyadh, and a similar tweet but its Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland.
Saudi Arabia said it was expelling the Canadian ambassador and recalling its envoy while freezing all new trade.
In a strongly worded statement released on Monday, the Muslim World League condemned the Canadian government’s blatant interference.
The statement said the sovereignty of states needs to be respected and that international conventions, principles and norms have to be observed, adding that no country should interfere in another country’s matters.
The Muslim World League added that the Kingdom is governed by its constitution, regulations and legal processes which are widely known, much like the legal systems of other countries.
It stressed that Saudi Arabia has the right to take a firm stand towards the “outrageous and unprecedented diplomatic failure” of Canada.
Saudi Arabia, the statement added, is characterized by the enforcement of Islamic law, and it is wrong for people to compromise this.
Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, also expressed his support for Saudi Arabia’s actions. He condemned the Canadian statements, which he described as false and an unacceptable interference in Saudi Arabia's internal affairs.
"These statements are a clear violation of the principles of the UN Charter and also detrimental to the relations between Saudi Arabia and Canada," Dr. Al-Zayani added.
The Speaker of the Arab Parliament, Dr. Mishaal bin Fahm Al-Salami, expressed the parliament's full solidarity with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in its decision. In a statement, he said: ”The very negative and irresponsible phrase contained in the Canadian statement that Canada urges authorities in the Kingdom to release the detainees immediately constitutes an overt and blatant interference in the internal affairs of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a condemned demand contrary to the principle of the independence of the judiciary and applying the criminal justice.”
Anwar Gargash, the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, took to Twitter on Monday, saying: “We can only stand with Saudi Arabia in defending its sovereignty and taking the necessary measures to protect its laws.”
He added: “We cannot accept our laws and sovereignty becoming subject to pressure. Some countries believe that their diplomatic model and experience allows them to interfere in other’s affairs.”
Also on Monday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reaffirmed that the Palestinian people and leadership support Saudi Arabia.
In his statement published by Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency, Abbas expressed his total condemnation of Canada’s blatant interference in Saudi Arabia’s internal affairs, saying that he considers it a serious impingement on the sovereignty of the Kingdom.
He called on Arab states to support the Kingdom by rejecting and condemning Canada’s interference.
Bahrain's Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement saying it remained in solidarity with Saudi Arabia against any external interference in its internal affairs or any side’s attempt to undermine Saudi sovereignty.
“Bahrain also confirms its absolute support for the measures taken by the Kingdom in response to the statements made by the Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Canadian Embassy in Riyadh, on what they called civil society activists,” the statement read.
“Bahrain regrets Canada’s position, based on totally erroneous information that has nothing to do with reality on the ground. It absolutely rejects its unacceptable intervention in Saudi internal affairs.
“Bahrain affirms that it stands with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in all the measures it has taken to maintain its security and stability, stressing the need to respect the Saudi regulations and judiciary and abide by the norms and conventions governing international relations.”
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) said it totally understands the Kingdom’s position requiring no interference in its internal affairs, a principal guaranteed by all international conventions and norms that reject the interference in other states’ affairs and that call for the respect of states’ sovereignty.
Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen, the OIC’s secretary-general, said the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a sovereign state widely respected in the regional and on the world stage. The Saudi judiciary is fully independent and has international laws that guarantee, regulate and respect the society’s activities.

A catering firm in Saudi Arabia tackles obesity from school level

Updated 19 October 2019

A catering firm in Saudi Arabia tackles obesity from school level

  • Rihab Hasanain set up Blooming Bs to provide schoolchildren with healthy meals
  • Blooming Bs strives to raise awareness of the obesity problem in the Kingdom

CAIRO: One Saudi woman was so concerned about her children’s unhealthy school-canteen meals that she decided to improve not only her family’s diet but also the eating habits of the entire nation.

Rihab Hasanain, spurred by the Kingdom’s growing obesity epidemic, set up the catering firm Blooming Bs to provide children with healthy lunch boxes and offer them advice on the importance of eating healthy food and being active.

The company’s name originates from the three Bs: Brain, body and box. The healthy boxes are provided to students and children aged two and above at schools, canteens, childcare centers and indoor playground centers.

Saudi Arabia has the Middle East’s second-highest obesity level after Kuwait with a 35.4 percent rating,  according to the CIA World Factbook.

Hasanain said that she wants to raise awareness of the region’s obesity problem, particularly among children.

“Childhood obesity is one of the greatest challenges facing health care systems worldwide,” she said.

“A number of factors have contributed to the problem, such as lack of childhood physical activities, and a low awareness around the prevalence of obesity and non-communicable diseases.”

Hasanain said that Blooming Bs’ mission is to combat childhood obesity in Saudi Arabia and neighboring countries by promoting healthy eating habits.

Rihab Hasanain

This includes educating children and parents about the importance of healthy food and lifestyles, providing youngsters with healthy food choices, and creating a community of future healthy eaters.

In Saudi Arabia, a major contributing factor to the obesity crisis is the widespread availability of unhealthy food in school canteens, she said.

In 2016, the ambitious mother of two took matters into her own hands by establishing her commercial kitchen in the Kingdom’s capital Riyadh.

Using her personal savings, Hasanain hired a team of 10 multidisciplinary women, including public relations and administration staff, social-work specialists, early childhood educators and drivers.

She also leveraged her international connections to help secure support and endorsement from a number of prominent mentors.

“They are extraordinary individuals with an outstanding track record in social entrepreneurship, hospitality and, most importantly, health promotion and healthy school canteens,” Hasanain said.

Blooming Bs has since grown to cater to more than 20 day-care units and schools, as well as hundreds of individual families. The firm has now sold more than 45,000 items and served over 10,000 lunch meals since its launch.

Hasanain said that the company’s contracts and deliveries vary according to customer categories.

“Our products range from morning, lunch and afternoon meals for children to freshly squeezed juices and individual food items that can be sold individually at school canteens,” she said.

“We take the stress away for parents. Our clients are assured that our products are healthy because the meals are created based on the consultation of our in-house nutritionist.”

While Hasanain is well on her way to transforming the diets of children in Riyadh, she has her eye on the bigger picture.

The Blooming Bs entrepreneur also aims to solve childhood obesity in neighboring countries, such as the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar.

“During Blooming Bs’ expansion, I have tried to develop a holistic viewpoint on children’s nutrition, leading to improved operation processes and ideas,” Hasanain said.

“Blooming Bs also wants to empower Saudi and Arab women by creating more job opportunities,” she added.

“Ultimately, I see my company becoming an upscale international brand, trusted by parents, schools and governments.”


• This report is being published by Arab News as a partner of the Middle East Exchange, which was launched by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region.