Top Jazan officials visit injured victims of Houthi drone attack

Jazan officials led by Deputy Governor Prince Muhammad bin Abdulaziz on Saturday visited victims of Friday's Houthi drone attack on the southwestern region's airport. (SPA)
Jazan officials led by Deputy Governor Prince Muhammad bin Abdulaziz on Saturday visited victims of Friday's Houthi drone attack on the southwestern region's airport. (SPA)
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Updated 10 October 2021

Top Jazan officials visit injured victims of Houthi drone attack

Top Jazan officials visit injured victims of Houthi drone attack

JAZAN: Prince Muhammad bin Abdulaziz, deputy governor of Jazan, paid a visit to a hospital to meet those who were injured in Saturday’s Houthi drone attack targeting King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Airport. Accompanying him were top officials and hospital staff.

Two armed drones launched from Yemen were shot down from the sky by Saudi air defenses.

Falling debris from the destroyed unmanned aerial vehicles caused minor injuries to passengers and airport personnel. Among the injured were six Saudi passengers and airport employees, three Bangladeshi workers and a Sudanese worker.

The latest attacks were condemned by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Arab Parliament.

Targeting civilian airports poses a threat to air traffic security, warned the Arab Parliament.


Saudi Arabia’s crown prince visits Dubai Expo, meets Dubai ruler

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets UAE Vice President and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid. (Twitter/@DXBMediaOffice)
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets UAE Vice President and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid. (Twitter/@DXBMediaOffice)
Updated 08 December 2021

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince visits Dubai Expo, meets Dubai ruler

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets UAE Vice President and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid. (Twitter/@DXBMediaOffice)

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday arrived at the World Expo headquarters in Dubai, on the second day of his official tour of the UAE.
The crown prince was received by UAE Vice President and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, where they held a meeting to discuss “ways to strengthen bilateral relations that bind the two brotherly countries and peoples within the framework of the same destiny and common vision,” Dubai Media Office reported.

Prince Mohammed arrived in the UAE on Tuesday following a two-day visit to Oman, as part of a wider Gulf tour that also includes stops in Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait.

 


Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Abu Dhabi visit heralds a promising new era in Saudi-UAE relations

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Abu Dhabi visit heralds a promising new era in Saudi-UAE relations
Updated 22 min 47 sec ago

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Abu Dhabi visit heralds a promising new era in Saudi-UAE relations

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Abu Dhabi visit heralds a promising new era in Saudi-UAE relations
  • Visit to Abu Dhabi, where the crown prince received the Order of Zayed, is his first since Nov. 2019
  • Five-day Gulf tour will take the crown prince to Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait after Oman and the UAE

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and the UAE, two Gulf Arab countries bound by strong familial, religious, cultural and commercial ties, have enjoyed a fraternal relationship for most of their modern existence.

The depth of the bilateral relationship, however, owes much to regular official exchanges, reciprocal visits by royals, and high-level summits that have taken place over the years.

The continuity of that decades-old process is epitomized by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Abu Dhabi, the second stop in a tour of Gulf states ahead of the annual Gulf Cooperation Council summit this month.

“The visit by His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman comes as part of enduring efforts to deepen strategic cooperation and coordination between our two countries on local, regional, and international issues, reflecting the shared visions and policies of our two countries’ leaderships,” Khalifa Shaheen Al-Marar, UAE minister of state, told Arab News.

Under the leadership of King Salman, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Saudi-UAE bilateral ties have grown into a comprehensive strategic partnership.

“The UAE and Saudi Arabia maintain a strategic partnership based on the same objectives and vision for regional prosperity, security and stability,” Al-Marar said.

“The UAE believes that the developmental journey of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, led by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is remarkable, and contributes to the overall progress and growth of the region.”

When Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed last met in Riyadh in July this year, they explored avenues for enhancing Saudi-UAE ties and strategic cooperation.

Each generation of leaders has built on the foundation laid under the leadership of Sheikh Zayed Al-Nahyan, founding father of the UAE, and King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz, his Saudi counterpart. (SPA)

Each generation of leaders has built on the foundation laid under the leadership of Sheikh Zayed Al-Nahyan, founding father of the UAE, and King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz, his Saudi counterpart, when bilateral cooperation began to expand.

During one of his Umrah trips to the Kingdom, Sheikh Zayed described the relationship between the two neighbors this way: “The UAE is with Saudi Arabia through its heart and soul, and we believe that we have one destiny, and that we have to act as one and stand by each other.”

In 1981, on the strength of their centuries-old ties, and common economic and strategic visions, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar created the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The creation of the GCC “was not a product of the moment but an institutional embodiment of a historical, social and cultural reality. Deep religious and cultural ties link the six states, and strong kin relations prevail among their citizens,” according to the official website.

In 2014, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the two leading members of the GCC, formed a joint committee to achieve the strategic visions of the two countries’ leaders, to overcome challenges and strengthen relations.

This led to the formation of the Saudi-Emirati Coordination Council to promote religious, historical, social and cultural ties and to intensify bilateral cooperation.

A year later, the two countries organized a high-level meeting, which was attended by over 150 officials from both countries to discuss areas of mutual interest and to create a general framework for the bilateral council, under three main themes: economy, human development and political and military cooperation.

A second meeting was held in Riyadh during the same year, with the objective of building on the earlier resolutions and launching initiatives to develop coordinated policies.

In 2018, Saudi Arabia and the UAE developed a unified vision that aimed to boost their global stature through the implementation of 44 joint projects. The Alaazm (Determination) Strategy was developed over 12 months by 350 officials from both countries, involving 139 governmental, sovereign and military bodies.

By focusing on three main areas — the economy; humanity and knowledge; and politics, security and the military — it sought to promote security and economic ties and to improve the living standards of citizens.

A timescale of five years was set to implement the strategy’s projects, which aimed to build an integrated model that would support joint GCC cooperation and contribute to protecting their interests, in addition to creating new opportunities.

On the sidelines of the coordination council’s first meeting, 20 memorandums of understanding were signed to implement projects from the Alaazm strategy.

In 2018, Saudi Arabia and the UAE developed a unified vision that aimed to boost their global stature through the implementation of 44 joint projects. (SPA)

Middle East analysists believe that in recent years, close political and strategic cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the UAE has helped preserve the prosperity of the Gulf countries amid a strife-torn Middle East.

“Politically, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have upheld common objectives to ensure that the region’s peoples can achieve their aspirations for security, stability, peace and development,” Al-Marar told Arab News.

“In Yemen, in particular, the UAE remains steadfast in its calls for a political solution to end the conflict and maintains full confidence in Saudi Arabia’s leadership of this file.”

Economic cooperation between the two countries is an achievement in its own right. Saudi Arabia is the leading Arab trade partner of the UAE and its third-largest international trading partner, accounting for 7 percent of the UAE’s international non-oil trade.

The two countries have the two largest Arab economies and are among the top 10 exporters in the world, with a total export value of nearly $750 billion in 2018.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan during his latest visit. (SPA)

“Similarities in economic development between the UAE and Saudi Arabia have united our two nations and allowed us to stimulate prosperity. Having already convened two meetings of the Saudi-UAE Coordination Council in recent years, our two countries are keen to develop new partnerships in all sectors, including tourism, infrastructure, transport, shipping, and logistics,” Al-Marar said.

He added: “Bilateral discussions continue to address ongoing efforts to develop the national economy in non-oil sectors, as well as ways to improve the business climate and empower the private sector in our countries.”

Saudi-UAE cooperation has been no less evident in the fields of energy and environment. Last month, the two countries, core members of OPEC, both highlighted their investments in renewable energy and decarbonization initiatives, but also defended the oil industry at the UN Climate Change Conference for its role in ensuring energy security and economic development.

The energy ministers of the two countries jointly contended that the focus of COP26 should be to contain emissions, which would allow oil and gas to continue to be used and smooth the energy transition, especially for poorer nations that cannot afford renewables, rather than seek to pivot the world away from fossil fuels.

“The UAE and Saudi Arabia, as the largest economies in the Gulf, recognize that we must play a leading role in adopting clean energy technologies and promoting a sustainable future for generations to come,” Almarar said.

“Through economic diversification and green innovation, our two countries are determined to promote climate resilience and conservation, particularly in developing countries.”


VOX Cinemas bringing Saudi stories to film

A Saudi cinema-goer has her temperature taken as she wears a colored face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus,  at VOX Cinema hall in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, June 26, 2020. (AP)
A Saudi cinema-goer has her temperature taken as she wears a colored face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, at VOX Cinema hall in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, June 26, 2020. (AP)
Updated 08 December 2021

VOX Cinemas bringing Saudi stories to film

A Saudi cinema-goer has her temperature taken as she wears a colored face masks to help curb the spread of the coronavirus,  at VOX Cinema hall in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, June 26, 2020. (AP)
  • Majid Al Futtaim backing new wave of talent, KSA chief says

JEDDAH: With more than 130 films set to be screened at the Red Sea International Film Festival, VOX Cinemas are on a mission to support and promote local films the best way they can.

The Red Sea International Film Festival kicked off its festivities at Jeddah’s UNESCO World Heritage Site old town, Al-Balad, on Dec. 6. It will run until Dec. 15, in partnership with VOX Cinemas and others.

VOX Cinemas will screen 138 feature films and shorts from 67 countries in 34 languages. The content was produced by established and emerging talent, with fans, film enthusiasts, filmmakers and actors in attendance for many of the films.

A slate of new Saudi films — 27 from an exciting wave of Saudi filmmakers — will be shown alongside the best of contemporary international cinema.

“We’re very proud to be partners of this festival, especially since this has been the first international Red Sea Film Festival taking place in Jeddah in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” Toni El Massih, managing director of VOX Cinemas, told Arab News.

RSIFF is a significant breakthrough for the whole industry, exhibitors, distributors and producers, he said. “This platform will help future filmmakers and storytellers know that this country is so full and rich in culture and storytelling. This is the exact platform that is needed for the talent to come across and present their project,” he added.

HIGHLIGHT

VOX Cinemas will screen 138 feature films and shorts from 67 countries in 34 languages. The content was produced by established and emerging talent, with fans, film enthusiasts, filmmakers and actors in attendance for many of the films.

On tour to the main VOX Cinema sites in Al-Balad that have been constructed to screen RSIFF films, Arab News spoke to Mohamed Al-Hashemi, KSA chief of Majid Al Futtaim. He said: “The Red Sea Film Festival is a statement for the Kingdom. There were no cinemas prior to April 2018, however, customers enjoyed the set of experiences as soon as they opened.

“With life coming back to normal after the COVID-19 period, the Red Sea Film Festival is a statement from the Kingdom to the world that Saudi Arabia will be a major player when it comes to local content production, demand for international content, and most importantly, demand for exhibitions as well, when it comes to the best of the best that can be offered to consumers.”

With movie theaters in more than six cities across the Kingdom in over 15 locations, VOX Cinemas operates 154 screens in Saudi Arabia. “We are considered to be the largest cinema exhibitors in the Kingdom in terms of site numbers and screen counts,” Al-Hashemi said.

Why is the screen count so important?

“The screen basically is the only platform where people can showcase local content producers on the big screen. With more big screens, more local content will be produced for the local market and the regional market, and hopefully Saudi as well to the international market,” Al-Hashemi said.

“The RSIFF is where the Kingdom can act as a local content producer and where we can bring out the folded and untold stories of this beautiful company, to the customers within Saudi,” he added.

On Dec. 6. during the inaugural red-carpet event, VOX Cinemas announced an ambitious initiative that aims to foster homegrown talent and showcase untold stories on the big screen.

A plan was made to boost regional film production and develop 25 Arabic films in the next five years.

El Massih said that many of these films would be from Saudi Arabia, with Saudi talent working as directors, producers and actors. There will also be films coming out of the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

Speaking on the genres of the future films, he said: “The genre that we are focusing on and that has proven to work best is the comedy-drama. This is the sort of film that we’ll be working toward.”

As part of the initiative, VOX Cinemas will continue to support the next generation of homegrown content developers and provide resources for emerging filmmakers to bring their scripts to screen.

“This platform will search and scout for talent. It’ll be the same case later in the UAE and in other festivals that are taking place across the region.

“Accordingly, we’ll start putting a team together, building screening and writing rooms, getting stories from each of the different regions together, and then we’ll take that forward and then do the necessary films that we’ll see on the big screen,” El Massih said.

“Majid Al Futtaim has been very active in the region since 1999, starting off with exhibition, and then elevating our activities into film distribution, and recently in film production.”

Being a main contributor and partner of RSIFF is “huge,” he added, saying that such an opportunity will support emerging talent.

El Massih said: “This is the perfect platform for us to be participating and searching for the emerging talent and filmmakers that we can bring on board.”


Saudi Arabia condemns bomb attack in Basra

Saudi Arabia condemns bomb attack in Basra
Updated 08 December 2021

Saudi Arabia condemns bomb attack in Basra

Saudi Arabia condemns bomb attack in Basra
  • Kingdom pledged solidarity with the Iraqi people ‘against all manifestations of violence, terrorism and extremism’
  • Regional counties and organizations also strongly condemned the attack

RIYADH: Saudi authorities strongly condemned a “terrorist bombing” near a hospital in the city of Basra in southern Iraq.
At least four people were killed and four injured when a motorcycle rigged with explosives blew up in the center of the city. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which took place on Tuesday morning.
The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the Kingdom stands in solidarity with the Iraqi people “against all manifestations of violence, terrorism and extremism.”
The ministry offered its condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims, and to the leadership, government and people of Iraq, and wished the wounded a speedy recovery.
The Arab Parliament also condemned the attack and said: “These terrorist acts will not undermine the Iraqi government’s efforts to impose security and stability, and will only increase the Iraqi people’s determination to confront terrorist militias with all force.”
Nayef Al-Hajraf, the secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, said the organization rejects all forms of terrorism and extremism and is working to cut off sources of funding and support for such activity.
Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt and Jordan issued similar statements condemning the attack and stressing their solidarity with Iraq.


Saudi and US air forces begin joint drill

The live-fire ACE exercise was launched at King Faisal Air Base in the Northern Sector and King Fahd Air Base in the Western Sector. (SPA)
The live-fire ACE exercise was launched at King Faisal Air Base in the Northern Sector and King Fahd Air Base in the Western Sector. (SPA)
Updated 08 December 2021

Saudi and US air forces begin joint drill

The live-fire ACE exercise was launched at King Faisal Air Base in the Northern Sector and King Fahd Air Base in the Western Sector. (SPA)

RIYADH: The Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) and the US Air Force launched a bilateral exercise, the Kingdom’s defense ministry said on Tuesday.
The live-fire ACE exercise was launched at King Faisal Air Base in the Northern Sector and King Fahd Air Base in the Western Sector.
The RSAF is participating with Typhoon and F-15 C/SA aircraft, and the US Air Force with F-16 fighter jets.
“The exercise aims to refine and develop the air and technical skills of the air crews, in addition to exchanging military expertise in the field of planning and implementing air operations, and raising the level of combat readiness,” the ministry said.
The exercise is part of a series of mixed exercises between the two sides, it added.