Saudi Arabia, Pakistan sign agreement to establish Saudi-Pakistani Supreme Coordination Council

Saudi Arabia, Pakistan sign agreement to establish Saudi-Pakistani Supreme Coordination Council
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman signs the agreement establishing the Saudi-Pakistani Supreme Coordination Council. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia, Pakistan sign agreement to establish Saudi-Pakistani Supreme Coordination Council
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Both countries signed a memorandum of understanding on illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and chemical precursors. (SPA English)
Saudi Arabia, Pakistan sign agreement to establish Saudi-Pakistani Supreme Coordination Council
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan during their meeting in Jeddah. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia, Pakistan sign agreement to establish Saudi-Pakistani Supreme Coordination Council
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Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan during their meeting in Jeddah. (SPA)
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Updated 08 May 2021

Saudi Arabia, Pakistan sign agreement to establish Saudi-Pakistani Supreme Coordination Council

Saudi Arabia, Pakistan sign agreement to establish Saudi-Pakistani Supreme Coordination Council
  • Imran Khan invites Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to visit Pakistan

JEDDAH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan have signed an agreement to establish the Saudi-Pakistani Supreme Coordination Council.

Ahead of the visit, Pakistan’s Cabinet on Tuesday approved the establishment of the council – a body created for streamlining bilateral cooperation between the two countries – to ‘remove hurdles’ to investment deals signed during the crown prince’s visit to Pakistan in February 2019.

Representatives from both countries also signed a memorandum of understanding on illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and chemical precursors, Saudi news agency SPA reported.

“Another MoU for financing eligible projects in the fields of energy, infrastructure, transportation, water, and communications between the Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was signed as well,” Al-Arabiya TV reported separately.

The two leaders also witnessed the signing of agreements increasing cooperation on people sentenced to penalties depriving freedom, and on crime prevention.

Khan arrived in the Kingdom on Friday evening for a three-day visit on the invitation of the crown prince, who was present at Jeddah airport to receive him and the first lady. He is accompanied by a high-level delegation, including the foreign minister and other members of the Cabinet.

The crown prince and Pakistani leader held wide-ranging talks on bilateral, regional and international issues in Jeddah, a statement from Pakistan’s foreign office said.

“The two leaders reaffirmed the strong and historic bonds between the two countries rooted firmly in shared beliefs, common values, mutual trust and longstanding tradition of mutual support,” the statement said, and added that the two parties agreed to “further strengthen, deepen and diversify the existing bilateral political, economic, trade, defense and security ties.”

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“Special emphasis was laid on increasing Saudi investments in Pakistan, collaboration in the field of energy, and increased job opportunities for Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia,” the statement said.

Saudi Arabia is home to more than two million Pakistanis who remit billions of dollars back home every year.

On regional issues, Khan outlined his vision of a ‘peaceful neighborhood.’ He lauded the crown prince for efforts and initiatives aimed at reinforcing and promoting regional peace.

Khan highlighted the situation in Indian-administered Kashmir and stressed the importance of a peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute. He also said Pakistan had made consistent efforts to support peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, the statement reported.

The Afghan question is important in the region against the backdrop of foreign troops pulling out of Pakistan’s neighboring country after a war that has lasted two decades, and that ends with the Taliban controlling huge swathes of the country.

During talks, issues related to the environment and climate change were discussed and the PM reportedly appreciated the crown prince’s ‘Green Saudi Arabia’ initiative.

Khan has reportedly also invited the crown prince to visit Pakistan at his earliest convenience, the foreign office said.

On Friday, Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, whose official visit preluded Khan’s, held talks with the Saudi crown prince and reviewed bilateral ties.

He also discussed defense cooperation with the Saudi military chief of staff.


France condemns Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, concerned about human rights in Iran

France condemns Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, concerned about human rights in Iran
Updated 40 min 52 sec ago

France condemns Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, concerned about human rights in Iran

France condemns Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, concerned about human rights in Iran
  • Saudi Arabia’s air defenses destroyed 17 Houthi drones launched toward the Kingdom’s southern region on Saturday
  • Rights groups said Raisi’s election as Iran’s new president was a blow for human rights

LONDON: France said it strongly condemned the Houthi drone attacks on Saudi Arabia, and called on the militia to immediately stop their destabilizing attacks in the region.
Saudi Arabia’s air defenses destroyed 17 drones launched toward the Kingdom’s southern region on Saturday, the Arab coalition said.
A booby-trapped drone targeted Khamis Mushait early in the morning before seven more targeting the southern region were intercepted in Yemeni airspace during the afternoon.
Khamis Mushait was again targeted by two drones in the evening and another drone targeted Najran late Saturday before six more were shot down near midnight.
The Arab coalition said the Houthi’s deliberate and systematic escalation against Yemen constituted a war crime, as the Iran-backed Houthis have been attacking the Kingdom with explosive-laden drones on an almost daily basis in recent weeks despite calls from the international community for a cease-fire in Yemen.
France said it was also concerned about human rights in Iran after Ebrahim Raisi has been elected as president.
President-elect Raisi, 60, won Friday’s election in which more than half the voters stayed away after many political heavyweights had been barred from running and as an economic crisis driven by US sanctions has battered the country.
Raisi, an ultraconservative cleric who heads Iran’s judiciary, will replace former President Hassan Rouhani.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch on Saturday said Raisi’s election as Iran’s new president was a blow for human rights and called for him to be investigated over his role in what Washington and rights groups have called the extrajudicial executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1988.
(With AFP and Reuters)


Saudi Arabia confirms 14 COVID-19 deaths, 1,212 new cases

Saudi Arabia confirms 14 COVID-19 deaths, 1,212 new cases
Updated 21 June 2021

Saudi Arabia confirms 14 COVID-19 deaths, 1,212 new cases

Saudi Arabia confirms 14 COVID-19 deaths, 1,212 new cases
  • The Kingdom says1,510 patients recovered in past 24 hours

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia recorded 14 new COVID-19 related deaths on Monday, raising the total number of fatalities to 7,691.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 1,212 new confirmed cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 475,403 people have now contracted the disease. 
Of the total number of cases, 10,584 remain active and 1,489 in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in Makkah with 376, followed by the capital Riyadh with 233, the Eastern Province with 224, Asir recorded 103, and Jazan confirmed 80 cases.
The health ministry also announced that 1,510 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 457,128.

The ministry renewed its call on the public to register to receive the vaccine, and adhere to the measures and abide by instructions.
The Ministry of Islamic Affairs carried out more than 22,000 inspection tours in mosques across the Kingdom during the past week to ensure that health and preventative measures are being implemented.
The ministry said that these monitoring tours are ongoing by mosque observers in the regions, and there are field monitoring committees working around the clock to remove all violations and take all legal measures.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 179 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 3.88 million.


Qatar receives new Saudi ambassador as the two mend ties

Qatar receives new Saudi ambassador as the two mend ties
Updated 21 June 2021

Qatar receives new Saudi ambassador as the two mend ties

Qatar receives new Saudi ambassador as the two mend ties

DUBAI: Saudi Prince Mansour bin Khalid Al-Saud has submitted a copy of his credentials to Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani to become the Saudi ambassador to Doha. 

He is the first to be reinstated by Arab states that had agreed to end a row with Qatar earlier this year. 

Al-Thani wished the new Saudi ambassador success in his duties, assuring him of all support to advance bilateral relations between the two countries to achieve closer cooperation in various fields, according to state-run Qatar News Agency. 

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain had agreed in January to end the boycott imposed in mid-2017 and restore political, trade and travel ties with Doha. Riyadh has taken the lead among the four in re-establishing relations.


Saudi Arabia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic places it at the highest ranks on international indexes

Saudi Arabia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic places it at the highest ranks on international indexes
According to ADAA, Saudi Arabia ranked among the top countries in three international indexes, among the world’s eight top countries in two indexes and among the 20 top countries in two others. (Shutterstock)
Updated 21 June 2021

Saudi Arabia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic places it at the highest ranks on international indexes

Saudi Arabia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic places it at the highest ranks on international indexes
  • ADAA follows up on the Kingdom’s progress and performance through the International Performance Hub, which compares the Kingdom’s performance against 217 other countries

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has placed it at the highest ranks on several international indexes according to the National Center for Performance Measurement (ADAA) for the years 2020-2021.
According to ADAA, Saudi Arabia ranked among the top countries in three international indexes, among the world’s eight top countries in two indexes and among the 20 top countries in two others.
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), the Kingdom ranked first worldwide in the response of entrepreneurs and the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The two indexes measured the levels of entrepreneurial motivation as Vision 2030 provided an ideal and flexible business environment able to withstand challenges such as the pandemic.

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According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), the Kingdom ranked first worldwide in the response of entrepreneurs and the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Kingdom has maintained its advanced position in the “food standards” indicator, where it was ranked first in 2020. This indicator is considered one of the sub-components of the “food security” index, released annually by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) to measure food security in countries based on four indicators: Food affordability, availability, quality and safety, and natural resources and resilience.
“The pandemic has forced many in the food industry to rethink our strategies and elevate our standards, providing the best food quality and services for our customers,” Mohammed Saleh, a restaurant owner based in Riyadh and Jeddah, told Arab News. “Our customers always come first and the quality of food was always a top priority but now with the extra care and precautions, customer satisfaction and safety is even more important.”
“Many restaurant owners I know have put into consideration all the changes that needed to be made to ensure that both quality and safety go hand in hand,” Saleh added. “We’ll only go forward from here.”
During the peak of the pandemic, the Kingdom jumped to eighth position among 113 countries in “the national food supply sufficiency” indicator and came ahead of 105 countries in growth of production of cereals and vegetables, climbing nine spots in the indicator in comparison to 2019. In the post-harvest and pre-consumption crops’ safety indicator, the Kingdom made significant progress, ranked among the 20 top countries worldwide.
The Kingdom has also come a long way in most of the indicators of the soft power index, measured based on three key performance indicators (KPIs): Reputation, familiarity and influence, where it ranked 20th and came ahead of 85 countries in its response to the pandemic, according to the Brand Finance report.
ADAA follows up on the Kingdom’s progress and performance through the International Performance Hub, which compares the Kingdom’s performance against 217 other countries. ADAA monitors and follows up on international indicators while the hub provides an overview of the Kingdom’s performance in 700 KPIs under 12 main pillars.


Saudi aviation authority links boarding passes with health app

Saudi aviation authority links boarding passes with health app
The boarding passes are issued electronically to passengers whose status in the app is “immune,” “immune by first dose,” “immune by recovery” or “no record of infection”
Updated 21 June 2021

Saudi aviation authority links boarding passes with health app

Saudi aviation authority links boarding passes with health app
  • Tawakkalna was launched last year to help track COVID-19 infections

RIYADH: The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has announced the completion of linking the issuance of boarding passes for domestic flights for all national airlines with the health status in the Tawakkalna app.
The boarding passes are issued electronically to passengers whose status in the app is “immune,” “immune by first dose,” “immune by recovery” or “no record of infection.”
The initiative is the result of cooperation with government agencies — namely the Presidency of State Security, the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority, and the Health Ministry — and with national airlines.
Tawakkalna was launched last year to help track COVID-19 infections. It has since been updated to include vaccination information and infection status reports. It also functions as a COVID-19 “passport.”
Earlier, GACA said that all foreign travelers and their companions traveling to the Kingdom must complete registration for their COVID-19 immunization data before departure. The registration is applicable to all citizens from Gulf Cooperation Council countries, holders of new visas, residents, and their companions, both inoculated and non-vaccinated.