ALULA: Maraya’s stunning mirror concert hall here was the scene of wild excitement and lump-in-the-throat nostalgia on Wednesday when Westlife performed for what appeared to be some of their most dedicated fans from Saudi Arabia and other parts of the world.
The Irish boy band had the crowd cheering even before they came on stage in AlUla for their “Wild Dreams Tour.” The audience erupted when the four singers eventually emerged to play their most recent hit “Starlight,” with the fans then singing every line in unison.
It was impossible to keep them in their seats. And when the singers shouted “jump,” they were on their feet.
The vocalists Shane Filan, Mark Feehily, Kian Egan, and Nicky Byrne have been through thick and thin. In 2012 they disbanded temporarily, only to come back bigger and stronger in 2018.
Diana Philander from Cape Town said she has been following them since a teenager. “I was 17 back then and I’m 40 now, so this is one of my favorites. I have been practicing the songs for the whole week and I loved every minute of it.”
“Thank you to the Saudi government for making all of this possible, there is just one word I can say and that is, it was just superb.”
The concert was a real treat for fans, with the band playing some of their biggest hits.
Before performing the very first song of their career, “Swear it Again,” Egan stepped forward and said: “Can you believe it? This song came out when we were little boys.”
Later Filan said: “We have played in a lot of places in the world, but honestly Maraya might be the coolest venue we have ever played in.”
“Everything was so beautiful, the ride here was absolutely stunning, and of course, you guys are so beautiful,” Filan said pointing toward the audience. “We have a beautiful family and we have always considered our fans as a part of this family, so thank you for being amazing.”
They also played “When you’re looking like that,” “Money, Money, Money” (originally sung by ABBA), and “Flying Without Wings.”
With fans calling for more, the band returned after briefly walking off the stage and performed “Hello My love” and several other songs.
Jessan Domingo Sanson from the Philippines said she traveled all the way from Dhahran to see the stars. “I have been a fan since I was in sixth grade, and I am now 34 years old.”
Sanson was so excited she could barely form coherent sentences, instead expressing herself with shrieks and gestures. Sitting in the front row, she was over the moon because the band members repeatedly moved forward to wave and make heart signs to her and the other audience members.
“I am just glad that it was their first time here in Saudi Arabia, and I didn’t miss a chance to see them,” she said.
Having been together on the road for 23 years, the singers seemed clearly comfortable on stage, bantering and laughing while performing. They applauded each other when hitting particularly expressive and beautiful notes.
Thomas Wallace Thompson, a Scot who lives in AlUla, said: “It was amazing, a boy band from the 90s was here, all the girls were screaming. I am a man who is nearly 60 years old and still found everything extremely enjoyable. I have so many friends who are fans of Westlife and they are so jealous of me.”
Aisha Ahmed, a Saudi fan who was present at the concert with her husband, said: “The band kept saying that they are taking us through their songs, but it really felt like I went back in time, suddenly I was 13 again and I was listening to them in my bedroom, suddenly I was back with my high school friends dancing with our hairbrushes to their songs.”
Arab leaders welcome China’s cooperation for development at Riyadh summit
China will work with Arab countries to support development, food security, health, energy and the environment
President Xi Jinping reaffirms Chinese support for the establishment of an independent state of Palestine
Updated 10 December 2022
RIYADH: Arab countries wish to enhance cooperation with China and look forward to a new phase of partnership, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman said at the inaugural Riyadh Arab-China Summit for Cooperation and Development on Friday.
The event was one of two conferences held back to back on the last day of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s three-day state visit to Saudi Arabia.
“The Kingdom is working on enhancing cooperation (with China) to serve international stability,” the crown prince said in the presence of Arab leaders and Xi, who referred to the summit as a historic moment in relations between the Arab countries and China.
Addressing the gathering of leaders, the crown prince, who chaired the summit on behalf of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, said: “We welcome you to the first Arab-Chinese summit aimed at raising the level of joint cooperation among the member states of the Arab League and China, in a way that serves the common interests of our countries.”
He added: “We look with great interest at the steady growth and rapid technological progress achieved by China, which has made it one of the world’s leading economies.
“The convening of this summit establishes a new phase for advancing the relationship between our countries and strengthening partnership in areas of common interest.”
For his part, Xi expressed hope that the summit would “lead to a brighter future,” adding that China sought “comprehensive cooperation” with Arab states to serve Chinese-Arab common interests.
He described the Riyadh summit as a development in the history of Chinese-Arab relations that promises a brighter future amid cooperation between China and Arab states.
The Saudi crown prince said the Kingdom especially values the cooperation of, and partnerships with, the participants of the summit in the context of the Middle East Green Initiative.
Together with the Saudi Green Initiative, the MGI was launched by the crown prince last year as part of efforts to reduce regional carbon emissions.
“We are aware of the challenges posed by climate change and we believe in the need to find more sustainable and comprehensive solutions, while maintaining the levels of growth of the global economy, as we aim to reach carbon neutrality,” the crown prince said.
“We appreciate the role of China in putting forward a number of valuable initiatives, the most important of which is the Friends of Global Development Initiative, which matches many aspects of Saudi Arabia’s priorities toward supporting sustainable development and promoting food security.”
Appreciating China’s position in supporting the two-state solution in dealing with the Palestinian issue and the Arab Peace Initiative, the crown prince said: “Saudi Arabia affirms the need for a just and permanent solution to the Palestine issue in accordance with international legitimacy resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative, in a way that guarantees the Palestinian people’s right to establish an independent state on the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
In his speech, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi highlighted the significance of Arab-Chinese ties, saying coordination with China must be increased to resolve regional and international crises.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he stands with China against the “malicious campaigns” it is facing. He also condemned what he called Israel’s attempts to alter the Arab identity of Jerusalem, and demanded that Israel be held accountable for its violations.
Moving on to Syria and Libya, the Saudi crown prince said that the Kingdom attached great importance on doubling efforts aimed at finding political solutions to the current crises, and to ensuring security, stability and prosperity in the two countries.
Reaffirming the Kingdom’s support for efforts aimed at a comprehensive political solution in Yemen, he commended Beijing’s solidarity with Saudi initiatives in Yemen.
Speaking about the long history of Chinese-Arab relations, Xi said: “The friendship continues with its roots in the depths of history, where they met and got to know each other through the old Silk Road.
“The friendship persisted through the struggles for national liberation, and economic globalization, and continues to uphold rights and justice in a changing and volatile world.
“The spirit of Chinese-Arab friendship of solidarity, synergy, equality, mutual benefit, inclusiveness and mutual benefit were developed through it.”
Making a strong pitch for the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Xi said: “The Palestinian cause concerns peace and stability in the Middle East and puts the moral conscience of humanity at stake.
“The historical injustice suffered by the Palestinian people cannot continue. We look forward to the establishment of an independent state that does not accept rejection, and the international community must consolidate faith in a two-state solution.”
Xi reaffirmed that the Chinese side steadfastly supports the establishment of an independent and fully sovereign state of Palestine on 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, in addition to supporting Palestine’s attainment of full membership at the UN.
He said China will continue to provide humanitarian aid to the Palestinian side with the aim of supporting it to carry out livelihood projects, in addition to increasing donations to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.
“China and the Arab states trust each other and have brotherly feelings,” Xi said.
“We share unwavering support for issues related to the vital interests of the other side. We unite and progress together on the cause of achieving renaissance and solidarity in the spirit of one team against the COVID-19 pandemic.”
He said that during the last 10 years the volume of trade exchange had exceeded $300 billion; the balance of mutual direct investment amounted to $27 billion.
More than 200 projects had been implemented within the framework of cooperation in building the Belt and Road Initiative, which has eventually benefited nearly 2 billion people.
He added: “The Chinese side is keen to deepen mutual strategic confidence with the Arab side and exchange firm support for the efforts of the other side to preserve the country’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and national dignity.
“The two sides adhere jointly to the principle of non-interference in internal affairs, the application of true multilateralism, and the defense of right and the legitimate interests of developing countries.”
Xi said both China and Saudi Arabia must focus on economic development and strengthen cooperation based on mutual gains. He pointed out that the Chinese side supports the Arab side in finding political solutions to thorny issues and in building a common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security system in the Middle East.
He highlighted China’s keenness to work with the Arab side to implement joint actions over the next three to five years, covering eight areas: development, food security, health, green development and innovation, energy security, dialogue among civilizations, youth rehabilitation, and security and stability.
He added that Islamophobia and extremism must be confronted.
Saudi Arabia, China emerge as comprehensive strategic partners as Chinese President Xi Jinping wraps up state visit
Agreement reached on harmonizing Vision 2030 with Belt and Road Initiative and boosting non-oil trade
Deepening ties with China does not mean the Kingdom is turning its back on the US, says Saudi foreign minister
Updated 10 December 2022
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and China agreed to strengthen their strategic relations and expand commercial ties during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s three-day state visit to the Kingdom.
Xi and his delegation held talks with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and the heads of key ministries, resulting in 35 memorandums of understanding and deals worth $30 billion.
The two sides signed a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement, committing to support each other’s core interests, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to defend the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states.
Addressing the media at the conclusion of Xi’s visit on Friday, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the Saudi minister of foreign affairs, said the deepening of relations with China did not mean the Kingdom was turning its back on the US and other Western allies.
He said: “Saudi Arabia’s main focus is how to grow economically, and through the work with strategic partners we will continue to find ways to enhance bilateral cooperation with all.
“The Kingdom is a member of the G20 and is aiming to become one of the top 15 economies globally. We have to be open to cooperation with everyone.
“There is no doubt that working together with the second largest economy in the world is vital to Saudi Arabia’s growth, but that does not mean that we cannot continue to work with the world’s largest economy.
“We strive to work with all large economies and others around the world. By working with various partners, it will ensure the transition of the Kingdom to another level of growth that cannot happen by declining opportunities from one country to another.
“We have to be open to cooperating with others and that has been the Kingdom’s philosophy to achieve mutual interests.”
The Saudi side reaffirmed its adherence to the one-China principle during the summit, while the Chinese side expressed support for the Kingdom in maintaining its security and stability, and rejected any attacks targeting civilians, civilian infrastructure, territories, and Saudi interests.
“We look to enhance our Comprehensive Strategic Partnership with China and find means to develop it beyond trade,” said Prince Faisal. “The partnership supports the Kingdom’s development and serves its interests.”
Regarding regional and international issues, the two sides welcomed the first China-GCC Summit and the first Arab-Chinese Summit, both of which were also held in Riyadh on Friday.
The two sides stressed the importance of enhancing cooperation through the high-level Saudi-Chinese Joint Committee to achieve common goals, enhance cooperation, and intensify communication between government and private sectors.
Both sides stressed the importance of stability in the global oil markets and agreed to explore common investment opportunities in petrochemicals, and to enhance cooperation in solar, wind, and other sources of renewable energy.
They also agreed to cooperate on hydrocarbons, energy efficiency, localization of energy sector components and supply chains, in addition to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and the development of technologies like artificial intelligence.
In particular, the delegations stressed the importance of deepening cooperation with regard to the Belt and Road Initiative, including involvement in energy and investment partnerships and making use of the Kingdom’s location as a regional center.
The two sides welcomed the signing of the “harmonization plan” between the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 social reform and economic diversification agenda and China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Xi announced the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative — formerly known as One Belt One Road — in 2013.
The initiative sets out to connect the markets and manufacturers of East Asia to those of Europe via a vast logistical and digital network running through Central Asia, the Middle East and North Africa in a modern-day reimagining of the ancient Silk Road.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative shares the same goal of boosting interconnectivity through cooperation in energy, trade, investment and technology as Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 agenda, launched in 2016 by the Saudi crown prince.
• Saudi and Chinese officials signed a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement, committing to support each other’s core interests.
• Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the Saudi minister of foreign affairs, said deepening ties with China did not mean the Kingdom is turning its back on the US.
• Chinese President Xi Jinping and his delegation took part in summits on Friday with GCC representatives and Arab heads of state.
China is Saudi Arabia’s largest trading partner. According to Reuters news agency, bilateral trade between the two countries hit $87.3 billion in 2021, with Chinese exports to the Kingdom reaching $30.3 billion and China’s imports from Saudi Arabia totaling $57 billion.
China’s main exports to Saudi Arabia are textiles, electronics and machinery, while China mainly imports crude oil and primary plastics from the Kingdom. In the first 10 months of 2022, China’s Saudi oil imports reached 1.77 million barrels per day, valued at $55.5 billion, according to Chinese customs data.
The delegations agreed to boost the volume of non-oil trade, increase joint investments, expand capacity for commercial airlines, motivate private sector investment, and create an attractive investment environment.
In particular they agreed to deepen cooperation in the automotive industry, supply chains, logistics, water desalination, infrastructure, manufacturing, mining, and the financial sector.
The Saudi side said it hopes to attract Chinese expertise to participate in the Kingdom’s forthcoming mega-projects, and for Chinese companies to open regional headquarters in Saudi Arabia.
The two sides also welcomed agreements concerning hydrogen energy, the judiciary, Chinese language education, housing, direct investment, radio and television, the digital economy, economic development, standardization, the news media, tax administration, and anti-corruption.
The Chinese delegation also expressed its keenness to deepen investment cooperation in the digital economy and green development, enhance cooperation in e-commerce, and explore means of joint economic and trade cooperation with Africa.
Regarding the shared challenge of climate change, the Chinese delegation welcomed the Kingdom’s Saudi Green Initiative and Middle East Green Initiative and expressed its support for Saudi Arabia’s application of the circular carbon economy.
They also agreed to urge developed countries to take their historic responsibilities seriously, through the fulfillment of their obligations by greatly reducing emissions before the target date, and to tangibly help developing countries through financial, technical, and capacity-building support.
The two sides stressed the need to strengthen partnership in communications, digital economy, innovation, and space, to achieve better digital infrastructure for the future generations in both countries.
They also stressed the importance of enhancing cooperation and joint action on developing the air and sea transport sectors, modern transport modes and railways, and expediting the completion of studies on the Saudi land bridge project.
Both delegations affirmed their determination to develop cooperation in defense to combat organized crime, terrorism, and cybercrimes.
They also stressed the importance of strengthening health cooperation to combat current and future health threats and pandemics, and agreed to develop cooperation in the areas of heritage, culture, sport, tourism, and science.
China and GCC ‘natural partners for cooperation,’ Chinese President Xi Jinping tells Riyadh summit
To be partners, China and GCC states must harmonize development strategies, Xi tells summit in Riyadh
He assures that China will continue to support the GCC bloc by building a collective security system
Updated 10 December 2022
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia hosted the first Riyadh Gulf Cooperation Council-China Summit for Cooperation and Development on Friday.
The event was jointly chaired by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who ws in the Kingdom on a three-day state visit, and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman.
In his opening address, the crown prince said the meeting reflected a mutual desire to enhance Chinese-Gulf cooperation and would establish a historic new phase in relations.
Among the GCC leaders in attendance were King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa of Bahrain; Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Sharqi, the ruler of Fujairah and representative of UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan; and Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud Al-Said, Oman’s deputy prime minister.
The delegation also included Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, the emir of Qatar; Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the crown prince of Kuwait; and Nayef Falah Mubarak Al-Hajraf, the GCC secretary-general.
Xi said China and the GCC were natural partners due to their shared values and interests.
He added: “For more than 40 years the two sides have written impressive chapters of solidarity, support, and joint cooperation.
“China enjoys a wide consumer market and an integrated industrial system, while the Gulf side is characterized by rich energy resources and prosperous development to diversify the economy.
“The two sides are natural partners for cooperation and understanding as both sides, the Chinese and Gulf, belong to an Eastern civilization with similar cultural values and peoples who understand and converse with each other and share in good times and bad.”
One of the first areas of cooperation to be discussed was the approval of the joint 2023-27 action plan to strengthen the existing strategic partnership between the Gulf countries and China in economic, political, and cultural fields.
The volume of trade between the GCC states and China reached $228.9 billion in 2021 — a big leap from the $148.2 billion recorded in the previous year.
Leaders stressed the importance of continuing to develop cooperation in the fields of energy, trade, investment, finance, industry, advanced technology and space, along with the need to complete free trade negotiations as soon as possible.
The need for greater links in the fields of culture, education, tourism, media, and sport was also discussed.
Xi added: “In order to be partners in the pursuit of development, we must strengthen the harmonization between our strategies, activate the advantages of integration and generate an impetus for development.”
Xi said his country will work with the GCC over the next three to five years across five priority areas, including energy, investment, the digital economy, space, and cooperation in culture and language, with plans to teach the Chinese language in 300 schools and universities.
He said he wants to work with the Gulf to import natural gas and enhance cooperation in the fields of upstream recycling, engineering services, storage and refining of oil and gas, and to make full use of the Shanghai Petroleum and Natural Gas Exchange as a platform for oil.
Xi said: “China will also enhance cooperation in the field of clean and carbon-reduced energy technologies, such as hydrogen energy, energy storage, and smart electrical networks, and enhance cooperation in consolidating the production of equipment related to new energy.”
He expressed his desire to establish a Chinese-Gulf forum for the sound uses of nuclear energy, and a center of excellence for nuclear security to train 300 qualified specialists in the peaceful uses of the power source for the GCC countries.
Xi highlighted the potential for cooperation in space technology, giving Arab and Chinese students and specialists the chance to work together.
“Chinese foreign relations are distinguished by a long history and a promising future,” he said.
Other topics covered during the summit were security and stability, and the priority of restoring international peace through mutual respect and cooperation.
Xi said: “To be partners to improve security, China will continue its unwavering support for the GCC countries in maintaining their security, and support the countries of the region to resolve differences through dialogue, consultation and building a collective security system in the Gulf.
“China welcomes the GCC countries to participate in the global security initiative in order to maintain peace and stability in the region with joint efforts, and to be partners for the advancement of civilization.
“Then we must strengthen the rapprochement among our peoples, diversify human and cultural communication, benefit from the distinguished cultural fruits on both sides, and strengthen the jewel of Eastern civilization, which provides a positive contribution to the development and progress of human civilization.”
Bahrain’s King Hamad expressed his gratitude to King Salman for his invitation to participate in the summit.
He said it reflected “the keenness of the GCC countries, brotherly Arab countries, and the friendly People’s Republic of China to intensify cooperation and joint coordination in various fields, for the benefit and good of our countries and the whole world.”
Al-Hajraf said President Xi’s visit to Saudi Arabia represented an important opportunity to address issues of common interest, build on countries’ relations, and enhance cooperation in energy, investment, the economy, and development.
Chinese president promises security, energy cooperation at Saudi summits
Beijing backs Saudi Arabia’s right to defend its stability, rejects foreign interference and attacks against civilians and Saudi interests
Updated 09 December 2022
RIYADH: Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday highlighted close security and energy ties with Gulf nations during summit meetings in the Saudi capital.
He attended summits with Saudi, Gulf and other Arab leaders, describing the talks as a historic milestone for relations with the energy-rich Middle East.
“China will continue to firmly support the GCC countries in maintaining their own security ... and build a collective security framework for the Gulf,” Xi said at the start of the China-GCC summit.
Saudi Arabia and China vowed to prioritize relations as part of their foreign policy and set a model of cooperation and solidarity for developing countries, according to a joint statement released after the Saudi-Chinese summit.
The two sides reaffirmed that they will continue to firmly support each other’s core interests, support each other in maintaining sovereignty and territorial integrity, and exert joint efforts to defend the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of states, rules of international law and basic principles of international relations.
The Chinese side expressed support for Saudi Arabia in maintaining its security and stability, and affirmed its opposition to any actions that would interfere in the internal affairs of the Kingdom, condemning any attacks targeting civilians and Saudi interests.
The two sides stressed the importance of enhancing cooperation through a high-level Saudi-Chinese joint committee to achieve common goals, intensify communication between the government and private sectors in the two countries, discuss economic, trade and investment opportunities, and translate them into tangible partnerships, and enhance cooperation to elevate economic and developmental ties.
In the Riyadh Gulf-China Summit for Cooperation and Development Xi met leaders from the six Gulf Cooperation Council countries.
“Gulf countries and China can achieve economic and industrial integration,” Xi told Gulf leaders, noting that the GCC has succeeded in overcoming global challenges.
Xi pledged China’s unwavering support for the Gulf countries’ security and assured them that the Asian giant will continue to import Gulf oil in large quantities.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said that the summit reflected the common desire to strengthen Gulf-Chinese cooperation. He added that the establishment of a GCC-China free trade zone was also discussed.
Addressing the Riyadh Arab-China Summit for Cooperation and Development, Xi described the talks as a “historic moment” in Arab-China relations.
The crown prince said that Arab countries seek to improve cooperation with China and look forward to a new phase of partnership.
King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa of Bahrain commended efforts by King Salman to host the three summits, citing Saudi Arabia’s strategic role in the region and world.
The three summits reflect the keenness of the GCC countries, the brotherly Arab countries, and friendly China to intensify joint cooperation and coordination in various fields “for the benefit and good of our countries and the world as a whole,” he said.
Riyadh streets were decorated with the national flags of Saudi Arabia, Gulf and Arab states as well as China.
GCC Supreme Council lauds Saudi convening of summits, looks forward to strengthening cooperation with China
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman assumed presidency of Friday’s meeting of 43rd session
He announced the Kingdom’s intention to present second phase of Vision 2030 reform plan
Updated 09 December 2022
RIYADH: On the sidelines of summits in Riyadh on Friday with the visiting president of China, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman presided over the meeting of the 43rd session of the Supreme Council of the Gulf Cooperation on behalf of King Salman.
Lauding Saudi Arabia’s convening of the Riyadh GCC-China Summit for Cooperation and Development and the Riyadh Arab-China Summit for Cooperation and Development, the Supreme Council said it was looking forward to their contribution to strengthening cooperation and the strategic partnership with China.
Among those in attendance were Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Sharqi, the ruler of Fujairah, as representative of UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed; King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa of Bahrain; Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani; Crown Prince of Kuwait Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah; Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud Al-Said, deputy prime minister of Oman; and Dr. Nayef Falah Mubarak Al-Hajraf, secretary-general of the GCC.
During the summit, the Supreme Council reaffirmed its support for the sovereignty of Palestinians over all Palestinian territories occupied by Israel since June 1967.
Condemning Israel’s continued settlement-building on occupied Palestinian lands, the council urged the international community to intervene and stop the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes.
It cautioned that attempts to impose Israeli sovereignty on Palestinian people was a clear violation of international law.
“Our countries reiterate the need for a just and lasting solution to the Palestinian cause in accordance with the resolutions of international legitimacy and the Arab Peace Initiative, in a way that guarantees the Palestinian people’s rights with Al-Quds as its capital,” the Saudi crown prince said, referring to East Jerusalem.
He also reiterated the Kingdom’s full support for international efforts aimed at arriving at a comprehensive political solution in Yemen.
The Supreme Council stressed that future negotiations with Iran over the nuclear issue must address Tehran’s attempts at destabilizing the region and its sponsorship of terrorism and sectarian militias.
Saudi Arabia emphasized the need for Iran to abide by international principles and charters, fulfill its nuclear obligations, cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and maintain the principle of good neighborliness.
The Saudi crown prince took the opportunity to announce the Kingdom’s intention to launch the second phase of Vision 2030.
“In light of the significant developments over the past seven years, resulting from the implementation of the GCC’s ambitious development and economic transformation plans, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia intends to present a second phase of the vision of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud,” he said.
“The vision contributed towards strengthening the strategic role of the Gulf Cooperation Council, regionally and globally, accelerating the council’s progress in the economic, social, security, military and political fields — including the appointment of military commanders to the unified military command of the Gulf Police.”
Affirming that the GCC countries will remain a safe and reliable source to provide the world with its “green energy” needs, the crown prince highlighted the Kingdom’s efforts in launching the Saudi Green Initiative, the Middle East Green Initiative, the concept of a circular carbon economy, and other programs aimed at developing sustainable energy sources.
Underscoring the need for sustainable development, the crown prince said: “The Kingdom believes that hydrocarbon energy sources will remain an important resource to meet the needs of the world for the coming decades.”
He added: “Aware of the importance of sustainable development and preserving the environment for future generations, we continue joint action to address climate change and strive to reduce and address its impact.”
The Saudi crown prince congratulated Sultan Haitham bin Tariq on Oman’s assumption of the presidency of the 43rd session of the Supreme Council.
He also paid tribute to the late UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan’s outstanding role and his efforts to enhance the work of the Supreme Council.
The Saudi crown prince congratulated Sheikh Tamim for his success in hosting the ongoing football FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
At the outset of his speech, the crown prince warmly welcoming the GCC representatives to Saudi Arabia, asking them to consider the Kingdom as their “second country.”
He added: “We ask the Almighty Allah to help us continue with the march of goodness and cooperation and to promote the GCC’s joint action toward steady development and prosperity.”
In the final communique issued at the end of Friday’s session, the Supreme Council thanked the crown prince for assuming the presidency of the meeting, and expressed its appreciation for the “keenness and interest mentioned in his opening speech to activate the march of cooperation among GCC countries.”
It also expressed its “deep appreciation and gratitude for the great and sincere efforts” of King Salman and the Saudi government during the Kingdom’s “presidency of the 42nd session and the important steps and achievements that were achieved.”