Saudi governors, commanders fired over corruption at tourism projects

Saudi governors, commanders fired over corruption at tourism projects
King Salman has issued a royal decree sacking a number of officials for legal violations in the Red Sea Project. (File/AFP)
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Updated 22 August 2020

Saudi governors, commanders fired over corruption at tourism projects

Saudi governors, commanders fired over corruption at tourism projects
  • Army officers among 298 people arrested over allegations of bribery, embezzlement and waste of public funds
  • The Saudi National Anti-Corruption Authority (Nazaha) conducted dozens of “criminal investigation procedures” in March in relation to breaches of public duty

JEDDAH: Senior Saudi security commanders are among a number of officials who have been sacked over corruption at tourism projects, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Friday.

Those dismissed by royal decree include the governors of the Red Sea coastal cities of Umluj and Al-Wajh, the head of border security and other local commanders, as well as officials from the Interior Ministry.

They are under investigation for facilitating encroachment on government lands that are part of tourism projects under development along the Red Sea coast in the historic city of AlUla and the mountain resort of Abha. The violations had a “great impact on the completion of the projects” and caused “environmental damage,” according to SPA.

Saudi Arabia, which introduced tourist visas for the first time last year, has unveiled a series of multibillion-dollar tourism projects in an effort to diversify the Kingdom’s oil-dependent economy.

This dismissals are part of the government’s latest crackdown on corruption. Saudi lawyer Dimah Talal Al-Sharif said that the laws on corruption are very clear, though cases can be complicated.

“Corruption cases are considered one of the most complex types of cases due to the overlap of many people and specialties in them,” she said.

It is an important requirement of such cases that the authorities take all necessary steps to provide proper protection for witnesses, she added. This is in keeping with the provisions of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, “which calls for the enactment of the necessary legislation to protect witnesses in corruption crimes in member states.” However, Al-Sharif said that it can be difficult to ensure their identities are not revealed, particularly in cases where a witness is one of few people with knowledge of the corruption.

BACKGROUND

They are accused of facilitating encroachment on government lands that are part of tourism projects along the Red Sea coast near AlUla and Abha.

The Saudi National Anti-Corruption Authority (Nazaha) conducted dozens of “criminal investigation procedures” in March in relation to breaches of public duty. The initial investigation targeted 219 employees but in the end statements were taken from 674 people, 298 of whom were arrested over accusations of financial and administrative corruption, including bribery, embezzlement and waste of public funds. The total amount involved was SR379 million ($101 million), and the cases will be referred to the courts.

The suspects accused of bribery and money laundering include eight army officers, one of whom is a major general, and retired officers who allegedly misused their government contracts at the Ministry of Defense to commit financial crimes.

During a crackdown against corruption launched in 2017, hundreds of princes, ministers and businessmen were detained at the luxury Ritz-Carlton hotel in the capital, Riyadh. Many were held there for weeks, although most were released after agreeing significant financial settlements. Authorities said they recovered more than SR400 billion.

Meanwhile, attorney general Sheikh Saud bin Abdullah Al-Mua’jab has issued an order specifying a list of major crimes that require arrest, according to Article 112 of the Law on Criminal Procedure. The 25 classifications include: border crimes punishable by death or amputation; intentional or semi-intentional homicide; crimes against national security; offenses punishable by imprisonment for more than three years; crimes defined under law as major crimes requiring arrest; and other commercial crimes.


Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia
Updated 18 min 40 sec ago

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: The Arab coalition has destroyed a Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia, news channel Al-Arabiya has reported.

The coalition said the attack is a continuation of the Houthi’s “systematic and intentional hostile attempts to target civilians.”

It said the drone was fired towards Jazan in the south of the kingdom.  

The bloc said it was taking all necessary operational measures to protect civilians in a accordance to international humanitarian law. 


Saudi Arabia postpones second COVID-19 dose reservations

Saudi Arabia postpones second COVID-19 dose reservations
Updated 11 April 2021

Saudi Arabia postpones second COVID-19 dose reservations

Saudi Arabia postpones second COVID-19 dose reservations
  • Due to a global shortage in vaccine manufacturing and delivery, MoH provided more room for first timers

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health (MoH) said it has postponed second dose appointments for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines in order to ensure more of the Kingdom’s residents can receive their first dose.

According to the MoH, all second dose reservations will be rescheduled as of Sunday April 11 and will resume at a later time. The ministry added that due to a global shortage in vaccine manufacturing and delivery, they’ve provided more room for first timers, especially those in high risk categories, to receive theirs.
Over 6.1 million vaccine doses have been administered in the Kingdom so far, at a rate of 175,000 daily doses, which means 17.5 percent of the Kingdom has received at least one dose.
Municipalities coordinating with relevant authorities continue to inspect commercial establishments, especially in areas known to be overcrowded across the Kingdom. Jeddah municipality, with the participation of a number of relevant authorities, closed 81 shops in Al-Sawarikh International Market in the south of the governorate, after finding multiple violations, including failure to adhere to precautionary and preventive measures among visitors, and a lack of commitment to social distancing measures.

FASTFACT

Over 6.1 million vaccine doses have been administered in the Kingdom.

The MoH reported 878 new cases of COVID-19 in the Kingdom on Saturday, meaning 397,636 people in Saudi Arabia have now contracted the disease.
The top three most infected regions were Riyadh with 410 infections, Makkah with 149 cases, and the Eastern Province with 141, while the lowest reported number of cases were in Baha, with just seven cases.
The number of active cases also rose, to 8,113 active cases in the Kingdom, 914 of them critical — a rise of 16 in the past 24 hours.
The ministry announced 578 new recovered cases, taking the total number of recoveries to 382,776. Saudi Arabia’s recovery rate has decreased to 96.2 percent.
For the first time in nearly four months, the number of deaths reported in the Kingdom rose to double digits, as 10 new COVID-19 related deaths were reported on Saturday, raising the death toll to 6,747. A total of 61,640 PCR tests were conducted in the past 24 hours, raising the total number of tests in the Kingdom to 15,738,545.


Saudi artist in the driver’s seat for new Jeddah street project

Saudi artist in the driver’s seat for new Jeddah street project
Shalimar Sharbatly will paint a new set of vehicles for the Draw a Nation initiative. (Supplied)
Updated 10 April 2021

Saudi artist in the driver’s seat for new Jeddah street project

Saudi artist in the driver’s seat for new Jeddah street project
  • Draw a Nation comes within the framework of initiatives to improve the visual appeal of Jeddah’s streetscapes

RIYADH: A Saudi abstract artist who won global recognition for her hand-painted and customized cars will paint a new set of vehicles for an extended edition of the Draw a Nation initiative after signing an agreement with the Jeddah municipality.
Shalimar Sharbatly, a pioneer of the “Moving Art” school, was responsible for both a hand-painted, customized Porsche 911, showcased at the Paris Motor Show, and a Formula 1 racer, known as “La Torq,” which was unveiled at the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix.
Both vehicles were also exhibited at the Louvre museum in Paris as part of a “Moving Art” exhibition in 2017.
However, within the Kingdom, Sharbatly is best known for the Draw a Nation initiative, which saw her showcase several of her hand-painted vehicles during last year’s Saudi National Day celebrations.
Sharbatly was inspired to upcycle old cars after witnessing an accident while driving along the beach in Jeddah. She told Arab News that painting the vehicles helped her regain a sense of purpose.

BACKGROUND

Shalimar Sharbatly, a pioneer of the ‘Moving Art’ school, was responsible for both a hand-painted, customized Porsche 911, showcased at the Paris Motor Show, and a Formula 1 racer, known as ‘La Torq,’ which was unveiled at the 2017 Monaco Grand Prix.

“I had become disillusioned with art and was lacking passion. I started painting these cars, turning abandoned vehicles that were deemed useless into vibrant and beautiful works of art that could gain a second life. I hope that when others view these pieces, they will feel the same joy I felt when I was painting them,” she said.
Draw a Nation comes within the framework of initiatives to improve the visual appeal of Jeddah’s streetscapes. The goal is to paint a number of old and abandoned cars and vehicles, turning them into works of art that enrich the city.
Ayed Al-Zahrani, undersecretary for the mayor of Jeddah for community service, said: “The community will benefit from recycling cars and turning them into artistic masterpieces displayed in public for Jeddah residents and visitors.”
The Jeddah municipality also previously launched the “Yalla Jeddah” platform, which invites innovators in all fields to address challenges facing Jeddah’s art scene.


Renovation projects underway in Makkah

Renovation projects underway in Makkah
The mountain houses the Cave of Hira, which has tremendous significance for Muslims. (Photo/Twitter)
Updated 11 April 2021

Renovation projects underway in Makkah

Renovation projects underway in Makkah
  • The sites included the Hudaybiyyah region where the Radwan Pledge took place in the sixth Hijri year, when Prophet Muhammad brokered a peace treaty between him and his followers and the Quraysh clan

JEDDAH: Reconstruction and renovation projects are underway in six Islamic historical sites and museums in Makkah.
The Royal Commission for Makkah City and Holy Sites hosted a field visit from the Executive Committee for the Path of the Islamic Historical Sites and Museums.
The sites included the Hudaybiyyah region where the Radwan Pledge took place in the sixth Hijri year, when Prophet Muhammad brokered a peace treaty between him and his followers and the Quraysh clan.
They also visited Bir Tuwa (the Well of Tuwa), Jabal Thawr, the 1,200-year-old water well and canal Ayn Zubaydah, the Mina site where the Al-Aqaba Pledge took place and Jabal Al-Nour, the Cave of Hira.
One of the most important projects is the Jabal Al-Nour Cultural Center.
The mountain houses the Cave of Hira, which has tremendous significance for Muslims because it is where the prophet is said to have had his first revelation and received the first verses of the Holy Qur’an. 


Saudi aid agency launches Ramadan food baskets project

Saudi aid agency launches Ramadan food baskets project
The distribution project targets the most needy families in the three districts in Nouakchott, benefiting about 3,090 families. (SPA)
Updated 11 April 2021

Saudi aid agency launches Ramadan food baskets project

Saudi aid agency launches Ramadan food baskets project
  • These projects come within the framework of the humanitarian aid being provided by the Kingdom, represented by KSrelief, to people around the world

MARIB: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) has launched in Marib a project to distribute 9,880 Ramadan food baskets, benefiting thousands of needy and displaced families in six Yemeni governorates.
The director of the executive unit of the management of displaced people camps in Marib governorate, Saif Muthanna, said that he valued the humanitarian aid provided by Saudi Arabia, represented by KSrelief.
The center has also distributed 662 Ramadan food baskets in villages in Chad.
KSrelief, in cooperation with Mauritanian Red Crescent, launched the Ramadan food baskets distribution project.
The distribution project targets the most needy families in the three districts in Nouakchott, benefiting about 3,090 families.
The center also delivered Saudi Arabia’s gift to Mali, included 50 tons of dates.
On behalf of KSrelief, the aid was delivered by the Saudi ambassador to Mali, Khaled bin Mabrouk Al-Khaled. These projects come within the framework of the humanitarian aid being provided by the Kingdom, represented by KSrelief, to people around the world.