Iraqi delegation in Riyadh cements ties with Saudi Arabia

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Iraq's Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi attends the opening of the Saudi-Iraqi Business Forum in Riyadh on April 18, 2019. (REUTERS)
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From left, Iraq Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Fuad Hussein, SAMA Governor Ahmed Al-Khulaifi and Trade Bank of Iraq Chairman Faisal Al-Haimus during the bank's branch opening in Riyadh. (AN photo)
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Saudi Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources Khalid Al-Falih meets with Iraqi Oil Minister Thamir Al-Ghadhban. (AN photo)
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Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir meets with Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohammed Ali Al-Hakim. (AN photo)
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Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) CEO Dr. Hisham bin Saad Al-Jadhey with Undersecretary of the Iraqi Ministry of Health Hazem Al-Jumaily. (AN photo)
Updated 19 April 2019

Iraqi delegation in Riyadh cements ties with Saudi Arabia

  • First Iraqi bank branch opened in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: A large Iraqi delegation, featuring government departments and representatives from the private sector, has arrived in Saudi Arabia to take part in a host of events, talks and opening ceremonies to cement ties between the two nations.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi was greeted by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and held high-level talks with both on a number of topics, ranging from bilateral cooperation in defense to shared investment projects. 

He also met with the Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, who congratulated him on the recent defeat of the militant group Daesh by Iraqi and coalition forces.

Abdul Mahdi was also the guest of honor at the opening ceremony of a major exhibition, “Age Old Cities Destroyed by Terrorism,” at the National Museum in Riyadh.

Abdul Mahdi later signed a number of memorandums of understanding (MoUs) between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and briefly joined discussions between his country’s oil ministry and the Kingdom’s minister of commerce and investment, Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi, before leaving Riyadh for an official visit to Jeddah.

Elsewhere, there were a number of bilateral departmental meetings between Iraqi and Saudi government ministers to discuss various areas of mutual interest and cooperation.

Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Ali Al-Hakim met with his Saudi counterpart Adel Al-Jubeir; Dr. Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Sheikh, the Kingdom’s education minister, held talks with Iraq’s Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Dr. Qusay Abdul Wahab Al-Suhail; and there were further meetings between other ministries concerning energy, agriculture, infrastructure, food and health.

The visit also saw important developments in the financial relations between the two states, as Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) became the first Iraqi bank to open a branch in Saudi Arabia after unveiling its first foreign premises in Riyadh on Thursday.

The branch office in Al-Olayya district was officially opened by Fuad Hussein, Iraq’s deputy prime minister. He was joined at the ceremony by Ahmed Al-Khulaifi, the governor of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, and Faisal Al-Haimus, chairman of TBI.

The bank was established shortly after the invasion of Iraq in 2003 by the US-led coalition, whose provisional authorities used it to facilitate stagnant trade and kickstart the economy following the conclusion of initial hostilities and the start of the occupation, coupled with the end of the UN’s 1995 Oil-for-Food Programme. Around 80 percent of TBI is controlled by the Iraqi government.

“This is a hugely significant day for the financial sector of Iraq and the country as a whole,” said Hussein. “This is an important step toward reinforcing our relationship with the Saudi government, and we look forward to advancing bilateral ties between our countries.”

Speaking to Arab News, Al-Haimus said: “This is a very important step, as all trade between any two countries requires financing. Our Riyadh branch will provide the funds and assistance to facilitate that trade, and will increase the present level, currently around $500 million annually, to about $4 billion by next year.”


Preventive protocols issued as Saudi Arabia moves to relax curfew further

Updated 30 May 2020

Preventive protocols issued as Saudi Arabia moves to relax curfew further

RIYADH: As Saudi Arabia moved closer to Phase 2 of the gradual relaxation of coronavirus lockdown rules, the Ministry of Interior announced precautionary measures and preventive protocols for several sectors to follow.

The preventive protocols, prepared by the Ministry of Health,  covers the period from 8 Shawwal to 28 Shawwal 1441 in the Hijri calendar, corresponding to May 31 to June 20, 2020 in the Gregorian calendar.

A ministry official said the protocols are provided for mosques;  the public; petroleum, petrochemical and gas and other industries; malls and retail centers, home delivery service, among others.

The preventive protocols can be found at: https://covid19awareness.sa/archives/5460.

The MOI urged all citizens, expatriates and concerned authorities "to implement these procedures and abide by their provisions in order to preserve the safety of all".

Also on Saturday, the acting minister of economy and planning, Mohammad bin Abdullah Al-Jadaan, said the gradual lifting of the curfew "represents a new stage in the face of the global pandemic crisis and towards a gradual return to economic activities in the Kingdom to its normal levels."
 
"The decisions were taken after continuous coordination between the Ministry of Health and the concerned authorities, relying on a focused plan that seeks to balance between procedures for reopening economic activities and maintaining the stability of health and social conditions," said Jadaan, who is also the Kingdom's minister of finance.

Al-Jadaan highlighted that the government has increased – during the last period through the state’s general budget – spending on urgent and necessary requirements to face the crisis.

It has significantly strengthened the financial allocations for the Health and related services sector.

The government also launched urgent support initiatives to mitigate the impact on the private sector, supporting the economy and to preserve the jobs of citizens in economic establishments, he said in a statement carried by the SPA.