Lauding social reforms in Saudi Arabia, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio says Rome ready to support kingdom

Exclusive Lauding social reforms in Saudi Arabia, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio says Rome ready to support kingdom
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Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio. (AFP)
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Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio. (AFP)
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Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio. (AFP)
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Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio. (AFP)
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Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio. (AFP)
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Updated 26 June 2022

Lauding social reforms in Saudi Arabia, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio says Rome ready to support kingdom

Lauding social reforms in Saudi Arabia, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio says Rome ready to support kingdom
  • The two G20 members are committed to continue working in the ‘same spirit of cooperation and solidarity for strong sustainable and inclusive growth’
  • Di Maio to co-chair 12th session of Saudi-Italian Joint Commission with KSA Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan

ROME: Italy’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Luigi Di Maio has stressed the importance of consolidating his country’s historic relations with Saudi Arabia ahead of his visit to the Kingdom on Sunday.

Speaking exclusively to Arab News, he said both governments were fully aligned and shared common interests and strategic priorities that provided the foundations for an all-encompassing long-term relationship.

While in Riyadh, Di Maio will review several aspects of Saudi-Italian relations and ways to strengthen them, in addition to discussing regional and international issues of mutual concern.

He noted that Italy would be organizing celebratory events later this year to mark the 90th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two nations. Italy was one of the first countries to recognize the Kingdom’s status.




Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman (L) meeting with Italian FM Luigi Di Maio in RIyadh. (AFP file photo)

Di Maio said: “Italy was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the early 1930s and 2022 marks a very important anniversary in our longstanding friendship.”

On Monday, he will co-chair the 12th session of the Saudi-Italian Joint Commission with Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan, and also attend the Saudi-Italian Investment Forum, where institutions and enterprises from both countries will meet to develop further partnerships.

“Back then, Italy and Saudi Arabia decided to start a strategic dialogue, and my visit aims at consolidating our long-lasting relationship by exploring new areas of cooperation and partnership. The 12th session of the joint commission that I will chair on Monday with Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan will specifically focus on this goal.




Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan. (AFP)

“High-tech Italian companies attending the event could contribute to the Kingdom’s goals of a more diversified economy, especially in the fields of sustainability and energy transition,” he added.

Saudi-Italian relations have been driven toward more political, economic, and cultural development. They have their roots entrenched in sound cooperation, with Italy being one of the Kingdom’s main historical trading partners.

Similar to many nations with long-established Saudi links, Italy has a shared vision aimed at developing and maintaining friendship ties.

Di Maio praised the Saudi leadership for making “significant social developments, especially as far as women empowerment is concerned,” adding that his country was, “ready to provide all the support the Kingdom needs to implement its reforms further.”

The 35-year-old minister is considered one of the most prominent figures in the Italian political arena.

Last week, he established a parliamentary group called Together for the Future (IpF), a breakaway from the Five Star Movement, the populistic party founded by Italian comedian Beppe Grillo and where Di Maio began his political career. The new group will support the coalition government of Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

Di Maio pointed out that Italy and Saudi Arabia shared “deep historical ties,” and said he was “delighted” to be returning to the Kingdom following his last visit in January 2021, “when I also had the privilege to visit the magnificent AlUla site.”

He noted that Rome’s cooperation with Riyadh had “been growing throughout the years in all areas,” including political, cultural, scientific, and technological collaborations, and sectoral partnerships.




Italian FM Luigi Di Maio (R) receiving Saudi Arabian FM Prince Faisal bin Farhan in Rome in June 2021. (SPA file photo)

“We look forward to boosting further our cooperation in the fields of infrastructure, new technologies, smart economy, tourism, and green transition,” Di Maio added.

During 2021, bilateral trade between the two nations topped $8.6 billion, a 32.9 percent increase on 2020. Italy is Saudi Arabia’s seventh-largest supplier of goods, and the Kingdom ranks 21 in goods supplied to Italy. Saudi Arabia provides approximately 9 percent of Italy’s oil imports.

The Observatory of Economic Complexity, the world’s leading data visualization tool for international trade statistics, in 2020 showed Saudi exports of $3.18 billion to Italy, with the top products being crude oil worth $1.7 billion, refined oil at $931 million, and $97.9 million of ethylene polymers.

Over the last 25 years, Italian exports to Saudi Arabia have increased at an annualized rate of 3.31 percent, from $1.67 billion in 1995 to $3.77 billion in 2020.

Oil and gas supplies will be on the agenda during official meetings in the Kingdom as Italy, along with Germany, approved the opening of Russian ruble accounts earlier in May for companies to be able to continue buying Russian oil and gas without violating the letter of sanctions imposed by the EU on Russia.

Di Maio said: “There is always room for improvement though. We count on strengthening our cooperation in the oil as well as in the natural gas sectors.”

Italy agreed with its EU partners to cut Russian crude imports by 2023 — in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine — a move that Draghi called “a complete success.”

The Italian foreign minister added: “(Saudi Arabia is a) key partner for regional stability in the Middle East and the Gulf for Italy. Therefore, we deeply value our dialogue on the main regional files.

“We firmly believe that the broader Mediterranean is a region of opportunities, where fruitful synergies among people and economies can be established. We share this commitment with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and we stand ready to work together toward those common goals.”

As members of the G20, Saudi Arabia handed over the honorary gavel as a token of the G20 Presidency’s transition to Italy, which held the 2021 G20 presidency. And as fellow members of the G20 Troika, Di Maio highlighted the role of both nations’ commitment to continue working in the same spirit of cooperation and solidarity for strong sustainable and inclusive growth and help, “devise a coordinated response to global challenges.”

On the issue of cooperation, he said: “My participation these days in the joint commission and business forum proves once more our commitment to celebrating this anniversary by strengthening our cooperation in traditional and new sectors.

“Much remains to be achieved, but Italy is ready to provide all the support the Kingdom needs to further implement its reforms. In that spirit, I am confident that the Saudi-Italian Investment Business Forum that I will co-chair on June 27 will turn out as a success and will be a trigger to foster new industrial and trade partnerships.”


Crisis and disaster management center inaugurated in Najran

Crisis and disaster management center inaugurated in Najran
Updated 21 sec ago

Crisis and disaster management center inaugurated in Najran

Crisis and disaster management center inaugurated in Najran
  • Gov. Prince Jalawi bin Abdulaziz says opening reflects seriousness with which Kingdom takes safety of citizens, residents and visitors

RIYADH: Najran Governor Prince Jalawi bin Abdulaziz inaugurated on Tuesday a new crisis and disaster management center in Najran after approval from the Political and Security Affairs Council.

The aim is to establish centers in all regions of the Kingdom.

Prince Jalawi stressed that directives to establish new crisis centers reflect the keenness of the government to ensure the safety of citizens, residents and visitors during emergencies.

He also highlighted the importance of working as a unit to strengthen cooperation and integration between government, civil agencies and Saudi society.

The official spokesman of Najran region, Mohammed Al-Ahmadi, briefed the governor on the center’s vision for excellence in managing crises and disasters at the national level, and strengthening the security and stability of the region by raising preparedness levels.

The center is tasked with supervising, monitoring and managing all national resources to confront crises and disasters — depending on the capabilities of the region.

It is also tasked with establishing a solid base for documenting cooperation and integration among all concerned parties in the region efficiently and effectively, and involving the community with government and civil sectors in awareness and volunteer initiatives and programs.

The governor watched a mock crisis scenario — a simulated chemical leak at King Khalid Hospital in Najran and the new Najran General Hospital — and methods to deal with it through the center in coordination with the concerned authorities.

He then toured the center and was briefed on security and service operations by the region’s police director, Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Shammari, the director of civil defense in the region, Maj. Gen. Saad Al-Shahrani, the director general of health affairs in the region, Dr. Ibrahim Bani Hamim, the mayor, Saleh Al-Ghamdi, and the director of the Red Crescent Authority branch in the region, Mohammed Al-Faraj.


Saudi man hailed a “hero” after pulling drowning father and daughter from Austrian lake

Saudi man hailed a “hero” after pulling drowning father and daughter from Austrian lake
Updated 11 August 2022

Saudi man hailed a “hero” after pulling drowning father and daughter from Austrian lake

Saudi man hailed a “hero” after pulling drowning father and daughter from Austrian lake
  • Askar Al-Hajri was visiting Hallstatt with two of his colleagues when he saw young girl fall from a 5-meter-high fence into lake
  • Social media users praised the Saudi citizen as a hero

AUSTRIA, VIENNA: Meet Askar Al-Hajri, he’s a Saudi citizen who was holidaying in Austria, and he’s a hero.

Al-Hajri was visiting Hallstatt, a village in Austria, with two of his colleagues when he saw a young girl fall from a 5-meter-high fence into a lake.
Now the Saudi Embassy in Vienna has hailed him a “hero” for his courageous actions.


“The girl was sitting on the fence as her father snapped photos of her before she suddenly fell into the lake,” Al-Hajri told the Saudi news channel Al Ekhbariya.
Hearing wails and screams from the lake, Al-Hajri said he was first assured when he looked over and found that the father had jumped to his daughter’s rescue.
But Al-Hajri said the situation quickly worsened when both disappeared under the water.
“That’s when I had to take action and save them,” he said during the interview.
Al-Hajri jumped into the lake and with the help of his colleagues, he said he was able to get the girl and her father out of the water.
“I had the feelings of a father watching his daughter in the lake. I did not hesitate for one second to jump in the lake with the thought that we either live together or die together,” he explained.
A video, which appears to be shot by one of the three men, showed Al-Hajri and one of his colleagues in the lake as a group of passersby were comforting the young girl on ground. It widely circulated online with social media users praising Al-Hajri as “a hero.”

 


In a tweet, the Saudi embassy in Vienna acknowledged the Saudi citizen “for his brave act.”
“We offer our gratitude to this Saudi hero,” the embassy said.


KSrelief’s supervisor general meets Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw, pledges $10m aid

KSrelief’s supervisor general meets Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw, pledges $10m aid
Updated 11 August 2022

KSrelief’s supervisor general meets Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw, pledges $10m aid

KSrelief’s supervisor general meets Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw, pledges $10m aid

Abdullah Al Rabeeah, advisor to the Royal Court and supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief), met with Ukrainian refugees in Warsaw on Wednesday, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. 

During the visit Al Rabeeah said the charity would be providing $10 million in emergency health and shelter funds. 

This came during his visit to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Cash Enrolment Centre in Warsaw. 

The KSrelief Supervisor General was briefed on the Cash Enrolment Centre work mechanism and the services provided to meet the urgent material needs of Ukrainian refugees. 

He also praised the efforts of UNHCR in supporting and alleviating the suffering of refugees and internally displaced people.


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.