Paving the way for a meaningful strategic Indonesia-Saudi partnership

Paving the way for a meaningful strategic Indonesia-Saudi partnership
President Joko Widodo delivers his State of The Nation address in Jakarta. (AP)
Updated 18 August 2019

Paving the way for a meaningful strategic Indonesia-Saudi partnership

Paving the way for a meaningful strategic Indonesia-Saudi partnership
  • For most Indonesians, Saudi Arabia is a spiritual home.

Long before the historical visit of King Salman, Saudi Arabia was among the first countries in the world that acknowledged the independence of Indonesia. The following visit of the first President of Indonesia to the Kingdom and of King Faizal bin Abdul Aziz to Indonesia in 1970 signified this long-established relationship.

For most Indonesians, Saudi Arabia is a spiritual home where the Ka’bah and the Masjid Nabawi are located. Roughly 100,000 Indonesians arrive in the Kingdom every month, roaming around Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah visiting holy sites, not to mention the 230,000 annual Hajj visitors.

It is an annual exchange dating well beyond the formation of the two modern nations.

For over a millennia, there have been ties between Arab traders and people in Nusantara, the archipelago now called Indonesia, with the flow of people as constant as the flow of trade and culture.

Indonesia has one of the 10 largest global diasporas. Out of approximately 23 million Indonesians living abroad, with 400,000 currently residing in the Kingdom. Many Indonesians living in the country have gone on to take Saudi citizenship, as characterized by various family names hinting at Indonesian origins, such as Al-Banten, Al-Palemban, Al-Manduri, and Al-Banjari. 

The huge number of Indonesian citizens and descendants in Saudi Arabia have strengthened relations between the two countries. Language, another bridge to cooperation and progress, is also highly valued by the two states. Since 2006, the Consulate General of Indonesia in Jeddah has initiated the Bahasa Indonesia Untuk Penutur Asing program (BIPA – Indonesian Language for Foreigners). So far, over a thousand Saudis have participated in it.  

In tourism, the visit of King Salman to Indonesia in March 2017 left a very important imprint. 

The so-called “King Salman Route,” the places where King Salman visited in Indonesia, has entered the lexicon of tourist operators, such is its popularity with Saudi and other foreign guests.

Spreading the concept of moderate Islam, as coined by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and the ideas of Islam Wasatiyyah in Indonesia, is also an area of shared objectives. Indonesia believes in “the Middle Way of Islam” of moderation in the practice of the Islamic faith, as a response to the spread of extremism.

Considering the vital role of the media in selecting, organizing and emphasizing the news, and how the media influences what we think about ourselves and other nations, I would like to propose a reciprocal visit between Indonesian and Saudi media outlets. Both parties can learn extensively from each other, and hopefully can bring something positive to

By 2030, Indonesia could have the world’s 7th largest economy according to the McKinsey report, and the 4th  most powerful economy in the world by 2050, according to  PricewaterhouseCooper. The door is always open to the Saudi people to set their footprints down here, and seize the business opportunities offered by Indonesia.  The same invitation also goes to Indonesian entrepreneurs to take the opportunity provided by the Kingdom. 

Along with the tremendous effort in diversifying its economy through Saudi Vision 2030, the Kingdom reinforces its activities to achieve a vibrant society, a thriving economy, and an ambitious nation.

I believe it now the time for us to cherish our strategic partnership.


2021 Red Sea International Film Festival announced

2021 Red Sea International Film Festival announced
Updated 3 min 33 sec ago

2021 Red Sea International Film Festival announced

2021 Red Sea International Film Festival announced
  • The festival is set to be launched in Al-Balad, Jeddah’s historic downtown

JEDDAH: Under the theme of “Metamorphosis,” the first edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival (RSFF) will take place from Nov. 11 to 20.

The festival is set to be launched in Al-Balad, Jeddah’s historic downtown, to celebrate cinema as a force for positive change. It will reflect on the impact of cinema’s triumphant return to Saudi Arabia since 2019, the blossoming film culture, and explore how cinema can create an interface connecting a new, outward-looking Saudi and the world.

The festival will consider how cinema has successfully adapted from analog to digital and now to new platforms delivering content and focus on the changing role of women.

The RSFF has also announced a team of Saudi and international curators, film specialists, and industry veterans, including the RSFF’s Managing Director Shivani Pandya and Director of Arab Programs & Film Classics Antoine Khalife, both formerly of the Dubai International Film Festival.

Critic Kaleem Aftab has joined the RSFF as director of international programming while Jumana Zahid leads the Red Sea Lodge, the festival’s incubator for Saudi and Arab filmmakers.

RSFF’s Souk Manager Zain Zedan is leading the festival’s industry platform for distributors and sales agents. The senior team, which has a 50/50 gender split, is completed by Ibrahim Modir, head of shared services.

The event looks to life beyond the coronavirus pandemic that postponed the festival’s debut in March 2020 and will bring together local film lovers, filmmakers, and international industry leaders. November’s event will be the largest annual celebration of cinema in the region.
 


Saudi FM receives phone call from US secretary of state  

Saudi FM receives phone call from US secretary of state  
Updated 13 min 26 sec ago

Saudi FM receives phone call from US secretary of state  

Saudi FM receives phone call from US secretary of state  
  • Prince Faisal bin Farhan and Antony Blinken discussed bilateral relations during the phone call

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister received a phone call from the US Secretary of State on Thursday, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. 

During the call, Prince Faisal bin Farhan and Antony Blinken discussed bilateral relations and the strategic partnership between the two countries.

They also reviewed aspects of cooperation on regional and international challenges.


Saudi women welcome World Bank recognition of advances in empowerment

Saudi women welcome World Bank recognition of advances in empowerment
Updated 25 February 2021

Saudi women welcome World Bank recognition of advances in empowerment

Saudi women welcome World Bank recognition of advances in empowerment
  • Annual Women, Business and the Law report ranks Kingdom in the top tier among 190 nations
  • Saudi Arabia scored 80 out of 100

RIYADH: The findings of a World Bank report about recent advances in the economic inclusion and empowerment of females in Saudi Arabia came as little surprise to the many women in the country already thriving in a wide range of jobs.
The Kingdom once again made significant progress compared with the previous year and ranks favorably alongside many advanced economies.
Women in the Kingdom who are benefiting from recent radical reforms designed to boost their participation in the workplace warmly welcomed the recognition of the country’s efforts by the World Bank’s annual Women, Business and the Law report, which this year ranked Saudi Arabia in its top tier.
“Legal reforms for women are a big part of the 2030 (Saudi) Vision and when you look at these reforms from an economic perspective, women now are moving freely, working freely, and they are now in fact likely to join the workforce more easily than before,” Kholood Khaled Althekri, a public relations manager with Pamas Group in Riyadh, told Arab News.
“These reforms will help strengthen the Kingdom’s economy for sure.”
The report places Saudi Arabia in the top tier of the 190 ranked nations with a score of 80 out of 100, compared with 70.6 last year. In allocating a score, researchers consider eight main factors: mobility, workplace, pay, entrepreneurship, pension, marriage, parenthood and assets. The Kingdom received full marks for the first five of these.
Empowering women is one of the key objectives of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 reforms plan, which aims to ensure they flourish and become active leaders and innovators who can contribute fully to the growth of the economy.
“In the outlined plans of Vision 2030 to develop the economy, the same vision will provide opportunities for everyone,” Althekri said. “Saudi women are the greatest assets to these plans, with more than half of university graduates now females.”
Wafa Alghamdi, director of life improvements with Mukatafah advocacy group in Riyadh, told Arab News that women in Saudi Arabia not only now have equal economic opportunities but are increasingly playing a significant role in the financial development of the country.
“Our religion and culture gives women a special place,” she said. “Women in our society are treated and considered as an asset to their households and families — and now as an asset to our country.
“We have something called ‘feminization,’ which is the new initiative by the government to increase the participation of women in work and business to encourage them and drive the force of the economy to the fullest.”
Alghamdi said that the support of Vision 2030 has helped her make strides in her career after she entered the hospitality industry and advanced through “hard work, dedication and government support” to reach the position of head of department in a relatively short time.
“I wouldn’t have been able to make it this far without the guidance of Allah, first, and our beloved country’s push and support to be on top,” she added.
Saudi Arabia has not only introduced legal reforms to promote female empowerment but also funded projects and initiatives in a number of sectors, including tourism, investment and culture, that have created opportunities for women. Along with these initiatives, government sectors are committed to guaranteeing and protecting women’s rights in the workplace. The Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, for example, has worked to reduce gender-based discrimination and find ways to create safe work environments that foster growth and innovation.
Women have also played their part in creating legislation, opening businesses, and taking a leading role in private-sector investment. In addition, Saudi Arabia now has its first female professional racing driver, award-winning female film producers and female judges.
It has been less than five years since Vision 2030 was announced, but already many women have become leaders in the Saudi economy, own successful businesses, manage departments in a variety of businesses, and have even attained the rank of sergeant in the military.
The World Bank report also noted Saudi initiatives that have eliminated barriers to women entering industrial jobs such as “mining, construction, manufacturing and the water sector, setting men and women on equal terms in choice of employment opportunities.”
Maha S. Albalawi, a legal counselor with Pamas Group told Arab News: “The year 2020 is considered one of the most important years in the history of Saudi women. The decisions of (the Kingdom) to empower women in a number of sectors were remarkable and very important.
“This development of empowering Saudi women took place on several levels and fields, including economically and in the field of entrepreneurship, so we find a number of Saudi businesswomen whose names are (now known) locally and internationally.”
Albalawi said legal reforms ensure the rights of women will be protected and have resulted in funding for legal action in marital disputes.
“Several court rulings have also been issued in favor of Saudi women, such as the law on protection from violence, and for Saudi women to become judges for the first time in the history of the Kingdom,” she added.
All of the women Arab News spoke with said they have had personal experience of how the changes being implemented across the Kingdom have improved their lives and career prospects.
“I still remember when I first entered the private sector, as a coordinator, and I was afraid that I could not be as good as my male colleagues,” said Alghamdi.
“As time passed I discovered that I was even better — and now I am director of life improvements, working with a group of amazing ladies who are also heads of their departments and giving their best for our community to grow.”


Saudi Arabia announces 5 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 5 more COVID-19 deaths
Updated 25 February 2021

Saudi Arabia announces 5 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 5 more COVID-19 deaths
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 367,323
  • A total of 6,480 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

LONDON: Saudi Arabia announced five deaths from COVID-19 and 356 new infections on Thursday.
Of the new cases, 180 were recorded in Riyadh, 80 in the Eastern Province, 37 in Makkah, eight in Asir, six in Madinah, four in Hail, three in Najran and two in Jazan.
The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 367,323 after 308 more patients recovered from the virus.
A total of 6,480 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.


DiplomaticQuarter: Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan discuss strengthening ties

DiplomaticQuarter: Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan discuss strengthening ties
Updated 25 February 2021

DiplomaticQuarter: Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan discuss strengthening ties

DiplomaticQuarter: Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan discuss strengthening ties

RIYADH: Azerbaijan’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Shahin Abdullayev recently held a meeting with the joint Saudi-Azerbaijani Parliamentary Friendship Committee of the Shoura Council in Riyadh, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The meeting was held under the co-chairmanship of Dr. Faiz Al-Shehri, member of the Shoura Council and head of the committee, and examined various ways to strengthen cooperation between the two countries in various fields, especially at the level of parliamentary relations between the Shoura Council and the Azerbaijani parliament.
Abdullayev wished the council success in its new session and expressed his appreciation for the Kingdom’s policies to enhance security, peace and stability in the Gulf region and beyond.
Al-Shehri ran through the Shoura Council’s organizational structure, and highlighted the importance of the diplomatic role played by parliamentary friendship committees.
Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan celebrated the 25th anniversary of their diplomatic relations in February 2017.
The then-Azeri Ambassador in Riyadh Rasim Rzayev said at the time: “Azerbaijan and the Kingdom, two brotherly Muslim countries, have unique commonalities of a historical, religious and political nature.”