Continuity key for Saudi Arabia as it prepares for G20 summit: T20 Japan chair

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Naoyuki Yoshino. (Photo/Ahmed Fathi)
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Naoyuki Yoshino. (Photo/Ahmed Fathi)
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Updated 20 January 2020

Continuity key for Saudi Arabia as it prepares for G20 summit: T20 Japan chair

  • “It’s very important for Saudi Arabia to be part of the G20, in a sense that you are showing Saudi Arabia to the whole world"

RIYADH: Continuity is important for Saudi Arabia as it prepares for the G20 summit, the dean of the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) said.

The Kingdom last December assumed the presidency of the 2020 G20 summit, making it the first Arab nation to do so, and the summit will be held in Riyadh in November.

Naoyuki Yoshino, from the ADBI, chaired the G20’s “ideas bank” Think20 (T20) during Japan’s G20 presidency in 2019 and spoke about the transfer of knowledge to Saudi Arabia as it prepares for the world’s leading international economic forum.

Each host country selects task forces for the T20 to ensure continuity on policy recommendations.

“It’s important for Saudi Arabia to choose the topics which Saudi Arabia is facing and coordinate with other nations,” he told Arab News. “After we met in November of last year, I reiterated the importance of new topics and the succeeding of topics to ensure continuity. The co-chair of each task force is also very important as they can summarize each topic.

“We cannot exclude various topics but rather include them selectively, that will be the key for the success of the co-chairs. The Saudis have been preparing their task forces since our November 2019 meeting.

“They’ve selected the right people who will be engaged with the right topic. An example would be we in Japan added the aging population and its economic impact task force as it is a topic of concern to us and many Asian countries.

“It’s a lesson for the next chair to learn from, as your country is young and with the change in demographic, the task force is a good topic to look into from both sides,” he added.

Saudi Arabia eases coronavirus lockdown restrictions

Updated 25 min 45 sec ago

Saudi Arabia eases coronavirus lockdown restrictions

  • Curfew to be eased on Sunday, except in Makkah, as domestic travel permitted
  • All curfews in Saudi Arabia to be lifted by June 20

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced the easing of restrictions that has halted much of the activity in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As of Sunday 31, May, the curfew on all areas of the Kingdom will be eased, except Makkah. Movement in cities and within the regions of the country will again be permitted, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

The easing will mean the Kingdom’s 24-hour lockdown is relaxed with a curfew from 3 p.m to 6 a.m until Sunday, after which the hours will change to 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.. Makkah will remain under a full 24-hour lockdown.

On June 21, all curfews in the Kingdom will be lifted and prayers at Makkah’s mosque will be permitted.

Before then, social distancing guidelines must continue to be adhered to and gatherings of more than 50 people will continue to be banned.

Authorities have also allowed the attendance at ministries, government agencies and private sector companies, and the return of their office activities.

Some economic and commercial activities will also be allowed to take place including those at wholesale and retail shops, as well as malls. Cafes will be permitted to operate once more.

However, all job sectors where social distancing rules are harder to achieve such as beauty salons, barbershops, sports and health clubs, recreational centers and cinemas will remain closed.

Umrah pilgrimage and international flights will continue to be suspended until further notice.

The new rules are subject to constant evaluation at the health ministry and can be changed if the situation warrants it.

Earlier, Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah, the health minister, said: “The phases start gradually until we return to normalcy, with its new concept based on social distancing.” 

He added that the precautionary steps taken by the Kingdom early in the outbreak helped to limit the spread of the virus. 

Now, he said, the ministry has developed a plan for the next phase that relies on two main factors: The capacity of the health care system to cope with critical cases, and the expansion of testing to identify new infections as soon as possible.

Reassuring the Saudi nation on Monday, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said: “The bad conditions will pass, God willing, and we are heading toward the good, God willing.” 

The Kingdom recorded 2,235 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, taking the total to 74,795, and the death toll rose by nine to 399. Worldwide the virus has infected more than 5.5 million people and killed nearly 350,000.