Diplomats praise Saudi initiative to hold virtual summit

Neil Crompton, British ambassador
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Updated 26 March 2020

Diplomats praise Saudi initiative to hold virtual summit

  • The leaders will discuss the global coordinated response to the pandemic

RIYADH: As the world is reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, the Saudi leadership has called for an extraordinary virtual summit of G20 leaders on Thursday.

The leaders will discuss the global coordinated response to the pandemic. In an unprecedented move, the summit will be held online and in March, as opposed to the usual date in November.

“The coronavirus outbreak is the biggest public health emergency in a generation. The UK will work with our friends and allies in the G20 and beyond to galvanize a stronger global effort, coordinate public health measures, increase the resilience of the most vulnerable health systems, restore business confidence and protect jobs,” British Ambassador Neil Crompton told Arab News.

“Thursday’s extraordinary G20 Summit, hosted by Saudi Arabia, is an important opportunity to discuss urgent and coordinated international fiscal action to protect the global economy.”

Chinese Ambassador Chen Weiqing told Arab News that his country “highly appreciates the wise and responsible attitude of Saudi leaders in calling for the first virtual extraordinary summit as Saudi Arabia holds the current presidency of the G20.”

“China is ready to work with Saudi Arabia and the international community to continue to address global public health security challenges,” he said.

Indian Ambassador Dr. Ausaf Sayeed said: “The virtual summit will serve as a mechanism for the leaders of the G20 member states to share the best practices in order to combat both the health as well as the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

South Korean Ambassador Jo Byung-wook said: “As the president of the Republic of Korea, Moon Jae-in, has already expressed his welcoming remarks during his phone call with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on March 24, 2020, Korea sincerely appreciates Saudi Arabia’s initiative for the upcoming extraordinary virtual summit of the G20 leaders.”

He added: “We have an urgent need for collaboration at the G20 level as the entire world is suffering from the COVID-19 outbreak.”

Swift action taken by the Saudi leadership has made it possible to hold the virtual summit, he said.

The leaders at the summit will address ongoing efforts to control the pandemic, building confidence, and mitigating the economic and social impact of the outbreak, the South Korean envoy ambassador said.


Rural tourism recovers after months of forced isolation

Updated 10 July 2020

Rural tourism recovers after months of forced isolation

  • Saudis turn to domestic traveling and flock to their nation’s cooler cities and rural areas

TAIF: As Saudi citizens turn to domestic tourism in the country’s summer resorts, adapting to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, rural areas have become targeted by local tourists wishing to get away from the soaring temperatures in most of the Kingdom’s cities.

Visitors are now choosing cold Saudi cities instead of Europe, which they are accustomed to visiting, such as Taif, Al-Baha, and Abha.

COVID-19 has postponed all plans to travel abroad, and attention has now focused on domestic tourism amid strict health protocols in parks, gardens and recreational areas.

Walid Al-Hamidi, vice president of the Tourism Development Council, confirmed to Arab News that Asir, with its facilities and attractions, was ready to receive summer visitors from across the country.

He said that under the directives of Asir's governor, who supervises all activities and events directly and constantly, many committees had been formed to prepare a successful summer tourism season, to optimize the opportunity and allow people to enjoy the exceptional ambiance of Asir.

“A comprehensive tourism plan was set up two years ago, which resulted in a successful Al-Soudah Season with the support of Asir’s Investment Authority,” Al-Hamidi added.

He noted that Asir’s directives aimed this year to build an exceptional tourism model that meets optimal health standards in dealing with COVID-19.

The model is supported by the “Nashama Asir” team — consisting of 4,000 volunteers — who have been trained for months and have all the necessary skills to make the season successful. Their work will continue until the end of the pandemic and throughout the summer.

“Everyone is ready at public facilities, gardens and parks, to serve tourists,” he said, adding “tourists coming from all the over the Kingdom will be welcomed with smiles, enhanced services, and warm welcomes.”

Dr. Sami Al-Obaidi, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Taif, told Arab News that the tourism sector was the economic backbone of any country or city.

He said that Taif was considered one of the most important tourist cities, given its many attractions  that made it top of any list of places to visit in the Kingdom.

“Suspending travel abroad, and limiting tourism … due to the coronavirus pandemic, makes us, as officials and citizens in Taif, well placed for a beautiful and safe tourism season for Taif’s citizens and visitors,” said Al-Obaidi.

“Meetings are held around the clock, headed by Saad Al-Maimouni, the governor of Taif, with the participation of the relevant authorities.”

He expected all sectors, especially tourism, hospitality and a few other businesses in Taif, to recover to some extent during this season, especially now tourists have already started flocking to the region, with numbers set to increase over the coming weeks.