Saudi minister, EU ambassador hold talks in Riyadh

Saudi minister, EU ambassador hold talks in Riyadh
EU ambassador Christophe Farnaud with Saudi deputy minister for international multilateral affairs Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Rassi in Riyadh. (MOFA)
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Updated 17 January 2024
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Saudi minister, EU ambassador hold talks in Riyadh

Saudi minister, EU ambassador hold talks in Riyadh
  • Abdulrahman Al-Rassi, Christophe Farnaud discuss security cooperation, relations
  • Relaunch of EU-GCC partnership also on agenda

RIYADH: The Kingdom’s deputy minister for international multilateral affairs has held talks with the EU’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

Envoy Christophe Farnaud said he visited Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Rassi at his office in Riyadh on Monday, where they discussed relations and security cooperation.

“Both parties praised the positive relationship between the EU and Saudi Arabia,” the ambassador told Arab News on Wednesday.

“The positive momentum is highlighted by the pace of high-level visits, in particular of the EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Josep Borrell to Riyadh and AlUla last week.”

Farnaud said they also discussed the relaunch of the EU-GCC partnership.

“The EU has initiated work on enhanced security cooperation with the planned Structured GCC-EU Regional Security Dialogue in Riyadh on Jan. 24,” he said.

The officials also discussed the Israel-Hamas war, including cooperative efforts made by the EU and Saudi Arabia to protect civilians and provide humanitarian aid.

The Foreign Ministry said on X the two men discussed “relations between the Kingdom and the European Union and developments of mutual concern.”

Last week, Mohammed Al-Budaiwi, secretary-general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, met Borrell in Riyadh to discuss the latest developments in Israel’s war on Gaza.

The two sides reviewed ways to strengthen international and regional efforts to reach a ceasefire and end the humanitarian crisis in the occupied territory.

They also discussed ways to develop collaboration between the GCC and the EU in various fields and emphasized the importance of collective action in tackling challenges.


Saudi ambassador to Guinea sees off first group of Hajj pilgrims from country

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Guinea Fahad Al-Rashidi sees off this year’s first group of Guinean Hajj pilgrims.
Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Guinea Fahad Al-Rashidi sees off this year’s first group of Guinean Hajj pilgrims.
Updated 26 May 2024
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Saudi ambassador to Guinea sees off first group of Hajj pilgrims from country

Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Guinea Fahad Al-Rashidi sees off this year’s first group of Guinean Hajj pilgrims.
  • Al-Rashidi said the Kingdom was fully prepared for Hajj

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Guinea Fahad Al-Rashidi on Sunday saw off this year’s first group of Guinean Hajj pilgrims heading from Conakry to the Kingdom.

Al-Rashidi said the Kingdom was fully prepared for the pilgrimage, during which millions of pilgrims from various parts of the world will perform their rituals in the best possible manner, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The ambassador said that due to God’s grace and the generous care and directives of the Saudi leadership, the Kingdom had mobilized its resources, personnel, and capabilities to ensure the comfort, security, and safety of pilgrims.


Indian Hajj pilgrims take train from Jeddah to Makkah

Indian Hajj pilgrims take train from Jeddah to Makkah
Updated 26 May 2024
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Indian Hajj pilgrims take train from Jeddah to Makkah

Indian Hajj pilgrims take train from Jeddah to Makkah

JEDDAH: Traditionally, all pilgrims arriving at Jeddah International Airport travel to Makkah by buses provided by Saudi authorities. This year, however, special arrangements have been made by the Consulate General of India in Jeddah, in tandem with the Saudi authorities, for some Indian pilgrims to travel via the Haramain High Speed Railway from Jeddah airport to Makkah.

About 32,000 Indian pilgrims will benefit from this exclusive service, reducing travel time by half thanks to the train’s maximum speed of 300 kph.

To commemorate the historic occasion, India’s ambassador, Dr. Suhel Ajaz Khan, and Consul General Mohd Shahid Alam accompanied Indian pilgrims on the inaugural journey from Jeddah airport to Makkah on Sunday.

The pilgrims arrived in the Kingdom on a Saudia flight from Mumbai.

They were joined by Khaled Al-Harbi, senior vice president of operations at Saudi Arabia Railways, as well as officials from the ministries of Hajj and Umrah, and transport.

This is the first time Saudi Arabia is transporting a limited number of Hajj pilgrims directly from Jeddah airport to Makkah by train.

This year, 175,000 pilgrims from India will participate, with 140,000 organized through the Hajj Committee of India. 


KSrelief calls for coordinating humanitarian efforts with WHO

KSrelief calls for coordinating humanitarian efforts with WHO
Updated 26 May 2024
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KSrelief calls for coordinating humanitarian efforts with WHO

KSrelief calls for coordinating humanitarian efforts with WHO
  • Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah urges international action amidst humanitarian crisis

RIYADH: Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, supervisor-general of Saudi aid agency KSrelief, said he wants to boost the partnership with the World Health Organization to improve and coordinate response efforts, ensure all resources are allocated efficiently, and enable communities to become more resilient and independent.

Speaking at a session titled “From Crisis to Opportunity: Health in the Eastern Mediterranean Region,” at the 77th World Health Assembly, held in Geneva, Switzerland, Al-Rabeeah thanked the WHO for efforts to address the humanitarian crises in the Eastern Mediterranean region, including conflicts, migration and economic instability.

He said that the Saudi leadership made intensive and generous efforts to alleviate the suffering of millions of people in need in the region and around the world, particularly children, women and vulnerable groups.

Al-Rabeeah said that the total humanitarian assistance provided by Saudi Arabia to the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean exceeded $1.4 billion. He added that KSrelief recently announced a $500 million contribution to efforts to eradicate polio over the next five years.

He mentioned that the center provides comprehensive health treatment and support services in humanitarian emergencies.

Furthermore, KSrelief has implemented various volunteer programs in the medical sector as part of its relief and humanitarian endeavors, including 298 projects worth over $46 million in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

Al-Rabeeah urged all parties in conflict areas to ensure that relief aid providers are allowed to deliver aid in a safe and effective manner.

When aid delivery is prevented and attacks on humanitarian workers and hospital staff are allowed, he said, those in need suffer even more. The situations in the Gaza Strip and Sudan are clear examples of this, he added.

Al-Rabeeah said that KSrelief works closely with its partners to overcome challenges and ensure the safe delivery of aid even under the most difficult circumstances. For instance, during the siege of Taiz in Yemen, the center used airdrops to deliver assistance and even resorted to camels to deliver medical supplies, oxygen cylinders and other urgent items to remote mountain locations where health services were either very limited or unavailable, he said.

In Gaza, the center succeeded in assisting with the area’s current challenges.

“Restricted access to Gaza has led to severe shortages of food, water, medical supplies and other much-needed items,” he said, urging restrictions be changed to save lives, especially those of children, women and the elderly.

Al-Rabeeah urged the international community to take decisive action to protect health facilities and humanitarian workers, and all authorities to abide by international humanitarian law.

He also called for involving healthcare workers in policy-making processes, to ensure that their expertise and experience are used to shape effective healthcare strategies.

Al-Rabeeah emphasized the crucial role of international collaboration in ensuring that all people in need have access to humanitarian assistance and medical care.


Harvard witnesses graduation of 60 Saudi students from elite US universities

Harvard witnesses graduation of 60 Saudi students from elite US universities
Updated 26 May 2024
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Harvard witnesses graduation of 60 Saudi students from elite US universities

Harvard witnesses graduation of 60 Saudi students from elite US universities

RIYADH: The Saudi Club at Harvard University recently organized a graduation ceremony for Saudi graduates from Harvard University, MIT, Boston University, and Tufts University.

The event took place on Harvard’s campus in Boston and was attended by Mohammed Khashaan, director of the public diplomacy department at the Saudi Embassy in the US, Saudi Press Agency reported.

During the ceremony, Khashaan said that the distinguished Saudi students are graduating in light of the transformations occurring under Saudi Vision 2030.

He highlighted the investment in the nation’s talented individuals, and said that the Kingdom is experiencing economic, industrial, and environmental growth, accompanied by renewed opportunities for its citizens to pursue their dreams, and contribute to building the future of the nation and the world.

Additionally, US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Michael Ratney, delivered a recorded speech in which he congratulated the graduating students and thanked the Saudi Club for organizing the event to celebrate their achievements.

“I have been in Saudi Arabia for only a year, and the professional and personal opportunities here have never been greater. Your country is rich in resources, but its most valuable asset is its human capabilities,” Ratney said.

He also highlighted the diversity he has observed in various fields, from filmmaking to video game development and space travel, and expressed his happiness at witnessing this growth.


Saudi Arabia appoints first envoy to Syria in more than a decade

Saudi Arabia appoints first envoy to Syria in more than a decade
Updated 26 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia appoints first envoy to Syria in more than a decade

Saudi Arabia appoints first envoy to Syria in more than a decade

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has appointed Faisal Al-Mujfel as the kingdom’s new ambassador to Syria, the Saudi Press Agency reported. 

“The honored ambassador extends his thanks to the leadership on the occasion of his appointment as Ambassador to the Syrian Arab Republic,” SPA said.

Al-Mujfel is the kingdom's first envoy to Damascus since the closure of the Saudi embassy there in 2012 during the Syrian civil war.

Syria reopened its embassy in Riyadh last year and appointed a new ambassador in December.