‘Better days ahead for Turkish-Saudi ties’: Leading parliamentarian

Special ‘Better days ahead for Turkish-Saudi ties’: Leading parliamentarian
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman shakes hands with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Presidential Complex in Ankara. (SPA)
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Updated 22 June 2022

‘Better days ahead for Turkish-Saudi ties’: Leading parliamentarian

‘Better days ahead for Turkish-Saudi ties’: Leading parliamentarian
  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit raises hopes for agreement on economic, military and defense pacts, says parliamentarian from ruling AKP
  • “With COVID-19 travel ban lifted on June 20, Ankara and Riyadh can refocus on boosting tourism sectors,” parliamentarian said

ANKARA: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Turkey will usher in a new era of bilateral relations, leaving behind the two nations’ “worst days,” a leading parliamentarian told Arab News on Wednesday.




Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman inspects the honor guard with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Presidential Complex in Ankara. (SPA)

This is the view of Halil Ozcan, chairperson of the Turkish-Saudi Friendship Committee for the last four parliamentary terms. “We left behind the worst days of our bilateral relationship. After the April visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, both countries committed to improve their ties by leaving aside the past and turning a new page in their relations,” he said in an exclusive interview with Arab News.




Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman inspects the honor guard with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Presidential Complex in Ankara. (SPA)

Ozcan, who defined Saudi Arabia as a “brother country,” said Turkey was seeking to renew its previous strategic cooperation and partnerships in several fields, including security and joint counter-terrorism efforts.

“We hope that serious concrete steps in the economic, military and defense areas will be taken in the near term as a compensation (for) past years, and the visit of the crown prince will hopefully lead to broad agreements in these areas,” he said.




Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman discusses bilateral relation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Presidential Complex in Ankara. (SPA)

Ozcan graduated from King Saud University’s Islamic studies department, and also served as a teacher in Saudi Arabia. He is also the founder of the Arabic Language Center in Sanliurfa, his hometown, where Turkey’s Arab population is predominantly concentrated.

“Turkey and KSA are both important countries in their regions. Any strategic partnership will contribute a lot to … regional stability, and Turkey is always open to mediate … any regional conflict,” the lawmaker from the ruling Justice and Development Party said.




Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is bid farewell by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara. (SPA)

According to Ozcan, the two nations’ officials will focus initially on improving joint trade and investment. He said Saudis have significant and strategic investments in Turkey.

“As part of the relaxation of coronavirus prevention measures, Saudi Arabia on June 20 lifted a ban on citizens traveling to Turkey. This decision, ahead of the Wednesday visit, will boost tourism ties as well. Both countries hope (to diversify) their trade ties and improve their trade volume in the short term by taking mutual steps,” he said.




Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman embraces Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara before he leaves Turkey. (SPA)

Turkey’s exports to Saudi Arabia stood at about $886 million in 2021, while Saudi Arabia's imports from Turkey increased by 2.8 percent in the first two months of 2022.

Attracting more Saudi tourists is among Turkey’s priorities. The country is a favorite holiday destination for many Saudi families, while Turkish pilgrims visit Saudi Arabia for Hajj. The first group of pilgrims recently arrived in the holy city of Makkah to undertake the annual Islamic rituals.




President Recep Tayyip Erdogan welcomes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the Presidential Complex in Ankara. (SPA)

The country is aiming to boost the tourism sector’s contribution to its gross domestic product by up to 15 percent this year, with the launch of joint projects.

The parliamentary committee is expected to visit Saudi Arabia regularly in the coming period, with the first trip scheduled for after the Eid holidays.




Halil Ozcan, chairperson of the Turkish-Saudi Friendship Committee. (Supplied)

Ozcan said that Turkey’s embassy in Riyadh was following up on trade issues. “We will do our best to overcome the challenges ahead to patch up the economic and trade ties,” he said.


Bahrain tourism minister discusses opportunities in Saudi Arabia with officials

Bahrain tourism minister discusses opportunities in Saudi Arabia with officials
Updated 11 August 2022

Bahrain tourism minister discusses opportunities in Saudi Arabia with officials

Bahrain tourism minister discusses opportunities in Saudi Arabia with officials
  • Both officials agreed to explore investment opportunities in the tourism sector in both countries

RIYADH: Bahrain’s tourism minister discussed expanding cooperation with Saudi Arabia in the tourism sector during an official visit to the Kingdom, Bahrain News Agency (BNA) reported.

Fatima Jaafar Al-Sairafi met with Qusai bin Abdulla Al-Fakhri, CEO of Saudi Tourism Development Fund, in Riyadh where both reviewed ways to create diverse business opportunities in the tourism sector and promote sustainability in line with international developments.

“They agreed to explore the future prospects of tourism projects undertaken by the private sector in both countries, in addition to tapping into investment opportunities in this vital sector,” the BNA statement read.

The officials praised the deep-rooted historic relations between both kingdoms, highlighting efforts to strengthen the steadily growing ties.
Al-Sairafi highlighted Bahrain’s 2022-2025 tourism strategy, which aims to increase cooperation with other countries to boost investment in tourism infrastructure.


Saudi charity KSrelief launches medical program combatting blindness in Bangladesh

Saudi charity KSrelief launches medical program combatting blindness in Bangladesh
Updated 11 August 2022

Saudi charity KSrelief launches medical program combatting blindness in Bangladesh

Saudi charity KSrelief launches medical program combatting blindness in Bangladesh
  • Thousands of people were examined in the new scheme

RIYADH: A new scheme combatting blindness and its causes in Bangladesh was launched on Monday by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief).

The KSrelief voluntary medical team examined 6,600 cases, and performed 150 successful cataract procedures.
This latest scheme serves as an extension of projects combating blindness by the Saudi charity, for families with low incomes in a number of countries.


4,291 Saudi health security trainees graduate   

4,291 Saudi health security trainees graduate   
Updated 11 August 2022

4,291 Saudi health security trainees graduate   

4,291 Saudi health security trainees graduate   

RIYADH: A fourth group of health security trainees graduated from the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties in a virtual ceremony on Wednesday. 

A total of 4,291 male and female graduates will join the job market. 

Dr. Aws Al-Shamsan, secretary-general of the Saudi Commission for Health Specialties, said that health security plays an important role in improving healthcare services.

The program includes practical and theoretical training for three months, in addition to two weeks of field training in one of the health sectors, allowing trainees to benefit from hands-on experience.

Health security graduates receive a diploma allowing them to work in the Kingdom’s health sector.


Umbrellas raise Makkah pilgrims’ spirits

Umbrellas raise Makkah pilgrims’ spirits
Updated 11 August 2022

Umbrellas raise Makkah pilgrims’ spirits

Umbrellas raise Makkah pilgrims’ spirits

JEDDAH: Pilgrims sheltering from heavy rain in Makkah on Tuesday received a helping hand when the General Presidency of the Two Holy Mosques handed out umbrellas to visitors at the Grand Mosque.

Khaled bin Fahd Al-Shalwi, assistant for the general president for social, voluntary and humanitarian services agency, said that the “Umbrella of Mu’tamer” initiative is part of a range of services designed to help visitors perform their rituals. 

Programs and services come under the direction of the President for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, who strives to provide a safe environment to allow visitors to the Grand Mosque to complete their rituals with ease, he added. 

According to the presidency’s website, the presidency has also employed more than 200 supervisors, 4,000 female and male workers, and utilized more than 500 items of equipment to deal with the rain at the Grand Mosque through its environmental protection agency. 

Ahmed bin Omar Bilaamash, assistant to the general president for services and achievement of the environmental protection agency, said that prayer areas, entrances and exits, and the mataf — the circumambulation space around the Kaaba — are equipped to handle the rainfall. 


Jeddah to host 2nd Saudi International Maritime Forum in November

Jeddah to host 2nd Saudi International Maritime Forum in November
Updated 10 August 2022

Jeddah to host 2nd Saudi International Maritime Forum in November

Jeddah to host 2nd Saudi International Maritime Forum in November
  • Event will be attended by experts in maritime security from around the world
  • The event was a continuation of the Kingdom’s contribution to promoting international peace and security

RIYADH: The 2nd Saudi International Maritime Forum will be held in Jeddah from November 15-17.
Organized by the Royal Saudi Naval Forces and held under the patronage of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the event aims to provide a platform for the exchange of views on how best to ensure maritime safety in a rapidly changing global environment.
Titled “Protecting Marine Units and Vital Coastal Sites Against the Threat of Unmanned Systems,” the forum will highlight the threat of such systems and present ways in which they can be dealt with.
Thanking the crown prince for his sponsorship of the event, RSNF Commander Fahd bin Abdullah Al-Ghufaili said it would also discuss the role individual nations and international organizations have to play in maintaining maritime security.
The event was a continuation of the Kingdom’s contribution to promoting international peace and security, he added.
“It also aims to enhance the role of the RSNF in cooperation with marine environment authorities at the national level, and what naval forces of brotherly and friendly countries are doing to support regional and international efforts, ensure the safety of maritime traffic and contribute to sustaining the global economy,” Al-Ghufaili said.
Military specialists and experts from the fields of technology, industry and academia will take part in a series of workshops during the forum, which will also be attended by representatives from government ministries and organizations and international corporations.
The event will also provide a platform for companies from around the world to display their latest equipment, technologies and systems related to maritime security.