Saudi foreign minister receives calls from French, German counterparts

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minster Prince Faisal bin Farhan receives phone calls from his counterparts in France and Germany. (File/SPA)
Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minster Prince Faisal bin Farhan receives phone calls from his counterparts in France and Germany. (File/SPA)
Short Url
Updated 26 April 2021

Saudi foreign minister receives calls from French, German counterparts

Saudi foreign minister receives calls from French, German counterparts
  • They discussed relations and ways to enhance them in all fields

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minster Prince Faisal bin Farhan received a phone call from his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian on Monday, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said.
During the call, the two ministers discussed bilateral relations and ways to enhance joint cooperation, in addition to exchanging views on a number of regional and international issues of concern to both countries.
Prince Faisal also received a call from his German counterpart Heiko Maas, where they discussed bilateral relations and ways to develop them, as well as the latest developments.


Pakistani spends four decades in service of the Grand Mosque

Pakistani spends four decades in service of the Grand Mosque
Updated 6 sec ago

Pakistani spends four decades in service of the Grand Mosque

Pakistani spends four decades in service of the Grand Mosque
  • The Pakistani worker witnessed the restoration of the Kaaba during the reign of the late King Fahd and said it was one of the most important and beautiful stages of his life
  • 61-year-old Qandal is a supervisor for sanitation work at the Grand Mosque

Tareq Al-Thaqafi

MAKKAH: Ahmed Khan Qandal, who came from Mandi Bahauddin in Pakistan in late 1983 at the age of 23, never thought that he would spend the next 40 years of his life in Saudi Arabia, specifically as a sanitation worker at the Grand Mosque in Makkah.
Qandal initially promised his parents he would return home as soon as possible. But Makkah and the service of the Grand Mosque kept him preoccupied as his parents have since passed on.
The years flew by and today the 61-year-old Qandal is a supervisor for sanitation work at the Grand Mosque.
His memory is made up of different Saudi events, the most important of which were the Grand Mosque’s second and third Saudi expansions projects, and the Kaaba restoration project.
“Since I came to Saudi Arabia almost 40 years ago, I felt that I was among family and I never felt alienated,” Qandal told Arab News. 
“Whenever I meet someone new, they tell me how lucky I am
to be able to serve the Grand Mosque and pray there. I was always near the Holy Kaaba and this is a great honor that only a person with a special relationship with God can have. I was blessed to be able to do this work for four decades.”
He noted that he came to Saudi Arabia during the reign of the late King Fahd bin Abdulaziz. 
“I worked in cleaning the outer courtyards, and approximately four years later, the second Saudi expansion of the Grand Mosque happened,” Qandal said. “I was a witness to how Muslims began to perform their rituals more comfortably.”
The Pakistani worker witnessed the restoration of the Kaaba during the reign of the late King Fahd and said it was one of the most important and beautiful stages of his life.
Qandal believes God chose him to witness many significant events, including the third Saudi expansion during the reign of the late King Abdullah.
Aside from his time at the Grand Mosque, Qandal also worked with a cleaning company for 11 years until he moved to the Saudi Binladin Group. Over the years, he became known for his efficiency and hard work.
Working with warm, welcoming people from all over the world is what has stuck out the most for Qandal during his time at the Grand Mosque.
“We were all loving brothers,” he said. “All the workers in the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Grand Mosques and the Prophet’s Mosque operate as a united team to show the Two Holy Mosques in the best way possible.”
Qandal has two sons and a daughter. One of his sons works in the electrical department at the Grand Mosque and the other is with his sister in Pakistan.
He stressed that his wish is to be buried in Makkah, the city he lives in, pointing out that whoever lives in the service of the Two Holy Mosques cannot in any way feel bored or lonely.
“Happiness, love, harmony, tolerance, mercy, and peace can be found in all corners of the Grand Mosque,” Qandal said. “Where Muslims coming from all over the world come to praise God.”


UN travel chief hails Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector successes during pandemic

UN travel chief hails Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector successes during pandemic
Updated 34 min 48 sec ago

UN travel chief hails Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector successes during pandemic

UN travel chief hails Saudi Arabia’s tourism sector successes during pandemic
  • Saudi government’s intervention to support its domestic industry cemented its prominent position among global bodies

MADRID: Saudi Arabia’s successful efforts to keep its tourism sector afloat at the height of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has helped project the country’s influential voice on the international stage, a UN regional travel chief has claimed.

Basmah Al-Mayman, the UN World Tourism Organization’s director for the Middle East, said the Saudi government’s intervention to support its domestic industry had further cemented its prominent position among global bodies.

The Kingdom has for a number of years been an active member of the UNWTO’s executive council for tourism and is vice president of its current session.

“The organization has recently opened its first regional office in the Middle East and the Kingdom hosted, for the first time, a regular session, which was the meeting of the regional committee for the Middle East, in May,” Al-Mayman added.

She pointed out that Saudi Arabia’s participation and contributions to the WTO had helped transform it into a specialized agency of the UN while encouraging the adoption of Arabic as an official language in the organization, and the Kingdom now held key positions on the executive boards of a number of high-profile international organizations.

While the COVID-19 pandemic had crippled the tourism sector in many parts of the world, Al-Mayman said: “The Kingdom intensified its efforts, along with the UNWTO, and several member states, to form the International Committee for Tourism Crises, the Kingdom’s membership of which is represented by its Ministry of Tourism which has also hosted the committee’s work during the current year.” She noted that Saudi Arabia’s success in opening up domestic tourism during the summer of 2020 while maintaining virus health and safety precautions had been used as an example for other countries to follow.


Thousands of volunteers in Riyadh help plant trees in shape of map of Saudi Arabia

Thousands of volunteers in Riyadh help plant trees in shape of map of Saudi Arabia
Updated 24 September 2021

Thousands of volunteers in Riyadh help plant trees in shape of map of Saudi Arabia

Thousands of volunteers in Riyadh help plant trees in shape of map of Saudi Arabia
  • The completed project, covering 170,000 square meters is expected to be one of the biggest afforested maps in the world

RIYADH: Thousands of Riyadh residents turned out to take part in a tree-planting project as part of the Khadra Ya Darna (Green is our Homeland) initiative launched to celebrate the 91st Saudi National Day on Sept. 23.

The trees are being planted close to King Khalid International Airport in the shape of the map of Saudi Arabia, which will be visible from the air to travelers as they fly in. It will cover an area of 170,000 square meters, which organizers say will make it one of the biggest afforested maps in the world, and an important city landmark.

The project is part of a wider Green Riyadh initiative and its director, Abdul Aziz Al-Moqbel, is delighted that so many local people volunteered to help.

“We were happy with the huge participation of young and old from all over Riyadh to support this national initiative on the 91st National Day,” he said. “We want everybody to be part of Green Riyadh, which is an environmental and sustainable initiative that will make the inhabitants of Riyadh proud of their city’s present and future.”

He added that the initiative aims to increase the share of green space in the city from the current 1.5 percent to 9.1 percent by 2030 in an effort to improve air quality, reduce temperatures, and protect the environment and biodiversity.

The participation of local people in Green Riyadh is considered one the most important elements of the project, which aims to plant 7.5 million trees in the city and is considered one of the biggest urban afforestation projects in the world.

It is one of the main projects launched in the capital by King Salman, based on initiatives introduced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, chairman of the board of directors of the Royal Commission for Riyadh, to help achieve the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030 to enhance and develop Riyadh so that it ranks in economic terms as one of the top 10 cities in the world.


Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone launched toward southwest Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone launched toward southwest Saudi Arabia
Updated 24 September 2021

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone launched toward southwest Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition destroys Houthi drone launched toward southwest Saudi Arabia
  • Houthi militia’s escalation in attacks is deliberate attempt to target civilians: Coalition

RIYADH: The Arab coalition intercepted and destroyed a booby-trapped Houthi drone launched toward Saudi Arabia’s southwestern city of Abha on Friday.

The militia’s escalation in attacks is a deliberate attempt to target civilians, the coalition said. 

On Thursday, the Iran-backed militia launched five armed drones toward Saudi Arabia as people celebrated the Kingdom’s 91st national day. All the drones were intercepted. 

On Wednesday, the Houthis launched three drones toward the southwestern city of Khamis Mushait, all of which were shot down.


Saudi Arabia announces 4 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 4 more COVID-19 deaths
Updated 24 September 2021

Saudi Arabia announces 4 more COVID-19 deaths

Saudi Arabia announces 4 more COVID-19 deaths
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 535,842
  • A total of 8,688 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced four deaths from COVID-19 and 51 new infections on Friday.

Of the new cases, 14 were recorded in Riyadh, 12 in Makkah, five in the Eastern Province, four in Madinah, three in Jazan, three in Najran, two in Asir, two in Tabuk, one in Hail, one in Al-Jouf and one in the Northern Borders region.

The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 535,842 after 59 more patients recovered from the virus.

A total of 8,688 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.

Over 41.3 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date.