INTERVIEW: Recent unrest in Kazakhstan was ‘an assault on our statehood,’ says envoy

Berik Aryn, Ambassador of Kazakhstan. (AN photo by Saleh Al-Ghanam)
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Berik Aryn, Ambassador of Kazakhstan. (AN photo by Saleh Al-Ghanam)
INTERVIEW: Recent unrest in Kazakhstan was ‘an assault on our statehood,’ says envoy
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Berik Aryn, Ambassador of Kazakhstan. (AN photo by Saleh Al-Ghanam)
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Updated 16 January 2022

INTERVIEW: Recent unrest in Kazakhstan was ‘an assault on our statehood,’ says envoy

Berik Aryn, Ambassador of Kazakhstan. (AN photo by Saleh Al-Ghanam)
  • ‘We received letters from Saudi friends supporting the people of Kazakhstan at this challenging time,” the country’s ambassador to KSA said in an exclusive interview

RIYADH: Kazakhstan has experienced a period of unprecedented violence and unrest that had a dramatic effect on the population and threatened to undermine the constitutional order, according to Berik Aryn, the country’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia. It “is considered as an assault on our statehood,” he said, but added that the situation is now under control.

“The situation in all regions of the country has stabilized and people are returning to normal life,” Aryn said during an exclusive interview with Arab News. “Law enforcement forces have released all previously seized government facilities. The main task today is the defense of our country and its citizens.”

The unrest this month in the country is the worst it has seen in the 30 years since it gained independence.

“On Jan. 2, 2022, peaceful demonstrations started in western regions of Kazakhstan, triggered by a spike in the price of liquefied petroleum gas,” Aryn said.

“Addressing public grievances over the inflation, and social and economic problems, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has decided to control petroleum prices and essential products and services. At the same time, the president urged people not to succumb to internal and external provocations.”




Berik Aryn, Ambassador of Kazakhstan. (AN photo by Saleh Al-Ghanam)

Despite these efforts the protests escalated into violence across the country, he said, including riots, attacks against administrative buildings, military bases and civil facilities, and the seizure of Almaty airport and local and foreign airplanes.

“Regretfully, peaceful demonstrations in Almaty and some other regions were hijacked by perpetrators and both local and foreign terrorist groups,” Aryn said. “Their criminal activities caused riots, looting and mass violence.

“No protest or demonstration in a democratic society can justify attacks and killings of law enforcement officers. These terrorist gangs are fundamentally international, having received severe training abroad, and their attacks should be considered as an act of aggression.”

Saudi Arabia is one of our essential partners in the Middle East. Our countries have built up a trusting political dialogue at a high level, established cultural and humanitarian ties, and are developing trade, economic and investment cooperation.

Berik Aryn, Kazakhstan Ambassador to Saudi Arabia

According to preliminary data, 225 people died during the riots. Some of them are armed bandits who participated in terrorist attacks. Among the dead were 19 police and military personnel. Unfortunately, civilians also became victims of acts of terrorism. 4,578 people were injured, 3,393 of them were law enforcement officers.

Authorities are investigating crimes committed during the unrest and a number of people have been arrested, Aryn said, and among the detainees are foreign citizens whose identities are being established.

The envoy said that destructive forces had tried to take advantage of the situation to destabilize the country. They set fire to and tried to destroy administrative buildings, police stations, hospitals and other social facilities, he added.

Armed with military weapons and equipment, they attempted to seize control of strategic facilities in the south of the country such as Almaty airport, the National Security Committee building in Almaty, the offices of TV stations, and other important facilities, Aryn said.

“In doing so, they killed and used force against civilians,” he added. “They cannot be called insurgents since their actions are considered terrorist and extremist acts. Indeed, the investigation and the court will determine the degree of guilt of each detainee and the innocents will be released. Call centers were opened throughout Kazakhstan to provide legal assistance to citizens affected by the terrorist attack.

“Kazakhstan will continue to ensure the rights and interests of all representatives of our multiethnic and multireligious people and the safety of foreign citizens in the country, including the diplomatic corps and journalists. The government guarantees the protection of foreign investment and foreign companies’ business.”

The attempted coup d’etat and the efforts to damage the country’s integrity failed because the vast majority of Kazakhstan’s people displayed patriotism and unity in the fight against the extremists during the tragic events, the envoy said.

On Jan. 11, the president addressed parliament and outlined the priorities for building a bright future for Kazakhstan, which included enhancing people’s welfare, reforming the political, social, economic and law enforcement systems, and strengthening national security, according to Aryn.

He also introduced the new prime minister, Alikhan Smailov, who assumed office on Jan. 5. Smailov said that his government will endeavor to fulfill the tasks set by the President to improve the quality of life of the people of Kazakhstan.

Responding to the support for stability that his country has received from the international community, Aryn said: “The president addressed the heads of state of the Collective Security Treaty Organization to provide military assistance for the counterterrorist operation.”

The CSTO is an intergovernmental military alliance in Eurasia that consists of select post-Soviet states. Aryn said that during a speech in Parliament, President Tokayev announced that CSTO peacekeepers sent to assist efforts to restore order had completed their mission, and on Jan. 14 they started a gradual withdrawal from the country.

“Many countries and leaders of the world community supported the people of Kazakhstan and President Tokayev,” Aryn added. “The Organization of Islamic Cooperation member states and Arab leaders were among the first to condemn the terrorist acts in Kazakhstan and express their support.

“On Jan. 13, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, during a telephone conversation with Mukhtar Tileuberdi, deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs of Kazakhstan, expressed support and solidarity of the government of Saudi Arabia to the people of Kazakhstan.

“We received a massive number of letters from our Saudi friends, who decided to support the people of Kazakhstan at this challenging time, and we express our gratitude for this support.”

Arynb said that Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia have close ties and their humanitarian cooperation includes active collaboration through the work of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief).

In 2017, financial assistance from the Kingdom worth $7 million helped fund construction of a regional tuberculosis clinic in Semeyr with 80 beds. Earlier, a medical center for mothers and children in Nur-Sultan received equipment worth more $3.5 million.

“Saudi Arabia is one of our essential partners in the Middle East,” Aryn said. “Our countries have built up a trusting political dialogue at a high level, established cultural and humanitarian ties, and are developing trade, economic and investment cooperation.

“We attach great importance to further comprehensive development and expansion of bilateral relations.”

In December 1991, Saudi Arabia was one of the first countries to recognize Kazakhstan’s independence, Aryn said, and diplomatic relations were established in 1994. In the years since then, the relationship has developed rapidly.


Saudi dialogue sessions to stimulate creativity and innovation in Hajj and Umrah

Saudi dialogue sessions to stimulate creativity and innovation in Hajj and Umrah
Updated 20 May 2022

Saudi dialogue sessions to stimulate creativity and innovation in Hajj and Umrah

Saudi dialogue sessions to stimulate creativity and innovation in Hajj and Umrah
  • Challenges faced by the Hajj and Umrah sector were discussed

MAKKAH: Saudi Arabia hosted a two-day session of virtual dialogue this week, aimed at “stimulating creativity and innovation in the field of Hajj and Umrah.”

The discussions addressed the challenges faced by the Hajj and Umrah sector, pioneering ideas in this field, and ways of promoting innovation within the sector.

Hisham Saeed, spokesman and undersecretary for Hajj and Umrah services at the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, stressed that creativity and innovation are key pillars of Saudi Vision 2030.

“We aspire to impress the pilgrim throughout his journey, thanks to a creative and innovative work system in the field of Hajj and Umrah,” he said.

“If we want to innovate, we must have an ambitious vision founded on excellence and quality,” said Mohammed Saati, spokesman for the Hajj Smart Card Project. “The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah hopes to make the Hajj smart card a key tool in all pilgrims’ journey in the Kingdom.”

Dr. Naeem Al-Bihani, associate professor of entrepreneurship and head of business administration at Umm Al-Qura University, said the best ideas are generated in a stimulating culture and environment. “Innovation is not just about techniques and systems, it’s a way of life for individuals and institutions in all disciplines,” he noted.

Sami Sarhan, head of industrial partnerships at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, said it is vital to develop services provided to pilgrims from their arrival in the Kingdom until their safe return home.

Dr. Ammar Attar, CEO of Manaafi Consulting, stressed that a culture of innovation is essential for the Hajj and Umrah system.
 


Djibouti becomes 10th member of Digital Cooperation Organization

Djibouti becomes 10th member of Digital Cooperation Organization
Updated 20 May 2022

Djibouti becomes 10th member of Digital Cooperation Organization

Djibouti becomes 10th member of Digital Cooperation Organization
  • Saudi initiative aims to promote social prosperity through more inclusive participation and growth across the digital economy

RIYADH: Djibouti has officially joined the membership of the Digital Cooperation Organization, a Saudi initiative that brings together nations, businesses, civil society groups, academics, and R & D institutions to promote social prosperity through more inclusive participation and growth across the digital economy. 

Djibouti Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Dya-Eddine Said Bamakhrama signed the DCO’s founding charter in a ceremony organized at the embassy in Riyadh, and in the presence of the DCO’s secretary-general, Deemah Al-Yahya, and Omar Al-Nimr, director of governmental and international relations in the organization.

“I signed the foundation charter of the DCO for Djibouti to be a member of this new organization focusing on digital prosperity for all. Deemah Al Yahya, secretary-general of the DCO, was present during the signing at the Djibouti Embassy,” the ambassador tweeted on Wednesday.

With the signing of the charter, Djibouti becomes the 10th member country and the fourth in Africa to join the membership of the organization, which includes Saudi Arabia (the headquarters country), Jordan, Bahrain, Pakistan, Rwanda, Oman, Kuwait, Morocco and Nigeria.

HIGHLIGHT

Founded by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait and Pakistan, the Digital Cooperation Organization is driven by the vision of a digital future for all. It aims to empower women, youth and entrepreneurs, expanding the digital economy and advancing with innovation.

Morocco joined as the ninth member state of the DCO last month. The DCO was launched after Saudi Arabia’s G20 presidency at the G20 Summit in November 2020, where there was great focus on the digital economy, especially in education and health in response to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Founded by Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait and Pakistan, the DCO is driven by the vision of a digital future for all. It aims to empower women, youth and entrepreneurs, expanding the digital economy and advancing with innovation.

Bamakhrama told Arab News on Thursday: “The DCO is interested in digitization in the field of administration and the economy, and works with governments, civil society, international organizations and the private sector in promoting comprehensive digital transformation within member states by adopting initiatives focused on the digital economy and supporting women, youth and entrepreneurs in this field.”

Bamakhrama added that countries in the DCO are part of a broader network for building global partnerships that develop common digital ambitions.

The ambassador said that the organization aims to achieve diversification and economic and social prosperity, thanks to the growth opportunities provided by the digital transformation of the public sector.

“Djibouti joining the organization comes within the framework of an ambitious national will to adopt digitization, with the aim of responding to many challenges and finding sustainable solutions to them, and providing an exceptional environment for work, living and prosperity in Djibouti,” said the ambassador.

Djibouti’s entry to the DCO comes after Minister of State in charge of Digital Economy and Innovation Maryam Hamdo Ali visited Saudi Arabia in late March, when she met with many senior officials specialized in information technology and digitization.

“In Djibouti, digital technology occupies an important place in the program of President Ismail Omar Guelleh to promote national development at various levels,” said the ambassador.


Saudi, Belgian artists showcase women-centric artworks

Saudi, Belgian artists showcase women-centric artworks
Updated 19 May 2022

Saudi, Belgian artists showcase women-centric artworks

Saudi, Belgian artists showcase women-centric artworks
  • Skna Hassan’s artwork is colorful while Andrea Hulsbosch’s is mysterious with dark colors

RIYADH: For Europe Month 2022, Belgian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Dominique Mineur invited visitors to an art exhibition titled “Belgian and Saudi Face to Face” at Lar’t Pur Gallery, which commenced on May 17 and will last for a week.

“The Belgian Embassy is delighted to collaborate with the EU and Saudi Arabia to hold an exhibition featuring Belgian and Saudi artists in conjunction with the European Union month,” Mineur told Arab News.

The exhibit features abstract women-centric art pieces by Belgian artist Andrea B. M. Hulsbosch and Saudi artist Skna Hassan.

“Both artists are portraying women in their respective contexts, and I think the dialogue between them is inspiring, and there is no better way than art to create links between two countries,” Mineur said.

Hassan’s artwork is colorful and showcases Arabian women dressed in traditional yet modern attires on large-scale canvases, while Hulsbosch’s artwork is mysterious with dark colors on small canvases. 

“I believe that Skna and I are very complementary. Her artworks are large and bright while mine are intentionally smaller and more sober. My work requires a symbiotic connection with my collaborators and a level of intimacy with the audience which generates a sense of mystery, while Skna’s art makes an immediate impression. But both focus on women, and I feel that’s what connects us — telling stories as women and about women transcends borders,” Hulsbosch said.

Hassan is known for her female representations in her artwork as she always shows traditions, especially Najdi culture in her artworks.

“My work represents the Saudi woman and her life and culture. I am glad they called me and that the Belgium Embassy chose me to represent the Saudi woman. I feel that it was convenient to do it with Andrea because her pieces are about women and their cultures,” said Hassan.

Europe Month celebrates the founding of the EU on May 9 to celebrate peace and unity in Europe and cooperation with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The celebration runs until June 9, and is centered around the exchange of cultural experiences and encouragement of further communication between Europe and the Kingdom to improve mutual understanding and strengthening relations.


Jeddah Pier attraction adds to thrills of city’s festival season of activities

Jeddah Pier attraction adds to thrills of city’s festival season of activities
Updated 19 May 2022

Jeddah Pier attraction adds to thrills of city’s festival season of activities

Jeddah Pier attraction adds to thrills of city’s festival season of activities
  • Musical parades including acrobats, and people dressed as trees, zombies, and track-suited monkeys are an integral part of the zone’s events
  • A fireworks display backed by US rapper Pharrell Williams’ song ‘Happy’ was another of the Jeddah Pier attractions

JEDDAH: Visitors to the Jeddah Season of activities now have a new entertainment attraction to add to the growing list of festival events.

Mobile amusement park Jeddah Pier is the latest zone to open to fun seekers in the Red Sea port city.

Located on the Jeddah shoreline, it offers 39 rides, a variety of games some with soft-toy prizes, along with shops, and an array of cafes and restaurants.

For adrenaline junkies there is a roller coaster, plus a swing carousel, Ferris wheel, and pendulum ride. 

Located on the Jeddah shoreline, mobile amusement park Jeddah Pier offers 39 rides, a variety of games some with soft-toy prizes, along with shops, and an array of cafes and restaurants. (Supplied/Mohammed Al-Manea)

Shah Hussain, an English actor, was playing fictional pirate Long John Silver from Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel “Treasure Island” in one of the zone’s experience areas, the Abandoned Island.

He said: “The pier itself has so many attractions, but the Abandoned Island is one of the most thrilling for visitors to experience. It is not for the faint-hearted.”

However, Hussain pointed out that he had been struggling to adjust to temperatures in the city. “I have only just acclimatized to Jeddah. I came from 17 degrees weather to 44 degrees. People should come well-equipped with water, and we will also be ensuring that because we want everyone to have fun.” 

Located on the Jeddah shoreline, mobile amusement park Jeddah Pier offers 39 rides, a variety of games some with soft-toy prizes, along with shops, and an array of cafes and restaurants. (Supplied/Mohammed Al-Manea)

Madda Rashwan, 22, was visiting Jeddah Pier with her friends and family, and said the attraction offered a welcome distraction from work while reminding her of childhood experiences.

“I wanted to see how good it was, as my family and I have a thing for amusement parks. To be fair the amusement park scene in the city was not too good but the pier offers a lot of great rides,” she added.

Musical parades including acrobats, and people dressed as trees, zombies, and track-suited monkeys are an integral part of the zone’s events. 

Located on the Jeddah shoreline, mobile amusement park Jeddah Pier offers 39 rides, a variety of games some with soft-toy prizes, along with shops, and an array of cafes and restaurants. (Supplied/Mohammed Al-Manea)

Friends Yosuf Kutbi, 14, and Abdullah Alharbey, 15, visited Jeddah Pier on its opening day.

“I was looking forward to the Ferris wheel the most, even when the place was under construction, and that was the first ride I went to when we entered,” Kutbi said.

Alharbey said: “This place is one hour away from where I live, but because my friend was visiting, I came with him, and so far, coming here was worth the time.”

He added that he was looking forward to visiting other Jeddah Season events.

A fireworks display backed by US rapper Pharrell Williams’ song “Happy” was another of the Jeddah Pier attractions.


KSrelief delivers $3.2 million worth of aid to the Philippines

KSrelief delivers $3.2 million worth of aid to the Philippines
Updated 19 May 2022

KSrelief delivers $3.2 million worth of aid to the Philippines

KSrelief delivers $3.2 million worth of aid to the Philippines
  • Aid includes medical and protective equipment and devices with a value of $1.7 million to fight COVID-19
  • Filipino officials praised the Saudi support, extending their sincere appreciation to the Kingdom

RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) delivered humanitarian assistance worth $3.2 million to the Philippines on Thursday.
The aid included medical and protective equipment and devices with a value of $1.7 million to fight COVID-19.
A further $1.5 million is earmarked to support the Philippine’s Ministry of Health alleviate the impacts of the Typhoon Rai that recently hit the country, and to help health relief and emergency works in Marawi City.
Director of the Department of Health and Environment Assistance at KSrelief Dr. Abdullah Al-Muallem handed over the financial and in-kind support to the Philippines in the presence of the Kingdom’s ambassador to the country Hisham Al-Qahtani.
Filipino officials praised the Saudi support, extending their sincere appreciation to the Kingdom for its generous support and solidarity with the Philippines in addressing health and natural crises in the country.