Saudi Arabia keeping ‘all options open’ to deal with virus impact: Finance Minister

Saudi Minister of Finance Mohammed Al-Jadaan. (File/AFP)
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Updated 03 May 2020

Saudi Arabia keeping ‘all options open’ to deal with virus impact: Finance Minister

  • Al-Jadaan warns of strict, painful measures to overcome economic challenges
  • Says citizens’ welfare is top priority, but that some of the action taken will be “painful”

 

JEDDAH: The economic challenges of the coronavirus pandemic are great and neither Saudi Arabia nor the world will be the same when it is over, the Kingdom’s Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said on Saturday.

Saudi Arabia would take strict and painful measures to deal with the impact, and “all options for dealing with the crisis are open,” the minister said in an interview with Al-Arabiya TV.

“We must reduce budget expenditures sharply,” Al-Jadaan said, and some government projects may be slowed down to reduce expenditure.

Al-Jadaan said that citizens’ welfare and their benefit is top priority, but that some of the action taken will be “painful, but for everyone’s benefit.”

“Current actions taken to date to cut spending are not enough, and Saudi public finances will need more control and the journey ahead is long.

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“Expenses must be reduced to cope with the fallout from coronavirus and we need to be careful not to increase the cost of debt.”

“We are currently reviewing a set of initiatives to support the economy, the private sector and the health sector. Revenues have declined dramatically and are expected to continue to decline over this year and possibly until the beginning of the next fiscal year. Therefore we must be prepared, economically and financially, to confront this pandemic.

“We have to plan for the worst, take matters seriously and shrink … in order to continue providing citizens and expats with services, and manage the government.”

Al-Jadaan said that the Kingdom released economic support packages valuing SAR180 billion ($47.8 billion), but that it had used up SAR1 trillion from its reserves over the past four years.

“The real impact of the coronavirus pandemic will appear in the second quarter, and we have to face a very big revenue shock,” he said.

“We must tighten the belt and come out of the crisis strong.”

The number of virus cases in the Kingdom reached 25,459 on Saturday, an increase of 1,362, and the death toll rose by seven to 176. Worldwide, the virus has infected nearly 3.5 million people, and killed more than 240,000.


US court orders Iran to pay $879 million to 1996 Khobar bombing survivors

Updated 10 July 2020

US court orders Iran to pay $879 million to 1996 Khobar bombing survivors

  • The court ruled that the Iranian government directed and provided material for the attack
  • The Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia were housing US forces when it was bombed in 1996

DUBAI: A United States federal court held Iran responsible for the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia where US forces were housed, and ordered Tehran to pay $879 million to survivors. 

The Khobar Towers was a housing complex in the eastern city of Khobar, near the Abdulaziz Air Base and Saudi Aramco’s headquarters in Dhahran, that housed American servicemen working on Operation Southern Watch.

A truck bomb was detonated on June 25, 1996, near an eight-story building of the housing complex, which killed 19 US Air Force personnel and a Saudi national and wounded 498 others.

The court ruled that the Iranian government directed and provided material support to Hezbollah who detonated the 5,000-pound truck bomb, a Chicago law firm press release said. The attackers reportedly smuggled the explosives used in the attack from Lebanon. 


The lawsuit was brought under the terrorism exception of the US Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act by the 14 injured US airmen and 21 of their immediate family members.

The defendants in the case were listed as the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security.

 

 

“We will continue to seek to hold the Government of Iran accountable for this terrorist attack as long as is necessary,” said Adora Sauer, the lead attorney of MM LAW LLC.

US District Judge Beryl A. Howell found the defendants liable and awarded the plaintiffs $132 million for pain and suffering, as well as prejudgment interest, for a total compensatory damage award of $747 million and $132 million for punitive damages.


The court also said the plaintiffs are eligible for partial payments from the US Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, which compensates American victims of acts of international terrorism with funds obtained from fines and forfeitures levied against companies caught illegally laundering money for sanctioned countries and persons. 

The attorneys also intend to pursue enforcement of the judgments through litigation intended to seize Iranian assets.

“The physical and psychological toll on our families has been extremely high, but this judgment is welcome news. More than 20 years on, we want the world to remember the evil that Iran did at the Khobar Towers. Through the work of our attorneys, we intend to do just that,” said Glenn Christie, a retired Air Force staff sergeant crew chief who was severely injured in the bombing.


“The massive explosion took so much from their minds and bodies on the day of the attack in 1996 and every day and night since then. They can now live with that balance justice provides,” according to John Urquhart of the Urquhart Law Firm, who also represents the bombing victims.