ITFC bags top award at GIFA event in Bosnia

ITFC bags top award at GIFA event in Bosnia
ITFC CEO Hani Salem Sonbol, center, receives the award in Sarajevo.
Updated 01 October 2018

ITFC bags top award at GIFA event in Bosnia

ITFC bags top award at GIFA event in Bosnia

The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) was awarded the “Best Islamic Trade Finance Institution 2018” at the 8th Global Islamic Finance Awards (GIFA).

The award ceremony was held in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on Saturday. 

The Award was received by Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO, ITFC, in the presence of Bosnian President Bakir Izetbegovic. 

Since its inception in 2008, ITFC, a member of the Islamic Development Bank Group (IsDB), has risen to become one of the world’s most important facilitators of trade and financing in Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries. 

Commenting on the occasion, Sonbol said: “ITFC is honored to accept this award from GIFA, which comes at a momentous milestone as we commemorate 10 years of development impact. 

“The award is a validation of ITFC’s founding values of advancing trade and improving lives through Islamic trade finance. The recognition underscores the ever-growing importance, relevance and viability of Islamic trade finance in rising above today’s global market volatility to do its part in facilitating a new era of global trade.”

Over the past 10 years, ITFC has played a pivotal role in supporting its member countries to access trade finance and create development impact across a range of areas including economic growth, job creation, youth empowerment, poverty alleviation and access to electricity. 

To date, ITFC has provided over $40.2 billion to meet its member countries’ needs. 

Almost 70 percent of its transaction volume went toward supporting intra-regional trade amounting to $28.5 billion. 

In line with its new strategy and to respond to the needs of member countries, ITFC in 2017 took major steps to enhance synergies between trade finance and trade development to achieve ITFC’s three main strategic objectives of expanding intra-OIC trade, supporting the diversification process of member countries’ economies and driving global growth of Islamic finance.  

GIFA 2018 presented awards in more than 60 categories to celebrate the success of institutions and individuals from around the world who are charting new territories in Islamic trade and finance. 

Past GIFA laureates include Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh (2017) and Indonesian President Joko Widodo (2016), among many other illustrious and notable world leaders. 

ITFC was established for the purpose of advancing trade among OIC member countries, which would ultimately contribute to the overarching goal of improving socioeconomic conditions of the people across the world. 

ITFC has consolidated trade finance businesses that used to be handled by various windows within the IsDB Group. 

Earning the A1 rating by Moody’s reflects the corporation’s efficiency in service delivery by responding swiftly to customer needs in a market-driven business environment. 

New housing complex in AlUla to support film sector

New housing complex in AlUla to support film sector
Updated 02 August 2021

New housing complex in AlUla to support film sector

New housing complex in AlUla to support film sector

Red Sea International has signed an agreement with the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) to construct a residential and service complex to support the film production sector and specialized technical working teams. The scope of work includes design, prefabrication, supply and installation of 150 high-quality, prefabricated, and fully furnished residential units. 

The move is in line with the goals of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 to meet urgent housing needs and provide innovative solutions in the field of modular buildings and facility management.

The agreement was signed by the company’s CEO Khalid Fagih and RCU CEO Amr Al-Madani at Maraya Hall, in the presence of a number of senior officials. 

During the signing ceremony, Red Sea International Company also announced its plan to establish a branch in AlUla, as part of its aspiration to support key development projects in the governorate and in other regions that satisfy the urgent needs of the tourism and entertainment sector in Saudi Arabia.

Fagih said the model adopted by the Red Sea International Company in constructing residential complexes with high-quality and innovative designs is a significant contribution to improving the quality of life and ensuring that products are specially designed to meet the needs of various sectors and communities throughout the Kingdom. He added that one of the project’s unique features is the use of modular construction solutions that adhere to international building standards, which means that the buildings preserve the environment and are built in a way that is environmentally friendly and able to withstand the harshest climate conditions.

Referring to Red Sea International’s plan to open its branch in AlUla, Fagih described this step as part of the company’s ambition to further enhance its future expansion efforts and bring a cultural shift fitting of the region, which complements the objectives of Vision 2030.

Phillip Jones, chief destination marketing and management officer at the RCU, said the partnership with the Red Sea International Company is an important step toward developing AlUla as a unique international touristic destination by integrating international know-how and local knowledge, which he said will make a qualitative difference in the development of the touristic infrastructure. 

The planned branch of Red Sea International Company in Al-Ula will be able to utilize all available innovative opportunities to successfully develop innovative urban projects in the region and foster tourism renaissance. In this regard, a joint agreement has been reached to establish an “Innovation Lab” to focus on all aspects of developing construction solutions in line with the urban nature of the region in collaboration with the RCU. The “Innovation Lab” is a unit dedicated to measuring and developing innovation and development, presenting knowledge exchanges and scientific research to launch new products and projects that reflect and represent the culture and life of AlUla region and at the same time preserve the traditions and identity of the region.

Saudi Logistics Academy to develop local talent

Saudi Logistics Academy to develop local talent
Updated 02 August 2021

Saudi Logistics Academy to develop local talent

Saudi Logistics Academy to develop local talent

The Saudi Logistics Academy — which will train young Saudi men and women to develop their technical knowledge and skills in the global logistics sector — was launched last week at a ceremony in Riyadh.

Through local and international partnerships, students will take part in a broad range of specialized global logistics industry training programs as the academy aims to actively contribute to the consolidation of the country’s position as a recognized strategic global logistics hub.

Abdul Latif Jameel Logistics, part of Abdul Latif Jameel Enterprises, is a partner in this program and one of 11 private sector businesses participating in the academy’s launch.

The academy will not only prepare young Saudis through education, but also has the ambition to create employment opportunities. During the launch ceremony, 11 employment agreements were signed with private sector businesses looking to employ more than 350 Saudi men and women.

Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Saudi Logistics Academy and the Public Transport Authority Dr. Rumaih Al-Rumaih said the academy’s programs will be available by the beginning of the next semester.

He said that the launch of the academy is one of a number of key initiatives that support the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 under the National Industrial Development and Logistics Program and will also improve the performance of logistics centers across the country.

Faisal S. Al-Samannoudi, vice chairman and CEO, Abdul Latif Jameel Enterprises, reiterated Abdul Latif Jameel’s ongoing commitment to supporting Saudi Vision 2030 initiatives, saying: “With our 75-year heritage and strong experience in domestic and international logistics, we are proud to support the launch of the Saudi Logistics Academy. The academy will contribute to securing the Kingdom’s place as a strategic global logistics hub, realizing the National Transport and Logistics Strategy announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.”

The academy will target seven core sectors, including: Postal logistics services, maritime and ports transport, international trade, shipping and export, over-land transport, e-commerce first/last-mile, warehouse management and air freight transport.

A comprehensive portfolio of training programs will be offered, including longer programs lasting three or more semesters and leading to a qualification, short courses and remote training programs, international specialized professional certificate programs, and executive programs.

The launch ceremony took place in the presence of Minister of Transport and Logistics Services Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser, Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah bin Amer Al-Swaha, Governor of the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation Ahmed bin Fahad Al-Fuhaid and Al-Rumaih.

Details for registration will be announced through the website

Rasanah spotlights Iran’s role in recruitment of child fighters

The book launch was attended by Yemeni Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Moammar Al-Eryani. (Supplied)
The book launch was attended by Yemeni Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Moammar Al-Eryani. (Supplied)
Updated 31 July 2021

Rasanah spotlights Iran’s role in recruitment of child fighters

The book launch was attended by Yemeni Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Moammar Al-Eryani. (Supplied)

RIYADH: The International Institute for Iranian Studies (Rasanah) has released a book titled “Silent Victims … Iran and Recruitment of Child Fighters in the Middle East,” co-authored by the institute’s researchers Maj. Gen. (retired) Ahmed Al-Maimouni and Saad Al-Shahrani.

The book launch was attended by Yemeni Minister of Information, Culture and Tourism Moammar Al-Eryani, Director of Civil Military Operations in the Joint Forces Command Major General Abdullah Al-Habbabi, Spokesman for the Arab Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen Brig. Gen. Turki Al-Maliki, and Chargé d’Affaires of Saudi Arabia to Yemen Abdullah Al-Ghunaim, in addition to officials, researchers and other interested parties.

Founder and President of Rasanah Dr. Mohammed S. Alsulami gave a speech in which he welcomed the attendees while talking about the book and how the idea to publish this book came about. Yemeni minister Al-Eryani addressed in his speech the violations committed by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia, and its recruitment of hundreds of thousands of children to threaten the security and stability of Yemen.

Al-Maimouni, who is the director of the studies and research center at the institute, spoke about the content of the book, which consists of six chapters, while Al-Shahrani gave a presentation on “The militarization of Iranian educational curricula.”

The 150-page book attempts to bring to focus the emergence of the phenomenon of child fighter recruitment in the Iranian strategy, the methods of recruiting children and the institutions embracing the idea of child fighter recruitment as one of the Iranian government’s tools since the beginning of the Iranian revolution to solidify the ideological tenets that serve its approach and support the continuation of its project.

The book focuses on the Iranian militias’ acts of embroiling child fighters in military conflicts that lead them to be killed and wounded, working against the interests of their homelands and destroying their future.

In the first chapter titled “Recruitment of Child Fighters in the Iranian Thought,” the book begins with casting light on the phenomenon of child fighter recruitment as an inhumane practice, discussing the genesis and motives of the militarization of Iranian Shiite young men, the methods and motives of recruitment and the psychological and social consequences endured by the recruited children.

Chapter Two, titled “Hezbollah and the Recruitment of Child Fighters in Lebanon,” is divided into “Hezbollah as a Tool for Disseminating the Tenets of the Iranian Revolution,” “Hezbollah’s Hidden Activities on the Recruitment of Child Fighters” and the “Impact of International Sanctions on Hezbollah and its Recruitment Operations.”

Chapter Three, “Iran Militias and the Recruitment of Child Fighters in Syria,” sheds light on the recruitment operations on the Syrian landscape and using foreign recruits from Pakistan and Afghanistan. It also discusses the Iranian militias and factions in Syria, the efforts of Iran and Hezbollah to advance child fighter recruitment in Syria and the Iranian soft policies to wrest control over Syrian society.

As for Chapter Four, titled “Shiite Militias and the Recruitment of Child Fighters in Iraq,” it touches on pushing Iraq into the spheres of Iran’s influence and the Iraqi-Iranian militias and child fighter recruitment. This reality was shaped by the Iraq-Iran war and what was known in the military corridors as “human waves” in order to make up for the superiority on the part of Iraq in weapons and military tactics. Most of these waves were made up of the youth and child fighters.

Chapter Five, titled “The Houthi Militia and Child Fighter Recruitment in Yemen,” spotlights the inception of the Houthi militia group, the influence of the Iranian approach on it and the Houthi methods of child recruitment. It then presents examples of cases of Houthi recruitment of children, outlining proposed mechanisms to address the phenomenon of child fighter recruitment in Yemen.
As for Chapter Six titled “Child Recruitment and Its Impacts in Light of International Law,” it surveys international legal resolutions criminalizing child recruitment, reveals the efforts of the international community aimed at protecting children and casts light on Iran being a focus of blame by the international community.

In the end, this book tracks the Iranian role in sponsoring militias that work actively in child recruitment on the battlefield and clarifies that this recruitment causes the children returning from the battlefield to experience psychological trauma and the inability to integrate back into civil society, which prompts them to embrace violence and resort to extremist methods.

Iran’s involvement has appeared unambiguously in supporting militias in the aforesaid countries ideologically, militarily, financially and politically, according to reports of media outlets and international organizations, in addition to accounts of those affected and their relatives on the tragedies they have suffered.


Norwegian Cruise Line returns to the sea

Norwegian Cruise Line returns to the sea
Updated 31 July 2021

Norwegian Cruise Line returns to the sea

Norwegian Cruise Line returns to the sea

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) resumed cruises on July 25, with heightened health and safety protocols to ensure customers feel even safer at sea.

The resumption of service comes following a 500-day suspension, which the cruise company has used to introduce new measures to protect cruisers, including improved continuous ship-wide cleaning and sanitation practices and upgraded medical standard air filters.

Every guest and crew member needs to be fully vaccinated before boarding a NCL ship to ensure that, once on board, every part of the ship is open to all guests for them to safely explore and enjoy.

Cruises available to book include the newly revitalized Norwegian Epic that is offering seven-day Western Mediterranean cruises in 2021 with departures from Rome (Civitavecchia). The ship then sails to Naples, Cagliari, then to Spain stopping in Palma Majorca and Barcelona. The unforgettable Florence and Pisa are also on the itinerary with debarkation again in Rome.

Meanwhile, customers looking for a longer holiday should consider Norwegian Getaway, which is offering 10-day Greek Isles and Italy cruises with departures scheduled from Rome (Civitavecchia). 

Destinations include some of the most picture-perfect Greek Isles, such as Santorini and Mykonos, and Italian gems like Naples and Florence.

“We are delighted to be cruising again and we have used the downtime to ensure that our itineraries entice and our ships are as safe as possible,” said Nick Wilkinson, NCL’s regional vice president for business development, MEA.

“Breaking the boundaries of traditional cruising for 53 years, NCL offers you the best in freedom and flexibility to cruising, so you can holiday on your own schedule with no assigned dining and entertainment times and no formal dress code.”

NCL has 17 contemporary ships that sail to more than 300 of the world’s most desirable destinations, including Northern Europe, with its blend of history and culture, and the Mediterranean where guests can soak up its stunning sites and culinary delights.

In addition to its superior guest service from land to sea, NCL offers a variety of award-winning entertainment, dining options and a range of staterooms across the fleet. 

Guests can choose from numerous accommodation options including solo-traveler staterooms, mini-suites, spa-suites and The Haven by Norwegian, NCL’s ship-within-a-ship concept.

And now is the perfect time to book thanks to NCL’s latest offer, which combines 30 percent off all sailings and all five “Free at Sea” offers in one package!

New cinema in Jeddah to offer panoramic sea views

New cinema in Jeddah to offer panoramic sea views
Updated 29 July 2021

New cinema in Jeddah to offer panoramic sea views

New cinema in Jeddah to offer panoramic sea views

Fakieh Leisure and Entertainment Group (Tarfeeh Fakieh), a provider of leisure and entertainment in Saudi Arabia, has signed an agreement with Jamjoom Production and Distribution to operate a cinema at the Jeddah Walk project. Tarfeeh Fakieh will invest in building the cinema as part of the Jeddah Walk project, with a cost of more than SR300 million ($80 million).

The signing ceremony was held in the presence of Jamil Attar, CEO of Tarfeeh Fakieh, and Waheed Jamjoom, CEO of Jamjoom Production and Distribution, the company that will manage and operate the cinema in cooperation with an international company. 

According to the agreement, Tarfeeh Fakieh will construct a magnificently designed building on the corniche, along the Red Sea, as part of the Jeddah Walk project, to allow visitors to enjoy the latest movies using state-of-the-art audio-visual projectors. The project is part of Tarfeeh Fakieh’s investment contract with the Jeddah municipality. 

Attar said: “Based on Tarfeeh Fakieh’s extensive experience in investing in the tourism and entertainment sectors and encouraged by our wise government’s support for these sectors, we are currently working to redevelop Al-Nawras Island. We aim to turn Al-Nawras into a distinct entertainment and tourism destination that contributes to achieving the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030 as well as its realization program, the Quality of Life Program 2020.” 

Jamjoom said: “We take pride in our cooperation with Tarfeeh Fakieh, especially as the group has a wealth of experience in the entertainment and tourism sectors and is actively engaged in spreading joy and happiness among Jeddah’s residents and visitors. The Tarfeeh Fakieh investment initiative will contribute to the return of Jamjoom Cinema after more than 50 years. We will also benefit from our legacy in the cinema sector, as we were the first to open a modern and popular cinema in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1969.” 

The new cinema will feature nine screens and have 837 seats besides a variety of restaurants. It will also have an upper terrace to enjoy views of the Red Sea and sunset.

The Jeddah municipality continues to develop the waterfront, and it is cooperating with Tarfeeh Fakieh to redevelop the Al-Nawras Island and transform it into a top recreational area and tourist attraction.

Jeddah Walk is a joint venture development project of restaurants and cafes including a multistory mall on Al-Tahlia Road. With a built-up area of 51,911 square meters, the project extends over two land plots with a total area of 15,375 square meters. The mall has expansive outdoor landscaped terraces offering ample opportunities for open-air dining and lounges.