Outgoing Danish ambassador reflects on his time in Saudi Arabia

Outgoing Danish ambassador reflects on his time in Saudi Arabia
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Moesby highlighted some of his fondest memories in the Kingdom, from interacting with locals and traveling, to being enriched by the culture and heritage of Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Yawed Abdullah)
Outgoing Danish ambassador reflects on his time in Saudi Arabia
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Riyadh's wide and not-so-crowded roads offer "funtastic" moments for cycling. (Supplied)
Outgoing Danish ambassador reflects on his time in Saudi Arabia
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Biking for a cause with embassy staff within Riyadh's Diplomatic Quarter. (Supplied)
Outgoing Danish ambassador reflects on his time in Saudi Arabia
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Outgoing Danish ambassador reflects on his time in Saudi Arabia
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Outgoing Danish ambassador reflects on his time in Saudi Arabia
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Enjoying a camel ride in the deserts of Riyadh, away from the hustle and bustle of city life. (Supplied)
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Updated 15 August 2022

Outgoing Danish ambassador reflects on his time in Saudi Arabia

Outgoing Danish ambassador reflects on his time in Saudi Arabia
  • Ole Emil Moesby is leaving the Kingdom after five years as his country’s envoy to the region

RIYADH: Denmark’s ambassador in Saudi Arabia, Ole Emil Moesby, will bid the Kingdom farewell at the end of his tour of duty in Riyadh later this month.

“From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you,” he told Arab News. “I’ve had a fantastic time here — you usually get more or less emotional when you have to change, but if you are a diplomat, you’re quite used to it changing from one place to the other.

“I can’t think of any time when I felt this — that I am leaving something behind here — which I will miss because the way I’ve been treated and inspired, and the way I’ve been communicating with people, has been extraordinary,” Moesby said.

“The experience I have had has been fantastic, so my message is: Thank you.”




Ambassador Ole Emil Moesby paying a courtesy call to King Salman. (Supplied)

Moesby has been the ambassador of Denmark to Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Yemen since Sept. 5, 2017, and his final day of service is Aug. 31.

Talking to Arab News, Moesby highlighted some of his fondest memories in the Kingdom, where he has spent five years, from interacting with the local community and traveling, to being enriched by the culture and heritage of Saudi Arabia.

“It’s been a fantastic time to experience the development and the changes which I have seen in Saudi Arabia,” he said.

“AlUla of course has developed extremely (well) … But even places like Yanbu or Jeddah have actually changed a lot. Not to mention, of course, Riyadh.




Balancing on the "Edge of the World", the Jebel Fihrayn which features 300-meter-high cliffs. It is part of Riyadh's Tuwaiq escarpment. (Supplied)

“It’s actually been interesting to see also how the development has changed attitudes and culture in these places, but yet, at the other side, have actually maintained the heritage of these places,” Moesby explained.

The ambassador witnessed many changes, including the opening of movie theaters in the Kingdom and the lifting of the ban on women driving in 2018.

 

“I think it’s been fantastic to see that development,” said the envoy. “I have been (here) in a period where I have been for premiers of films in the cinemas, and before … my staff here, which is mainly women, were actually being brought to the embassy in the morning — now they actually drive themselves,” he added.

“So instead of having a problem of traffic, as we had before, we now have a parking problem,” the ambassador joked.

“That’s a fantastic development, and which I will take with me in my memories when I leave.”




The ambassador had also been to Ithra, Ithra, the iconic King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture in Dhahran, which was built by Saudi Aramco. (Supplied)

Moebsy explained that he has also been a dedicated Arab News reader, making sure to pick up the newspaper every morning to catch up on events.

“Everything has actually changed since Sept. 5, 2017. So every day, Arab News has actually told me what is happening here. And it’s been a fantastic experience because of the changes that you have seen here,” he said.

The ambassador highlighted the ways his mission has strengthened bilateral relations between Denmark and Saudi Arabia through embassy-led initiatives and collaborations.

 

“As an ambassador, you have to understand what is happening in Saudi Arabia, and you have to convey that to people in Denmark, and you have to make people in Saudi Arabia understand what the thinking is in Denmark. That’s the way to develop a bilateral relationship,” he said.

Most of his efforts have been to put into trade, developing business partnerships, and promoting cultural exchanges.

One of these efforts was hosting a women’s football tournament in Saudi Arabia with 28 teams from all over the Kingdom, called the Global Goals World Cup.

 

“We’ve been very active in setting up football for females. The tournament that we had was a big success … because it also demonstrated the role that females can play in sports events,” he said.

In February, the embassy hosted celebrations of the Golden Jubilee of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, and the ambassador invited young female Saudi artists to paint a picture of the queen to mark the event.

“It’s an amazing development of cultural abilities and possibilities in Saudi Arabia that can happen. And for the queen in Denmark, she would see that as a good signal of the long-term good relations that we have between Saudi Arabia and Denmark,” Moesby said.




Ambassador Ole Emil Moesby has visited the ancient city of Al-'Ula, an archaeological wonder located in the northwestern region of Madinah. (Supplied)

He concluded his interview by leaving a message to his successor, Liselotte Kjaersgaard Plesner, who will be the next ambassador.

“My successor, she is one of our top diplomats in the Danish service,” Moesby said.

“I just hope she can just be half as happy as I am in being here, (then) I will be more than happy.

“An important message to say to her is that the perceptions that we sometimes all are under in Europe or Denmark, and in the US, you can’t get close to the reality unless you have seen it yourself,” he said.

The ambassador added that people should not form their opinions of a country without examining it and being a part of the culture first.

“You have to come here. You have to live here. You have to understand and communicate with people here, otherwise, it won’t happen,” he said.

 


Saudi Arabia takes part in World Tourism Day 2022

There will be many unique and futuristic offerings in Saudi Arabia as the country continues to develop. (SPA)
There will be many unique and futuristic offerings in Saudi Arabia as the country continues to develop. (SPA)
Updated 19 sec ago

Saudi Arabia takes part in World Tourism Day 2022

There will be many unique and futuristic offerings in Saudi Arabia as the country continues to develop. (SPA)
  • The ministry aims to raise awareness of the importance of tourism in Saudi Arabia as an axis and a fundamental pillar of development within the objectives of Vision 2030

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Tourism is taking part in celebrations for World Tourism Day 2022 in Bali, Indonesia, on Sept. 27, to promote tourism as a key pillar of development.

The ministry aims to raise awareness of the importance of tourism in Saudi Arabia as an axis and a fundamental pillar of development within the objectives of Vision 2030.

Recognizing the importance of human capital development, the ministry launched the largest national strategy for capacity development and tourism competencies in the Kingdom, which aims to prepare qualified national cadres with the highest international standards.

The strategy also aims to empower entrepreneurs and owners of small and medium tourism establishments through a package of distinctive programs to bring about a qualitative leap that reflects the ambition of the tourism sector to enrich the experiences of tourists.

Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary-general of the UN World Tourism Organization, said: “This year, especially, we also recognize that we cannot go back to the old ways of working. The 2030 agenda for sustainable development remains our end goal.

“We must rethink tourism. As the world opens up again, we must learn the lessons of the past; through crisis, we have seen where we can build more resilience and deliver more fairness,” he added.

Furthermore, the Saudi ministry is paying attention to the tourism industry in the Kingdom in terms of its organization, development and promotion in a way that enhances the role of the sector and overcomes obstacles to its growth.

It is allowing registrations for the Tourism Pioneers Program, which provides training opportunities in 10 prestigious global universities and educational institutions specialized in the sector.

 


Saudi counter-extremism center works with Telegram to remove five million extremist posts in past two months

A general view shows the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology shortly before its inauguration in Riyadh. (AFP)
A general view shows the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology shortly before its inauguration in Riyadh. (AFP)
Updated 18 min 8 sec ago

Saudi counter-extremism center works with Telegram to remove five million extremist posts in past two months

A general view shows the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology shortly before its inauguration in Riyadh. (AFP)
  • Since the collaboration began in February, more than 7 million examples of extremist content have been removed from the instant messaging service

RIYADH: More than five million examples of extremist content were removed from instant messaging service Telegram in the space of just two months.

The Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, also known as Etidal, on Monday said that between July 17 and Sept. 13, its work with a task force from Telegram to prevent and combat terrorism and violent extremism resulted in the deletion of 5,269,078 items from the platform. They included 3,012,489 messages relating to Tahrir Al-Sham, a militant group involved in the Syrian civil war, 1,168,447 about Al-Qaeda, and 1,088,142 about Daesh.

Since the collaboration began on Feb. 21, Etidal said 7,146,016 examples of extremist content has been removed from Telegram to protect users from threats and damaging ideological influences. They include messages in Arabic that contained various types of media files, including PDFs, videos and audio recordings.

Mubarak Al-Aati, a Saudi writer and analyst. (Supplied)

Mubarak Al-Aati, a Saudi writer and political analyst, said that Etidal is showing that it is efficient and serious in its efforts to confront the rhetoric of extremism and the ideas of terrorism. He told Arab News that the organization’s work to combat the threats on the local, regional and global levels is well known, and its work with high-profile partners such as Telegram will help to reduce the extremist influence on social media and in other public online spaces.

“It will restrict the danger of such materials to society and make pertinent bodies address their responsibilities to preserve and maintain the security of society,” said Al-Aati.

Etidal is a global organization tasked with combating and rooting out examples of extremism, addressing them, and promoting a culture of tolerance and coexistence among peoples. It was established on May 21, 2017, during the Arab-Islamic-American Summit in Riyadh with the aim of promoting, monitoring and analyzing a culture of intellectual moderation in collaboration with regional and international networks. Its headquarters are located in the Saudi capital.

Al-Aati said the center has enjoyed a number of successes so far in its work to tackle the menace of extremism and terrorism. He stressed the importance of the continuation of its painstaking efforts, along with the role of the wider international community in adopting a firm stance in opposition to states that support and sponsor terrorism and extremism and try to use extremist ideologies as a way to spread havoc and chaos.

 


UK PM thanks Saudi crown prince for role in release of British detainees

UK PM thanks Saudi crown prince for role in release of British detainees
Updated 21 min 14 sec ago

UK PM thanks Saudi crown prince for role in release of British detainees

UK PM thanks Saudi crown prince for role in release of British detainees
  • Liz Truss expressed her thanks during a phone call with Prince Mohammed during which he congratulated her on her new role

RIYADH: Britain’s prime minister thanked Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for his role in securing the release of five British detainees held by Russia-backed forces in Ukraine last week, Saudi Press Agency reported on Monday.

Liz Truss expressed her thanks during a phone call with Prince Mohammed during which he congratulated her on her new role and wished her success.

The crown prince also said he looked forward to working with Truss for the benefit of the Kingdom and the UK.

Prince Mohammed also extended his condolences to the prime minister on the passing of Queen Elizabeth II and congratulated King Charles III on his accession to the throne.

The two leaders also reviewed bilateral relations between their countries and ways to develop them within the framework of the Saudi-British Strategic Partnership Council.


European languages are the talk of Riyadh

European languages are the talk of Riyadh
Updated 26 September 2022

European languages are the talk of Riyadh

European languages are the talk of Riyadh
  • The EU delegation to Saudi Arabia, in partnership with the Riyadh Language Exchange, will host a European Night of Languages at the Hyatt Regency Riyadh on Wednesday
  • Participants at the event will have the chance to test their language skills with staff from several EU embassies and learn basic words and phrases in other languages

RIYADH: Saudi and EU partners have come together to mark the European Day of Languages and promote better communication and cultural understanding.

The EU delegation to Saudi Arabia, in partnership with the Riyadh Language Exchange, marked the day on Monday as it prepared to host a European Night of Languages on Wednesday.

Participants at the event at the Hyatt Regency Riyadh will have the chance to test their language skills with staff from several EU embassies, learn basic words and phrases in less common languages, and play games and quizzes.

Patrick Simonnet, the EU’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said: “Europe is known for its cultural and linguistic diversity. Almost two-thirds of Europeans are able to converse in one or more foreign languages. Language is what connects us as people and enables us to communicate and better understand one-another.

“It is encouraging to see that also more and more Saudis are interested in learning languages. There has never been a better time to learn a new language and reap the socioeconomic benefits that multilingualism has to offer, from global access to knowledge and education to better job opportunities and greater cultural understanding.”

Mohammed Matham, co-founder of the Riyadh Language Exchange, a Saudi non-profit organization, said he was pleased to partner with the EU for the event.

“Our efforts over the past four years to support the practice of languages and cultural exchange are bearing fruit,” he added.

“It is a great privilege to partner with the EU delegation to organize such an exceptional event.”

The European Day of Languages was also marked at the SEK International School and the German International School, both in Riyadh, where students participated in activities focused on language learning.

Alliance Francaise and the Goethe-Institut both offered a free beginners’ class in French and German respectively.

The annual celebration is organized by the European Commission and the Council of Europe to promote linguistic diversity and cultural heritage, reinforce cultural understanding, and encourage people of all ages to learn languages.


Saudi ambassador to Yemen meets UN special envoy in Riyadh

Saudi ambassador to Yemen meets UN special envoy in Riyadh
Updated 26 September 2022

Saudi ambassador to Yemen meets UN special envoy in Riyadh

Saudi ambassador to Yemen meets UN special envoy in Riyadh
  • Al-Jaber emphasized the Kingdom’s support for UN efforts to extend the truce in Yemen

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Yemen Mohammed bin Saeed Al-Jaber met with the UN special envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg in Riyadh on Monday.

During the meeting, Al-Jaber emphasized the Kingdom’s support for UN efforts to extend the truce in Yemen to reach a complete ceasefire and a comprehensive political solution in the war-torn country.

The truce was first implemented on April 2 and is due for renewal on Oct. 2.

Earlier this month, Grundberg met with the head of Yemen’s Presidential Leadership Council Rashad Al-Alimi in Riyadh where they discussed ongoing efforts to implement the truce and the importance of negotiating its extension and expansion.