When Saudi Arabia takes the lead on Palestine, the ‘impact is powerful,’ Malaysia PM tells Arab News

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Updated 22 October 2023
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When Saudi Arabia takes the lead on Palestine, the ‘impact is powerful,’ Malaysia PM tells Arab News

When Saudi Arabia takes the lead on Palestine, the ‘impact is powerful,’ Malaysia PM tells Arab News
  • Anwar Ibrahim thanks Saudi crown prince for “passionate and timely” remarks on Gaza, decries ‘hypocrisy’ in international politics

RIYADH: Malaysia’s Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has decried as “insanity” the situation unfolding in Gaza, warning that the world is not blind to the “hypocrisy” of Western leadership as it has repeatedly failed to condemn Israeli aggression, and drawing marked parallels with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking to Arab News on Friday on the sidelines of the inaugural GCC-ASEAN Summit in Riyadh, Anwar said the conflict in the Middle East had exposed what he saw as a proclivity for “contradiction and hypocrisy” in international politics, noting that there is “talk about human rights on one end,” but the denial of those same rights to others.




Anwar Ibrahim, prime minister of Malaysia. (AN photo by Abdulrahman bin Shulhub)

“A good student of history and geopolitics wouldn’t be necessarily surprised that there is so much contradiction and hypocrisy in the arena of international politics,” he said.  

“For example, it condemns Russia for the aggression because of the Russian decision to take a Russian enclave in Ukraine. Fair. That is condemned. But with Israeli aggression taking over the legitimate lands of the Palestinians, that is condoned.

“Not only that (the aggression) is supported and defended. We must wake up and see the stark hypocrisy that cannot continue.”

In his opening address at the summit, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said: “As we gather, we are saddened by the escalating violence that Gaza is witnessing today, the price of which is being paid by innocent civilians.”

The crown prince underscored the need to “stop military operations against civilians ... and to create conditions for the return of stability and the achievement of lasting peace that ensures reaching a just solution to establish a Palestinian state according to the 1967 borders.”




Malaysian PM Anwar Ibrahim with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the inaugural GCC-ASEAN Riyadh Summit on Oct. 20, 2023. (SPA)

Anwar said it was “no exaggeration” to describe the Saudi crown prince’s remarks as “passionate and timely,” adding that it was vital for an Arab leader to take not only a “firm” position on the crisis in Gaza but also one based on “humanitarian grounds.”

He described his immediate response as a desire to thank the crown prince, and to say that “we are with you and the GCC because of what you see, and when you take the lead, it will have a powerful impact.”

Anwar said Malaysia was fully behind the efforts of Saudi Arabia and the GCC to bring the fighting to a close and prevent the outbreak of a wider war.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s remarks formed part of a wider collective plea from the summit leaders, who issued a statement calling on all the parties involved in the conflict to implement a permanent ceasefire and condemn the attacks against Gaza’s civilian population.

It further emphasized the need to adhere to international humanitarian law, especially principles and provisions of the Geneva Convention regarding Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, while also urging the much-needed delivery of humanitarian aid, relief supplies and other essential necessities and services to Gaza.




Saudi Prime Minister and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim at the official reception on Saturday in Riyadh. (SPA)

Furthermore, it urged the immediate and unconditional release of hostages and civilian detainees, especially women, children, the sick and the elderly.

Addressing the summit in his role as its country coordinator, Anwar reiterated the Saudi crown prince’s desire to see a two-state solution based on historic borders within the 1967 boundaries.

He called on all nations to come together to find a long-lasting and just solution to prevent the situation from becoming “an unprecedented humanitarian crisis” that could widen into a regional and even into a global conflict.

“The Palestinians must be returned their land, homes and properties,” Anwar said. “They must be allowed to live in peace and dignity in their own sovereign state in internationally recognized borders, based on the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

While the Israel-Hamas conflict overshadowed the summit, the leaders of the two blocs also adopted a roadmap, the Framework of Cooperation 2024-2028, covering agriculture and food security, banking and financial services, connectivity, counterterrorism, energy, tourism, trade and investment, as well as culture, education, and information. They also agreed to explore joint strategies on micro, small and medium enterprise development policies.




Saudi Prime Minister and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim at the official reception on Saturday in Riyadh. (SPA)

“This is historic in a sense that the GCC and ASEAN are two small regional groups that are economically very vibrant, and we are entering to this collaboration without the influence of the big powers, and to essentially benefit from the strength in the GCC, with the phenomenal growth, and the sustainability in ASEAN,” Anwar said.

“We had been discussing this for years, and then the crown prince said, ‘OK, let me host it.’ So, we were all quite excited and because of the crown prince’s support and the presence of all leaders of GCC and ASEAN, we settled on the few parameters on how to further enhance the issue of trade and mechanisms to foster investment.”

Underpinning the Malaysian leader’s confidence in this formal tie-up between the Gulf and ASEAN blocs is the “phenomenal change” he has witnessed in the former, not least in Saudi Arabia over the past decade.

Having frequently visited Riyadh as a young graduate, Anwar said he is well acquainted with the region, and has personally bore witness to the rate of change.

“The Kingdom’s focus on new technology, new energy, artificial intelligence, this is reflected across the Muslim world,” he said. “People, of course, have issues or arguments or differences, but Saudi Arabia is known for its religious role, and even here it is shifting toward a modern state with its technology, its vibrant economy, and its renewable energy.

“This is something which is so particularly attractive for our countries to see and to, for example, seize that opportunity and secure whatever it is that we have. We in Asia have a long tradition of industrial investment. Malaysia, for example, has gone from being the warehouse of industry to the front end of microchips and is leading in that area.”

Further to his personal experiences in the Kingdom, as Malaysia’s PM, Anwar is governing a country that has “huge” numbers of Saudis visiting as tourists on an annual basis. Data from Tourism Malaysia put the Kingdom as the highest per capita spender to Malaysia in terms of tourism spending, with about 121,000 visiting annually, and that number continuing to climb. The attraction seems to be equally shared, with Malaysians also looking to visit Saudi Arabia.


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“There is a lot of reference to the fact that there is a sort of special relationship between Saudi Arabia and Malaysia, one that has existed for centuries,” Anwar said. “You study any historical account, be it Islamic or Islamization or Hajj and anti-colonial activities, all have the links between the traditional scholars and Saudi Arabia, particularly those around Makkah, a center for learning.

“And then, of course, Hajj is a major factor. I am fortunate because I was a young graduate. I used to engage with universities here in Jeddah, where they had the Hajj center. And you can see the preparedness to learn and make the necessary changes.”

Despite the history of synergistic interaction between the two countries, Anwar is not content to let it rest.




Anwar Ibrahim, prime minister of Malaysia, speaks to Noor Nugali, assistant editor in chief of Arab News. (AN photo by Abdulrahman bin Shulhub)e

“Ask me, is it enough? I would say no, which means we should try to work out some mechanisms where we can not only facilitate but accelerate the process. I think that’s generally why meetings such as (the GCC-ASEAN Riyadh Summit) are important. That’s why it’s not just the foreign minister but also the international trade minister was here.

“Because they will have to follow up on the specific areas that we can explore.”

Anwar said while the link and level of trust between Saudi Arabia and Malaysia “is quite unique,” in terms of collaboration there is a lot more that can be achieved.

“So, in my bilateral meeting with the crown prince I hope to emphasize this,” he said.

“Let us, then, do more, use that historical precedent and build (ties) anew, between the new Saudi Arabia and the new Malaysia, with the changes and the new government administration.

“The collaboration should be enhanced.”

 


KSrelief extends humanitarian aid efforts to Sudan, Yemen

KSrelief extends humanitarian aid efforts to Sudan, Yemen
Updated 5 sec ago
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KSrelief extends humanitarian aid efforts to Sudan, Yemen

KSrelief extends humanitarian aid efforts to Sudan, Yemen

KSrelief extended its commitment to providing vital assistance to those in need, with recent efforts spanning Sudan and Yemen.

In the Karari locality of Khartoum, KSrelief distributed 233 shelter bags to needy and displaced families, offering urgent relief to 1,357 individuals.

Meanwhile, in Yemen's Hajjah Governorate, KSrelief's Mobile Medical Clinic rendered essential medical services to 2,072 beneficiaries in February 2024. The clinic's diverse services included treating patients for epidemiological diseases, providing emergency care, and offering internal medicine and reproductive health services. 

In Saada Governorate, Yemen, KSrelief's ongoing projects aim to address the primary healthcare and water needs of displaced individuals in Razih District. Throughout February, medical clinics under this initiative treated patients for various ailments, including epidemic diseases, emergencies, internal medicine issues, and reproductive health concerns. The project also provided nursing services, surgical assistance, and medical referrals, alongside conducting waste disposal programs and supplying potable water to the district.


Saudi Arabia expresses concern over military escalation in Middle East

Saudi Arabia expresses concern over military escalation in Middle East
Updated 14 April 2024
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Saudi Arabia expresses concern over military escalation in Middle East

Saudi Arabia expresses concern over military escalation in Middle East
  • Arab states echoed Saudi sentiment, condemning regional escalation and call for restraint"

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Sunday expressed deep concern over the military escalation in the Middle East and urged all parties involved to exercise restraint, the Saudi Press Agency reported, citing a statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned of "serious repercussions" on the region and its peoples from the dangers of a wider war, according to SPA.

 

 

Iran on Saturday launched drones and missiles against Israel, making good its threat to retaliate against the Israeli air strike that destroyed an Iranian embassy annex building in Damascus, Syria, killing at least 13 people, including two generals of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guard.

The Saudi ministry "affirmed the Kingdom’s position calling for the need for the Security Council to assume its responsibility towards maintaining international peace and security, especially in this region that is extremely sensitive to global peace and security, and to prevent the escalation of the crisis that will have serious consequences if it expands," said the SPA report. 

The Saudi staement was echoed by the Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi, who emphasized the imperative of upholding regional and global security and stability amidst recent developments in the Middle East.

He urged, in a statement, all involved parties to exercise utmost restraint to forestall further escalation, which could endanger regional stability and civilian welfare. Albudaiwi underscored the necessity of collaborative efforts and diplomatic resolutions to address conflicts and ensure regional security.

He emphasized the pivotal role of the international community in bolstering these peace and stability endeavors, and warned of the potential ramifications of heightened tensions.

Egypt also urged all parties to exercise utmost restraint to prevent further escalation in the region, aiming to safeguard its stability and the well-being of its inhabitants.

In a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs last night, Egypt underscored that the current dangerous escalation in the Iranian/Israeli arena is a direct consequence of previously highlighted concerns. Egypt has consistently warned against the perils of expanding conflicts in the region, particularly stemming from Israeli military actions in Gaza and provocative maneuvers in the area.

The statement emphasized Egypt's continuous engagement with all relevant stakeholders to mitigate the situation, halt the escalation, and avert the region from spiraling into instability, thereby safeguarding the interests of its people.

Meanwhile, Jordan's Minister of Foreign Affairs Ayman Al-Safadi emphasizes that stopping the Israeli aggression on Gaza, ending the occupation, and advancing the two-state solution are essential measures to halt the escalation in the region.


Saudi, Norway foreign ministers discuss Gaza during call

Saudi, Norway foreign ministers discuss Gaza during call
Updated 14 April 2024
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Saudi, Norway foreign ministers discuss Gaza during call

Saudi, Norway foreign ministers discuss Gaza during call

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Saturday received a telephone call from his Norwegian counterpart Espen Barth Eide, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said.
During the call, they discussed the latest developments in the Gaza Strip and efforts to contain the crisis.
The call comes a day after Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said that Norway was ready to recognize a Palestinian state together with other countries,


Saudi fashion graduate who dared to dream

Saudi fashion graduate who dared to dream
Updated 13 April 2024
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Saudi fashion graduate who dared to dream

Saudi fashion graduate who dared to dream
  • Manal Marvelous’ tips for aspiring designers have turned her into social media star

RIYADH: Saudi fashion and lifestyle content creator Manal Marvelous discovered her love of design and sewing while at university and soon began sharing her work on social media.  

“My passion for fashion was a coincidence; actually, I had to take one semester of fashion classes in college because of some weird situation I got myself into and I was supposed to transfer after the semester ended, but I fell in love and never looked back,“ Marvelous told Arab News.

Manal Marvelous loves to share how she develops and sews her creations, and her TikTok has 3 million views and 700,000 followers. (Supplied)

“I love out-of-the box and creative ideas I can share with my audience, which consist of girls around my age with similar interests who either love fashion or got inspired to start their journey after watching my content,” she said.

She loves to share how she develops and sews her creations, and her TikTok has 3 million views and 700,000 followers.  

HIGHLIGHTS

• Marvelous took part in the Sony Creators Convention, where she showcased her work on models, and offered advice to aspiring content creators about the business, how to succeed, and how to make their passions their careers. 

• Marvelous believes that with an abundance of talented and creative Saudi designers, as well as the diversity of Saudi fashion and traditional costume, the KSA scene needs more useful fashion events.

• Aside from TikTok, Marvelous supports up-and-coming fashion designers on her YouTube channel, paving a path for them to enter the industry. 

• She said that constructive criticism is always appreciated, and that she tries to hear what people have to say to improve her material, gain insight into her audience, and receive feedback.

“It felt like magic to me how can you transform a piece of fabric into art just by cutting here and stitching there,” she said.

Marvelous took part in the Sony Creators Convention, where she showcased her work on models, and offered advice to aspiring content creators about the business, how to succeed, and how to make their passions their careers.

Manal Marvelous loves to share how she develops and sews her creations, and her TikTok has 3 million views and 700,000 followers. (Supplied)

“My work as a fashion and lifestyle creator takes me around the Kingdom to collaborate with global and local brands ranging from clothing to skincare to makeup,” she said.  

Aside from TikTok, Marvelous supports up-and-coming fashion designers on her YouTube channel, paving a path for them to enter the industry.  

Manal Marvelous loves to share how she develops and sews her creations, and her TikTok has 3 million views and 700,000 followers. (Supplied)

“In my YouTube channel, I share my love of sewing, but with a twist. From sewing pants out of bandannas and a corset with plastic, to recycling my old jeans into a denim jacket,” she said.

Marvelous had the backing of friends and family from the start, and they were her supporters.

Manal Marvelous loves to share how she develops and sews her creations, and her TikTok has 3 million views and 700,000 followers. (Supplied)

She did, however, mention how some elements of social media, like cyberbullying, were deterring her from sharing and how she overcame it.

“Bullying on social media has become the norm lately. What I do and what I recommend everyone do is ignore the comment, especially when it’s obvious that the person is just trying to hurt you.”

Manal Marvelous loves to share how she develops and sews her creations, and her TikTok has 3 million views and 700,000 followers. (Supplied)

She said that constructive criticism is always appreciated, and that she tries to hear what people have to say to improve her material, gain insight into her audience, and receive feedback.

“But people who just want to put you down and make you feel bad should be muted,” she added.

Marvelous believes that with an abundance of talented and creative Saudi designers, as well as the diversity of Saudi fashion and traditional costume, the KSA scene needs more useful fashion events.

“Saudi Arabia has some of the most talented and creative designers in the field, and their work should be appreciated and celebrated nationally and internationally. Having more shows in the Kingdom could be beneficial not only to the designers but to the country as well.”

Marvelous said that the Fashion Commission has been a significant asset to the sector for many years, planning events and providing support for emerging designers through programs such as 100 Brands.

“I advise upcoming designers to never stop dreaming big; this is our time to shine and create the unexpected. There’s space for everyone.”

Marvelous offers three tips for aspiring fashion content creators seeking to be authentic: “Don’t try to copy other creators; it’s good to follow trends, but only when it suits your content and your personality. Consistency is key. Pick the schedule that suits you and make sure to stick to it.”

 


Thriving gardens: Growing and nurturing plants without destroying soil

Thriving gardens: Growing and nurturing plants without destroying soil
Updated 13 April 2024
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Thriving gardens: Growing and nurturing plants without destroying soil

Thriving gardens: Growing and nurturing plants without destroying soil
  • The foundation of a successful garden is soil health
  • It is critical to take care of the soil before planting seeds by creating organic elements in the soil rather than relying on chemical or synthetic fertilizers

RIYADH: Caring for plants at home reduces stress and increases satisfaction. Gardening allows people to connect with nature and enjoy the beauty of their home garden.
However, it is important to use sustainable methods to ensure that plants are healthy, and the environment is protected from damage. Soil preservation and care are therefore very important for sustainable gardening.
The foundation of a successful garden is soil health. It is critical to take care of the soil before planting seeds by creating organic elements in the soil rather than relying on chemical or synthetic fertilizers.
Compost food scraps, garden waste and other organic products to improve soil fertility will provide nutrients to plants, increasing microbial activity and boosting the health of the soil.
“Synthetic fertilizers aren’t used in the Kingdom. It is rare. Most people use organic products such as animal waste mixed with food waste,” said Haitham Sharbaji, an agricultural technician who works in Riyadh.
Sharbaji, who operates his own nursery, explained how different plants require specific techniques.
When asked about examples of plants that are grown in hot, dry weather like in Saudi Arabia, he mentioned trees including poinciana, racosperma and oleander. According to Sharbaji, these species are especially suitable for the weather in Riyadh.
He highlighted the importance of planting trees in healthy soil.
“Firstly, the soil must be healthy and suitable for the type of plant you want to grow. For example, there are kinds of soil for indoor plants and others for outdoor plants,” Sharbaji said.
“Lighting is also important, as each plant differs in terms of its need for lighting.”
Another method gardeners can use to prevent soil depletion is controlling the rotation of plants. Rotating plants grown in different areas of a garden helps reduce diseases and pests, and prevents nutrient deficiencies.
In addition to changing the position of the plant, covering it with a layer of organic mulch like wood chips or leaves helps maintain soil health. This technique captures moisture as well as moderates the temperature of the soil, which in turn improves the structure of the soil. Over time, it enriches the soil with beneficial organisms.
Chemical pesticides are another tool to avoid or reduce, as they can harm beneficial insects, damage organisms in the soil and disrupt the garden’s ecosystem. Natural pest control methods like introducing insects such as ladybugs and lacewings are a useful alternative.
Water in Saudi Arabia is a precious resource for growing any plant, and using it efficiently is vital. An optimal way to regulate watering plants is to install drip irrigation systems to control the amount of water that is used and deliver it directly to the roots.
People should be mindful of the hot climate in the Kingdom, which may speed up the evaporation of water. Therefore, watering the garden late in the afternoon or evening hours reduces water loss because of low temperatures.
“Water is the biggest enemy for indoor plant soil. The soil that is prepared for indoor plants doesn’t need too much water because it can create toxic fungi,” said Sharbaji.
He recommends watering indoor plants according to room temperatures. Generally speaking, a person can water an indoor plant every 15 to 20 days, he added.
Excessive use of synthetic fertilizers can lead to nutrient imbalance and environmental pollution. It is best to test soil regularly to detect any signs of nutrient deficiencies such as decolorization of leaves or irregular shapes.
Synthetic fertilizers can be useful but only when necessary, and they must be used wisely. This ensures the plant receives the nutrients it needs while minimizing the risk of biomagnification — the increase in concentration of a substance in the tissues of organisms at successively higher levels in a food chain.
By practicing sustainable gardening practices, people can grow and protect their gardens while maintaining soil health. Healthy soil preparation, mulching and natural pest control methods are some examples of healthy gardening, keeping in mind that a thriving garden starts with the soil.