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.
“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.
“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.