Battle with COVID-19 is ‘humanity against a virus’

Policemen manning a checkpoint in Riyadh on the day of an emergency G20 videoconference to discuss a response to the coronavirus crisis. (AFP)
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Updated 27 March 2020

Battle with COVID-19 is ‘humanity against a virus’

  • The aim of the summit was to convince people who have not been taking the pandemic seriously that the situation is grave
  • Shoura member Zidane: “The summit showed great leadership from….King Salman,”

JEDDAH: After the leaders of the G20 held an unprecedented “virtual” summit on Thursday to discuss the coronavirus pandemic, Saudi Shoura Council member Dr. Sami Mohammed Zidane gave a concise analysis of the global crisis: “This is humanity against a virus.”

The Kingdom holds the presidency of the G20 this year, and the summit was hosted by King Salman in Riyadh, with the other leaders participating through video links due to the restrictions on international travel. They discussed the effects and implications of the pandemic and pledged to spare no effort in tackling its effects.

With the next full meeting of the G20 scheduled to take place in Riyadh in November, the virtual summit came at the right time, said Zidane, who is also a member of the board of directors of Saudi International Petrochemical Company.

“The summit showed great leadership from….King Salman,” he said. “I think it was needed and necessary on several levels. The global efforts against this horrible pandemic — that discriminates against no one, no race or age — are different. We are all equal.”

He highlighted some of the most important issues that were discussed during the summit, including the particular problems faced by people on lower incomes.

“The world is practically shut down and a lot of people with limited incomes cannot survive for too long,” said Zidane.

“Saving lives by containing the pandemic is important and it was addressed at the summit. First and foremost, the supply of medical equipment, such as ventilators, masks, gloves and protective gear for those who are vulnerable and can get sick, should be the priority.”

He added that another important aim of the summit was to convince people who have not been taking the pandemic seriously that the situation is grave.

He said that while such individuals can be viewed as rebels or as people that simply do not care, “I would say that, rather, it is an act of ignorance.”

The summit also served to reassure people that the G20 member nations, which are the world’s largest economies, are working together in the face of the global crisis, said Zidane.

“This is humanity against a virus and not something one can use missiles and arms against,” he said. High-level communication on a global level can give people great hope in the fight against the virus, he added.

Lina Al-Maeena, a fellow member of the Shoura Council, reiterated the importance of solidarity in the global response to the pandemic.

“We are all global citizens; there are no borders and we are all in this together,” she said. The G20 leaders had succeeded during the summit in presenting an image of “solidarity, generosity and unity,” she added, and the commitment shown by the world’s leading economies “proves that it is a time not just for looking at their own self-interest, but the interests of the whole of humanity.”

Al-Maeena said that pledge by the leaders to inject $5 trillion into the global economy in response to the crisis “is not just to conquer the coronavirus, but all the interrelated issues linked to the virus, whether they are social, economic, health or security.


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.