ThePlace: Al-Qandal Forest located in Saudi Arabia’s Farasan Islands

Photo/Saudi Tourism
Updated 07 September 2019

ThePlace: Al-Qandal Forest located in Saudi Arabia’s Farasan Islands

  • The gorgeous green scenery resembles an oil painting

Al-Qandal Forest The beautiful Farasan Islands are renowned for their rich flora and fauna — and particularly for their marine life. The islands’ unspoiled coral reefs are a popular spot with divers, but visitors to the nature reserve can also see plenty of aquatic life without entering the water.
Al-Qandal — one of the northern islands — is home to Al-Qandal Forest, which is rich in mangrove trees and is an ideal place for hiking thanks to its extensive network of walkways and bays. The gorgeous green scenery resembles an oil painting.
In April and May, the Hareed (parrotfish) festival takes place, which celebrates the annual arrival of the parrotfish to the Farasan Islands and honors the vital role of the fish in the lives of the local people. Parrotfish spend up to 90 percent of their time eating algae off coral reefs, which cleans the reefs and helps the corals stay healthy.
This photograph was taken by Mohammed Al-Aalim as part of the Colors of Saudi competition.

Pakistan ‘wants to play its role’ for peace in Middle East – FO

Updated 12 January 2020

Pakistan ‘wants to play its role’ for peace in Middle East – FO

  • Work on foreign minister’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Iran and the United States being done
  • Pakistan’s strong relations with regional countries has made it an important player

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated on Thursday that the country was going to play its role in restoring peace in the Middle East by working with other international stakeholders in the region.

“Pakistan welcomes de-escalation and wants to play its role in ensuring peace and stability in the region. We have seen that indication in United States President [Donald] Trump’s speech and are evaluating its contours,” the country’s foreign office spokesperson, Aisha Farooqui, said in her weekly media briefing in Islamabad on Thursday.

She said that Pakistan’s geographical position, along with its strong relations with regional countries and the United States, had made it a significant player in the Middle East.

“Pakistan has maintained that war is not the solution to any issue and made it clear that it will not become part of any regional conflict,” she said.

The spokesperson noted that Islamabad had enhanced its efforts to defuse tensions in the region and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi had contacted his counterparts in Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and many other important states in this connection.

“All the international players, including Saudi Arabia, have said that the region cannot afford another war and asked for restraint from both parties [the US and Iran]. It’s a collective objective of all countries to ensure peace and stability in the Middle East,” she said.

Commenting on the foreign minister’s upcoming visit to Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the US, she said that “work on these tours has already started and they will take place as soon as dates are finalized with the respective countries.”

“We are very mindful for our brotherly and friendly relations with Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other regional countries. Pakistan and the US also enjoy longstanding relations and have contacts with each other through multiple forums including political and military leadership,” Farooqui said, adding that the foreign office had established a task force to continuously monitor the situation in the Middle East and inform the government about it along with its suggestions on a daily basis.

The spokesperson expressed hope that recent developments in the Middle East would not affect the ongoing Afghan peace process.

“Pakistan hopes that progress made on Afghan peace process will not come to a halt and the world community will not lose its focus as a result of the ongoing tensions in the Middle East,” she said.

Asked about the safety of Pakistani nationals in Iraq, she said the country’s embassy in Baghdad was on the alert to deal with any emergency situation.

“We are concerned about the safety of Pakistani citizens in Iraq and have issued an advisory in this regard. We have also instructed our mission in Baghdad to remain vigilant to deal with any emergency,” Farooqui said.