India’s top business body prepares to open Riyadh office

India’s top business body prepares to open Riyadh office
A delegation of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry meets representatives of the Federation of Saudi Chambers of Commerce in Riyadh on Feb. 19, 2024. (FICCI)
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Updated 29 February 2024
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India’s top business body prepares to open Riyadh office

India’s top business body prepares to open Riyadh office
  • India organized the first trip of the country’s top CEOs and government officials to Riyadh
  • `From the Indian side, the office in the Saudi capital will be led by an FICCI member, the federation’s secretary general S.K. Pathak told Arab News

NEW DELHI: India’s top business federation is preparing to open its office in Riyadh after leading a high-powered delegation to the Kingdom to explore the possibilities offered by Saudi megaprojects.

The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, India’s largest and oldest trade association, organized the first trip of the country’s top CEOs and government officials to Riyadh and the site of the flagship multibillion-dollar NEOM project in Tabuk, on Feb. 18-21.

The visit was in the wake of the growth of Saudi-Indian ties during India’s presidency of the G20 last year, which was followed by the state visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Saudi-India Business Forum in September.

During the forum, Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih and his Indian counterpart, Piyush Goyal, agreed to open chamber of commerce offices in their respective countries.

From the Indian side, the office in the Saudi capital will be led by an FICCI member, the federation’s secretary general S.K. Pathak told Arab News.

“We have already identified the location. We are just waiting for the paperwork, and we will launch. This will be in addition to our other offices in GCC. It’s a matter of weeks,” he said in an interview in Delhi on Wednesday.

The office will facilitate better business interactions between Indian companies and those based in the Kingdom.

“Whether you are a FICCI member or not, we are all Team India. Anyone from the Indian industry wanting to have ties in Saudi Arabia, this office will help you. That’s the objective,” Pathak said, adding that following last week’s visit there had already been multiple inquiries from companies interested in the Saudi market, and especially NEOM.

The FICCI delegation met NEOM leaders and executives responsible for projects such as The Line linear smart city, the floating Oxagon city, Trojena futuristic ski resort, Sindalah island resort, TONOMUS — the world’s first ecosystem of cognitive technologies — and ENOWA, which leads the development of NEOM’s sustainable energy and water systems.

“The NEOM project itself is a trillion-dollar project. It’s going to be a multi-decade project, and there is so much that India and Indian companies can do there,” Pathak said. “We have been flooded by inquiries from FICCI members and many who want to become FICCI members saying they also want to participate in this business opportunity.”

There was also an opportunity to learn, he said. The way water will be recycled in NEOM, which is set across desert valleys, and the smart city and biotechnological services designed for the site, were relevant to India too.

“That’s a great lesson for all Indian cities,” Pathak said. “It is quite an exciting opportunity for anyone in infrastructure and services to go and look at.”

Under the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, increasing opportunities have been available for Indian companies and the number of them operating in the Saudi market has grown from 400 in 2019 to 2,900 in 2023. Their biggest presence is in construction, information technology, health, oil and gas, telecommunications and financial services.

“This is a great time for India, and we are looking at the next 10 years, 25 years being a very good time for Indian business,” Pathak said. “Vision 2030 gives us the confidence that India and Saudi will grow even closer together.”


Saudi defense minister, British counterpart discuss military escalation in region  

Saudi defense minister, British counterpart discuss military escalation in region  
Updated 23 April 2024
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Saudi defense minister, British counterpart discuss military escalation in region  

Saudi defense minister, British counterpart discuss military escalation in region  

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Defense Prince Khalid bin Salman received a phone call on Monday from UK Secretary of State for Defense Grant Shapps.

The officials discussed military escalation in the region, its repercussions, and efforts towards containing it.

They also reviewed strategic bilateral relations and military cooperation.


Saudi air force joins several allies in UAE for start of multinational military exercise Desert Flag

Saudi air force joins several allies in UAE for start of multinational military exercise Desert Flag
Updated 23 April 2024
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Saudi air force joins several allies in UAE for start of multinational military exercise Desert Flag

Saudi air force joins several allies in UAE for start of multinational military exercise Desert Flag
  • Other nations taking part in the 3-week exercise include Oman, Turkey, the US, France and South Korea

RIYADH: Personnel from the Royal Saudi Air Force joined their counterparts from several allied nations on Monday at the start of Desert Flag, a multinational military exercise taking place at Al-Dhafra Air Base in the UAE.

Over the next three weeks the forces will take part in various flight-related exercises, including defensive and offensive counter-air operations, close-air support, and combat search and rescue missions, the Saudi Press Agency reported. In addition to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the participating nations include Oman, Turkey, the US, France and South Korea.

Lt. Col. Adel bin Saeed Abu Malha, the commander of the participating Saudi air force group, said the exercise is designed to facilitate the exchange of military expertise in strategic planning and execution within a simulated wartime environment. It also aims to enhance the operational readiness and combat efficiency of air and technical-support crews and to bolster the ties between the nations’ forces, he added.

Six Saudi F-15SA fighter jets, with their full air, technical and support crews, are taking part in the exercise, Abu Malha said.

The Saudi air force group arrived at Al-Dhafra Air Base last week to begin their preparations. They were greeted by Brig. Gen. Khalid Alhajiri, the military attache at the Saudi Embassy in the UAE.
 


Marat — a Saudi town with deep roots

Marat — a Saudi town with deep roots
Updated 22 April 2024
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Marat — a Saudi town with deep roots

Marat — a Saudi town with deep roots
  • Administratively affiliated with Riyadh Province, Marat oversees several centers, villages and settlements, enjoying governmental facilities and private institutions that have contributed to its development and population growth

RIYADH: One of the oldest cities in Saudi Arabia’s Najd, Marat, lies tucked away in the Al-Washm region of central Saudi Arabia.

Its intriguing history is illuminated in the Arabic book “Glimpses into the History of Marat” by Saudi researcher Abdullah Al-Duwaihi, first published in 2012, yet relevant for those wishing to explore the Kingdom’s history.

Al-Duwaihi painstakingly documents the town’s geography, landmarks, social fabric, governance and centuries-old foundations across about 700 pages. The book also covers Marat’s importance on the Hajj caravan route, its scientific legacy, mosques, sports and culture, archaeological sites and a variety of other facets of society. Accounts from geographers and travelers are included.

‘Glimpses into the History of Marat’ by Saudi researcher Abdullah Al-Duwaihi meticulously details Marat’s history. (SPA)

The book opens with an overview of Marat governorate, situated in Al-Washm, northwest of Riyadh. It borders the governorates of Al-Quway’iyah and Dhurma to the south, Shaqra to the north, Thadiq and Huraymila to the east and Al-Dawadmi to the west.

Administratively affiliated with Riyadh Province, Marat oversees several centers, villages and settlements, enjoying governmental facilities and private institutions that have contributed to its development and population growth.

FASTFACTS

• When King Abdulaziz traveled from Riyadh to Makkah, one of his first official stops was Marat, where the historic Hijaz Road crossed.

• Iconic natural landmarks in Marat include Ghudair Kumait, a basin where floodwaters accumulate without stagnating.

Iconic natural landmarks profiled in the book include Ghudair Kumait, a basin where floodwaters accumulate without stagnating. It is named after the prominent Jabal Kumait landmark known for its location and form, offering panoramic views of the town. This has led to the popular adage, “Secure Kumait, and you secure Marat,” explains the author.

Along with highlighting Marat’s past, Al-Duwaihi also explores locations such as the ruins of Al-Aroosah and Al-Walidi Well, which was attributed to the Prophet Muhammad’s companion Khalid bin Al-Walid. According to historical accounts, he dug the well during his journey through Marat en route to battle the renegades in Al-Yamama.

Royal history

When King Abdulaziz traveled from Riyadh to Makkah, one of his first official stops was Marat, where the historic Hijaz Road crossed, and where he would stay for several days. Royal tents were set up outside the palace in Marat — built in 1350 AH (1930) — days in advance of his arrival.

As the royal caravan approached, telegrams were sent to prepare for essential supplies. Vehicles and caravans passing through the route would also halt in the town for rest and replenishment, transforming Marat into a bustling commercial hub, especially during the Hajj season, when it teemed with tents, vendors and shoppers lining the roadside.

The book features accounts from various travelers, both foreign and local, who passed through Marat and documented their experiences, including George Forster Sadleir, British explorer Harry Philby, American geologist Thomas C. Barger, Amin Al-Rihani, Youssef Yassin, Ahmed Al-Kadhimi and Atiq Al-Biladi. Yet he overlooked mentioning Ahmad Abdul-Ghafoor Attar, who provided captivating glimpses of the town in the 1960s.

One of the book’s notable features is its exploration of Marat’s architectural heritage, highlighting the coexistence of ancient mud-brick neighborhoods and modern structures. Although the old government palace was demolished due to encroaching modern developments, had it remained, it would have stood as a prominent landmark of the province.

Notable old quarters within Marat’s walls include Bab Al-Naqeeb, Zab’arah, Junaib, Al-Hafsiah, Banban, Hayit Hussain, Al-Shuraiqy, Shari’ah, Subaitah, Qa’rah, Suwail and Al-Naqbah. Outside the walls are Al-Qusaibah, Al-Muraiba’, Al-Ju’di, Bab Al-Naifiah, Qubaibah, Suwaydan, Al-Hulailah, Bab Al-Barr and At-Tuwaila.

According to Al-Duwaihi’s book, Al-Amiriah School was the governorate’s first educational institution, built in 1368 AH (1948). Constructed from traditional mud bricks in Marat’s northeastern quarters, the boys’ elementary school followed design templates set by the Kingdom’s educational authorities at the time.

Later, in 1387 AH (1967), the first school for girls, known as Al-Awwal School, was inaugurated, initially located in the western part of the old town before later relocating to a new governmental premises. Over subsequent years, a series of schools for both boys and girls were progressively opened.

 


Focus is on the Saudi environment in photo contest with SR100,000 prize up for grabs

The aim of the ministry’s Environmental Awareness Initiative is to raise public understanding of environmental issues. (SPA)
The aim of the ministry’s Environmental Awareness Initiative is to raise public understanding of environmental issues. (SPA)
Updated 22 April 2024
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Focus is on the Saudi environment in photo contest with SR100,000 prize up for grabs

The aim of the ministry’s Environmental Awareness Initiative is to raise public understanding of environmental issues. (SPA)
  • The competition ties in with Environment Week 2024, which runs from April 28 to May 5 in the Kingdom with the theme ‘Do you know your environment?’

RIYADH: Photographers in the Kingdom have until April 27 to enter a competition that is looking for the best images and videos that showcase the Saudi environment.

The aim of the contest, organized by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture’s Environmental Awareness Initiative, is to promote environmental awareness through the use of art, and engage the community in the creation and sharing of content that highlights the natural splendor and beauty of the Kingdom.

The aim of the ministry’s Environmental Awareness Initiative is to raise public understanding of environmental issues. (SPA)

The competition ties in with Environment Week 2024 in Saudi Arabia, which will run from April 28 to May 5 with the theme “Do you know your environment?” Photography enthusiasts across the country are invited to submit photographs, videos or films that best illustrate the nation’s environment.

A panel of judges will choose the winners, who will receive cash prizes of up to SR100,000 ($26,660), the Saudi Press Agency reported. Entrants must own the copyright to their submissions, which should not have been awarded prizes in any other contests. The ministry reserves the right to use submitted images in exhibitions, conferences or on its social media platforms. The photographers’ moral rights to their work will be respected.

The aim of the ministry’s Environmental Awareness Initiative is to raise public understanding of environmental issues, and foster a sense of responsibility toward protecting the Kingdom’s natural resources by encouraging sustainable behaviors among individuals and groups.

 


Riyadh prepares to host special meeting of World Economic Forum

Riyadh prepares to host special meeting of World Economic Forum
Updated 22 April 2024
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Riyadh prepares to host special meeting of World Economic Forum

Riyadh prepares to host special meeting of World Economic Forum
  • Heads of state and senior executives from the public, private sectors are expected to be among the participants
  • The aim of the meeting is to find solutions to a host of global humanitarian, climate and economic challenges

RIYADH: Final preparations are taking place this week in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, for a special meeting of the World Economic Forum in the city on April 28 and 29.

Heads of state and senior executives from the public and private sectors are expected to be among the participants, who will discuss a range of global economic issues and developments under the theme “Global Collaboration, Growth and Energy for Development.”

The aim of the meeting is to find solutions to a host of global challenges relating to humanitarian issues, the climate and the economy. On the sidelines of the main event, the Kingdom will host exhibitions and other events to highlight the latest developments and trends in areas such as sustainability, innovation and culture.

The selection of Riyadh as host of the special meeting reflects the extensive partnership between Saudi Arabia and the WEF, officials said.

It builds upon the Kingdom’s active participation and contributions to the WEF’s Annual Meetings in Davos.

The agenda is designed to rekindle the spirit of cooperation and collaboration with various panel discussions, workshops, and networking opportunities. It represents a significant gathering of global leaders and experts dedicated to forging a path toward a more resilient, sustainable, and equitable world.