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)
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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.”


Saudi Arabia, Oman agree to strengthen media and business competitiveness

Saudi Arabia, Oman agree to strengthen media and business competitiveness
Updated 07 December 2021

Saudi Arabia, Oman agree to strengthen media and business competitiveness

Saudi Arabia, Oman agree to strengthen media and business competitiveness
  • On the eve of Saudi Crown Prince Salman’s arrival in Muscat, Saudi Arabia and Oman signed 13 memoranda of understanding, reportedly worth more than $10 billion and covering several sectors

DUBAI: Oman and Saudi Arabia signed on Tuesday a memorandum of understanding in the field of media related to strengthening cooperation between the two countries in news, audio-visual and print media, Oman’s state news agency reported.
Another memorandum aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of national industries and marketing research, encouraging joint activities and developing countries’ ease of business and e-commerce index was also signed. 
The latest round of cooperation comes a day after Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman arrived in Muscat to meet with Sultan Haitham bin Tarik as part of his official tour of GCC states.
On the eve of Saudi Crown Prince Salman’s arrival in Muscat, Saudi Arabia and Oman signed 13 memoranda of understanding, reportedly worth more than $10 billion and covering several sectors.


154 KSrelief food aid trucks sent to Yemen

The convoy included 30,399 food baskets (3.252 tons) for distribution in 15 Yemeni governorates. (KSrelief)
The convoy included 30,399 food baskets (3.252 tons) for distribution in 15 Yemeni governorates. (KSrelief)
Updated 07 December 2021

154 KSrelief food aid trucks sent to Yemen

The convoy included 30,399 food baskets (3.252 tons) for distribution in 15 Yemeni governorates. (KSrelief)
  • KSrelief has implemented, in cooperation with its many humanitarian partners, a total of 644 projects in Yemen

RIYADH: Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah, Supervisor General of King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief), inaugurated the launch of 154 relief trucks from Saudi Arabia on Monday. 

The convoy included 30,399 food baskets (3.252 tons) for distribution in 15 Yemeni governorates.

The food aid is the first to be sent by KSrelief to Yemen as part of the comprehensive “Yemen Food Security Support Project”, which will continue into 2022.

In comments to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Dr. Al-Rabeeah stated that this convoy comes as an extension of the commitment of the government of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to provide ongoing assistance to the Yemeni people and to support them during their current humanitarian crisis.

Al-Rabeeah added that Monday’s convoy from KSrelief is part of the center’s impartial, comprehensive assistance to people in need in all parts of Yemen, and that all aid is provided according solely to need and without any other motive.

He added that the 154-vehicle convoy is the first in what will amount to a total of 973 trucks carrying more than 192,000 food baskets (20.540 tons) for a total cost of $29,978,000. The goal of the massive food aid delivery project is to alleviate the suffering of crisis-affected families across Yemen.

Al-Rabeeah said the aid will help to increase food security and improve the quality of life of Yemenis, adding that this aid is particularly important in light of the additional challenges being posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He stressed that KSrelief was keen to ensure that all aid reaches its targeted beneficiaries, and that the food baskets would be distributed through United Nations organizations and local partners in coordination with Yemen’s High Relief Committee.

KSrelief has implemented, in cooperation with its many humanitarian partners, a total of 644 projects in Yemen covering all key humanitarian sectors.


Who’s Who: Fahad Almutlaq, CEO of Sharqia Development Authority

Fahad Almutlaq. (Supplied)
Fahad Almutlaq. (Supplied)
Updated 07 December 2021

Who’s Who: Fahad Almutlaq, CEO of Sharqia Development Authority

Fahad Almutlaq. (Supplied)

Fahad Almutlaq has served as CEO of Sharqia Development Authority since September 2019.
He has more than 20 years of experience in managing comprehensive development strategies, urban planning, building integrated development, legislation and empowerment initiatives. Almutlaq served as chief strategy officer at the Council for Economic Affairs and Development, which took part in the national strategy of Saudi Arabia, Vision 2030, between 2017 and 2019.
Before that, he served as CEO of the Arabian Industry and Services Group from June 2014 to August 2018. Almutlaq led significant mergers and acquisitions, and directed strategies and plans to accommodate social changes in the region.
He has held several positions in the Saudi Ministry of Defense, building international experience through working with one of the world’s largest aerospace and defense contractors, BAE Systems.
Almutlaq also worked with major science and technology companies and oversaw the construction and operations of the largest aerospace and industrial facility in the Middle East between 2011 and 2014. Within the ministry, he served as head of business development and future support and planning in 2010, and as program manager, based in the UK, between 2007 until 2010.
He held several positions in the Saudi Electricity Company, including head of the project management and planning division. Almutlaq also worked on civil, urban and electromechanical projects between 2004 and 2008, served as senior project engineer between 2003 and 2004, and before that worked as a planning engineer in the department of facilities planning and land use from 2001 to 2003.
He now serves on the board of several organizations.
Almutlaq holds two master’s degrees and an MBA in project and construction management. He has completed several practical and executive programs, covering strategic planning and leadership training.


Saudi environmental security officers protect sea and land ecosystems

Saudi Arabia is committed to protecting the environment and its natural resources. (Twitter: @SFES_KSA)
Saudi Arabia is committed to protecting the environment and its natural resources. (Twitter: @SFES_KSA)
Updated 07 December 2021

Saudi environmental security officers protect sea and land ecosystems

Saudi Arabia is committed to protecting the environment and its natural resources. (Twitter: @SFES_KSA)
  • Among the arrested are illegal firewood traders

RIYADH: The Saudi Special Forces for Environmental Security have apprehended dozens of offenders for environmental violations as part of a recent crackdown.

The forces, under the command of the Ministry of Interior, arrested individuals who illegally moved sand and soil in Jeddah and Tabuk. People who illegally entered the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Reserve in northeast Riyadh and hunted wildlife in restricted areas were also detained.

Others were arrested while transporting local firewood and trafficking endangered fungi in Al-Muzahmiyya Governorate. Several other citizens were also caught selling local firewood in other regions of the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia is committed to protecting the environment and its natural resources across its vast territory. The Saudi environment law focuses on conservation, protection, development, pollution prevention, public health protection and the rational use of natural resources.

It also aims to make environmental planning an integral part of comprehensive development in industrial, agricultural and urban areas.

One practice that harms the Saudi environment is illegal dredging. Talal S. Al-Rasheed, a consultant at Gulf Energy for Environmental Consultations, warned that dredging and similar practices can negatively impact the environment and economy if studies are not conducted beforehand. Reduced fish stocks and damage to coral reefs are major consequences of poorly planned and illegal dredging.

Al-Rasheed added that taking sand and soil without a license is a “major disaster” because it changes the nature of the land by creating deep pits that cause accidents and endanger the lives of road users.

“Because the marine environment is sensitive to its habitat, when anything changes in nature, creatures begin to shift to other locations. Some of these habitats might not suitable for living. Because of the availability of suitable places for marine organisms, every species in the marine environment has a designated place to adapt to,” Al-Rasheed said.

Nasser M. Al-Hamidi, an environmental activist, said that burning or cutting trees in natural forests for wood is harmful to the environment and local communities due to smoke pollution.

He added that any attack on the environment, including dredging and stealing natural materials such as mountain rock deposits, poses a severe threat to the Kingdom’s natural beauty, which should be preserved for future generations.


Gulf Health Council offers elder care advice

Gulf Health Council offers elder care advice. (Shutterstock)
Gulf Health Council offers elder care advice. (Shutterstock)
Updated 07 December 2021

Gulf Health Council offers elder care advice

Gulf Health Council offers elder care advice. (Shutterstock)
  • The tips highlight ways in which caregivers can better prepare accommodation to suit the needs of elderly residents

RIYADH: The Gulf Health Council on Monday shared advice for care of older people.
The “seven important tips for caregivers of the elderly to adopt” stress, for example, the importance of maintaining a daily hygiene routine for seniors, to help ensure overall health and well-being. The council said that comprehensive, periodic examinations of oral health, sight and hearing are crucial for safeguarding against infections that can cause discomfort and irritability.
The tips also highlight ways in which caregivers can better prepare accommodation to suit the needs of elderly residents, for example by installing nonslip carpets and grab bars to prevent injuries and accidents.

In addition, proper heating or cooling facilities in and out of the house are important to ensure older people remain comfortable.
In addition, caregivers are urged to encourage seniors to exercise regularly to help improve quality of sleep and reduce the risk of certain ailments, such as osteoporosis, high blood pressure and diabetes.
The council has also uploaded a video to YouTube focusing on care for the elderly.