JEDDAH: King Salman of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday named Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman the Kingdom’s prime minister and appointed Prince Khalid bin Salman defense minister in a Cabinet reshuffle by royal decree.
The crown prince had previously been defense minister, and Prince Khalid was deputy defense minister. King Salman will continue to chair Cabinet meetings that he attends, the decree said.
The other major appointment in the reshuffle was that of Yousef bin Abdullah Al-Bunyan, chief executive of the Saudi chemical manufacturing company SABIC, as minister of education.
The ministers who retain their portfolios are the Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Minister of Investment Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al-Falih, Minister of Interior Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud, and Minister of Finance Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Jadaan.
Prince Abdullah bin Bandar also remains as Minister of the National Guard, Walid Al-Samaani stays in his role as Minister of Justice, and Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz Al Al-Sheikh remains as Minister of Islamic Affairs.
Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan retains his post as Minister of Culture, and Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal keeps his role as Minister of Sports.
Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah will also stay in his role as Minister of Hajj and Umrah, and Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qasabi also remains as Minister of Commerce.
Bandar bin Ibrahim Al-Khorayef remains as Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources, Ahmed Al-Khateeb as Minister of Tourism, Faisal bin Fadhil Alibrahim as Minister of Economy and Planning, and Fahd bin Abdulrahman Al-Jalajel as Minister of Health.
The new defense minister, Prince Khalid, is a former Saudi ambassador to Washington. He graduated from the King Faisal Air Academy in Riyadh and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Royal Saudi Air Force.
The prince received his initial pilot training at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, and advanced training at Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi. He also studied advanced electronic warfare in France.
Previously, he was an F-15 pilot and tactical intelligence officer in the RSAF. Before a back injury ended his flying career, Prince Khaled flew more than 50 combat missions as part of the international coalition campaign against Daesh in Syria, and the Decisive Storm and Renewal of Hope operations in Yemen.
Birthplace of Saudi state comes to life with opening of Bujairi Terrace, Turaif
Marking the first phase of the $50 billion Diriyah Gate Development Authority project, the opening signals a new chapter in the area’s history
Updated 06 December 2022
Rebecca Anne Proctor
RIYADH: The prominent citadel of Salwa Palace, made from mudbricks three centuries ago in the historic Turaif district, the first capital of the Saudi dynasty, was illuminated on Dec. 4 with a spectacular light display in celebration of its opening to the public.
Just a few steps away, also in the historic Diriyah area, the Bujairi Terrace, a slew of high-end dining experiences ready to welcome over 3,000 people within an area of 15,000 square meters and featuring both Saudi and top international restaurants, opened to its first visitors.
It was a historic day for Saudi Arabia as the opening of both sites marked the first phase of completion for the $50 billion project of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority.
“This area is very special because it is the birthplace of the Kingdom,” Jerry Inzerillo, group CEO at the DGDA told Arab News. “It’s the ancestral home of Al-Saud, and it is the source of national identity and pride for all Saudis and all Arabs.”
To mark the special day, traditional performers in national dress put on a show and distributed gifts to visitors.
Stunning illuminated walkways lead the way through new buildings reflective of traditional mudbrick Arabian homes and lampposts decorated in the Najdi style typical to central Arabia. Palm trees line the Wadi Hanifa that separates the Bujairi Terrace from Turaif.
Visitors can walk over a bridge after dining at the Bujairi Terrace to visit the recently restored ruins of the original seat of the Al-Saud dynasty, taking the same steps as Saudi rulers did centuries ago.
What distinguishes the Bujairi Terrace from other high-end dining areas in the Gulf is the balanced offering of Saudi cuisine alongside top-notch international Michelin-star brands.
Maiz and Takya, two Saudi restaurants, offer a mix of traditional and contemporary cuisine within sleek settings decorated with a modern take on native Najdi patterns and architecture.
“We are offering specialties from the 13 provinces of Saudi Arabia,” Bader Al-Shaikh, a chef at Maiz, told Arab News.
“The idea was to create a place where people can dine in comfort and peace,” Hessah Al-Mutawa, owner of Takya, told Arab News. “We offer a contemporary fusion of traditional Saudi dishes.”
Inzerillo said that, in addition to the first 20 restaurants already present at the site — including well-known names like Angelina Paris, Café de L’Esplanade, Flamingo Room by tashas, which over the last few years has taken neighboring Dubai by storm — there are other 10 in the works for the second phase of development.
Six million trees and plants have also been incorporated into the area so that visitors can walk for hours, enjoying the natural and historic surroundings before and after dining at world-class restaurants.
Bruno, the famed French restaurant from the south of France, also opened in Bujairi, marking its second branch abroad after St. Petersburg, Russia. Saudi-owned gastronomical brands include GRIND, Somewhere, SUGAR and Sum + Things.
Upon the completion of the DGDA project, scheduled to be finished in 2030, Diriyah will be home to cultural, educational and entertainment shows, along with retail and hospitality facilities. The latter will include 38 hotels, in addition to a series of museums, cultural and academic institutes and retail areas.
The destination is expected to add around SR27 billion ($7.2 billion) to the country’s gross domestic product and create 55,000 jobs, with a focus on upskilling women.
The historic area of Diriyah, known for its Bedouin hospitality and culture, is experiencing a renaissance through a celebration of its past and present.
Inzerillo stated: “Now, from today, it is going to be one of the great gathering places in the world. Everybody will come.”
How China’s Xi Jinping became the embodiment of a new, multipolar world
Xi Jinping’s rule likely to prove transformative as China eyes title of world’s pre-eminent economic power
Since taking power in 2013, Xi has pursued what he has called a “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”
Updated 33 sec ago
RIYADH: When Xi Jinping became China’s president in 2013, the world’s most populous country had already emerged as the second-biggest economy and appeared poised to reset the global geopolitical balance.
Nearly 10 years into his premiership, Xi has cemented China’s place as a regional power, expanded Chinese influence in Central Asia and Africa, and made enormous strides in everything from robotics and artificial intelligence to space exploration.
China today has the world’s largest internet infrastructure, with the number of users increasing from 564 million to 1.03 billion over the past decade, and a robust digital economy, which has increased in value from 11 trillion yuan ($1.6 trillion) to 45.5 trillion yuan.
In that time, China’s GDP has grown from 53.9 trillion yuan to 114.4 trillion yuan, now accounting for 18.5 percent of the world economy. Meanwhile, average life expectancy has risen to 78.2 years, and around 100 million people have been lifted out of poverty.
Over the course of his lifetime, Xi has borne witness to China’s transformative rise, from the first tumultuous decades after the communist revolution of 1949 to the nation’s rapid ascent to superpower status.
Xi was born in Beijing on June 15, 1953, the son of Xi Zhongxun, a senior Communist Party official, one-time deputy prime minister, and former guerrilla commander in the civil war that brought the communists to power.
As the son of a senior official, Xi spent his early years among China’s elite. However, in 1969 at the age of 15, Xi was among the many educated urban youths who were sent to live and work in the countryside during the Cultural Revolution — a period of immense social upheaval.
Xi would remain in the remote northeastern village of Liangjiahe, in Shaanxi province, for seven years, learning firsthand how the majority of his countrymen lived and worked. While there, Xi joined the Communist Youth League and then, in 1974, the Communist Party of China.
In 1975, Xi returned to Beijing to study chemical engineering at the prestigious Tsinghua University. It was the following year, on Sept. 9, 1976, that Mao died at the age of 82, ending a 27-year rule characterized by radical social and economic transformation.
Hua Guofeng, Mao’s handpicked successor, emerged as the nation’s new leader. However, he was soon sidelined by Deng Xiaoping, who would go on to introduce significant economic reforms in the 1980s, sowing the seed of China’s emergence as a global superpower.
After university, Xi joined the military as an aide in the Central Military Commission and the Defense Ministry. Then, in 1982, he was given his first position of authority as deputy and then leader of the Communist Party in Zhengding county, south of Beijing, in Hebei province.
In 1985, having proved himself as a skilled provincial official, Xi was appointed vice mayor of the city of Xiamen, a manufacturing hub in coastal Fujian province — a post he would hold for the next 17 years.
It was during this time, in 1987, that Xi married Peng Liyuan, a popular singer in the People’s Liberation Army’s song and dance troupe. The couple had one daughter, Xi Mingze, who went on to study at Harvard University in the US.
With the new millennium, Xi’s national standing grew rapidly. In 2000, he was appointed governor of Fujian province. Two years later, he was transferred to neighboring Zhejiang province, where he was appointed party chief — a post that outranks governor.
Now a rising star within the CPC, Xi was appointed party chief of Shanghai in March 2007. He was to remain in this post for only a few months, however, as that October he joined the national leadership as part of the nine-member Politburo Standing Committee. The following year, in March 2008, he was named vice president.
Xi then began building his international profile. The same year he became VP, he was placed in charge of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing — an event that marked China’s own re-emergence on the world stage.
In Aug. 2011, Xi hosted then-Vice President Joe Biden on his visit to China, nearly a decade before Biden became US president.
Then, in Nov. 2012, Xi secured the top job in the CPC, replacing Chinese President Hu Jintao as general secretary, beginning his first five-year term as president of China in March the following year.
Since taking power, Xi has pursued what he has called a “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” with his “Chinese Dream” vision.
Under his leadership, China has enacted reforms to combat slowing growth and has launched the multi-billion-dollar “Belt and Road” infrastructure project aimed at expanding China’s trade links with Central Asia and Europe.
The country has become more assertive on the global stage, from the South China Sea and Taiwan in the east to countries of Asia and Africa in the west.
In Oct. 2017, marking the start of his second term, and in recognition of his transformational premiership, the CPC enshrined Xi’s ideology, known as “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era,” in its constitution, as well as his signature Belt and Road initiative.
Such was Xi’s prestige at the outset of his second term that China’s legislature voted in March 2018 to abolish the nation’s two-term limit on the presidency.
Xi’s second term was not without its challenges, however. In July 2018, the US, under then-President Donald Trump, imposed tariffs on Chinese imports, triggering a trade war. China retaliated with tariffs on US goods.
Then, in Jan. 2020, China locked down the city of Wuhan as a new virus sparked what would become the COVID-19 pandemic. Although China has seen one of the world’s lowest per capita death rates, its “zero-COVID” policy has required the imposition of periodic lockdowns.
As one of the world’s major industrial powerhouses, and one of its top manufacturers, China has been eager to play its part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, weaning its power grid off coal, developing clean renewable technologies, and promoting sustainability.
In Sept. 2020, in a video speech to the UN General Assembly, Xi announced China’s aim to reach peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and to achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.
It was in 2022 that China under Xi truly emerged as a global force with influence over world events. In February, at the opening of the Beijing Winter Olympics, Xi met Russian President Vladimir Putin, announcing a renewal of the Sino-Russian relationship.
Three weeks later, Russia invaded Ukraine, leading to Western sanctions and NATO efforts to shore up the Ukrainian defenders. China, meanwhile, like many equidistant nations, refrained from criticizing Russia’s operation, but stopped short of backing Moscow militarily. This episode alone demonstrates just how far China has come in the new, multipolar world.
In October, Xi began a third five-year term as CPC leader, setting him on a course to become the nation’s longest-serving leader since Mao, and very likely its most transformative, as China eyes the possibility of becoming the world’s pre-eminent economic power.
President Xi’s 3-day visit aims to boost Saudi-Chinese diplomatic, trade ties
Updated 06 December 2022
RIYADH: Chinese President Xi Jinping is due to arrive in the Kingdom on Wednesday for a three-day visit during which he will meet Saudi and Arab leaders.
Three summits will take place during his trip: the Saudi-Chinese Summit, the Riyadh Gulf-China Summit for Cooperation and Development, and the Riyadh Arab-China Summit for Cooperation and Development. The participants will include more than 30 leaders and officials from the two countries and international organizations, highlighting the importance of the gatherings and their high regional and international profile, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
Xi’s visit reflects the desire of the leaderships of Saudi Arabia and China to strengthen the bilateral relationship, enhance their strategic partnership and realize the political and economic potential it offers to serve their common interests, the SPA added.
More than 20 initial agreements between the two countries, worth more than SR110 billion ($29.3 billion), will be signed during the presidential visit, along with a strategic partnership deal, and a plan to harmonize the implementation of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 development and diversification project with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the agency said.
Saudi Arabia aims to build a strong strategic partnership with China to support trade and investment. The Kingdom was the biggest recipient of Chinese investment in the Arab World between 2005 and 2020, accounting for more than 20.3 percent of the total regional investment, worth $196.9 billion.
The two countries are preparing to launch the SABIC-Fujian Petrochemical Industrial Group, a joint venture worth an estimated SR22.5 billion, in which SABIC has a 51 percent stake, that includes a high-capacity plant for the production of petrochemical products.
Beyond trade and investment, relations between the two countries have also continued to expand and develop more broadly in recent years, particularly in terms of cultural exchanges.
In 2019, for example, the Saudi Ministry of Culture announced the establishment of the Prince Mohammed bin Salman Award for Cultural Cooperation between Saudi Arabia and China, which will be officially launched during President Xi’s visit. It aims to promote the Arabic language, along with Arab arts, mutual understanding and cultural exchanges, reflecting the Kingdom’s desire to further enhance the cultural aspects of relations.
A number of Saudi universities and schools offer classes in the Chinese language, while Arabic is taught in 44 Chinese universities.
AlUla, UNESCO launch archaeology International Fellowship Program
Training on archaeological digs, recordkeeping
Focus on protecting Saudi heritage, says royal body
Updated 06 December 2022
RIYADH: The Royal Commission for AlUla has announced the launch of an International Fellowship Program in the field of antiquities preservation in cooperation with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
The international fellowship program provides the opportunity to explore and learn about civilizations in the northwest of the Arabian Peninsula.
The program, in cooperation with archaeologists and heritage experts from the RCU’s Kingdoms Institute, is part of a four-month workshop in AlUla. It is expected to strengthen the scientific and technology transfer partnership between the RCU and UNESCO.
Training for field and administrative positions will be offered during the course of the program, which includes the study of artifacts and the preservation of archaeological monuments and key sites of interest.
Jose Ignacio Gallego, the RCU’s archaeology and heritage research executive director, said: “The international fellowship program will enhance knowledge transfer between international experts and trainees in a variety of specialized fields.”
“The fellowship aims to support the heritage of AlUla and establish it as a center of knowledge in the field of antiquities protection, and enhances the Kingdoms Institute’s position as a leading entity that implements innovative solutions and ideas in the field of heritage research, preservation and publicization.”
The Kingdoms Institute is a project of the RCU governorate. It is located in the Dadan Oasis. Its urban design is inspired by the Dadanian civilization, which is represented by one of the most prominent buildings carved into the mountains opposite the archaeological site.
The institute includes several basic archaeological programs and research, most notably preserving rock art, inscriptions, languages, agriculture, sustainability in prehistoric times, communication, and the protection of records and sites.
The Kingdom Institute specializes in studying and analyzing artifacts, and applying international practices for archaeological excavations and heritage preservation.
Saudi King invites Chinese president to visit Kingdom on Wednesday
Updated 06 December 2022
King Salman invited President of China Xi Jinping for an official visit to attend the Saudi-Chinese summit held in Saudi Arabia from Dec. 7 to 9, state news agency SPA reported on Tuesday.
The summit will be chaired by King Salman and the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. It will look at relations between the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council and Arab states with the People's Republic of China,
Discussions are expected to focus on strengthening joint cooperation in economy and development.