How ramped-up Saudi foreign aid is helping the world’s neediest

Special How ramped-up Saudi foreign aid is helping the world’s neediest
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A KSrelief project to combat eye disease in Nigeria. (Supplied)
Special How ramped-up Saudi foreign aid is helping the world’s neediest
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Saudi Arabia has provided more than $7 billion in development, humanitarian and charitable projects, worldwide, with primarily through KSrelief. (Supplied)
Special How ramped-up Saudi foreign aid is helping the world’s neediest
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Saudi foreign aid between 1996 and 2021 totalled $94.6 billion, delivered to 165 countries. (Supplied)
Special How ramped-up Saudi foreign aid is helping the world’s neediest
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KSrelief has built on Saudi A|rabia’s long history of helping developing countries. (Supplied)
Special How ramped-up Saudi foreign aid is helping the world’s neediest
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Saudia aircraft arrives in Afghanistan carrying food and shelter. (Supplied)
Special How ramped-up Saudi foreign aid is helping the world’s neediest
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KSrelief donates beds for a hospital in Yemen. (Supplied)
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Updated 10 June 2022

How ramped-up Saudi foreign aid is helping the world’s neediest

How ramped-up Saudi foreign aid is helping the world’s neediest
  • Kingdom has a long history of assistance for developing countries, led by Saudi Fund for Development
  • Many Arab countries are reeling from the economic impacts of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine

DUBAI: The creation of a joint development fund with France to assist Lebanon is the latest in a string of announcements signaling a ramp-up in Saudi aid to Middle East and North African countries being pushed deeper into debt by conflict and crisis.

The fund, unveiled in April, made an initial $30 million pledge to support food security in Lebanon and the country’s crippled health sector, according to a statement from the French embassy.

Funds will also be used for humanitarian projects that will provide emergency aid to the country’s most vulnerable communities and help improve access to primary healthcare in the northern city of Tripoli.

Before Lebanon, it was Mauritania, a desert country in northwest Africa with only 0.5 percent of arable land, that received significant assistance from the Kingdom.




KSRelief medical volunteers performed critical surgeries for indigents in Mauritania in 2020. (Supplied)

In April, Saudi Arabia converted its $300 million deposit with the Mauritania central bank into a soft loan as part of efforts to develop the country’s economy, and encourage regional and international investment.

Across the African continent, Saudi Arabia has provided more than $7 billion in development, humanitarian and charitable projects, covering food security, health and education, according to the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, the Kingdom’s leading aid agency.

Since its establishment in 2015 KSrelief has built on the Kingdom’s long history of helping developing countries.

In late May, the agency delivered humanitarian assistance worth $3.2 million to the Philippines, which included $1.7 million of medical equipment to help fight COVID-19. 




Saudi officials deliver $3.2 million worth of aid to the Philippines last month to mitigate the impacts of Typhoon Rai and to help health relief and emergency works in Marawi City. (Supplied)

A further $1.5 million is earmarked to help the Philippines Ministry of Health alleviate the impact of Typhoon Rai, alongside health relief and emergency works for the southern city of Marawi. 

During Ramadan, it gave cash support to more than 900 individuals in 19 countries, including Afghanistan, Yemen and Chad, through the Saudi Ramadan Eta’am initiative.

KSrelief distributed 500 Ramadan food baskets to Afghan families in the Char Asiab district of Kabul and 887 food baskets to households in the Chadian city of Massenya, benefiting 5,322 people.




KSrelief workers distributes Ramadan food baskets at the camps of Rohingya refugees in April 2022. (SPA)

The agency also implemented more than 40 humanitarian projects in Afghanistan, targeting food security, health, education, water and sanitation.

Meanwhile, in Yemen’s war-scarred Marib governorate, KSrelief has provided more than 72 tons of food, helping 4,080 people.

According to KSrelief, Yemen has received the largest share of aid spending at $4 billion, covering everything from health services, nutrition, shelter and education to sanitation, emergency communications and logistics.




Saudi Arabia continues to contribute to school projects, particularly in Yemen where tens of thousands of schoolchildren have been affected by the ongoing war between the government and the Iran-backed Houthi militia. (Supplied)

In early April, KSrelief announced a nutrition project aimed at children under 5, as well as pregnant and nursing women, in the Yemeni governorates of Lahij, Taiz, Aden, Hodeidah, Hajjah, Marib and Hadramout.

At the end of March, it announced a $7 million contribution to support education programs in Yemen run by the UN children’s fund UNICEF. The donation is set to improve access to quality education for 578,000 children.

In January, KSrelief signed an agreement with the UN’s migration agency IOM to provide 150,000 Yemenis with shelter, hygiene services, sanitation and clean water.




KSrelief's general supervisor, Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah. (Supplied) 

During a recent lecture at the Islamic University of Madinah, Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, general supervisor of KSrelief, said that Saudi foreign aid between 1996 and 2021 totalled $94.6 billion, delivered to 165 countries.

KSrelief has carried on the work spearheaded by the Saudi Fund for Development, established in 1974. But Saudi Arabia’s charitable initiatives go back even further.

“Since its founding, the Kingdom has been keen to help crisis-affected countries,” Samer Al-Jetaily, a spokesperson for KSrelief, told Arab News. “It has spared no effort to help those in need around the world. Its commitment to providing relief and assistance is based on its noble humanitarian values.”

According to Al-Jetaily, KSrelief has implemented some 1,997 humanitarian projects in 84 countries worth $5.7 billion, focusing on areas ranging from education, healthcare and food security to shelter, sanitation and protection.

KSrelief is the only authority in Saudi Arabia permitted to receive and deliver cash and in-kind assistance to people overseas, regulate and supervise external charitable work, license charitable institutions internationally, and set the structure for other humanitarian work.

The Kingdom’s humanitarian efforts have expanded in tandem with major changes in the way citizens donate to charity.

FASTFACTS

Since 2015, KSrelief has implemented around 2,000 projects in 84 countries worth $5.7 billion.

The Saudi aid agency has implemented 815 projects aimed at women at a cost of $533 million.

Children around the world have benefited from 730 projects at a cost of $769 million.

(Source: KSrelief)

The country’s digital transformation has led to the creation of regulated donation services, including KSrelief, Ehsan, Shefaa and the National Donations Platform, all developed and supervised by the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority.

Ehsan, launched in 2021, enables philanthropists and donors to choose from a selection of charitable causes, ranging from social and economic issues to health, education and the environment.

By focusing on individual values and specific societal issues, the platform aims to encourage a greater sense of social responsibility among the public and private-sector organizations, while also promoting a culture of transparency in charitable giving.

Last year, King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made multiple donations via Ehsan that pushed the platform’s total figure past the SR1 billion mark.




Ehsan has made it easier for Saudi Arabia’s residents to donate to causes such as renovating and furnishing the homes of the needy, giving food baskets to families, and providing care for the elderly. (SPA)

Since its launch, Ehsan has received more than SR1.4 billion ($373.2 million) in donations, which have been distributed to more than 4.3 million beneficiaries.

The National Donations Platform also connects donors with needy individuals across the Kingdom, while ensuring a reliable and secure digital donation process supervised by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development.

To date, more than 3.5 million people, including orphans, the sick, the elderly and those living in substandard housing, have benefited from money gifted through the platform.

These regulated official platforms were designed to ensure donations go to those genuinely in need, and to prevent funds falling into the hands of fraudsters and even terrorist groups looking to exploit public generosity.

“The Kingdom hopes that the assistance it provides will contribute to ensuring that all people are able to live safe, healthy, dignified lives,” Al-Jetaily told Arab News.




Many underprivileged people in the Middle East and Africa have benefitted from Saudi Arabia's medical aid missions through the years. (Supplied)

“The aid provided globally is impartial, based solely on the needs of its beneficiaries.”

With many Arab countries struggling to overcome the economic blows of the pandemic, as well as the inflationary impact of the war in Ukraine on food and fuel prices, charitable donations are needed more than ever.

Lebanon is a case in point. While many nations have been reluctant to provide aid until its government implements much-needed economic reforms, Saudi Arabia and France chose to establish the joint development fund to help the Lebanese people.

Initially, money from the fund will be split between the French Development Agency and KSrelief, according to official sources.




Saudi and French officials join a photo session in Beirut during the signing of an aid agreement for Lebanon. (SPA)

Since 2019, Lebanon has been in the throes of its worst-ever financial crisis, which has been further compounded by the economic strain of the pandemic and the nation’s political paralysis.

For many Lebanese, the final straw was the Beirut port blast of Aug. 2020, which killed 218, injured 7,000, caused $15 billion in property damage and left an estimated 300,000 people homeless.

Deteriorating socioeconomic conditions have sent thousands of young Lebanese, including many of the country’s top medical professionals and educators, abroad in search of security and opportunity.

Those Lebanese who have chosen to remain are forced to endure shortages of basic necessities, crumbling infrastructure, rolling blackouts and mass unemployment.

 


KSrelief begins food, aid distribution in Yemen’s flood-hit Al-Mahra province 

KSrelief begins food, aid distribution in Yemen’s flood-hit Al-Mahra province 
Updated 11 sec ago

KSrelief begins food, aid distribution in Yemen’s flood-hit Al-Mahra province 

KSrelief begins food, aid distribution in Yemen’s flood-hit Al-Mahra province 
  • Al-Mahra, among other southern and eastern governorates, witnessed heavy rains in the past few days

Dubai: King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) began its aid efforts in Yemen’s Al-Mahra governorate on Saturday by distributing emergency food aid to people affected by the torrential rains and floods. 
 
The center distributed 100 food baskets containing basic materials, benefiting 1,092 people.
 
Al-Mahra, among other southern and eastern governorates, witnessed heavy rains in the past few days. 
 
KSrelief’s immediate intervention comes as part of its continuous efforts to aid and support Yemeni people in different crises.


Prizewinning Saudi student speaks of journey to competition success

Lama won gold at the Gulf Physics Olympiad and a bronze each at the international and Nordic-Baltic Physics Olympiads. (SPA)
Lama won gold at the Gulf Physics Olympiad and a bronze each at the international and Nordic-Baltic Physics Olympiads. (SPA)
Updated 13 August 2022

Prizewinning Saudi student speaks of journey to competition success

Lama won gold at the Gulf Physics Olympiad and a bronze each at the international and Nordic-Baltic Physics Olympiads. (SPA)
  • Lama Al-Ahdal scooped medals in Physics Olympiads and made her country proud

JEDDAH: Prizewinning Saudi student Lama Al-Ahdal, who has been scooping medals at Physics Olympiads, says her competition success motivates her to continue with her passion and achieve great things for the Kingdom.

She won gold at the Gulf Physics Olympiad, a bronze at the International Physics Olympiad, and a bronze at the Nordic-Baltic Physics Olympiad.

Al-Ahdal spoke to the Saudi Press Agency about the beginning of her journey in the Physics Olympiad through the Mawhoob Competition, which she took part in several times.

It was her participation in 2018 that led to her nomination to attend training forums, a path that would eventually lead her to victory.

“I started attending basic courses in Jeddah, through which I qualified and passed the required tests. I was nominated for the Winter Forum at Princess Nourah University in Riyadh, then trained with the physics team, from which a number of students in the Kingdom would qualify to form the Saudi team for the Physics Olympiad.

HIGHLIGHT

It was her participation in 2018 that led to her nomination to attend training forums, a path that would eventually lead her to victory.

“At the beginning of 2019, we underwent intense eight-hour training, both remotely and at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, to prepare for international competitions. I learned how to calculate the strength of the Earth's magnetic field using a string and two pieces of magnets, how electricity can be generated by heating two pieces of metal, how to measure the thickness of a candy wrapper using a laser, and other scientific experiments.

“The top five students were then nominated to represent the Kingdom, and thankfully I made it and snatched the gold medal in the Gulf Physics Olympiad, the bronze medal in the Nordic-Baltic Physics Olympiad, and the bronze medal in the International Physics Olympiad.”

Joining the Saudi physics team and undergoing training helped her to discover that physics was a beautiful subject. “I learned a lot from it and the Olympiad experience.”

Her participation increased her skills and developed her thinking by getting to know competitors from different countries.

“I also developed my time management skills since the training continued even during school days. My father and mother had a major role in helping me achieve my goals and encouraging me to try new things to gain more skills and learn more,” she said.

Setting a specific goal and working to achieve it was the most important thing that motivated her to take up the challenge and try new things.

Her father, Abdul Rahman Al-Ahdal, said his daughter’s journey was full of scientific challenges.

“She has always been a talented child and a bright student, with a  promising future ahead of her. God blessed her with a group of highly experienced trainers and supervisors. It is important to focus and draw a plan and work to achieve it.

“I thank King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity, and everyone responsible for helping the sons and daughters of the Kingdom partake in forums of creativity, innovation and scientific Olympiad, and other scientific activities.”


Visitors take a trip to Saudi Arabia’s Taif to rejuvenate in nature

The popular tourist location has a number of hotels and resorts designed and built to fit in with the natural landscape. (SPA)
The popular tourist location has a number of hotels and resorts designed and built to fit in with the natural landscape. (SPA)
Updated 13 August 2022

Visitors take a trip to Saudi Arabia’s Taif to rejuvenate in nature

The popular tourist location has a number of hotels and resorts designed and built to fit in with the natural landscape. (SPA)
  • The region has more than 2,000 flower farms that produce more than 200 million roses every season

TAIF: Visitors from all over the Kingdom and the Gulf are flocking to Taif this summer to get respite from the heat and rejuvenate in the region’s mountains.

The popular tourist location has a number of hotels and resorts designed and built to fit in with the natural landscape, several of which are also working farms or have beautiful gardens planted with the famous Taif roses and wild plants including basil, al-baitran, and marjoram.

Tourists and visitors can also stay in cozy, rural hostels made of old stone ornamented with carvings and sculptures of animals, where they can enjoy stunning views of the mountains and valleys of Taif, which are home to a variety of rare birds.

The city and other nearby areas such as Al-Hada and Al-Shifa are also famous for their fruits.

The region has more than 2,000 flower farms that produce more than 200 million roses every season. Taif roses have historic, economic and religious importance. The oil is used to perfume the walls of the Kaaba, which is also washed twice annually with its scented water.

Besides basking in nature, visitors to Taif can also visit museums, local markets, rose factories in Al-Shafa and Al-Hada, the cable car, a strawberry farm, the zoo, and historic castles.

 


 


Saudi forces and US marines begin joint training exercise in Yanbu

Saudi forces and US marines begin joint training exercise in Yanbu
Updated 14 August 2022

Saudi forces and US marines begin joint training exercise in Yanbu

Saudi forces and US marines begin joint training exercise in Yanbu
  • The month-long drill includes logistical exercises and operations with live ammunition

RIYADH: The Royal Saudi Armed Forces and US Marine Corps on Saturday launched a joint training exercise along the Red Sea coast in the western city of Yanbu, the Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense said.

The “Outrageous Anger 22” exercise was inaugurated in the presence of Maj. Gen. Ahmed Al-Dibais, commander of the western sector, and Maj. Gen. Paul Rock, commander of the Marine Corps at the US Central Command, as well as senior officers from the Saudi armed forces and US Army.

An inspection tour included sites where the two forces will conduct the joint operations.

Col. Saud Al-Aqili, commander of the exercise, said that it aims to rehearse implementation of bilateral operational and logistical plans, exchange expertise between the two sides, and develop complementary work with civil authorities.

Col. Matthew Hakula, commander of the US forces, said that the joint maneuvers will raise combat readiness, as well as strengthen compatibility between Saudi and US troops.

The month-long drill includes logistical exercises and operations with live ammunition.


Who’s Who: Abdulrahman Alotaibi, director of SMEs Training for Capacity Building at Monsha’at

Abdulrahman Alotaibi
Abdulrahman Alotaibi
Updated 13 August 2022

Who’s Who: Abdulrahman Alotaibi, director of SMEs Training for Capacity Building at Monsha’at

Abdulrahman Alotaibi

Abdulrahman Alotaibi has been the director of SMEs Training for Capacity Building at the General Authority for Small and Medium Size Enterprises, also known as, Monsha’at, since 2020.

Alotaibi’s current role includes overseeing the development of capacity-building solutions for SMEs and entrepreneurs through Monsha’at Academy’s online, local and international programs.

These programs support the Saudi business community by offering specialized skills in entrepreneurship, business planning, financial management and marketing.

Alotaibi started his career in Saudi Aramco in 2006 and held various roles in operations, accounting and planning.

He later joined the Saudi Export Development Authority in 2017 as an exporters training manager. He led numerous projects and programs to help Saudi companies to access and develop international markets.

Alotaibi holds a bachelor’s degree in public administration from King Abdulaziz University and a master’s in business administration from Al-Yamamah University.

He is a certified global business professional from NASBITE International and also certified in market analysis tools by the UN’s International Trade Center, ITC.  

In 2021, he published a book titled “Export Business Development —  A Guide to International Markets.” The work provides the necessary knowledge and best practices to help business people to develop and execute global business plans, evaluate opportunities, manage market challenges and grow international sales.

Working closely with various businesses and trade support organizations, Alotaibi has delivered workshops and advisory sessions in export and international trade. He also contributes to newspapers and other business media outlets.