Saudi Arabia and Bahrain agree to strengthen ties after King Hamad’s visit

Bahrain’s King Hamad visited Saudi Arabia on Monday on an official visit, where he was received by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)
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Bahrain’s King Hamad visited Saudi Arabia on Monday on an official visit, where he was received by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)
Bahrain’s King Hamad visited Saudi Arabia on Monday on an official visit, where he held talks with King Salman. (SPA)
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Bahrain’s King Hamad visited Saudi Arabia on Monday on an official visit, where he held talks with King Salman. (SPA)
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Updated 04 March 2022

Saudi Arabia and Bahrain agree to strengthen ties after King Hamad’s visit

Bahrain’s King Hamad visited Saudi Arabia on Monday on an official visit, where he held talks with King Salman. (SPA)
  • The Bahraini ruler discussed with King Salman a number of areas for enhanced cooperation, along with their common positions on a number of regional issues
  • The topics included regional unity, the threat posed by terrorist groups, Iran’s activities, the crises in Yemen, Syria and Lebanon, and developments in Iraq and Afghanistan

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on Thursday agreed to strengthen cooperation on all political issues and to work together to develop common positions that preserve security and stability in both countries, as well as the rest of the Middle East and the wider world.
It came a day after a visit to the Kingdom by Bahrain’s King Hamad, who on Wednesday held talks with King Salman, in the presence of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, about enhancing existing bilateral ties.
In a joint statement, both countries emphasized the importance of the AlUla Declaration that was signed by Gulf nations on Jan. 5, 2021, and its provisions relating to economic unity, joint defense and security systems, the coordination of positions, and the acceleration of work between Gulf states to resolve outstanding differences.
They praised the outstanding results during the second meeting of the Saudi-Bahraini Coordination Council held in Bahrain on Dec. 10 and co-chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed and his Bahraini counterpart, Prince Salman bin Hamad. As a result, a number of political, military, security, commercial, investment, cultural and tourism initiatives were launched to strengthen various aspects of cooperation.
King Salman and King Hamad issues directives for the development of military and security cooperation between their countries, and the integration of their security services to deter attempts to undermine security and stability. They highlighted the threat posed by the growing capabilities of terrorist groups in the region, and the actions of the Iranian regime in smuggling missiles and drones to such groups that target countries in the region.
The rulers praised the close cooperation between their countries on energy matters and the successful efforts of OPEC+ member nations to enhance the stability of global oil markets. They also stressed the importance of continuing this cooperation, and the need for all participating countries to abide by OPEC+ agreements.
They agreed to enhance cooperation and the exchange of expertise in the fields of oil and gas, renewable energy, nuclear energy, and artificial intelligence, in line with Saudi Arabia’s Middle East Green Initiative.
“The two sides affirmed their determination to increase joint economic cooperation by stimulating the government and private sectors, and to continue exchanging visits between business owners to reach qualitative trade and investment exchanges, and to establish economic projects in the two countries that serve the 2030 visions of the two kingdoms,” according to the joint statement.
Riyadh and Manama also stressed the importance of reaching a comprehensive and just settlement to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that ensures the right of the Palestinian people to establish an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
They agreed to continue their efforts to find a comprehensive political solution to the crisis in Yemen, rejecting any interference in the country’s internal affairs, and condemned the Houthi militia’s continued targeting of airports and other vital installations in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The leaders welcomed a recent UN Security Council resolution that designated the Houthis as a terrorist group, extended sanctions to all members and renewed an arms embargo. They said they appreciated the role of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center in efforts to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people.
They also expressed hopes that an Iraqi government will soon be formed “that would continue working for the security, stability and development of the country, eliminating terrorism and stopping foreign interference in its internal affairs.”
Regarding the situation in Lebanon, they affirmed their desire for its security, stability and unity, the importance of implementing comprehensive reforms to ensure that the country overcomes current crises and confines possession of arms to legitimate state institutions, and does not become a launch pad for terrorist acts and an incubator for terrorist organizations and groups that target regional security and stability, including Hezbollah.
Turning to Syria, they stressed that a political solution is the only way to resolve the crisis in the country. They backed the efforts of the UN and its special envoy to implement international resolutions, and affirmed their support for the Syrian people along with the need to support international humanitarian efforts.
The leaders said they will continue to support all efforts to achieve security and stability in Sudan, and stressed the need to reach a political solution to the Libyan crisis and for the withdrawal of all foreign mercenaries, fighters and forces from that country.
“The two sides stressed the importance of cooperation and dealing seriously and effectively with Iran’s nuclear issue, with all its components and repercussions, in a way that contributes to achieving regional and international security and stability,” according to the statement.
The two countries emphasized the need for Tehran to adhere to the principles of good neighborliness, respect for UN resolutions and international legitimacy, and to spare the region from all destabilizing activities, foremost of which is its missile program.
They also stressed the need to support security and stability in Afghanistan and not allow it to become a haven for terrorists and extremists. They condemned any activities aimed at recruiting Afghan refugees in conflict areas, and called for support of relief efforts and humanitarian work in Afghanistan.


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 9 min 14 sec ago

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.

Ukrainians cross the border from Ukraine to Poland at the Korczowa-Krakovets border crossing on Feb. 26, 2022, as Russian forces invade their country. (AFP)

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.

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.

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

“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 chief Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah meeting with WHO officials in Poland. (Supplied)

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.

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.

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.

“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.

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.

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.

 

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Saudi Crown Prince receives call from Pakistani PM

Saudi Crown Prince receives call from Pakistani PM
Updated 14 August 2022

Saudi Crown Prince receives call from Pakistani PM

Saudi Crown Prince receives call from Pakistani PM

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a phone call on Sunday from Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif, prime minister of Pakistan, Saudi Press Agency reported.

During the call, they reviewed the brotherly and historical relations between the Kingdom and Pakistan, in addition to discussing opportunities for cooperation between the two countries and ways to enhance them in various fields.

Also on Sunday, King Salman and the crown prince congratulated Pakistani President Arif Alvi on Saturday on the occasion of Pakistan’s 76th Independence Day.

“The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has sent a cable of congratulations to President Dr. Arif Alvi, President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, on the anniversary of his country’s Independence Day,” SPA said. 

In his message, Prince Mohammed “wished the President constant good health and happiness and the government and friendly people of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan steady progress and prosperity.” 


Hundreds of women benefit from Saudi virtual health sessions

The virtual clinic contributes to achieving the university's strategic goals of providing a campus life. (SPA)
The virtual clinic contributes to achieving the university's strategic goals of providing a campus life. (SPA)
Updated 14 August 2022

Hundreds of women benefit from Saudi virtual health sessions

The virtual clinic contributes to achieving the university's strategic goals of providing a campus life. (SPA)
  • The sessions are provided in cooperation with the Saudi Charitable Association of Diabetes to the university’s students and employees

RIYADH: Almost 330 women have benefited from virtual health sessions provided through the Nutrition Unit at Princess Nourah bint Abdul Rahman University, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The sessions aim to highlight diabetes prevention, adopting a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk of infection, spreading awareness about diabetes, the stages of diabetes, correcting misconceptions, answering inquiries, and providing the necessary moral support and awareness for those with diabetes by opening a reliable advice channel.

The sessions are provided in cooperation with the Saudi Charitable Association of Diabetes to the university’s students and employees.

Every month, the clinic hosts an association member who gives medical consultations and holds awareness sessions.

Families of university employees who wish to benefit from the counseling sessions can also attend.

The virtual clinic contributes to achieving the university's strategic goals of providing a campus life that supports people’s health and well-being for better productivity.

The efforts come within the framework of cooperation between the university and organizations that seek to achieve the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 by keeping pace with the needs of female students, promoting health, and moral support.

 


Saudia concludes Hajj 2022 operations

Saudia concludes Hajj 2022 operations
Updated 14 August 2022

Saudia concludes Hajj 2022 operations

Saudia concludes Hajj 2022 operations
  • Flight SV5712 from Madinah airport, carrying 347 Hajj pilgrims, was bid farewell on Sunday
  • Saudia’s Hajj plan began with arrivals to the Kingdom on June 6 and continued with departures on July 14

RIYADH: The Kingdom’s flag carrier Saudia concluded its global Hajj 2022 transport operation with a flight to Ahmedabad, India on Sunday.

Flight SV5712 from Madinah’s Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz International Airport, carrying 347 pilgrims, was bid farewell by Saudia’s chief Hajj and Umrah officer Amer Alkhushail.

Saudia’s operational plan for Hajj began with arrivals to the Kingdom on June 6 and continued with departures on July 14.

More than 350,000 pilgrims were transported over the two phases, of which 120,000 traveled on 300 Hajj flights. A further 230,000 pilgrims traveled on scheduled and additional flights.

The airline revealed that 280,000 pieces of luggage were handled as part of its free “luggage first” service that was launched this year.

As part of the free service, pilgrims’ luggage was collected from their hotel or other accommodation in Jeddah, Makkah or Madinah 24 hours before their departure and delivered to the correct airport baggage center where it was checked in before they arrived at the airport.


OIC chief receives Somalia’s special presidential envoy in Jeddah

OIC chief Hissein Brahim Taha receives Somalia’s special presidential envoy. (Supplied)
OIC chief Hissein Brahim Taha receives Somalia’s special presidential envoy. (Supplied)
Updated 15 August 2022

OIC chief receives Somalia’s special presidential envoy in Jeddah

OIC chief Hissein Brahim Taha receives Somalia’s special presidential envoy. (Supplied)

JEDDAH: Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Hissein Brahim Taha received Special Envoy of the Somali President for Humanitarian Affairs and Drought Abdul Rahman Abdul Shakour at the headquarters of the OIC’s General Secretariat in Jeddah on Sunday.

The envoy delivered a written message from the president of Somalia to Taha.

The secretary-general said that the OIC is deeply concerned about the drought and famine in Somalia.

Taha reaffirmed the commitment of the General Secretariat to implement the resolution adopted to alleviate the suffering of the Somali people and issued by the 48th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers held in Islamabad, Pakistan, earlier this year. He called for intensified efforts to assist those affected by the drought.