Saudi ties ‘important for UK’ says minister

Andrew Murrison (R), Minister of State at the Department for International Development and Minister for the Middle East at the Foreign Office speaking to Arab News reporter Noor Nugali . (Photo: AN/Basheer Saleh)
Updated 30 August 2019

Saudi ties ‘important for UK’ says minister

  • The minister said the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the UK goes back many years
  • He was visiting the Kingdom to announce the opening of applications for the annual awards for Saudi alumni of British academic institutions

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s ties with the UK have always been significant and will remain so under new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a senior British government minister told Arab News on Wednesday.

“I would describe the relationship as warm, cordial and positive,” said Andrew Murrison, Minister of State at the Department for International Development and Minister for the Middle East at the Foreign Office.

“Saudi Arabia is extremely important to the UK and we have ties that have gone back for many, many years, and I am confident that that will continue in the course of the new government.”

Amid threats from Iran to commercial shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, the new British government has pledged naval support to a US-led maritime task force to protect vessels in the Arabian Gulf.

“Our ambition is to always deescalate and to turn down the temperature, and that’s been our narrative throughout,” Murrison said. “So I would want there to be a non-military solution to this, and that is what I would urge on the various parties.”

Murrison was in Riyadh for talks with Saudi officials, and a meeting with British Ambassador Simon Collis to announce the opening of applications for the annual awards for Saudi alumni of British academic institutions.

He particularly welcomed his meeting with his Saudi opposite number Adel Al-Jubeir, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. “We discussed a whole range of topics. We had a two-hour meeting and I’m extremely grateful to the minister for spending so long with us. We undertook to meet again very soon.”


Saudi Arabia’s AlUla provides a perfect ‘Corner of the Earth’ for Jamiroquai to shine

Updated 25 January 2020

Saudi Arabia’s AlUla provides a perfect ‘Corner of the Earth’ for Jamiroquai to shine

ALULA: British band Jamiroquai thrilled a delighted audience at Maraya Concert Hall in Saudi Arabia on Friday night during a show packed with hits.

In a first for a venue more used to hosting opera and classical concerts, the British funk/acid jazz outfit had fans dancing along to the music.

The show, at the distinctive, mirror-covered concert hall in historic AlUla, was part of the second Winter at Tantora festival. It opened with “Shake It On,” followed by the hit singles “Little L,” “Alright,” and “Space Cowboy.” By this time the crowd was well and truly warmed up, and “Use the Force” got them on their feet.

“The song seemed to resonate with everyone” Jay Kay told Arab News in an exclusive interview after the show.

During the gig, Kay dedicated the 2002 song “Corner of the Earth” to AlUla, which he described as a “magical and wonderful place, which is absolutely stunning.” The opportunity to perform there was “an honor and privilege” he added. He also thanked “Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman for his vision, and Prince Badr for making this happen and the great hospitality.”

After a further selection of singles and album tracks, the show ended on a high with a quartet of hits — “Cosmic Girl,” “Virtual Insanity,” “Canned Heat” and “Lovefoolosophy.”

Kay praised the Maraya Concert Hall as “a brilliant place to play.” He admitted that initially he was a little worried when he saw it because he was under the impression it would be an outdoor venue. However, any concerns he had were gone by the time the first sound check was done.

“I was transported into a completely different world; the acoustics were unbelievable, like being in a German concert hall,” he said. “It is obviously very well thought out and that’s what makes it so good. The sound was fabulous — I never looked at my sound guy once.”

Jamiroquai’s music videos often feature Kay in super cars, of which he owns many, and he revealed that he would love to shoot such a promo in AlUla.

“In reality, I’m desperate to get in one of the dune buggies, and would kill to have a (Ariel) Nomad and have a go in one in AlUla, where it’s supposed to be driven, for a day or five and dune bash, which is such a rare thing for us in England,” he said.

The singer also said he wants to bring his family to AlUla, which has become a hub for culture and creativity in Saudi Arabia.

“I would like to come out with my family and my youngest, who is called Talula, so hopefully we can have Talula come to AlUla, which would be wonderful,” said Kay.

He added that he was looking forward to exploring the area on Saturday, before leaving the country, but added: “I’m sure you can never have enough time to see everything there is to see.”