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.

 


Saudi artist with a disability blows minds with his paintings

Ahmed Hakeem’s paintings were displayed at Markaz Al-Oun Bazaar. (Supplied)
Ahmed Hakeem’s paintings were displayed at Markaz Al-Oun Bazaar. (Supplied)
Updated 5 min 24 sec ago

Saudi artist with a disability blows minds with his paintings

Ahmed Hakeem’s paintings were displayed at Markaz Al-Oun Bazaar. (Supplied)
  • Ahmed Hakeem’s love of creativity helps him to forget the difficulties he faces to draw some amazing art pieces
  • Hakeem has not let his disability be an impediment to what he likes doing, which is painting

RIYADH: With joy, Ahmed Hakeem holds his brush, starts picking vibrant colors, and then he paints cubic and abstract shapes on an empty canvas.

Hakeem is a 34-year-old Saudi artist who has a mild intellectual disability. Individuals with mild ID are slower in all areas of conceptual development and social and daily living skills.

But Hakeem’s love of art helps him to forget the difficulties he faces as a person with a disability to draw some amazing art pieces. He has not let his disability be an impediment to what he likes doing, which is painting.

Not only that he is good at painting, but he is also an athlete. He is a good swimmer, he plays basketball, he loves running, he has won bronze and silver medals in sports.

He is also good at ping pong, padel, hiking, and loves animals.

During the pandemic, Hakeem unleashed his creative side and started to learn to paint. He enrolled in classes, and he started drawing abstract and cubic art.

FASTFACTS

• Hakeem is a 34-year- old Saudi artist who has a mild intellectual disability. Individuals with mild ID are slower in all areas of conceptual development and social and daily living skills.

• He has not let his disability be an impediment to what he likes doing, which is painting.

• He is also an athlete. He is a good swimmer, he plays basketball, he loves running, he has won bronze and silver medals in sports.

His paintings were displayed at Markaz Al-Oun Bazaar, which is a help center and non-profit organization that helps people with intellectual disabilities, and he wants to have his own gallery in the future.

Hakeem, who works at Juffali Heavy Equipment as an assistant, also talked about how hard it is for people with disabilities to find a good job.

“You need to know about the challenges that I am having with the community in general. Most people with disabilities are usually unemployed and don’t have access to powerful governmental aid, but their families have to enroll them in special clubs, and this can be financially stressful to the parents, so there is a lack of community and activities for us,” Hakeem told Arab News.

Nour Hakeem, his sister, said: “Because Hakeem looks normal and is not in a wheelchair, many places we go, they see him as a normal person, and every time we go out, I have to have proof that he is mentally challenged, which is very hard.”

“Even though the plane’s tickets are more expensive than the economy ticket and the discount they give us isn’t that much, so basically we book him a normal economy ticket but hopefully with time this is going to change soon because there is more attention by the authorities on people with disabilities,” she said.

According to APD, the official association of people with disabilities, the percentage of people with disabilities in the Kingdom is 7.1 percent, or 1,445,723 people out of a population 32.94 million. The association is set to organize its efforts and build an integrated institutional system to remove barriers to people with disabilities and empower them to live in society without discrimination.

 


King Fahd National Library exhibits rare Qur’ans

King Fahd National Library exhibits rare Qur’ans. (SPA)
King Fahd National Library exhibits rare Qur’ans. (SPA)
Updated 2 min 29 sec ago

King Fahd National Library exhibits rare Qur’ans

King Fahd National Library exhibits rare Qur’ans. (SPA)
  • The King Fahd National Library recently added to its collection Chinese books donated by the National Library of China

RIYADH: The King Fahd National Library has opened an exhibition of rare Arabic manuscripts, including medieval copies of the Qur’an, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The library’s Secretary-General Dr. Mansour bin Abdullah Al-Zamil launched the opening, which includes books printed prior to the Kingdom’s unification during the reign of King Abdulaziz.
Saleh Al-Aboudi, director of the library’s Anecdotes and Collections Department, gave a presentation explaining the exhibition’s contents, which boasts Qur’ans dating back to the third century AH as well as local manuscripts, miniatures, antiquities, inscriptions, and other Arab and Saudi publications.
The King Fahd National Library recently added to its collection Chinese books donated by the National Library of China.
The books — covering subjects including history, economy, tourism and culture — are distributed in Arabic and English. They include literature related to China, including books on the Chinese language and children’s books, which serve as an opportunity for Saudis to get to know the country and its culture.

 


Makkah governor receives US consul general in Jeddah

Makkah governor Prince Khaled Al-Faisal receives US Consul General Faris Asad in Jeddah. (Supplied)
Makkah governor Prince Khaled Al-Faisal receives US Consul General Faris Asad in Jeddah. (Supplied)
Updated 21 min 45 sec ago

Makkah governor receives US consul general in Jeddah

Makkah governor Prince Khaled Al-Faisal receives US Consul General Faris Asad in Jeddah. (Supplied)
  • Faris’ other past assignments include assistant information officer in Amman, Jordan, and public diplomacy officer with a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Mosul, Iraq

MAKKAH: Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal received US Consul General Faris Asad in Jeddah on Sunday.
They discussed topics of common interest. Asad also concurrently serves as the US representative to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, headquartered in Jeddah. He joined the US Department of State in 2004 as a foreign service officer.
Most recently, Faris served as political chief at the US Embassy in Dushanbe, Tajikistan from 2018-2020.
Faris’ other past assignments include assistant information officer in Amman, Jordan, and public diplomacy officer with a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Mosul, Iraq.

 


 


Saudi aid agency inaugurates 2nd phase of free eye surgery projects in Yemen

KSrelief inaugurates 2nd phase of free eye surgery projects in Yemen. (SPA)
KSrelief inaugurates 2nd phase of free eye surgery projects in Yemen. (SPA)
Updated 23 min 10 sec ago

Saudi aid agency inaugurates 2nd phase of free eye surgery projects in Yemen

KSrelief inaugurates 2nd phase of free eye surgery projects in Yemen. (SPA)
  • The Noor Saudi program aims to perform 6,000 specialized eye surgeries over the course of the year

ADEN: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center launched on Friday the second phase of its project to provide free eye surgeries, part of the Noor Saudi program, which will be implemented in the governorates of Aden and Mukalla, Yemen.

Director of the KSrelief office in Aden Saleh Al-Thibani said that the campaign aims to combat blindness and assist patients who cannot afford the costs of treatment.

The Noor Saudi program aims to perform 6,000 specialized eye surgeries over the course of the year, which will be implemented following a series of projects to cover as many patients in need of eye operations as possible.

Each project, Al-Thibani explained, consists of performing 400 operations, in addition to providing necessary medicines and eyeglasses.

Undersecretary of the Yemeni Ministry of Health Dr. Ahmed Al-Kamal expressed appreciation for the center’s continuous support of the Yemeni health sector and its humanitarian work in the country.


2-year afforestation campaign launched in Saudi Arabia’s Asir

Saudi Arabia launches afforestation campaign in Asir. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia launches afforestation campaign in Asir. (SPA)
Updated 17 sec ago

2-year afforestation campaign launched in Saudi Arabia’s Asir

Saudi Arabia launches afforestation campaign in Asir. (SPA)
  • Saudi Arabia launched the Saudi Green and Middle East Green initiatives with the goal of planting 50 billion trees, reducing carbon emissions by more than 10 percent of global contributions

ABHA: The Saudi National Center for Vegetation Cover and Combating Desertification recently announced the launch of a two-year project aimed at rehabilitating fire-affected sites in the forests of Al-Jarrah Park in the Asir region.

The afforestation plan will see more than 160,000 trees and local plant species planted.

The project aims to boost the vegetation cover inside Al-Jarrah Park. The nature of the soil and geological features of the site will be tested in order to choose the most appropriate plan for rehabilitation.  

The center also aims to combat fire in different regions of the Kingdom and oversee the management of pasture lands, forests and national parks, which will boost sustainable development and enhance the quality of life.

Saudi Arabia launched the Saudi Green and Middle East Green initiatives with the goal of planting 50 billion trees, reducing carbon emissions by more than 10 percent of global contributions.

The initiatives are part of the Kingdom’s endeavors to strengthen regional and international partnerships with a view to overcoming environmental challenges, protecting the planet and combating climate change.