Fraternal Saudi-Omani ties in focus as Muscat prepares to welcome Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Fraternal Saudi-Omani ties in focus as Muscat prepares to welcome Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit will build on talks that Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq had with King Salman during his visit to the Kingdom earlier this year. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 06 December 2021

Fraternal Saudi-Omani ties in focus as Muscat prepares to welcome Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Fraternal Saudi-Omani ties in focus as Muscat prepares to welcome Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to build on talks Sultan Haitham held with King Salman in July
  • Visit described as a reflection of ‘time-honored’ ties between two Gulf countries bound by bonds of history

RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Oman, the first stop in a tour of Gulf states, is expected to build on the talks that Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq held with King Salman during his visit to the Kingdom in July.

On the agenda are issues of mutual concern and ways to promote the interests of the Kingdom and Oman as well as “fulfill the aspirations and hopes” of their peoples.

The Omani news agency ONA described the visit as a reflection of the “time-honored and historical” ties between the two Gulf countries.

For over half a century, Saudi-Omani relations have been characterized by cooperation, mutual respect and understanding on various regional and international issues.

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




Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will visit Oman during his tour of the Gulf. (SPA)

The two countries coordinate their actions under the umbrella of the Gulf Cooperation Council 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, the UN and various other international bodies.

Sultan Haitham’s visit to Saudi Arabia produced promises of cooperation in different fields, notably real estate development, tourism, petrochemicals, manufacturing industries, logistics, information technology and banking systems. Also on the agenda was a project to establish an industrial zone in the Special Economic Zone in Duqm.

A memorandum establishing a coordination council was signed by the two countries, with the aim of ensuring continued consultation and coordination in matters of common interest in all fields. A separate agreement was signed to boost government and private sector trade and investment as well as cooperation in the fields of environmental and food security.




The crown prince’s trip is set to build on the talks that Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq held with King Salman in July. (AFP)

According to a joint statement, the two sides also agreed to expedite the opening of their border crossings to ease the movement of people and goods to “integrate supply chains in order to achieve the desired economic integration.”

They further welcomed the “effective communication” between ministers of the two countries and directed them to work toward concluding a number of cooperation agreements.

“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, told Arab News on the eve of Sultan Haitham’s visit.

INNUMBERS

• SR 24bn ($6.4bn) total Saudi investments in Oman

• SR4bn total Omani investments in KSA

• SR2bn Saudi-Omani trade volume in first quarter of 2021

Ties between Oman and Saudi Arabia 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.

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

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

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.




Sultan Haitham’s visit to Saudi Arabia produced promises of cooperation in different fields. (AFP)

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.

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.

Sultan Haitham has welcomed the initiatives in previous talks with the Saudi crown prince. 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.




The crown prince’s visit honors the historical ties between the two Gulf countries. (SPA)

High-level officials and delegations have made reciprocal visits 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 the overall quality of life.

Among a long list of Saudi businesses looking for investment opportunities in Oman are Al Sayadiyah United Co., which has been operating for about 40 years, trading in fish and seafood items originating in different GCC countries.

In comments to Arab News in September, Marwan Raffa, CEO of Al Sayadiyah, said he expected a very good experience in trade operations with Oman and was in touch with his Omani counterparts to expand business operations there.

Commenting on Saudi Arabia’s drive to deepen ties with Oman, he said: “Good relationships open up more opportunities.”


The Line exhibition comes to a close in Jeddah

The Line exhibition comes to a close in Jeddah
Updated 24 sec ago

The Line exhibition comes to a close in Jeddah

The Line exhibition comes to a close in Jeddah

RIYADH: An exhibition showcasing designs for The Line, a development earmarked for NEOM, came to an end in Jeddah on Sunday.

The exhibition included detailed designs, renders and architectural concepts of The Line, enabling visitors to better understand the scope and complexity of the project.

Visitors were also shown visual presentations and engineering techniques.

The Line will run on 100 percent renewable energy and prioritize the health and wellbeing of people over transportation and infrastructure.

Once completed, the development will be 200 meters wide, 170 kilometers long, and 500 meters above sea level.The exhibition started on August 1 at the Superdome in Jeddah and offered around 50 guided tours per day in both Arabic and English. The displays provided levels of detail that reinforce the ambition of the vision for the new urban environment.

It will now move to other locations in the Kingdom including the Eastern Province and Riyadh.

The project will eventually accommodate 9 million residents and will be built on a footprint of just 34 square kilometers. This small footprint will use less land when compared to other cities of similar capacity and will contribute to conserving 95 percent of NEOM’s land.


Saudi girl, 6, wins five medals in rhythmic gymnastics

Saudi girl, 6, wins five medals in rhythmic gymnastics
Updated 42 min 41 sec ago

Saudi girl, 6, wins five medals in rhythmic gymnastics

Saudi girl, 6, wins five medals in rhythmic gymnastics

RIYADH: Six-year-old Saudi girl Elena Habhab has hopes of becoming a Olympic rhythmic gymnast after winning five medals in her first year of competition in Moscow.

Elena discovered her love of the sport while visiting her Russian grandmother and enrolling in one of the city’s sports clubs.

Her mother, Rima Wannous, said: “Elena was impressed to watch girls play and make attractive movements, so she decided to join this fun sport.”

Within three months of joining the beginners’ class, Elena’s skills were noticed by the trainers and she was promoted to a higher class.

She took part in an open club championship in Moscow and won first place.

“With her skills, she managed to win the competition, and then she participated in three championships with a group and took second place,” Wannous said.

“After that we decided that she should stay in Moscow to pursue her dreams since the sport isn’t available in the Kingdom yet.”

Elena’s father, Luaie Habhab, said that his daughter loves the sport “and even does the splits while watching TV.”

Rhythmic gymnastics is a competition for women only, in which the player performs graceful movements to music while holding objects, such as a ribbon or ball.

Referees evaluate the performance and award points to each competitor.

Rhythmic gymnasts are judged on their agility and difficulty of the movements they make, including the skill of launching and capturing the instrument.

Elena trains eight hours a day in Moscow, but says she enjoys the demanding schedule.

Her mother said: “I thought that she would not want to go to Moscow again because of the tough exercises, but she surprised me. When we returned to Saudi Arabia, she insisted that we go back to Russia to train. So I had to leave all my work here and take her to Moscow because this sport doesn’t exist in Saudi Arabia right now.”

Elena’s dream is to represent the Kingdom abroad and compete in the Olympics.

She also speaks three languages: English, Arabic and Russian, and is learning Chinese.

“I love gymnastics because it makes me strong, flexible and patient. I also love competition, and I am happy when I am taking first place,” Elena said.

 


Misk Foundation launches Qimah graduate development program

Misk Foundation launches Qimah graduate development program
Updated 15 August 2022

Misk Foundation launches Qimah graduate development program

Misk Foundation launches Qimah graduate development program
  • Registration for the program began on Aug. 13 and will continue until Aug. 20

JEDDAH: The Mohammed bin Salman Foundation Misk launched the Qimah graduate development program to help talented Saudi youth and recent university graduates to launch their careers by providing them with professional opportunities.

Registration for the program began on Aug. 13 and will continue until Aug. 20.

The one-year program will take place in Riyadh and requires students to attend in person. It will begin on Sept. 25, targeting outstanding recent graduates.

Applications will be limited to Saudi nationals or new graduates of bachelor’s or master’s degrees in the class of 2021 and 2022 from both genders.

Undergraduates of relatedly close majors, such as project management, management, management information systems, public relations, human resources, computer science, and industrial and systems engineering, will be more likely to be accepted.

Application requirements include a GPA of no less than 3.75 out of 5 or 3 out of 4, an English language certificate of TOEFL IBT with a score of 90 or above, or IELTS with a score of 6 or above.

Applications will be limited to Saudi nationals or new graduates of bachelor’s or master’s degrees in the class of 2021 and 2022. (Screenshot/ Twitter Video)

Qimah provides an intensive on-the-job training curriculum for promising graduates and integrates their skills with appropriate development departments.

The first cycle of the Misk graduate development program aims to develop the technical skills of graduates and give them opportunities to advance in an integrated practical environment.

The program also provides a competitive package that includes salary, training courses, annual leave, gym membership, and VIP medical insurance that includes family and parents.

Each trainee must be fully committed to the program and demonstrate an interest in being an active member of Misk.

Qimah provides an intensive on-the-job training curriculum for promising graduates and integrates their skills with appropriate development departments. (Screenshot/ Twitter Video)

The program will be implemented in rotation and rolled out across different projects and focus areas such as project management, marketing, and communications, legal, strategy, finance, risk management, human resources, digital transformation, and procurement management.

Enrolled students will acquire leadership, problem-solving, communication, and data analysis skills.

The mission of the Misk foundation is to discover the talents of Saudi youth and help them to develop by empowering them to become an effective participant in the economy of the country.

It also aims to create opportunities to develop the youth community which will support them in unleashing their potential.


KSrelief distributes more than 101 tons of food in Marib

KSrelief distributes more than 101 tons of food in Marib
Updated 15 August 2022

KSrelief distributes more than 101 tons of food in Marib

KSrelief distributes more than 101 tons of food in Marib

RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) distributed more than  101 tons of food to the neediest families in the Yemeni governorate of Marib, benefiting 5,682 individuals.

According to state-run Saudi Press Agency, the food distribution falls within the project by KSrelief to support food security in Yemen for the year 2022. 

KSrelief in Yemen aims to distribute more than 192,000 food baskets weighing more than 20,000 tons to needy and affected families in 15 Yemeni governorates.

On Saturday, KSrelief distributed aid to the Yemeni province of Al-Mahra which was hit floods and torrential rains. 

The center distributed 100 food baskets containing basic materials, benefiting 1,092 people.

KSrelief’s immediate intervention comes as part of its continuous efforts to aid and support Yemeni people in different crises.


Perception at odds with reality of generous Saudi humanitarian support for Ukraine

Perception at odds with reality of generous Saudi humanitarian support for Ukraine
Updated 15 August 2022

Perception at odds with reality of generous Saudi humanitarian support for Ukraine

Perception at odds with reality of generous Saudi humanitarian support for Ukraine
  • Kingdom’s track record belies lack of recognition of its donations for displaced Ukrainian refugees
  • A $10 million aid package has just been signed off by the UNHCR, WHO and Saudi Arabia’s KSrelief 

JEDDAH: The perception that Saudi Arabia is not helping Ukrainians affected by the war with Russia is completely at odds with the reality. 

The firmness of the Kingdom’s commitment to supporting refugees and resolving the conflict has been evident since the outbreak of hostilities. Aid pledges have been matched by donations that are already making a big difference.

A $10 million Saudi humanitarian package for war-displaced Ukrainians has just been signed off by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Health Organization and Saudi Arabia’s leading humanitarian aid agency.

 

 

About half of the $10 million grant has been allocated for distribution through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief).

In April, King Salman directed KSrelief to provide this amount of support for immediate assistance and give “urgent medical and shelter aid” to Ukrainian refugees, giving priority to those arriving in Poland.

KSrelief chief Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah visiting Poland’s Institute of Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases, which is supporting refugees in Warsaw. (Supplied)

Delivering on the Kingdom’s promise during his ongoing visit to Poland, Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, adviser at the Royal Court and supervisor general of KSrelief, also discussed the humanitarian situation with Polish, UNHCR and WHO officials, according to a Saudi Press Agency report.

It said Al-Rabeeah visited several health establishments and facilities, taking time to speak to some Ukrainian refugees who had fled to Warsaw from their war-torn country.

 

 

“Thank you very much, and thanks to the center for helping us. The situation is as you can see,” a Ukrainian resident of a refugee center told Al-Arabiya news channel.

“All of us came from Ukraine, and we were in a very bad way. Thanks to you, our situation has improved. Thanks a lot, and we wish peace to the whole world.”  

At the Poland-Ukraine border, Al-Rabeeah lauded the collaboration between the WHO, KSrelief, and the Polish government. “We highly appreciate the partnership with the WHO. Our work together has made great support to refugees and those in need here and elsewhere,” he said in a video released by WHO Poland.

 

KSrelief has donated funds to support the critical response efforts for Ukrainians in Poland, with the delivery of emergency medical supplies and equipment benefiting more than 1 million people in need.

The Kingdom’s support for Ukrainian refugees is an extension of its well-known humanitarian efforts in more than 85 countries, yet several reports have hinted that Saudi Arabia has picked sides in the conflict because of its ties to Russia as a fellow OEPC+ member.

Despite the political and humanitarian initiatives taken by the Kingdom, urging all parties to come to the negotiating table to resolve the conflict through dialogue and diplomacy, the Kingdom’s efforts have been viewed with skepticism in some quarters.

A March report by the Wilson Center, a US government-linked public policy think tank, claimed that Saudi Arabia “has decided to side with Russia” and “chose Putin over Biden,” accusing the Kingdom of playing political games to keep oil prices high.

The remarks came despite the Kingdom’s repeated offers to both mediate between the warring parties and increase oil production along with neighboring Gulf countries.

Millions of Ukrainian refugees suddenly left their country in February after Russian troops invaded. (AFP)

The differences between the Western and Arab positions on the question of how to end the war have not stopped either side from addressing the humanitarian emergency.

For its part, Saudi Arabia has reiterated that though ending the ongoing war in Ukraine is no easy feat, the Kingdom has treated the issue just as any ongoing crisis in the region, stressing that human suffering is the same in all conflicts and that violence is not the solution.

In March, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Russian President Vladimir Putin that the Kingdom was ready to exert all efforts to mediate between the two nations.

Saudi Arabia has sent millions of dollars in humanitarian aid for Ukrainians forced to stay in evacuation centers in Poland. (AFP photo)

In May, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Dmytro Kuleba, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to discuss the crisis.

Less than a week later, Prince Faisal bin Farhan met with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov during the latter’s visit to Riyadh, where he underscored the importance of reaching a political solution to achieve security and stability for all involved.

Though scant details on Lavrov’s visit and meeting with Gulf Cooperation Council ministers were released, the trip was still misinterpreted as evidence of Saudi Arabia’s support for Russia, even though the Kingdom and other Gulf states had opted to stay neutral, treating the war in Ukraine in “a fair context” and providing aid to the needy.

In June, Prince Faisal bin Farhan clarified the Kingdom’s position further: “Our stance as Gulf countries regarding the Russian-Ukrainian crisis is unified,” he said on June 1 during a speech at the opening of the 152nd session of the Ministerial Council of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Millions of Ukrainians were forced to leave their country since February after Russian troops invaded. (AFP photo)

“Today we had two fruitful meetings with the Russian and Ukrainian ministers, during which we stated our unified stance regarding the Russian-Ukrainian crisis and its negative consequences, namely the food security of the affected countries and the world.”

Saudi Arabia’s decision to remain neutral and prioritize humanitarian engagement during the war also ought to be viewed in the context of public opinion. In a recent Arab News-YouGov poll, of the more than 1,000 Saudis who were asked for their opinion, 14 percent blamed US President Joe Biden for the conflict while 21 percent blamed NATO.

While a high number of Saudi respondents expressed skepticism about NATO’s involvement with the conflict, 41 percent of Saudis said they did not know or were not sure who was to blame.

Throughout the conflict, more than 40 countries, organizations, and individual donors have made pledges and commitments, some of which have made their way to the 6.3 million refugees fleeing Ukraine as well as those who remained. But there is a striking gap between pledged and delivered support.

In this April 9, 2022, photo, Ukrainian refugees fleeing war stay at a gymnasium in Tijuana, Mexico as they await permission to enter the US. (AFP)

Thus far, most Western governments have given priority to military assistance over humanitarian aid.

According to the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, the US has pledged $23.8 billion in military aid, the highest number to date, but has only allocated $8.9 billion in humanitarian assistance.

According to the center, that number has since increased but by a relatively small percentage. Similarly, the EU pledged $12.3 billion in military aid but just $1.4 billion has been siphoned for humanitarian response and aid packages.

Since the outbreak of the conflict, Western and Arab governments have been under no illusion that the need for a resolution of the conflict is no less pressing than addressing the humanitarian emergency.

Last month, President Biden visited Jeddah and met with King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The two sides discussed several topics of concern, including energy, security and the crisis in Ukraine.

King Salman bin Abdulaziz meets with US President Joe Biden, witnessed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and US State Secretary Antony Blinken at al-Salam Palace in Jeddah on July 15, 2022. (SPA)

Soon after Biden left the Kingdom, Adel Al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs, spoke to CNBC to set the record straight. “We have said from the very beginning, we supported the UN General Assembly Resolution and the inadmissibility abuse of force, about the sovereignty of nations and respect for that,” he said.

“We have called for a peaceful resolution to this; stop the fighting and get to the negotiating table and work out your differences peacefully.

“The concern that we have is that escalation on one side leads to escalation on the other side and before you know it, things are more likely to spin out of control and we all pay the price.”

For good measure, Al-Jubeir said: “We’ve reached out to both Russia and Ukraine. We’ve urged them to move towards a ceasefire settlement and their conflict peacefully. We continue to be engaged with them as are a number of other countries, and our hope is that they will be able to recognize that it’s better to argue across the table from each other than fight across the battlefield, because of the unintended consequences of war and conflict.”

 

 

Meanwhile, when it comes to humanitarian giving, Saudi Arabia’s pledges continue to be matched by its actions.

On Friday, accompanied by Saad Al-Saleh, the Saudi ambassador to Poland, KSrelief’s Al-Rabeeah visited the UNHCR’s warehouse facilities in Rzeszow in Poland. They jointly inspected the aid already provided as part of the Kingdom’s $10 million grant to support Ukrainian refugees.

 

Druze: the great survivors
How the world's most secretive faithhas endured for a thousand years
Enter
keywords