Asian religious leaders map agenda for G20 interfaith meeting in Riyadh

KAICIID Secretary-General Faisal bin Abdulrahman bin Muaammar. (SPA)
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Updated 06 August 2020

Asian religious leaders map agenda for G20 interfaith meeting in Riyadh

  • Delegates discussed ways to address a number of priority issues in the region

RIYADH: Asian religious leaders, policymakers, and experts on Wednesday met to map out key regional issues for discussion at the G20 Interfaith Forum due to take place in Riyadh in October.

The virtual regional consultative session, run from Vienna, was organized by the King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID), the UN Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC), the G20 Interfaith Forum Association and Saudi Arabia’s National Committee for Interfaith and Intercultural Dialogue.

Delegates discussed ways to address a number of priority issues in the region including how leaderships and religious institutions could support policymakers in strengthening the regional response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and contribute to developing policy recommendations to back religious and humanitarian organizations in Asia.

Participants reviewed a list of topics surrounding religious values for this year’s G20 — in accordance with the priorities of host country Saudi Arabia — which included matters relating to women and youth, climate change and preservation of the planet’s natural resources, and the adoption of long-term strategies to share the benefits of innovation and technological progress.

Faisal bin Abdulrahman bin Muaammar, KAICIID secretary-general, said that Asian countries had always been the center’s focus of attention, most notably Myanmar, and that it was gradually expanding its activities to include other countries in the region.

“Since 2016, the center has supported the efforts of leaderships and religious organizations in consolidating coexistence and peace,” he added.

He noted KAICIID’s support for the Peaceful Myanmar Initiative (PMI), a network of diverse religious groups and policymakers.

Muaammar said the center aimed to expand its work in Asia and regionalize its activities while building partnerships with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), and other international development bodies that contributed to enhancing sustainable peaceful coexistence in the region.

KAICIID had enhanced its presence among youth in Asia through cooperation initiatives and support for a dialogue program for peace it had established in partnership with the World Organization of the Scout Movement, added Muammar.

In relation to the COVID-19 outbreak, he noted that the center sought to support local organizations through various projects including one which involved the transformation of a training center for interreligious dialogue into a quarantine facility.


Saudi Tourism Development Fund, banks sign deal for up to $43 bln of projects

Updated 17 min 27 sec ago

Saudi Tourism Development Fund, banks sign deal for up to $43 bln of projects

  • Fund to launch investment vehicles to develop tourism with private and investment banks
  • Saudi Arabia wants tourism sector to contribute 10% of GDP by 2030

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tourism Development Fund on Monday signed an agreement with Riyadh Bank and Banque Saudi Fransi to finance up to 160 billion riyals ($43 billion) of tourism projects in the Kingdom, state news agency SPA reported.
The agreement will set up mechanisms to finance tourism projects across the Kingdom as part of the government’s efforts to develop the sector.
The fund, founded in June with an initial $4 billion investment, is part of plans to diversify the economy in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and low oil prices.
It is intended to launch investment vehicles to develop tourism in collaboration with private and investment banks.
The Kingdom, which opened its doors to foreign tourists in September 2019 by launching a new visa regime for 49 countries, wants the sector to contribute 10% of gross domestic product by 2030.
Earlier this week, tourism minister Ahmed al Khateeb told Reuters that the tourism sector had been hit hard by strict government measures to fight the coronavirus and was expected to decline by 35%-45% by the end of the year. ($1 = 3.7506 riyals)d)