Saudi Heritage Commission launches partnership with Noon.com

Saudi Heritage Commission launches partnership with Noon.com
The Mahali program embodies Noon’s goal of empowering local talent through building a strong e-commerce platform. (Source: Noon.com)
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Updated 30 June 2022

Saudi Heritage Commission launches partnership with Noon.com

Saudi Heritage Commission launches partnership with Noon.com
  • Local artisans will be able access to a larger consumer audience through the Noon Mahali program

RIYADH: The Heritage Commission on Thursday signed a cooperation agreement with Noon, an online shopping platform, to empower local businesses in Saudi Arabia, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

A ceremony was held at the Commission's headquarters to commemorate this partnership, which was attended by Heritage Commission CEO Dr. Jasir Suleiman Alherbish and General Manager of Noon KSA, Ahmed Abdel Qader Gadouri.

Under this agreement, Saudi artisans will be able to sell craft products and cultural heritage content online, gaining access to a larger audience through Noon's Mahali program.

The program also aims to assist local entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized businesses improve their product quality.

Dr. Alherbish thanked Noon for its cooperation, emphasizing the significant benefits gained through the agreement.

He also made note of the Commission's numerous initiatives to develop the handicraft sector, such as training programs and providing a consumer audience through outlets, exhibitions, events, and festivals.

"Our collaboration with the Heritage Commission demonstrates our ongoing commitment to assisting entrepreneurs and small businesses. The Mahali program helps local talent grow their businesses by providing them with the tools and services they need to reach a larger segment of customers in the region." Gadouri said.

The Noon Mahali program exemplifies the company's founding goal of empowering local talent through the development of a strong e-commerce platform.

The agreement is part of the Heritage Commission's broader efforts to strengthen partnerships with the public and private sectors as part of the Kingdom's cultural sector development.


Saudi-US military exercise ‘Native Fury 22’ continues in the Kingdom

Saudi-US military exercise ‘Native Fury 22’ continues in the Kingdom
Updated 18 August 2022

Saudi-US military exercise ‘Native Fury 22’ continues in the Kingdom

Saudi-US military exercise ‘Native Fury 22’ continues in the Kingdom
  • The exercise, involving the Royal Saudi Armed Forces and the US Marine Corps, began several days ago in the western city of Yanbu
  • It includes a number of scenarios and drills focusing on mobilization, deployment and logistics operations

RIYADH: Native Fury 22, a military exercise in the Kingdom involving the Royal Saudi Armed Forces and the US Marine Corps that began several days ago in the western city of Yanbu, continued on Wednesday, the Saudi Ministry of Defense said.

It includes a number of scenarios and drills focusing on mobilization, deployment and logistics operations. It also includes communications, field medicine, a life-saving combat exercise, shooting with live ammunition, and supply and evacuation operations.

The exercise is hosted by the Kingdom with the participation and support of several ministries and other official organizations. The aim is to give personnel an opportunity to practice and train in the implementation of bilateral military, operational and logistical plans; strengthen Saudi and American military coordination and partnership; improve joint-working capabilities; and gain experience in the use of the Kingdom’s military bases and road networks, the ministry said.

“It also aims to train in the integrated government work to implement mixed military exercises,” it added.

Native Fury 22 is one of several military exercises conducted by the Saudi Armed Forces throughout the year with allies to raise levels of combat efficiency, gain field experience, and work on standardizing military concepts and terminology among the participants.


INTERVIEW: Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan have ‘similar clear visions for progress,’ Uzbek Deputy FM Furqat Sidiqov tells Arab News

INTERVIEW: Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan have ‘similar clear visions for progress,’ Uzbek Deputy FM Furqat Sidiqov tells Arab News
Updated 18 August 2022

INTERVIEW: Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan have ‘similar clear visions for progress,’ Uzbek Deputy FM Furqat Sidiqov tells Arab News

INTERVIEW: Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan have ‘similar clear visions for progress,’ Uzbek Deputy FM Furqat Sidiqov tells Arab News
  • Saudi Vision 2030 plan and ‘New Uzbekistan’ road map have many similarities, says Furqat Sidiqov
  • Sidiqov spoke to Arab News in Jeddah ahead of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s state visit to Saudi Arabia 

JEDDAH: There are striking parallels between Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 reforms agenda and the Uzbek government’s bold transformation plan, New Uzbekistan, according to Furqat Sidiqov, the Uzbek deputy foreign minister.

Speaking a day before the arrival on Wednesday of Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev in the Kingdom for a state visit — the first by a leader of the country since Islam Karimov’s visit in 1992 — he said that these shared visions augur well for the future of bilateral trade and cooperation.

“Saudi Arabia has the capabilities to achieve its Vision 2030 goals,” Sidiqov told Arab News ahead of Wednesday’s meeting of the Saudi-Uzbek Business Council, hosted by the Uzbek consulate in Jeddah.

Uzbek Deputy Foreign Minister Furqat Sidiqov being interviewed by Arab News' Rawan Radwan in Jeddah. (Photo by Sultan Baajajah)
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He added that the reforms and road maps the two nations have developed are similar, representing clear visions for progress, as are the young and dynamic populations of the countries.

“Both nations are working closely and moving forward in joint cooperation within the framework of our strategies,” Sidiqov said. “We are closely following the Kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030 strategy and we support its bid for Expo 2030.”

Over the past five years, he explained, Uzbekistan has implemented a domestic development strategy aimed at easing its transition to a market economy, which has offered fertile ground for the growth of small- and medium-sized enterprises and a more diversified economy.

An Uzbek chef prepares plov — a dish known around the world as pilaf — at a small cafe in Tashkent.  Eager to diversify its sources of revenue, the country has opened up to foreign investment in agriculture, food security, energy, information technology and other sectors. (AFP)

He said the strategy echoes that of Saudi Vision 2030, which has opened up the Kingdom’s economy to capitalize on new sectors beyond hydrocarbons and actively encourages entrepreneurism, along with the development of technical skills and creativity among its young population.

For decades, Uzbekistan relied heavily on just a handful of staple exports, including cotton, gold, oil and gas. Eager to diversify its sources of revenue, the country has opened up to foreign investment in agriculture, food security, energy, information technology and other sectors.

On Wednesday, in keeping with their complementary visions, Uzbekistan and the Kingdom signed more than 10 investment agreements worth SR45 billion ($12 billion).

The Saudi and Uzbek delegations signed a number of agreements between private sector institutions in the two countries on Aug. 17, 2022, in Jeddah.  
(Photo by Sultan Baajajah)

Among them was a 25-year deal, worth $2.4 billion, for Saudi utility developer ACWA Power to build a 1,500-megawatt wind-power project in Uzbekistan, to help the country achieve its goal of sourcing 40 percent of its electricity needs from renewable sources by 2031.

Uzbek officials said that in recent years, Saudi investments in various sectors of the Uzbek economy have increased significantly. There are now 38 joint ventures, 20 of which involve direct Saudi investors. Still, Sidiqov said, there is the potential for even closer business cooperation, particularly in food processing and distribution.

“The numbers don’t reflect the capabilities of the two countries,” he said. “We’re working with the Kingdom to raise the number of joint ventures. 

A woman works at a cotton plantation near Tashkent. Uzbekistan is diversifying its sources of revenue and has opened up to foreign investment in agriculture and other sectors. (AFP)

“Agriculture plays an important role in Uzbekistan’s economic development and we’re one of the top nations in food production, food security and we have the capabilities to export food products, organic fruits and vegetables to the Kingdom.

“The plan is to have the Kingdom become a midway station for food processing and packaging, to ready them for export to other countries.”

Opinion

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Although they do not share a border, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan have been linked by religion, knowledge and culture for hundreds of years. Among the historical figures who traveled and studied across the Arab and Muslim worlds are four who hailed from places that are part of modern-day Uzbekistan: physician Ibn Sina, mathematician Muhammad ibn Musa Al-Khwarizmi, and Islamic scholars Imam Al-Bukhari and Imam Al-Tirmidhi.

Among Uzbekistan tourism attractions is the historic architecture of Itchan Kala, a walled inner town of the city of Khiva, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Shutterstock)

The exchange of ideas and cultures continues in the modern era thanks to the expansion of air travel between Uzbekistan and Arab countries, notably Saudi Arabia, and more flexible visa rules.

“To further boost the exchange of cultures, direct flights will begin in October, via Flynas and Uzbekistan Airways, and Saudis will be exempt from entry visas for a 30-day stay,” said Sidiqov.

A view of Uzbekistan's Islam Karimov Tashkent International Airport. (Shutterstock photo)

Present-day Saudi-Uzbek cooperation extends far beyond trade and cultural exchange into the diplomatic sphere, guided by shared interests in security and humanitarian efforts across the wider region.

In the year since the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan following the US military withdrawal from the country, regional powers such as Uzbekistan have sought to engage with the new government in Kabul to assist the Afghan people in their time of hardship.

“The humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is among the highest priorities and our government has set up various initiatives and programs to support Afghanistan,” said Sidiqov.

“In the spirit of neighborly solidarity, we ensured that our relationship is of continued support. By working closely with the government, we want not only to provide humanitarian assistance, but also help them provide job opportunities to their youth and to be a gateway for Central and South Asia.”

An Afghan businessman works on his aluminum cauldron workshop near Uzbekistan's southern city of Termez. Uzbekistan is playing a key role in helping deal with Afghanistan's humanitarian crisis. (AFP)

He added that in the southern Uzbek city of Termez, for example, the government has established centers to help young Afghans receive an education and develop their skills to prepare them for the job market.

“We’re working to help reconstruction programs and developing its economy to help turn it into a country of opportunities,” said Sidiqov. “Our allies are helping us and supporting us in this endeavor.”

Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the Saudi minister of foreign affairs, took part in an international conference titled Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivity. Challenges and Opportunities in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, in July last year.

Saudi Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih leading a delegation on an official visit to Uzbekistan in 2021. (Reuters file photo)

In July this year, a Saudi delegation also attended the international Afghanistan: Security and Economic Development conference, also in Tashkent, during which the Kingdom reaffirmed its commitment to the promotion of regional cooperation.

In June, Saudi Arabia announced a $30 million grant to support the Afghanistan Humanitarian Trust Fund, which operates under the umbrella of the Islamic Development Bank in coordination with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, of which both the Kingdom and Uzbekistan are members.

“As a neighbor to Afghanistan, our main aim is to provide safe passage of aid to those in need in Afghanistan,” said Sidiqov.

“We are working closely with the Afghan government to develop a food-security road map and to provide youth job opportunities. We serve as a broker between the world and the Taliban, and as ‘the voice of Central Asia’ we have encouraged the Afghan government to commit to their promises.”

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Saudi crown prince receives Uzbek president in Jeddah

Saudi crown prince receives Uzbek president in Jeddah
Updated 18 August 2022

Saudi crown prince receives Uzbek president in Jeddah

Saudi crown prince receives Uzbek president in Jeddah
  • The crown prince and Uzbek president then attended the exchange of various agreements between the two countries
  • The two nations inked a number a deals worth over SR45 billion ($12 billion) on Wednesday

RIYADH: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev in Jeddah on Wednesday.

The pair held a meeting and discussed bilateral relations and cooperation in various fields, in addition to reviewing a number of issues of common interest, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The crown prince and Uzbek president then attended the exchange of various agreements between the two countries.

(SPA)

The two nations inked a number a deals worth over SR45 billion ($12 billion) on Wednesday, including a wind project in Uzbekistan by ACWA Power.“We want to make this relationship one of the most important for Saudi Arabia.

We are here to facilitate. We are here to serve,” said Saudi Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih.

(SPA)

The agreements cover a range of investment sectors, including air transport services, livestock, agriculture, sports, education, science, media, energy and technology.

They aim to explore investment opportunities, advance the partnership between the Saudi and Uzbek private sectors, encourage and enhance mutual investments in a number of target sectors.

Senior officials from both sides attended the meeting.


Who’s Who: Wael Al-Hazzani, CEO of  the Saudi Securities Clearing House

Who’s Who: Wael Al-Hazzani, CEO of  the Saudi Securities Clearing House
Updated 18 August 2022

Who’s Who: Wael Al-Hazzani, CEO of  the Saudi Securities Clearing House

Who’s Who: Wael Al-Hazzani, CEO of  the Saudi Securities Clearing House

Wael Al-Hazzani has been CEO of  the Saudi Securities Clearing House (Muqassa) since its establishment in 2018.

He has led the company in its drive to reduce counterparty risk, improve market efficiency and enable the introduction of new products and services.

Muqassa performs a critical role in the Saudi capital market’s development as one of Saudi Tadawul Group’s subsidiaries. It is the only authorized entity that can act as a central counterparty clearing center in the Kingdom.

The establishmnet of Muqassa was one of the critical initiatives of the Financial Sector Development Program and is reflective of the group’s commitment to Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

Al-Hazzani has a breadth of knowledge about capital markets and risk management. Before he was appointed CEO of Muqassa, he held leading positions within the Saudi Tadawul Group across post-trade and risk-management specialties.

Al-Hazzani also holds three other positions, including as a member of the board of directors at the security depository center company (Edaa) since 2018, at Tadawul Advanced Solution Company (WAMID) since August 2020, and at the Saudi Exchange since April 2021.

In April 2022, Al-Hazzani successfully led the implementation of post-trade transformation on the Saudi capital market and introduced the largest bundle of enhancement in the history of the market.

The upgrades aim to strengthen post-trade infrastructure and increase efficiency by providing a more streamlined trading experience, supporting market participants to develop a wide range of products and services.

He also facilitated the first launch of the Repurchase Agreement clearing service, enabling Saudi financial entities to provide this service without contracting an international counterpart.

Al-Hazzani holds a master of business administration, which he gained in 2015, and a bachelor’s degree in computer science from King Saud University in Riyadh.

He has participated in many executive leadership and development programs at Harvard, INSEAD, and IMD Business Schools.


Saudi authorities urge caution amid thunderstorm warning until Sunday

Saudi authorities urge caution amid thunderstorm warning until Sunday
Updated 18 August 2022

Saudi authorities urge caution amid thunderstorm warning until Sunday

Saudi authorities urge caution amid thunderstorm warning until Sunday

RIYADH: Authorities in Saudi Arabia have urged the public to show caution after storm warnings were issued for areas of the Kingdom until Sunday.

The Civil Defense said that moderate to heavy rain is forecast for the Asir, Al-Baha, Najran, Jazan, Makkah, Madinah, Hail and Tabuk regions.

Parts of the capital Riyadh, Qassim and the Eastern Province may be affected by moderate rainfall, with a chance of heavier falls, it added in a statement.

The Civil Defense urged people to stay away from dams and places where torrents gather and follow the authority’s safety advice issued through various media and social networking sites.