Saudi, UK foreign ministers discuss security ties and regional issues

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with his UK counterpart Liz Truss in Riyadh on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with his UK counterpart Liz Truss in Riyadh on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with his UK counterpart Liz Truss in Riyadh on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with his UK counterpart Liz Truss in Riyadh on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. (SPA)
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Updated 20 October 2021

Saudi, UK foreign ministers discuss security ties and regional issues

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets with his UK counterpart Liz Truss in Riyadh on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. (SPA)
  • Liz Truss is on a Gulf tour aimed at boosting economic and security ties
  • They discussed Yemen, Iran, and the wider Middle East region 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Wednesday held talks with his British counterpart, Liz Truss, to discuss Yemen, Iran, and the wider Middle East region.
Truss arrived in the Saudi capital earlier in the day as part of a Gulf tour aimed at boosting economic and security ties. The trip followed a free trade agreement the UK began with the Gulf Cooperation Council as part of its deals to develop trade after leaving the European Union.
The two sides discussed the Kingdom’s efforts and initiatives to reach a political solution to the conflict in Yemen in a way that supports development and stability for the Yemeni people, the Saudi foreign ministry said.
They also discussed the most prominent developments regarding the Iranian nuclear deal and the ongoing negotiations in Vienna.

Tehran has been holding up negotiations aimed at reviving a landmark 2015 accord that scales back its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief since before Ebrahim Raisi was sworn in as president in August. Iran has stopped honoring some of its commitments and increased its uranium enrichment, which sparked concern from the UN nuclear watchdog agency and the international community.
During the meeting, Prince Faisal and Truss “reviewed the strong and historical Saudi-British relations, and opportunities to strengthen them in all fields,” the foreign ministry said.
They also discussed Saudi-British efforts to lay the foundations for peace, security, and stability in the Middle East and the world. They also exchanged views on several issues of common interest.
“An honor to meet my Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan in Riyadh today to discuss working together on infrastructure in Africa and Asia, security, and an even stronger UK-Saudi trade relationship,” Truss said in a tweet following the meeting.
Saudi Ambassador to UK Prince Khalid bin Bandar also attended the meeting.

 


Saudi FM meets Argentinian ministers in Buenos Aires

Saudi FM meets Argentinian ministers in Buenos Aires
Updated 28 November 2021

Saudi FM meets Argentinian ministers in Buenos Aires

Saudi FM meets Argentinian ministers in Buenos Aires

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Sunday met Argentinian Deputy Prime Minister Jorge Neme and Defense Minister Jorge Taiana, in the capital Buenos Aires.
The meeting, which was held during a luncheon hosted by Saudi ambassador to Argentina Hussain Mohammed Al-Asiri, reviewed Saudi-Argentinian bilateral relations and ways to strengthen them in all fields of cooperation, in addition to discussing the latest developments on the regional and international levels.

They also discussed ways of boosting cooperation between the two countries in various fields, especially in light of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan. Intensifying bilateral coordination to achieve the aspirations of both countries is a priority for both sides.
In addition, the meeting focused on the efforts of both countries in boosting security and stability in the Middle East and Latin America. Both sides stressed the importance of strengthening joint work in the international community to ward off threats to international peace and security.


Saudi Arabia registers 1 COVID-19 death, 24 new infections

Saudi Arabia registers 1 COVID-19 death, 24 new infections
Updated 28 November 2021

Saudi Arabia registers 1 COVID-19 death, 24 new infections

Saudi Arabia registers 1 COVID-19 death, 24 new infections
  • Ministry of Interior records 871 violations against precautionary measures in past week
  • Municipalities close several businesses and issue fines to a number of others for breaching coronavirus protocols

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia confirmed one new COVID-19 related death on Sunday, raising the total number of fatalities to 8,833.
The Ministry of Health confirmed 24 new cases reported in the Kingdom in the previous 24 hours, meaning 549,695 people have now contracted the disease. Of the total number of cases, 48 remain in critical condition.
According to the ministry, the highest number of cases were recorded in the capital Riyadh with nine, followed by Jeddah with five, and Madinah, Makkah and Khobar recorded two cases each.
The health ministry also announced that 32 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom to 538,856.
Over 47.3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered since the Kingdom’s immunization campaign started. More than 22.3 million people have been fully vaccinated.


The Ministry of Interior reported 871 violations in the past week, with the highest number of breaches recorded in Makkah with 269, followed by Riyadh with 217, Madinah with 181, and Hail with 118. Qassim recorded the lowest number of violations with one.
The ministry called on citizens and residents to abide by the preventive protocols and the instructions issued by authorities.
Saudi municipalities have ramped up efforts to monitor compliance with health and safety measures.
The municipality of Eastern Province carried out 8,543 inspection tours of commercial centers and facilities during the last week. Authorities recorded 563 violations and closed nine businesses for not adhering to the precautionary measures.
Al-Baha Municipality carried out 3,680 tours in the past week and field teams issued fines to 87 commercial outlets and closed nine others for breaching protocols.
The Northern Borders Province, represented by Rafha Municipality, carried out 280 inspection tours of commercial centers and facilities during the last week and authorities recorded 23 violations.
Officials have also called on the public to report any suspected health breaches by phoning the 940 call center number or contacting authorities through the Balady app.
The coronavirus pandemic has affected over 261 million people globally and the death toll has reached around 5.21 million.


Saudi Arabia suspends flights to and from 7 more African nations due to new COVID-19 variant

Saudi Arabia suspends flights to and from 7 more African nations due to new COVID-19 variant
Updated 28 November 2021

Saudi Arabia suspends flights to and from 7 more African nations due to new COVID-19 variant

Saudi Arabia suspends flights to and from 7 more African nations due to new COVID-19 variant

LONDON: Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday it was temporarily suspending flights to and from seven African countries due to the outbreak of the newly discovered coronavirus strain, Omicron. 

The countries are Malawi, Zambia, Madagascar, Angola, Seychelles, Mauritius and Comoros, an official source from the Ministry of Interior told Saudi state news agency SPA.

Expats will be denied entry if they have been in any of the countries listed within the last 14 days before arrival in the Kingdom. 

Nationals and expats who are allowed entry will be required to quarantine for five days, including those who have been vaccinated. 

The Ministry of Interior called on those who entered Saudi Arabia after traveling to the list of banned countries after Nov. 1, to take a PCR test.


What do parents in Saudi Arabia really think about distance learning?

Schools in the Kingdom closed in March 2020, in the early stages of the pandemic. They began to reopen in September this year, though remote learning remains in place for younger children. (SPA)
Schools in the Kingdom closed in March 2020, in the early stages of the pandemic. They began to reopen in September this year, though remote learning remains in place for younger children. (SPA)
Updated 28 November 2021

What do parents in Saudi Arabia really think about distance learning?

Schools in the Kingdom closed in March 2020, in the early stages of the pandemic. They began to reopen in September this year, though remote learning remains in place for younger children. (SPA)
  • After education minister said 83% of parents believe online education has been good for kids’ mental health, we talk those on both sides of the debate

JEDDAH: Distance learning was a necessity imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the past 18 months there has been a great deal of debate, globally, about the merits or otherwise of remote education and how well its extended use has served students during these difficult times.

In Saudi Arabia, however, parents appear to be overwhelmingly in favor of distance learning, according to figures quoted by Education Minister Hamad Al-Sheikh. Speaking last month at the Saudi Family Forum, organized by the Family Affairs Council, he said 83 percent of parents believe that remote education has positively affected their children’s mental and psychological health. He added that it is here to stay, in some form, even after the pandemic ends because it has become a pillar of the education system.
Saudi authorities responded to the need to close classrooms during the pandemic by developing the Madrasati, or “My School,” platform as a gateway to keep students at all levels, from first to 12th grade, and their parents connected with schools and teachers in an attempt to provide the best possible online educational experience. To help achieve this it provides access to textbooks, notes, study materials, videos, tutorials and more besides. In the first week after its launch in September 2020, the free platform logged 41 million visits.
Redha Omda, a father of three in Jeddah, told Arab News that teachers are using new techniques to enhance the online learning environment, and applauded the increased use of technology.
“I like how technology is playing a big part in the educational sector,” he said. “Teachers are contacting me through WhatsApp and they are more accessible than before.

BACKGROUND

Saudi authorities responded to the need to close classrooms during the pandemic by developing the Madrasati, or ‘My School,’ platform as a gateway to keep students at all levels, from first to 12th grade, and their parents connected with schools and teachers in an attempt to provide the best possible online educational experience. To help achieve this it provides access to textbooks, notes, study materials, videos, tutorials and more besides.

“The Madrasati platform is linked to the parent’s Tawakkalna app, which is amazing, and it lets me know everything about my kids. I am also impressed by how my kids are using technology in a way that I did not imagine.”
Bara’a Alfergani, a mother of two living in Jeddah, said that distance learning saves students a lot of time.
“Study at home is better than attending eight hours of classes every day and then coming home with homework to do,” she said. “It is much easier to attend online and do homework at the same place.”

In the first week after Madrasati launch in September 2020, the free platform logged 41 million visits.

Alfergani added that it also makes it easier for her to keep an eye on her children and be more involved in their education.
The Ministry of Education has indicated that the future of learning in Saudi Arabia will involve some form of hybrid learning, as the concept of distance education has evolved as a result of the global health crisis.
Joud Al-Harbi, a 23-year-old college student from Jeddah, said that online education is a much better option than attending classes.
“It allows me to do many things at the same time,” she said. “I interact with my instructors, and most of my collegemates understand the subjects easily.”
One of her friends has a sick child, she added, and prefers to take classes online because it gives her more time to care for the youngster.
Schools and other educational institutions in the Kingdom closed in March 2020, in the early stages of the pandemic. They began to reopen in September this year, though remote learning remains in place for younger children.
Not all parents agree that distance learning has been a good thing, however. Stay-at-home mom Mashael Al-Sahli said it has had an adverse psychological effect on her two children because it has deprived them of a social life.
“Building social skills starts at school and it is an important factor of the growing process,” she said. “It was something we didn’t feel until schools were closed.”
Not only were her children deprived of the school environment, activities and their friends, she said, even though the online learning system that has been developed is good she nevertheless has found the learning process to be difficult.
“The kids can’t even see the teachers’ gestures or body language,” she added.
Nahedh Almwalad, an elementary school teacher in Jeddah, said that children have a lot of energy and their attention span is limited, which can be a challenge with online education, but added that it can help to teach them patience.


15,000 residency, labor, border violators arrested across Saudi Arabia

15,000 residency, labor, border violators arrested across Saudi Arabia
Updated 28 November 2021

15,000 residency, labor, border violators arrested across Saudi Arabia

15,000 residency, labor, border violators arrested across Saudi Arabia
  • The authorities transferred 75,649 offenders to their respective diplomatic missions to obtain travel documents

RIYADH: Saudi authorities arrested almost 15,000 people in one week for breaching residency, work, and border security regulations, an official report has revealed.

During the period Nov. 18 to 24, a total of 7,552 arrests were made for violations of residency rules, while 5,699 people were held over illegal border crossing attempts, and a further 1,529 on labor-related issues.

The report’s findings showed that among 429 arrested while trying to cross the border into the Kingdom, 70 percent were Yemeni citizens, 28 percent Ethiopians, and 2 percent other nationalities.

A further 36 people were caught trying to cross into neighboring countries, and 14 were held for involvement in transporting and harboring violators.

The authorities transferred 75,649 offenders to their respective diplomatic missions to obtain travel documents, while 2,048 were transferred to complete their travel reservations and 9,586 were deported.

The Ministry of Interior pointed out that anyone found to be helping people gain illegal entry to the Kingdom, and transporting, or providing shelter for them could face imprisonment for a maximum of 15 years, a fine of up to SR1 million ($260,000), or confiscation of vehicles and property.

Suspected violations can be reported on the toll-free number 911 in the Makkah and Riyadh regions, and 999 or 996 in other regions of the Kingdom.