RIYADH: The relationship between Saudi Arabia and the UK is “steeped in history” and the countries have “great people-to-people ties,” a British minister has said.
“People from one kingdom to the other know each other well, whether you talk of the connections of our royal families or indeed the connection and deep connection between leaders, public sector, private sector,” Britain’s Minister of State for South and Central Asia, UN, and the Commonwealth Lord (Tariq) Ahmad told Al Ekhbariya news channel on Tuesday.
Lord Ahmad added that the UK is a big investor in Saudi Arabia and vice versa.
During his two-day visit to Jeddah and Riyadh, the minister met various ministers and officials including the Kingdom’s justice minister.
During a meeting between the two officials, Walid bin Mohammed Al-Samaani and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon discussed developments that the Kingdom has seen in the judiciary and how they have strengthened human rights, Saudi Press Agency reported.
Lord Ahmad, whose portfolio includes human rights, said the two officials had “an open and frank discussion on Saudi justice reforms, progress on women’s empowerment, and other human rights priorities.”
He commended reforms concerning women in the Kingdom and told Al Ekhbariya: “One particular experience I can share is the remarkable number of women who have been present from the Saudi side in those meetings.
“Indeed, we often talk of the gender imbalance. What I saw was a real gender balance in many of the meetings that I was conducting during the course of the last few days,” he said.
He also discussed interfaith priorities and tackling Islamophobia with the Kingdom’s Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed Al-Khuraiji.
Lord Ahmad added he held a “wide ranging discussion covering the importance of human rights and reforms to prison conditions,” with the Kingdom’s Deputy Minister of Interior Nasser bin Abdul Aziz Al-Dawood.
The British minister also visited the first solar-powered mosque in Saudi Arabia during his stay in the Kingdom.
“Delighted to visit Hikma Mosque, the first solar-powered mosque in Saudi Arabia. The UK is committed to freedom of religion or belief,” the minister said.