Russian President Putin hails KSA’s ‘global role’

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Russian President Vladimir Putin attends an interview with Al Arabiya, Sky News Arabia and RT Arabic ahead of his visit to Saudi Arabia, in Sochi, Russia. (Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev/Kremlin via Reuters)
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (L) and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin during a bilateral meeting at the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Buenos Aires, on December 1, 2018. (File/AFP)
Updated 14 October 2019

Russian President Putin hails KSA’s ‘global role’

  • On eve of state visit, Russian president discusses Aramco attacks, Iran and Syria

JEDDAH: As Saudi leaders prepared on Sunday to welcome the Russian president on a state visit to the Kingdom, Vladimir Putin spoke of his personal ties with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the areas of cooperation between the two countries and Saudi Arabia’s key role in the region and the world.
In a TV interview with Arab broadcasters, President Putin condemned last month’s attacks on Saudi oil facilities, and said the attempt to disrupt the global oil market had failed.
“Such actions do not bring any positive results to anybody, including perpetrators,” he told Al Arabiya.
“If someone may have wanted to deal a blow to the oil market, they failed. We need to respond to any attempt to destabilize the market. Russia will certainly continue working with Saudi Arabia and other partners and friends in the Arab world to counter any attempts to wreak havoc in the market.”
Putin said Russia could play a positive role in resolving regional disagreements, because of Moscow’s positive relations with the Arab world, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
“We consider Saudi Arabia a friendly nation,” he said. “I have very good relations with both the king and the crown prince. We have been making good headway practically in all fields.”
On Syria, where Russia and Iran have been key allies of Bashar Assad in the eight-year civil war, the Russian president said they could not reach a positive outcome without Saudi cooperation.
“I would like to emphasize the positive role Saudi Arabia has played in resolving the Syrian crisis,” he said. “We are working with Turkey and Iran to resolve the Syrian conflict, but without Saudi Arabia it would not be possible to come to a good solution.”
On the issue of the 2015 agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear development, Putin was asked if Moscow supported a return to negotiations with Tehran to limit its ballistic missile program.
“Most likely it can and should be discussed,” he said.
“The missile program is one thing and the nuclear program is another thing … there is no need to merge one with the other.”
The Russian president said OPEC+ was an initiative introduced by the crown prince to increase their cooperation in the oil sector, and that he was the one who suggested expanding military collaboration between the two countries.
Saudi Arabia was not just a regional energy player but also a global one, and “we care about our cooperation,” Putin said.
The Russian leader described his visit to the Kingdom as the return trip to King Salman’s visit to Moscow in 2017, and said a number of joint economic projects were in development.
“Our Direct Investment Fund and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia have jointly established a $10 billion platform, and $2 billion has already been invested,” he said.
“Work is underway on other projects, and some promising and interesting projects have already been implemented.
“We are fostering a partnership in the trust-based, sensitive area of military and defense cooperation. I am confident that my visit will help to build up the momentum both in developing bilateral relations and enhancing cooperation in international organizations.”
After visiting Saudi Arabia on Monday, the president will travel to the UAE on Tuesday. Following his interview, political analyst and international relations scholar Hamdan Al-Shehri said Russia was well aware of Saudi Arabia’s international profile, particularly in the energy fields.
“Russia’s interest in this area is very important and requires coordination between the two major countries in order to stabilize the world oil markets,” Al-Shehri said.
“The security and stability of the global energy market lead to global security, it affects everything.”
He also noted that there was steady growth in investment between the two countries, “Putin talked about 15 percent growth last year, around 38 percent this year, and I believe projects may increase to reach technology, nuclear energy and so on.”
Al-Shehri said relations with major powers such as Russia were important for the Kingdom, but these countries’ role in confronting Iran was just as important. Although the Russian president had emphasized the positive role Saudi Arabia had played in resolving the Syrian crisis, Al-Shehri said there was more to be done.
“It is a very important statement, and President Putin has addressed it well. It shows the world the difference between Saudi Arabia and Iran,” he said.

Return of ‘Captain Majid’ announced at Anime Expo in Riyadh

Updated 22 min 25 sec ago

Return of ‘Captain Majid’ announced at Anime Expo in Riyadh

  • Part of Riyadh Season, Anime Expo brings together creative minds for a first-of-its-kind agreement

RIYADH: The Anime Expo in Riyadh —  part of Riyadh Season — already had regional fans excited, being the largest such event to be held so far in the Middle East. But even better news emerged at Thursday’s press conference to launch the event.

Saudi Arabia and Japan have signed an agreement to bring “Captain Tsubasa,” created by Yoichi Takahashi, back to the small screen. The cartoon, known as “Captain Majid” in the Arab world, is an old-school favorite in the Middle East. The anime is expected to air on Dec. 1 on MBC, the CEO of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, Faisal Bafarat, announced.

Riyadh Season is holding the largest Anime Expo in the Middle East, bringing together collaborations between GEA and Captain Tsubasa creator, Yoichi Takahashi, musical collaborations between both Arab and Japanese giants, and more.

Japan’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Tsukasa Uemura, told Arab News: “It’s amazing to see good energy among the young people, ladies and gentlemen of Saudi Arabia.” Uemura was struck by how deep the relationship between Japan and Saudi Arabia was, thanks to anime from the 60s and 70s.

“This relation is now coming to fruition, and I hope that the young Saudi generation won’t only observe but also create, from now, starting a new industry in Saudi Arabia — I see a lot of potential here.”

Arab News met three musical acts who will perform together for the first time on Saturday at the event’s closing ceremony: Lebanese singer Sammy Clark, who performed Arabic versions of anime favorites including “Grendizer” and “Treasure Island” (Takarajima), and Japanese voice actors and singers Isao Sasaki and Ichiro Mizuki.

Clark was excited to meet the two men he dubbed his “twin brothers,” — the original voices behind the animations he has worked on. “I’m honored to be here with them,” he said. “I only traveled to Japan once, in 1987. It’s a beautiful country and their people are some of the kindest in the world.”

Clark explained that he and Sasaki were supposed to sing together at Comic Con in Dubai five years ago, “but it didn’t work out.”

“Today, I’m ecstatic to say that I won’t sing with Sasaki alone but also with Ichiro Mizuki, who sings the original opening song for ‘Mazinger.’ We’ll be performing five songs for fans, and one of the surprises we’ve prepared is that I’ll sing something in Japanese and they’ll sing in Arabic,” Clark said.

He added that he never imagined the theme songs would be so successful and resonate with people for so long. “Generations of fathers have played these songs to their kids, and they all enjoy it so much. We’ve managed to touch thousands through an anime song,” he said.

Mizuki told Arab News that his first time in Saudi Arabia has been amazing so far. “Being in the industry for 50 years, I’ve traveled all over the world, but I consider my first performance in Saudi Arabia to be a big deal, especially as an officially orchestrated event. I feel honored to be here,” he said.

Sasaki echoed his words: “Being a first generation anime singer, I’m not getting any younger, but I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to perform here in Saudi Arabia,” he said.