Italian foreign minister, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince discuss relations

Italian foreign minister, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince discuss relations
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with the Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio in AlUla on Sunday. (Saudi foreign ministry)
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Updated 11 January 2021

Italian foreign minister, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince discuss relations

Italian foreign minister, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince discuss relations
  • Two countries sign agreement to develop ‘strategic bilateral dialogue’

ROME: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio met on Sunday to discuss relations.

They also held talks about regional and international developments when they met in the historic city of AlUla.

Earlier, Di Maio and his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a “strategic bilateral dialogue” between the two countries.

The Italian foreign minister repeated praise for the agreement signed in AlUla last week at the GCC Summit to resolve a dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

“It is a fundamental premise for an increased stability and safety in the region,” Di Maio said. “We appreciate the constructive commitment of the parties to overcome the controversy, an objective that Italy has always supported with conviction.”

The foreign ministers also discussed the G20 Summit hosted by Saudi Arabia last year. The presidency was passed from the Kingdom to Italy, which will host the event in October.

They discussed coordination with member states to complete and strengthen the G20 during Italy’s presidency, Saudi Press Agency reported.

Di Maio arrived in Saudi Arabia after a two-day visit to Jordan.

He said that in recent years Italy and Saudi Arabia have “constantly strengthened their relations of friendship and cooperation.”

He added: “Bilateral cooperation has made positive progress in recent years in the commercial, political, cultural and security fields.”

For Italy, Saudi Arabia is its biggest trading partner in the Gulf and its second in the wider region. Di Maio said Italy wanted to strengthen the bilateral economic partnership and that Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 reform program offered opportunities for Italian companies, especially in the infrastructure, energy, manufacturing and logistics sectors.

Italy is one of the top ten suppliers to Saudi Arabia with exports reaching 3.279 billion euros in 2019 - up 6 percent compared to 2018.

Imports to Italy from the Kingdom were at 3.795 billion euros in 2019.

More than 70 Italian companies operate in Saudi Arabia.


Coronavirus cases in Madinah down by 86% on strict precautionary measures, Tawakkalna app

Coronavirus cases in Madinah down by 86% on strict precautionary measures, Tawakkalna app
Updated 44 min 50 sec ago

Coronavirus cases in Madinah down by 86% on strict precautionary measures, Tawakkalna app

Coronavirus cases in Madinah down by 86% on strict precautionary measures, Tawakkalna app
  • Tawakkalna was launched last year to help track coronavirus infections

RIYADH: Coronavirus cases in Madinah region were down by more than 86 percent due to the strict implementation of precautionary and preventive health measures as well as the effective use of the Tawakkalna app.

Combating the spread of COVID-19 in Madinah “through digital applications and artificial intelligence proved to be one of the most successful approaches both regionally and globally,” Dr. Mohammed Al-Abdulaali, spokesman for the Ministry of Health, said in a report from state news agency SPA.

Tawakkalna was launched last year to help track coronavirus infections. It has since developed and been updated and now functions as a COVID-19 ‘passport’ where users are required to confirm their health condition through the app to enter workplaces, shops and malls.

It has effectively contributed, in less than two months, to limiting factors that caused accelerated spread within the region, Dr. Al-Abdulaali said.

Dr. Al-Abdulaali noted that Madinah region was going through a critical period in which the number of infected cases was significantly increasing.

“This came as a result of some public negligence in observing the preventive measures and precautions; particularly, the lack of adherence to quarantine in addition to social gatherings,” the SPA report added, which had led into an alarming increase in the number of daily cases and warranted the rollout of the Tawakkalna app.

Following two months strict preventive measures and the promotion of use of Tawakkalna, infections number of cases in Madinah decreased significantly.

Dr. Al-Abdulaali likewise urged the implementation of the precautionary and preventive health measures in all regions as a ‘collective community response and a higher commitment to preventive measures in light of the increasing number of recorded daily infections.’

The health official also encouraged citizens and residents to download and activate Tabaud, a bluetooth-based app that notifies individuals if they come in contact with other infected individuals.

The Kingdom vs. COVID-19
How Saudi Arabia acted swiftly and coordinated a global response to fight the coronavirus, preventing a far worse crisis at home and around the world
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Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone fired towards southern Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone fired towards southern Saudi Arabia
Updated 52 min 52 sec ago

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone fired towards southern Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone fired towards southern Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: The Arab coalition fighting the Houthi militants in Yemen said it has destroyed a drone launched by the Iran-backed group towards the southern region of the kingdom, state news agency SPA reported on Wednesday.
“The joint coalition forces were able this morning to intercept and destroy a ‘booby-trapped’ drone launched by the Iranian-backed terrorist Houthi militia in a systematic and deliberate manner to target civilians and civilian objects in the southern region,” the statement said.

 


Saudi cabinet once again condemns attacks on the Kingdom by Houthis

Saudi cabinet once again condemns attacks on the Kingdom by Houthis
Updated 03 March 2021

Saudi cabinet once again condemns attacks on the Kingdom by Houthis

Saudi cabinet once again condemns attacks on the Kingdom by Houthis
  • Ministers also briefed on King Salman’s recent call with US President Joe Biden, and the latest COVID-19 developments

RIYADH: Saudi authorities have again condemned the continuing cross-border attacks on the Kingdom by the Houthi militia in Yemen.

The comments came on Tuesday, during the weekly meeting of the Saudi cabinet chaired by King Salman. The latest Houthi assault took place earlier in the day and left five civilians injured.

“The council appreciated the efficiency of the air-defense system in confronting and thwarting the threats made by the Iran-backed terrorist Houthi militia, and its violations of international laws by launching ballistic missiles and drones at civilians and civilian objects in the Kingdom in a deliberate and systematic manner,” said Minister of Information Majid Al-Qasabi.

The cabinet was also briefed on King Salman’s telephone conversation with US President Joe Biden last Thursday, during which both sides stressed the depth of the relationship between the two countries, and the importance of strengthening the partnership to serve their interests and achieve regional and international security and stability.

The Council of Ministers hailed a second consecutive year of progress made by the Kingdom in the Women, Business and the Law 2021 report recently published by the World Bank Group, which ranked Saudi Arabia among the leading countries in the MENA region for empowerment of women.

Initiatives implemented as part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 have helped to support the introduction of legislative reforms designed to enhance and expand the role of women in the economic development of the nation, and make the Kingdom more competitive regionally and globally, the cabinet said.

Ministers were briefed on the latest developments in the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and reviewed reports from new vaccination centers that have opened in several regions, Al-Qasabi told the Saudi Press Agency.

The cabinet also congratulated Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the successful surgery he underwent last week, wishing him health and wellness.

Soleimani’s shadow
Qassem Soleimani left a trail of death and destruction in his wake as head of Iran’s Quds Force … until his assassination on Jan. 3, 2020. Yet still, his legacy of murderous interference continues to haunt the region
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Saudis pay tribute to engineer for his services to the Zamzam well

Saudis pay tribute to engineer for his services to the Zamzam well
An undated photo of Yahya Hamza Koshak, who died at the age of 80. (Supplied)
Updated 03 March 2021

Saudis pay tribute to engineer for his services to the Zamzam well

Saudis pay tribute to engineer for his services to the Zamzam well
  • Yahya Hamza Koshak was considered an authority on the architecture and history of the ancient site

JEDDAH: Saudis on Tuesday were mourning the loss of Yahya Hamza Koshak following his death at the age of 80. An engineer by profession, he became famous for his services to the Zamzam well.

Koshak, also known as the “father of engineers,” was a former director general of the National Water Company and member of the Okaz Organization for Press and Publication.
He was born in Makkah, where his father, a merchant, worked during the Umrah season, serving as chairman of the Establishment of Motawifs of Pilgrims of Turkish Muslims of Europe America and Australia.
His mother was a close friend of the wife of the late King Faisal, Princess Effat, whom she met at the Makkah’s Grand Mosque.
Koshak studied in one of Taif city’s first schools after it was founded by King Faisal and Princess Effat.
He studied engineering at Ain Shams University in Cairo, but completed his degree in Riyadh. He later continued his education in the US, where he obtained a Ph.D. in engineering sciences.
His nephew Nabeel Koshak told Arab News that the late engineer was dear to those who worked with him.

FASTFACTS

• Yahya Hamza Koshak was born in Makkah.

• Koshak studied in one of Taif city’s first schools.

• He studied engineering at Ain Shams University in Cairo, but completed his degree in Riyadh.

• He later continued his education in the US, where he obtained a Ph.D. in engineering sciences.

• He led the cleaning team of the Zamzam well four decades ago.

• Koshak wrote a book, ‘Zamzam: The Holy Water,’ in which he recorded his observations inside the well.

“He was very social, close to people, and always kind and did not like to hurt anyone. He was light hearted — these were the characteristics that distinguished his personality.”
Koshak “was like a father to me,” and the family remained proud that he earned the trust of the Kingdom’s leadership, his nephew said.
“He greeted and received the king every year during the last 10 days of Ramadan.”
Koshak held a number of government positions in Makkah over a long career, including undersecretary for technical affairs at the Makkah Municipality.
He led the cleaning team of the Zamzam well four decades ago and wrote a book, “Zamzam: The Holy Water,” in which he recorded his observations inside the well.
“Cleaning the Zamzam well was one of his most important projects, a huge task under the direction of the late King Khalid,” his nephew said.
In his book, Koshak outlined the history of the well and its water sources, and also documented the archaeological objects found during the cleaning project.
The late engineer said: “By observation, it became clear that there are only two main sources of water, one toward the Kaaba, and the other toward Ajyad. As for the third source, which historical narratives said is on the side of Jabal Abu Qubays and Al-Safa, I found instead 12 small holes between building stones.”
Koshak’s interests included alternative medicine, which led to him establishing a specialist center in Jeddah.


Call to declare Houthis terrorists

Call to declare Houthis terrorists
Saudi authorities inspect a site in the Jazan region where a Houthi projectile fell early on Tuesday. (SPA)
Updated 03 March 2021

Call to declare Houthis terrorists

Call to declare Houthis terrorists
  • Iran taking advantage of international inaction, says analyst

JEDDAH: The US condemnation of the Houthi attack on Jazan “makes no difference” to the Iran-backed militia’s behavior as the group should be recognized as a terrorist organization, a Saudi political analyst said.

“Previous condemnations against Iran and its militia failed to stop them from what they wanted to do,” Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, who is also an international relations scholar, told Arab News.
The US Embassy in Riyadh on Tuesday condemned the latest missile attack by the Houthis targeting a border village in the Jazan region in southwestern Saudi Arabia, in which five civilians were injured. “We call on the Houthis to stop attacking innocent civilians and to engage in the diplomatic process to end this conflict,” the embassy said.
Al-Shehri said that if the US was serious in its denunciations, then the administration should have kept the Houthis on its terrorist list: “That is the least it can do, let alone being an ally to the Kingdom.”
“On the international level, lifting the ‘terrorist’ designation imposed on the Houthis was like giving them the green light to continue in their terror activities as if they were not harmful, terrorist acts,” Al-Shehri said.
He expects more than words of condemnation from the US as Saudi Arabia has been on the receiving end of several Houthi attacks.
“The problem with the new US administration is that it knows quite well where dangers and problems are,” Al-Shehri said.

On the international level, lifting the ‘terrorist’ designation imposed on the Houthis was like giving them the green light to continue in their terror activities.

Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, Political analyst

He said Iran is keen to “heat up” the region and the increasing Houthi attacks on the Kingdom reflect that.
“Regionally, Iran is taking advantage of the current unrest and instability in the region for the benefit of its nuclear project,” he said. “The plan is being led by the military ruler of the Houthis, Hassan Irlu, who is now in Sanaa.”
The Houthis are under pressure in Marib and they are trying to use all ballistic missiles, military projectiles and drones against the civilians, Al-Shehri said.
“Iran is to be blamed, not the Houthis,” he said.
“The international community that is watching silently is also responsible for the terror acts by the Houthi militia, which has turned against the country’s legitimate government.”
UN Resolution 2216 acknowledges the legitimacy of the Yemeni government, but Al-Shehri said: “It has not even been implemented. Nor has it brought peace and stability to Yemen or the region.”
Meanwhile, the joint coalition forces on Tuesday night intercepted and destroyed a booby-trapped drone launched by the Houthi militia.
“It was (sent) in a systematic and deliberate manner to target civilians and civilian objects in the southern region,” Brig. Turki Al-Maliki, spokesman for the Coalition to Support Legitimacy, said in a statement to SPA.

Soleimani’s shadow
Qassem Soleimani left a trail of death and destruction in his wake as head of Iran’s Quds Force … until his assassination on Jan. 3, 2020. Yet still, his legacy of murderous interference continues to haunt the region
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