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)
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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)
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Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Wednesday held successful mediation sessions to release ten prisoners from various countries from Russia. (SPA)
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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.”


Saudi FM meets with counterpart during visit to Tajikistan

Saudi FM meets with counterpart during visit to Tajikistan
Updated 54 min 32 sec ago

Saudi FM meets with counterpart during visit to Tajikistan

Saudi FM meets with counterpart during visit to Tajikistan
  • The two ministers held a session of talks during which they reviewed aspects of relations between the Kingdom and Tajikistan

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan met with his Tajik counterpart Sirojiddin Muhriddin during a visit to Dushanbe on Monday.

The two ministers held a session of talks during which they reviewed aspects of relations between the Kingdom and Tajikistan and ways to strengthen and develop them in all fields. They also discussed issues of common interest.

The talks were attended by the Kingdom’s ambassador to Tajikistan Waleed Alreshaidan.


KSRelief launches aid campaigns in Lebanon and Jordan

KSRelief launches aid campaigns in Lebanon and Jordan
Updated 03 October 2022

KSRelief launches aid campaigns in Lebanon and Jordan

KSRelief launches aid campaigns in Lebanon and Jordan
  • The relief items, which were distributed on Saturday, benefited 1,570 people in the Beqaa region

DUBAI: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) distributed 314 food baskets to Syrian refugees in Lebanon’s West Bekaa region. 
The relief items, which were distributed on Saturday, benefited 1,570 people in the area. 
Meanwhile, the aid center concluded its 11th and 12th volunteer programs in the Zaatari refugee camp for Syrians in Jordan. 
The initiative saw 26 volunteers from different medical, psychological, social, and educational backgrounds offering their expertise to people in-need. 
They offered training courses to 236 people, educational programs to 185 people, computer maintenance to 194 people, first aid services to 430 people, and psychological counseling to 260 people. 
Medical services offered during the visit benefitted 29 patients in heart clinics for children, 184 people in the dermatology department, and 75 patients in-need of physiotherapy treatment.


KSrelief’s Masam project dismantles 947 mines across Yemen in one week

KSrelief’s Masam project dismantles 947 mines across Yemen in one week
Updated 03 October 2022

KSrelief’s Masam project dismantles 947 mines across Yemen in one week

KSrelief’s Masam project dismantles 947 mines across Yemen in one week
  • During September, a total of 3,815 mines were removed

Riyadh: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) “Masam” dismantled 947 mines this past week, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Sunday. 

During September, a total of 3,815 mines were removed, which brings the total number of mines that were cleared since the beginning of the “Masam” project to 360,573.

The mines – planted by the Houthi militia in various Yemeni regions – included three anti-personnel mines, 412 anti-tank mines, 515 unexploded artillery, and 17 explosive devices, according to SPA. 

Masam’s team cleared 76 anti-tank mines, 144 unexploded artillery, and 13 explosive devices in Aden. 

In the Hays District 14 anti-tank mines, one anti-personnel mine, 17 unexploded ammunition, and one explosive charge were discovered, while in the Hodeidah Governorate four anti-tank mines were cleared. 

Meanwhile, four unexploded ammunitions were discovered in the Lahj governorate.

In Marib, the team cleared 287 anti-tank mines, 287 unexploded ordnance. Two explosive devices were also cleared in Harib, while two anti-personnel mines and one unexploded ordnance was uncovered in the Raghwan district.

The Masam team dismantled 12 anti-tank mines in Shabwa, as well as 12 unexploded ordnances in Ayn, and one anti-tank mine and one unexploded ammunition in Usaylan. 

The team also removed three unexploded ordnances in Taiz, one explosive device in the Al-Wazi’iyah district, nine unexploded ordnances in the Mawza district, 17 anti-tank mines, and 37 unexploded ordnances in the Thubab district.


Saudi National Center for Wildlife reveals species protected from hunting

Saudi National Center for Wildlife reveals species protected from hunting
Updated 03 October 2022

Saudi National Center for Wildlife reveals species protected from hunting

Saudi National Center for Wildlife reveals species protected from hunting

MAKKAH: The Saudi National Center for Wildlife revealed types of wildlife officially and permanently protected from hunting.

The NCW presented an infographic pointing out Article 4 of the Executive Regulations for Wildlife Hunting, which prohibits hunting predators such as the Arabian leopard, hyenas, wolves, jackals, lynxes, sand cats, common genets, and honey badgers.

Hunting endemic birds in the Kingdom is also prohibited, in addition to ungulates, including the Arabian oryx, the sandy-colored goitered antelope, the mountain gazelle (whether found in mountains or on the Farasan Islands), and the Nubian ibex.

“NCW has developed a hunting system which has been globally praised by environmental authorities,” stated Dr. Mohammed bin Yaslam Shobrak, a bird and wildlife expert, who stressed “it is a special and organized system designed to protect and maintain the balance of the environment.

“This system takes into account the sustainability of the endangered species. The development of the system is based on four main pillars to contribute to the development of the hunting control standards,” he told Arab News.

He stated that the first pillar is the Shariah law, as the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah prohibit the hunting of hoopoes and typical shrikes, as well as hunting in the vicinity of the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah. 

“The Prophet Muhammad has also prohibited taking baby birds from their nest when he witnessed a lark flying over his head and asked: ‘Who grieved this for its young ones? Return its young ones to it.’ He believes that taking baby birds and eggs away is harmful to the mother,” Shobrak said. 

“In addition, Islam forbids burning animals, even if they were predators which have caused harm to citizens. Regardless, this does not legalize hunting, burning, and wiping out such species, including those distributed in limited geographical areas where hunting might lead to their extinction,” he added.

Shobrak added that scientific research and specialized academic studies constitute the second pillar of the system. He said that the list is based on research presenting the endangered species of animals and birds, which are also listed under the global Red List specifying the close-to-extinction species. 

“Therefore, it is essential to exert all the required efforts to (prevent) their extinction. I wonder why people are still hunting some species when it has, later on, backfired at them. Not only this, but it has also disrupted the ecosystem balance,” he said. 

“Hunting predators, such as tigers, hyenas, and wolves, has allowed other animals to expand their area, such as monkeys, which are currently causing environmental issues requiring utmost emergency, as they constitute a direct threat to farms and properties. In addition, they have become a diseases spreading tool,” he added. 

According to Shobrak, the third pillar is what comes under the international treaties and memoranda of understanding signed by the Kingdom.

Shobrak added that the fourth pillar relies on protecting human beings and their properties through the publications made by the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Agriculture and Water in relation with the species prohibited from being hunted, which may negatively affect the country and its citizens. 

“The ministry and NCW have exerted great efforts to preserve the environment — the Kingdom is witnessing comprehensive and complete development shifts at all levels through the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

“We aim to render the Kingdom a role model for all the countries in this concern. The applicable laws should be an example and a proof of the greatness of the Kingdom in all fields.”

He said that some people still violate the regulations by hunting with nets, where some animals suffocate to be later sold and consumed. Some sell animals alive and transport them to other regions. 

“Major environmental problems arise (as a result of these activities) which will require large sums of money to be solved. The most accurate example is that of monkeys in the southeast of Riyadh, namely in the Dirab area, home of house crows. These monkeys are native to India and expanded to reach other regions worldwide. Even here, in the Kingdom, monkeys are spreading across the majority of the coastal cities, and wiping them out will cost us large sums of money,” he concluded.


AlUla Wellness Festival invites the world to find peace within

AlUla Wellness Festival invites the world to find peace within
Updated 03 October 2022

AlUla Wellness Festival invites the world to find peace within

AlUla Wellness Festival invites the world to find peace within
  • The festival offers a variety of sessions for people to try different things, focusing on offering mental and physical well-being

ALULA: The mystical land of AlUla has become a major attraction for wellness-seekers, with AlUla Wellness Festival 2022 in full swing.

The festival offers a variety of sessions for people to try different things, focusing on offering mental and physical well-being.

Khalid Nahfawi, a yoga and meditation instructor and sound healer at the festival, told Arab News he discovered yoga in India. “Yoga was my first introduction to meditation — yoga being the pillar of meditation, it helps you go into a meditative state,” he said. 

“When I went to India, I just practiced it, and I noticed that it is really helping to calm me down, and one thing led to another, and now I am a certified instructor.”

Nahfawi added that people who have never meditated will never understand what it feels like until they try it. “It is like trying to explain the taste of sugar to an alien,” he said.

The festival was established so that visitors would feel peace, with the sound of running water and calm music enveloping them. Greenery, pleasing to the eye, sprouted from the velvety AlUla sands, and the architecture was soft and homely; there were no harsh buildings, with wood being the dominant element.

The Five Senses Sanctuary returned for its second edition, and Nahfawi said it featured a rich program of talented instructors and practitioners. “I highly encourage everyone to come and visit and experience for themselves,” he added.

For a more peculiar kind of meditation, sound-healer Valentina Adveeva sat on the roof of a building with a circular musical instrument, a handpan, played with just one finger.

The echoing music it produced helped attendees connect to one another and create music in harmony. Adveeva said that the handpan is a very young instrument, and when played it creates the same frequency as water and the heart.

“When you play with this instrument you will release your feelings and your emotions and feel very open — it doesn’t need to be just for meditation, you can just play it because of the music,” she said.

“You are focused on yourself, you enjoy the harmony, you are just enjoying your life, and in general you are okay. That is what we aim for in meditation.”

Valentina Adveeva taught the visitors how to play the handpan instrument. (AN photo by Abdulrahman Binshalhoub)

Another workshop that stood out was a spoken word session that brought together three types of art forms: Music, dancing, and poetry.

Raghad Fatahadeen wrote the poems and then read them to an audience while her friend Bilal Allaf performed an elaborate interpretive dance.

The poems talked about the meaning of life, finding your place in the world, and much more as Allaf encapsulated the emotions being conveyed rather than the words that were being spoken.

Fatahadeen said: “I wouldn’t say it is a coincidence — because nothing is a coincidence — but that is what it felt like to me. The pieces that I wrote didn’t go through the process of writing. I did not sit down and write. It just came to me; I felt like I received it.”

She then shared the poetry with her friend Allaf, and he volunteered to perform and dance for each one. When others heard them, they went silent, pushing the pair to work together and share with more people.

Raghad Fatahadeen wrote poems and then read them to an audience while her friend Bilal Allaf performed an elaborate interpretive dance. (AN photo by Abdulrahman Binshalhoub)

“We connect to things differently; sometimes words might be too heavy for people, maybe it is something you haven’t heard before,” Fatahadeen said. “Maybe if the words are too complicated, you can still listen to the music and feel something or look at the moves.

“Bringing that together makes for a holistic experience. We are trying to create a space for people that will invite people to reach into a specific state and connect on a higher level.”

Five Senses Sanctuary will keep its gates open for visitors until Oct. 8, with the festival continuing until Oct. 16.