Shoura chairman thanks King Salman, crown prince for economic programs

Shoura chairman thanks King Salman, crown prince for economic programs
The chairman of the Shoura Council thanked King Salman — seen here arriving at the Shoura Council session — and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for helping the country to thrive. (SPA)
Updated 20 November 2018

Shoura chairman thanks King Salman, crown prince for economic programs

Shoura chairman thanks King Salman, crown prince for economic programs
  • Shoura Council Chairman Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Sheikh: There have many great strides and ambitious plans aiming to advance the country and provide a decent life for citizens
  • Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Sheikh noted the council’s pride in efforts to unify Arab ranks and promote Islamic solidarity to achieve security and peace in the region and in the world

RIYADH: Sheikh Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Sheikh, chairman of the Shoura Council, welcomed and thanked King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for helping the country to thrive.
He said: “This country is thriving thanks to the wise leadership; there have many great strides and ambitious plans aiming to advance the country and provide a decent life for citizens.
“Citizens are overwhelmed by feelings of joy and happiness due to the success of economic programs designed to improve the national economic performance, diversify incomes, open fields of employment for citizens and settle business and economic activities,” he said.
“Our country has become the economics and international investors’ center of attention and an active member of the Group of Twenty (G-20).
“The announcement of the fiscal year 2018-19 is an example of the firm economic trend which represents an important part of Saudi Vision 2030. The Financial Sector Development Program is one of the programs that aim to achieve Saudi Vision 2030 with its development of the financial sector and enhancement of its efficiency in order to prepare the necessary environment to improve the citizens’ lifestyle and the country, promote investment opportunities and diversify the economic activity”, Al-Sheikh added.
“You have inaugurated the Haramain High Speed Railway project which represents a qualitative leap in rail projects, not only on the level of the Kingdom, but also on the regional level, and this mega project will contribute to serving the Kingdom’s citizens and visitors,” he said.
“The Saudi capital Riyadh hosted the second session of ‘The Future Investment Initiative 2018 (FII)’ where important agreements and investment projects were signed to build further strategic partnerships, in the presence of a large number of leaders, presidents, specialized ministers and distinguished people, pioneering decision-makers, businessmen, investors and other people who contribute to designing the future of global investment.”
Al-Sheikh added: “You have supported the national effort to maintain the Kingdom’s environment heritage through the establishment of the Council of Royal Reserves that embodies one of the national achievements to preserve the environment and restore it, in accordance with a system that sustains it. Cornerstones were laid in many major development projects.”
He noted the council’s pride in the wise leadership’s efforts to unify Arab ranks and promote Islamic solidarity to achieve security and peace in the region and in the world.
Al-Sheikh said: “At the end of each year at the Shoura Council, we have the honor to inaugurate the new year to be a motive for the council for achieving its tasks amid unlimited support from the king and crown prince, who believe in the Shoura Council’s message and its national role in the development, construction and progress process.”
He ascertained that the Shoura Council keeps pace with this support with more hard work to meet their expectations and note the citizens’ interests and their hopes which are the council’s constant concern, in accordance with their guidance for the country to be the center of action and attention.
He clarified that the council has in the past year reviewed many draft legislations, regulations and agreements and discussed government bodies’ performance reports.
The number of subjects the council discussed and reviewed last year was 244. The specialized council’s committee hosted tens of officials from many ministries and competent authorities to discover obstacles and hurdles in order to cooperate in dealing with them and finding solutions that guarantee work progress and achieving the desired goals.
In a number of its sessions, the council also hosted ministers who discussed the performance of their ministries and requirements that interest citizens in achieving an effective performance that meets their wishes and solves problems.
He said the council maintained its approach in communicating with citizens and noting their ideas and suggestions through interacting with them on media or studying petitions sent to the council via various means of communication, and in order to facilitate that, the council created a link for online petitions where any citizens can present their views and suggestions. These petitions are transferred to the council’s committees.
Al-Sheikh stressed that through its social media platforms, the council has kept pace with the citizens’ participation and interactions. The council also assigned a specialized department to communicate with society.
He said: “Your support of the Shoura Council included the role of the parliamentary diplomacy performed by the council through its affiliations with a number of unions and regional and international parliamentary forums when it hosted delegations and committees from brotherly countries’ parliamentary assemblies.
“These efforts contributed to enhancing communications with those parliaments, rectifying the distorted image of the Kingdom, its position and policies, exploring successful parliamentary experiences and reflecting the Kingdom’s positions on different international issues and events.”
Al-Sheikh thanked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was very cooperative in the process of the Shoura Council performing its role of parliamentary diplomacy, and enhancing that through establishing a special department concerned with Shoura Council affairs. The council also created a department for special relations.

Reaction amongst council members to the king’s speech was positive.

Dr. Alia Al-Dahlawi, an associate professor at King Abdulaziz University and a first term member of the Shoura Council, said, “The King’s inaugural speech this year set the roadmap to our duties at the Shoura Council, reflected on the Kingdom’s domestic affairs.

“The beauty of this year’s speech was that the King has given the public a view of the performance measurement and positive progress of Vision 2030, the results of which can be seen all over the Kingdom after just two years since its inauguration.
“The King also reiterated the fact that the Saudi citizen are the engine of development for the future of our country as well as asserting that Saudi women are partners in this development who have full rights according to Islamic Sharia. The King also shed a light on a new focus, to harness the potential of young Saudis and shape their talents for the jobs of tomorrow.”

Prof. Fawzia Abalkhail, former rector of Princess Noura bint Abdulrahman University, said, “In the King’s opening remarks, reconfirms that the roadmap to the Kingdom’s internal and domestic policies are a reflection of the Islamic Sharia constitution of the Kingdom since the Kingdom’s founder. On matters of foreign policy, the King’s speech to the public, spoke of the Kingdom’s stance on the Palestinian cause, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Iran. In doing so, he is giving the citizens of the country a given right to understand the country’s foreign policies on the regional scale and abroad.
“The King stated that for the future development of the Kingdom, there will be a focus on future investment projects such as advanced technologies and renewable energy that will provide job opportunities and develop human resources for the future of the country’s next generation of youth.”

Lina Almaeena, cofounder and director of the first Saudi private sports company, United Sports Co., said, “The King’s speech was a very powerful speech. His trust in the country’s youth and support coinciding with the fact that Vision 2030 has mobilized 50% of Saudi population, women, into the work force, opening many sectors for their employment in a short-period of time is a sign of great positive move forward. It was really interesting to see that 81% of the population is under the age of 45, we are a fairly young nation, and with that we are working on developing and creating jobs as well as support programs to reduce unemployment.
“In the matters of foreign policies, the King reaffirmed to us all that Jerusalem being the capital of Palestine and the Palestinian issue will always be the primary issue on our foreign policy agenda until their full legitimate rights are obtained. Refuting the claims of some regional and foreign media skeptics that try to divert the Kingdom’s stance on the Palestinian cause.”


King Salman prays for ‘continued security and stability’

King Salman prays for ‘continued security and stability’
Updated 14 May 2021

King Salman prays for ‘continued security and stability’

King Salman prays for ‘continued security and stability’
  • All mosques and prayer areas maintain full health protocols

JEDDAH: King Salman performed Eid prayers in NEOM on Thursday. 

Earlier, he extended greetings to Saudi citizens and residents and Muslims all over the world.

In a tweet on Thursday, the king said: “We thank God Almighty for making the blessed Eid Al-Fitr a sign of good and satisfaction after completing the fasting and prayers of Ramadan. 

“Eid carries hope, optimism, and happiness, and we pray to God to cleanse the entire world of all evil, protect us from harm, and grant us continued security, stability, and tranquility.”

The king said this Eid is an occasion to overcome the ordeal that the world has suffered from the health, social and economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

King Salman said he was “optimistic about the positive steps in place to achieve stability in the Arab world, so that security and prosperity prevail for all parts of the globe.”

“Combating this pandemic that has befallen the world requires all of us to adhere to the health measures announced by the Ministry of Health, including social distancing, and the need to receive the vaccine, which will work to immunize our dear community of citizens and residents,” the king said.

Mask-clad worshippers entered Makkah’s Grand Mosque along socially distanced paths to offer Eid prayer. Worshippers at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah also followed COVID-19 protocols.

As Saudi families gathered to celebrate the first day of Eid Al-Fitr, the Kingdom’s health minister urged people to follow official health precautions to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“I need your attention on your Eid. Be careful, refrain from shaking hands completely, be sure to practice social distancing, and avoid large gatherings,” Tawfiq Al-Rabiah tweeted on the eve of festivities.

“Go to the Eid prayer with your own prayer mat, wear the mask constantly, sanitize your hands before and after receiving or giving Eidiya, and leave a safe distance between you and others,” he added. The minister also warned parents not to allow children to hug or kiss their grandparents, saying that such practices may endanger older members of the family.

Worshippers across the Kingdom performed Eid Al-Fitr prayers in 20,569 mosques and open-air prayer areas set up by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance.

Mosques and prayer areas were equipped with facilities in accordance with the health protocols approved by the authorities to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

The imams spoke during the Eid sermon about the blessing of completing fasting and praying qiyaam, and the importance of the continuation of good deeds after Ramadan.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia reported 11 more COVID-19-related deaths on Thursday. The death toll now stands at 7,122.

The Health Ministry reported 1,116 new cases, meaning that 430,505 people have now contracted the disease. There are 9,244 remaining active cases, 1,344 of which are in critical condition.

According to the ministry, 377 of the newly recorded cases were in Riyadh, 320 in Makkah, 134 in the Eastern Province and 71 in Madinah. In addition, 1,129 patients recovered from the disease, bringing the total number of recoveries to 414,139.

Saudi Arabia so far has conducted 17,812,376 PCR tests, with 71,457 carried out in the past 24 hours.

Saudis and expats in the Kingdom continue to receive their COVID-19 jabs, with 11,195,164 people inoculated so far.


OIC: Continuing Houthi attacks against civilian targets tantamount to war crimes

OIC: Continuing Houthi attacks against civilian targets tantamount to war crimes
Updated 14 May 2021

OIC: Continuing Houthi attacks against civilian targets tantamount to war crimes

OIC: Continuing Houthi attacks against civilian targets tantamount to war crimes
  • The OIC announced on Thursday that it will hold an emergency meeting on Sunday, at the request of Saudi Arabia, to discuss the situation in Jerusalem and Gaza

JEDDAH: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) strongly condemned the “cowardly, hostile action” by terrorist Houthi militias in Yemen, which on Thursday launched eight drones and three ballistic missiles at civilian targets in the Kingdom.

The Arab coalition fighting the Houthis in support of Yemen’s internationally recognized government said it intercepted and destroyed the drones and missiles before they reached their targets.

OIC Secretary-General Yousef Al-Othaimeen praised the coalition forces for their vigilance and professionalism in responding to the Houthi’s attack, which took place on the Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

“The continued launch of ballistic missiles and drones toward civilians and civilian objects is considered war crimes, and a flagrant defiance of international laws, customs and agreements,” he said.

He also reiterated the OIC’s solidarity with the Kingdom in all the steps Saudi authorities take to deter Houthi aggression and protect civilians.

Hamdan Al-Shehri, a political analyst and international-relations scholar, told Arab News: “This is a particularly special day for Muslims, Eid Al-Fitr, and all Muslims are also preoccupied by what is happening in Palestine.

“We always hear Iran making threats, but instead of standing with Palestine it is targeting Makkah, Madinah and the Kingdom. This demonstrates the Houthi’s futility, and the extent of Tehran’s malice and how it is always standing with the Houthi forces.

“As we’ve seen, such events are always against civilians. Iran and the Iran-backed Houthi militias have their weapons aimed at civilians because they want civilian victims.” Al-Shehri added: “These are war crimes. The global community should do something, especially about the hundreds of ballistic missiles and drones. The world is only watching.” Meanwhile, the OIC announced on Thursday that it will hold an emergency meeting on Sunday, at the request of Saudi Arabia, to discuss the situation in Jerusalem and Gaza. The meeting of the foreign ministers of OIC member nations will address the continuing Israeli attacks in the Palestinian territories, which have escalated since Monday.

Israeli troops were massing at the Gaza border on Thursday. Meanwhile Hamas targeted Israel with rocket attacks. The increasingly intense hostilities have caused international concern and provoked clashes between Jews and Arabs in Israel.

With fears growing that the violence could spiral out of control into full-blown war, the US announced on Wednesday it is sending an envoy, Hady Amr, to the region.


Saudis divided between electronic, traditional Eidiya

Saudis divided between electronic, traditional Eidiya
Updated 14 May 2021

Saudis divided between electronic, traditional Eidiya

Saudis divided between electronic, traditional Eidiya
  • Due to the ongoing pandemic, many Saudis turn to electronic payments to give out Eidiyas this year as opposed to cash in hand

JEDDAH: As Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid Al-Fitr in their own unique ways, children in every nation tend to always steal the spotlight with their tireless demands for Eidiya money.

Similar to Halloween in the west, children wait eagerly for this time of the year so they can dress up, visit one household to the next, and receive as much Eidiya money (and chocolates) as possible.

However, due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many Saudis turned to electronic payments to give out Eidiyas this year. Still, others prefer the old-fashioned way of handing out Eidiyas in cash while also taking COVID-19 health precautions into consideration.

Saudi dentist Jameela Al-Ghamdi, 29, said being deprived of family gatherings for Eid Al-Fitr last year was frustrating. 

“It was so strange to go through,” she told Arab News. “We never skipped visiting our families on such special occasions.”

She is now relieved because people in her family susceptible to the virus have received the vaccine jab and these special occasions can happen again. 

“I am so happy to dress up with my sisters and also visit family members I have not seen in an unfairly long time,” Al-Ghamdi said.

Her family, although mostly vaccinated, prefers to give out Eidiyas electronically, as Al-Ghamdi says she is a fan of technology. 

“We tried giving out Eidiyas through STC Pay last year and it was very quick, simple and convenient. No need to break down SR100 at minimarkets anymore,” she said.

Ali Mansour, a 33-year-old Saudi industrial engineer at Saudia airline, said the best part of Eid is visiting family. He also added the occasion is not the same without gatherings. Mansour’s family started giving out Eidiyas electronically long before the pandemic because of its convenience.

HIGHLIGHTS

•Similar to Halloween in the west, children wait eagerly for this time of the year so they can dress up, visit one household to the next, and receive as much Eidiya money (and chocolates) as possible. •However, due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many Saudis turned to electronic payments to give out Eidiyas this year. Still, others prefer the old-fashioned way of handing out Eidiyas in cash while also taking COVID-19 health precautions into consideration.

“Way before the pandemic and the creations of such platforms like STC Pay, we gave out Eidiyas through bank transfers,” he told Arab News. “Electronic payments are not something new to us. My dad would always transfer the Eidiya into my account, never in cash.” He added that the last time he received Eidiya in cash was probably back in high school.

Young children are the most significant part of the Eid celebration, said Mansour, as they will receive Eidiyas in cash since they cannot use devices.

Saudi Lujain Al-Jehani, 27, said Eid Al-Fitr is extra special this year because people were deprived of the holiday gatherings last year.

“Due to the pandemic, we did not have the opportunity to celebrate together,” she told Arab News. “We are so excited and thrilled. We are going to prepare cakes and activities that we were deprived of last year.”

Al-Jehani’s family prefers to give out Eidiyas in person: “The experience is different, holding cash in your hand,” she said.

Al-Jehani added that most of the elderly in her family do not know how to use electronic payment platforms.

Saudi medical student Renad Bajodah, 25, said Eid celebrations are important experiences and will have a lasting impact on a child’s memory.

“Eid means joy to me. It means coming together and honoring the days of our lives, and celebrating after the completion of the holy month of Ramadan,” Bajodah told Arab News. 

“The excitement of Eid’s eve is what is most beautiful to me, seeing kids wearing their new pajamas all happy on the night of Eid. It also teaches parents how to give to their children. To give them the best experience and beautiful childhood memories.” 

While Bajodah’s family still prefers Eidiyas in cash, they sanitize them thoroughly before delivering in carefully closed envelopes. They like the “traditional old school style,” he said.

Saudi Yara Ahmad, 27, who works in the market research industry, said Eid Al-Fitr means a lot to her. The whole experience from new clothes, delicious food and candy, family gatherings and Eidiya money is something adults and children alike look forward to every year.

Electronic Eidiya did not bode well for her family which continues to distribute cash to children while keeping in mind the sanitization part and necessary precautions.

Saudi Salman Al-Otaibi, 32, who prefers the old-fashioned way of giving out Eidiyas while following hygienic measures, said a new voting poll for Eidiyas that has been circulating a week before Eid Al-Fitr takes away a special element.

“The idea has nothing to do with the purpose of Eidiyas and bringing a smile on children and adults’ faces,” he told Arab News. 

“Because it has become a contest and everyone is running after people in groups and social media sites to vote. I think it is far from what Eidiya is supposed to mean.”


Taif rose oil a ‘treasure to be discovered’, says French envoy

Taif rose oil a ‘treasure to  be discovered’, says French envoy
Updated 14 May 2021

Taif rose oil a ‘treasure to be discovered’, says French envoy

Taif rose oil a ‘treasure to  be discovered’, says French envoy
  • Taif roses have, throughout history, expressed the cultural identity of Taif city, says Mayor Ahmed Al-Qathami

TAIF: “Treasure to be discovered,” were the words used by the French ambassador to the Kingdom describing the rose oil industry in Taif, after his recent visit to the 14th Taif Rose Festival held at Al-Radf Park and organized by the Taif Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Ludovic Pouille toured the old town of Taif at night with representatives from the province and the Ministry of Culture, expressing his happiness to discover the vital market on the eve of the celebrations of Eid Al-Fitr, and to drink traditional coffee in the historic neighborhood of the capital of roses.

He also discovered the traditional professions in the old city of Taif, discussing with the mayor the tourist capacity of the city and opportunities to cooperate with France.

Mesmerized by the fragrance and the pink scenery around him, the envoy walked the roses’ stairway in the festival covered in roses from both sides, describing it as a “stairway to heaven.”

French Ambassador Ludovic Pouille

Dr. Ahmed Al-Qathami, mayor of Taif Province, said that the visit of the French envoy reflects the importance and reputation of Taif roses across borders, “one of the most important tools in promoting the Kingdom’s tourism, culture and economy.”

Al-Qathami told Arab News that Taif roses have, throughout history, expressed the cultural identity of Taif city, symbolizing its beauty thanks to their odor and perfume.

“Taif roses are a source of cultural inspiration to all Saudis for whom the roses are a way of life and a cultural destination that attracted dignitaries and important figures throughout history,” he added.

He added that the visit of the French ambassador indicates the depth of friendship and love he has for Saudi Arabia. “This visit reflects his knowledge and appreciation for the efforts made to sustain the Taif rose industry, and develop its products and promote them at local and global levels.”

Al-Qathami pointed out that Taif roses were, and still are, an “honorable image” for Taif province, and all the celebrations and festivals held in the past and the accompanying exhibitions contributed in shaping its identity as a cultural hub that helped in strengthening the
ties of communication between the city and those who love and admire it.

Adel Al-Nimri, a rose factory owner in Al-Hada, Taif, said that the prominent and important figures who visit Taif and admire the great efforts “give us the impetus to continue and improve the product to reach the highest standards of
production, and export them abroad after gaining widespread fame.”

He stressed the importance of caring for the Taif rose industry and teaching people about it for future generations, adding that Taif roses are known for their purity and fragrance.


Saudi interior minister greets security personnel for Umrah success

Saudi interior minister greets security personnel for Umrah success
Updated 13 May 2021

Saudi interior minister greets security personnel for Umrah success

Saudi interior minister greets security personnel for Umrah success

RIYADH: Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif on Thursday conveyed the congratulations of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the personnel of the Ministry of Interior and security sectors on the success of security plans for the Umrah season and the advent of Eid Al-Fitr.

Prince Abdul Aziz, who is also the chairman of the Umrah Supreme Committee, expressed thanks to the leadership for the support that enabled the security sectors to perform their duties in this year’s exceptional Umrah season, expressing his pride in the efforts made by security men in the service of Umrah performers and visitors.

Muslims performed Eid Al-Fitr prayer throughout Saudi Arabia on Thursday.

In Makkah, the prayer was performed at the Grand Mosque and led by the Imam of the Grand Mosque Sheikh Saleh bin Abdullah bin Humaid. The prayer was attended by Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal and a number of princes.

In Madinah, the prayer was performed at the Prophet’s Mosque. The prayer was attended by Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman.

The prayer was also performed in various regions and attended by regional governors and senior officials.

The imams who led the prayer congratulated Muslims on Eid Al-Fitr, praying to Allah to accept their fasting, prayers, charity and good deeds.