JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia reported 522 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, according to the Ministry of Health. As a result, the total number of cases in the Kingdom over the course of the pandemic grew to 809,449.
The authorities also confirmed three new COVID-19-related deaths, raising the total number of fatalities to 9,247.
Of the new infections, 53 were recorded in Riyadh, 33 in Jeddah, 15 in Dammam, 6 in Makkah and 6 in Madinah. Several other cities recorded fewer than 10 new cases each.
The ministry also announced that 574 patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom over the course of the pandemic to 794,844.
It said that 5,355 COVID-19 cases were still active, adding that 18,099 PCR tests were conducted in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number to almost 44 million.
The ministry said that of the current cases, 127 were in critical condition.
Nearly 68 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered since the Kingdom’s immunization campaign began, with more than 25 million people fully vaccinated.
The ministry, which has 587 vaccine centers across the country, urged people who had not yet received a jab to register for a series of injections through the Sehhaty app.
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
Updated 18 August 2022
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
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
Updated 33 min 48 sec ago
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.
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.
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).
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.
“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.”
This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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
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
Updated 18 August 2022
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.
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.
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
Updated 18 August 2022
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.