RIYADH: The US-Gulf Cooperation Council Defense Working Group held its third meeting in Riyadh on Wednesday, focusing on confronting the increasing threats posed by Iran in the region, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The group consisted of a senior US delegation led by Robert Malley, special envoy for Iran, and representatives from GCC countries.
The meeting reaffirmed the long-standing partnership between the US and the GCC countries, and their commitment to achieving regional security and stability through their strategic partnership.
The parties denounced Tehran’s ongoing destabilizing policies, such as its support for terrorism and the use and deployment of advanced missiles, cyber weapons, and unmanned aircraft systems in the region and around the world.
Participants also expressed grave concerns about Iran’s increased military engagement, citing its continued supply of conventional weapons, advanced missiles, and unmanned aircraft systems to the Houthis in Yemen.
They added that Iran’s continued production of such weapons posed a serious security threat to the region and the world as a whole.
The two sides said that the development of Iran’s nuclear program, as documented by the International Atomic Energy Agency, particularly the production of highly enriched uranium, had outpaced the country’s civilian needs and was a source of dangerous escalation of regional and international tensions.
They urged Iran to immediately cease nuclear provocations, engage in serious diplomatic processes, and fully cooperate with the IAEA’s investigations into nuclear material particles discovered at undeclared sites in the country.
The US reaffirmed President Joe Biden’s pledge not to allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.
The working group expressed its commitment to expanding defense cooperation between the two sides to counter Iranian threats, while saying that diplomacy was the preferred method for dealing with Tehran’s policies.
It also urged the international community to follow through on all relevant Security Council resolutions prohibiting such sales of weapons and nuclear materials.
Saudi royal reserve authority becomes member of world conservation body
Recognition of environmental and community achievements
Access to special databases, 18k experts linked to global body
Updated 10 sec ago
Tareq Al-Thaqafi Makkah
The King Salman bin Abdulaziz Royal Reserve Development Authority has been officially announced as a government member of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The authority was recently granted IUCN membership in recognition of its efforts to empower local communities in nature conservation and wildlife protection, and the restoration of key flora and fauna throughout the country.
It is one of the first entities in the Kingdom to obtain IUCN membership, allowing it to draw on international databases specialized in wildlife protection, and the expertise of 18,000 specialists linked to the world body.
The authority will now be able to form partnerships, exchange experiences with members, and participate in the IUCN quadrennial meetings and conferences.
The authority seeks, through this membership, to ensure the sustainability of the environment, in line with the objectives and goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan and the Saudi Green initiative.
Fahad Al-Shuwaier, director general of communication at King Salman Royal Reserve, told Arab News that the authority applied for the membership with comprehensive detail of all its environmental projects.
Al-Shuwaier said the IUCN advisory board meets every three months to discuss applications received from across the world.
Dr. Ahmed Al-Bouq, director general of wildlife conservation at the National Center for Wildlife Development, said the IUCN membership would aid in following best international practice.
Al-Bouq cited the example of the Farasan Islands’ Archipelago Reserve that became a UNESCO-listed entity by adhering to international benchmarks.
“The membership gives you guidelines and allows you to benefit from the expertise of a large number of international experts,” added Al-Bouq.
“When talking about biodiversity, you need a huge company of international experts, as it is impossible to attract experts in every subspecialty in biodiversity.
“You may find one expert who specializes in a certain branch of microbiology, and sometimes you find a very small number of experts who specialize in other disciplines,” he explained.
He said that “what links these experiences to each other is usually international organizations.” International partnerships were important for determining standards.
“When dealing with any organization that deals with protection, the first thing you need to do is to draw a baseline, and then examine the international standards that you aspire to reach, and thus draw (up) a plan to implement these standards.”
He said the most important part of the system was community involvement, a key factor recommended by international organizations concerned with protected areas. The main objective was not to prevent people from entering such areas, but to regulate the sustainable use of natural resources, said Al-Bouq.
Saudi Arabia, US keen on continuing Sudan talks - foreign ministry
Saudi Arabia calls on Sudan factions to agree to new ceasefire
Updated 43 min 13 sec ago
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia and the United States are keen to resume formal talks between the delegations of Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces, the Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement on Sunday.
“Saudi Arabia and the United States remain steadfast in their commitment to the people of Sudan and call upon the parties to agree to and effectively implement a new ceasefire,” the statement said.
The ministry said that the delegations of the Sudanese fighting factions are still in Jeddah, and continue to engage in daily negotiations.
“Those discussions are focused on facilitating humanitarian assistance and reaching agreement on near term steps the party must take before the Jeddah talks resume,” according to the statement.
It added: “Facilitators stand ready to resume formal talks and remind parties that they must implement their obligations under the May 11 Jeddah Declaration of Commitment to protect the civilians of Sudan.”
Sudan descended into chaos after fighting broke out in mid-April between the military, led by Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, commanded by Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo.
For weeks, Saudi Arabia and the US have been mediating between the warring parties. On May 21, both countries successfully brokered a temporary cease-fire agreement to help with the delivery of much-needed humanitarian aid to the war-torn country. Their efforts, however, were dealt a blow when the military announced on Wednesday it would no longer participate in the cease-fire talks held in Jeddah.
The fighting has turned the capital, Khartoum, and other urban areas into battlefields, resulting in widespread looting and destruction of residential areas across the country. The conflict has also displaced more than 1.65 million people who fled to safer areas in Sudan and neighboring countries.
Residents reported intense fighting over the past two days in Khartoum and its neighboring cities of Omdurman and Bahri.
Loud sounds of shelling and gunfire were heard early Sunday in parts of Omdurman, as the military’s aircraft flew over the capital.
Fighting was also reported in the northern part of the Darfur region, which had witnessed some of the worst battles since the fighting began on April 15.
KSrelief provide prosthetic limbs for 216 civilians in Yemen’s Marib
Updated 04 June 2023
Riyadh: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) provided prosthetic limbs for 216 civilians mutilated during the war in Yemen during the month of April, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The Prosthetic Limbs and Rehabilitation Center project in Marib Governorate provided various medical services to citizens who had lost their limbs. The prostheses were manufactured and mounted, and 60 patients underwent rehabilitation through physiotherapy; 156 patients were given specialized consultations.
Amputations performed on civilians have been a prominent feature of the vicious war in Yemen, with many requiring assistance from KSrelief after suffering life-changing injuries from bombs and landmines.
Elsewhere, the center managed on Saturday to distribute 75 food packages to more than 549 displaced families in Gezira state, in Sudan, as part of the Saudi relief air bridge that KSrelief is running to help the Sudanese people.
Global Research Council re-elects Saudi Arabia as MENA region chair
The decision came during the 11th annual meeting of the Global Research Council in The Hague
The Kingdom presented a working paper on the challenges and opportunities faced by the research councils in the MENA region
Updated 03 June 2023
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has been re-elected to represent the Middle East and North Africa region on the governing board of the Global Research Council during its 11th annual meeting in The Hague, The Netherlands, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.
The President of King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology, Dr. Munir Eldesouki, will continue to represent Saudi Arabia at the GRC and his re-election reaffirms the Kingdom’s prominent position in the scientific and research fields and its commitment to enhancing joint cooperation among research centers in the MENA region.
This achievement is also a testament to the unwavering support of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is head of the Higher Committee of Research, Development and Innovation.
During the annual meeting, which took place from May 29 to June 2, Eldesouki chaired a meeting of the heads of research councils from the MENA region and participated in a panel discussion on the funding of climate change research, in which the participants endorsed a statement to strengthen international cooperation, research outputs, scientific communication, financing strategies, taking into account social and economic conditions, local cultures and knowledge, capacity building in science, innovation and entrepreneurship, and identifying best practices.
Eldesouki, who is also the general supervisor of the founding team of the Research, Development and Innovation Authority, met with a number of heads of international research councils from Singapore, Canada, the US, Turkiye, Britain and Germany to discuss areas of cooperation on the sidelines of the annual meeting.
The Kingdom presented a working paper on the challenges and opportunities faced by the research councils in the MENA region and the delegation participated in a number of other key meetings, including the council’s executive committee, the international consultative committee, and the working groups concerned with equality, diversity and inclusion, responsible evaluation of research, and international multilateral funding.
Saudi Arabia has played a pivotal role in the GRC’s work since its establishment in 2012, including strengthening cooperation between research funding institutions, exchanging best practices and expertise in supporting scientific research, and exploring ways to support the scientific community across the world.
The Kingdom currently occupies the position of vice-chair of the GRC’s board of governors and also represents the regional research councils of the MENA region on the board, as well as on the executive committee.
Dhahran students win big at first Formula 1 in Schools event in Saudi Arabia
Three teams showing great promise have qualified for Formula 1 in Schools World Finals in a first for Saudi Arabia
Updated 04 June 2023
DHAHRAN: The Kingdom’s first Formula 1 in Schools event took place at the King Abdulaziz Center for Culture (Ithra) recently.
The three-day event featured F1 race car displays and discussion sessions led by F1 experts, as well as the announcement of the Saudi teams who will represent the Kingdom in the Aramco F1 in Schools World Finals in Singapore later this year: Shaheen from Dhahran, Oryx from Dhahran, and Abiyya from Riyadh.
The five regions represented were Dhahran, Al Ahsa, Riyadh, Madinah and Jeddah. Dhahran won big, collecting seven of the 13 national awards.
According to the official statement, “F1 in Schools is a global educational program that aims to raise awareness of STEM and Formula 1 among school students. Students are challenged and inspired through a STEM-based learning program covering topics such as physics, aerodynamics, design, manufacturing, branding, graphics, sponsorship, marketing, leadership/teamwork, media skills and financial strategy.
“The students will then apply what they learn in a practical, imaginative, exciting and competitive environment that echoes a scaled-down version of an F1 team.”
• F1 in Schools is a competition where students form teams to design and manufacture miniature F1 race cars.
• The Saudi teams that won the national finals are Shaheen from Dhahran, Oryx from Dhahran, and Abiyya from Riyadh.
Andrew Denford, founder and chairman of F1 in Schools, told Arab News: “I’ve just attended the first ever Saudi Arabia national final, it’s been absolutely incredible.” He noted that 68% of the participating students were female.
“We’re over the moon,” he continued. “I can’t wait to see the three teams in Singapore in September in the World Finals.”
During the awards ceremony, Ithra director Abdullah Al-Rashid offered words of encouragement to the students. He said Saudi Arabia is known for its energy — but will also be now known for the energy of its youth.
He noted that the F1 in Schools program not only helped to create young leaders of the future, but built friendships that he hoped would last a lifetime. The students “didn’t just build a car,” he told the crowd.
Aramco announced its plan to sponsor F1 in Schools as a title partner back in 2019. Ithra, being an Aramco initiative, took the wheel in the Kingdom, in partnership with the King Fahd University for Petroleum and Minerals.
Through a rigorous selection process, 16 teams from across Saudi Arabia were chosen to participate. Each team had a local training hub, including specialist facilitators and a state-of-the-art research and development lab. The training included creating a brand identity and marketing plan, as well as learning about the engineering involved in F1 cars.
We call ourselves Shaheen. It is the fastest supercomputer in the world (located in KAUST). And it’s also Arabic for ‘falcon,’ which represents the culture of our country, Saudi Arabia.
Noor Alsadat, Shaheen project manager
David Palfreeman, one of the judges, who flew in from Australia for the occasion, has been a judge in the program since 2018. He noted that the students in Saudi Arabia were already at the same level as some of the graduate students he has met.
“Super, super-impressed with the quality of the presentation and documentation, the standard is really high. Just very, very well presented. Really well thought-out, consistent,” he told Arab News. “The Saudi students are all so articulate, they’re so confident. It’s really exciting.”
Ithra also hosted a few interactive sessions to coincide with the announcement of the winners. The Great Hall had F1 simulator stations, exhibition booths, a Lego workshop, a pit-stop challenge and a “Formula 1 Through the Years” exhibition.
In the main plaza, a neon-green Aston Martin car with the Aramco logo could be seen and was likely the most photographed item during the three-day event. There was also a booth selling official Aramco and Aston Martin F1 merchandise, including gilets, caps, t-shirts and other items.
The big winners of the day, team Shaheen, were led by project manager Noor Alsadat, who jumped up and down with her whole team as the crowd rose to their feet to applaud them.
“We are very happy that we won first place. I’m very proud of my team. We came from different schools, we met in the Khobar Hub and we created our team,” Alsadat told Arab News. “We call ourselves Shaheen. It is the fastest supercomputer in the world (located in KAUST). And it’s also Arabic for ‘falcon,’ which represents the culture of our country, Saudi Arabia.”