Biden’s team realized Saudi relationship was too big to fail, Politico columnist tells Arab News 

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Updated 24 June 2022

Biden’s team realized Saudi relationship was too big to fail, Politico columnist tells Arab News 

Biden’s team realized Saudi relationship was too big to fail, Politico columnist tells Arab News 
  • US needs Kingdom on several fronts, President never intended to treat Riyadh as pariah, says Elise Labott
  • Biden will meet Saudi king and crown prince for talks on addressing joint issues: Saudi embassy spokesman

CHICAGO: US President Joe Biden publicly denounced Saudi Arabia as a “pariah” while privately sending back-channel emissaries to try to restore the relationship between the two allies, an influential analyst has told Arab News.

Elise Labott, the former global affairs correspondent with the broadcaster CNN who is now a columnist with Politico magazine, had access to highly placed US and Saudi sources — both on and off the record — for an article published recently in the magazine.

Speaking on “The Ray Hanania Show,” which is produced by Arab News and broadcast weekly on the US Arab Radio network, she said: “Let’s be honest, I don’t think that President Biden ever really intended to treat Saudi Arabia as a pariah when he came to office and make that his policy, but the politics kind of got in the way and they were trying to move forward on the policy, but in secret because of the politics. After a while, the Saudis did want to repair the relationship. So, they did a lot of what the US asked them to do.

“But finally, they were just like, all right, in or out? There have been a series of visits over the course of the last year or so. National security adviser Jake Sullivan went out there. CIA director Bill Burns went out there.”

Labott said there was a recognition in the White House that “there are problems in the relationship … on the wider human rights front, but then whether it's security, or economically or in the region, the Saudis are a valuable partner and the US does need to reset the relationship.”

Other issues encouraged a recalibration, including the Russian invasion of Ukraine and soaring fuel prices in the US, Labott said.

“I think that when President Biden was on the campaign trail as a candidate he promised, of course, to treat Saudi Arabia as a pariah state, make them pay the price, and for a while they were pretty standoffish, but I think as time wore on, and certainly the war in Ukraine was really a catalyst for this, the US saw that the relationship with Saudi Arabia was too big to fail. And so, you had rising gas prices. You had the war inUkraine. You had a whole host of things where the US would look to that solid partner over the years, Saudi Arabia — this is a 75-year-old relationship.

“And because the Saudis, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in particular, were being kind of ostracized, finally they had had enough. Even though President Biden was saying this in public, in private he was sending emissaries to Saudi Arabia to say look, we want to reset the relationship. We want to move forward.

“And kind of in secret almost, there was this back-channel diplomacy going on for the last year or so in which the two sides were trying to make progress on a whole host of issues.”

Labott said Saudi influence on the global price of oil amid US domestic anger over the cost of fuel at the pumps was a driver of White House thinking — but far from the only one. “Well, a lot of people are reducing it to the oil and the Saudis are the biggest swing producer,” she said.

“The US is looking to them to stabilize markets, everyone is going to fill their car with gas at the pump, its over $5 and some places it’s $7, so the initial thought is can we get the Saudis to increase oil production so that will ease the pain?

“I think that the Saudis ultimately are playing hard to get, with the US having agreed to some oil production, I don’t think that’s going to make much of a difference for the US economy in the long run, that’s what experts say.

“I think if it is anything from stabilizing some of the economies in the region like Lebanon, for instance, or playing a mediator in Iraq or reaching out to Iran. Normalization with Israel. And then there is, you know, Saudi Arabia is on the Red Sea and there is a whole keeping trade lanes open in the Red Sea and mediating with Africa.

“If you look across the globe, most major foreign policy issues particularly in that part of the world, Saudi Arabia is the ‘gorilla in the room,’ and you can’t really get anything done if you don’t have them on the inside.”

Washington had functional relationships with many states without agreeing with them on every issue, Labott said, and it was important for the US to realize that it could not bend a country to its will. “Whether it’s in the UAE or Saudi or Bahrain or these Gulf states, they’re monarchies they’re not democracies, but if you ask the people by and large there’s not a lot of dissent … if you ask the Saudis whether they approve of Mohammed bin Salman, if you held an election, I think he’d win hands down. I think it’s recognizing these leaders as imperfect as they are and trying to find a way to move forward instead of trying to bend them to our will.”

As for what the US expected of Saudi Arabia, Labott said: “I think it’s just showing that leadership in the region that the US is looking for and that could be anything from standing on the right side of democracy against the war in Ukraine.

“We have one goal right now and that’s to beat Putin, and we need the Saudis to help us do that, so that means not doing anything with the oil market that will embolden President Putin … maybe not supporting sanctions in the way the US wants them to, but don’t do anything that will help President Putin, and I think if the Saudis want to be that leader, that’s what the US is looking for them to do.”
The radio show also featured an interview with Fahad Nazer, spokesman for the Saudi Embassy in Washington, who said that contrary to the views of some pundits there was a genuine appreciation in Washington of the important role played by Saudi Arabia and the significance of the relationship with the US. Biden’s decision to visit Saudi Arabia next month as part of his first Middle East trip was evidence of that, Nazer said.

“This dialogue goes a long way but I think there is an appreciation in Washington, as far as I can tell among congressional leaders and in the administration, that Saudi Arabia plays a very important role globally … in stabilizing international energy markets,” he said.
“We play an important role in helping bring stability and helping resolve some of the political crises in the region including the Yemen war … and we have played the leading role over the years in pushing back onmilitant non-state actors like Daesh, Al-Qaeda, the Houthis, Hezbollah and others. So, I think there is an appreciation for that very constructive role that the Kingdom plays.”

Nazer confirmed that Biden would hold separate meetings during his visit with King Salman and the crown prince, with a wide range of issues on the agenda. “The two leaders will discuss bilateral cooperation and joint efforts to address regional and global challenges including some of the newer challenges that the international community faces including cyber security, climate change, and environmental initiatives,” he said.

“At the same time the Kingdom is hosting a summit that will include the leaders of the GCC countries as well as the leaders of Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, and obviously President Biden will be attending that as well.”

Arab countries remained critically important role players in these discussions with “our most important strategic ally in the world,” Nazer said.

The Ray Hanania Show is broadcast live every Wednesday at 5 p.m. Eastern EST on WNZK AM 690 radio in Greater Detroit including parts of Ohio, and WDMV AM 700 radio in Washington DC including parts of Virginia and Maryland. The show is rebroadcast on Thursdays at 7 a.m. in Detroit on WNZK AM 690 and in Chicago at 12 noon on WNWI AM 1080.

You can listen to the radio show podcast here: www.arabnews.com/RayRadioShow


Saudi industry minister meets UK mining companies, investors

Saudi industry minister meets UK mining companies, investors
Updated 25 June 2022

Saudi industry minister meets UK mining companies, investors

Saudi industry minister meets UK mining companies, investors
  • Bandar Ibrahim Alkhorayef on official visit to Britain to highlight opportunities
  • Kingdom’s mineral wealth estimated at $1.3 trillion, including phosphates, gold, copper, zinc

LONDON: The Saudi Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Ibrahim Alkhorayef has held a meeting with mining companies and investors in Britain, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

He highlighted investment opportunities in the Kingdom’s mining and industrial sectors during his official visit to the UK, which was organized by his ministry under the theme “Invest in Saudi Arabia.”

Alkhorayef and his team reviewed the most important elements that attract exploration and mining in the Kingdom. Several British mining companies outlined their successes in investing in Saudi Arabia. 

The ministry detailed the huge potential and strong infrastructure that make the Kingdom one of the best investment environments in the global mining sector.

The ministry’s delegation also invited attendees to the international mining conference that Saudi Arabia holds annually in Riyadh.

Throughout his visit, Alkhorayef stressed the Kingdom’s great interest in enhancing investments as it aims to exploit mineral wealth estimated at $1.3 trillion.

This sum includes stores of phosphates that are valued at $321 billion, gold at $229 billion, copper at $222 billion and zinc at $138 billion.


Hajj pilgrims praise receiving ‘finest services’ at Saudi Arabia’s Halat Ammar crossing

Hajj pilgrims praise receiving ‘finest services’ at Saudi Arabia’s Halat Ammar crossing
Updated 25 June 2022

Hajj pilgrims praise receiving ‘finest services’ at Saudi Arabia’s Halat Ammar crossing

Hajj pilgrims praise receiving ‘finest services’ at Saudi Arabia’s Halat Ammar crossing
  • Pilgrims expressed their appreciation for the great efforts made by hosts Saudi Arabia to make their pilgrimage safe, comfortable and meaningful

JEDDAH: Officials at the Halat Ammar border crossing are continuing their efforts to welcome pilgrims from abroad through an integrated system of services provided by civil, military, and government agencies.

The services aim to better help pilgrims and improve the quality of services provided by the Saudi government, from the moment pilgrims arrive in the Kingdom, on their way to the holy sites, and until they return to their home countries.

Under the direct supervision and follow-up of Tabuk Gov. Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, the region’s Hajj work committee at Halat Ammar’s Pilgrims’ City also provides medical services and religious awareness programs.

Pilgrims expressed their satisfaction with the services provided, saying that King Salman had spared no effort to help his Muslim brothers and sisters wherever they were.

Palestinian pilgrim Widad Ibrahim expressed her great pleasure in being among this year’s pilgrims. She also thanked the Saudi authorities for the services they were providing.

“The pilgrims are receiving the finest services, and for that, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation for the services and hospitality we found. In fact, they reflect the Saudi government and people's interest in serving the guests of Allah who come from all corners of the world to perform their Hajj rituals,” Ibrahim said.

Pilgrims also expressed their appreciation for the great efforts made by Saudi Arabia in utilizing its capabilities and services to aid pilgrims coming through the Halat Ammar border point so they could perform their rituals in an atmosphere of security, safety, comfort, stability, and tranquillity.

Another Palestinian, Wael Al-Humaidat, said he was happy for the opportunity to perform his first Hajj. He commented on the excellent services provided by the Saudi government and the warm welcome pilgrims had received.

Al-Humaidat prayed for Saudi Arabia and its people to be protected from evil. He also called for Allah to perpetuate his blessings of security and safety upon Saudi Arabia.

 

 


Boulevard Riyadh’s mixed bag of summer activities to keep enthusiasts busy

For adrenaline junkies, Doos Karting is the perfect place for you to show off your driving skills
For adrenaline junkies, Doos Karting is the perfect place for you to show off your driving skills
Updated 25 June 2022

Boulevard Riyadh’s mixed bag of summer activities to keep enthusiasts busy

For adrenaline junkies, Doos Karting is the perfect place for you to show off your driving skills
  • Karting, online gaming, rock climbing and arts all available
  • Wide array of restaurants, areas to relax and enjoy karaoke

RIYADH: Now that summer has arrived and the school year ended, Boulevard Riyadh City is the place to be with activities for everyone. It’s best to go early because entry is free and the place will be packed.

Doos Karting

For adrenaline junkies, Doos Karting is the perfect place for you to show off your driving skills and win podiums against family and friends.

The pre-Formula 1 stage race lasts anywhere between five and eight laps on two tracks. The first is 435 meters and has three challenging turns. The second is more streamlined, at 465 meters, with only two turns.

You can have a great time and experience an adrenaline rush while traveling at a top speed of 80 km/h.

Up to 10 karters can race concurrently on the multi-level tracks.

Takenda

Avoid the summer heat and enjoy a fantastic fun day in Takenda, the Middle East’s most prominent technology entertainment destination.

Takenda connects to a lounge where people can sit, relax, and enjoy a beverage while taking in the scenery of the boulevard.

You can also have a karaoke night with friends, throw a party with a stage and projector, enjoy a mascot show, and have three hours of VIP parking.

Takenda has over 60,000 games suitable for all ages, whether you are five or 50.

Visitors can play classic ones like bumper cars, arcade, table hockey, novelty, and virtual reality in a modern setting.

Adventure Park

If you like physical activities, the indoor adventure park is for you.

The place allows you to scale 10 different walls inspired by real locations in the Kingdom, including the mountains of Tuwaiq, Shammar, Hijaz, Al-Lawz, Faisal’s Finger, Al-Qara and Souda. There are also other walls mimicking climbing areas in Wadi Lajab, Harrat Rahat and Ain Heet Cave.

Children can also play in the monkey cage or on trampolines.

In the future, the company will open halls in Baha and other regions of Saudi Arabia.

Upark

If you are interested in skateboarding, Upark’s facilities will allow you to enjoy yourself thoroughly.

For beginners, training is provided for one-hour sessions.

Avalanche

Let’s not forget the world’s tallest fun slide in the Avalanche attraction for those daring enough. In the same area, a special section has been set up for those wanting to paint, draw or make pottery.

Up to 10 karters can race simultaneously on the multi-level tracks. (Supplied)

 


Bahrain to be first to connect with Saudi Arabia’s Seha Virtual Hospital

Saudi Health Minister Fahad Al-Jalajel meets his Bahraini counterpart Dr. Jalila Al-Sayed in Riyadh. (SPA)
Saudi Health Minister Fahad Al-Jalajel meets his Bahraini counterpart Dr. Jalila Al-Sayed in Riyadh. (SPA)
Updated 25 June 2022

Bahrain to be first to connect with Saudi Arabia’s Seha Virtual Hospital

Saudi Health Minister Fahad Al-Jalajel meets his Bahraini counterpart Dr. Jalila Al-Sayed in Riyadh. (SPA)
  • Saudi, Bahraini ministers discuss deal to join digital network

RIYADH: Bahrain is set to become the first country to sign up with Saudi Arabia’s Seha Virtual Hospital, the largest network of its kind in the world.

Saudi Health Minister Fahad Al-Jalajel recently met his Bahraini counterpart Dr. Jalila Al-Sayed, who is on a visit to the Kingdom, for talks on an agreement that will link Bahrain with the virtual hospital.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The ministers discussed strengthening cooperation between the two countries in a range of health fields, such as medical research, emerging diseases and monitoring post- vaccine complications.

• The two sides also reviewed joint efforts in the field of health insurance, as well as the mobile health care experience in Bahrain.

The hospital was launched in February this year as part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to digitalize its healthcare sector.

Al-Jalajel outlined the functions of the Seha Virtual Hospital and its command and control center, and welcomed the prospect of Bahrain becoming the first country to be linked with the facility.

The ministers also discussed strengthening cooperation between the two countries in a range of health fields, such as medical research, emerging diseases and monitoring post-vaccine complications.

Al-Sayed highlighted the importance of cooperation in the fields of genetic diseases and genes, telemedicine and clinical trials.

The two sides also reviewed joint efforts in the field of health insurance, as well as the mobile health care experience in Bahrain.

Later, the Bahraini minister toured the Seha Virtual Hospital and was given a detailed explanation of the facility’s services. She also visited the command and control center.

With a growing live network of 130 connected hospitals, Seha Virtual Hospital is the largest of its kind in the world. The only other virtual hospital to rival it is in the US, with 43 connected hospitals.

Patients of the virtual hospital will no longer need to travel to different parts of the Kingdom to be seen by specialized physicians, nor will they be limited by 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. clinic hours.

Earlier, an official told Arab News that patients can now receive second and third medical opinions from the same consulting room.

Unlike simple video calls with doctors, the virtual hospital allows patients to visit their local hospital and attend a real-time live video clinical session with top specialists from across the Kingdom. During the session, vitals signs can be shared, while tests and X-rays can also be taken and shared with the network of specialists.

Emergency interventions can be provided round the clock, and real-time consultations with top specialists will guide local junior staff in dealing with complex cases.

Seha Virtual Hospital covers 12 main specialties and more than 35 subspecialties, including hospital-at-home follow-ups, where chronically ill patients, from the comfort of their homes, can stay connected with doctors.

 


Classic diners serve up a ‘blast from the past’ on Jeddah Season’s City Walk

Burger Circus and cake shop Butter will stay throughout Jeddah Season. (Supplied)
Burger Circus and cake shop Butter will stay throughout Jeddah Season. (Supplied)
Updated 24 June 2022

Classic diners serve up a ‘blast from the past’ on Jeddah Season’s City Walk

Burger Circus and cake shop Butter will stay throughout Jeddah Season. (Supplied)
  • In an American diner, Leung said, the menu offers a wide range of choices for breakfast, lunch or dinner. “We just wanted to focus on just two burgers, but in an American diner theme”

JEDDAH: Two classic 1950s-themed diner options from Hong Kong have made their way to Jeddah Season’s grand theme park, City Walk.

With vintage music in the background, staff in “soda jerk” uniforms, and a one-page menu of burgers, fries and shakes, Burger Circus offers visitors a “blast from the past” experience.

Burger Circus and cake shop Butter arrived on May 5 and will stay throughout the two months of the Jeddah Season.

Both outlets belong to Black Sheep, a Chinese company with about 35 restaurants in Hong Kong and one in Shanghai.

Jonathan Leung, operations director of Black Sheep, explained the concept behind both outlets, adding that it is “an honor” to be operating in Jeddah.

HIGHLIGHT

‘Burger Circus is a 1950s American diner. One of the co-founders of Black Sheep, Christopher Mark, grew up in Toronto, Canada, and his family used to own diners, so he spent a lot of time and growing up at a diner,’ said Jonathan Leung, operations director of Black Sheep.

“Burger Circus is a 1950s American diner. One of the co-founders of Black Sheep, Christopher Mark, grew up in Toronto, Canada, and his family used to own diners, so he spent a lot of time and growing up at a diner,” he said.

“So it’s a little bit of nostalgic childhood memories. He has always wanted to open a diner.”

In an American diner, Leung said, the menu offers a wide range of choices for breakfast, lunch or dinner. “We just wanted to focus on just two burgers, but in an American diner theme,” he said.

Burger Circus also offers two side orders, two milkshakes (vanilla and chocolate) and two drinks on its menu.

“We want to bring good food and good stories to Jeddah; we just want to do that,” he said.

“People in Jeddah or in Saudi Arabia are open minded to try new things. There’s room for everything here, we love it here,” he added.

Talking about Butter, Leung said the background story is about a single mother with two children, who works very hard at a diner to make ends meet.

“She’s strong and generous, but she’s also very sassy. That’s Butter,” he said.

“Burger Circus and Butter go hand in hand and go very well together, it sort of came from the same era; diners prefer classic American cake,” he added.

Luke Barry, culinary director for Leylaty Group, worked with Black Sheep in Hong Kong for six years.

“I’ve always loved Black Sheep restaurants. We have a very good relationship, so I thought Jeddah Season is a good opportunity to bring them here,” he said.

“They have 30 to 35 restaurants, niche burger restaurants that are very strong and conceptualized, and Saudi Arabia has a lot of room for what they do. They have amazing restaurants, from casual to premium to Michelin star,” he added.

Barry said that they tried to replicate Hong Kong’s Burger Circus in Jeddah as much as possible.

“We spent 16 hours painting a wall (that is identical to the branch in Hong Kong), the exact posters that you find in Hong Kong, and the uniform is almost exactly the same,” said Barry.

“It was very important to us to use the exact same playlist, to bring Hong Kong’s Burger Circus here,” he added.