‘I reserve the right to change course,’ Lindsey Graham tells Al Arabiya during landmark Saudi visit

‘I reserve the right to change course,’ Lindsey Graham tells Al Arabiya during landmark Saudi visit
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Updated 18 April 2023
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‘I reserve the right to change course,’ Lindsey Graham tells Al Arabiya during landmark Saudi visit

‘I reserve the right to change course,’ Lindsey Graham tells Al Arabiya during landmark Saudi visit
  • US Senator urges colleagues to ‘seize moment’ and create a military and economic alliance with the kingdom
  • “This is the best opportunity in decades to upgrade the bilateral relationships,” he tells Saudi broadcaster

LONDON: US Senator Lindsey Graham said he “reserved the right to change course” on his opinion of Saudi Arabia following a visit to the Kingdom.

The Republican South Carolina senator arrived in Saudi Arabia last week for his trip, during which he met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and “thanked” the Kingdom for its $37 billion purchase of Boeing 787 aircraft.

He told ABC’s “This Week” program on Sunday that he had altered his views on the Kingdom and the reforms happening in the country after his visit, having been a vocal critic after the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Speaking to Al Arabiya’s Fatma Fahad, Graham said: “The world has changed, Saudi Arabia has taken a new path, 2018 still looms large, I’ll just be honest with you.”

He continued: “But, I see things happening here, that I didn’t think were possible, I thought it was all talk, so, I’m here to see it for myself. 

“I’m going to go back home and tell my colleagues: ‘You need to go to Saudi Arabia and see what’s going on.’

“You bought $37 billion (worth) of aircraft made in my state and my country, I think more is coming, so as a United States senator, I reserve the right to change course. Saudi Arabia has changed course.”

Lauding the Vision 2030 reform program in the Kingdom, Graham urged Washington to take the opportunity to build stronger links with Saudi Arabia.

“If you can achieve Vision 2030, it will make Saudi Arabia a tourist destination, it will make it a better business partner, and if we can seize this moment to make a strategic alliance with Saudi Arabia militarily and economically, I think it is worth my time to come back and be part of that,” he said.

Graham said US interest in Saudi Arabia was about “caution and opportunity,” adding that American firms can help develop the Kingdom's plans for a nuclear energy program which, unlike Iran’s, would be for peaceful purposes.

“We are here for opportunity, this is the best chance I’ve seen in decades to upgrade the (US-Saudi) relationship,” he said.

“If you believe climate change is real, which I do, nuclear power is clean, it’s not emitting CO2. I want to try to be helpful there and have American companies involved in the nuclear business come over to help Saudi Arabia have a nuclear program,” he added.

 

The senator said he also wanted an “upgrade in the relationship militarily” to help defend against common enemies, to continue selling weapons to the Kingdom and to keep training Saudi officers in American schools.

“I would like to have some agreement with Saudi Arabia, I would be supportive of a mutual defense agreement,” he said. “I don’t know if we have the votes for it, but some agreement that would make Saudi Arabia more like a NATO ally and less like an adversary,” he added.

 

Graham also told Fahad that he told the Saudi leadership any deal with Assad would “jeopardize American presence in northeastern Syria” and would be “met with resistance.”

He continued: “We have 2,500 soldiers in Baghdad, the Iranians are trying to drive us out of the region, they don’t want us here, we stand in the way of their long-term objectives.”


Saudi FM receives phone call from Iranian counterpart

Saudi FM receives phone call from Iranian counterpart
Updated 5 sec ago
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Saudi FM receives phone call from Iranian counterpart

Saudi FM receives phone call from Iranian counterpart

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan received a phone call from his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on Sunday.

During the call, the officials discussed developments in the region and increasing escalation against the backdrop of the crisis in the Gaza Strip and its repercussions.


Saudi defense minister discusses military escalation in region with US counterpart

Saudi Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman discussed the military escalation in Middle East with US Secretary of Defense.
Saudi Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman discussed the military escalation in Middle East with US Secretary of Defense.
Updated 16 min 55 sec ago
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Saudi defense minister discusses military escalation in region with US counterpart

Saudi Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman discussed the military escalation in Middle East with US Secretary of Defense.

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman discussed the military escalation in the Middle East on Sunday with his US counterpart during a phone call.

The call comes after Iran launched a wave of missiles and attack drones against Israel overnight Saturday to Sunday.

Prince Khalid and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin also discussed efforts to contain the crisis while upholding international peace and security.

The officials also reviewed their strategic defense partnership and explored ways to further enhance it, the Kingdom’s defense minister said in a post on X. 


Saudi artist seeks to beat limitations and transcend comfort zones

Saudi artist seeks to beat limitations and transcend comfort zones
Updated 26 min 50 sec ago
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Saudi artist seeks to beat limitations and transcend comfort zones

Saudi artist seeks to beat limitations and transcend comfort zones
  • Ali Alhammadi has been passionate about visual arts since childhood

JEDDAH: Ali Alhammadi, a Saudi 32-year-old visual artist from Aldawadmi in Riyadh, has carved out a remarkable pathway in the world of art since his professional debut in 2017.

Passionate about visual arts since childhood, Alhammadi’s artistic inspiration was ignited by the “Saudi renaissance” in line with Vision 2030, prompting him to embark on a creative expedition to express his perceptions through the canvas.

Alhammadi told Arab News that his art philosophy is about breaking invisible limitations and transcending comfort zones, drawing inspiration from the evergreen landscapes he encountered during camping trips with his father in the Riyadh desert.

Passionate about visual arts since childhood, Ali Alhammadi’s artistic inspiration was ignited by the ‘Saudi renaissance’ in line with Vision 2030. (Supplied)

“During every spring season, me and my father used to go camping in the outskirts of Riyadh, when the desert turns green for a couple of months, where all the magical inspiration happens.”

Through his landscapes and abstract pieces, Alhammadi delves into his feelings, insecurities and aspirations, painting a narrative that speaks volumes.

“I use my art to express both happiness and sadness, and sometimes I start a painting with an idea in mind, but then I end up with a new one,” he said.

Ali Alhammadi, Saudi artist

One of Alhammadi’s pioneering techniques, “Invisible Limitations,” challenges traditional conceptions and societal norms, symbolizing the potential within, and beyond self-imposed boundaries. He said that his work reflects a realization that limitations are merely illusions.

“Our comfort zone sometimes restricts our ability to be inspired and inspire others. That’s why I decided to paint the Invisible Limitations theme.

“As I matured, I realized that most of these limitations don’t exist ... our limitation is the sky.”

Passionate about visual arts since childhood, Ali Alhammadi’s artistic inspiration was ignited by the ‘Saudi renaissance’ in line with Vision 2030. (Supplied)

Alhammadi’s artistic evolution has been influenced by his participation in prestigious exhibitions such as The Stars Exhibition at the German Embassy in Saudi Arabia and the second Riyadh Season Exhibition.

These platforms not only showcased his talent but also provided a catalyst for his creative development, empowering him to delve deeper into his cultural roots while embracing global influences.

Navigating between diverse cultural landscapes, Alhammadi, based between Liverpool and Riyadh, seamlessly fuses vibrant hues and styles, blending Saudi heritage and international artistic trends.

His experiences abroad have expanded his artistic horizons, inspiring him to create artworks that resonate with a global audience while retaining a distinctive Saudi essence. “Now that I have found my theme and art style, I believe that this phase will take me to different phases in my professional art career,” he said.

Looking toward the future, Alhammadi envisions his artwork evolving to explore the intricacies of human and cultural relationships, going deeper into themes that resonate with universal emotions and experiences. “Human and cultural relationships is something I’m keen on expressing through art,” he said.

His participation in international and local events such as the Founding Day in Liverpool and the National Day in London has not only spotlighted his talent but also enriched his artistic narrative with a tapestry of diverse influences.

For aspiring visual artists embarking on their creative odyssey, Alhammadi offers this advice: “Stay true to your vision, embrace your unique style, and let your art tell your story.”

 


Saudi authorities crack down on drug offenders in Jazan

Saudi police have arrested individuals carrying prohibited drugs. (SPA)
Saudi police have arrested individuals carrying prohibited drugs. (SPA)
Updated 37 min 18 sec ago
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Saudi authorities crack down on drug offenders in Jazan

Saudi police have arrested individuals carrying prohibited drugs. (SPA)
  • Authorities apprehended a citizen with 71 kg of hashish hidden in a vehicle in Al-Dayer governorate

RIYADH: Saudi authorities recently made several drug-related arrests and confiscations in operations in the Jazan region, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

In the Al-Dayer governorate of Jazan, Border Guards thwarted an attempt to smuggle 175 kg of narcotic qat.

The guards also apprehended three Yemeni nationals attempting to smuggle 60 kg of qat in Jazan.

In another incident, land patrols in the Jazan region arrested a citizen for selling qat plants hidden in his vehicle.

Authorities also apprehended a citizen with 71 kg of hashish hidden in a vehicle in Al-Dayer governorate.

Border Guards patrols in the Al-Arda governorate in the Jazan region intercepted the smuggling of 160 kg of qat.

Preliminary legal procedures have been completed for all the individuals involved and all seized items have been handed to the authorities.

The Saudi government urges anyone with information related to suspected smuggling operations or customs violations to call the confidential hotline 1910, the international number +966114208417, or to email [email protected].

Tips received relating to smuggling and breaches of common customs law are treated with strict confidentiality. Financial rewards are offered for valid tips.

 

 


GCC, Uzbek officials meet ahead of ministerial meeting

GCC head, Jasem Albudaiwi, is pictured with Uzbekistan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Bakhtiyor Saidov in the capital Tashkent.
GCC head, Jasem Albudaiwi, is pictured with Uzbekistan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Bakhtiyor Saidov in the capital Tashkent.
Updated 14 April 2024
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GCC, Uzbek officials meet ahead of ministerial meeting

GCC head, Jasem Albudaiwi, is pictured with Uzbekistan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Bakhtiyor Saidov in the capital Tashkent.
  • Officials discussed preparations for the second ministerial meeting of the Strategic Dialogue between the GCC and Central Asian countries

RIYADH: The secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Jasem Albudaiwi, met Uzbekistan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Bakhtiyor Saidov in the capital Tashkent on Sunday.

During the meeting, they discussed preparations for the second ministerial meeting of the Strategic Dialogue between the GCC and Central Asian countries.

The meeting, scheduled to be held on April 15 in Tashkent, will gather ministers of foreign affairs from the GCC and Central Asian countries.

Albudaiwi said GCC countries attach great importance to their relations with Central Asian nations, stressing that holding the joint ministerial meeting less than a year since their first summit is a testament to these countries’ keenness to advance relations at all levels and in all fields.

According to Albudaiwi, discussions are expected to focus on political coordination and collaboration in investment and economy, mainly digital economy, and green energy security and use.