Saudi crown prince and Pakistani prime minister discuss bilateral ties, international issues

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in Jeddah. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in Jeddah. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in Jeddah. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in Jeddah. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in Jeddah. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in Jeddah. (SPA)
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Updated 08 May 2021

Saudi crown prince and Pakistani prime minister discuss bilateral ties, international issues

Saudi crown prince and Pakistani prime minister discuss bilateral ties, international issues
  • The two sides reviewed all regional and international issues, and agreed to intensify cooperation
  • Khan arrived in the Kingdom for his two-day visit on Friday

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan held talks on Saturday to discuss bilateral relations and ways to strengthen them in all fields.
Khan arrived in the Kingdom for his two-day visit on Friday upon an official invitation from the crown prince.
The two sides affirmed the depth of the historical relations between their two countries, a joint statement said, adding that they also reviewed all regional and international issues, and agreed to intensify between government officials and the private sector in both countries, with the aim of promoting bilateral relations to broader horizons in a way that serves their common interests.
Khan praised King Salman’s leadership role in promoting Islamic unity, the Kingdom’s positive role in resolving the issues facing the Islamic nation, and its endeavors for regional and international peace and security.
He also praised Prince Mohammed’s historic visit to Pakistan in February 2019, during which the launch of the Saudi-Pakistani Supreme Coordination Council was announced, and the two visits that his country made to the Kingdom in 2018 and 2019.
Khan said the visits “contributed to pushing bilateral relations toward more joint cooperation based on trust, mutual benefits and common interests between the two countries.”
The crown prince affirmed the Kingdom’s continued support for Khan’s vision of transforming Pakistan into a prosperous and developed country.
The two sides discussed ways to strengthen and enhance economic and trade relations between them by exploring areas of investment and opportunities available in light of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, and Pakistan’s development priorities to shift from geopolitics to economic geography, in addition to increasing cooperation in the fields of energy, science, technology, agriculture and culture.
“They affirmed their satisfaction with the strength of bilateral military and security relations, and agreed to further cooperate to achieve common goals between the two countries,” the statement said.
It added that issues pertaining to the Islamic nation were at the forefront of discussions, and “they stressed the need for concerted efforts by Muslim countries to confront extremism and violence, reject sectarianism, and relentlessly pursue international peace and security.”
They also stressed the importance of continuing joint efforts to combat terrorism, in all its forms and manifestations regardless of their source, and should not be associated with any religion, race, or ethnic background.
The two sides also reaffirmed their full support for all the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, especially their right to self determination and the establishment of an independent state with pre-1967 borders and East Jerusalem as its capital, in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative and relevant UN resolutions.
They also expressed their support for political solutions in Syria and Libya, and the efforts of the UN and its envoys in this regard.
The two sides also stressed the importance of supporting efforts to reach a comprehensive political solution to the conflict in Yemen based on the Gulf Initiative and its implementation mechanism, the outcomes of the comprehensive national dialogue, and the relevant Security Council resolutions, including Resolution 2216.
The crown prince and prime minister condemned ballistic missiles and drones attacks by “terrorist groups and militias,” including the Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen, on Saudi territory targeting vital installations and civilian objects.
“They expressed their grave concern over the threats (posed) to the security of oil exports and the stability of global energy supplies,” the statement said.
The prime minister praised the Saudi Arabia’s role and its peace initiative to end the war in Yemen, “which aims to achieve security and stability in Yemen for the benefit and development of the region and its people.”
The crown prince welcomed the understanding reached recently between the Pakistani and Indian military authorities regarding a cease-fire in Jammu and Kashmir at the Line of Control (LoC), which is based on a 2003 understanding between the two regional rivals.
“The two sides stressed the importance of dialogue between Pakistan and India to solve the outstanding issues between the two countries (especially the Jammu and Kashmir conflict) to ensure peace and stability in the region,” the joint statement said.
On Afghanistan, Prince Mohammed said Pakistan played a pivotal role in facilitating the Afghan peace process, and the two sides agreed to continue mutual consultations and said that a comprehensive political settlement is the only way forward.
The two sides also agreed to continue exchanging support and coordination in international organizations and forums, and stressed the importance of all states committing to the UN Charter and the principles of international legitimacy, adhering to the principles of good neighborliness, respect for the unity and sovereignty of states, non-interference in their internal affairs, and to resolve disputes by peaceful means.
Khan congratulated the Saudi government for successfully organizing and holding the G20 summit last year and the positive decisions that it yielded in all economic, developmental, environmental, health, energy and other fields.
Pakistan also welcomed the Saudi Green and Middle East Green Initiatives launched by Prince Mohammed in late March, which shows the Kingdom’s leadership role toward common international issues, including combating climate change, and praised its positive impact on the region and its inhabitants.
The crown prince also praised the prime minister’s Clean Green Pakistan initiative, as well as the successful 10 Billion Tree Tsunami initiative.
Khan also praised Saudi Arabia’s efforts and its leadership in serving the Two Holy Mosques, pilgrims, Umrah performers and visitors, especially in organizing last year’s Hajj season despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Several agreements and Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) were signed to further strengthen and diversify bilateral relations, including an agreement to establish the Saudi-Pakistan Supreme Coordination Council (SPSCC), a cooperation agreement to cooperate in combating crime and an agreement to transfer convicted prisoners, a MoU in combating illicit drug trafficking, and a MoU to finance projects in energy, hydropower generation, infrastructure, transport, communication, and water.
The prime minister expressed his gratitude and appreciation to King Salman, the crown prince, and the Saudi people.


Saudi minister concludes Kingdom’s participation in G20 Labor and Employment Ministers’ meetings in Italy

Saudi minister concludes Kingdom’s participation in G20 Labor and Employment Ministers’ meetings in Italy
Updated 24 June 2021

Saudi minister concludes Kingdom’s participation in G20 Labor and Employment Ministers’ meetings in Italy

Saudi minister concludes Kingdom’s participation in G20 Labor and Employment Ministers’ meetings in Italy
  • Al-Rajhi said Saudi Arabia has shown tremendous progress in achieving gender participation gap target agreed at the Brisbane summit
  • He called for the need to properly classify workers to ensure their rights

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, Ahmed bin Suleiman Al-Rajhi, concluded on Wednesday the Kingdom’s participation in the G20 Labor and Employment Ministers’ Meeting in Rome, the ministry said.
His participation came as part of the Kingdom’s support for Italy, which holds the rotating G20 presidency, as a member of the Tripartite Committee (troika) for the current year. The Troika is represented by the country that holds the presidency, its predecessor (Saudi Arabia), and its successor (Indonesia) and works to ensure continuity within the G20.
The program included a joint meeting with the education ministers of member states to discuss issues related to supporting efforts to facilitate the transition of young graduates to the labor market, whereby they reached an agreement after holding an independent session and issued a joint statement.

Al-Rajhi delivered a speech in which he said: “Saudi Arabia commends the Italian presidency for adopting priorities that promote women’s employment, gender equality in the labor market, work patterns in the era of digitization, and social protection systems that ensure efforts from the previous presidency continue. These areas are of great importance in the field of public policy for each of the G20 countries and the world.”
He called for the continuity of work on the G20 Youth Roadmap 2025 approved by the ministers during the Kingdom’s presidency last year, and said that some important issues, such as those related to women and gender equality in the labor market, provide the opportunity to make tangible progress in previous ministerial commitments.
He said that Saudi Arabia has shown tremendous progress in achieving gender participation gap target agreed at the Brisbane summit.

“Based on data from 2014 to 2020, for Saudi nationals in the labor market, we have exceeded the Brisbane target with a gap reduction of 27 percent, where in 2016, the National Transformation Program set a goal to increase women’s participation to 30 percent by 2030, and this goal has been exceeded with the achievement level reaching 33.2 percent by 2020, which confirms that the Kingdom has made progress by surpassing targets that were very ambitious and challenging,” he added.
Al-Rajhi siad that the current labor market is highly affected by global trends, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, and witnessed a significant acceleration in the use of modern technologies, including artificial intelligence, even in the most traditional business models.
He called for the need to properly classify workers to ensure their rights with regard to wages, occupational health and safety, and working hours, in addition to their access to adequate social protection.
Al-Rajhi headed the ministry’s delegation to the G20 ministerial meetings, which kicked off on Monday in Catania, and included Dr. Ahmed Al-Zahrani, undersecretary for labor affairs and head of the employment group for the Saudi side in the Tripartite Committee, as well as Undersecretary for International Affairs Dr. Adnan Al-Naim.


Saudi minister highlights Kingdom’s work in responding to COVID-19 pandemic at Belt and Road Initiative meeting

Saudi minister highlights Kingdom’s work in responding to COVID-19 pandemic at Belt and Road Initiative meeting
Updated 24 June 2021

Saudi minister highlights Kingdom’s work in responding to COVID-19 pandemic at Belt and Road Initiative meeting

Saudi minister highlights Kingdom’s work in responding to COVID-19 pandemic at Belt and Road Initiative meeting
  • Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed Al-Khuraiji also tells meeting on international cooperation about the nation’s environmental credentials

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed Al-Khuraiji told an international gathering on Wednesday how the Kingdom’s government went to great lengths to address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and protect public health.
Speaking on behalf of Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan during a virtual, high-level meeting on International Cooperation Under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in the Asia-Pacific Region, hosted by China, he said Saudi authorities implemented stringent precautionary and health measures to the highest international medical standards, along with World Health Organization protocols.
Al-Khuraij added that his country worked last year, during its presidency of the G20, to amend the program for the group’s annual summit to focus mainly on addressing the pandemic, including its effects on health and its economic and social consequences. In addition, the efforts of all working groups were intensified in an effort to address the most important issues affecting the lives of people all over the world.
He said Saudi Arabia continues to work closely with international partners to address the pandemic, based on a belief in the importance of international cooperation. It also shares with the world its experience of the challenges and difficulties it has faced, as an extension of its international partnerships and in response to humanitarian calls from around the world, to which the Kingdom has spared no effort in responding in an effort to improve people’s lives.
The Kingdom’s Vision 2030 diversification and development program highlighted environmental and sustainable development among its main objectives, he added, and stressed the need to emphasize the preservation of the environment during the nation’s presidency of the G20. It therefore placed this at the forefront of its agenda, based on a desire to ensure sustainability and find feasible solutions to global environmental, climate and energy issues.
Al-Khuraij also highlighted the Saudi and Middle East Green initiatives announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in March, which aim to protect the planet and combat environmental challenges. Among other ambitious targets, they aim to reduce carbon emissions by 60 percent in the region, and plant 50 billion trees as part of the world’s biggest afforestation project.


Saudi organizations continue to face cyberattacks

Saudi organizations continue to face cyberattacks
The report explores the impact of cyberattacks and breaches on organizations and details how security teams are adapting to these challenges. (AFP)
Updated 24 June 2021

Saudi organizations continue to face cyberattacks

Saudi organizations continue to face cyberattacks
  • “Having an infrastructure that can provide a security operations center, with robust situational intelligence, will give context to threats and help prioritize potential targets and remediate risk with confidence”

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s senior cybersecurity professionals and their organizations continue to face serious threats as nearly 93 percent of the 252 organizations surveyed in the Kingdom experienced a cyberattack in the past year, according to a report.
VMware, an American cloud computing and virtualization technology company, released the findings from the fourth installment of the Global Security Insights Report. It was based on an online survey of 3,542 chief information security officers (CISOs), chief information officers (CIOs), and chief technology officers (CTOs) in December 2020 from across the globe.
The average number of breaches suffered by each organization was 2.47 over the past year while 11 percent of respondents said their organizations had been breached between 5 to 10 times. The uptick in attacks was mainly due to more employees working from home, highlighting the vulnerabilities in legacy security technology and postures.
The report explores the impact of cyberattacks and breaches on organizations and details how security teams are adapting to these challenges. Accelerated digital transformation has caused security teams to face evolving threats as cybercriminals seize the opportunity to execute targeted attacks exploiting fast-tracked innovation and remote workforces.
In an online press conference, Ahmed El Saadi, VMware’s regional director of sales, Middle East, Turkey, and Africa, said that complexity is the enemy of security. It is an indication that organizations cannot see into the corners where personal mobile devices and home networks have been grafted to corporate distributed IT infrastructure through insecure technologies such as VPNs.
“It is vital that organizations gain visibility of their networks through cloud-based technologies such as Secure Access Services Edge (SASE),” El Saadi said.
“Having an infrastructure that can provide a security operations center, with robust situational intelligence, will give context to threats and help prioritize potential targets and remediate risk with confidence.”

HIGHLIGHT

The average number of breaches suffered by each organization was 2.47 over the past year while 11 percent of respondents said their organizations had been breached between 5 to 10 times. The uptick in attacks was mainly due to more employees working from home, highlighting the vulnerabilities in legacy security technology and postures. 

The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority (SDAIA) and the National Information Center are doing a quite great job in this regard, he said, as they are using advanced cybersecurity technology to ensure secure services.
For his part, Saif Mashat, VMware’s country managing director, Saudi Arabia, said it is vital for organizations in the Kingdom to fully understand their security weaknesses if they are to improve their security posture.
“Many organizations surveyed are already using, or planning to use a cloud-first security strategy, and while they may encounter significant challenges related to cybersecurity, there is room for optimism,” Mashat told Arab News.
“By adopting an intrinsic, cloud-first approach to security, whereby security is built-in, and not bolted-on, organizations will be able to address challenges including ineffective legacy security technology and process weaknesses.”
He added that this will ensure companies in Saudi Arabia are better positioned for success in a fast-changing world, while also supporting the Kingdom’s ambitions to be a digital leader.
The report highlighted a shift that has undoubtedly changed the threat landscape, requiring security teams to transform their cybersecurity strategies and stay one step ahead of attackers.
The report also emphasized that key focus areas for the coming year must include improving visibility into all endpoints and workloads. Responding to the resurgence of ransomware, delivering security as a distributed service, and adopting an intrinsic approach to cloud-first security are also vital for a company’s security.
Moreover, 11 percent of all breaches were caused by ransomware, which continues to see a rapid escalation.
Ransomware has added an unwelcome tension as multistage campaigns involving penetration, persistence, data theft, and extortion are ramping up the pressure. Attackers are capitalizing on the disruption faced by remote workers and in most ransomware attacks, email continues to be used as the most common attack vector to gain initial access, the report said.
The message is being heard as 80 percent of respondents agreed they need to view security differently than they did in the past due to an expanded attack surface prompted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Apps also topped the list as the most vulnerable point on the data journey, but they are by no means the only area of concern.
The report also found that third-party apps are a common cause of breaches. Of the surveyed professionals, 78 percent said their ability to innovate as a business depends on them, so it is not surprising that security teams are focusing on sharpening their approach to consuming and developing them.
Some 46 percent of respondents said they plan to build more security into their infrastructure and apps and reduce the number of point solutions while 38 percent said they have adapted security to mitigate risk using existing assets.


Second batch of Saudi oil derivatives grant arrives to Yemen’s Hadramout province

Saudi Arabia delivers the second batch of oil derivatives grant to Yemen in cooperation with local authorities. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia delivers the second batch of oil derivatives grant to Yemen in cooperation with local authorities. (SPA)
Updated 24 June 2021

Second batch of Saudi oil derivatives grant arrives to Yemen’s Hadramout province

Saudi Arabia delivers the second batch of oil derivatives grant to Yemen in cooperation with local authorities. (SPA)
  • The 23,000 metric tons of oil derivatives will meet the demands of power plants in the southeastern province
  • The $422 million grant provided by the Kingdom will help provide economic and social stability for the Yemeni people

RIYADH: The second batch of the Saudi oil derivatives grant provided to Yemen has arrived at the port of Mukalla in Hadramout, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Wednesday.
The 23,000 metric tons of oil derivatives will meet the demands of power plants in the southeastern province.
Abdullah Basliman, director of the Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen’s (SDRPY) office in Hadhramaut and Al-Mahra governorates, said the $422 million grant provided by the Kingdom through the SDRPY will help provide economic and social stability for the Yemeni people, adding that the grant is an extension of the support provided by the Kingdom to Yemen in all fields, which he described as a reflection of the strong ties between the two countries.

According to Basliman, the grant will lessen demands on the Yemeni government’s budget, reduce the depletion of hard currency in Yemen’s Central Bank with which to purchase oil derivatives from global markets, help to stabilize the Yemeni riyal’s exchange rate and fuel prices against the US dollar, improve vital services, and provide job opportunities, as well as improving the standard of living in the country by reducing the frequent power cuts.
The Kingdom’s support “will have a positive impact on the economic, health, educational and service fields,” a statement reported by the SPA said.
The SDRPY — which has so far implemented 198 development projects in Yemen, in several sectors — is working with the Yemeni government’s supervisory committee, which is tasked with ensuring, with full transparency, that the grants reach the intended beneficiaries and that the oil derivatives are used for their intended purpose.
The joint committee scheduled the shipments of the derivatives, which will also enable the Yemeni government to use money earmarked for purchasing oil derivatives to subsidize the salaries of civil servants and to provide basic services that raise the standard of living in Yemen.


Saudi officials prepared to receive Hajj pilgrims

Saudi officials prepared to receive Hajj pilgrims
Updated 24 June 2021

Saudi officials prepared to receive Hajj pilgrims

Saudi officials prepared to receive Hajj pilgrims
  • Due to pandemic, only 60,000 pilgrims will be allowed to perform the pilgrimage as registration is only open to citizens and residents of the Kingdom
  • Officials have completed organizational, service, and health preparations to provide the best services to pilgrims at Grand Mosque in Makkah

JEDDAH: Officials in Saudi Arabia said they have completed all the organizational, service, and health preparations to provide the best services to pilgrims upon their arrival at the Grand Mosque in Makkah during this year’s Hajj season, which will begin mid-July.

The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques said that all field and administrative agencies and departments are working to improve the outputs of business and services through pre-prepared plans and programs.

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Ministries of Health and Hajj announced earlier this month that a total of 60,000 pilgrims will be allowed to perform the pilgrimage this year as registration is only open to citizens and residents of the Kingdom.

Authorities will take into account COVID-19 health requirements to preserve public health and safety while also facilitating the performance of rituals and worship in the Grand Mosque.

Those wishing to perform Hajj must be free of any chronic diseases, and be within the ages of 18 to 65 years for those vaccinated against the virus, according to the Kingdom’s vaccination measures. 

Hajj pilgrims should be fully vaccinated, or those who took one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days before, or those who are vaccinated after recovering from coronavirus infection.