Saudi Arabia remains committed to Palestinian state, foreign minister tells Arab League

Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan head the Kingdom's delegation at an extraordinary Arab League meeting in Cairo on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan head the Kingdom's delegation at an extraordinary Arab League meeting in Cairo on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan head the Kingdom's delegation at an extraordinary Arab League meeting in Cairo on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan head the Kingdom's delegation at an extraordinary Arab League meeting in Cairo on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. (SPA)
Arab League foreign ministers held an emergency meeting in Cairo on Monday, Feb. 8 2021, to discuss the Middle East peace process and preserving Arab national unity. (SPA)
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Arab League foreign ministers held an emergency meeting in Cairo on Monday, Feb. 8 2021, to discuss the Middle East peace process and preserving Arab national unity. (SPA)
Arab League foreign ministers held an emergency meeting in Cairo on Monday, Feb. 8 2021, to discuss the Middle East peace process and preserving Arab national unity. (SPA)
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Arab League foreign ministers held an emergency meeting in Cairo on Monday, Feb. 8 2021, to discuss the Middle East peace process and preserving Arab national unity. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets his Palestinian counterpart Riyad Al-Maliki in Cairo on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets his Palestinian counterpart Riyad Al-Maliki in Cairo on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein in Cairo on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein in Cairo on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets his Libyan counterpart Mohamed Taher Siala in Cairo on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets his Libyan counterpart Mohamed Taher Siala in Cairo on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets his Libyan counterpart Mohamed Taher Siala in Cairo on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets his Libyan counterpart Mohamed Taher Siala in Cairo on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. (SPA)
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Updated 08 February 2021

Saudi Arabia remains committed to Palestinian state, foreign minister tells Arab League

Arab League foreign ministers held an emergency meeting in Cairo on Monday, Feb. 8 2021, to discuss the Middle East peace process and preserving Arab national unity. (SPA)
  • Prince Faisal bin Farhan used his address to condemn attacks by Yemen’s Houthi militia against civilian targets
  • Aboul Gheit says Palestinian position must be strengthened internally and externally

CAIRO: Saudi Arabia remains committed to the establishment of a Palestinian state, the Kingdom’s foreign minister said on Monday.
Prince Faisal bin Farhan told Arab League foreign ministers during an emergency meeting in Cairo that the Kingdom stands with the Palestinian people and firmly supports all efforts to reach a just and comprehensive solution. He added said that peace is a strategic option that would guarantee regional stability.
“We call on the international community to exert more efforts to revive the peace process to establish an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital,” he said.
The Arab League meeting took place as leaders from rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah held reconciliation talks in Egypt.
In their final statement, the ministers affirmed the “Arab rejection of any unilateral Israeli projects or steps that negatively affect the rights of the Palestinian people, violate international law and undermine the two-state solution, for which there is no alternative.”
They urged all international parties — including the UN and the other members of the Middle East Quartet: the US, the EU and Russia — to take all practical steps to launch credible negotiations that can address final-status issues and end the Israeli occupation. They stressed the importance of the Quartet’s role in achieving a peace agreement based on the two-state solution.
The ministers welcomed a ruling by the International Criminal Court on its territorial jurisdiction in Palestine, which concluded that it extends to the territories occupied by Israel since 1967: Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. They also praised the decision by the Palestinians to hold elections and the current reconciliation efforts.
During his opening address, Egyptian Foreign Minster Sameh Shoukry said Cairo is working to ensure this reconciliation process between the two sides succeeds, while supporting the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people in facing external challenges.
He added that regional stability will only be achieved when there is a “permanent and comprehensive peace based on a just settlement that fulfills the aspirations and hopes of the Palestinian people.”
Shoukry warned Israel against making any changes to the status of Jerusalem, and stressed the importance of Palestinian refugees’ right of return.
Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the “Palestinian issue is the focus of Arab consensus,” and warned that Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem constitutes a serious obstacle to the two-state solution.
He called for the relaunch of negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis, and renewed the league’s commitment to supporting Palestine until it achieves independence.
“The Palestinian position must be strengthened internally and externally,” he said, adding that while Israel continues to undermine the two-state solution, the Palestinian people are also losing confidence in that outcome.
Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s foreign minister, said the Palestinian issue is the key to stability in the region, and Amman is ready to engage with the new US administration as part of the efforts to achieve peace.
The Kingdom’s Prince Faisal also used his address to condemn attacks by the Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen against civilian targets, and hit out at Tehran’s destabilizing activities in the wider region.
“One of the most dangerous threats facing our region is the Iranian regime’s continuous violations of international laws, charters and norms by threatening the security and stability of our countries, interfering in their internal affairs and supporting armed militias that sow chaos, division and devastation in many Arab countries,” he said.
The Saudi foreign minister said the nations most affected by Iranian threats should be among the main participants in any international negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program and other activities that threaten regional security.
“We call on the international community to put an end to Iran’s violations and its threat to the region,” he added.
On the situation in Libya, he warned of the danger of regional interference and said the Kingdom supports the country’s unity and territorial integrity. He also said Saudi Arabia supports Iraq in its efforts to achieve stability at all levels and urged the international community to fulfill its responsibilities to ensure the security of the country.
Prince Faisal also held meetings with fellow foreign ministers Riyad Al-Maliki, from Palestine, Fuad Hussein, from Iraq, and Mohamed Taher Siala, from Libya, on the sidelines of the gathering.


Saudi Arabia announces 11 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 11 more COVID-19 deaths
Updated 23 July 2021

Saudi Arabia announces 11 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 11 more COVID-19 deaths
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 496,810
  • A total of 8,141 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced 11 deaths from COVID-19 and 1,247 new infections on Friday.
Of the new cases, 263 were recorded in Riyadh, 211 in the Eastern Province, 209 in Makkah, 157 in Asir, 90 in Jazan, 68 in Madinah, 55 in Hail, 51 in Najran, 24 in the Northern Borders region, 21 in Al-Baha, 19 in Tabuk, and six in Al-Jouf.
The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 496,810 after 1,160 more patients recovered from the virus.
A total of 8,141 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.
Over 23.7 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date.


A look into modernization of tawafa profession as Hajj 2021 ends

A mutawwif is someone who has been appointed by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to guide pilgrims. (Supplied)
A mutawwif is someone who has been appointed by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to guide pilgrims. (Supplied)
Updated 23 July 2021

A look into modernization of tawafa profession as Hajj 2021 ends

A mutawwif is someone who has been appointed by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to guide pilgrims. (Supplied)
  • Pilgrims used to stay up to four months, in comparison to spending less than a week at the moment

MAKKAH: Shadia Jumbi has worked in the tawafa profession since she was eight years old, helping pilgrims and guiding them through Hajj.

“We are used to traveling to Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and China to bring pilgrims who are later met at the pilgrims’ city in Jeddah. We used to receive pilgrims and supervise them during the Hajj journey in the holy sites and throughout the Hajj phases. They used to stay in Makkah for up to four months, in comparison to spending less than a week (there) at the moment.”
Tawafa establishments are a key part of the Hajj experience, managing pilgrims’ affairs upon their arrival in the Kingdom until they leave for their homeland after the holy rituals have been performed. A mutawwif is someone who has been appointed by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to guide pilgrims. These two elements are being brought into line with trade regimes and universal standards through development and modernization.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Shadia Jumbi recalled how pilgrims were captivated by Makkah’s communities. They learned about their customs and traditions, tried Hijazi food, and brought along their culture which merged with the Saudi culture.

• She also recalled that five stories used to be dedicated to pilgrims in Makkah’s houses, with homeowners living in the highest story. They interacted with the household members as an integral part of their Hajj experience. Nowadays, pilgrims eat, drink, and stay at hotels and camps. They do not interact with Makkah’s communities.

Jumbi, who is 70, is considered to be one of the first mutawwif in Makkah. She remembered when guides would fly to the home countries of people who wanted to visit the Kingdom, saying there were vast differences between Hajj in the past and Hajj in the present and that Hajj used to be an arduous journey for both pilgrims and mutawwif.
She recalled how pilgrims were captivated by Makkah’s communities. They learned about their customs and traditions, tried Hijazi food, and brought along their culture which merged with the Saudi culture. They witnessed Makkah’s manners which were a reflection of the host country’s manners and delivered a positive message to all their communities abroad.
“In the past, we received them in our homes, cooked for them, washed their clothes, celebrated them and invited them to join all our celebrations and occasions. They were keen to learn the Arabic language and learn about the most important places in Makkah and visit them, as well as the historic and archaeological sites.”

Tawafa establishments are a key part of the Hajj experience, managing pilgrims’ affairs upon their arrival in the Kingdom until they leave for their homeland after the holy rituals have been performed.

She recalled that five stories used to be dedicated to pilgrims in Makkah’s houses, with homeowners living in the highest story. They interacted with the household members as an integral part of their Hajj experience.
Nowadays, pilgrims eat, drink, and stay at hotels and camps. They do not interact with Makkah’s communities.
Jumbi said that the mutawwif would grow close to pilgrims and form a strong relationship and solid bond with them.
“Nowadays, the mutawwif has become a mere number in a series of the tawafa offices that are spread everywhere. They no longer play their role in supervising tourist trips and market visits and, when pilgrims get sick, we drive them to the hospital, treat them and supervise them from the moment they arrive until they leave.”

Shadia Jumbi, who is 70,  is considered to be one of the first mutawwif in Makkah. Jumbi has worked in the tawafa profession since she was eight years old, helping pilgrims and guiding them through Hajj.


She spoke of farewells, tears and open arms. “When we visited them in their countries, they did not let us stay in hotels. They received us in their homes. The mutawwif was respected and, unlike today, their main role was dealing with pilgrims as a family they respect.”
Ahmed Saleh Halabi, a writer specializing in Hajj and Umrah services, said there were many benefits to tawafa institutions being transformed into companies.
“There are benefits and gains in developing the human resources working in services and administration. Their work will not be limited to working in the Hajj season alone, but also throughout the year through diversifying service programs. The role of the tawafa companies will not be limited to securing and preparing the pilgrims’ camps in the holy sites, as they will also secure housing and food for pilgrims (in Makkah and the holy sites).
“Moreover, the companies will be able to organize the visits’ program in Makkah, as well as the tourism programs in Taif and Jeddah, which means that contributors and workers in the area of providing services for pilgrims will have economic benefits, met with the pilgrims’ benefits through the services they receive.”

Mentalities must change and everyone must accept the new shift.
Ahmed Saleh Halabi
Writer specializing in Hajj and Umrah services

Halabi said that if institutions worked on diversifying their services, they would receive different sources of income and change their traditional methods of receiving pilgrims, supervising their housing, setting up their camps in the holy sites, and providing buses to transport them.
“It is hard to demand (that) contributors inject money in new companies to increase capital, however, it is possible for companies to obtain concessional loans from banks that enable them to stand strong.”
He also said that “mentalities must change” and “everyone must accept” the new shift.

Old business card of mutawwif.

“Companies now need new ideas that call for diversifying services and participating in other services that the institutions were not involved with, such as investment in transportation and food.”
He said transformation could not harm tawafa establishments and mutawwif and that he expected change to be beneficial as they could work through the year, instead of seasonally, in any profession or service.
A mutawwif at the National Tawafa Establishment for South Asian Pilgrims, Abdul Aziz Abdul Razzaq, agreed that transformation had its advantages.
These included having a memorandum of association, a statute, share certificates, and a corporate governance manual to protect the company, ensure contributors’ rights and develop the organizational structure for members and committees by choosing the skills of professionals based on adopted standards.
Other benefits were discussing strategic goals and reports in regular meetings, and getting into investment opportunities with external partnerships — for areas such as communication, housing, food and transport — as well as providing high-quality services for pilgrims, enabling contributors to trade and purchase shares in the future, raising the share value for shareholders, enabling contributors to join the service delivery companies and the possibility of entering the Umrah system in the future.

Decoder

Tawafa and mutawwif

Tawafa establishments are a key part of the Hajj experience, managing pilgrims’ affairs upon their arrival in Saudi Arabia until they leave for their homeland after the holy rituals have been performed. A mutawwif is someone who has been appointed by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah to guide pilgrims. These two elements are being brought into line with trade regimes and universal standards through development and modernization.


Saudi authorities ramp up health inspection tours

Officials have urged the public to report any suspected health breaches. (SPA)
Officials have urged the public to report any suspected health breaches. (SPA)
Updated 23 July 2021

Saudi authorities ramp up health inspection tours

Officials have urged the public to report any suspected health breaches. (SPA)
  • The municipalities urged all commercial facilities to abide by regulations to ensure public safety

DAMMAM: The Eastern Province municipality carried out 1,314 inspection tours in one day across shopping malls, commercial centers and stores to monitor compliance with health and safety measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.

These checks resulted in three commercial outlets being shut down, while 41 violators were given penalties for ignoring health regulations.

The municipality of Asir also carried out 3,348 inspection tours of commercial centers and facilities during the Eid holidays. The authorities closed three commercial outlets, while many other violators were given penalties.

The violations included noncompliance with social distancing and mask wearing, leniency in measuring the temperature of customers, overcrowding issues, and a failure to effectively use the Tawakkalna app.

The municipalities urged all commercial facilities to abide by regulations to ensure public safety and prevent the virus from spreading.

Officials have urged the public to report any suspected health breaches by phoning the 940 call center number or contacting authorities through the Balady app.


Saudi aid agency KSrelief completes food project in Bangladesh

Saudi aid agency KSrelief completes food project in Bangladesh
Updated 23 July 2021

Saudi aid agency KSrelief completes food project in Bangladesh

Saudi aid agency KSrelief completes food project in Bangladesh
  • Joint teams of KSrelief and the MLW reached more than 80 distribution points inside Bangladesh refugee camps 

DHAKA: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief), in cooperation with the Muslim World League (MWL), has concluded the distribution of 80,000 food baskets for Rohingya refugees and the communities hosting them in Bangladesh.

The project lasted for two months, benefiting 500,000 people in the Cox’s Bazar, Dhaka, Jessore, Rajshahi, Chittagong, and Panchi Sur island regions.

The joint teams of KSrelief and the MLW reached more than 80 distribution points inside the refugee camps and in various regions of Bangladesh.

The field teams traveled thousands of kilometers to reach the neediest families in Bangladesh in response to repeated global calls to contribute to alleviating the suffering of refugees and in support of the UN rapid response plan to the humanitarian crisis.

KSrelief received many certificates of quality and achievement from the authorities for adhering to high levels and standards in implementation, the most important of which is the application of social distancing in the areas of distribution and following COVID-19 precautionary measures.

 

 

 

 

 


Who’s Who: Abdullah Almahmoud, head of governance at Saudi Arabia’s Hassana Investment Company

Who’s Who: Abdullah Almahmoud, head of governance at Saudi Arabia’s Hassana Investment Company
Updated 22 July 2021

Who’s Who: Abdullah Almahmoud, head of governance at Saudi Arabia’s Hassana Investment Company

Who’s Who: Abdullah Almahmoud, head of governance at Saudi Arabia’s Hassana Investment Company

Abdullah Almahmoud is head of governance and compliance, and board secretary, of Hassana Investment Company, the investment arm of the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI).

He joined Hassana in Riyadh in June 2020 and works with the board of directors and executive management to ensure appropriate governance is in place and adhered to.

Prior to this, Almahmoud worked with the Capital Market Authority (CMA), Riyadh, from February 2009 to May 2020. His role required investigating possible violations of capital market law and implementation of its regulations, drafting CMA’s regulations and legal documents, leading litigation brought by the CMA against violators, and execution of CMA and court-issued decisions and penalties.

At the CMA, he worked as a member of the enforcement development group from November 2013 to April 2016, and was secretary, enforcement committee, from April 2013 to January 2016.

He was a secondee, office of international affairs, US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Washington, from January 2018 to January 2019.

Almahmoud worked as legal researcher for the general department of legal affairs at the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) from May 2008 to February 2009.

He began his professional career as an intern at the office of governmental affairs, Saudi Aramco, in Riyadh, between June 2005 to August 2005.

Almahmoud completed a masters degree (LLM) in business and finance law from George Washington University, the US, in 2011 and a bachelor of law degree (LLB) from King Saud University Riyadh in 2007.

He is a certified compliance officer (CCO), from the Financial Academy of Saudi Arabia (2020), and certified governance, risk and compliance officer (GRC), from the London School of Business and Finance (2020).

Almahmoud gained a general securities qualification certificate from the CMA in 2017.