Exclusive: Patriot missile deal to help boost Saudi defenses, secure world energy supplies, says Greek FM

Short Url
Updated 22 April 2021

Exclusive: Patriot missile deal to help boost Saudi defenses, secure world energy supplies, says Greek FM

Exclusive: Patriot missile deal to help boost Saudi defenses, secure world energy supplies, says Greek FM
  • Nikos Dendias told Arab News he sees Saudi Arabia’s development plans as “historic” and would like Greece to be a part of it
  • He said Turkey has unintentionally brought Eastern Mediterranean and Gulf countries together by highlighting their common principles

JEDDAH: The Patriot air defense system that will be provided by Greece to Saudi Arabia will not only bolster the Kingdom’s security but also secure global energy supplies, Nikos Dendias, the Greek foreign minister, has told Arab News.

He made the remark during an exclusive interview on Tuesday, after signing an agreement on draft arrangements for the legal status of the Greek armed forces in Saudi Arabia that will be supporting the Kingdom’s defense capabilities.

Earlier, Dendias and Nikos Panagiotopoulos, the Greek defense minister, met Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. According to a Saudi Press Agency report, during the meeting they reviewed Greek-Saudi bilateral relations, joint cooperation in different fields and ways to support and develop such cooperation, besides current regional issues.

The meeting was also attended by Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman and Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan.




Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias (L) meets with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh. (Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

“The reason I'm here today is to sign an agreement with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia according to which a (battery) of Greek Patriot missiles will be stationed in Saudi Arabia in order to help the defenses of the Kingdom, but also secure the energy supply of the world,” Dendias told Arab News.

He said “the sky is the limit” as far as cooperation between Greece and Saudi Arabia is concerned, adding that “it is a new era and we are progressing rapidly.

“There’s lots that we can achieve in defense, there’s lots that we can achieve in creating a climate which would secure energy and would secure cooperation between like-minded countries. We have done quite a lot but there’s lot to be done.”

Discussions between the two sides extended to other areas besides defense. Saudi Arabia has been opening its doors to international companies and foreign investors to contribute to the Kingdom’s transformation and development plans.

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

Asked whether Greek companies were looking forward to participating in the upcoming projects, Dendias said he saw the opportunity as something much bigger than a matter of business.

“It is not just money; it is not just exporting services. It is not just good for my country and good for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” he said.

“This is a project that I have to say has a historical component. It's a huge change and I would like my country to be a part of it.”




Nikos Dendias, Greek foreign minister, told Arab News the Patriot air defense system that will be provided by Greece to Saudi Arabia will bolster the Kingdom’s security. (AN Photo/Huda Bashatah)

On April 16, Dendias was in the news when he and his Turkish counterpart clashed openly at a joint news conference in Ankara. Seeking to ease months of tensions over territorial disputes in the Eastern Mediterranean, he met Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. But the news conference, which began with hopes of improved relations, quickly descended into acrimonious accusations from both sides.

“Unintentionally Turkey pushed towards that direction in the sense that made everybody else realize that they act in a different way … they have an understanding … based on international law, based on international law of the sea, based on good neighborhood relations,” Dendias told Arab News.

“But what I wish that will happen in the future is that Turkey will understand that this, this is the right way forward and Turkey will eventually join this understanding between countries. But of course, being an optimist does not mean turning blind. There's a long way to go before we can see that.”




Nikos Dendias spoke to Arab News after signing an agreement on draft arrangements for the legal status of the Greek armed forces in Saudi Arabia that will be supporting the Kingdom’s defense capabilities. (AN Photo/Huda Bashatah)

Elaborating on the disputes embroiling Turkey, Greece and Cyprus over oil and gas drilling in the Eastern Mediterranean he said: “Greece believes in renewables. Greece is not going to start digging the bottom of the sea of the Mediterranean in order to find gas, in order to find oil, for a very, very simple reason. 

“We need 10 or 20 years to find it and exploit it, and cost-wise it would be so much more expensive than, for example, in Saudi Arabia. So, economically I don’t envision Greece becoming an oil-producing country.

“And with all due respect, the Aegean (Sea), for example, is a paradise on earth. We are not planning to turn into a Gulf of Mexico. So, Greece wishes to have energy supplies. Greece wishes to have very good relations with the Saudi Kingdom, but Greece does not plan in the foreseeable future to become an oil- and gas-producing country.”

According to UNWTO, Greece broke an all-time record by welcoming 33 million international visitors in 2019, making it a leader in global tourism and has been high on the top of many tourists’ list.

Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Tourism Ahmed Al-Khateeb announced that the Kingdom was aiming to attract new investments worth $58 billion by 2023 in tourism infrastructure. The sector currently contributes 3.5 percent of the total GDP; the goal is to raise this figure to 10 percent.




Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias is received by his Saudi Arabian counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan in Riyadh. (Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Dendias believes Saudi Arabia has a lot of potential to develop its tourism sector, and with Greece’s vast experience in the sector, the people of the two nations have a lot to offer to one another and “many people would like to see what I’m seeing (here in the Kingdom).”

He rejected the notion that the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf are two geographically different regions with different threat perceptions, and asserted that they both face common challenges.

He said the challenges for the two regions come from two fronts with like-minded visions, which are moving away from peaceful relations and are in search of ways to create more challenges instead of being “good neighbors.”

“Globalization is here and threats and challenges are rather more common than they used to be,” Dendias told Arab News. “I believe that in this globalized world, things have become much closer than we believed in the past. Most countries, both the Gulf countries and the Eastern Mediterranean countries, face common challenges and common answers were required.”

Dendias said Saudi Arabia and Greece have both been in alignment on the most pressing issues, rejecting extremism and favoring stability. “We have to try to achieve this common understanding for the region,” he said. “All countries in the region should act according to international law, (the UN Convention on the) Law of the Sea, the United Nations Charter and good neighborly relations.”




Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias meets with his Saudi Arabian counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan in Riyadh. (Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Achieving good neighborly relations “should be our target,” he said, adding: “Is it easy? Probably not. Is it feasible? I would say yes.”

Dendias also touched on the thorny issue of refugees and the challenges that Greece faces as the transit point for tens of thousands of migrants and refugees trying to reach Europe from Africa and the Middle East.

In March 2016, the European Union entered into a landmark agreement with Turkey, through which hundreds of thousands of migrants had transited to reach EU soil, to limit the number of asylum seeker arrivals.

Under the deal, irregular migrants attempting to enter Greece would be returned to Turkey, and Ankara would take steps to prevent new migratory routes from opening. In exchange, the EU agreed to resettle Syrian refugees from Turkey on a one-to-one basis, reduce visa restrictions for Turkish citizens, pay 6 billion euros in aid to Turkey for Syrian migrant communities, update the customs union, and re-energize stalled talks regarding Turkey’s accession to the European Union.

However, tensions arose in spring 2020, when Ankara threatened to let hundreds of thousands of migrants into Greece before backing off.




Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias during a meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Adel Al-Jubeir in Riyadh. (Saudi Press Agency)

Dendias said the migration and refugee crisis will be very difficult to resolve, especially with new tensions and crises in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

“There are countries that have instrumentalized the refugee crisis in order to apply pressure both to Greece and to the European Union for their own reasons and that is not acceptable,” he said.

He added: “It will be much easier if countries around the Mediterranean are stabilized and become functional states. I’m speaking about Syria and Libya, and we also have to address the challenge (arising) from Lebanon.

“Yet again, what we’re trying to achieve now is within our European family. Greece, with the European Union, is to create a new regime to address the huge challenge of migration and the refugee problem.”

For the whole year 2015 the number of sea arrivals to Greece from Turkey amounted to 856,723. According to the UNHCR, last year 15,696 migrants crossed into Greece.

“The refugee crisis and the migration crisis is here to stay with us,” Dendias said. “We will be dealing with this issue in the foreseeable future. And we will have to be prepared for it.”

----------------------

Twitter: @Rawanradwan8


Saudi Arabia reopens consular section of its embassy in Kabul

Saudi Arabia reopens consular section of its embassy in Kabul
Updated 16 sec ago

Saudi Arabia reopens consular section of its embassy in Kabul

Saudi Arabia reopens consular section of its embassy in Kabul
  • The decision stems from the Kingdom’s keenness to provide all consular services to the Afghan people, SPA said

RIYADH:  Saudi Arabia reopened the consular section of its embassy in Kabul on Tuesday.

The decision stems from the Kingdom’s keenness to provide all consular services to the Afghan people, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Kingdom has called on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to urgently convene an extraordinary ministerial meeting to discuss the humanitarian situation in Afghanistan and pathways for a humanitarian response.

Pakistan has offered to host this meeting in Islamabad on Dec. 17.


In Jeddah, Italian gastronomic delights whet the Saudi appetite

‘It’s great to learn about Italian cuisine, drinks and desserts that we did not know about before. (Supplied)
‘It’s great to learn about Italian cuisine, drinks and desserts that we did not know about before. (Supplied)
Updated 30 November 2021

In Jeddah, Italian gastronomic delights whet the Saudi appetite

‘It’s great to learn about Italian cuisine, drinks and desserts that we did not know about before. (Supplied)
  • World Week of Italian Cuisine in Saudi Arabia concludes with feast in Jeddah

JEDDAH: The celebrations in Saudi Arabia for the sixth annual World Week of Italian Cuisine concluded with a showcase of Italian gastronomic delights, accompanied by authentic Italian music, at the country’s consulate general in Jeddah.
A number of Italian food brands, restaurants and catering companies took part in the event on Sunday, which celebrated Italian culinary arts by serving up traditional dishes to representatives of the Italian and Saudi communities.
“It’s great to learn about Italian cuisine, drinks and desserts that we did not know about before,” said Abdulrahman Rammal, one of the Saudi guests. “Our previous knowledge of Italian food was limited to certain meals, such as pizza and pasta, but the Italian Cuisine Week created more-knowledgeable awareness of the world of food.”
He said that a number of Italian sweets companies also presented their latest products, and added that such cultural events encourage Saudis to learn more about other nations and their peoples.
Stefano Stucci, the consul general of Italy in Jeddah, told Arab News: “The event is a worldwide initiative of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, with the support of Italian embassies and consulates around the world, aimed at promoting the quality and heritage of Italian cuisine, as distinctive signs of our identity and culture.”
The consulate general in Jeddah said it organizes, with selected partners, a number of events designed to promote Italian cuisine culture, and the uniqueness and diversity of authentic Italian ingredients and products.

Food exports play a vital role in the Italian economy. With an annual turnover of more than $163.4 billion, they represent the second-highest-ranking Italian manufacturing sector and account for 8 percent of national gross domestic product, according to Federalimentare, which protects and promotes the Italian food and beverage industry.


Saudi foreign minister meets Mexican officials

Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with Mexican foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard and Energy Secretary Rocío Nahle in Mexico City. (SPA)
Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with Mexican foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard and Energy Secretary Rocío Nahle in Mexico City. (SPA)
Updated 30 November 2021

Saudi foreign minister meets Mexican officials

Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with Mexican foreign minister Marcelo Ebrard and Energy Secretary Rocío Nahle in Mexico City. (SPA)
  • They discussed enhancing investment opportunities in a number of sectors as well as bilateral efforts in stabilizing energy markets

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan met with a number of Mexican officials as he visited the country.
He met his counterpart Marcelo Ebrard in Mexico City on Monday.
The pair discussed coordinating efforts to serve the interest of their nations.
They also praised Saudi Arabia and Mexico’s efforts on international security and stopping the spread of weapons that threaten the people across the globe.
Prince Faisal also met Energy Secretary Rocío Nahle.
They discussed enhancing investment opportunities in a number of sectors as well as bilateral efforts in stabilizing energy markets.
Prince Faisal also had meetings with the President of Mexican Council on Foreign Affairs Sergio M. Alcocer and the President of the Mexican Senate Olga Sánchez Cordero.
Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat, on a tour of Latin America, arrived in Brazil on Thursday to meet officials in Brasilia then opened the Kingdom’s new embassy building in the country on Friday.


Riyadh Season: Groves offers relaxing spa, shopping, entertainment, culinary experience

The zone contains several open spaces including an area surrounded by palm trees where visitors can discover its various activities. (AN photos by Saleh Al-Ghanim)
The zone contains several open spaces including an area surrounded by palm trees where visitors can discover its various activities. (AN photos by Saleh Al-Ghanim)
Updated 30 November 2021

Riyadh Season: Groves offers relaxing spa, shopping, entertainment, culinary experience

The zone contains several open spaces including an area surrounded by palm trees where visitors can discover its various activities. (AN photos by Saleh Al-Ghanim)
  • This place is ‘all about nature, relaxation, and quietness, so each zone has its flavor’

RIYADH: One of Riyadh Season’s 14 zones, the Groves, has opened its doors for visitors to experience its spa, restaurants, shops, and shows.

The Groves has combined work and relaxation through an area called The House, which consists of business meeting rooms in a luxurious environment.
Siham Hassanain, general manager of the Groves, told Arab News that the zone was a garden that reflected its name, meaning field of trees.
She said: “Visitors can hear the sound of fountains, water, and birds ... the place also has a special scent. The logo of the Groves contains the four elements of life which are water, air, fire, and earth.
“So, I used these four elements of life in the Groves. The water resembles the relaxation of the place, fire means action and attractions, earth means food, and air means memories.”
The zone contains several open spaces including Al-Jalsa, an area surrounded by palm trees where visitors can view the site and discover its various activities.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The Groves has combined work and relaxation through an area called The House, which consists of business meeting rooms in a luxurious environment.

• People can enjoy a number of attractions while at the Groves, including birds of Eden, an afternoon high tea experience where a selection of the finest teas are served in an aviary filled with classical live music.

People can enjoy a number of attractions while at the Groves, including birds of Eden, an afternoon high tea experience where a selection of the finest teas are served in an aviary filled with classical live music. Other restaurants such as GEM.IN.I and El Lechazo offer a range culinary delights.
Followers of fashion can buy from local designers showcasing their latest collections, and dog owners and their pets can meet in Riyadh’s first-ever canine park, Lucaland.

Dog owners and their pets can meet in Riyadh’s first- ever canine park, Lucaland.

Hassanain, founder of Siham International Trading Co., a Saudi firm operating in the hospitality, food, and beverage industry, noted that the Groves was located in the city’s Diplomatic Quarter with commanding views of Wadi Hanifah.
“Nature and trees are all around. Wadi Hanifah offers a unique experience ... a place to relax.
“Each zone in Riyadh Season has its own unique experience. If you want a vibrant area, go to Boulevard Riyadh City. Visit Al-Murabaa to try international restaurants. If you are looking for an Arabian night experience in the desert, Riyadh Oasis is the place.
“But the Groves is all about nature, relaxation, and quietness, so each zone has its flavor,” she added.


Madinah Library offers visitors 180,000 books

Madinah Library offers visitors 180,000 books. (SPA)
Madinah Library offers visitors 180,000 books. (SPA)
Updated 30 November 2021

Madinah Library offers visitors 180,000 books

Madinah Library offers visitors 180,000 books. (SPA)
  • The library houses around 180,000 books and 71 classifications, most of which are books on the prophetic biography with 86 titles, and other specialist administrations and departments

MADINAH: The Prophet’s Mosque Library in Madinah is seeking to enrich visitor knowledge through its 180,000 books.

The library, which is affiliated with the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, is considered one of the most important places that visitors to the Prophet’s Mosque are keen to visit.

It aims to offer people the opportunity to acquire skills and expertise, as well as enrich their knowledge, through its diverse range of books in more than 21 languages.

The library houses around 180,000 books and 71 classifications, most of which are books on the prophetic biography with 86 titles, and other specialist administrations and departments.

It also includes a smart digital library offering computers with e-books.

Authorities have allocated a location for the library on the northwestern roof of the second expansion of the mosque.