RIYADH: Authorities in Saudi Arabia foiled a number of attempts to smuggle a large quantity of drugs into the Kingdom and arrested more than 400 people, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday. Col. Misfer Al-Quraini, the spokesperson for the General Directorate of Border Guard, said border guards patrols in the regions of Najran, Jazan, Asir and Al-Jawf prevented attempts to smuggle 52,371 tons of qat, 650 kilograms of hashish and 352,325 amphetamine pills. The contraband seized has an estimated street value of millions of dollars, according to the latest international reports. The operations were carried out between Feb. 12 and March 5, he added. Al-Quraini said 406 people have been arrested, including 44 citizens, and 362 people in violation of the border security system. They include 282 Yemenis, 69 Ethiopians, six Somalis, three Jordanians and one Sudanese and one Syrian. He added that initial regular procedures were completed against them, and the accused have been referred to the Public Prosecution.
Saudi human rights chief meets UK minister
RIYADH: Hala Al-Tuwaijri, Saudi human rights commission president, met with Lord Tariq Ahmad, UK minister for the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and the UN.
On a state visit to the UK, Al-Tuwaijri reviewed the Kingdom’s historic legislative reforms and developments in the field of human rights since the adoption of Saudi Vision 2030, stressing the keenness of the Saudi leadership to enhance and protect human rights, the HRC said.
The HRC president also visited the Slynn Foundation, discussing with officials there ways to enhance cooperation and exchange expertise in the field of human rights.
Saudi, Bahraini FMs chair coordination meeting in Manama
MANAMA: RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and his Bahraini counterpart Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani chaired the second meeting of the political coordination committee of the Saudi-Bahraini Coordination Council on Thursday in Manama.
The two sides reviewed bilateral relations, and discussed ways to enhance them and boost cooperation, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
Prince Faisal and Al-Zayani also presided over the first meeting of the council’s preparatory committee, which evaluated the progress made in the work of the subcommittees, and the initiatives launched during the council’s second meeting in 2021.
They also reviewed new initiatives that will be introduced during the council’s third meeting, as well as draft agreements and memorandums of understanding that will be signed between the two sides.
The meetings are part of Prince Faisal’s visit to Manama, where he met with Bahrain’s King Hamad and Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad.
UN tourism chief lauds Saudi Arabia’s starring role in sector on world stage
RIYADH: Sustainability and tourism, the rapid growth of the sector in Saudi Arabia, and its importance in fostering cross-cultural dialogue around the world, were the subjects of a roundtable discussion on the last day of an international industry gathering in Riyadh.
Secretary-general of the UN World Tourism Organization, Zurab Pololikashvili, spoke at the private session held to mark World Tourism Day.
This year’s event was attended by more than 50 ministers from around 70 countries. “This is happening for the first time for us, and we are very happy,” Pololikashvili said.
Several initiatives, most of which concerned Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning role in the global tourism sector, were announced over the course of the conference.
High on the meeting’s agenda was the need to expand knowledge surrounding the industry’s sustainability, and Pololikashvili revealed that UNWTO officials were working closely with Riyadh to create a center to address the issue in the Kingdom.
“The center will be like a brain where all projects and all guidelines are generated and from where we can provide and support member states from the Kingdom.
“From the center we will foster educational programs and projects catered to better understanding of sustainability. From here we will support countries in how to foster sustainable development of tourism in their countries,” he added.
The UN agency’s official office for the Middle East has been based in Riyadh since 2021.
Pololikashvili said: “We want to create a very clear program for sustainable development.”
He noted that the project was due to be launched in September next year with a bachelor’s program and participants spending time studying in the Spanish capital Madrid, and the Swiss city of Lucerne.
“The program will provide knowledge of sustainability to the young generation who will then have a clear methodology in how to create steps toward sustainable development,” he added.
Pololikashvili highlighted the progress being made in the Kingdom in developing tourism.
During the roundtable, he said: “We need to work together to make Saudi Arabia even more accessible. The investments in infrastructure and the rules, they’re changing every day. It creates an opportunity to attract more and more events.
“Until a few years ago, the country was totally closed for international travel. Now you see people coming from Argentina, Chile, Japan, and from all over the world.
“Almost 20 African ministers are here. This has never happened, and nobody could have imagined it happening five years ago. The steps are in place. This is a long vision. It’s not only Vision 2030. Many more things will happen here.”
He pointed out that cross-cultural dialogue and cultural diplomacy were key aspects for tourism which helped nations develop and grow economically on the world stage.
“Tourism is the best way for people to get to know one another. For the next five or 10 years we will be working toward tourism as a means for connecting people and bringing the world together.
“It brings all of us together and this is part of our new branding strategy, and it is a reality. Tourism is not only words and nice pictures,” Pololikashvili added.
He said tourism used to involve little more than traveling to a hotel and then returning. “Now it connects many more industries and people, and it is the way to promote intercultural relationships.”
And he noted that it was such relationships that spurred constructive dialogue and helped promote world peace.
“The more we travel, the more we are educated, and the more we know about the culture and people of new destinations, and this is what the government is doing here in Saudi Arabia,” Pololikashvili added.
NEOM and MB92 Group launch yacht repair center
- The partnership aligns with the imminent opening of Sindalah during 2024 and will be the first of several yacht repair centers in NEOM
NEOM, Saudi Arabia: NEOM and MB92 Group, a leading superyacht maintenance company, have inked a partnership to establish a 10,000-square-meter repair facility for yachts at NEOM’s luxury island and Sindalah, a yachting destination at Red Sea.
The partnership aligns with the imminent opening of Sindalah during 2024 and will be the first of several yacht repair centers in NEOM, responding to the anticipated growth of visiting and resident yachts, in the region in the coming years.
The new facility will provide yacht owners traveling to the Red Sea with access to MB92 Group’s experience in addressing the intricate repair demands of yachts and superyachts.
It also mirrors NEOM’s vision of building a maritime destination in the region, with both partners committed to offering dependable, efficient, and sustainable solutions for maintenance or repair requirements. As such, the construction of the new center will prioritize sustainable development within its design, processes, and equipment.
Aayush Killa, NEOM Islands executive director, said: “Teaming up with MB92 Group reflects our commitment to becoming a distinctive yachting destination. This venture embodies our dedication to delivering world-class infrastructure and services to support yachts visiting the Red Sea.”
Saudi Arabia’s transformation a ‘renaissance,’ Arab News assistant editor-in-chief tells Rome panel
- Discussion held against backdrop of Saudi Village event highlighting Saudi culture, heritage and aspirations
- ‘People-to-people’ event organized to celebrate Kingdom’s National Day and 90 years of Italy-Saudi relations
ROME: A panel discussion focusing on the dramatic changes underway in Saudi Arabia has likened the nation’s transformation to a “renaissance.”
Leading figures in media, sports and international relations gathered in the Italian capital to shed light on developments in the Kingdom.
Discussions explored Saudi Arabia’s evolving media landscape, with a special focus on the sports sector and women’s empowerment, as well as its alignment with the Vision 2030 initiative.
Noor Nugali, assistant editor-in-chief of Arab News, set the stage by drawing parallels between the Kingdom’s transformation and a renaissance, akin to the transformative period Italy witnessed centuries ago.
“The changes that are happening, they’re happening on a broad scale,” Nugali told the panel.
“They’re changing not only my country, but every country that surrounds it,” she said, adding that public acceptance and eagerness to witness these changes are a key aspect of what she described as the Kingdom-wide “renaissance.”
The panel discussion coincided with a Saudi Village event highlighting the Kingdom’s culture, heritage and attractions.
Set in the neoclassical building of Casina Valadier in Villa Borghese, the historic park in the heart of Rome, Saudi Village is showcasing the very best of the Kingdom. Over five days, starting from Sept. 25, residents of Rome will be able to explore Saudi Arabia’s culture, history, heritage, cuisine, tourist attractions and future aspirations.
The panel discussion also shed light on developments in the sports industry, underscoring its pivotal role within Vision 2030, not only for its contribution to the country’s economy, but also for its crucial role in supporting social transformation.
Nugali highlighted how the remarkable changes in the industry, from a surge in female business ownership to the emergence of Saudi women in sports leagues, reflect profound societal changes accompanying these developments.
Discussing collaborations between the Kingdom and Italy in media and sports, Gianni Merlo, president of the International Sports Press Association, said that gender equality in sports benefits everyone.
“When I was in Saudi, I was very surprised to see that the (sporting) prizes given to men and women were exactly the same,” he said.
“This is a fantastic approach that even our countries have not yet implemented, signifying that women will be more interested in investing in sports.”
During the panel discussion, Merlo highlighted the collaborations between Saudi Arabia and Italy, underlining the positive impact of sports diplomacy on fostering international relationships.
The exchange of experiences, especially in sports journalism, is a promising avenue for strengthening ties, he said.
Saudi Village, with Arab News as a media partner, was organized by the Saudi Embassy in Italy on the occasion of Saudi National Day and to celebrate 90 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Several Italian and Saudi companies were represented at the event, which was also attended by representatives of the Kingdom’s ministries of investment, sports and education, as well as the Saudi Tourism Authority and the Royal Commission of AlUla.
Paola Di Prospero, a representative of the Saudi Embassy in Rome, told Arab News that the Saudi Village event offers people in Rome a significant opportunity to learn more about Saudi culture and heritage, strengthening relations between Italy and Saudi Arabia.
“This year we took a different approach. Rather than hosting a private ceremony with institutional representatives, we decided to open it to the public,” she said.
“It’s a people-to-people event aimed at drawing the Italian population toward the Kingdom and its wonders.”