Saudi art forum to showcase works from 23 countries

(Twitter @TheSASCA)
(Twitter @TheSASCA)
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Updated 18 July 2022

Saudi art forum to showcase works from 23 countries

(Twitter @TheSASCA)
  • The forum’s events will include lectures and seminars on video art, the movement associated with it globally, and the most prominent achievements of this modern art in the region

DAMMAM: The fourth edition of the International Video Art Forum, organized by the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts in Dammam, will kick off on Tuesday.

Twenty-three countries are exhibiting 49 artworks at the society’s headquarters under the concept “Contemplate Light ... Move Towards Imagination.”

The five-day forum provides a visual review of video arts and contemporary artistic and visual perception.

Yousef Al-Harbi, the society’s director, said this year’s exhibition received 128 applications from 34 countries.

After screening, the committee — which included artists, critics, and specialists in this field — selected 49 works from 23 countries.

The forum’s events will include lectures and seminars on video art, the movement associated with it globally, and the most prominent achievements of this modern art in the region. There will also be a book launch.

The society established a training institute in 2018 to promote culture and arts. The “Institute of Culture and Arts for Training” or “Thaqqif ” is aimed at creating an environment conducive to the advancement of culture and arts in the Kingdom.

Saudi Armed Forces, GCC, US troops conclude military exercises

Saudi Armed Forces, GCC, US troops conclude military exercises
Updated 12 sec ago

Saudi Armed Forces, GCC, US troops conclude military exercises

Saudi Armed Forces, GCC, US troops conclude military exercises
  • ‘Eagle Resolve 23’ drill held to raise combat readiness
  • 8-month project included air, sea, land, cyber operations

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Armed Forces have concluded military exercises with GCC countries and the US, the Kingdom’s Defense Ministry announced on Thursday.

The “Eagle Resolve 23” drill, which was launched at the Air Warfare Center in the Eastern Province, aimed to raise combat efficiency, achieve operational readiness, and exchange expertise on planning and implementation at all levels.

It was held to demonstrate the depth of strategic and military relations with the GCC countries and the US, the ministry said in a statement.

Over the course of two weeks, the countries participated in various exercises including air and missile combat with live ammunition, defensive counter-air operations, air-to-air refueling, surface-to-naval warfare, electronic warfare, naval incursions, defense against weapons of mass destruction and handling mass casualties.

The closing ceremony was attended by Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Fayyad Al-Ruwaili, the chiefs of staff of the participating countries, Commander of the Saudi Air Force Lt. Gen. Turki bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz, and a number of senior officers of the Saudi Armed Forces.

Maj. Gen. Fahad bin Hamad Al-Salman, the exercise director, said the drill and its various scenarios took place over more than eight months, during which several conferences and seminars were held in the Kingdom and the US.

The chiefs of staff were briefed on the working groups involved, and attended a “Senior Leaders” symposium, during which issues of common interest were discussed.

As part of the symposium’s activities, the Commander of the Naval Forces at the US Central Command Lt. Gen. Brad Cooper, gave a lecture entitled “Partnerships and Innovation,” while the Saudi side presented two lectures entitled “Air Defense in Joint Operations” and “Information Operations.”

Solomon Islands PM discusses climate change with Saudi envoy

Solomon Islands PM discusses climate change with Saudi envoy
Updated 09 June 2023

Solomon Islands PM discusses climate change with Saudi envoy

Solomon Islands PM discusses climate change with Saudi envoy

RIYADH: Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands Manasseh Sogavare received Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Climate Affairs Envoy Adel Al-Jubeir in the capital, Riyadh, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said on Thursday.

During the reception, Al-Jubeir conveyed greetings from King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and wishes to the government and people of the Solomon Islands for continued stability, progress and prosperity.
They reviewed bilateral relations and ways to develop them in various fields, and the Kingdom’s efforts and initiatives to preserve the environment and limit climate change. 

A number of regional and international issues and developments of common concern were also discussed.

Al-Jubeir met with the Cypriot Foreign Minister Dr. Constantinos Kombos, where they reviewed relations between the two countries, and ways to enhance and develop them in various fields, including the environment and limiting the effects of climate change.

He also held separate talks with Emanuela Claudia Del Re, the EU special representative for the Sahel, to discuss cooperation, and Thai Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai.

Meanwhile, the Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister, Waleed Al-Khuraiji, held talks with British Minister of State for the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and the UN Lord Tariq Ahmad on the sidelines of the Ministerial Meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh in Riyadh.

Al-Khuraiji also met Tobias Lindner, minister of state at the German Foreign Office.

Energy supply is not a political issue, Hungarian FM Peter Szijjarto tells Arab News

Energy supply is not a political issue, Hungarian FM Peter Szijjarto tells Arab News
Updated 09 June 2023

Energy supply is not a political issue, Hungarian FM Peter Szijjarto tells Arab News

Energy supply is not a political issue, Hungarian FM Peter Szijjarto tells Arab News
  • Budapest’s top diplomat claims “failed” EU sanctions are “much more harmful to European countries than to Russia itself”
  • Minister hails “respect-based” Saudi-Hungary ties during visit to Riyadh for anti-terrorism conference 

RIYADH: Peter Szijjarto, Hungary’s minister of foreign affairs and trade, has criticized EU sanctions targeting Russia over the war in Ukraine, claiming they have damaged European economies while failing to end the conflict.

Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the Ministerial Meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, held in Riyadh on Thursday, Szijjarto hit out at European critics who accuse Budapest of failing to boycott Russian energy.

“Energy supply is a physical issue, not a political issue,” he said. “It’s impossible to heat or cool down the houses and the flats with ideologies or with political statements.”

Citing Hungary’s geographical proximity to Russia and the current pipelines available to European nations, Szijjarto said his country had little option but to continue sourcing oil and gas from Russia to meet its demands.

“If you look at the infrastructure map of central Europe, when it comes to energy, you will see that because of the physical nature of the infrastructure, Russia is inevitable for us and is extremely important for us, from the perspective of a safe supply of energy,” he said.

“If we cut the Russian resources, then the remaining infrastructure does not have enough capacity to supply us with enough gas and oil.

“So my question, always, to these European colleagues, who are super hypocritical and are (leveling) allegations (against) us, (is) whether they would replace the Russian deliveries with gas and oil, even putting into consideration the lack of infrastructure. If there is no pipeline, how on earth will they deliver gas or oil to us?”

The war in Ukraine has put immense strain on Eastern European nations, which opened their doors to millions of Ukrainian refugees after Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February last year.

Another impact of the conflict and the Western sanctions that followed was a sharp rise in the price of energy, food and other commodities — inflationary pressures that have been keenly felt across Europe.

“These sanctions make no sense,” Szijjarto said. “They are much more harmful to the European countries than to Russia itself. They have been introduced with the goal of pushing Russia to its knees, economically speaking, thus making Russia unable to continue the war.

“That was a year ago. What happens now? We are now discussing the 11th package of sanctions, while the first 10 packages have failed, totally failed.

“Russia, definitely they are facing some economic challenges, but I’m pretty sure that we Europeans are faced with more serious economic challenges than them. And, on the other hand, we are not closer to peace either.”

Szijjarto welcomed Saudi offers of mediation between Russia and Ukraine, saying the conflict could be ended only through diplomatic means. He also lauded the Kingdom’s efforts to stabilize world energy prices.

“For us, the most important goal regarding the war in Ukraine is to create peace as soon as possible. It’s very obvious that this war does not have a solution on the battleground. This war only has a solution at the negotiating table,” he said.

“Diplomacy must take over, because if diplomacy cannot take over, then the war will last longer. The longer the war lasts, the more people will die. And we don’t want that. We want peace as soon as possible.

“Therefore, we absolutely appreciate the mediating efforts and the stabilizing role played, for example, by Saudi Arabia, because stability, forecastability in this regard, are reliable partners … (and) have a highly increased significance.

“We hope that mediation efforts put forward, for example, by the Saudi authorities, will be successful in the future and we ask you to continue to do so. The more mediation efforts there are, the more peace plans are being brought forward, the bigger the chance that peace will come.”

The ministerial meeting, for which Szijjarto was in Riyadh, attracted the top diplomats of several countries, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Daesh, as ISIS is also known, seized vast swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria in 2014 before the coalition was able to finally dislodge its fighters from their final holdouts in 2019.

The group’s members and sympathizers were also responsible for several mass casualty attacks in Europe and elsewhere, prompting governments to overhaul their security policies and revamp screening protocols for migrants and refugees.

But analysts are now concerned the world’s focus on the war in Ukraine risks diverting attention away from the ongoing threat posed by Islamic extremism.

“Hungary is pretty concerned about the growing threat of terror, because this threat usually causes additional flows, (such as) massive migration to Europe. Such flows constitute a pretty serious risk (to) security as well,” Szijjarto said.

“Since we in Europe are now faced with the challenge posed by the war in Ukraine, another type of security challenge would be unmanageable for us. Therefore, it is of crucial importance for us Europeans that the threat of terror is decreased. And without defeating ISIS, without pushing back ISIS, it’s impossible to (reduce) the threat of terror.”

Szijjarto said he appreciated the Kingdom’s efforts to keep the issue of terrorism at the top of the international agenda and cautioned against complacency.

“We appreciate the role of Saudi Arabia a lot when it comes to the fight against terror, when it comes to the fight against ISIS. And we are really thankful to the Saudi Arabian authorities for organizing the meeting of the anti-ISIS coalition, because we do believe that the efforts of this coalition should now be reinforced on many occasions.

“Whenever ISIS is getting stronger, the flows of migration are getting stronger. And whenever there are more people involved in the flows of migration, the more terrorists are having the chance to come to Europe. An increased threat of terror here usually ends up in an increased threat of terror in Europe.”

In January 2020, Szijjarto said Hungarian companies were well positioned to play a role in Vision 2030 — the Kingdom’s economic diversification and social reform agenda — particularly in the areas of agriculture, housing and electronics.

Asked about progress in the Saudi-Hungary relationship since then, the minister said the decks had been cleared for an expansion of trade and investment.

“The technologies that Hungarian companies and universities and research institutions have basically worked on are very useful from the perspective of the development of the Saudi economy as well,” he said.

“You have made huge efforts here in Saudi Arabia to upgrade infrastructure, but for future development, Hungarian companies are at our disposal as well.

“Saudi Arabia and Hungary enjoy trust-based, respect-based political cooperation without any kind of open issues. Therefore, it’s up to the companies to find a way to each other.

“So, what the two governments can do is pave the way to ensure the necessary legal and financial circumstances and insurances, which we have done. So it’s now up to the companies to take the most possible profit out of this good political cooperation.”

Also high on the international agenda is the crisis in Sudan, where the military and a paramilitary group have been locked in combat since April 15. The conflict has displaced more than 1 million people and triggered a humanitarian emergency.

Saudi Arabia and its US allies have taken the lead in mediation efforts, hosting representatives from both parties for ceasefire talks in the Kingdom’s coastal city of Jeddah.

Szijjarto said a solution had to be found quickly to avoid a fresh wave of migration to Europe, adding that the EU had a role to play in supporting Sudan’s neighbors, which are now home to hundreds of thousands of displaced people.

“We understand that the countries in the neighborhood are now faced with a tremendous challenge posed by the huge number of refugees,” Szijjarto said.

“Therefore, we urge the EU to transfer an increased volume of financial support and assistance to these countries in the neighborhood in order to be able to take care of the refugees, not to lose stability, not to bear too much burden, financially speaking, and not to come to a situation in which the neighboring countries become kind of transit countries. And then the flow of refugees will transform into a flow of migrants. And (after that), it would be a totally irregular set of developments.”

Under the circumstances, he said, “we are interested in stability as soon as possible, we are interested in the people who had to flee to be able to return as soon as possible and for the whole neighborhood to become more stable.”


OIC praises Saudi Arabia’s empowering of women

OIC praises Saudi Arabia’s empowering of women
Updated 09 June 2023

OIC praises Saudi Arabia’s empowering of women

OIC praises Saudi Arabia’s empowering of women
  • Lauds Kingdom’s plan for world conference on female rights
  • Many hold top positions in industry, says official Afnan Al-Shuaibi

CAIRO: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has praised Saudi Arabia for its continued empowerment of women, and the government’s support for the OIC’s work, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday.

These were the comments made by Tarig Ali Bakheet, assistant secretary-general for humanitarian, social and cultural affairs, on behalf of the head of the organization, Hissein Brahim Taha, during a high-level session of the OIC’s Women Development Organization in Cairo.

Bakheet welcomed the Kingdom’s offer to host an international conference on women’s rights in Islam, including to education and work, in coordination with the OIC.

He said women must be empowered to become decision-makers in all sectors including on the economic and trade fronts, and that the OIC supports the work of the WDO across the Arab and Islamic world.

Afnan Al-Shuaibi, executive director of the WDO, also lauded the Kingdom’s efforts to enhance the role of women in line with Vision 2030.

Al-Shuaibi said that women in the Kingdom have received considerable support from the country’s leadership. She added that many Saudi women now hold leadership positions in various industries, both inside and outside the country.

Al-Shuaibi highlighted that the WDO continues to strengthen partnerships with member states, sister organizations, UN agencies and other bodies throughout the world.

The session was held to explore women’s development in Arab and Islamic countries.

‘Daesh remains dangerous terror actor,’ says French FM Catherine Colonna

‘Daesh remains dangerous terror actor,’ says French FM Catherine Colonna
Updated 09 June 2023

‘Daesh remains dangerous terror actor,’ says French FM Catherine Colonna

‘Daesh remains dangerous terror actor,’ says French FM Catherine Colonna
  • Minister for Europe and foreign affairs relays concerns over threat at Riyadh meeting
  • Paris says Daesh is still a threat in many parts of Africa, Afghanistan, and even Syria

PARIS: On the eve of the Ministerial Meeting of the Global Coalition Against Daesh in Riyadh, Catherine Colonna, the French minister for Europe and foreign affairs, said the coalition’s work remains vitally important because the terrorist group “has not abandoned its agenda.”

All members of the coalition participated in the meeting, organized by Saudi Arabia and the US. Established in 2014, when Daesh was at the peak of its power, the coalition has since achieved the bulk of its objectives, having liberated all territories held by the group, first in Iraq in 2017 and then in Syria in 2019.

However, French authorities believe the coalition remains relevant, as the threat has merely changed in nature. The French government has said Daesh “remains a dangerous terrorist actor” in many parts of the world, including Africa, Afghanistan, and even Syria.

Burnt cars are seen in Auno village in Nigeria's restive Borno state after an attack by suspected Daesh terrorists on February 9, 2020. The gunmen also killed, burned and looted before kidnapping women and children. (AFP)

The group “is not currently in a strong enough position to carry out new attacks on our territory” as it did in 2015 and 2016, French authorities said in a recent statement, referring to a spate of mass casualty events.

However, it seeks to take advantage of continued instability, particularly in Syria, but also in certain African countries and Afghanistan, “to rebuild its bases and regain the ability to recruit and project new threats.”

“We are dealing with an group that has not at all abandoned its global agenda,” it added.

The Riyadh meeting was viewed as an opportunity to conduct a security evaluation that will allow coalition military personnel to present their perception of the threat.

French Foreign and European Affairs Minister Catherine Colonna at the meeting in Riyadh on Thursday. (AFP)

Furthermore, the French government believes the focus on the war in Ukraine “should not overshadow the fight against terrorism,” otherwise “we would lose the gains we have made over the past ten years, investing human lives and billions of euros and dollars, which would be totally irresponsible.”

Colonna used the Riyadh meeting to press home her government’s stance, notably emphasizing how the Levant region, the birthplace of Daesh, must remain a priority for the coalition.

She also used the occasion to convey how the threat has evolved and how the response must evolve accordingly.

In this photo taken on February 9, 2019, French soldiers stand prepare to join the "final battle" against Daesh forces from the last scrap of territory it holds in eastern Syria. (AFP)

“It is evident that we are dealing with a group that has voluntarily returned to clandestinity rather than being forced into it” and that it maintains its intention “to reposition itself in a strategy of harassment,” the French government said.

“The stakes are different today, and they consist of preventing the territories that were under the influence of Daesh from falling back under its sway, which requires us to make a massive stabilization effort.”

In this regard, Colonna was keen to emphasize the magnitude and consistency of the French commitment to stabilization, as, since 2017, the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs alone has mobilized 302 million euros, including 170 million euros for Iraq.

This picture taken on February 8, 2023, shows the reconstruction of the Nabi Yunes mosque in Mosul, Iraq, which was destroyed by Daesh terrorists in 2014. (AFP)

egarding logistics, the meeting focused on three geographical themes — the Levant, specifically the Syrian-Iraqi zone that lies at the heart of the international coalition’s traditional activities, Africa, with a significant focus on the Sahel-Saharan region, and finally, Central Asia, where Afghanistan is a key concern.

Ministerial interventions and several stabilization announcements also took place, along with a presentation of the coalition’s diverse activities through its various working groups on combating Daesh’s narrative.

The meeting provided an opportunity for Colonna to hold bilateral talks with her counterparts, including Saudi Arabia’s Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Morocco’s Nasser Bourita, Lebanon’s Abdallah Bou Habib, and several African ministers.

After Riyadh, Catherine Colonna traveled to Doha, marking a milestone in the framework of the strategic dialogue between France and Qatar, which covers all areas of the bilateral relationship.

In this regard, Paris emphasizes that “the relationship with Qatar has been extremely strong and on the rise for several years.”