Saudi Arabia reaffirms support for UN plan to protect holy sites

Saudi official Faisal Al-Haqbani speaks at the UN in New York. (SPA)
Updated 13 June 2019

Saudi Arabia reaffirms support for UN plan to protect holy sites

  • ‘Personal freedom does not justify aggression against human values’

NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia reaffirmed its support for the initiative of the high representative for the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), Miguel Moratinos, to safeguard religious sites.

The Kingdom said that attacks on places of worship and the encroachment on these places is a terrorist act that requires to be addressed.

This support was reaffirmed during a speech by the Faisal Al-Haqbani, the special political and decolonization committee’s official from the Kingdom’s permanent delegation to the UN, in a meeting of the UNAOC at the UN headquarters in New York.

Attacks on places of worship are terrorist acts that must be combatted, said Al-Haqbani, who thanked Moratinos and the UNAOC for holding the meeting.

Many ongoing conflicts broke out due to religious, linguistic or ethnic differences, Al-Haqbani added. 

He stressed that the increasing attacks on places of worship and the encroachment on these places are terrorist acts. These practices and acts that fuel terrorism and spread ideas of hatred and practices of injustice and civilizational clash must be confronted by all.

Saudi Arabia serves the Two Holy Mosques in Makkah and Madinah and receives millions of worshippers, making it a leader in managing huge crowds in small areas, he said.

The initiative of Moratinos promotes love, peace and security, and confronts all those who violate holy sites, Al-Haqbani said, proposing the criminalization of attacks on places of worship.

He affirmed that the Kingdom supports the initiative of the high representative and is ready to provide all the support in this field.

He stressed that personal freedom does not justify aggression against human values, nor the destruction of social systems.


Saudi tourism megaproject aims to turn the Red Sea green

Updated 20 October 2019

Saudi tourism megaproject aims to turn the Red Sea green

  • Development will protect endangered hawksbill turtle, while coral research could help save the Great Barrier Reef

RIYADH: Key ecological targets are driving Saudi Arabia’s Red Sea tourism megaproject, its leader has told Arab News.

The development will not only protect the habitat of the endangered hawksbill turtle, but could also save coral reefs that are dying elsewhere in the world, said Red Sea Development Company Chief Executive John Pagano.

The project is taking shape in a 28,000 square kilometer region of lagoons, archipelagos, canyons and volcanic geology between the small towns of Al-Wajh and Umluj on the Kingdom’s west coast.

One island, Al-Waqqadi, looked like the perfect tourism destination, but was discovered to be a breeding ground for the hawksbill. “In the end, we said we’re not going to develop it. It shows you can balance development and conservation,” Pagano said.

Scientists are also working to explain why the area’s coral reef system — fourth-largest in the world —  is thriving when others around the world are endangered.

“To the extent we solve that mystery, the ambition would be to export that to the rest of the world,” Pagano said. “Can we help save the Great Barrier Reef or the Caribbean coral that has been severely damaged?”

 

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