A new report highlights Saudi aid’s contribution to the wellbeing of developing countries

Special Humanitarian relief packages have helped displaced communities survive the winter along the Pakistan border. (Supplied)
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Humanitarian relief packages have helped displaced communities survive the winter along the Pakistan border. (Supplied)
Special Humanitarian relief packages have helped displaced communities survive the winter along the Pakistan border. (Supplied)
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Humanitarian relief packages have helped displaced communities survive the winter along the Pakistan border. (Supplied)
Special Humanitarian relief packages have helped displaced communities survive the winter along the Pakistan border. (Supplied)
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Humanitarian relief packages have helped displaced communities survive the winter along the Pakistan border. (Supplied)
Special KSrelief has supported clinics providing prosthetic limbs to landmine victims in Yemen. (Supplied)
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KSrelief has supported clinics providing prosthetic limbs to landmine victims in Yemen. (Supplied)
Special Saudi Arabia is supporting continuing de-mining operations in Yemen. (Supplied)
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Saudi Arabia is supporting continuing de-mining operations in Yemen. (Supplied)
Special King Salman Relief Center distributes more than 21 tons of food baskets in the Afghan capital on Jan. 6, 2022. (SPA)
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King Salman Relief Center distributes more than 21 tons of food baskets in the Afghan capital on Jan. 6, 2022. (SPA)
Special Humanitarian relief packages have helped displaced communities survive the winter along the Pakistan border. (Supplied)
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Humanitarian relief packages have helped displaced communities survive the winter along the Pakistan border. (Supplied)
Special KSRelief has funded water supply projects in numerous communities in Africa and Asia. (Supplied)
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KSRelief has funded water supply projects in numerous communities in Africa and Asia. (Supplied)
Special King Salman Relief Center performed 169 open-heart surgeries and catheterization in the city of Mukalla during the month of December. (SPA)
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King Salman Relief Center performed 169 open-heart surgeries and catheterization in the city of Mukalla during the month of December. (SPA)
Special Schoolchildren worldwide have also benefitted from Saudi aid. (Supplied)
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Schoolchildren worldwide have also benefitted from Saudi aid. (Supplied)
Special Thousands of indigent patients have benefitted from special surgical procedures funded by Saudi aid worldwide. (Supplied)
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Thousands of indigent patients have benefitted from special surgical procedures funded by Saudi aid worldwide. (Supplied)
Special King Salman Relief Center continues to distribute shelter aid in a number of Jordanian governorates. (SPA )
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King Salman Relief Center continues to distribute shelter aid in a number of Jordanian governorates. (SPA )
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Updated 08 January 2022

A new report highlights Saudi aid’s contribution to the wellbeing of developing countries

A new report highlights Saudi aid’s contribution to the wellbeing of developing countries
  • KSRelief paper, “Why the World Needs Partnership with Saudi Arabia,” details Kingdom’s long track record of generosity
  • Saudi Arabia has donated significantly to the wellbeing of over 150 countries for more than 46 years

JEDDAH: Since the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in 1970 calling on economically advanced countries to contribute at least 0.7 percent of their gross national income to developing countries in aid, the worldwide need for humanitarian and development assistance has moved in only one direction: Upward.

The latest Global Humanitarian Overview notes that 235 million people are in need and face an uncertain future, and that the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered “the deepest global recession since the 1930s.”

Looking on the bright side, however, the past two decades have seen many aid conferences and fund-raising events being organized and a steady increase in the number of aid providers. The humanitarian and development assistance provided by Saudi Arabia alone is a testament to the significant impact that foreign aid, in combination with clear policies, efficiency and accountability, has been making on the lives of people in the recipient countries.

In 2020, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs financial tracking service showed that Saudi Arabia ranked sixth among the world’s most generous donors, providing 3 percent of global humanitarian aid. In October 2021, the Kingdom ranked third among the world’s top donors, its share of humanitarian assistance having risen to 5 percent.

For quite some time, the assistance provided by Saudi Arabia neither received the media recognition it merited nor found prominence in international aid platforms. The Kingdom itself did not publicize data or reports related to foreign aid, opting to keep a low profile in keeping with Saudi culture and the Islamic practice of preserving the dignity of the recipient during charitable giving. 

But now, a research paper titled “Why the World Needs Partnership with Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia’s Global Humanitarian and Development Aid,” has shed light on how assistance provided by Saudi Arabia to developing countries worldwide has contributed significantly to their well-being.

FASTFACT

$5,211,331,962

Financial support from Saudi Arabia to different UN agencies

Published by the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, the paper unpacks the Kingdom’s humanitarian and development agenda, outlining the various categories of aid, where it is disbursed (by country and region), the targeted sectors and how it has evolved over time. It also highlights Saudi assistance to developing countries in their efforts to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and support provided to in-country refugees.

The author of the paper, Makki Hamid, who is the director of research and information at King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre, said the Saudi Fund for Development, the Kingdom’s primary development aid provider, has generously financed projects in different fields — notably health, agriculture, irrigation, electricity and transportation — over the years in a large number of countries.

“Saudi development aid has been provided in forms of grants and concessional loans and has provided significant funding as budget and deposits in central banks of many low- and middle-income countries,” he told Arab News. “Such budget support and deposits contribute to strengthen and enhance the economy of these countries.”

As the paper notes, Saudi Arabia has an extensive history of providing aid to developing countries affected by natural disasters and countries in need of immediate assistance. It was reporting its aid data to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development–Development Assistance Committee for many years as an aggregated data set, until in 2018, when it became a participant member of the OECD–DAC, represented by KSRelief.

KSRelief began collating data from the Kingdom’s different aid providers to proceed with overseas aid via the UNOCHA Financial Tracking Services, the OECD-DAC and the International Aid Transparency Initiative.

Currently, Saudi Arabia provides several categories of Official Development Assistance — namely, humanitarian aid (given during emergencies), development aid (for improving the economic and social well-being of developing countries), and charitable aid (which is provided for cultural or religious purposes, such as building mosques or supporting Hajj pilgrims).

Saudi ODA is provided as financial assistance or in-kind assistance in the form of goods or services to a recipient’s organization or country. It can include food aid, vehicles, logistic support, medical supplies, medicines and equipment. The assistance is delivered through the Saudi Fund for Development, KSRelief and other donor entities registered under a unified database, the Saudi Aid Platform, established by a royal decree in 2018.

Additionally, Saudi Arabia provides aid bilaterally through governments, national non-governmental organizations, international NGOs, and multilaterally through institutions such as the UN agencies concerned and the Red Cross and Red Crescent organizations.

Through strategic partnerships, Saudi Arabia, a founding member of the UN, has provided financial aid totaling $5.2 billion to different UN agencies, with the World Food Program receiving the most ($1.9 billion), followed by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East ($955.5 million).

“Saudi Arabia provides bilateral aid based on a vigorous needs assessment to the countries and institutions eligible to receive such aid. Humanitarian and development projects are carefully identified and risk assessment is done before funding is dispatched,” Hamid told Arab News.

THE LIST

Top 10 ODA recipient countries between 1975-2021:

Yemen

Syria

Palestine

Pakistan

Sudan

Lebanon

Egypt

Morocco

Tunisia

“Funding is also paid in installments linked to clear outcomes. Monitoring and evaluation is carried out during the project implementation period to ensure that aid reaches the beneficiaries and makes the impact intended to achieve.”

Among its many achievements, Saudi Arabia played a prominent role in 2015 in the framing of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which primarily aims to reduce poverty by at least 50 percent by 2030. From 2016 to October 2021, the Kingdom gave $24.04 billion to low- and middle-income countries to enable them to achieve the UN’s sustainable development goals. 

A 2016 report by the UN Development Program noted that assistance provided by Saudi Arabia between 2005-2014 accounted for 1.9 percent of its ODA/GNI, breaking a record for the highest percentage achieved by a single donor.

In November 2020, as the chair of the G20 summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia succeeded in mobilizing donors to commit sizable funding to respond internationally to the COVID-19 pandemic.  According to Hamid’s report, the Kingdom’s COVID-19 international response amounted to over $825 million managed by KSRelief, including vaccines, medical supplies and medical equipment for 33 countries.

A further $10 million in financial support to the World Health Organization’s Solidarity Response Fund and about $300 million for vaccine research were provided by the Kingdom.

Overall, records show that Saudi Arabia, which has derived policy from Islamic teachings since its foundation, has contributed significantly to the well-being of over 150 countries for more than 46 years (1975-2021) through aid totaling $65.7 billion.

INNUMBERS

IN-COUNTRY ASSISTANCE TO “VISITORS”

Exemption from immigration fees $6.68 billion

Education support $4.96 billion

Free healthcare $4.37 billion

“The Kingdom is not a new donor. It has been providing significant humanitarian and development assistance to many countries around the world,” Hamid said, putting Saudi Arabia’s outsized contribution as an aid donor in perspective.

“However, in recent years, aid provided by Saudi Arabia has been systematically documented and registered in international aid platforms. Also, there is significant increase in aid provided by the Kingdom to combat the pandemic and for emergencies to countries such as Yemen, Somalia, Syria and Palestine. These are the factors that have contributed to the rise of Saudi Arabia’s global humanitarian ranking.”

Last but not least, as the paper notes, Saudi Arabia is home to the sixth-largest population of refugees worldwide. The 1.07 million refugees hosted by the Kingdom in recent years are equivalent to 5.5 percent of its population.

Unlike other countries that keep refugees in special camps, Saudi Arabia regards them as visitors, grants them an exemption from immigration fees, provides free healthcare and education for their children and gives them permission to work.

Such assistance and support, contributing to the financial stability of the visitors, amounted to $16.01 billion from 2011 to 2020.


Thai citizens share their joy performing Hajj

The second group of Thai pilgrims arrived at Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah on June 11.
The second group of Thai pilgrims arrived at Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah on June 11.
Updated 8 min 19 sec ago

Thai citizens share their joy performing Hajj

The second group of Thai pilgrims arrived at Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah on June 11.
  • Arabic teacher Mamu Kayah and businessman Arong Samae praise Saudi and Thai officials for smooth journey

RIYADH: Two Thai pilgrims performing Hajj for the first time have expressed their joy at arriving in Saudi Arabia after not being able to do so because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Hajj is the opportunity of a lifetime for me. I could not hold back the tears when I saw the Kaaba for the first time. If I am able to perform Hajj after this time, I intend to perform Umrah every year, God willing. Hajj means everything to me,” Arong Samae told Arab News.

Samae from Narathiwat Province, located in the south of Thailand, is a businessman who is undertaking the pilgrimage with his wife this year.

“I seize this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for its gigantic efforts by which Muslims can visit the city of the Prophet (Madinah) and Makkah once again, and I pray to God Almighty to grant it more prosperity and progress,” said Samae.

The Narathiwat Province native took a plane from southern Thailand to Madinah Airport directly. He arrived in Saudi Arabia on June 11 and left for Makkah on June 17.

“I have never encountered any difficulties; everything is organized and easy. The Thai Hajj Company supplies everything from start to finish, and the Thai government also provides support and facilities at all stages,” Samae said.

“The trip took approximately eight hours by chartered flight, and I did not expect these facilities, because I heard that the pilgrimage journey is tiring and long, starting with car transfers to the capital, then waiting for the flight for two or three days,” he said.

Samae was surprised to see how quick and seamless the process was: “Thank God, everything (was) easy … Less than 12 hours … and I was in Saudi Arabia, I thank God for that,” he said.

“I prayed to God that one day I would arrive in Saudi Arabia. I also thank everyone who serves the pilgrims, whether they are from Thailand or from Saudi Arabia,” he said.

He said that he wanted to perform Hajj two years ago but was unable to because of COVID-19 restrictions. The pandemic had “changed everything” they wanted to do, he said.

Thai native, 58-year-old Mamu Kayah, is performing Hajj with his wife this year. He is a high school Arabic teacher from Yala, a city in the south of the country.

“I am very pleased to have this opportunity, and I thank God day and night for that. And I am absolutely certain that every Muslim who has come to this pure land shares this feeling with me,” Kayah said.

He told Arab News that this was his third time performing Hajj.

“We are very fortunate to have a direct flight from the far south of Thailand, the state of Narathiwat, which is only a hundred kilometers away from my home,” he said.

“The Thai Hajj company and the Thai Hajj mission did their duty well; everything is organized and tidy, especially with the presence of electronic platforms that contribute greatly to facilitating the procedures from the first day until we boarded the plane to Madinah,” he said.

Kayah took a direct eight-hour flight from Narathiwat to Madinah’s Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport. He thanked the Kingdom and Thailand for providing these routes for pilgrims.

“I heard that organizing the chartered plane was not easy, and it can only be done with the tremendous efforts of the two countries, Thailand and Saudi Arabia,” he said.

Kayah and his wife arrived in Madinah on June 12, traveled to Makkah on June 18, and will return to their home country on July 20.

“It can be said that Hajj this year is very special and completely different from my previous experience,” he said.

“For example, from when I got off the plane at Madinah Airport to my arrival at the hotel, the process took only one hour. Every step is fast and tidy, starting with the procedures in the passports, taking the luggage, riding the bus,” Kayah added.

He added that Saudi and Thai employees were available everywhere to assist. “Above all, the reception from the competent Saudi authority was very wonderful; we felt like one of the VIPs,” he said.

It was an emotional experience for him. “Indescribable pleasure, especially for a person of my age. I always cry when I stand in front of the Prophet’s Mosque and the Holy Kaaba, crying for joy, of course, and it is all thanks to God Almighty,” he said.

“The only issue that worries me and everyone is the high prices of everything; in any case, we understand very well that this thing is not in our hands, so that not only the costs of Hajj increased but in everything and all over the world. Other than that, there are no difficulties,” he said.

Thailand has a post-pandemic quota of 5,885 pilgrims, according to the Thai Embassy in Jeddah, with 3,738 having registered to do so. Before the COVID-19 restrictions, Thailand had a quota of 13,000. In 2018 and 2019, a total of 7,851 and 8,462 pilgrims respectively performed Hajj.

As of June 20, 1,120 pilgrims had arrived in Madinah on Thai Airways charter flights. Four flights arrived in the Kingdom from June 10 to 13. The other 2,618 pilgrims will travel on eight flights from June 29 to Jeddah, five of which are through Thai airways and three are with Saudi Airlines.

As the first groups of pilgrims arrived in Makkah and Madinah on Sunday, Basri Tatif, the deputy head of the Thai Pilgrims Affairs, praised the Kingdom for its organization, and said that his fellow citizens will be able to perform their rituals safely with all the measures in place.


Restoring ecosystem for a green Hajj requires good carbon, says forum chief

Al-Mashair covers 119 square kilometers and encompasses the key Hajj sites of Arafat, Muzdalifah, and Mina. (SPA)
Al-Mashair covers 119 square kilometers and encompasses the key Hajj sites of Arafat, Muzdalifah, and Mina. (SPA)
Updated 16 sec ago

Restoring ecosystem for a green Hajj requires good carbon, says forum chief

Al-Mashair covers 119 square kilometers and encompasses the key Hajj sites of Arafat, Muzdalifah, and Mina. (SPA)
  • “Vegetation will help reclaim its eco-capacity to revive itself and accelerate as soil carbon. This will include flora, animals, and how humans can fundamentally use it,” he told Arab News

JEDDAH: Restoring the ecosystem for a green Hajj requires good carbon, the CEO of the Saudi Green Building Forum has said.  

The SGBF, along with the UN Environment Programme, is studying the Al-Mashair area to restore land and look into its boundaries and carbon capacity.

Al-Mashair covers 119 square kilometers and encompasses the key Hajj sites of Arafat, Muzdalifah, and Mina.

SGBF CEO Faisal Al-Fadhl said that helping the environment restore itself meant increasing good carbon (soil carbon), a natural phenomenon that could be achieved through man-made initiatives.

HIGHLIGHT

The Saudi Green Building Forum, along with the UN Environment Programme, is studying the Al-Mashair area to restore land and look into its boundaries and carbon capacity. It covers 119 square kilometers and encompasses the key Hajj sites of Arafat, Muzdalifah, and Mina.

“Vegetation will help reclaim its eco-capacity to revive itself and accelerate as soil carbon. This will include flora, animals, and how humans can fundamentally use it,” he told Arab News. “Seventy million tons of soil carbon is needed to restore the area through trees.”

Areas between Al-Mashair needed restoration for a rich human experience, he explained, “not just Mina, the mountains around it too.”

Al-Fadhl said good carbon canceled out the bad carbon from heat islands, a term referring to objects, elements, and structures such as cement, buildings, and reflective glass.

“These all generate a lot of heat so we want to reduce that through increasing soil carbon. The study is accredited by the United Nations Environment Programme, and this area requires certain care scientifically, zoologically, and botanically,” said Al-Fadhl.

He said Saudi Arabia was aiming to achieve net carbon neutrality by 2060, an announcement from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last October, and that this move was in line with the Kingdom’s development plans.

Al-Fadhl said the forum had begun projects to provide a green Hajj since it was established and now, with more sustainability awareness, the team was stepping up its action plans.

“It is not only a ritual place from the inside, it is a human experience and we have to restore its nature. It is the biggest international host in the world, so restoring the eco-capacity is a must for the human experience to be unique.”

Al-Fadhl said vegetation cover was very poor in Al-Mashair, with less than half of one percent having greenery or any form of vegetation. But he said that vegetation coverage had increased from 122 square meters to 878 square meters between 2000 and 2010.

“That is an 800 percent increase,” he added.

Al-Fadhl referred to US architect William McDonough’s “A New Language For Carbon” in his explanation to identify three strategies for carbon management and climate change.

The first was carbon positive, converting atmospheric carbon to forms that enhanced soil nutrition or to durable forms such as polymers and solid aggregates, also recycling carbon into nutrients from organic materials, food waste, compostable polymers, and sewers.

The second strategy, carbon neutral, referred to actions that transformed or maintained carbon in durable Earth-bound forms and cycles across generations; or renewable energy such as solar, wind, and hydropower that did not release carbon.

The third strategy, carbon negative, referred to actions that polluted the land, water, and atmosphere with various forms of carbon, for example, releasing CO2 and methane into the atmosphere or plastics into the ocean.

 


Makkah Healthcare Cluster establishes mobile dental clinic to serve pilgrims

Makkah Healthcare Cluster has signed cooperation agreement with a medical firm  specialized in dental services. (Supplied)
Makkah Healthcare Cluster has signed cooperation agreement with a medical firm specialized in dental services. (Supplied)
Updated 4 min 46 sec ago

Makkah Healthcare Cluster establishes mobile dental clinic to serve pilgrims

Makkah Healthcare Cluster has signed cooperation agreement with a medical firm  specialized in dental services. (Supplied)
  • The mobile dental clinic includes 32 medical and operational cadres equipped with modern capabilities around the clock for the length of the Hajj season

MAKKAH: Makkah Healthcare Cluster has signed a cooperation agreement with a medical company specializing in providing dental services, to establish a mobile dental clinic stationed at Al-Haram Emergency Hospital area to provide free healthcare to pilgrims during the Hajj.

The mobile dental clinic includes 32 medical and operational cadres equipped with modern capabilities around the clock for the length of the Hajj season.

After the end of the season, Makkah Healthcare Cluster will discuss with the company the feasibility and effectiveness of the mobile clinic and the possibility of expanding the scope of its work and facilitating services to its patients.

The acting CEO of Makkah Healthcare Cluster, Dr. Hatem bin Ahmed Al-Omari, said that Hajj and Umrah rituals represent one of Makkah Healthcare Cluster’s goals by refining health services and safety at the Grand Mosque in Makkah, and enable the cluster to provide quality services to pilgrims by improving cooperation and integration with the private sector, filling gaps in the provision of health services.

 


Saudi ministry releases Hajj e-guides in 14 languages

Saudi ministry releases Hajj e-guides in 14 languages
Updated 02 July 2022

Saudi ministry releases Hajj e-guides in 14 languages

Saudi ministry releases Hajj e-guides in 14 languages
  • Interactive e-manuals pave the way for ‘perfect Hajj journey’

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, in collaboration with the General Authority for Awqaf, has launched 13 detailed e-manuals offering advice to pilgrims from around the world on a variety of topics.

The guides have been released in 14 languages: Arabic, English, French, Spanish, Turkish, Russian, Persian, Urdu, Bengali, Indonesian, Malay, Hausa, Amharic and Sinhalese.

A ministry video shared on Twitter explains various features of the e-manuals and how the guides function.

“These guiding e-manuals are interactive, and include Shariah and Islamic law, procedural, organizational and health directives which pilgrims will need during their Hajj journey,” the ministry said.

“All you have to do is visit the guide website, pick the language, browse the guide you need, then you can listen or watch the available materials and download it as well.”

The video collected hundreds of thousands of views, with a number of officials commenting on the initiative.
 
Minister of Hajj and Umrah Tawfiq Al-Rabiah shared the video on his official Twitter account and wrote: “For a perfect Hajj journey, here are Hajj guides.”

In a TV interview, Hisham Saeed, assistant undersecretary of the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah for Hajj and Umrah Services, said that the guides’ detailed explanatory infographics and images will give pilgrims an alternative to audio or written materials.

Each catalog is supported by text, images and illustrations, in addition to a set of educational videos and audio materials.
 
Topics include Hajj rituals, as well as Ihram, Mina, Muzdalifah, Arafat Day, Jamarat, Umrah, health awareness, the Grand Mosque, the Prophet’s Mosque and its services, and city landmarks of Makkah and Madinah.

The guides are compatible with all phone operating systems, IOS and Android, and can be reached by visiting guide.haj.gov.sa

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah seeks to serve pilgrims in a way that enables them to perform their Hajj rituals in the most ideal way possible. The ministry aims to facilitate the journey of pilgrims and enrich their spiritual and Hajj experiences.


Who’s Who: Mohammed Al-Jadaan, chairman of the General Authority of Awqaf

Mohammed Al-Jadaan, Saudi Finance Minister
Mohammed Al-Jadaan, Saudi Finance Minister
Updated 9 min 33 sec ago

Who’s Who: Mohammed Al-Jadaan, chairman of the General Authority of Awqaf

Mohammed Al-Jadaan, Saudi Finance Minister

Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan was recently appointed chairman of the General Authority of Awqaf.

The authority, according to the Saudi government website, is concerned with “organizing, maintaining, and developing endowments in a manner that achieves the requirements of the waqf and enhances its role in economic and social development and social solidarity, in accordance with the purposes of Islamic Sharia and regulations.”

Al-Jadaan has been the Kingdom's finance minister since November 2016. He previously served as chairman of the Capital Markets Authority, chairman of the Saudi Center for Commercial Arbitration’s board of directors, and special adviser to the board of directors at Morgan Stanley Saudi Arabia.

He is also a qualified commercial lawyer and co-founded the law firm Al-Jadaan and Partners in cooperation with Clifford Chance.

Al-Jadaan gained a bachelor’s degree in Islamic economics from Imam Mohammad bin Saud Islamic University and a master’s degree in legal studies from the Institute of Public Administration in Riyadh.

He specialized in commercial law, financial market transactions, and directed a team of lawyers providing legal services in the fields of energy, petrochemicals, mining, water desalination, privatization and partnerships between the public and private sectors, project finance, and initial public offerings on stock markets.

Al-Jadaan is also chairman of the Financial Sector Development Program committee, the Fiscal Balance Program committee, the Financial Stability committee, the board of the General Authority of Customs, and the Saudi side of the subcommittee of the high-level Saudi-Chinese Joint Committee.