Saudi Arabia’s culture minister meets Greek FM during Athens visit

Saudi Arabia’s culture minister meets Greek FM during Athens visit
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Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan meets with Greek FM Nikos Dendias on day two of his visit to Athens. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s culture minister meets Greek FM during Athens visit
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Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan meets with Greek FM Nikos Dendias on day two of his visit to Athens. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s culture minister meets Greek FM during Athens visit
3 / 3
Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan meets with Greek FM Nikos Dendias on day two of his visit to Athens. (SPA)
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Updated 21 May 2021

Saudi Arabia’s culture minister meets Greek FM during Athens visit

Saudi Arabia’s culture minister meets Greek FM during Athens visit
  • Prince Badr met with Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou on Wednesday

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s culture minister met with Greece’s foreign minister in Athens on Thursday.
Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan is on a two-day official visit to the country to discuss aspects of cultural cooperation between the Kingdom and Greece.
Nikos Dendias said that talks with the culture minister “focused on further strengthening Greek-Saudi cooperation, recent developments in the region,” and the foreign minister’s recent visit to Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Jordan.
Prince Badr met with the Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and the Greek Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni on Wednesday.


Imran Khan paints Pakistan as victim of US ungratefulness

Imran Khan paints Pakistan as victim of US ungratefulness
Updated 25 September 2021

Imran Khan paints Pakistan as victim of US ungratefulness

Imran Khan paints Pakistan as victim of US ungratefulness

NEW YORK: Prime Minister Imran Khan sought to cast Pakistan as the victim of American ungratefulness and an international double standard in his address to the United Nations General Assembly on Friday.
In a prerecorded speech aired during the evening, the Pakistani prime minister touched on a range of topics that included climate change, global Islamophobia and “the plunder of the developing world by their corrupt elites” — the latter of which he likened to what the East India Company did to India.
It was for India’s government that Khan reserved his harshest words, once again labeling Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government “fascist.” But the cricketer turned posh international celebrity turned politician was in turn indignant and plaintive as he painted the United States as an abandoner of both Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan.
“For the current situation in Afghanistan, for some reason, Pakistan has been blamed for the turn of events, by politicians in the United States and some politicians in Europe,” Khan said. “From this platform, I want them all to know, the country that suffered the most, apart from Afghanistan, was Pakistan when we joined the US war on terror after 9/11.”
He launched into a narrative that began with the United States and Pakistan training mujahedeen — regarded as heroes by the likes of then-President Ronald Reagan, he said — during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. But Pakistan was left to pick up the pieces — millions of refugees and new sectarian militant groups — when the Soviets and the Americans left in 1989.
Khan said the US sanctioned its former partner a year later, but then came calling again after the 9/11 attacks. Khan said Pakistan’s aid to the US cost 80,000 Pakistani lives and caused internal strife and dissent directed at the state, all while the US conducted drone attacks.
“So, when we hear this at the end. There is a lot of worry in the US about taking care of the interpreters and everyone who helped the US,” he said, referring to Afghanistan. “What about us?”
Instead of a mere “word of appreciation,” Pakistan has received blame, Khan said.
Despite Khan’s rhetoric espousing a desire for peace, many Afghans have blamed Pakistan for the Taliban’s resurgence in Afghanistan because of close links. The United Nations in August also rejected Pakistan’s request to give its side at a special meeting on Afghanistan, indicating the international community’s shared skepticism.
In his speech, Khan echoed what his foreign minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, told The Associated Press earlier this week on the sidelines at the UN: the international community should not isolate the Taliban, but instead strengthen the current Afghan government for the sake of the people.
He struck an optimistic tone about Taliban rule, saying their leaders had committed to human rights, an inclusive government and not allowing terrorists on Afghan soil. But messages from the Taliban have been mixed.
A Taliban founder told the AP earlier this week that the hard-liners would once again carry out executions and amputated hands — though this time after adjudication by judges, including women, and potentially not in public.
“If the world community incentivizes them, and encourages them to walk this talk, it will be a win-win situation for everyone,” he said.
Khan also turned his ire on that same community for what he perceives as a free pass given to India.
“It is unfortunate, very unfortunate, that the world’s approach to violations of human rights lacks even-handedness, and even is selective. Geopolitical considerations, or corporate interests, commercial interests often compel major powers to overlook the transgressions of their affiliated countries,” Khan said.
He went through a litany of actions that have “unleashed a reign of fear and violence against India’s 200 million strong Muslim community,” he said, including lynchings, pogroms and discriminatory citizenship laws.
As in years past, Khan — who favors delivering his speeches in his British-inflected English, in contrast to Modi’s Hindi addresses — devoted substantial time to Kashmir.
“New Delhi has also embarked on what it ominously calls the ‘final solution’ for the Jammu and Kashmir dispute,” Khan said, rattling off a list of what he termed “gross and systematic violations of human rights” committed by Indian forces. He specifically decried the “forcible snatching of the mortal remains of the great Kashmiri leader, ” Syed Ali Geelani , who died earlier this month at 91.
Geelani’s family has said authorities took his body and buried him discreetly and without their consent, denying the separatist leader revered in Kashmir a proper Islamic burial. Khan called upon the General Assembly to demand Geelani’s proper burial and rites.
Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan and has been claimed by both since they won independence from the British empire and began fighting over their rival claims.
He said Pakistan desires peace, but it is India’s responsibility to meaningfully engage.
Modi is set to address the UN General Assembly in person on Saturday, a day after a bilateral meeting with US President Joe Biden.

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Ithra launches cultural and heritage programs

Ithra launches cultural and heritage programs
Updated 25 September 2021

Ithra launches cultural and heritage programs

Ithra launches cultural and heritage programs

DHAHRAN: In celebration of the 91st Saudi National Day, the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture has launched programs and activities to highlight diversity across the Kingdom.

Ithra will engage visitors through a cultural journey that embodies the unity of the Saudi people and their interdependence, from north to south and from east to west, through the Tafaseel exhibition.

The exhibition will express the diversity of fashion as part of Saudi Arabia’s cultural heritage across regions, as well as telling stories about the civilizations that inhabited them.

The national day activities aim to present a collection of interactive art, performances, traditional local crafts, cultural activities, workshops, and knowledge-based games for all age groups.

The activities continue until Saturday.

 


Huawei CFO leaves Canada after agreement with US over fraud charges, detained Canadians head home

Huawei CFO leaves Canada after agreement with US over fraud charges, detained Canadians head home
Updated 25 September 2021

Huawei CFO leaves Canada after agreement with US over fraud charges, detained Canadians head home

Huawei CFO leaves Canada after agreement with US over fraud charges, detained Canadians head home
  • Meng Wanzhou indicted on bank and wire fraud charges for allegedly misleading HSBC in 2013 about the telecommunications equipment giant’s business dealings in Iran.

Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou flew home to China on Friday after reaching an agreement with US prosecutors to end the bank fraud case against her, relieving a point of tension between China and the United States.
Within hours of the news of the deal, two Canadians who were arrested shortly after Meng was taken into custody in December 2018 were released from Chinese jails and were on their way back to Canada. Beijing had denied that their arrests were linked.
The years-long extradition drama has been a central source of discord in increasingly rocky ties between Beijing and Washington, with Chinese officials signaling that the case needed to be dropped to help end a diplomatic stalemate between the world’s top two powers.
The deal also opens US President Joe Biden up to criticism from China hawks in Washington who argue his administration is capitulating to China and one of its top companies at the center of a global technology rivalry between the two countries.
Meng was arrested at Vancouver International Airport on a US warrant, and indicted on bank and wire fraud charges for allegedly misleading HSBC in 2013 about the telecommunications equipment giant’s business dealings in Iran.
In an exclusive on Friday, Reuters reported that the United States had reached a deferred prosecution agreement with Meng. Nicole Boeckmann, the acting US Attorney in Brooklyn, said that in entering into the agreement, “Meng has taken responsibility for her principal role in perpetrating a scheme to defraud a global financial institution.”
The agreement pertains only to Meng, and the US Justice Department said it is preparing for trial against Huawei and looks forward to proving its case in court.
A spokeswoman for Huawei declined to comment.
A person familiar with the matter said Meng — the daughter of Huawei founder, Ren Zhengfei — had left Canada on a flight to Shenzhen.
The two Canadians, businessman Michael Spavor and former diplomat Michael Kovrig, had been held in China for more than 1,000 days. In August, a Chinese court sentenced Spavor to 11 years in prison for espionage.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in brief remarks late on Friday the two men had left Chinese airspace just minutes before. He was not asked whether the two countries had struck a bilateral deal.
“I want to thank our allies and partners around the world in the international community who have stood steadfast in solidarity with Canada and with these two Canadians,” he said.
At a hearing in Brooklyn federal court on Friday, which Meng attended virtually from Canada, Assistant US Attorney David Kessler said the government would move to dismiss the charges against her if she complies with all of her obligations under the agreement, which ends in December 2022. He added that Meng will be released on a personal recognizance bond, and that the United States plans to withdraw its request to Canada for her extradition.
Meng pleaded not guilty to the charges in the hearing. When US District Court Judge Ann Donnelly later accepted the deferred prosecution agreement, Meng sighed audibly.
A Canadian judge later signed Meng’s order of discharge, vacating her bail conditions and allowing her to go free after nearly three years of house arrest.
She was emotional after the judge’s order, hugging and thanking her lawyers.
Speaking to supporters and reporters on the steps of the court afterward, Meng thanked the judge for her “fairness” and talked of how the case had turned her life “upside down.”
Meng was confined to her expensive Vancouver home at night and monitored 24/7 by private security that she paid for as part of her bail agreement. Referred to by Chinese state media as the “Princess of Huawei,” she was required to wear an electronic ankle bracelet to monitor her movements, which became fodder for the tabloids when it hung above her designer shoes.
Articles published by Reuters in 2012 and 2013 about Huawei, Hong Kong-registered company Skycom and Meng figured prominently in the US criminal case against her. Reuters reported that Skycom had offered to sell at least 1.3 million euros worth of embargoed Hewlett-Packard computer equipment to Iran’s largest mobile-phone operator in 2010.
Reuters also reported numerous financial and personnel links between Huawei and Skycom, including that Meng had served on Skycom’s board of directors between February 2008 and April 2009. The stories prompted HSBC to question Meng about Reuters findings.
Huawei was placed on a US trade blacklist in 2019 that restricts sales to the company for activities contrary to US national security and foreign policy interests. The restrictions have hobbled the company, which suffered its biggest revenue drop in the first half of 2021, after the US supply restrictions drove it to sell a chunk of its once-dominant handset business before new growth areas have matured.
The criminal case against Meng and Huawei is cited in the blacklisting. Huawei is charged with operating as a criminal enterprise, stealing trade secrets and defrauding financial institutions. It has pleaded not guilty.
A Canadian government official said Ottawa would not comment until the US court proceedings were over.
Huawei has become a dirty word in Washington, with China hawks in Congress quick to react to any news that could be construed as the United States being soft, despite Huawei’s struggles under the trade restrictions.
Then-President Donald Trump politicized the case when he told Reuters soon after Meng’s arrest that he would intervene if it would serve national security or help secure a trade deal. Meng’s lawyers have said she was a pawn in the political battle between the two super powers.
Republican China hard-liners in Congress called Friday’s deal a “capitulation.”
“Instead of standing firm against China’s hostage-taking and blackmail, President Biden folded,” Republican Senator Tom Cotton said in a statement.
Senior US officials have said that Meng’s case was being handled solely by the Justice Department and the case had no bearing on the US approach to strained ties with China.
During US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman’s July trip to China, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng insisted that the United States drop its extradition case against Meng.
US officials have acknowledged that Beijing had linked Meng’s case to the case of the two detained Canadians, but insisted that Washington would not be drawn into viewing them as bargaining chips.


Two Holy Mosques management trains 600 female employees

Two Holy Mosques management trains 600 female employees
Updated 25 September 2021

Two Holy Mosques management trains 600 female employees

Two Holy Mosques management trains 600 female employees

MAKKAH: The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques announced on Friday that it has so far trained around 600 female employees of its agencies or assisting agencies.

The Women’s Development Affairs Agency, led by Al-Anoud Al-Aboud, deputy president for women’s development affairs, employs 310 of those women.

Around 200 women work for the Agency for Women’s Scientific, Intellectual and Guidance Affairs, led by Noura Al-Thuwaibi.

The rest of the trained women work at the Agency for Women’s Administrative and Service Affairs, under the leadership of Kamelia Al-Daadi, the general presidency said in a statement.

 

 


Gulf states pledge action on food security during groundbreaking UN summit

Gulf states pledge action on food security during groundbreaking UN summit
Updated 25 September 2021

Gulf states pledge action on food security during groundbreaking UN summit

Gulf states pledge action on food security during groundbreaking UN summit
  • ‘The magnitude of the task… is huge,’ said Emirati minister. ‘There is no time to talk, we have to act, and act now’
  • Global food security is increasingly threatened by climate change and has been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic

NEW YORK: Gulf states, including the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman, on Friday outlined plans to transform and reinforce their food systems while ensuring food supplies to vulnerable countries remains stable and secure.

Speaking on the second and final day of the UN’s Food Systems Summit 2021, attended by Arab News, world leaders, high-ranking politicians and other representatives of the international community outlined their plans to build resilience into existing food-delivery systems and to reimagine global food security in the era of COVID-19 and climate change.

Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, the UAE’s minister of state for food and water security, told delegates: “The magnitude of the task that faces the global community in meeting (the UN’s second Sustainable Development Goal of) zero hunger by 2030 is clearly huge. There is no time to talk, we have to act and act now.”

According to the UN, the Food Systems Summit was “a catalytic moment for public mobilization and actionable commitments by heads of state and government” to “empower all people to leverage the power of food systems to drive our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and get us back on track to achieve all 17 Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.”

In addition to specific aims such as eliminating hunger and poverty, the overarching objective of the SDGs is to ensure that development does not come at the expense of the environment.

 

 

To help achieve the goals, Almheiri said, “the United Arab Emirates has instituted a national dialogue centered around localizing food systems through the creation of special zones for modern farming and access to technology in the UAE.”

She added that the UAE’s food-security strategy is in line with the goals of the UN-wide initiative catalyzed by the summit, and outlined five strategic goals of the Emirati strategy: the strengthening of the country’s food-supply chains; the use of technology to create innovative solutions that can improve domestic food-supply resilience; reduction of food waste; improvements to food systems and nutrition; and the mitigation of food risks and crises.

These initiatives have already begun, Al-Mheiri said, and “will bear fruit within the next 10 years.” The UAE has also partnered with the US to fund global initiatives that will increase food security worldwide, she added.

Essam Khalaf, Bahrain’s minister of works, municipalities and urban planning, said his country has introduced an integrated and comprehensive plan to ensure the delivery of food to all of its population “in spite of the emergency conditions that we are living in due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the negative result it has had on food systems.”

The national plan will “assist small producers” and help to prepare the country to confront future emergencies, he added, and will operate in harmony with UN and international efforts relating to food systems.

Officials from Oman and Kuwait also affirmed their countries’ support for the objectives of the summit, in particular with regards to securing supply in local and international food systems.

Reem Al-Fulaij, general manager of Kuwait’s Public Authority for Food and Nutrition, said: “The challenges the world is facing and the challenges raised by COVID-19 leave no doubt that the present food systems have to be reformed and shaped to face challenges and provide for all populations in a sustainable way.”

Kuwait, she explained, is already making advances in efforts to secure global food systems. An organization dedicated to investing in food and agricultural security has been created, she added, and it also makes recommendations on ways in which the private sector can be mobilized to assist with food security.

Throughout the summit representatives of the participating nations, including the US, UK, Japan and Brazil, outlined the ways in which they will work to guarantee global food security. This is a growing concern, given the pandemic has disrupted worldwide supply chains and climate change is affecting the global weather systems farmers rely on.

In her closing remarks, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said: “The results of this summit will inject energy to accelerate action on transforming food systems around the world that can better position our world to recover better from COVID-19 and achieve our shared vision of the 2030 Agenda.”

To do this, she added, the public and private sectors, governments and civil society must work together as part of a joint effort to reimagine how food systems operate.

“Together we can, and must, deliver on our shared agenda; for people, the planet and for prosperity,” she said.