In Washington, Saudi defense minister stresses need for ‘immediate’ ceasefire in Gaza

Update In Washington, Saudi defense minister stresses need for ‘immediate’ ceasefire in Gaza
Saudi Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman arrived in Washington DC on Monday for an official visit. (X/Prince Khalid bin Salman)
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Updated 31 October 2023
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In Washington, Saudi defense minister stresses need for ‘immediate’ ceasefire in Gaza

In Washington, Saudi defense minister stresses need for ‘immediate’ ceasefire in Gaza
  • Prince Khalid's visit comes on the directives of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman stressed the need for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza during a meeting with a senior US official on Monday.

The call comes as the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian enclave deteriorates as Israel conducts a large military campaign against Hamas.

Meeting Jake Sullivan, the US national security advisor, Prince Khalid reaffirmed the Kingdom’s call to bring the fighting to a halt.

“I stressed the need for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, protection of civilians, allowing humanitarian aid, and resuming the peace process,” Prince Khalid wrote on X after the meeting.

The pair affirmed “the urgent need to increase humanitarian assistance for the people of Gaza,” according to a readout issued by the White House, adding they emphasized the need to find a sustainable peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis, building on Saudi-US efforts over recent months.

The Israeli military began moving ground troops into Gaza over the weekend, supported by air cover, amid calls to stop the fighting to allow humanitarian access and to prevent further bloodshed.

Israeli leaders have vowed to destroy Hamas after the group waged a multipronged attack inside Israel killing over 1,400, mostly civilians. Israel has spent weeks bombarding the heavily populated Gaza Strip leaving over 8,000 people, mostly civilians, dead.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected ceasefire calls on Monday, and announced the expansion of ground operations. He promised that Israel will “fight until this battle is won”.

The head of the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees, Philippe Lazzarini, told the Security Council that “an immediate humanitarian ceasefire has become a matter of life and death for millions,” and accused Israel of collectively punishing Gazans.

Last week, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and US President Joe Biden shared a call on the situation in Gaza. The crown prince called on the US to work immediately to discuss ways to stop the Israeli military operations that have claimed innocent lives.

Prince Khalid and Sullivan also “affirmed the importance of deterring any state or non-state actor from seeking to expand the conflict.”

Biden’s advisor welcomed Prince Khalid, who arrived in the US capital on Monday, and his accompanying delegation and discussed “ongoing efforts to strengthen the defense partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia, which for decades has served as a cornerstone for regional stability and deterrence”.

On Yemen, Prince Khalid wrote: “We also discussed the Kingdom’s efforts in Yemen to end the crisis and achieve peace.” The White House said: “Mr. Sullivan welcomed the significant de-escalation of the conflict over the past year and a half and endorsed Saudi-led efforts to bring the war to a close altogether.”


Jazan’s Al-Qahar Mountains once underwater, study reveals

Jazan’s Al-Qahar Mountains once underwater, study reveals
Updated 5 sec ago
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Jazan’s Al-Qahar Mountains once underwater, study reveals

Jazan’s Al-Qahar Mountains once underwater, study reveals

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Al-Qahar mountains, about 130 km from Jazan in the Kingdom’s southwest, at one time formed the seabed in the region, geological studies have revealed.

Research carried out by Zaraq bin Issa Al-Faifi, a professor at Jazan University’s Department of Biology and College of Science, discovered fossils and structures from marine creatures, such as stone corals, showing the mountains had been underwater for hundreds of millions of years.

Sand and limestone formations are part of the sedimentary layers of various colors, Al-Faifi said. 

He highlighted the need for additional research on estimates of the time period, and the state of Al-Qahar Mountains during that era, and urged geologists and other experts to delve deeper into this section of the Sarawat Mountains.

Al-Qahar Mountains rise 2,000 meters above sea level, and are home to a wide variety of geological features, including striking conical shapes, distinctive sedimentary and limestone rock formations, deep canyons, and steep slopes. The mountains now contain several inhabited towns and cities.

Ancient artefacts, such as inscriptions and drawings, add to the mountains’ attractiveness for history buffs and mountaineers. 

The Saudi Geological Survey has said that the presence of fossils in Al-Qahar Mountains and other ancient environments can be proven through the study of sedimentary rocks and the fossils they contain.
 


Saudi economy minister receives WEF’s Borge Brenda

Saudi economy minister receives WEF’s Borge Brenda
Updated 30 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 5 min 16 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 7 min 13 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 21 min 2 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.