‘Close, complementary’ Saudi-UAE relations benefit wider region, UAE minister of state tells Arab News

‘Close, complementary’ Saudi-UAE relations benefit wider region, UAE minister of state tells Arab News
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman held talks with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed at the Qasr Al-Watan. (Supplied)
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Updated 09 December 2021

‘Close, complementary’ Saudi-UAE relations benefit wider region, UAE minister of state tells Arab News

‘Close, complementary’ Saudi-UAE relations benefit wider region, UAE minister of state tells Arab News
  • Khalifa Shaheen Al-Marar, UAE minister of state, commends Saudi Arabia’s “remarkable” development journey
  • Similarities in economic development unite both countries and stimulate prosperity, Al-Marar tells Arab News

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 relationship owes much to a tradition of regular official exchanges, reciprocal visits by royals and high-level summits. In an interview with Arab News, Khalifa Shaheen Al-Marar, UAE minister of state, described how the two countries have adopted policies that benefit the Arab region and contribute to better outcomes for global peace and human welfare.

Q. Saudi-UAE relations have come a long way since the start of the unification of the seven emirates into a federation 50 years ago this month. How would you describe the current state of the bilateral relationship?

A. The UAE and Saudi Arabia maintain a strategic partnership based on the same objectives and vision for regional prosperity, security and stability. The UAE believes that the developmental journey of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, led by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince, is remarkable and contributes to the overall progress and growth of the region.

Q. What is the significance of the visit by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the UAE?

A. The visit 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.

Saudi Arabia’s vision under the leadership of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and His Highness the Crown Prince is embodied in its efforts and tireless work for progress, especially on the economic front, as Saudi Arabia has championed many achievements to advance the entire region’s prospects for prosperity and development.
 




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

Q. Saudi Arabia and the UAE have historically held similar views on economic, security and geopolitical issues. Do you foresee a similarly high degree of commonality going forward?

A. Absolutely. On all fronts, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have worked to bolster bilateral cooperation in service of our peoples and the wider region. 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. Bilateral discussions continue to address 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.

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. 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 on this.

Furthermore, our two countries have also made great strides in providing aid and development assistance to those beyond our region, to contribute to better outcomes for global peace and human welfare. Going forward, the UAE and Saudi Arabia will continue to use our partnership to advocate for the world’s most vulnerable and join the international community in mobilizing greater support for developmental and humanitarian causes around the world.

Q. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are both diversifying their economies, offering incentives to attract capital and talent, encouraging small businesses and start-ups, and trying to give their young citizens exciting new career paths in the private sector. In what ways can this be a win-win situation for the two countries?

A. The UAE and Saudi Arabia maintain a close and complementary relationship that benefits the two countries and the wider region, which includes economic and developmental integration. We believe that healthy economic competition in the region is important, and the UAE always views it as an opportunity to generate new prospects and adopt policies that benefit the region as a whole.

Moreover, our two countries’ economic partnership is one based on open exchange and cooperation. The Saudi-Emirati Coordination Council, a high-level bilateral mechanism established to harmonize Saudi Vision 2030 and UAE Vision 2021, continues to play an important role in inking additional economic agreements and streamlining trade between our two countries.

 




Khalifa Shaheen Al-Marar, UAE minister of state. (Supplied)

Q. Where do you see the two countries moving together in the future?

A. As the UAE celebrates 50 years since its founding as a nation, we will continue working to strengthen our regional and international partnerships. Together, with Saudi Arabia, we are in pursuit of a region where prosperity and security flourish, thereby unlocking human potential and ensuring lasting peace.

We share common objectives in preventing extremism and terrorism, and our two countries agree that maintaining maritime security is a priority and strategic necessity for the stability of our neighborhood. Moving into the future, our two nations are committed to working together to address a number of contemporary global issues, including public health, counterextremism, women’s empowerment and climate change.

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


K-pop concert at Riyadh Season canceled, tickets to be refunded

A sandstorm caused by high-speed winds and heavy rain in Riyadh last Friday caused many outdoor events at Riyadh Season to close for public safety. (SPA/Reuters/File Photos)
A sandstorm caused by high-speed winds and heavy rain in Riyadh last Friday caused many outdoor events at Riyadh Season to close for public safety. (SPA/Reuters/File Photos)
Updated 19 January 2022

K-pop concert at Riyadh Season canceled, tickets to be refunded

A sandstorm caused by high-speed winds and heavy rain in Riyadh last Friday caused many outdoor events at Riyadh Season to close for public safety. (SPA/Reuters/File Photos)
  • Riyadh Season added that they are “committed to providing entertainment” and promised to bring the artists back to the Kingdom soon

RIYADH: A K-Pop concert featuring Stray Kids and Chungha in Riyadh has officially been canceled, with tickets for the mega musical event being refunded, Riyadh Season organizers said Wednesday.

In an official statement shared on its Twitter page, the festival said: “The 2021 Riyadh Season Chungha and Stray Kids show on Jan. 14 was regrettably canceled due to a sandstorm and extreme weather conditions. Your safety is always our priority. Tickets from the show will be refunded automatically to your wallet on the ticketing platform.”

Riyadh Season added that they are “committed to providing entertainment” and promised to bring the artists back to the Kingdom soon.

For inquiries, they shared a telephone number, 8002444010, and an email address to contact: [email protected]

The statement added: “K-pop fans, we hear you. We are fully committed and in discussion to bring the best K-pop to Saudi Arabia in the future. Stay tuned for more news!”

Lamar Jameel, a 16-year-old K-pop fan who came all the way from Tabuk to attend the concert, told Arab News: “I was so disappointed that it got postponed and now canceled. I was looking forward to attending as this was going to be my first time at a concert.

“I love Chungha, and it was going to be her first show in the region. If she had performed, she would have been the first K-pop female performer in Saudi Arabia. I hope she will come back as soon as Riyadh Season is in discussion to bring the artists back.”

A sandstorm caused by high-speed winds and heavy rain in Riyadh last Friday caused many outdoor events at Riyadh Season to close for public safety.

Turki Al-Sheikh, CEO of the General Entertainment Authority and chairman of the Riyadh Season, tweeted that due to the weather conditions in Riyadh, events had to be postponed, including the Stray Kids and Chungha concert.

Event organizers asked fans, who had gathered for the mega event, to evacuate the outdoor arena as “quickly as possible,” citing circumstances out of their control, with the high-speed winds preventing the concert from going ahead.

Riyadh Season tweeted shortly after: “For everyone’s safety, the Stray Kids and Chungha concert has been postponed until further notice due to weather conditions.”

The organizers were not able to say whether the concert would be postponed or canceled completely before Wednesday’s official statement.


Saudi students will attend exams in schools, MoE announces

Saudi students will attend exams in schools, MoE announces
Updated 19 January 2022

Saudi students will attend exams in schools, MoE announces

Saudi students will attend exams in schools, MoE announces
  • The ministry will allow students who have or are suspected of having COVID-19 to attend online through the electronic platform Madrasati (My School)
  • To aid the smooth transition into in-person teaching, the ministry added that morning assembly will be canceled and students will go directly to their classrooms

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Education has announced that students will attend exams at schools. 

The ministry emphasized the importance of “using school facilities to divide classes for optimization, and prioritize elementary classes.”

According to a guide distributed to educational supervisors and school principals, the ministry said that teachers who cannot come to schools might be exempted from attendance. MoE has also decided to exclude classroom or non-classroom activities that do not guarantee social distancing.

The ministry is stepping up its preparations for “the safe return” of elementary and kindergarten students in all the regions of the Kingdom, starting next Sunday, Jan. 23, after postponing it from October due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier last week, Ibtisam Al-Shehri, ministry spokeswoman, said it was important for parents to prepare their children for the return to face-to-face classes.

The ministry will ensure the readiness of schools to receive male and female students in the elementary and kindergarten grades, monitor the maintenance and cleaning of schools, and secure all needs and equipment for school buildings.

They will provide schools with sanitizer and face masks, monitor safety systems and alarms, and ensure that school buses are sanitized.

The ministry stated in the guide that it is keen to organize entry and exit from the school to ensure social distancing by applying health precautions and sanitization of classrooms and school facilities before students enter school premises and after they leave.

The ministry will allow students who have or are suspected of having COVID-19 to attend online through the electronic platform Madrasati (My School). 

The platform, which was launched at the start of the pandemic in 2020, and used by more than 5 million students across the Kingdom, has been praised by the UN in a report highlighting the success of innovative educational models during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The MoE said physical attendance will be applied first in remote areas because COVID-19 cases are fewer there.

The MoE will determine the level of school attendance for kindergartens and elementary schools. If the classrooms fail to meet precautions and social distancing measures, the ministry will require the school to adopt a different operational model where the school has to reduce the number of students in classrooms to meet their precautions.

To aid the smooth transition into in-person teaching, the ministry added that morning assembly will be canceled and students will go directly to their classrooms.


Japanese, German envoys meet Shoura Council parliamentary friendship committees, review bilateral ties

Japanese, German envoys meet Shoura Council parliamentary friendship committees, review bilateral ties
Updated 19 January 2022

Japanese, German envoys meet Shoura Council parliamentary friendship committees, review bilateral ties

Japanese, German envoys meet Shoura Council parliamentary friendship committees, review bilateral ties
  • Headed by its chairman, Osama bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabeeah, the Saudi-Japanese Parliamentary Friendship Committee held a meeting with the Japanese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Iwai Fumio
  • The Saudi-German Parliamentary Friendship Committee, headed by its chairman, Hazza bin Bakr Al-Qahtani, also held a meeting with the German Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Dieter Lamle

RIYADH: The Saudi Shoura Council’s joint Saudi-Japanese and Saudi-German parliamentary friendship committees held separate meetings with the ambassadors of Japan and Germany in Riyadh recently, discussing ways to strengthen bilateral ties, especially at the parliamentary level.

Headed by its chairman, Osama bin Abdulaziz Al-Rabeeah, the Saudi-Japanese Parliamentary Friendship Committee held a meeting on Sunday with the Japanese ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Iwai Fumio, who was accompanied by a number of Japanese Embassy officials.

During the meeting, the two sides stressed the importance of enhancing joint bilateral cooperation between the two countries in all fields. The meeting affirmed the existence of many areas that strengthen and develop the relations, most notably at the parliamentary level between the two parliamentary chambers in Saudi Arabia and Japan.

The Japanese ambassador praised the developments witnessed by the Kingdom in various fields, stressing the keenness of his country’s government to develop and strengthen bilateral relations and activate mutual visits between the two countries to further enhance cooperation.

After the meeting the envoy tweeted: "I had the honor to meet with members of the Saudi-Japanese Parliamentary Friendship Committee in the esteemed Shoura Council and we exchanged views on the existing relations between our two friendly countries in various fields and ways to strengthen the ties of friendship and cooperation.”

On Sunday, the Saudi-German Parliamentary Friendship Committee, headed by its chairman, Hazza bin Bakr Al-Qahtani, held a meeting with German Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Dieter Lamle.

The meeting discussed issues of common interest between the two countries in various fields, including parliamentary cooperation.

The two chairmen also highlighted the role and work mechanism of the Shoura Council and presented an overview of the role played by the council’s various parliamentary friendship committees in strengthening ties with friendly countries at the diplomatic level.


KSrelief, IOM sign $20m Yemen aid deals 

KSrelief, IOM sign $20m Yemen aid deals 
Updated 19 January 2022

KSrelief, IOM sign $20m Yemen aid deals 

KSrelief, IOM sign $20m Yemen aid deals 
  • The first deal, worth $15 million, will secure and distribute shelter, aid and non-food items to displaced people in the governorates of Marib, Taiz and Hodeidah
  • The second agreement covers rapid intervention in the water and sanitation sector in several Yemeni governorates

RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center signed two agreements with the International Organization for Migration on Yemen.

The deals, which have a total value of $20 million, were signed by KSrelief Supervisor General Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah and IOM Director General Antonio Vitorino.

The first deal, worth $15 million, will secure and distribute shelter, aid and non-food items to displaced people in the governorates of Marib, Taiz and Hodeidah. It will target 82,320 people from internally displaced families and 20,580 people in host communities in Yemen.

The second agreement covers rapid intervention in the water and sanitation sector in several Yemeni governorates, with the aim of providing drinking water in impoverished areas, helping to reduce the spread of disease.

It comes in addition to the reconstruction of water and sanitation resources, and health awareness and hygiene programs, which will help about 50,500 Yemenis through a $5 million investment.

Al-Rabeeah said that the two agreements “will help hundreds of thousands of Yemenis who lack housing, shelter and food.

“They will also reduce the impact of humanitarian violations that Yemenis face from the Houthi militia.”

He called on the IOM to “stand firmly against the militia” and its “violations against refugees and internally displaced people,” warning that the group had targeted refugee camps in Marib and Al-Jouf.

The militia has also banned the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, and imposes harsh taxation on refugees, Al-Rabeeah added.

He said that these practices, which “contradict humanitarian laws,” are strictly rejected by the IOM.

Vitorino said that the two deals “reflect the strategic partnership between the IOM and KSrelief,” and that they will “make a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of Yemenis who live under difficult humanitarian conditions.”

He added that since 2019, the IOM in Yemen has received more than $100 million of KSrelief support, which has “greatly contributed to helping the country.”

Vitorino expressed his hope that the IOM will provide urgent protection, assistance, healthcare and shelter for Yemenis in need.

Yemen is among the top beneficiaries of KSrelief assistance. In total, the center has implemented 647 projects in Yemen for a total cost of more than $3.9 billion.

The center’s programs cover food security, water sanitation and hygiene, health, education, emergency aid and nutrition.

KSrelief has implemented 1,814 projects worth more than $5.5 billion in 77 countries. The initiatives were carried out in cooperation with 144 local, regional and international partners since the inception of the center in May 2015.

According to a recent KSrelief report, the countries and territories that benefited the most from the center’s various projects were Yemen ($3.9 billion), Palestine ($368 million), Syria ($322 million) and Somalia ($209 million).


Saudi Arabia reports 5,928 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths

Saudi Arabia reports 5,928 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths
Updated 19 January 2022

Saudi Arabia reports 5,928 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths

Saudi Arabia reports 5,928 new COVID-19 cases, 2 deaths
  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 578,812
  • A total of 8,912 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia announced two deaths from COVID-19 and 5,928 new infections on Wednesday.

Of the new cases, 1,525 were recorded in Riyadh, 753 in Jeddah, 332 in Makkah, 281 in Madinah, 214 in Dammam, 211 in Hofuf, and 122 in Rabigh. Several other cities recorded less than one hundred new cases each.

The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 578,812 after 4,981 more patients recovered from the virus.

A total of 8,912 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.

Over 54.3 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the Kingdom to date.