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.

 


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.


Nice film festival winner ‘The Whaler’ portrays Saudi fisherman, marine life

Nice film festival winner ‘The Whaler’ portrays Saudi fisherman, marine life
Updated 14 August 2022

Nice film festival winner ‘The Whaler’ portrays Saudi fisherman, marine life

Nice film festival winner ‘The Whaler’ portrays Saudi fisherman, marine life
  • Filmmaker Saleh Bukhamseen: ‘I wanted to capture the spirit of the people who make their livelihood from marine life and showcase their determination’
  • Bukhamseen said that he was first inspired to shoot his film when he began diving and saw the life and beauty that lies beneath the Red Sea’s surface

RIYADH: Saudi short film “The Whaler” on May 22 won the Science Award at the 2022 Nice International Film Festival, held in the south of France.

The film documents the lives of fishermen in Saudi Arabia, showcasing the beauty of the Kingdom and its maritime world to international audiences. 

It provides unique insight into past and present generations of fishermen — known as “hawata” (Arabic for “whalers”) — through Abu Hilal, an esteemed elder of Yanbu’s fishing scene.

A coastal and industrial city on the Red Sea, Yanbu is strategically located as it is close to the Suez Canal.

Speaking to Arab News, filmmaker Saleh Bukhamseen said: “One major challenge that we — the cameraman Wael and myself — faced when filming ‘The Whaler’ was the extreme weather conditions and the obstruction of the Suez Canal, which happened in 2021.”

Bukhamseen is a self-taught underwater cinematographer with eight years of experience. He combines his passion for diving and filmmaking to create unique films that highlight the beauty of the sea, its creatures and its relationship with humans.

“I wanted to capture the spirit of the people who make their livelihood from marine life and showcase their determination. Fish is a mealtime favorite for many, especially on a Friday, but do we realize the amazing journey behind this beautiful meal? ‘Hawata’ will show you this!” said Bukhamseen.

He has worked on several projects for the Saudi Arabian government, such as films promoting tourism, and has produced short documentaries.

“When you combine talent and passion, there is no limit. It takes a lot of effort to be a writer, producer, director, underwater cameraman and editor all at once, but with teamwork, spectacular results can be achieved,” said Bukhamseen, who filmed and produced “The Whaler” alongside only one other person — his cameraman Wael.

Bukhamseen said that he was first inspired to shoot his film when he began diving and saw the life and beauty that lies beneath the Red Sea’s surface. What he could not describe in words, he said, he captured on film.

“The Whaler,” only 12 minutes long, will be available for the world to see once the film festival tour concludes. Bukhamseen said that these few minutes took five months to prepare, film, edit and present to audiences and panelists.

In its 10th edition, the Nice International Film Festival is held annually in Nice, France.

The week-long event allows aspiring independent filmmakers to showcase their work to an international audience.

“Nice International Film Festival has strict criteria its awards, which cover originality, creativity, film quality, story structure and editing,” said Bukhamseen. “‘Hawata’ was judged by a panel of international film experts to assess whether or not the film deserves to win the trophy.” 

During the festival, the audience is presented with films over a period of a week, which concludes with a prestigious ceremony in which exceptionally talented filmmakers, screenwriters and actors receive awards for their respective film categories.

Bukhamseen told Arab News that he is proud to represent his country, Saudi Arabia, and encourages all aspiring filmmakers to follow their hearts, develop their technical skills and, above all else, respect the environment.

Besides “The Whaler,” he has produced three films: “Plastic Inferno,” “Strange Neighbor” and “The Patient Minarets,” all of which are environmental documentaries.


17 new housing schemes approved in Q2 for Madinah, says municipality

17 new housing schemes approved in Q2 for Madinah, says municipality
Updated 14 August 2022

17 new housing schemes approved in Q2 for Madinah, says municipality

17 new housing schemes approved in Q2 for Madinah, says municipality
  • The schemes cover a total area of 2,242,738 square meters
  • Plans include 2,932 residential plots,16 schools, 21 parks, 23 mosques, and facilities

RIYADH: 17 new housing schemes were approved in Madinah during the second quarter of 2022, Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

The schemes cover a total area of 2,242,738 square meters and include 2,932 residential plots of various sizes, 16 schools, 21 public parks, 23 mosques, and a range of public and government facilities.

The Madinah Regional Municipality said the adoption of the new housing plans contributes to developing the city’s infrastructure, meeting demands for housing units, increasing the quality of life for residents, supporting urban expansion programs and environmental and economic development plans for the city, and increasing residential areas for the local population considering the urban growth witnessed by the region.


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 14 August 2022

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.”