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.