Saudi-led G20 coronavirus videoconference will recognize countries ‘cannot fight this fight alone’

Medical vehicles, seen on March 23, 2020 outside Jeddah's King Fahad Medical City, are to be used in the campaign to stop the COVID-19 pandemic. (Saudi Defense Ministry/Handout via REUTERS)
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Updated 26 March 2020

Saudi-led G20 coronavirus videoconference will recognize countries ‘cannot fight this fight alone’

  • The meeting, to be chaired by King Salman, will take place on March 26
  • Saudi Arabia holds the G20 presidency this year

JEDDAH: Leaders from the G20 will hold a videoconference to “advance a coordinated global response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and its human and economic implications,” according to a statement published by the Saudi secretariat. The meeting, to be chaired by King Salman, will take place on March 26. Saudi Arabia holds the G20 presidency this year.

The meeting is set to discuss the implications of the global pandemic — which has now infected more than 430,000 globally in 196 countries and territories, its social and economic impact, and measures to stave off a global economic recession. Representatives from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) will also participate.

Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a political analyst and international relations scholar, told Arab News that the G20 has never been more relevant than it is today. 

Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri

“The G20 represents a structure which includes the world’s twenty largest national economies,” he said. “This summit is exceptional as it will not only focus on the implications for the health of global citizens due to the spread of coronavirus, but also on the threat it poses to economies, global food security and many other issues.

“I think 70-80 percent of the summit will focus on these discussion points. The world’s largest economies are bearing a heavy burden as they provide support to many developing countries facing this pandemic and a roadmap must be put in place to face the crisis,” Al-Shehri continued, adding that unity was vital, as countries “can’t fight this fight alone.” Without a united global front, he said, the economic and health implications of the virus will be much harder to overcome.

The virtual summit, Al-Shehri believes, will encourage greater coordination and critical exchange of experience and knowledge. 

The government of Saudi Arabia has, like many others around the world, taken extreme precautionary measures as a result of the call for international coordination and multilateral efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19. This has played an important role in ensuring the safety and well-being of residents of the Kingdom, but also of other countries. 

“Saudi Arabia was (one of the first countries) to send emergency medical aid to China at the beginning of the outbreak,” said Lina K. Almaeena, Saudi Shoura Council member.

Lina K. Almaeena

“The Kingdom has also responded to the WHO’s urgent appeal and has provided $10 million in financial support. It has taken bold and assertive measures to curb the spread of the virus by suspending schools, Umrah pilgrimage, and travel to and from the country as a means to protect citizens and residents of all nationalities and religions living within its borders, as well as guaranteeing medical treatment to all.

“The coronavirus has made it clearer than ever that we are all global citizens,” Almaeena continued. “I hope that the virtual G20 Summit — led by Saudi Arabia — will come up with innovative recommendations that will further curb the outbreak.”

“The extraordinary initiative taken by King Salman is critical, as the world is going through a major crisis with the coronavirus pandemic — a crisis that the world has never seen the likes of before,” Dr. Alia Aldahlawi, Saudi Shoura Council member, told Arab News. “At the present time, a global coordinated response, in cooperation with all health agencies and institutions, must put standards in place to confine the spread, reduce infection rates and gain control over the pandemic.

“I believe this exceptional meeting will have a major impact in crisis management, led by the Kingdom, with positive outcomes on the economic and health front at an international level,” she added.

Saudi Arabia suspends prison sentences in debt cases

Updated 08 April 2020

Saudi Arabia suspends prison sentences in debt cases

  • As part of efforts to slow spread of coronavirus, King Salman orders temporary release of debtors already in jail
  • Orders granting visitation rights to separated parents also put on hold for duration of COVID-19 crisis

RIYADH: As part of the efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Saudi Arabia has called a temporary halt to prison sentences for individuals convicted in private cases involving unpaid debts.

King Salman on Tuesday ordered that the implementation of final judgments and orders in such cases be suspended. He also ordered the immediate, temporary release of prisoners already serving time for debt-related convictions, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

In addition, the king suspended all orders and judgments granting an estranged parent child-visitation rights.

The orders will remain in force until the authorities announce that the pandemic no longer poses a threat to public health.

Walid Al-Samaani, the justice minister and president of the Supreme Judicial Council, thanked King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the decisions. He said that they are part of the efforts being made by the government to ensure the safety of everyone in the Kingdom, and reflect the fact that public health is the main priority at this time.

The orders were implemented immediately. Legal and prison authorities have been notified and told to take all necessary action. All those affected by the suspension of parental visitation rights were notified by text message.