Sultan Haitham’s visit set to deepen Omani-Saudi ties, open up new vistas of cooperation

Finding new ways to expand the partnership between the Kingdom and the sultanate will feature high on the agenda during Sultan Haitham bin Tariq’s two-day visit to Saudi Arabia at the invitation of King Salman. (Supplied)
Finding new ways to expand the partnership between the Kingdom and the sultanate will feature high on the agenda during Sultan Haitham bin Tariq’s two-day visit to Saudi Arabia at the invitation of King Salman. (Supplied)
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Updated 11 July 2021

Sultan Haitham’s visit set to deepen Omani-Saudi ties, open up new vistas of cooperation

Finding new ways to expand the partnership between the Kingdom and the sultanate will feature high on the agenda during Sultan Haitham bin Tariq’s two-day visit to Saudi Arabia at the invitation of King Salman. (Supplied)
  • Visit to forge partnerships and cement economic relations between the two countries
  • It is the sultan’s first foreign trip since becoming Oman’s leader in January 2020

RIYADH: For over half a century, relations between the governments of Saudi Arabia and Oman have been characterized by cooperation, mutual respect and understanding on various regional and international issues.

Likewise, connections at the people-to-people level run deep thanks to bonds of history, shared Arab customs and traditions, and a common Gulf Arab heritage.

The two countries coordinate their actions under the umbrella of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in accordance with the bloc’s common visions and strategic goals, with a view to achieving integration between member states in different fields.

A similar cooperative spirit informs their roles at the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the UN and various international bodies.

Finding new ways to expand the partnership between the Kingdom and the sultanate will be high on the agenda during Sultan Haitham bin Tariq’s two-day visit to Saudi Arabia at the invitation of King Salman. The Omani ruler arrived in Neom on Sunday for wide-ranging talks.




A handout picture released by the Omani News Agency shows newly sworn-in Sultan Haitham bin Tariq (R) receiving Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz in the capital Muscat on January 13, 2020. (AFP via ONA/File Photo)

“The visit comes within the framework of strengthening the historical and fraternal relations between the leaderships of the two countries,” the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said. “It also aims to expand the prospects of joint cooperation and ways to develop them in various fields for the interest and steady progress of the peoples of the two countries.”

The SPA added that the visit is intended to “strengthen the deep historical bonds” between the two countries, “and to explore new areas of cooperation — particularly in the fields of trade, infrastructure and development.”

Sultan Haitham is being accompanied by senior ministers and diplomats, notably Deputy Prime Minister for Defense Affairs Sayyid Shihab bin Tarik Al-Said, Interior Minister Sayyid Hamoud bin Faisal Al-Busaidi, and Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr bin Hamad bin Hamoud Al-Busaidi.

The delegation also includes Said bin Hamoud bin Said Al-Maawali, minister of transport, communications and information technology; Qais bin Mohammed bin Moosa Al-Yousef, minister of commerce, industry and investment promotion; and Abdulsalam bin Mohammed Al-Murshidi, chairman of the Oman Investment Authority.

“Saudi Arabia is the largest economy in the Arab world and its leading economic engine, home to a quarter of the world’s petroleum reserves and the largest free market in the Middle East and North Africa region. It’s a key, valued trading partner of Oman,” Sayyid Faisal bin Turki Al-Said, Oman’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia who will be accompanying the sultan’s delegation, told Arab News.

Sultan Haitham’s assumption of power, in January 2020, came at a critical moment in the sultanate’s history. He took over the reins when large parts of the world, including the Arab region, faced challenges on multiple fronts: political, economic, social and health.

The sultan opted for a path of modernization and change without delay, introducing reforms to fulfil the hopes and aspirations of the Omani people while taking measures to preserve the stability and security of the country.

His visit to Saudi Arabia marks his first foreign trip since becoming his country’s leader, testifying clearly to the importance of the Saudi-Omani relationship.




Sultan Haitham bin Tariq’s visit to Saudi Arabia marks his first foreign trip since becoming his country’s leader, testifying clearly to the importance of the Saudi-Omani relationship. (Oman News Agency/File Photo)

Ties between the two Gulf states have remained strong in part thanks to regular bilateral meetings and shuttle diplomacy, a tradition established after the signing of the March 1990 agreement that finally delineated their 658 km border.

The border agreement signed at Hafr Al-Batin in Saudi Arabia solidified the relationship, sweeping away territorial disputes of the past and giving both states equal access to the area’s bountiful water resources.

Over the decades that followed, relations have grown from strength to strength, yielding ambitious economic partnerships and joint action on the GCC, which has seen a merging of strategic aims and a shared vision for economic diversification.

Indeed, trade talks involving representatives from the public and private sectors of both countries were underway long before Sultan Haitham’s arrival in Saudi Arabia, with many more business forums already scheduled.

“The Saudi-Omani Business Council will have a very important complementing role with regards to identifying both trade and investment opportunities during its first official virtual meeting that was held recently,” said Faisal Al-Said, referring to just one of the latest collaborations.

“Both sides agreed to exchange visits and identify key priority areas. Currently the council comprises some 40 members representing various key sectors in both countries.”

In 2006, Saudi Arabia and Oman agreed to open a new border crossing to help facilitate expansion of trade.

Their engineers teamed up to build a Saudi-funded highway through Rub Al-Khali (the Empty Quarter), connecting Al-Ahsa in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province to Ibri in Oman, shaving some 16 hours off the journey time between the two countries.




Sayyid Faisal bin Turki Al-Said, ambassador of Oman to Saudi Arabia, said “the road link between Saudi Arabia and Oman is progressing well.” (Supplied)

Officials expect to be able to open the road to civil and commercial traffic by the end of 2021, which will potentially inaugurate a new era of business activities.

“The road link between Saudi Arabia and Oman is progressing well and will soon be open for both travelers and businesses alike,” said Faisal Al-Said.

“The road holds immense importance when it comes to the new expected business and economic partnership between the two nations.”

Once open, the new highway will cut the cost of import-export logistics, especially for merchants operating out of Oman’s ports of Sohar and Duqm, not to mention the potential boost to tourism — a sector both countries are keen to expand.

In particular, the Omani side hopes the new road — and perhaps even a future rail link — will encourage more joint investments at the Sohar Industrial Estate and the Special Economic Zone in Duqm.

Other partnerships include the development of Khazaen Economic City, the Salalah 2 gas-fired power station and the Salalah desalination plant. Saudi Arabia is also a big importer of Omani fish, making the development of the sultanate’s fisheries a matter of tremendous common interest.

“Many business owners on both sides see the road link as a major contributor and a catalyst for growing bilateral trade,” said Faisal Al-Said. “The important link will provide other businesses an opportunity to explore the much-required supporting services and logistics as well.”

Another core area of cooperation is the environment, with the two states pulling together to cut carbon emissions by 60 percent, plant billions of trees, and make the Saudi and Middle East Green initiatives a reality.

READ MORE

Before he became sultan of Oman, Haitham bin Tariq Al-Said was widely seen as the continuity candidate when he was named the preferred successor to his cousin and ruler of almost 50 years, Qaboos bin Said. Find out more.

Sultan Haitham has welcomed the initiatives in previous talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The two countries have also begun sharing expertise in industrial development, city planning and mineral extraction, with ministerial delegations recently meeting via video link to discuss new collaborations.

High-level delegations have crisscrossed the region in recent months with the aim of integrating Oman’s Vision 2040 and Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 — two development and economic diversification agendas designed to create vibrant, modern economies that offer young citizens exciting new career paths and improve overall quality of life.

“Under the wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, as part of Vision 2040, we’re capitalizing on our strategic strengths in sectors such as manufacturing, logistics, fisheries, mining, tourism and technology,” said Faisal Al-Said.

“And with the announcement earlier this year of the economic stimulus package, His Majesty’s government is empowering our private sector and encouraging the birth and growth of small businesses, particularly those run by our young entrepreneurs,” he added.

“And just as the Saudi government is investing in its national infrastructure, we too have carried out successful high-profile infrastructure projects in Duqm, Sohar, Salalah and Muscat — projects that are adding significant value to Oman’s growth, growing economy, as well as attracting considerable international interest.”


Exhibition displays key expansions at the Makkah Grand Mosque

Exhibition displays key expansions at the Makkah Grand Mosque
Updated 28 September 2021

Exhibition displays key expansions at the Makkah Grand Mosque

Exhibition displays key expansions at the Makkah Grand Mosque

MAKKAH: President General for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques Sheikh Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais inaugurated the Field and Digital Saudi Expansions at the Grand Mosque Exhibition.

Al-Sudais said that the exhibition showcases the most prominent Saudi projects and expansions at the Grand Mosque. The exhibition also aims to enrich visitors’ experience and highlight the efforts of the Saudi leadership in this regard.


Saudi talent foundation awards 3,000 scholarships to youth

Saudi talent foundation awards 3,000 scholarships to youth
Updated 28 September 2021

Saudi talent foundation awards 3,000 scholarships to youth

Saudi talent foundation awards 3,000 scholarships to youth
  • The average time spent training and following up with students reached 7,000 hours for some students

JEDDAH: Three thousand scholarships were granted to students by King Abdulaziz and his Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity (Mawhiba) during the foundation’s three-day Saudi National Day celebrations.
The educational and training scholarships covering various scientific fields are part of Mawhiba’s three-day photography exhibition, “A home for every talent ... a story for every passion,” held under the auspices of Dr. Saud bin Saeed Al-Mutahmi, secretary-general of the foundation, at Granada Mall in Riyadh.
Mawhiba students in the Kingdom who have undergone training programs have achieved significant international achievements: 453 international awards in scientific competitions and 83 awards at the International Science and Engineering Fair, the most important scientific competition in the world.
In cooperation with the Ministry of Education, students were granted scholarships after completing their training. The average time spent training and following up with students, from discovering their talent to their participation at an international level, has reached 7,000 hours for some students.
“The exhibition, which has witnessed a high turnout of visitors from different segments of society, chose to replace regular gifts and prizes by gifting participants opportunities to improve their future, raise the quality of their lives and work with them to discover, develop and guide their children’s talents properly,” Mawhiba said in an official statement.
The 91-picture exhibition followed the journey of some of the Kingdom’s talents, starting with scouting them to winning awards and the empowerment of talented students in institutions across
Saudi Arabia.
The Mawhiba exhibition was divided into three parts. The first is a photo exhibition for students who have won local and international competitions.
The second is an interactive theater with general competitions, various questions, and free scientific scholarships. The third included the “I am a talent” event for children, featuring activities on creative thinking skills, a drawing competition about the Kingdom, and documentaries by Mawhiba and its programs.


Who's Who: Dr. Mansour bin Abdullah Al-Zamil, secretary of the King Fahd National Library in Riyadh

Who's Who: Dr. Mansour bin Abdullah Al-Zamil, secretary of the King Fahd National Library in Riyadh
Updated 28 September 2021

Who's Who: Dr. Mansour bin Abdullah Al-Zamil, secretary of the King Fahd National Library in Riyadh

Who's Who: Dr. Mansour bin Abdullah Al-Zamil, secretary of the King Fahd National Library in Riyadh

Dr. Mansour bin Abdullah Al-Zamil was recently appointed as secretary of the King Fahd National Library in Riyadh following Culture Minister Prince Badr bin Abdullah’s decision.

Al-Zamil is the former supervisor of the Deanship of Library Affairs at King Saudi University in Riyadh, where he worked for the past 20 years.

He joined King Saudi University in 2008 as an associate professor at the Department of Library and Information Sciences. He was promoted to associate professor in 2011 and then to professor in 2018.

Prior to that, Al-Zamil worked at the King Faisal Air Academy in Riyadh, where he served as an associate professor between 2002 and 2008 and lecturer between 1991 and 1999.

Al-Zamil received his bachelor’s degree with a second-class honors in library and information studies from the Department of Literature at King Saud University. After that, he moved to the US to complete his higher education in library and information studies. He earned his master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and his Ph.D. from the Public University of Florida. He participated in various regional and international conferences. His research interests include e-government, digital libraries, e-learning and distance learning, and research methodologies in the libraries and information field.

He is a member of several scientific and academic societies, including the Saudi Library and Information Association, the Saudi Computer Society, and the Beta Phi Mu International Honor Society for library and information studies.

The King Fahd National Library in Riyadh is one of the most prestigious libraries in Saudi Arabia. It was established as a monument on the occasion of King Fahd bin Abdulaziz ascending to the throne in 1982.

The library is one of the most important cultural buildings in Saudi Arabia and an architectural masterpiece. It was designed by Professor Eckhard Gerber and his Gerber Architekten team in cooperation with the Riyadh Municipality, which provided the land and technical, architectural, and administrative supervision.


Makkah’s museums open their doors again to visitors for a cultural journey

Makkah’s museums open their doors again to visitors for a cultural journey
Updated 28 September 2021

Makkah’s museums open their doors again to visitors for a cultural journey

Makkah’s museums open their doors again to visitors for a cultural journey
  • They show how people of the city shaped a wealth of human knowledge through various epochs

MAKKAH: Ten museums in Makkah have opened their doors to showcase Makkah’s unique identity throughout history.

The museums house some of the rarest artifacts, illustrations, and collections that reveal the human experiences of the city.

They show how the people of Makkah managed to shape a wealth of human knowledge through various epochs and the progress made after the prophecy and its noble teachings came into existence.

The museums also contribute to raising cultural and humanitarian awareness with all their cognitive messages and elaboration of the life of fathers and grandfathers.

The Culture Ministry’s Museums Commission told Arab News that it is giving Al-Zaher Palace Museum special attention, hoping to reopen the museum to visitors as soon as possible after it was closed due to the pandemic.

The director of the Makkah History Center, Dr. Fawwaz Al-Dahhas, told Arab News that the museums have put in extraordinary efforts to further the Islamic, civilizational and cultural heritage of the city. 

The museums include Byzantine and Roman coins of all kinds and the Islamic dinar, silver, and gold used during the Umayyad era.

He added: “It’s best that the efforts are united under the auspices of one national museum called ‘Makkah throughout history,’ where visitors can expand what they needed to know about Makkah.” 

Al-Dahhas said that developing the Al-Saqaf Palace in the Maabad neighborhood would combine heritage and culture through its restoration. Once completed, it will become an Islamic museum.

In his book “The Presidential Palace in Maabad,” Al-Dahhas described the surface area of the palace and its rooms still have their original furnishings and design.

Saad Al-Sharif, a researcher in Makkah’s history, said museums are essential to educate societies and advance science and evolution. “A student can leave a museum knowing that they would like to become a scientist, a leader, a musician or a writer,” he said.

FASTFACT

The Two Holy Mosques Architecture Exhibition is one of the most prominent museums in Saudi Arabia and is home to treasures and artifacts dating back more than 1,400 years. Opened in 2000 during the reign of the late King Fahd, it contains seven main halls highlighting Islamic civilization.

“Our society’s knowledge must be consolidated and presented through the museums to form a harmonious cultural structure. Some museums teach what the classrooms students do not teach,” Al-Sharif added.

The researcher said tourists always look for museums in new countries as “we believe them to be the true wealth of any people; ancient collections in those museums constitute an important source for society, as well as economic, social and cultural support, as they provide a rich and different experience for visitors, and express a person’s identity, existence and depth and authenticity of their culture.”

Al-Sharif said that Saudi museums inspire delight and that they illustrate a history they could only learn about through museums and their evidence, tools, places, and names.

Majdouh Al-Ghamdi, owner of the Museum of Human Heritage, said that Makkah’s museums complement each other and exhibit their rare heritage artifacts for all visitors.

Its exhibits include household appliances used in Makkah before electricity was introduced, a section on Saudi tribes, and displays on the role of the city’s residents in serving pilgrims and the history of the ancient Madrasah Al-Sawlatiyah, one of the oldest schools in the Arabian Peninsula.

It also includes Byzantine and Roman coins of all kinds and the Islamic dinar, silver, and gold used during the Umayyad era. Visitors will also discover weapons such as cannons, knives, daggers, swords and guns.

Al-Ghamdi said that museums offer full knowledge and satisfy people looking to feel passion about heritage. They feel content in the historical depth and wealth of Makkah in particular, he added. He said that all those museums seek to occasionally develop their exhibits by buying rare stamps, newspapers, maps, coins, rifles, swords, old household items, spears, and traditional clothes.


Saudi foreign minister invited by UAE counterpart to attend world decision-makers’ forum

Saudi foreign minister invited by UAE counterpart to attend world decision-makers’ forum
Updated 28 September 2021

Saudi foreign minister invited by UAE counterpart to attend world decision-makers’ forum

Saudi foreign minister invited by UAE counterpart to attend world decision-makers’ forum

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan has received an invitation from his UAE counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan to attend the 12th edition of the annual world decision-makers’ Sir Bani Yas Forum.

The invite was received on behalf of the prince by Saudi Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Waleed bin Abdulkarim Al-Khuraiji when he met with the Emirati ambassador to the Kingdom, Sheikh Nahyan bin Saif Al-Nahyan, at the ministry’s headquarters in Riyadh.

The Sir Bani Yas Forum brings together senior decision-makers from across the Middle East and around the world to discuss some of the most crucial issues facing the region.