Fox News exclusive: Saudi Crown Prince on US ties, Iran and peace with Israel

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaking to Fox News’ Bret Baier. (X/@Bandaralgaloud)
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman speaking to Fox News’ Bret Baier. (X/@Bandaralgaloud)
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Updated 21 September 2023
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Fox News exclusive: Saudi Crown Prince on US ties, Iran and peace with Israel

Fox News exclusive: Saudi Crown Prince on US ties, Iran and peace with Israel
  • Crown prince said Saudi-US ties important and beneficial to both, has good relationship with President Biden
  • Told Bret Baier “every day we get closer” to Saudi-Israeli normalization
  • “If Iran acquires a nuclear weapon, the Kingdom would also need one”: Prince Mohammed

NEOM: The strategic partnership between Saudi Arabia and the US is important and beneficial to both, a normalization deal with Israel is growing closer and if Iran obtains a nuclear weapon the Kingdom must too, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said on Wednesday.

“We have a lot of security and military ties that are strengthening the position of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, and strengthening the position of America globally,” he told Bret Baier of US TV network Fox News in an interview recorded at NEOM.

While ties with the US were complicated, he had a good relationship with US President Joe Biden, the crown prince said.

“The agenda between Saudi Arabia and America, today, is really interesting and we have a really amazing relationship with President Biden,” the crown prince said.

“He is sharp, he is really well focused and well prepared, and that is what I see,” he added.

During the interview, the crown prince also said Saudi Arabia had achieved the fastest growth in gross domestic product among the Group of 20 countries for two consecutive years.

Prince Mohammed also said “every day we get closer” toward the Kingdom normalizing relations with Israel. 

“For us, the Palestinian issue is very important. We need to solve that part,” the crown prince said when asked what it would take to get a normalization agreement.

He continued: “We got to see where we go. We hope that will reach a place, that it will ease the life of the Palestinians, gets Israel as a player in the Middle East.”

When asked by Baier if negotiations between the Kingdom and Israel had been suspended, the crown prince said: “No, that is not true.”

If the Biden administration brokered an agreement between Saudi Arabia and Israel, he said it would be the largest agreement since the end of the Cold War.

On the subject of Iran’s nuclear program, the crown prince said the Kingdom was concerned about any country obtaining a nuclear weapon, because the world could not tolerate “another Hiroshima.”

He said: “That’s a bad move, if you use it, you got to have a big fight with the rest of the world. There is no point in possessing nuclear weapons because they cannot be used.” Nevertheless, if Iran were to acquire a nuclear weapon, the Kingdom would require to do the same, the crown prince said.

However, the relationship with Tehran was progressing well and he hoped it would continue to do so for the benefit of the security and stability of the region.

One of the pillars of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 reform agenda is to turn the Kingdom into a global tourism destination. The crown prince said investments into the sector had increased its contribution to Saudi GDP from 3 percent to 7 percent.

He rejected a link between OPEC cutting cut oil production and helping Russia wage war in Ukraine. “We just watch supply, demand, if there is shortage of supply our role in OPEC+ is to fill that shortage. If there is oversupply our role of OPEC+ is to measure that for the stability of the market,” he said.

The crown prince was asked about Saudi links to the 9/11 attacks on the US and reports of governmental support for the terrorists, 15 of whom were Saudi citizens. He rejected that claim, and pointed out that Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden planned and executed attacks against Saudi Arabia in the 1990s. He was an enemy of both countries, the crown prince said.

On accusations of Saudi Arabia “sportswashing” its image around the world, the crown prince said: “If sportswashing is going to increase GDP by 1 percent, then I will continue to do sportswashing, I aim for another 1.5 percent, call it whatever you want we are going to get that.”

When asked about the merger between the Saudi Public Investment Fund-backed LIV Golf League and the PGA Tour, the prince added: “That’s a game changer for the golf industry, you will have a focus in developing the game and that’s good for the players and the fans who love golf.”


Saudi economy minister receives WEF’s Borge Brenda

Saudi economy minister receives WEF’s Borge Brenda
Updated 17 sec ago
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Saudi economy minister receives WEF’s Borge Brenda

Saudi economy minister receives WEF’s Borge Brenda

Saudi Minister of Economy and Planning Faisal Al-Ibrahim hosted President of World Economic Forum Borge Brenda in the Kingdom.
“We discussed the latest developments in the global economy and progress on several projects between the Kingdom and the forum as part of our strategic partnership, in addition to the preparations underway to hold the World Economic Forum Special Meeting on Global Collaboration, Growth and Energy for Development this April in Riyadh,” the minister tweeted on X on Thursday.


Heritage tent set up on historic Saudi pilgrimage route

Heritage tent set up on historic Saudi pilgrimage route
Updated 4 min 2 sec ago
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Heritage tent set up on historic Saudi pilgrimage route

Heritage tent set up on historic Saudi pilgrimage route

RIYADH: A traditional cultural tent has been set up at Al-Ashar Pond, one of the largest and most significant historic sites along the Zubaida Trail pilgrimage route.

Situated in the heart of the Nafud desert, approximately 60 km south of Laynah heritage village in Rafha governorate, the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Nature Reserve Development Authority initiative is part of the ongoing Zubaida Trail Winter Festival being held in Laynah.

Cultural sessions will feature discussions and talks led by specialists in historical and natural heritage, with the participation of several Saudi universities, the Heritage Commission, and the Saudi Geological Survey, along with workshops and practical demonstrations.

Al-Ashar Pond is one of the stops along Zubaida Trail (the Kufic Hajj route), completed during the reign of the Abbasid caliph, Harun Al-Rashid.

The site comprises the remains of 30 separate architectural units of various sizes and functions, arranged in a single row extending for approximately 3 km and around 600 meters wide.

The prominent feature of the station is its 65 m x 52 m rectangular pond with a depth of around 5 m. Inside, it contains stairs along its northern and southern walls.


‘Best yet to come,’ says AlUla tourism chief on launch of global brand campaign

‘Best yet to come,’ says AlUla tourism chief on launch of global brand campaign
Updated 5 min 59 sec ago
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‘Best yet to come,’ says AlUla tourism chief on launch of global brand campaign

‘Best yet to come,’ says AlUla tourism chief on launch of global brand campaign
  • Strategy to include events at 6 major cities highlighting ancient location’s modern appeal 

RIYADH: AlUla is only just beginning its journey to becoming a global tourism destination, the region’s tourism chief said on Thursday after the launch of its new global brand campaign.

The “Forever Revitalising” campaign will unfold through events aimed at travel trade and media partners across six major cities: Dubai, London, New York, Paris, Shanghai, and Mumbai, Saudi Press Agency reported.

“In just a few years, AlUla has established itself as a destination on the global traveler’s wish list,” Phillip Jones, chief tourism officer at the Royal Commission for AlUla, said.

He added: “Through this campaign, we can open up the dialogue even further on a global stage, and communicate the full depth of AlUla’s appeal, attributes and ambition. The best is yet to come,” he added.

The campaign includes a two-and-a-half-minute film by French cinematographer Bruno Aveillan.

This film, which can be adapted in length and is available in several languages, showcases the essence of AlUla through its core destination pillars: history and heritage, arts and culture, nature and adventure, and wellness, SPA added.

“Crafting this film was an enriching experience, not only because it allowed me to witness some of the world’s most breathtaking landmarks and locations but also because it offered me a vast canvas to explore the depths of my own creativity — a profound and enduring gift that AlUla bestows upon everyone who walks upon her historic sands and experiences the sheltered embrace of her oasis,” Aveillan said.

Additionally, the campaign features a series of “Brand Pillar” six-second videos that highlight iconic destinations within AlUla, such as Hegra, Jabal Ikmah, AlUla Oasis, AlUla Old Town, Sharaan Nature Reserve, and Elephant Rock.

Other highlights include balloon adventures, luxury accommodation, local arts and crafts, and the lively food and drink scene on offer in AlUla.

Melanie de Souza, executive director of destination marketing at RCU, said: “Forever Revitalising is not only about driving global awareness of a destination that until recently was relatively unknown to most travelers, but also about communicating the breadth and depth of the programs and initiatives designed to create a better future for all those who live, work and visit our ancient oasis.

“We hope that the film and creative assets do justice to a truly unique destination.”


Saudi Arabia’s charity raises over $1.3bn in donations since launch

Saudi Arabia’s charity raises over $1.3bn in donations since launch
Updated 19 min 48 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia’s charity raises over $1.3bn in donations since launch

Saudi Arabia’s charity raises over $1.3bn in donations since launch
  • Over 4.8m million males and females have benefited from the initiative

RIYADH: The Ehsan National Platform for Charitable Work has announced that it has received over SR5 billion ($1.3 billion) in donations since its launch in March 2021.

The achievement highlights the contribution of individuals in promoting a culture of donation and social solidarity, aligning with the goals of Saudi Vision 2030, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday.

It added that the result can be attributed to the support provided by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Their encouragement has motivated charitable and generous people to donate to the platform.

“The donations received by the Ehsan platform have been utilized to support community projects and address humanitarian cases, empowering society to make donations through reliable official channels,” SPA reported.

As a result of these efforts, more than 4.8 million males and females have benefited from over 105 million transactions. The achievement was made possible through the collaboration with 1,673 partner organizations since the platform’s inception.

The Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority had launched the Ehsan platform, which is supervised by a committee consisting of 13 government entities.

“These national endeavors aim to digitally empower the charitable sector, further enhancing the Kingdom’s leading position in philanthropy and giving,” SPA reported.


Russell Peters, the comedian enjoying the last laugh

Russell Peters, the comedian enjoying the last laugh
Updated 29 February 2024
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Russell Peters, the comedian enjoying the last laugh

Russell Peters, the comedian enjoying the last laugh
  • Canadian performer advises people to follow their dreams despite setbacks
  • Stand-up veteran recalls earning $50 for gigs, being booed off stage and learning on the job

RIYADH: Award-winning Canadian comedian Russell Peters has revealed the secret behind his successful career.

“Identify your dream and actively chase it,” Peters said during a recent interview on Arab News’ podcast, The Mayman Show. “It’s far more rewarding to have pursued your dream, even if you fail, than to passively wonder about it.”

Peters found his own path in 1989 when he began performing stand-up comedy at amateur shows. Despite not being allotted more than five minutes with the mic, he was determined to pursue his passion.

“If I got one laugh, I think that’s all I needed: Let’s figure this out, let’s try to figure out how to get more of those people,” he said on learning from his first performances.

Discussing his early career, he talked about being booed off stage in Toronto in 1993 while opening for The Pharcyde, a hip-hop group from the US. With hindsight, he laughs at his own arrogance then, viewing the experience as a well-deserved lesson.

Peters recounted how he would drive hours to perform, earning $50 plus complimentary chicken wings, a tank of gas, and a soda. During those days, he thought: “If I stayed, I’d be in the exact same financial position I would have been had I gone. So I wasn’t losing anything and I’d stay there and I’d be talking to people for free,” he said. “I just remember all the hard gigs, those were the fun ones.”

Fast-forward to 2024, and Peters has been hailed as one of the greatest comedians of all time by Rolling Stone, and has held the record for being the longest-standing comedian since 2007. He was also the first comedian to sell out Toronto’s Air Canada Center in 2007, and has performed in Vancouver’s Rogers Arena, London’s O2 Arena, and more. As part of his “Act Your Age” tour, which he has been doing since 2021, Peters recently took to the stage in Riyadh, performing at the Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University on Feb. 24.

This is his third visit to the Kingdom, and Peters admires the generosity of the Saudi people: “I remember at the hotel, they said, how did you sleep? And I said, it was honestly like the best, the most comfortable bed I’d ever felt in my life, and when I came back to my hotel room, they had packed up all the stuff that I complimented and shipped it to me in America.”

Peters also cherishes the memory of his performance at the Maraya building in AlUla in 2016, renowned as the world’s largest mirrored concert venue. “The acoustics are great in there because it’s built for that. And they put the sound dampeners in there. The same can’t be said for when I just performed in Egypt,” he said.

During his one-night performance in the country, American comedian Adam Hunter opened his show. Hunter is known for his popular Instagram channel, MMA Roasted, in which he humorously critiques fighters, and has been traveling with Peters for some time.

His latest show in the current tour is scheduled for March 3 in Bangalore, India, a place he regards as his true home. Beyond the stage, Peters also feels at home in the DJ booth. He said that his DJ career was purely for enjoyment, focusing mostly on old-school music. Peters said that his go-to song is “Black Trump” by Smif-N-Wessun and Raekwon.

Peters is currently practicing jujitsu, a form of martial art. His enduring passion for combat disciplines began at the age of 16 with boxing, because of bullying at school. Boxing became more than just a sport; it was a coping mechanism, especially after he was kicked out of school.

Later on, as his career developed in comedy, it also became a way of dealing with challenges.

“I would do it all the time growing up,” Peters said, “to try and get out of situations, dealt with a lot of racism growing up. So you just kind of figure out a way of getting out of situations by being funny.”