Saudi Cabinet calls for talks over Ethiopian dam

The virtual meeting was chaired by King Salman. (SPA)
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Updated 01 July 2020

Saudi Cabinet calls for talks over Ethiopian dam

  • Ministers stress need for agreement that is fair to all who rely on Nile water flow, which many fear will be blocked

JEDDAH: The Saudi Cabinet on Tuesday stressed the need to resume negotiations relating to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, amid concerns that it will affect water supplies to Egypt and Sudan.

They reviewed a discussion last week by Arab foreign ministers and the formation of a committee to follow up on concerns and coordinate with the UN Security Council. Ethiopia is threatening to start filling a reservoir on the Blue Nile that many fear will cut vital water supplies downstream.

Ministers said that the water security of Egypt and Sudan is “inseparable” from Arab national security. The Cabinet rejected any activities that affect the rights of any parties reliant on Nile waters, and said negotiations must resume to reach a fair agreement.

During the virtual meeting, which was chaired by King Salman, ministers thanked the Islamic world, and the wider international community, for the support the Kingdom has received for its decision to severely limit the number of pilgrims performing Hajj this year, as a precautionary measure to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

In addition, said acting Minister of Media Majid Al-Qasabi, ministers expressed their appreciation for the work being done by the Sudanese transitional government, and the economic reforms it has implemented, to address the challenges facing the country.

“The donors’ support to Sudan is an important investment to achieve its security and stability and to preserve the integrity of the region and the international community, enabling it to overcome the difficult economic conditions it is going through, so as to take its rightful place among Arab and international countries,” the Cabinet said.

Ministers reviewed other events and developments in the region and world. They reiterated the Kingdom’s commitment to the principles of the Palestinian cause, including an end to the occupation, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, and the right of return for Palestinian refugees, while denouncing Israel’s illegal policies and practices

They also reviewed the efforts being made by the Kingdom to restore control of Yemen to its people, calling on the UN Security Council to accept its responsibilities and work to halt the targeting of Saudi civilians by Houthi militias.

Ministers approved a number of decisions, including a memorandum of understanding between the Saudi Space Authority and the Greek Ministry of Digital Governance for cooperation in the field of satellites and their applications.

They also endorsed the national agriculture strategy and its executive summary, as well as the transfer of a number of specialties from the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs to the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture.
 


$800bn plan to turn Riyadh into cultural hub for the Middle East

Updated 06 July 2020

$800bn plan to turn Riyadh into cultural hub for the Middle East

  • Saudi capital’s planning chief unveils ambitious strategy ahead of G20 urban development summit

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia is launching a SR3 trillion ($800 billion) plan to double the size of Riyadh in the next decade and transform it into an economic, social and cultural hub for the region.

The ambitious strategy for the capital city was unveiled by Fahd Al-Rasheed, president of the Royal Commission for the City of Riyadh, ahead of key meetings of the U20, the arm of the G20 leaders’ summit that deals with urban development and strategy.

“Riyadh is already a very important economic engine for the Kingdom, and although it’s already very successful, the plan now, under Vision 2030, is to actually take that way further, to double the population to 15 million people,” he told Arab News.

“We’ve already launched 18 megaprojects in the city, worth over SR1 trillion, over $250 billion, to both improve livability and deliver much higher economic growth so we can create jobs and double the population in 10 years. It’s a significant plan and the whole city is working to make sure this happens.”

About $250 billion in investment is expected from the private sector, with the same amount generated by increased economic activity from population growth, finance and banking, cultural and desert tourism, and leisure events.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • 18 megaprojects have already been launched worth over $250 billion.
  • 7 million trees planted in Riyadh in the next few years.
  • King Salman Park will be bigger than Hyde Park in London.

“We must also ensure the growth is managed properly, so there will be a focus on transport and logistics, including the Riyadh metro which will open at the beginning of next year. The aim is to increase productivity,” Al-Rasheed said.

The plan involves the creation of a “mega industrial zone” focusing on advanced technology such as renewables and automation, and biotechnology and aquaponics. Another key feature is sustainability, with energy conservation, the circular carbon economy with its emphasis on reducing emissions, and water management, all priorities.

“You will see 7 million trees planted in Riyadh in the next few years, and King Salman Park will be bigger than Hyde Park in London,” Al-Rasheed said.

The city also aims to be a Middle East artistic and cultural hub. An opera house is being considered, as well as public art shows with 1,000 works commissioned from around the world. “We have not seen anything like it since Renaissance Florence,” Al-Rasheed said.

The plans will be discussed this week during online meetings of the U20 linking Riyadh with Houston. The Texas oil capital is suffering a new spike in coronavirus cases and pandemics will be on the agenda. “We want to deal with this one, but also be ready for the next one,” Al-Rasheed said.