‘All eyes on the Kingdom’ as Saudi Arabia takes helm of G20

Japan’s Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi (R) shakes hands with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan to mark the handover to Saudi Arabia as future hosts, at the end of the third plenary session of the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in Nagoya on Nov. 23, 2019. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 01 January 2020

‘All eyes on the Kingdom’ as Saudi Arabia takes helm of G20

  • KSA leads world’s most powerful group
  • The Kingdom takes over the role from Japan

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Sunday assumed the presidency of the G20, the world’s most economically powerful group of nations.

The Kingdom takes over the role from Japan, and will direct the G20’s work for the next year. As chairman, King Salman will host the group’s 2020 summit in Riyadh over two days next November.

The Saudi presidency will focus on three aims: Empowering people, by creating the conditions in which everyone — especially women and young people— can live, work and thrive; safeguarding the planet, by fostering collective efforts on food and water security, climate, energy, and the environment; and long-term strategies to share the benefits of innovation and technological advancement.

“The Saudi G20 presidency is committed to continuing the work from Osaka and promoting multilateral consensus,” said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

“Working with our G20 partners, we will strive to deliver concrete actions and realize opportunities to enable us to face the challenges of the future.

“In hosting the G20, the Kingdom will have an important role to play by sharing the perspective of the Middle East and North Africa region. We believe this will be a unique opportunity to shape consensus on international issues as we welcome the world to the Kingdom.”

HIGHLIGHTS

Saudi Arabia will guide work of the G20 under the theme “Realizing opportunities of the 21st century for all” and will focus on three aims:

• Empowering people

• Safeguarding the planet

• Shaping new frontiers

For the next year, “all eyes will be on Saudi Arabia,” political analyst Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri told Arab News.

“We know Saudi Arabia’s strength is both economic and diplomatic, and this will be the time to showcase it to the world,” he said.

Other countries realized that Saudi Arabia’s strength lay in oil, but it was charting a different course through Vision 2030 with a future focused on the non-oil economy, Al-Shehri said.

He pointed out the strategic significance of Saudi Arabia’s location, connecting three continents and linked to crucial maritime straits at Bab Al-Mandab, Hormuz and the Suez Canal. These shipping lanes were vital for international trade, Al-Shehri said, and Saudi Arabia protected them not just for itself and the region, but the whole world.

The G20 presidency was “a chance for the world to see the significance of our country and what it has to offer. It is a lively nation,” he said.


Home alone: Saudis and expats try to beat the holiday blues

Updated 26 May 2020

Home alone: Saudis and expats try to beat the holiday blues

  • People celebrating Eid alone or abroad find ways to stay positive

JEDDAH: For different reasons many people living in the Kingdom have found themselves alone for the holidays due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, their spirits dampened as they are forced to stay home alone, away from loved ones.

As the pandemic enters its third month in Saudi Arabia, flights have not yet resumed, strict social distancing and safety measures are still in place and curfews have been reimposed to curb the spread of the virus during the Eid holidays.

Many families are stranded in cities across the Kingdom, while Saudis studying and working abroad are either stuck or have chosen to spend summer where they are out of fear they will not be able to return and start their new semesters.

Some people were able to move in with their families and quarantine together, while others were deprived of that chance.

A number of Saudi nationals, including students, have been repatriated in the past couple of weeks while others are still waiting for their turn.

Yousef Al-Ayesh, a 21-year-old senior student at Arizona State University, has been at home since late March as a precautionary measure.

He said that Eid with his family in Jeddah was one event that everyone looked forward to all year long. Under normal circumstances the first three days of Eid would be filled with events — family dinners at night and beach excursions during the day. Although he would be sleep-deprived, he would still make the most of the little time he spent with his family due to his studies.

“With all that’s going on, it doesn’t even feel like it’s Eid,” he told Arab News. 

“It most probably would have been different if I was back in Saudi Arabia but I still wouldn’t have been able to celebrate it the same way. It’s not that bad here (in the US) now since restaurants have reopened and my friends and I have the outdoors to enjoy, have a barbecue, or just hang out. I would have felt worse if I was alone. Ramadan was already odd enough, I don’t think I would have been OK if it were the case without them.”

Although his family lives 8,000 miles away he did not feel alone as his group of friends decided to celebrate together, even without the perks of new clothes and eidiyas from aunts and uncles.

It’s an exceptional year for us and one that is teaching us a lesson on various levels, but we must adapt either way.

Fareed Abdullah Fareed

Al-Ayesh hoped to be repatriated to the Kingdom soon and spend some time with his family after his mandatory quarantine.

Fareed Abdullah Fareed, a 29-year-old expat working and living in Riyadh, said this year’s Eid was tough without his family.

Although he is used to living alone because of his job, Eid was the one occasion he looked forward to the most every year because he got to travel to Cairo and be with his family.

“My family moved from Jeddah to Cairo about four or five years ago and Eid is a significant occasion in the family, Eid Al-Fitr is significantly more special than Eid Al-Adha even,” he told Arab News. “I look forward to traveling to see them every year since moving to Riyadh but wasn’t able to with the lockdown, so we all got together on FaceTime video call and spent the whole day speaking to family members.”

Like many expats, Fareed has spent the past months at home and said it was hard for him and his family but that communication had made the ordeal slightly easier.

“It’s an exceptional year for us and one that is teaching us a lesson on various levels, but we must adapt either way,” he added.