Saudi Arabia calls for clear mechanism to start negotiations on Ethiopian dam

Saudi Arabia calls for clear mechanism to start negotiations on Ethiopian dam
King Salman chaired the weekly session on Tuesday. (SPA)
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Updated 14 July 2021

Saudi Arabia calls for clear mechanism to start negotiations on Ethiopian dam

Saudi Arabia calls for clear mechanism to start negotiations on Ethiopian dam

RIYADH: The Saudi government on Tuesday reiterated its support for Egypt and Sudan to preserve their rights, amid the ongoing dispute between the two countries and Ethiopia over the damming of the Nile.
Ethiopia is pinning its hopes of economic development and power generation on the dam, known as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, but Egypt fears it will threaten its water supply from the Nile. Sudan is concerned about the dam’s safety and its own water flow.
The cabinet called on the international community to find a clear mechanism to start negotiations between the three nations to find a solution for this crisis, under international auspices and in agreement with the African Union and the Arab League, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The huge construction project on the Blue Nile is 80 percent complete and the dam was expected to reach full generating capacity in 2023, making it Africa’s largest hydroelectric power plant and the world’s seventh largest, according to Ethiopia’s state media.
Egypt and Sudan say they fear the dam would reduce the flow of water downstream and affect their “historical water rights” under a water-sharing treaty the two countries signed in 1959 that gave Egypt 55.5 billion cubic meters (bcm) water and Sudan 18.5 bcm.

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Saudi National Day celebrations kick off in Diriyah

Saudi National Day celebrations kick off in Diriyah
Updated 20 sec ago

Saudi National Day celebrations kick off in Diriyah

Saudi National Day celebrations kick off in Diriyah
  • Parades, motorcycles, camels, orchestras, marching bands, and a laser show were all part of the opening day of celebrations

RIYADH: The Diriyah Gate Development Authority opened celebrations for the 91st Saudi National Day with parades and family activities in Riyadh on Thursday.

After strict “stay at home” COVID-19 restrictions were lifted, this national day celebration welcomed a large number of visitors to the Jewel of the Kingdom.

The Saudi Automobile and Motorcycle Federation hosted a parade to kick off the festivities as families gathered to enjoy the swarm of motorbikes that made their way through Diriyah.

The DGDA also hosted separate sessions of float parades across three different parks in Diriyah. The floats began their first show in Al-Reem Park, followed by Al-Khalifa, and lastly King Faisal Park.

The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Interior came together to create an interactive parade for the community that highlighted the history, heritage and future of Saudi Arabia.

The first parade float was inspired by the traditional Diriyah homes and introduced the Ardah performers. The next float showcased the future of Diriyah through motion graphics and celebrated the national day with local performers. 

The third float was inspired by “One Nation” presenting five different dances from the main regions of the Kingdom. The final float in the Diriyah parade was by the future generation of the Kingdom. Children joined together in song and dance dressed in traditional Najdi clothing.

Within each destination, event volunteers ensured that visitors followed social-distancing rules while they provided masks and hand sanitizers.

The royal orchestra led a march through the center of Diriyah, playing the national anthem while families and children waved their flags nearby.

The next event was the Camel and Cavalry March, which was led by the Royal Al-Hijana and royal marching band, whose members circled Diriyah and carried Saudi flags.

The camel march featured some of the most valued camels from the King Abdulaziz Festival, dressed in heritage costumes from traditional Diriyah.

One of the closing events of the evening, hosted by the Ministry of Interior, was a laser show that was projected over Salwa Palace in the At-Turaif district of the Martyrs of the Kingdom.


Lebanese president congratulates King Salman on Saudi National Day, calls for Arab solidarity

Michel Aoun (R) stressed “the brotherly ties between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon” in congratulating King Salman on National Day. (SPA/AFP/File Photo)
Michel Aoun (R) stressed “the brotherly ties between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon” in congratulating King Salman on National Day. (SPA/AFP/File Photo)
Updated 46 min 19 sec ago

Lebanese president congratulates King Salman on Saudi National Day, calls for Arab solidarity

Michel Aoun (R) stressed “the brotherly ties between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon” in congratulating King Salman on National Day. (SPA/AFP/File Photo)
  • Aoun’s warm comments come as Mikati’s government wins vote of confidence amid calls for greater links with Arab countries
  • State electricity supplier warns of ‘total darkness’ across the country as fuel supplies dwindle

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun congratulated King Salman on the occasion of Saudi National Day, praising his efforts to “strengthen Arab solidarity, which is what we need the most today to address the challenges facing our region and the world.”

Aoun stressed “the brotherly ties between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon, since the era of King Abdulaziz Al-Saud, who laid the foundation for unity and convergence, the values that your Kingdom has remained committed to toward our nation and people.”

His warm comments follow recent statements where Aoun expressed his rejection “for Lebanon to be the source of anything that might offend or harm Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries,” after the Saudi government’s decision in April to ban the entry of Lebanese fruits and vegetables into or via its territories over drug smuggling.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government obtained the parliament’s vote of confidence this week, based on the ministerial statement that stressed the need to “promote the Lebanese relations with Arab countries, activate the historic cooperation among Arab countries and urge Arab brothers to support the Lebanese during these difficult times.”

Aoun is expected to deliver via video a speech on Friday at the UN General Assembly in New York from his office, to express “Lebanon’s position regarding local and regional developments as well as the topics on the session’s agenda.”

Mikati headed to Paris on Thursday, his first official visit after the formation of the government, and is expected to meet French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday.

France exerted intense pressure on Lebanese politicians to form a government in line with the initiative launched by Macron in the aftermath of the Beirut blast, which rocked the country last August.

On the eve of Mikati’s visit to the French capital, the International Support Group for Lebanon welcomed the formation of the new government and the parliament’s vote of confidence in the administration and its program.

The ISG urged “Lebanon’s leaders to move quickly to alleviate the burden of socio-economic hardship on the people of Lebanon and restore basic services, to prepare for fair and transparent elections to take place on time in 2022, and to initiate the critical reforms needed to restore trust and deliver justice, stability and prosperity for the Lebanese people and to pave the way for enhanced international support.”

Recalling its statement of Aug. 3, the ISG reiterated “the importance of swiftly completing the investigation into the Beirut port explosion.”

Meanwhile, Lebanon’s state electricity company warned on Thursday that the entire country was facing a total blackout by the end of the month as fuel oil reserves dwindled.

The company can generate less than 500 megawatts from fuel oil it secured through a deal with Iraq, it said.

Worsening fuel shortages have left the Lebanese with little if any state-supplied power for the past few months. Much of the country now relies on private generators.

The EDL said its reserves of both Grade A and Grade B fuel had reached a critical point and had run out already in the Jiyeh plant and the electricity-generating ships of Fatmagül and Orhan Bey, which have now stopped production.

“Reserves are also about to run out in the Zouk thermal plant and in the power-generation facilities in Zouk and Jiyeh, which will also be forced to stop production soon,” it said.

EDL said that “the Iraqi fuel to be imported following an agreement signed between Lebanon and Iraq can only generate 500 megawatts, which is not enough to secure the network’s stability and thus, the network will be at risk of total collapse at any moment.”

It added: “If things persist, there is a high risk of reaching total and complete darkness by the end of September.”

EDL held Lebanon’s central bank responsible for not securing dollars in exchange for “the surplus of local currency accumulated in the company’s account to generate power.”

Elsewhere, Hezbollah has continued to provide fuel for municipalities and hospitals hoping to procure Iranian diesel through the Al-Amana company, which is under US sanctions.

The administration of a hospital in northern Lebanon denied having received fuel through Al-Amana.

Diriyah, past, present and future
On Saudi Arabia’s 91st National Day, the birthplace of the Kingdom continues to make history
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Saudi Arabia’s King Salman congratulates Kingdom on 91st National Day

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman congratulates Kingdom on 91st National Day
Updated 23 September 2021

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman congratulates Kingdom on 91st National Day

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman congratulates Kingdom on 91st National Day
  • The Kingdom is marking its 91st National Day on Thursday with widespread celebrations

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Thursday congratulated the Kingdom on its National Day.

“On the anniversary of our National Day, we always thank God for the security, stability, prosperity and development He has bestowed upon us in this country,” he said in a tweet.

Saudi Arabia is marking its 91st National Day on Thursday with widespread celebrations being held throughout the Kingdom.

Diriyah, past, present and future
On Saudi Arabia’s 91st National Day, the birthplace of the Kingdom continues to make history
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Teamwork is the key to solving world’s problems, says Saudi envoy

Abdullah Al-Mouallimi, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN, spoke to Arab News during the UNGA. (Screenshot)
Abdullah Al-Mouallimi, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN, spoke to Arab News during the UNGA. (Screenshot)
Updated 23 September 2021

Teamwork is the key to solving world’s problems, says Saudi envoy

Abdullah Al-Mouallimi, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN, spoke to Arab News during the UNGA. (Screenshot)
  • In an exclusive interview, the Kingdom’s UN ambassador says the key to winning the war on terror lies in addressing the social issues that breed terrorism
  • Abdullah Al-Mouallimi also discusses Saudi Arabia’s approach to climate change, the pandemic, the crisis in Yemen and the Palestinian cause

NEW YORK: World leaders returned to the UN this week for their first in-person meeting in two years, as part of the 76th session of the General Assembly.

“The UN is open for business and we’re back to life,” Abdullah Al-Mouallimi, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN, told Arab News.

He added that the return of the premiers to UN headquarters in New York City comes amid a heightened awareness of the vital need for international solidarity and “for working together, for caring for each other, because we all know no one is safe until everybody is safe.”

However the leaders face a daunting agenda filled with spiraling crises that will put their commitment to solidarity to the test. Extreme weather events are becoming more common as the planet warms as a result of climate change. Terrorist activity and conflicts are on the rise. And as the pandemic continues to rage, the “vaccine apartheid” that has emerged as wealthy nations stockpile doses is exposing the growing inequality between the world’s rich and poor.

The Arab world is dealing with its own set of crises. More than a year after the devastating explosion at Beirut’s port ripped the capital apart, Lebanon’s economy has collapsed and the country continues to slide ever deeper into darkness — literally, as a result of fuel shortages and power outages.

The situation in Yemen tops the list of the most severe humanitarian crises. The future of Libya remains uncertain as the country prepares for elections that might or might not happen.

 

Meanwhile the Arabian Gulf region is one of the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and Saudi Arabia’s efforts to do something about it have earned the Kingdom the title of a “world champion” in addressing the issue.

In an exclusive, wide-ranging interview with Arab News, Al-Mouallimi talked about the Kingdom’s vision for the future, along with its achievements in tackling domestic, regional and global challenges.

According to the latest UN figures, only 4 percent of people in developing countries have been vaccinated, compared with more than 60 percent of people in wealthy nations.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has taken a leading role to make sure that vaccines are available to countries that do not have them, that the World Health Organization is up to (the task) of meeting the requirements and the demands of the challenge, (and) that all countries are ready and prepared to deal with the situation,” said Al-Mouallimi.

This year’s General Assembly began just days after the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the US. The commemorations were accompanied by a torrent of reflective debates about the so-called “war on terror,” its successes and failures, and the lessons it has taught the world. It is also one of the main topics on the assembly’s agenda.

The role played by Saudi Arabia in countering terrorism is “very prominent and well-noted,” said Al-Mouallimi, who added that many of the victories against terrorists would not have been possible without the Kingdom’s assistance.

But, terrorism has undoubtedly spread and become more complex and sophisticated in the past two decades, which begs the questions: Where did the world go wrong and what will it take to truly win this war?

Al-Mouallimi said the authorities in his country were able to achieve successes in the battle to defeat terrorism because they realized very early on that it is an international challenge as much as it is a local one.

It is also an “intergenerational war,” he added, and the Kingdom is under no illusions that the fight will end any time soon.

“It is going to take a long time and we have practiced patience and perseverance and (have) a long-term vision (for) counterterrorism.”

 

Saudis also realize, Al-Mouallimi said: “It takes a village, it takes a country, it takes a tribe, it takes a family, to overcome this scourge and this challenge.

“We in Saudi Arabia have not tried to (adopt) a one-solution-fits-all (approach). We did not limit ourselves to a simple military encounter, even though a military solution (sometimes) becomes necessary to deal with acts of terrorism.

“But at the same time we recognize that that (acting) alone is not enough. It takes more of a social approach to the issue, to finding out what are the root causes of terrorism, to finding out the circumstances that lead to the nurturing of terrorist activities in a certain country.”

Al-Mouallimi lamented the fact that authorities around the world often fail to grasp this concept and adopt the opposite approach.

“Many countries in the world have emphasized the military aspect only (and its) short-term victories” he said. “But the terrorists have a tendency to lie low when the pressure is high and to come back up again as soon as you relieve that pressure — and it’s proving almost impossible to maintain military pressure over time.”

He believes that the world must come together and address the root causes of terrorism, on the national and international levels, “such as marginalization, foreign occupation, oppression and exclusion.” These are the kind of things that “lead to people feeling desperate, and that feeling creates the momentum for terrorism,” he added. “We need to take away such root causes and such feelings in order to be more successful.”

Another issue where international solidarity is required, and which is perhaps the most important single issue for millions of Muslims and other people around the world, is the Palestinian question. The recent war on Gaza, and the emergency meeting of the General Assembly that followed, focused attention on the cause and the urgent need for action to address it.

Al-Mouallimi has urged UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to make Palestine his priority in the coming year. He also called for the world to “exercise leadership and solidarity” in support of the rights of the Palestinian people, and believes his message was received loud and clear.

He said that three years of political “turbulence” in Israel rendered authorities there “almost inept to deal with the issue of peace and stability in the region.” Israeli provocations in Jerusalem and its aggression in Gaza have made it clear Palestine has become “a political football” for various Israeli parties and individuals but, he added, the situation is “slightly different” now.

“We have a new government, albeit a one vote-majority government, which renders it unstable,” he said. “But nevertheless we have a new government and, hopefully, we have a new vision among the major countries of the world, including the US, that this situation cannot be allowed to continue, and that there has to be a solution along the parameters of the Arab peace initiative.”

 

In Yemen, a political stalemate and continuing violence continue to plunge the country deeper into what is now recognized as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Al-Mouallimi echoed the call by Hans Grundberg, who last month was appointed the UN’s special envoy for Yemen, for a return to efforts to reach a comprehensive settlement to the conflict. This has not been discussed since 2016.

“The previous international envoys have gone back and forth between a comprehensive solution and what they call ‘confidence-building measures,’” said Al-Mouallimi. “Unfortunately there was no confidence to build and hence these measures did not do much. Ultimately (the UN envoys) wasted a lot of time trying to go for piecemeal solutions: The Hodeidah Agreement for example, the localized ceasefires in certain places, and so on.

“This is proving to be ineffective, and it takes time and diverts attention from the major issue, which is the fact that there is illegitimate control over the government, the capital and other major cities in Yemen by an illegitimate force.

“So we need to go back to the direction of trying to find a comprehensive solution, (which) can only be a political solution that addresses all of the issues at the same time. I hope the new envoy is going to be able to do so.”

Returning to the issue of climate change, Al-Mouallimi said that Saudi Arabia is emerging as a world leader in tackling the issue.

At a moment in time the UN has described as a “code red” for humanity, the Kingdom this year announced plans to launch a Saudi Green Initiative, and a Middle East Green Initiative.

In a recent interview with Arab News, General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid praised the plans and said “the Saudi leadership is becoming an international champion in the field of addressing climate change.”

Al-Mouallimi said that action Saudi authorities are taking to address climate issues is driven by “a sense of responsibility.”

“We are a leading country in the world,” he said. “We recognize the imminent danger (to) life that is posed by climate change. And although we are an oil-producing country, we nevertheless recognize our overall responsibility toward the world and we believe that we have a mission (to) protect the environment.

“We want to do that at the forefront of nations, and we are.”


At-Turaif: A look into the jewel of the Kingdom’s museums

At-Turaif in Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh is home to the largest open-air museum in the world. (Abdullah AlJabr/Faisal AlDakheel)
At-Turaif in Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh is home to the largest open-air museum in the world. (Abdullah AlJabr/Faisal AlDakheel)
Updated 23 September 2021

At-Turaif: A look into the jewel of the Kingdom’s museums

At-Turaif in Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh is home to the largest open-air museum in the world. (Abdullah AlJabr/Faisal AlDakheel)
  • Arab News visited five galleries in the district that take visitors back in time through the birth of the Kingdom

RIYADH: At-Turaif is home to the largest open-air museum in the world. Arab News visited five galleries in the district that take visitors back in time through the birth of the Kingdom, detailing every important aspect, including lifestyle, trade, territory disputes and architecture of the Saudi states.

1 - Diriyah Museum:

Diriyah Museum is known for taking individuals step by step into a sequence of historical events dating back to the formation of the Saudi states.

The museum begins in A.D. 400, displaying maps and documents pertaining to the Banu Hanifah tribe migration from the west Arabian Peninsula to the center of Al-Yamama.

It explains how Diriyah was established in 1446 when Manaa’ Al-Muraide shared the region’s leadership with his cousin Ibn Dera’.

The Diriyah Museum holds replicas of some of the most important documents that contributed to the growth of the first and second Saudi states. (Abdullah AlJabr)  

On display are swords, coins, stamps and copies of important documents that contributed to the growth of the first and second Saudi states.

Housed in the Diriyah Museum is a replica of the Al-Ajrab Sword owned by the founder of the second Saudi state, Imam Turki ibn Abdullah. (Faisal AlDakheel) 

The museum also showcases the progression of the Al-Saud royal family tree throughout each century. A digital and interactive activity allows visitors and their families to swipe through the royal tree and learn about unity, stability and the reform of the region dating back to the establishment of the first Saudi state by Imam Mohammed ibn Saud in 1744.

The tree explains the royal lineage, further detailing Imam Turki ibn Abdullah’s eviction of the Ottoman garrisons from Najd, the founding of the second Saudi state and the return of King Abdulaziz ibn Abdulrahman Al-Faisal to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The Al-Saud family tree can be seen in the Diriyah Museum detailing the names of the sons, daughters, and grandchildren of King Abdulaziz. (Supplied)

One of the most prominent features of the museum is a replica of the Al-Ajrab Sword owned by the founder of the second Saudi state, Imam Turki ibn Abdullah. The sword is named after the rusting on the edges of the blade.

2 - The Arabian Horse Museum:

The Arabian Horse Museum gives an in-depth look into the vital roles horses played in the Kingdom’s unification in 1932, including in warfare, trade and transportation.

The museum houses many replicas of important documents that detail the names of thousands of horses owned by the Al-Saud family at that time.

The Arabian Horse Museum displays replicas of the different types of saddles, clothing, and important documents relating to the  Kingdom’s unification in 1932. (Abdullah AlJabr)

The nobleman and sheiks of the era divided their horses into five categories:

Kehilan- Named for the black rings around its eyes resembling (Kohl) eyeliner.

Al-Hamdani- Named by its owners to distinguish it from the Kehilan horse.

Al-Saqlawi- Named for its glossy coat, the horse is known for its long neck and sparkling eyes.

Abayan- According to a legend, the rider’s coat, an abaya, slipped down to the horse’s tail during the race. Throughout the race the horse’s tail was raised, preventing the cloak from falling.

Hadban- One of the strongest and fastest horses, its name means “long forelock” (the top of the horse’s mane).

The Arabian Horse Museum also houses a life size bronze sculpture of a horse named Tarfah, a beloved horse King Abdulaziz gifted to King George VI of England. (Abdullah AlJabr)

Within the museum is a life-size bronze sculpture of Tarfah, King Abdulaziz’s horse which he gifted to King George VI of the United Kingdom.

The museum shows how domestication and taming of the horses was used as a vital part of eventual transportation and battle. On display are replicas of different types of saddles and clothing, based on the individual’s social status or occasion, such as weddings.

Copies of detailed travel documents for the horses are on display, including horses visas and passports in French and English.

The museum reflects how connected Saudi rulers were to their horses, treating them as loyal companions rather than just animals.

3 - Museum of Traditional Architecture:

The museum focuses on the first Saudi state’s architectural development and the present-day role of preserving the local UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The museum displays replicas of the buildings and techniques used to build structures, from foundations, plastering to decoration.

Visitors can read about the construction process of the walls of Saad Palace. The interior walls were usually 40 centimeters to 60 centimeters thick and the exterior walls were 120 centimeters thick. Once the walls reached the ceiling height, then doorways, stairways and ceilings began to be built.

The Museum of Traditional Architecture  takes visitors step by step into the construction process of the walls of Saad Palace.  (Abdullah AlJabr)  

This is where visitors can notice the building detailing, such as entryways that were equipped with small sight holes for surveillance, or crenelations to provide aim and shelter during battle.

On display are audio-visuals displays and images that show the original process of creating each of the mud bricks and mud layers to form the foundation of the structures.

The museum also has many interactive features and games that allow visitors to test their knowledge in creating a traditional Najdi door. Once the doors are created, they are projected on a large screen to be displayed.

4 - Military Museum:

Diriyah was home to one of the largest firearms markets in the region. The military museum displays authentic replicas of all the weapons used during the second and the first Saudi state, including arrows, guns, cannons and ships.

It also shows foreign armors and shields, and the different types of ships that carried weapons cargoes at the time, including British and Saudi war ships.

Some of the rifle models on display include muzzle-loading muskets, breech-loading single-shot rifles, chassepots, Mausers and Martini-Henry rifles.

The military museum is home to replicas of all the weapons used during the second and the first Saudi state. (Supplied)

The museum also details the Battle of Diriyah, in which Ibrahim Pasha and the Ottoman army reached the city in 1818.

It also displays the Diriyah fortifications which were overseen by Imam Abdullah ibn Saud.

5 - Lifestyle Museum:

Village homes were simple and linked to the local environment. The Lifestyle Museum is a walk-through gallery that displays courtyards, bedrooms, kitchens, majlis and guest rooms in At-Turaif.

The Lifestyle Museum begins with the majlis, which feature motion sensors that cue audio of men socializing, tea being poured and items being cooked over a traditional fire oven.

Then visitors will see a traditional kitchen with a digital gallery of recipes used at the time.

The bedrooms in the homes were austere, but the detailing on fixtures indicated a resident’s status or wealth.

To avoid the heat, families would often sleep on the cool open roof and retreat to their bedrooms after sunrise, depending on the season.

The museum ends in the children’s room, where simple toys made of wood and straw are spread across the ground, while audio of children laughing and singing plays over the speakers.

The Lifestyle Museum perfectly captures the living style at the time in At-Turaif. It allows visitors to place themselves in the shoes of those before them, gaining a better understanding of how the Kingdom was born.

Diriyah, past, present and future
On Saudi Arabia’s 91st National Day, the birthplace of the Kingdom continues to make history
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