King Salman orders $10m payment to WHO to aid fight against coronavirus

King Salman orders $10m payment to WHO to aid fight against coronavirus
King Salman announced the donation to the WHO on Monday. (Bandar Al-Jaloud/ Saudi Royal Palace / AFP)
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Updated 10 March 2020

King Salman orders $10m payment to WHO to aid fight against coronavirus

King Salman orders $10m payment to WHO to aid fight against coronavirus
  • WHO welcome donation by King Salman as fight against coronavirus continues
  • Four new cases of coronavirus identified in the Kingdom as schools and colleges close

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman issued on Monday a directive ordering the donation of $10 million to support the World Health Organisation’s  (WHO) efforts to fight coronavirus.

Saudi authorities also on Monday said nine new coronavirus cases had been identified, adding that it was suspending travel by air and sea between the Kingdom and 14 countries to prevent the spread of the disease.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the World Health Organization (WHO) are working together to combat novel coronavirus (COVID-19),” a joint statement read.

“In support of this effort, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has provided $10 million to the World Health Organization for the implementation of urgent measures to minimize the spread of the disease and to support countries with vulnerable health infrastructures.”

And Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus of WHO said the organization “greatly appreciates this generous humanitarian gesture from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, which will contribute significantly to efforts to safeguard global health.”

The Ministry of Health said the new cases were four Saudi nationals, two Bahrainis, an American and an Egyptian.

Meanwhile it was also announced on Monday that people who failed to declare correct health-related information at entry points would face fines of up to $133,000.

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Earlier state news agency SPA reported that the authorities were suspending travel for Saudi citizens and foreign residents to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Italy and South Korea.

Oman, France, Germany and Spain were added later on Monday.

People travelling from those countries or anyone who has been there in the past 14 days would also be temporarily banned from entering the Kingdom.

The discovery of the four new cases brings the total number of those confirmed to have the virus in the Kingdom to 15.

Previously on Sunday, the health ministry said four cases had been confirmed in Qatif, raising the total to 11 cases.

A statement by the Saudi health ministry said the first case was a Saudi citizen, related to a previous case in Qatif. The patient is now isolated in hospital.

Two of the other patients are Bahraini women who had traveled from Iraq on their way to Bahrain. They were also isolated in a hospital in Qatif.

The fourth case was a US national returning to the Kingdom after traveling to the Philippines and Italy. That patient was sent to an isolation unit in a hospital in Riyadh.

Last week, the Kingdom stopped the entry into the Kingdom of travelers by land transportation from Bahrain, the UAE and Kuwait.

Only commercial vehicles are allowed. People traveling into the Kingdom from these countries were told to board flights only through the three major airports in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam where they can be checked by health authorities.

In Riyadh the Riyadh Boulevard and Winter Wonderland were closed this week due to increased concerns over the spread of coronavirus.

And the Saudi Ministry of Education said Sunday that schools and universities would be closed from Monday as part of “preventive and precautionary” measures recommended by health authorities.

The decision covers all educational institutions - public and private - and technical and vocational training institutions.

Also suspended from Monday are all educational and Quranic activities at mosques. 

The Ministry of Interior said Sunday that it would limit of movement top and from the governorate of Qatif, to prevent the virus from spreading.

The initial 11 cases of coronavirus in the Kingdom were all residents in Qatif, located in the Eastern Province. Some of them were said to have travelled to Iran, one of the worst hit countries by coronavirus.


Saudi Arabia confirms 12 COVID-19 deaths, 1,252 new infections

Saudi Arabia confirms 12 COVID-19 deaths, 1,252 new infections
Updated 39 min 21 sec ago

Saudi Arabia confirms 12 COVID-19 deaths, 1,252 new infections

Saudi Arabia confirms 12 COVID-19 deaths, 1,252 new infections
  • The Kingdom said 1,386 patients recovered in past 24 hours
  • 5 mosques reopened in 4 regions after being sterilized after 5 people tested positive for COVID-19

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia confirmed 12 new COVID-19 related deaths on Monday, raising the total number of fatalities to 8,179.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 1,252 new cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 519,395 people have now contracted the disease. 
Of the total number of cases, 10,799 remain active and 1,424 in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in Makkah with 316, followed by the capital Riyadh with 265, the Eastern Province with 169, Asir recorded 145, and Qassim confirmed 81 cases.
The health ministry also announced that 1,299 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 500,428.

The ministry renewed its call on the public to register to receive the vaccine, and adhere to the measures and abide by instructions.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Commerce said it carried out 2,310 field tours in the Madinah region during the Eid Al-Adha holiday to monitor that commercial establishments were adhering to precautionary measures.
During the inspections, which included food stores, commercial complexes, gas stations, and gold and precious metals stores, 39 violations were recorded, and authorities seized 39,072 food products, and 6,570 products that violated the Saudi standard specifications. Regular procedures and penalties were imposed on violating facilities. 
The Ministry of Islamic Affairs reopened five mosques in four regions after temporarily evacuating and sterilizing them after five people tested positive for coronavirus, bringing the total number of mosques closed and reopened after being sterilized to 1,898 within 170 days.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 195 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 4.17 million.


Sterilization efforts intensify at Makkah’s Grand Mosque as Umrah pilgrims arrive

Sterilization efforts intensify at Makkah’s Grand Mosque as Umrah pilgrims arrive
Updated 26 July 2021

Sterilization efforts intensify at Makkah’s Grand Mosque as Umrah pilgrims arrive

Sterilization efforts intensify at Makkah’s Grand Mosque as Umrah pilgrims arrive
  • Foreign pilgrims will be able to perform Umrah with the start of the new Islamic year which is expected to fall on August 9

RIYADH: Sterilization at the Grand Mosque is being intensified as the holy site begins to receive Umrah pilgrims after the completion of Hajj 2021.
Procedures for regulating entry and exit, the allocation of specific lanes for people with special needs and the distribution of Zamzam water bottles to prayer areas, courtyards and tawaf areas are also in place to ensure the safety and comfort of pilgrims.
Foreign pilgrims will be able to perform Umrah with the start of the new Islamic year which is expected to fall on August 9, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Hajj for Hajj and Umrah Services Hesham Saeed told Al-Ekhbariya news channel.


Saudi navy unveils latest warship Jazan in Spain

Saudi and Spanish officials attend the unveiling of the latest Avante 2200 corvette for the Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) at the Navantia shipyard in Spain on July 24, 2021. (SPA)
Saudi and Spanish officials attend the unveiling of the latest Avante 2200 corvette for the Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) at the Navantia shipyard in Spain on July 24, 2021. (SPA)
Updated 26 July 2021

Saudi navy unveils latest warship Jazan in Spain

Saudi and Spanish officials attend the unveiling of the latest Avante 2200 corvette for the Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) at the Navantia shipyard in Spain on July 24, 2021. (SPA)
  • The Avante 2200 corvette is the fourth of its type being built in a joint venture between Saudi Arabian Military Industries and Spain's Navantia

MADRID: The Royal Saudi Naval Forces (RSNF) recently celebrated the launch of the Avante 2200 corvette, which is the fourth warship of its type within the Sarwat project.

The ship, named Jazan, was unveiled by the Spanish shipbuilder as part of its ceremonial launching held at the shipyard of the Navantia Naval Industries Co., Spain.

The corvettes are being built in a joint venture between Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI), and Navantia S.A., named SAMI Navantia Naval Industries.

They will be delivered in 2024, a year later than initially planned, and will feature special combat and fire control systems and integrated communications among other technologies.

The launch event was attended by the Saudi ambassador to Spain, Azzam bin Abdulkarim Al-Qain; the vice president of SAMI for corporate communication, support services and information technology, Wael bin Mohammed Al-Sarhan; as well as other senior officials from RSNF, Spanish Navy and SAMI Navantia Naval Industries.

Saudi ambassador to Spain, Azzam bin Abdulkarim Al-Qain, meets with officials of the SAMI Navantia Naval Industries in Spain on July 24, 2021. (SPA)

The commander of the RSNF, Lt. Gen. Adm. Fahd bin Abdullah Al-Ghufaili, said: “The Sarawat project will contribute to raising the level of readiness of the RSNF, enhancing maritime security in the region and protecting the vital strategic interests of the Kingdom. In addition, the project ships are an important addition to the capabilities of the RSNF in protecting the Kingdom’s maritime interests and localizing advanced military industries technically.”

The Sarawat project warships feature the latest combat systems to deal with all air threats, surface and subsurface, as well as being equipped for electronic wars. They have more capabilities than many of the world’s navies, and are a further addition to the capabilities of the RSNF in protecting the nation’s maritime security.

The project also includes training services for crews, training simulators, logistics, and long-term after-sales technical and logistical support.


Umrah companies gear up to receive foreign pilgrims

Following the temporary closure of Umrah due to the emergence of the pandemic, worshippers were allowed to perform the Umrah rituals in early October. (AFP/File)
Following the temporary closure of Umrah due to the emergence of the pandemic, worshippers were allowed to perform the Umrah rituals in early October. (AFP/File)
Updated 26 July 2021

Umrah companies gear up to receive foreign pilgrims

Following the temporary closure of Umrah due to the emergence of the pandemic, worshippers were allowed to perform the Umrah rituals in early October. (AFP/File)
  • Industry workers could be trained to operate under pandemic conditions, says official

MAKKAH: Hundreds of companies are gearing up to receive fully immunized foreign pilgrims wishing to perform Umrah from Aug. 9.

Via an online platform, pilgrims will be given access to 500 businesses providing access to flights, transport, hotels and Umrah companies.
Hani Al-Omairi, a member of the National Committee for Hajj and Umrah and the Hotels Committee in Makkah, told Alarabiya that nearly 30 websites and platforms will be available for international reservations.
“Health courses and crowd management courses were given to all employees as several companies have commenced operations. Procedures for the rest of the companies and institutions are being finalized by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah and other relevant authorities,” said Al-Omairi.
Commenting on the news, Mohsin Tutla, chairman of the World Hajj and Umrah Care Foundation, told Arab News the return of pilgrims could be ensured through training the industry to provide services under pandemic conditions. He added that the introduction of vigilance technology throughout the pilgrimage and further measures would help smoothen the process.
Tutla told Arab News that the demand from pilgrims to conduct rituals during the pandemic is not as high as people may think.

SPEEDREAD

• Via an online platform, pilgrims will be given access to 500 businesses providing access to flights, transport, hotels and Umrah companies. 

• Hani Al-Omairi, a member of the National Committee for Hajj and Umrah and the Hotels Committee in Makkah, says nearly 30 websites and platforms will be available for international reservations.

“Even though we can assume that people have been queuing to perform Hajj and Umrah, the reality is that people’s financial capability has been depleted.
“Where Hajj and Umrah were available and easy for the mass population and the middle income population, it is now only possible for the rich and thrifty savers.”
Tutla added: “The road to recovery and rejuvenation is not dependent on only demand, it is dependent on the development of global safety mechanisms such as the Hajj and Umrah Safe Corridor, which is currently being developed by the World Hajj and Umrah Care Foundation, and is being installed in 25 countries worldwide.

Demand from pilgrims to conduct rituals during the pandemic is not as high as people may think. 

Mohsin Tutla, Chairman of the World Hajj and Umrah Care Foundation

“Globally you will realize that demand would have dropped by approximately 40 percent for international Umrah and 15 percent for international Hajj pilgrimages.” Following the temporary closure of Umrah due to the emergence of the pandemic, worshippers were allowed to perform the Umrah rituals in early October. As many as 250,000 domestic pilgrims were able to register, book appointments and granted permits in the first phase.
Some 10,000 foreign pilgrims were gradually allowed back into the Kingdom in the third phase on Nov. 1 after a seven-month hiatus of strict regulations.


Who’s Who: Dr. Mohammed Sulaiman Al-Jasser, Islamic Development Bank president

Who’s Who: Dr. Mohammed Sulaiman Al-Jasser, Islamic Development Bank president
Updated 26 July 2021

Who’s Who: Dr. Mohammed Sulaiman Al-Jasser, Islamic Development Bank president

Who’s Who: Dr. Mohammed Sulaiman Al-Jasser, Islamic Development Bank president

Dr. Mohammed Sulaiman Al-Jasser has been appointed as the new head of the Islamic Development Bank for the next five years.

He has been an adviser at the General Secretariat of the Saudi Council of Ministers and the chairman of the General Authority for Competition since 2016.

Al-Jasser received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of California in 1986. He obtained his master’s degree in economics from the same university in 1981, and a bachelor’s degree in economics from San Diego State University in 1979.

He served as the Kingdom’s economy and planning minister from 2011 to 2015, and as governor of the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) between 2009 and 2011. He was also the vice governor and vice chairman of the SAMA’s board from November 1995 to February 2009.

He has participated in major international events, including G20 meetings at the deputy, ministerial, governor and full summit levels. Al-Jasser also participated in regular meetings of the Bank for International Settlements from 1997 to 2011, and took part in local and international symposia, while also giving frequent lectures on economic and monetary policies.

His previous memberships of ministerial committees, boards and councils include the Council for Economic Affairs and Development, the Supreme Council for Civil Defense, and the Ministerial Committee for Mining Affairs among others.

Al-Jasser has received many awards such as the King Abdul Aziz Medal of the First Order in 2001, the Euromoney (Emerging Markets) Award for Central Bank Governor, MENA Region for the Year in 2009, the Arab Bankers Association of North America Achievement Award in 2010, and “The Banker” Award and “Central Bank Governor of the Year for the Middle East” in 2011.