Crown prince mediates in Russia-Ukraine prisoner release

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday held successful mediation sessions to release ten prisoners from various countries from Russia. (SPA)
1 / 2
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday held successful mediation sessions to release ten prisoners from various countries from Russia. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday held successful mediation sessions to release ten prisoners from various countries from Russia. (SPA)
2 / 2
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday held successful mediation sessions to release ten prisoners from various countries from Russia. (SPA)
Short Url
Updated 22 September 2022

Crown prince mediates in Russia-Ukraine prisoner release

Crown prince mediates in Russia-Ukraine prisoner release
  • Move based on Crown Prince’s efforts to adopt humanitarian initiatives toward Russian-Ukrainian crisis
  • Prince Mohammed has continuously worked with other countries to mitigate repercussions of the war

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday held successful mediation sessions to release ten prisoners from various countries as part of a prisoner exchange process between Russia and Ukraine.

The Kingdom’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement the move was based on the support of Prince Mohammed and in continuation of his efforts to adopt humanitarian initiatives toward the Russian-Ukrainian crisis.

The Saudi crown prince, who has continuously worked with global countries to mitigate the repercussions of the war, held successful mediations in releasing prisoners from Morocco, the US, UK, Sweden, and Croatia, where their release was part of a prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine, it added.

“The relevant Saudi authorities received and transferred them from Russia to the Kingdom, and are facilitating procedures for their safe return to their respective countries,” the ministry added.

The ministry also expressed thanks and appreciation that the Russian and Ukrainian governments were able to cooperate with the Saudi government in facilitating and responding to the Saudi crown prince’s efforts to release the prisoners.

Saudi FM Prince Faisal bin Farhan said that the Crown Prince’s successful mediation efforts demonstrates the Kingdom’s commitment to global peace and security, and its belief in the importance of dialogue.

He said in a tweet that “The Kingdom is grateful for the cooperation and good-will shown by Ukraine and Russia towards the Crown Prince’s mediation efforts to secure the release of POW’s from five nations.”

He added that constructive dialogue is the best path forward to ending this conflict.

 

 

British Prime Minister Liz Truss welcomed the release and transfer to Riyadh of five UK prisoners.

The prime minister, who is in New York, tweeted: “Hugely welcome news that five British nationals held by Russian-backed proxies in eastern Ukraine are being safely returned, ending months of uncertainty and suffering for them and their families.”

She thanked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Saudi Arabia for helping free the detainees.

Newly-appointed British foreign minister James Cleverly said he welcomed the safe return of Ukrainian prisoners of war and one civilian, including 5 British nationals, and said: “I'd like to express my gratitude to President Zelensky and HRH Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman for their efforts and assistance.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a phone call with Prince Faisal bin Farhan, who reassured the US offical of the safety of the two American prisoners received from Russia, and stressed the Crown Prince's keenness on preserving their safety.

Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde also said on Twitter that the Swedish citizen, held in Donetsk, "has now been detained and is well". She, too, thanked Ukraine and Saudi Arabia. 

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic thanked Saudi and Ukrainian authorities for their efforts and cooperation.

He also said on Twitter that he spoke with the released Croatian prisoner, adding that they look forward to his return to Croatia.

British MP Robert Jenrick said Twitter that one of the British detainees, Aiden Aslin, was one of his constituents — Aslin had been sentenced to death in June after being captured by pro-Russian separatists.

Jenrick said the British detainees were “on their way back to the UK” and that Aslin’s family “could finally be at peace.”

 

Bahrain early on Thursday welcomed  the Saudi mediation effort.

Bahrain’s foreign ministry commended the move as “one of the leading diplomatic and humanitarian initiatives of Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al-Saud in ensuring the settlement of regional and international conflicts by diplomatic means, and supporting efforts to establish regional and global peace and stability.”

Ukraine has launched a counteroffensive and recaptured land taken by Russia in northeast and southern Ukraine in the past week, including the towns of Izyum and Kupiansk and around Kharkiv.

On Wednesday, Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilization, with Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu saying 300,000 reservists would be called up to protect what the Kremlin claims are its lands.

On Tuesday, Prince Mohammed met with a special envoy of Zelensky, during which he “affirmed the Kingdom’s keenness and support for all international efforts aimed at resolving the crisis politically and its continuation of its efforts to contribute to alleviating the humanitarian effects resulting from it.”


UK expedition tracing steps of Philby hopes to inspire next generation to explore Saudi Arabia’s beauty

UK expedition tracing steps of Philby hopes to inspire next generation to explore Saudi Arabia’s beauty
Updated 28 sec ago

UK expedition tracing steps of Philby hopes to inspire next generation to explore Saudi Arabia’s beauty

UK expedition tracing steps of Philby hopes to inspire next generation to explore Saudi Arabia’s beauty
  • Granddaughter Reem Philby part of homage to Ibn Saud and explorer
  • Pact with KAUST to collect data on culture, desert life, biodiversity

LONDON: A small team of UK explorers have launched an expedition to retrace the 1,300-kilometer 1917 journey of British explorer and scholar, Harry St. John Philby, across Saudi Arabia.

The Heart of Arabia expedition, named after Philby’s book about his journey, was launched on Tuesday at the Royal Geographical Society in London, which was held under the patronage of Britain’s Princess Anne, and with the attendance of Saudi ambassador to the UK Prince Khalid bin Bandar.

Speaking at her first public engagement since the death of her mother Queen Elizabeth II, she said: “The scope for finding more in this expedition is just enormous to add to that level of knowledge, and I think we all have something we can really look forward to, and possibly something that we will envy about those taking part in this expedition, which allows them to be part of that learning exercise.”

The planned 1,300-km Heart of Arabia coast-to-coast trek across the peninsula was launched by Anne, Princess Royal of the UK, in her first public engagement since the death of her mother, Queen Elizabeth II. (AN Photo)

Omani-based British explorer Mark Evans MBE, leader of the expedition, said the team, who will be making the journey on foot, and with camels and four-wheel drives, consists of four people. The other members are Swiss photographer Ana-Maria Pavalache, regional expert Alan Morrissey, and Philby’s granddaughter, explorer Reem Philby.

“When Philby reached Riyadh in 1917, he met Abdulaziz ibn Saud and the two of them became almost lifetime companions (and) he and Ibn Saud spent hour on hour, day after day talking, and then he continued to Jeddah, so we will follow the same structure,” Evans told Arab News.

The first leg begins on Nov. 15 in Al-Uqair in the Eastern Province and will pass through Al-Ahsa Oasis, Al-Hadida/Rub Al-Khali, Hofuf, Ramlat Dahna, Abu Jifan and stop in the capital, Riyadh, on Nov. 30, where they will take a short break. The second leg will begin on Jan. 15 with a visit by Princess Anne to the Kingdom, where she will see the team off as they continue to Dhurma, Halban, Qahqa, Taif, Darb Zubaydah, and conclude in the western city of Jeddah on Jan. 30.

The Heart of Arabia journey will set off in November, a century after Philby’s crossing, and is led by veteran British explorer Mark Evans (C). (AN Photo)

“The journeys are incomparable really, because in Philby’s day, no one knew where he was, he had no way of communicating other than by sending back messages via camels, whereas we will have satellite technology, social media, we’ll be doing live Instagram posts from the middle of the biggest desert on Earth, so life is so much easier today,” he said.

Evans added that some of the challenges of the past would not be an issue this time, with regards to finding water and food, but he said the biggest potential weak link may be the camels. They have to choose the right ones and “toughen them up” before the start.

“Camels have gone soft today like human beings, we have Deliveroo, camels have their Bedouin handlers who bring the food to them rather than having to wander to find the grass or water ... so camels are not working animals anymore,” he explained, whereas when Philby did his journey, camels would walk over 48 kilometers a day carrying heavy loads.

 

 

The aim of the expedition also differs from Philby’s due to its nature. He was sent for political reasons by British writer, traveler, political officer, administrator, and archaeologist Gertrude Bell from Baghdad to meet the future king in 1917 to stop the Ottomans smuggling guns across the central deserts of Arabia. However, their mission now is to “celebrate an extraordinary man and an extraordinary country,” while also collecting cultural, geographical, and scientific data.

“There’ll be young people joining us in all stages of the journey, so we want to inspire the next generation of Philbys to go out there and look and record and just add to our understanding of Arabia,” said Evans, who also heads the NGO Outward Bound Oman.

Reem, who has trekked across the Kingdom, as well as in Peru and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, said the expedition was “completely down her alley” and it was “truly overwhelming” to trace the steps he walked over 100 years ago.

The expedition will honor the undertaking and achievement of adventurer, Arabist and intelligence officer Harry St. John Philby, who traveled from Al-Uqair to Jeddah, on a mission in support of Ibn Saud. (Heart of Arabia)

“Having that impact on the young generation is truly important, in my opinion. I am a strong believer of the importance of taking kids to the outdoors and having them experience being uncomfortable, step out of their comfort zones and their homes and their usual environments,” said the 42-year-old mother of two. “I know that it will shape truly humbled (and) strong adults in the future.”

Pavalache, who has been a mountain leader in the Swiss Alps, said it is important to tell the story of an incredible man, who brought enormous information to mapping the region. She thinks “it might be a challenge to get immersed in what he was doing, because today, Saudi Arabia is very modernized and to find that balance” between the past and present.

“We would have a couple of places where we will try to get the same images, but I think it is important for us to see how the environment changed today, and also the people who live in the desert and the community, and after we have three parts of research that we will follow within this context,” she said.

The team, which will travel by foot and on camels, includes Swiss photographer Ana-Maria Pavalache (C), regional expert Alan Morrissey and Philby’s Saudi granddaughter, Reem. (AN Photo)

The data and observations generated by the team, in collaboration with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, will support scientific specialists to advance human performance in extreme environments, understanding of pre-Islamic history, and insights into local biodiversity, specifically bats. There are around 30 species in the Kingdom with very little known on the populations, distribution and ecology.

UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia Neil Crompton said Philby was an important figure in the history of relations between Great Britain and the Kingdom, which was known as Arabia when he set out on his expedition, and where he lived most of his life and was an important adviser to Ibn Saud on many matters.

“It’s a chance to learn about his life and the role that he played in the development of relations between the two countries and in Saudi Arabia,” he said, lauding the “immensely strong” ties that exist between the two kingdoms.

 

 

“Saudi Arabia is opening up its tourism sector (and) Britons from many different walks of life are coming in, and it’s great to see the explorers came 100 years ago, but now they’re coming back, and so hopefully, we’ll see more of these sorts of things,” Crompton said. “I think that people-to-people links are ultimately the foundation of the relationship.”

He added: “I think the chance to see an expedition crossing the desert in this way will be very interesting to many people in Britain, and I hope encourage more people to visit the Kingdom in the way that so many Saudis come to the UK.”


Saudi citizens displaced by Hurricane Ian safely evacuated 

Saudi citizens displaced by Hurricane Ian safely evacuated 
Updated 30 September 2022

Saudi citizens displaced by Hurricane Ian safely evacuated 

Saudi citizens displaced by Hurricane Ian safely evacuated 

Princess Reema Bandar Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States, spoke on Friday with Shafi bin Bijad Al-Otaibi, the Consul General in Houston, to check on the progress of the evacuation of Saudi citizens displaced by Hurricane Ian. 
Princess Reema was briefed on the service and care provided to the Saudi citizens, state agency SPA reported. 
The ambassador thanked the embassy and consulate staff for their efforts, and urged them to provide comfort to citizens until the crisis was over.
Hurricane Ian, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded in the US, swamped southwest Florida on Wednesday, flooding streets and buildings and leaving nearly 2 million homes and businesses without power.
US President Joe Biden said the hurricane may be responsible for “substantial loss of life” and could end up being the deadliest storm in Florida history.
The death toll had climbed to 12 by Thursday night, according to local reports.
Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm Thursday morning and is expected to approach the coast of South Carolina on Friday.


IAEA elects Saudi Arabia as member of board of governors until 2024

IAEA elects Saudi Arabia as member of board of governors until 2024
Updated 30 September 2022

IAEA elects Saudi Arabia as member of board of governors until 2024

IAEA elects Saudi Arabia as member of board of governors until 2024

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia has been elected by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Thursday to become a member of the agency’s Board of Governors until 2024.
Saudi Arabia received the majority of votes from its geographical group, which includes countries of the Middle East and South Asia, state agency SPA reported.
The announcement was made during the IAEA’s 66th General Conference held from Sept. 26 - 30 in Vienna.
The 35-member Board of Governors is viewed as one of the most important decision-making groups in the energy agency, especially when addressing critical issues.
This includes the safeguards file, which is the IAEA’s responsibility to verify the peaceful activities of state parties in relation to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.


Riyadh forum to focus on science, philosophy

Riyadh forum to focus on science, philosophy
Updated 30 September 2022

Riyadh forum to focus on science, philosophy

Riyadh forum to focus on science, philosophy

RIYADH: Space diplomacy, climate change and environmental issues will be among far-reaching topics to be discussed at a major philosophy and science conference in the Saudi capital.

The event is being organized by the Kingdom’s Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission and will take place from Dec. 1-3 at King Fahd National Library in Riyadh.

Philosophers, scientists and artists will take part in the forum, which is being held under the theme “Knowledge and Exploration: Space, Time and Humanity.”

The three-day conference will include lectures, panel discussions, seminars and workshops on a range of issues affecting the future of the planet.

Mohamed Hassan Alwan, CEO of the Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission, said: “Last year’s ground-breaking conference succeeded in putting Saudi Arabia on the global philosophical map, and established the Kingdom as a regional center for philosophical dialogue.”

The second conference “will bring together leading philosophers, educational institutions and others to debate the important issues of our time, and help stimulate intercultural, international and interdisciplinary dialogue,” he said.

Speakers for the event will be announced nearer the date of the conference.


Saudi entertainment body launches discount fair for international brands

Saudi entertainment body launches discount fair for international brands
Updated 30 September 2022

Saudi entertainment body launches discount fair for international brands

Saudi entertainment body launches discount fair for international brands
  • Up to 70% off on fashion, home accessories, cosmetics
  • 3m items from 1,500 firms on display until Oct. 14

JEDDAH: The Saudi General Entertainment Authority on Wednesday announced the launch of “Outlet 2022” shopping festival, the first of its kind in the Kingdom.

According to the organizers, the two-week outdoor festival, which will kick off on Saturday, will offer exclusive discounts of up to 70 percent on fashion, home accessories, and cosmetic products designed by international experts. The event’s galleries will have a Greek-inspired design.

On his Twitter account, Turki Al-Sheikh, GEA chairman, said the event in Riyadh is a pioneering initiative.

“We’ll soon have the ‘Outlet Festival,’ the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia. The festival will bring together the most famous brands in the world to be sold at reduced prices and discounts. A different thing in Riyadh,” Al-Sheikh said in his tweet.

The festival will be held in Al-Rehab neighborhood, west of the Saudi capital, and will include places to eat and events for children.

Farah Ahmed, who lives in the neighborhood, told Arab News that she has been observing the construction of the outlet. “It’s impressive how quickly the GEA built the space. They are working day and night to make it happen.” 

Entry to the festival is free, and will include more than three million discounted items of 1,500 international brands.

“I’m so excited about the festival, especially (since) I haven’t been able to travel or shop this summer, yet I feel that two weeks is not enough. I hope the GEA extends it further,” she added. 

Doors will be open daily from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tickets can be booked through the Ticket MX App and website, and VIP and VVIP tickets can be booked through the Parky App and website.