MWL chief receives Cardinal Christoph Schonbrunn in Riyadh

Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa receives Cardinal Christoph Schonbrunn in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa receives Cardinal Christoph Schonbrunn in Riyadh. (Supplied)
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Updated 26 February 2023
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MWL chief receives Cardinal Christoph Schonbrunn in Riyadh

Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa receives Cardinal Christoph Schonbrunn in Riyadh. (Supplied)
  • Schonbrunn praised the Makkah Document’s achievements at the global level, especially its positive messages for future generations

RIYADH: Secretary-General of the Muslim World League Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa on Saturday received Cardinal Christoph Schonbrunn, archbishop of Vienna, who arrived with his accompanying delegation to Riyadh at the invitation of MWL.

During the meeting, the two sides discussed issues of common interest, especially efforts to build bridges between nations and peoples, and the importance of  cooperation and communication between religious leaders in confronting calls for clash of civilizations.

The meeting discussed the Makkah Document and its global impact on relations between religions and cultures, and its active role in addressing international crises.

Schonbrunn praised the Makkah Document’s achievements at the global level, especially its positive messages for future generations.

He also expressed interest in the work of MWL and its international initiatives, highlighting his hopes for future cooperation.

 


Saudi FM stresses Kingdom’s public and private positions identical on Gaza

Saudi FM stresses Kingdom’s public and private positions identical on Gaza
Updated 40 min 3 sec ago
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Saudi FM stresses Kingdom’s public and private positions identical on Gaza

Saudi FM stresses Kingdom’s public and private positions identical on Gaza
  • Prince Faisal disagreed with the US veto on Gaza ceasefire
  • Prince Faisal met with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken for talks on Gaza

RIYADH: Saudi foreign minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, during an interview with PBS NewsHour, confirmed that the Kingdom’s stance on Gaza is the same in public and private.

Prince Faisal was refuting claims from PBS Presenter Nick Schifrin that “[Saudi Arabia’s] public calls do not match your private calls to destroy Hamas. Why the dual message?”

The Saudi foreign minister said, “There is no dual message. What we say in private and what we say in public is exactly the same, not just for the kingdom but for all the Arabs.”

He added, “I am very proud that what we are saying in public and private are the same. I can’t say the same for some of our Western interlocutors.”

Prince Faisal, who is currently leading the Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee’s visit in Washington to call for a Gaza ceasefire, disagreed with the US veto on the UN Security Council resolution on Saturday.

He also voiced disappointment at the Security Council’s inability to “take a firm position” on Gaza.

“We have now seen a level of carnage in Gaza that is unprecedented, that is unjustifiable under any pretext of self-defense,” noted Prince Faisal.

The Arab-Islamic Committee also objected to the US veto that blocked the UN Security Council resolution during a meeting with the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. Prince Faisal said the committee would push for a ceasefire to prevent more civilian deaths.

“This continuing level of civilian casualties does not serve anybody's interests, including the interests of Israel or its security.”

The Saudi foreign minister warned against the risk of the war’s expansion from Gaza to the rest of the region, as well as the rising threat of extremism. “People are losing their trust in the argument for peace in our region, but they're also losing their trust in the international systems of security and legitimacy,” he said.

On Saturday, Prince Farhan met separately with Blinken in Washington to discuss the Israel-Hamas war.

The officials discussed “all possible efforts to reduce the pace of escalation and ensure that the violence does not expand to avoid its dangerous repercussions on international peace and security,” reported the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

The meeting was attended by Princess Reema bint Bandar, the Saudi Ambassador to the United States.


World should make immediate Gaza ceasefire a priority – Saudi foreign minister

World should make immediate Gaza ceasefire a priority – Saudi foreign minister
Updated 09 December 2023
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World should make immediate Gaza ceasefire a priority – Saudi foreign minister

World should make immediate Gaza ceasefire a priority – Saudi foreign minister
  • Prince Faisal bin Farhan says that governments worldwide do not appear to see an immediate ceasefire as a priority
  • Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee held joint press conference before meeting with US state secretary in Washington

WASHINGTON: There must be an immediate end to the fighting in Gaza but governments worldwide do not seem to see it as a priority, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said on Friday in Washington, adding that there must also be a credible roadmap to establish a Palestinian state.

At a joint press conference before meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, a group of foreign ministers said the focus should remain on stopping the fighting immediately in the Palestinian enclave between Hamas militants and the Israeli military.

“Our message is consistent and clear that we believe that it is absolutely necessary to end the fighting immediately,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said.

“One of the disturbing facts of this conflict is that ending the conflict and the fighting doesn’t seem to be the main priority for the international community,” he said.

“I certainly would hope that our partners in the US will do more... we certainly believe they can do more,” the Saudi minister added.

Humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza needed to be significantly increased, he said, adding that it is “unacceptable” that aid “is being restricted and has been restricted” because of “bureaucratic obstacles.”

A UN Security Council vote on a demand for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war was delayed by several hours on Friday until after Blinken’s planned meeting with Arab ministers and the foreign minister of Turkiye. The Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee comprises ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Turkiye.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told the press conference that if the resolution fails on Friday, it would be giving a license to Israel “to continue with its massacre.”

“Our priority for now is to stop the war, stop the killing, stop the destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure,” he said.

“The message that’s being sent is that Israel is acting above international law ... and the world is simply not doing much. We disagree with the United States on its position vis-a-vis on the cease-fire,” he said.

“The solution is a cease-fire,” said Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, while his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi called putting an end to the fighting the number one priority.

“If the UN Security Council fails to adopt the resolution that is simply calling for humanitarian pauses, that is giving Israel a license to continue its massacre against civilians in Gaza,” he said.

Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for an immediate end to the war in Gaza and said an international peace conference should be called to work out a lasting political solution leading to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

(With Reuters and AFP)


World should make immediate Gaza ceasefire a priority: Saudi foreign minister

World should make immediate Gaza ceasefire a priority: Saudi foreign minister
Updated 09 December 2023
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World should make immediate Gaza ceasefire a priority: Saudi foreign minister

World should make immediate Gaza ceasefire a priority: Saudi foreign minister
  • ‘Our message is consistent and clear that we believe that it is absolutely necessary to end the fighting immediately,’ Prince Faisal bin Farhan said
  • Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee held joint press conference before meeting with US secretary of state in Washington

WASHINGTON: There must be an immediate end to the fighting in Gaza but governments worldwide do not seem to see it as a priority, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said on Friday in Washington, adding that there must also be a credible roadmap to establish a Palestinian state.
At a joint press conference before meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, a group of foreign ministers said the focus should remain on stopping the fighting immediately in the Palestinian enclave between Hamas militants and the Israeli military.
“Our message is consistent and clear that we believe that it is absolutely necessary to end the fighting immediately,” Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said.
“One of the disturbing facts of this conflict is that ending the conflict and the fighting doesn’t seem to be the main priority for the international community,” he said.
“I certainly would hope that our partners in the US will do more... we certainly believe they can do more,” the Saudi minister added.

Humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza needed to be significantly increased, he said, adding that it is “unacceptable” that aid “is being restricted and has been restricted” because of “bureaucratic obstacles.”
A UN Security Council vote on a demand for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war was delayed by several hours on Friday until after Blinken’s planned meeting with Arab ministers and the foreign minister of Turkiye. The Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee comprises ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Turkiye.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told the press conference that if the resolution fails on Friday, it would be giving a license to Israel “to continue with its massacre.”
“Our priority for now is to stop the war, stop the killing, stop the destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure,” he said.
“The message that’s being sent is that Israel is acting above international law ... and the world is simply not doing much. We disagree with the United States on its position vis-a-vis on the cease-fire,” he said.
“The solution is a cease-fire,” said Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, while his Jordanian counterpart Ayman Safadi called putting an end to the fighting the number one priority.
“If the UN Security Council fails to adopt the resolution that is simply calling for humanitarian pauses, that is giving Israel a license to continue its massacre against civilians in Gaza,” he said.
Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for an immediate end to the war in Gaza and said an international peace conference should be called to work out a lasting political solution leading to the establishment of a Palestinian state.
(With Reuters and AFP)


Saudi Arabia’s Soudah Peaks: the luxury mountain destination at the Kingdom’s highest point

Saudi Arabia’s Soudah Peaks: the luxury mountain destination at the Kingdom’s highest point
Updated 08 December 2023
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Saudi Arabia’s Soudah Peaks: the luxury mountain destination at the Kingdom’s highest point

Saudi Arabia’s Soudah Peaks: the luxury mountain destination at the Kingdom’s highest point
  • The area stands 3,015 meters above sea level and offers adventurers, thrill-seekers, and lovers of serenity a special place in Asir

RIYADH: Soudah Peaks, a sustainable luxury mountain destination under construction by the Public Investment Fund’s Soudah Development, lies in the southwest region of Saudi Arabia.

It stands 3,015 meters above sea level — the highest point in the Kingdom — and will offer adventurers, thrill-seekers, and lovers of serenity a special place in Aseer.

“Soudah Development and Soudah Peaks, as a destination that our company has been developing under the ownership of the Public Investment Fund … we believe, has done something very, very important,” said Srdan Susic, chief sustainability officer at Soudah Development. “Out of 630 sq. km under Soudah Development, we are developing only a small portion of it. So, the built footprint is not going to be very, very large.”

He added 28 percent of the land being used has been placed under numerous forms of natural protection.

Daniel McBrearty, chief development officer for the company, said: “The masterplan for Soudah Peaks epitomizes meticulous design within a sustainable environmental framework, reflecting an unwavering commitment to responsible development. Acknowledging the region’s rich biodiversity, Soudah Development is dedicated to preserving and nurturing these invaluable assets.”

Visitors and residents will have abundant opportunities to enjoy Soudah Peaks with year-round outdoor activities in the clean, cool mountain air, from mountain trails and hiking paths to paragliding, mountain biking, horse riding, and zip-lining. (Supplied)

Susic added that this information is important for the PIF-backed developer to enhance and extend protective coverage of the area.

“We are very keen on restoring around 19 priority cultural heritage sites. The ecosystems around us have been very productive in the past, and this allowed the local communities to build significant assets like old houses, old palaces, old mosques, old integrated villages … some of them we hope to see on UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites list,” he said.

Part of these efforts include a partnership with the National Center for Wildlife, which witnessed the recent release of 10 Arabian mountain gazelles into the wild, with the aim of reintroducing more wildlife to enhance biodiversity.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Part of these efforts include a partnership with the National Center for Wildlife, which witnessed the recent release of 10 Arabian mountain gazelles into the wild, with the aim of reintroducing more wildlife to enhance biodiversity.

• As well as support endangered animals, the developers’ environmental initiatives will plant 1 million trees by 2030 and rehabilitate parks and forests to enhance vegetation cover, conserve biodiversity and restore ecosystems. 

As well as support endangered animals, the developers’ environmental initiatives will plant 1 million trees by 2030 and rehabilitate parks and forests to enhance vegetation cover, conserve biodiversity and restore ecosystems.

Visitors and residents will have abundant opportunities to enjoy Soudah Peaks with year-round outdoor activities in the clean, cool mountain air, from mountain trails and hiking paths to paragliding, mountain biking, horse riding, zip-lining and more. An 18-hole golf course will sit atop the Soudah plateau with stunning views and average temperatures of 20 C.

The serene settings will offer nature lovers a chance to enjoy national parks, a network of hiking trails, local farms and find harmony with nature through a collection of luxury wellness experiences including exclusive eco-spa resorts, meditation centers and yoga retreats.

Visitors and residents will have abundant opportunities to enjoy Soudah Peaks with year-round outdoor activities in the clean, cool mountain air, from mountain trails and hiking paths to paragliding, mountain biking, horse riding, and zip-lining. (Supplied)

Soudah is also home to a rich tapestry of traditional folk music, poetry, art, locally produced honey, coffee farms and local customs passed down over generations. There are more than 200 documented heritage sites, from hamlets, mosques and minarets to watchtowers and mountain forts, and many will be considered for inclusion on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites.

There will also be 80,000 square meters of retail area, more than 30 additional attractions, 1,336 residential units, and 2,700 hospitality keys.

“The project encompasses six unique districts — Tahlal, Sahab, Sabrah, Jareen, Rijal, and Red Rock — each offering world-class facilities, from hotels, luxury mountain resorts, and chalets to villas, premium residential units, and diverse entertainment options,” said McBrearty.

Soudah Development and Soudah Peaks, as a destination that our company has been developing under the ownership of the Public Investment Fund … we believe, has done something very, very important.

Srdan Susic, Chief sustainability officer at Soudah Development

“Each district is curated with a different emphasis to cater to sports, adventure, wellness, and cultural enthusiasts. Soudah Peaks’ development is structured across three phases … (with) phase one encompassing over 940 hotel keys, 340 residential units, and 32,000 square meters of retail space.”

Tahlal will serve as the primary hub for tourists, offering upscale dining and shopping, hospitality, entertainment, and conference spaces, all within a sustainable ecosystem. Perched atop Soudah, it offers breathtaking views of the Sarawat Mountains.

The clifftop Sahab district will provide thrilling attractions, mountain experiences, and a hub centered around mountain sports, including hiking, paragliding, biking and zip-lining. A high-altitude performance and rehabilitation center will offer top-notch training facilities for extreme athletes.

Visitors and residents will have abundant opportunities to enjoy Soudah Peaks with year-round outdoor activities in the clean, cool mountain air, from mountain trails and hiking paths to paragliding, mountain biking, horse riding, and zip-lining. (Supplied)

Sahab will also feature 15 glamping pods, over 360 luxurious hotel rooms, serviced apartments, and commercial spaces for entertainment.

Sabrah district, which will be a remote luxury residential and hospitality destination with a wellness spa, yoga pavilion, and meditation retreats, is located on the southern plateau of Soudah Peaks. It offers peace and tranquility, with 180 different types of premium hotel rooms, 350 opulent second homes, and commercial spaces to support the residential community, all surrounded by an authentic integration within the natural landscape.

With Soudah’s green agricultural landscape, Jareen district will adopt a sincere approach to fostering a sense of connection with the natural world. Hiking paths meandering through the heritage sites and agricultural landscape, along with culinary excursions to small organic coffee and honey farms, are sure to delight nature lovers. Jareen will have 35 distinctive glamping pods with a range of boutique stores and dining options perched on the mountainside.

Visitors and residents will have abundant opportunities to enjoy Soudah Peaks with year-round outdoor activities in the clean, cool mountain air, from mountain trails and hiking paths to paragliding, mountain biking, horse riding, and zip-lining. (Supplied)

The Rijal district will offer opportunities to experience authentic culture and heritage by fusing the past, present, and future. This destination, which is surrounded by historic architecture and situated within the Rijal Almaa heritage village, will combine park areas and outdoor event space to provide a variety of year-round events. Rijal will have 80 boutique hotel rooms with chic, heritage-inspired luxury interiors, as well as boutique stores and real food options.

Situated amidst natural parkland on the plateau of Soudah Mountain, nature lovers will discover an abundance of activities including peaceful glamping sites, nature reserves, horseback riding, and cycling trails at the Red Rock district. It will also have 170 upscale boutique hotel rooms and distinctive restaurants perched atop a cliff with views of Red Rock Mountain.

Commencing in 2024, phase one is expected to be completed by 2027, marking the point at which Soudah Peaks will be ready to welcome tourists. This timeline aligns with the overarching plan for the destination to unfold gradually. Abha currently has airport access of 222 flights per week, including 34 international flights.

 


Saudi foreign minister, EU foreign affairs chief discuss Gaza during call

Saudi foreign minister, EU foreign affairs chief discuss Gaza during call
Updated 08 December 2023
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Saudi foreign minister, EU foreign affairs chief discuss Gaza during call

Saudi foreign minister, EU foreign affairs chief discuss Gaza during call

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan received a phone call from EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said on Friday.
The two officials discussed developments in the Gaza Strip and its surrounding areas, and the efforts exerted to reach an immediate cease-fire in the besieged Palestinian enclave. 
They also discussed the repercussions of the current crisis, especially at the humanitarian level.