Safer oil salvage is ‘excellent example of international cooperation,’ Saudi envoy tells Security Council

Safer oil salvage is ‘excellent example of international cooperation,’ Saudi envoy tells Security Council
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Updated 17 August 2023
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Safer oil salvage is ‘excellent example of international cooperation,’ Saudi envoy tells Security Council

Safer oil salvage is ‘excellent example of international cooperation,’ Saudi envoy tells Security Council
  • Ambassador Abdullah Alwasil also urged Houthis to prioritize ‘wisdom and reason and the interests of the Yemeni people over everything else’
  • America’s envoy welcomes recent release of detained UN personnel but calls on Houthis to free all of the people they are holding

NEW YORK CITY: With the imminent threat of a massive oil spill in the Red Sea averted, after the transfer of more than a million barrels of oil from the decaying Safer tanker to a storage vessel, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN on Wednesday described the salvage operation as “an excellent example of international cooperation, which has reflected positively and significantly on the humanitarian situation in Yemen.”

Abdullah Alwasil added that “without a doubt, the international will has materialized and led to the success of the rescue operation through the transfer of that great quantity of oil from Safer to the new vessel.”

The Safer has been moored in the Red Sea off the coast of Yemen, near the port of Hodeidah, for more than eight years, since the start of the civil war in the country. During that time it has had little or no maintenance and its condition has deteriorated to a point where there were growing fears of a catastrophic oil spill.

It contained more than 1.14 million barrels of oil, which is four times as much as was spilled during the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster off the coast of Alaska, one of the world’s worst ecological catastrophes.

The first phase of the UN salvage operation, during which the bulk of the oil was transferred to another storage vessel, was completed last week.

Speaking during a UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday to discuss the latest developments in Yemen, Alwasil said Saudi Arabia had been among the first to warn and direct “the attention of the international community to the potential catastrophe, had we neglected the tanker.”

He continued: “My government has repeatedly warned of the consequences of such a catastrophe and we worked to mobilize the efforts in order to develop a clear plan that would resolve this potential crisis.

“And we did not stop at that. We were among the largest donors who funded the rescue operation. To date we have provided $10 million to the UN agencies relevant to the rescue operation and we will continue to provide all forms of support to UNDP (UN Development Program) and OCHA (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) until the operation is complete.”

Alwasil called for the second and final phase of the salvage operation, during which the Safer will be stripped and cleaned in preparation for towing and scrapping, to be completed “as guaranteed to the Yemeni parties before the beginning of the operation, in order for the Yemeni people to benefit from the oil revenue as per the initial plan of the United Nations.”

The Saudi envoy also joined other council members in expressing his condolences to the family of Mouayad Al-Humeidi, a World Food Program employee who was shot dead in the Yemeni city of Taiz last month.

He condemned the killing as an “act of betrayal,” and underscored the importance of ensuring humanitarian workers who dedicate their lives to alleviating the suffering of vulnerable populations are protected and remain safe.

Otherwise, Alwasil noted, Yemen has experienced an unprecedented period of calm lately, which has had a significant effect on the humanitarian and security situations in all parts of the country.

“This is a result of the mediation efforts for peace in Yemen, which continue to call for prioritizing the national Yemeni interests over everything else, and to find the common ground between the parties in order to address the political and economic issues in a manner that achieves economic well-being for the Yemeni people, and also calls for ceasing any military provocation that may prevent a political solution,” he said.

Saudi Arabia this month announced $1.2 billion in financial aid to support the Yemeni government’s budget and the first installment of $250 million has already been deposited with the Central Bank of Yemen, Alwasil told council members.

“This is an example of our continued interest in supporting the brotherly people of Yemen and we reiterate our interest in achieving stability and security in Yemen,” he added.

He urged all those involved in the conflict to accept political solutions to help restore security and stability in the country and overcome threats in the region.

“We reiterate our strategic initiative to end the war in Yemen and to reach a political settlement,” Alwasil said. “And we reiterate our support for UN and international efforts to achieve a political solution as per Security Council Resolution 2216.

“We also reiterate our firm position in support of the Presidential Leadership Council. And we hope that the current efforts for a settlement will reach a comprehensive solution, and we continue to call on the Houthis to prioritize wisdom and reason and the interests of the Yemeni people over everything else.”

The UK’s ambassador to the UN, Barbara Woodward, also commended the successful completion of the operation to transfer oil from the Safer, and said it was an achievement that exemplifies the potential of collective efforts for the benefit of Yemen and its people.

Drawing inspiration from this milestone, she urged all parties in Yemen to capitalize on the improved conditions in the country and work collaboratively as part of a UN-led Yemeni-Yemeni peace process.

She also urged the Houthis to cease their “attacks and continued threats to prevent oil exports from government-controlled areas (which) are severely impacting Yemen’s economy. These attacks on the economy are attacks on the livelihoods and services for some of the most vulnerable people in Yemen.”

Woodward welcomed the recent deposit of $250 million in Yemen by Saudi Arabia “as the first tranche of a generous $1.2 billion pledge of economic support.” But she noted that the country’s government will remain dependent on such external funding to provide basic services and pay the wages of public-sector workers until the Houthis halt their economic warfare and the government can begin to generate its own revenues.

Woodward also highlighted Houthi “impediments to the free movement of female aid workers to deliver assistance to women in need; to independent monitoring and assessment missions; and to the fair selection of humanitarian service providers.”

She added: “The humanitarian response is already severely underfunded. These impediments pose additional, and entirely avoidable, burdens on the humanitarian effort and ultimately on the Yemeni people. We urge the Houthis to lift restrictions and allow unfettered access of humanitarian aid.”

US ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield welcomed the recent release of five UN workers who were kidnapped in the southern governorate of Abyan last year.

But she said “too many innocent people are still in detention, including wrongfully targeted individuals and religious minorities — as well as members of the United States’ locally employed staff, who have been detained in Sanaa for over a year-and-a-half.”

She added: “We call for the release of all those who have been unjustly detained, including 11 Yemeni Baha’is and Levi Marhabi.”

The Baha’is are a minority religious community in Yemen. Marhabi is a Jewish citizen of the country who has been held by the Houthis since 2016.


The 44th King Abdulaziz Qur’an competition begins in August

The 44th King Abdulaziz Qur’an competition begins in August
Updated 17 April 2024
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The 44th King Abdulaziz Qur’an competition begins in August

The 44th King Abdulaziz Qur’an competition begins in August
  • Total prize pool of SR4m in prestigious event

RIYADH: The 44th King Abdulaziz International Competition for the Memorization, Recitation, and Interpretation of the Qur’an begins in early August in Makkah, the Saudi Press Agency has reported.

The prestigious event, which attracts contestants from around the globe, offers a total prize pool of SR4 million ($1.07 million).

The competition is divided into five categories: memorization of the entire Holy Qur’an, with accurate recitation and intonation following the seven rules of recitation; memorization of the Qur’an along with interpretation of its terms; memorization of 15 juz (parts) of the Qur’an with proper recitation and intonation; memorization of five juz with correct recitation and intonation; and a category for shorter lengths of memorization with corresponding recitation and intonation requirements.

In the first category, the top three winners will receive SR500,000, SR450,000, and SR400,000.

The event’s closing ceremony will be held at the Grand Mosque in Makkah.

Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh expressed gratitude toward the Kingdom’s leaders for their dedication to the Qur’an, adding that the competition showcased the country’s commitment to promoting its values among Saudi Arabia’s youth.
 


Saudi students shine at European math Olympiad

Saudi students shine at European math Olympiad
Updated 17 April 2024
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Saudi students shine at European math Olympiad

Saudi students shine at European math Olympiad
  • Olympiad is an international math competition for high school girls with a passion for the subject beyond the standard curriculum
  • Saudi students Fatimah Hassan Buali from Al-Ahsa and Retaj Al-Saleh from the Eastern Province earned a bronze medal and a certificate of appreciation, respectively

RIYADH: Two Saudi students excelled in the European Girls’ Mathematical Olympiad held in Georgia from April 11-17.

The Olympiad is an international math competition for high school girls with a passion for the subject beyond the standard curriculum. This year, 212 students from 54 countries participated.

Saudi Arabia, represented by the King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity (Mawhiba) and the Ministry of Education, won two medals in the event.

Saudi students Fatimah Hassan Buali from Al-Ahsa and Retaj Al-Saleh from the Eastern Province earned a bronze medal and a certificate of appreciation, respectively.

This is the Kingdom’s 12th participation in Mathematical Olympiad. Over the years, Saudi students have won two gold, six silver, and 13 bronze medals, as well as seven certificates of appreciation.

Mawhiba’s Secretary-General Amal bint Abdullah Al-Hazzaa said that the students’ successes highlight the integration between Kingdom’s institutions and its commitment to advancing young talents through education and training in line with international standards.

She praised the cooperation between Mawhiba and the Ministry of Education, a partnership that aims to develop Saudi human capital in line with the National Transformation Program and Saudi Vision 2030.

Mawhiba, in strategic collaboration with the Ministry of Education, operates the Mawhiba Program for International Olympiads, preparing Saudi teams for such competitions. This includes advanced training and curriculum development, aligning with the annual Saudi scientific teams’ participation in international competitions. 

The Saudi girls participating in the Mathematical Olympiad underwent intensive training to develop their scientific skills, and were nominated to participate based on their results in the training forums held by Mawhiba.


Saudi FM receives Armenian counterpart in Riyadh

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan receives his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan in Riyadh on Wednesday. (SPA)
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan receives his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan in Riyadh on Wednesday. (SPA)
Updated 17 April 2024
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Saudi FM receives Armenian counterpart in Riyadh

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan receives his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan in Riyadh on Wednesday. (SPA)
  • During the meeting, the two officials reviewed bilateral relations and ways to strengthen and develop them in various fields

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan received his Armenian counterpart Ararat Mirzoyan in Riyadh on Wednesday, Saudi Press Agency reported.

During the meeting, the two officials reviewed bilateral relations and ways to strengthen and develop them in various fields. 

They also discussed the latest regional and international developments and efforts made with regard to them.


Culinary caravan is a chance to savor Saudi Arabia’s food heritage

Culinary caravan is a chance to savor Saudi Arabia’s food heritage
Updated 17 April 2024
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Culinary caravan is a chance to savor Saudi Arabia’s food heritage

Culinary caravan is a chance to savor Saudi Arabia’s food heritage

RIYADH: A flavor of Saudi’s rich culinary heritage is delighting tastebuds in Najran, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Hosted by the Culinary Arts Commission, a mobile exhibition showcasing national dishes and desserts is currently offering visitors an immersive experience at King Fahd National Park, in the scenic Saqam forest.

The event, which runs until April 20, puts two iconic delicacies — jareesh and maqshush — in the spotlight, presenting them in innovative and enticing ways.

Jareesh is a savory dish of cracked wheat, cooked slowly with vegetables and tomato sauce. The addition of lamb is optional. Maqshush is a buckwheat dessert topped with ghee, honey, dates, molasses or sugar.

Visitors to the culinary arts caravan can explore the essence of Saudi cuisine through activities such as live cooking demonstrations, where they watch the dishes being prepared and then enjoy freshly cooked samples.

Jareesh is a savory dish of cracked wheat, cooked slowly with vegetables and tomato sauce. (Supplied)

The exhibition is part of the commission’s National and Regional Dishes Narratives initiative, which is dedicated to cataloging and celebrating local culinary gems. Designating jareesh and maqshush as national culinary treasures highlights their significance as part of the Kingdom’s dining culture.

The caravan embarked on its journey in November last year, starting in Riyadh and traversing Makkah, Madinah, Tabuk, Jouf, the Northern Borders, Hail, Qassim and the Eastern Province. Its stop in Najran marks another milestone, with upcoming visits to Jazan, Asir and Baha concluding the seven-month odyssey.

Its aim is to deepen appreciation of local heritage, forge stronger connections with Saudi culinary traditions across generations, and provide visitors with an unforgettable culinary experience while instilling pride in national dishes.

The National and Regional Dishes Narratives initiative has also designated official dishes for the regions. Marqooq was chosen for Riyadh, saleeg for the Makkah region, Madini rice for Madinah, bakila for Jouf, and malehiy for the Northern Borders.

Al-Maqnah bread was picked for the Baha region, kubaybat for Hail and raqsh for Najran. Kaleja was selected to represent Qassim, Al-Hasawi rice for the Eastern Province, Al-Mughash for the Jazan region, Al-Sayadiyah rice for Tabuk and Al-Hanith for Asir.

The event, which runs until April 20, puts two iconic delicacies — jareesh and maqshush — in the spotlight, presenting them in innovative and enticing ways. (Supplied)

 


Saudi, UN officials discuss aid efforts in Sudan

Saudi, UN officials discuss aid efforts in Sudan
Updated 17 April 2024
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Saudi, UN officials discuss aid efforts in Sudan

Saudi, UN officials discuss aid efforts in Sudan

RIYADH: Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, supervisor general of the Saudi aid agency KSrelief, recently met with Clementine Nkweta-Salami, the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator for Sudan, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

The meeting took place on the sidelines of the International Conference for Sudan and Neighboring Countries, organized by France and the EU in Paris.

Discussions focused on matters of mutual interest related to the relief and humanitarian situation in Sudan, along with key topics on the conference’s agenda.

Al-Rabeeah highlighted the humanitarian efforts undertaken by Saudi Arabia through KSrelief in Sudan.

He said that 13 aircraft carrying supplies had been sent to Sudan, while 43 humanitarian projects worth more than $60 million had been implemented in the country and neighbor states in partnership with international, UN, and local organizations.

Additionally, the center dispatched 20 medical volunteer teams to Sudan.

Nkweta-Salami commended the efforts of the Kingdom in aiding the Sudanese people in need. She expressed hope for continued bilateral cooperation to further support humanitarian initiatives in Sudan.

On Monday, KSrelief signed two agreements with the World Food Programme, worth $1.4 million, to treat and prevent malnutrition across Sudan and South Sudan.

The agreement aims to prevent nutritional deficiencies among children, and pregnant and nursing women by providing food aid and nutritional supplements.

The funding will help more than 35,000 children, and pregnant or breastfeeding mothers affected by conflict, economic shocks, and climate events.