Saudi Arabia to boost defense, trade, tech ties with Manila

Saudi Vice Labor Minister Abdullah Nasser Abouthnain and Enrique Manalo, Philippines foreign affairs undersecretary for policy, sign an agreement at the 5th Joint Commission meeting in Manila. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 11 November 2018

Saudi Arabia to boost defense, trade, tech ties with Manila

  • Relations between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia stretch back almost five decades, with total trade last year worth about $1.25 billion

MANILA: Saudi Arabia and the Philippines are exploring possible cooperation in key areas, including defense, trade and investment, following a commitment by the two countries to strengthen bilateral relations.
The move was announced by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in Manila as the Philippines and Saudi Arabia concluded their 5th Joint Commission meeting in the capital on Friday.
Energy, education, tourism and technical training were other areas of cooperation being considered.
“Aside from trade and investment and labor and health services, other possible areas of cooperation discussed by both sides are in security, agriculture, energy, finance, education, cultural, tourism, youth and sports, technical training, and technology,” the DFA said in a statement.
“Among the bilateral agreements discussed were the deployment of workers of general category and household workers, and the memoranda of understanding in the fields of agriculture, sports, media, Islamic affairs, and development cooperation,” it said.
Enrique Manalo, Philippines foreign affairs undersecretary for policy, and Saudi Arabia’s Vice Labor Minister Abdullah Nasser Abouthnain led their delegations in the meeting.
Meanwhile, the Department of National Defense (DND) told Arab News that at present Saudi Arabia and the Philippines have no defense cooperation and exchanges, including visits, agreements or information sharing.
However, it said that the Philippine government is “open to exploring exchanges with Saudi Arabia, such as high-level visits or people exchanges.”
Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif met President Rodrigo Duterte during an official visit to Manila early this year, with both countries reiterating their commitment to fighting terrorism.
In a meeting described by presidential spokesperson Harry Roque as “very warm and cordial,” Duterte and Prince Abdul Aziz discussed strengthening bilateral ties in law enforcement, peace, security, and promoting the welfare of Filipino migrant workers.
The prince also held separate meetings with National Security Adviser Hermogenes Ebdane Jr., Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and interior and local government officer-in-charge Eduardo Ano.
A DND official said the prince and Lorenzana discussed the possibility of exchanges between the two countries.
“The training doesn’t have to be military. One possibility is an exchange of students because we have our National Defense College and they (Saudi) also have similar institution,” the official said.
He said that Saudi Arabia had a sophisticated military. “But in terms of ground units, the Philippines are more experienced than them because we’ve been fighting an insurgency for close to 50 years,” the official said.
Relations between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia stretch back almost five decades, with total trade last year worth about $1.25 billion.
Since 1980, the two countries have signed a number of agreements, mostly under the auspices of the Joint Commission meetings.


US court orders Iran to pay $879 million to 1996 Khobar bombing survivors

Updated 5 min 52 sec ago

US court orders Iran to pay $879 million to 1996 Khobar bombing survivors

  • The court ruled that the Iranian government directed and provided material for the attack
  • The Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia were housing US forces when it was bombed in 1996

DUBAI: A United States federal court held Iran responsible for the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia where US forces were housed, and ordered Tehran to pay $879 million to survivors. 

The Khobar Towers was a housing complex in the eastern city of Khobar, near the Abdulaziz Air Base and Saudi Aramco’s headquarters in Dhahran, that housed American servicemen working on Operation Southern Watch.

A truck bomb was detonated on June 25, 1996, near an eight-story building of the housing complex, which killed 19 US Air Force personnel and a Saudi national and wounded 498 others.

The court ruled that the Iranian government directed and provided material support to Hezbollah who detonated the 5,000-pound truck bomb, a Chicago law firm press release said. The attackers reportedly smuggled the explosives used in the attack from Lebanon. 


The lawsuit was brought under the terrorism exception of the US Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act by the 14 injured US airmen and 21 of their immediate family members.

The defendants in the case were listed as the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security.

“We will continue to seek to hold the Government of Iran accountable for this terrorist attack as long as is necessary,” said Adora Sauer, the lead attorney of MM LAW LLC.

US District Judge Beryl A. Howell found the defendants liable and awarded the plaintiffs $132 million for pain and suffering, as well as prejudgment interest, for a total compensatory damage award of $747 million and $132 million for punitive damages.


The court also said the plaintiffs are eligible for partial payments from the US Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, which compensates American victims of acts of international terrorism with funds obtained from fines and forfeitures levied against companies caught illegally laundering money for sanctioned countries and persons. 

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READ MORE: 45 Moments that changed the Middle East - The bombing of Khobar Towers

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The attorneys also intend to pursue enforcement of the judgments through litigation intended to seize Iranian assets.

“The physical and psychological toll on our families has been extremely high, but this judgment is welcome news. More than 20 years on, we want the world to remember the evil that Iran did at the Khobar Towers. Through the work of our attorneys, we intend to do just that,” said Glenn Christie, a retired Air Force staff sergeant crew chief who was severely injured in the bombing.


“The massive explosion took so much from their minds and bodies on the day of the attack in 1996 and every day and night since then. They can now live with that balance justice provides,” according to John Urquhart of the Urquhart Law Firm, who also represents the bombing victims.