Filipino volunteers join Saudi ‘green’ initiative

Filipino volunteers join Saudi ‘green’ initiative
1 / 2
Volunteers participating in the clean-up drive launched by the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh in line with its volunteering policy. (Supplied)
Filipino volunteers join Saudi ‘green’ initiative
2 / 2
Amal Al-Daej (left), international relations and strategic partnership adviser of the NCVC; with Rommel Romato (center), charge d’affaires at the embassy, and Malik Al-Harbi, the “Let’s Make It Green” campaign’s manager. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 07 December 2022

Filipino volunteers join Saudi ‘green’ initiative

Filipino volunteers join Saudi ‘green’ initiative
  • Officials from the embassy and NCVC gathered for a jointly organized tree-planting event on Dec. 3 in the Saad National Park
  • The event was also intended to mark International Volunteer Day

RIYADH: As part of the Philippines Embassy’s initiative to celebrate the 53rd diplomatic anniversary with Saudi Arabia, the embassy recently took part in the “Let’s Make it Green” afforestation initiative being implemented by the National Center for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification across the Kingdom.
Officials from the embassy and NCVC gathered for a jointly organized tree-planting event on Dec. 3 in the Saad National Park, 100 km east of Riyadh.
The event was also intended to mark International Volunteer Day, which takes place annually on Dec. 5. This year’s theme is “Solidarity through volunteering.” According to the website of the UN Volunteers program, which coordinates IVD, the campaign “highlights the power of our collective humanity to drive positive change through volunteerism.”
Rommel Romato, charge d’affaires at the embassy, said: “The Filipino’s sense of volunteerism and commitment to environmental sustainability transcend our borders. Our dynamic Filipino community in Saudi Arabia fully supports the Saudi Green Initiative programs by undertaking clean-up drives and tree planting activities, among others.”
Amal Al-Daej, international relations and strategic partnership adviser of the NCVC, said: “The government of Saudi Arabia has decided to overcome environmental and ecological limitations through different initiatives. The most prominent among them is the Saudi Green Initiative which was launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2021. It aims to plant 450 million trees by 2030 — with a long-term target of 10 billion trees.
“This initiative foresees that afforestation and land-restoration measures will increase the Kingdom’s forestry sink to over 200 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030. Besides that, it is envisaged that the protected areas shall be increased to 30 percent of the total land area of Saudi Arabia by 2030.
Similar climate initiatives are also planned under the Middle East Green Initiative at the regional level, Al-Daej added.
She said: “Obviously it is difficult to draw comparisons between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia regarding the management of natural resources since it is a tropical country. Almost 90 percent of the total 25 percent forest cover of the Philippines is planted. We may learn from the plantation activities in mangrove forests in the Philippines, and also about nursery techniques for raising tree seedlings.
“The measures being taken by the Philippines to control the sharp rate of decline in forest cover over the past few decades would also be useful for us. Similarly, knowledge sharing may also be possible in regard to the management of protected areas.
“We very much appreciate the efforts being made by the volunteers from the Philippines. Indeed, the message to improve green cover through this event will help to encourage others to join in our efforts for greening Saudi Arabia,” Al-Daej added.


Saudi Arabia condemns ‘provocative’ Qur’an burning in Denmark

Saudi Arabia condemns ‘provocative’ Qur’an burning in Denmark
Updated 29 January 2023

Saudi Arabia condemns ‘provocative’ Qur’an burning in Denmark

Saudi Arabia condemns ‘provocative’ Qur’an burning in Denmark

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Saturday strongly condemned the burning of copies of the Qur’an by extremists in the Danish capital, Copenhagen, “in a new provocative step to the sentiment of millions of Muslims around the world.”

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated the Kingdom’s position, which “strongly rejects all these blatant acts that have unfortunately been repeated in several European capitals recently, under the pretext of freedom of expression, without a clear reaction toward stopping these practices.”

The Kingdom called on all European governments in which these extremist violations occurred, to urgently address all these practices that contribute to fueling hatred and conflict between followers of religions, the ministry said in a statement.

Rasmus Paludan, a far-right activist who holds both Danish and Swedish citizenship, already infuriated the Muslim world by staging a Qur’an-burning protest in Sweden on January 21. On Friday, Paludan replicated the stunt in front of a mosque as well as the Turkish Embassy in Copenhagen and vowed to continue every Friday until Sweden is admitted into NATO.

Several regional and international organizations, including the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Muslim World League, Arab Parliament and Gulf Cooperation Council, also issued statements strongly denouncing the incident, along with Pakistan, Jordan, Turkiye and Oman.


Saudi Arabia, France discuss peaceful atomic energy cooperation

Saudi Arabia, France discuss peaceful atomic energy cooperation
Updated 29 January 2023

Saudi Arabia, France discuss peaceful atomic energy cooperation

Saudi Arabia, France discuss peaceful atomic energy cooperation
  • They also discussed opportunities in renewable energy, clean hydrogen, and electrical interconnection

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman held a meeting on Saturday with French Minister of Economy, Finance, and Industrial and Digital Sovereignty Bruno Le Maire in the capital, Riyadh, the state-run SPA news agency reported.

The two ministers praised the relations between their two countries and discussed prospects for cooperation in the peaceful uses of atomic energy.

They also discussed future opportunities in various energy fields, including areas of cooperation in renewable energy, clean hydrogen, and electrical interconnection.


Sri Lankan foreign minister’s trip to Saudi Arabia yields ‘positive vibes’

Sri Lankan Minister Ali Sabry met with several Saudi officials and ministers during his recent visit to the Kingdom. (AN photo b
Updated 28 January 2023

Sri Lankan foreign minister’s trip to Saudi Arabia yields ‘positive vibes’

Sri Lankan Minister Ali Sabry met with several Saudi officials and ministers during his recent visit to the Kingdom. (AN photo b
  • Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia sign double tax avoidance deal to boost trade, investment
  • Framework agreement with GCC in the works

RIYADH: Sri Lankan Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Sabry has held talks with ministers and senior officials in Saudi Arabia, as the crisis-hit island nation seeks to boost cooperation with the Kingdom and other Gulf countries.

Sabry met with his Saudi counterpart Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Secretary-General of Organization of Islamic Cooperation Hissein Brahim Taha, Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council Nayef Falah M. Al-Hajraf, and CEO of the Saudi Fund for Development Sultan Al-Marshad, as well as officials from the Islamic Development Bank.

Sabry said that his visit to the Kingdom was “successful and that it will further cement and strengthen the bilateral relationship between our two countries as we see a lot of positive vibes that have been infused into our relations.”

Talks between the two foreign ministers covered enhancement of bilateral relations, increased investment with Sri Lanka as a gateway to South Asia, and employment for Sri Lankans in the Kingdom.

HIGHLIGHT

Ali Sabry, the Sri Lankan minister of Foreign Affairs, signed the double tax avoidance deal with the Kingdom’s Zakat, Tax and Customs Authority to boost trade and investment. Sri Lanka is said to be facing the worst economic crisis since its independence in 1948.

“Saudis have identified Sri Lanka as a very important geographical location, so (there are) investment opportunities in renewable energy, petroleum and hospitality industries,” Sabry said.

“We are interested in getting Saudi investment into the renewable energy sector for development, energy security and making Sri Lanka a regional energy hub.”

Discussions also took place around resuming airline services between Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka following their suspension during the global pandemic.

In a bid to enhance trade and investment relations between both countries, the visiting minister “signed a double tax avoidance agreement with the Zakat and Income Tax Authority here” to prevent fiscal evasion on income.

Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis since independence in 1948, with the government battling a shortage of foreign earnings, runaway inflation and recession.

The Sri Lankan minister thanked the Kingdom for its help with debt restructuring at the International Monetary Fund and Paris Club.

The Paris Club of creditor nations has proposed a 10-year debt moratorium on Sri Lankan debt and 15 years of debt restructuring as a formula to resolve the island nation’s currency crisis.

Sri Lanka is also in discussions with the IMF to secure a $2.9 billion bailout seen as vital to getting its economy back on track.

Sabry highlighted Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka’s long-standing relations and the former’s support in international forums.

“Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia have been traditional friends for a long period of time. To strengthen bilateral relationship, particularly in the multilateral fora — the UN and other agencies — we have to support each other,” he said.  

“They (Saudis) have been supporting us when we have been cornered unfairly by some powers for no reason. They have stood by us time and again. So we need to strengthen that relationship.”

Sabry and Al-Marshad discussed development issues of common interest, and the Sri Lankan minister praised the Kingdom’s efforts in developing infrastructure in Sri Lanka through SFD projects.

The minister’s meeting with Al-Hajraf focused on ties between Sri Lanka and the GCC.

“GCC is very important. We are looking at signing a framework agreement with the GCC, we want to expedite it as soon as possible,” Sabry said.

On his discussions with Taha and OIC observer status, Sabry said: “They are exploring the possibility of observer status, but we haven’t made the decision yet. Traditionally, we have had good relationships.”

Sabry also reassured Taha about the conditions of the Muslim community in Sri Lanka.

 


Sensational Pakistani singer delights Jeddah audience with hit songs

Pakistani music star Kaifi Khalil performed at a concert held on Jan. 26 at the WA Hotel in Jeddah. (Supplied)
Pakistani music star Kaifi Khalil performed at a concert held on Jan. 26 at the WA Hotel in Jeddah. (Supplied)
Updated 28 January 2023

Sensational Pakistani singer delights Jeddah audience with hit songs

Pakistani music star Kaifi Khalil performed at a concert held on Jan. 26 at the WA Hotel in Jeddah. (Supplied)
  • Speaking to Arab News, Khalil said: “My excitement hit the roof when I first learned that I will be performing in Saudi Arabia. I cannot describe this moment and the love I have received from the time I stepped into the country”

JEDDAH: Rising Pakistani music star Kaifi Khalil captivated audience members at a concert held on Jan. 26 at the WA Hotel in Jeddah.

The singer enjoyed a rapid rise to fame thanks to his mesmerizing vocals and soulful music. During the concert, he performed recent release “Kahani Suno 2.0” — which hit global world charts last year — along with other desi, folk and Sufi songs.

Speaking to Arab News, Khalil said the amount of love and warmth shown from the audience in Jeddah at his first international concert was “spectacular,” adding: “I had promised myself to fill the evening with a rendition of all my songs and tried my best to make sure every single person had a good time.”

Pakistani music star Kaifi Khalil performed at a concert held on Jan. 26 at the WA Hotel in Jeddah. (Supplied)

He said: “My excitement hit the roof when I first learned that I will be performing in Saudi Arabia. I cannot describe this moment and the love I have received from the time I stepped into the country.”

Although he has performed many times back in Pakistan, Khalil was overwhelmed to see the response from an international audience, which has inspired him to return to the Kingdom.

The constant cheering from the crowd was pure magic. When the performance was coming to an end, it dawned on me that everything that I felt was so precious that I will cherish it forever.

Kaifi Khalil

“The constant cheering from the crowd was pure magic. When the performance was coming to an end, it dawned on me that everything that I felt was so precious that I will cherish it forever,” he said.

After Khalil’s music went viral last year, the singer became an inspiration to many, with children, teenagers and adults attending in the Jeddah concert.

One concertgoer described the event as a “magical night,” adding: “I don’t know how many times I have listened to Kaifi Khalil’s songs. To watch him perform live was a dream come true moment. He has such a soulful voice that made the entire hall sing along with him.”

Mohammed Abdullah, another fan, said: “I was so excited to experience the vibe and music of Kaifi Khalil. He is totally a gem in the music industry. Besides, I would like to extend gratitude to the organizers for the very well executed event as we could watch him clearly from our seats.”

Alongside Khalil, the event also included versatile singers Abida Hussain and Saleem Rifiq.

Nosheen Waseem, founder of Nosheen Arts Culture Center, which oversaw the concert, said that the center aim to take the entertainment industry in the Kingdom to the “next level.” The event was organized to mark the successful completion of the first year of NACC, which involved organizing a range of nonprofit events.

Salman Lodhi and Talha Abdul Ghafoor, who organized the event, said: “The turnout was incredible — around 300 people attended the musical night. The atmosphere was electric. Everyone had a great time and the audience was on their feet for the entire performance.”

 

 


Makan hosts Indian music night in Jeddah

AN photos by Adnan Salem Mahdaly
AN photos by Adnan Salem Mahdaly
Updated 29 January 2023

Makan hosts Indian music night in Jeddah

AN photos by Adnan Salem Mahdaly
  • Speaking to Arab News, The Groove Town band co-founder, bassist Firdous Amir, said: “Makan encourages artists to the extent where they regularly organize events and draw fans to their stage almost every weekend

JEDDAH: Makan Music Center organized an Indian-themed music night for local artists and bands on Friday evening.

Fans of Indian music were treated to well-known Bollywood tunes and other genres of Indian music. The themed night was part of Makan’s cultural events calendar, during which a variety of local bands showcase genres including Arabic and Latin music.

Shaher Karkashan, CEO and co-founder of Makan, said: “We have accomplished a tremendous amount over the last four years in terms of enhancing the local music scene and providing a space for music learners and hobbyists.

“Aside from the themed weekend events, Makan provides various services including music lessons, studio production, events and artist management. We aim to make our music center competitive internationally and spread cross-cultural music diversity.”

Speaking to Arab News, The Groove Town band co-founder, bassist Firdous Amir, said: “Makan encourages artists to the extent where they regularly organize events and draw fans to their stage almost every weekend. Additionally, they offer a music school with a vast lineup of excellent music instructors.”

His fellow co-founder, drummer Razin Rafeek, added: “The Saudi music scene has come a long way in the last four or five years. The acceptance level the Saudi audience has shown is phenomenal and encourages artists to come and showcase their talent in public. The fact that we have international acts visiting and performing in the Kingdom makes it all the more special.”

He continued: “Makan has always been a wonderful space to perform that is ingrained with a cool and groovy vibe, and run by a musically gifted team. It’s one of our favorite places to perform in Jeddah. The Indian music night was lovely and heartfelt. People from different nations came to hear us.”

Makan’s future plans include running workshops for beginners, Karkashan said.