Saudi Arabia condemns deadly Israeli strike on aid workers in Gaza

A person looks at a vehicle where employees from the World Central Kitchen (WCK), including foreigners, were killed in an Israeli airstrike, according to the NGO as the Israeli military said it was conducting a thorough review. (Reuters)
A person looks at a vehicle where employees from the World Central Kitchen (WCK), including foreigners, were killed in an Israeli airstrike, according to the NGO as the Israeli military said it was conducting a thorough review. (Reuters)
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Updated 03 April 2024
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Saudi Arabia condemns deadly Israeli strike on aid workers in Gaza

Saudi Arabia condemns deadly Israeli strike on aid workers in Gaza
  • Call for international community to play its part to stop violations

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Tuesday condemned an Israeli strike the previous day that killed seven aid workers from a US-based charity in the Gaza Strip.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs told of the Kingdom’s “denunciation of the targeting of the World Central Kitchen convoy in the Gaza Strip,” describing the attack in a statement as “a systematic continuation of Israel’s crimes and violations of international humanitarian law.”

WCK staff had just offloaded 100 tonnes of food aid from a barge which had sailed from Cyprus when Israel attacked the organization’s vehicle convoy overnight on Monday in an airstrike.

The Kingdom offered its sincere condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims and reiterated that it “categorically rejects” the targeting of missions, relief organizations and their workers.

It also called on the international community to play its part in stopping such violations; protect unarmed civilians and workers in humanitarian and relief organizations; and work to bring in more urgent humanitarian aid to avoid aggravating the humanitarian crisis in the besieged Palestinian territory.

The incident drew widespread international condemnation as the strike killed nationals from Australia, Britain and Poland, as well as Palestinians, and a dual citizen of the US and Canada.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation also condemned the attack, saying it was an extension of a series of Israeli violations of international laws and norms and relevant UN Security Council resolutions.

The OIC called on the international community in a statement to assume its responsibilities toward obliging Israel to respect its duties under international humanitarian law.

The organization also renewed its call for an immediate halt to the Israeli aggression to protect civilians in the region and relief workers, and ensure adequate and sustainable delivery of humanitarian aid to all parts of the Gaza Strip.

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Al-Sudais launches presidency’s largest plan yet for Hajj season

Al-Sudais launches presidency’s largest plan yet for Hajj season
Updated 24 May 2024
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Al-Sudais launches presidency’s largest plan yet for Hajj season

Al-Sudais launches presidency’s largest plan yet for Hajj season
  • Sheikh Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, President of Religious Affairs, described it as the largest religious operational plan yet undertaken by the presidency
  • The plan is focused on serving pilgrims, enriching their religious experience, creating a devotional atmosphere, and launching 120 religious enrichment initiatives during the Hajj season

MAKKAH: The Presidency of Religious Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque on Thursday launched its operational plan for the 2024 Hajj season.

Sheikh Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, President of Religious Affairs, described it as the largest religious operational plan yet undertaken by the presidency. The plan is focused on serving pilgrims, enriching their religious experience, creating a devotional atmosphere, and launching 120 religious enrichment initiatives during the Hajj season.

In his opening speech during the inauguration of the plan at the headquarters of the presidency in Makkah, Al-Sudais said: “This year’s plan is the largest since the establishment of the presidency with its purely religious specializations.”

He explained that the plan is the result of the efforts of the presidency’s teams through preparation, planning and study, as well as the achievements of past seasons. The plan is designed in harmony and integration with the various agencies working in the Two Holy Mosques, which collaborate and cooperate with the presidency to serve pilgrims.

The plan for the 2024 Hajj season, he said, revolves around various religious enrichment paths, which include numerous events and hundreds of religious programs encompassing scientific and guidance lessons.

Al-Sudais said the presidency’s plan this year is dedicated to promoting volunteer and humanitarian work, recognizing the Two Holy Mosques as attractive environments for such efforts. This focus is based on religious and Saudi values, which highlight the importance of generosity and hospitality.

A digital axis focuses on enhancing the religious digital experience provided by the Two Holy Mosques. This includes integrating religious digital services, investing in technology and artificial intelligence, and using applications and digital media. Specific religious initiatives are being activated to achieve digital leadership and to reduce the barriers of space and time through these applications.


Hajj pilgrims from Uzbekistan, Morocco, Niger and Iraq latest to arrive in Saudi Arabia

Hajj pilgrims from Uzbekistan, Morocco, Niger and Iraq latest to arrive in Saudi Arabia
Updated 24 May 2024
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Hajj pilgrims from Uzbekistan, Morocco, Niger and Iraq latest to arrive in Saudi Arabia

Hajj pilgrims from Uzbekistan, Morocco, Niger and Iraq latest to arrive in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The first group of pilgrims from Uzbekistan, 950 in total, arrived in Makkah on Thursday ahead of Hajj.

Several expressed “gratitude to the Kingdom’s government for the services and facilities that have been provided to make their pilgrimage safe and reassuring,” the Saudi Press Agency reported.

Meanwhile, the Saudi ambassador to Morocco, Sami Al-Saleh, attended a farewell ceremony at Rabat-Sale Airport as the first group of Hajj pilgrims from the country set off for the Kingdom. He was accompanied by the Moroccan minister of endowments and Islamic affairs, Ahmed Toufiq, and other senior government officials.

Similarly, the Saudi ambassador to Niger, Zaid Al-Harbi, saw off the first group of Nigerien pilgrims as they departed from the capital, Niamey. The country’s prime minister, Ali Lamine Zeine, was also present.

Closer to home, a second group of Hajj pilgrims from Iraq arrived at the Arar border crossing in the Northern Borders Province on Thursday, where authorities said they received a warm welcome and benefited from a range of services and procedures designed to streamline entry procedures.

The Iraqi pilgrims expressed their thanks and “commended the Kingdom’s leadership for the generous hospitality and exceptional services provided by the authorities responsible for Hajj affairs,” SPA reported. 

They also praised the facilities at the crossing, which officials said will operate around the clock throughout the Hajj season to provide the best possible pilgrimage experience.


Saudi FM discusses Gaza, West Bank with Palestinian PM

Saudi FM discusses Gaza, West Bank with Palestinian PM
Updated 23 May 2024
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Saudi FM discusses Gaza, West Bank with Palestinian PM

Saudi FM discusses Gaza, West Bank with Palestinian PM

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Thursday spoke to Palestinian Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed Mustafa by telephone, the Kingdom’s Foreign Ministry said.

They discussed developments in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and its surrounding areas.


Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority issues statement following Riyadh food poisoning incident

Riyadh experienced a wave of food poisoning cases caused by clostridium botulinum at the end of April. (File/Shutterstock)
Riyadh experienced a wave of food poisoning cases caused by clostridium botulinum at the end of April. (File/Shutterstock)
Updated 23 May 2024
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Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority issues statement following Riyadh food poisoning incident

Riyadh experienced a wave of food poisoning cases caused by clostridium botulinum at the end of April. (File/Shutterstock)
  • Nazaha says royal directives mandate the holding of all responsible officials accountable

RIYADH: Following the recent food poisoning incident at a Riyadh restaurant, the Kingdom’s Oversight and Anti-Corruption Authority has said anyone found to be negligent in ensuring public health and safety will be held accountable.

The authority, also known as Nazaha, added on Thursday that measures will be taken against anyone found to have obstructed the investigation into the incident and concealed crucial information regarding the cause of poisoning.

Riyadh experienced a wave of food poisoning cases caused by clostridium botulinum at the end of April.

The outbreak was linked to the consumption of food from a Hamburgini fast-food restaurant and led to several hospitalizations and one death.

The Ministry of Municipal, Rural Affairs and Housing later announced that a Saudi Food and Drug Authority laboratory test found clostridium botulinum in the Bon Tum mayonnaise brand used by the food chain.

As a result, the distribution of the mayonnaise product was suspended and it was withdrawn from markets and food facilities across all cities in the Kingdom.

Operations at the Bon Tum factory producing the mayonnaise were halted in preparation for implementing statutory procedures.

Initial investigations by Nazaha “revealed attempts to conceal or destroy evidence, suggesting potential collusion by a small number of unscrupulous food establishment inspectors who prioritized personal gain over public health and safety,” the authority said on Thursday.

Nazaha said that royal directives mandate the holding of all responsible officials accountable, regardless of position.

“This applies to those who neglected or delayed fulfilling their duties, actions which may have contributed to the poisoning or hindered response efforts. Consequently, a high-level committee has been established to verify and oversee the implementation of these directives,” Nazaha said.

Nazaha added that comprehensive reports detailing the circumstances, causes, and those potentially responsible for the poisoning were produced around the clock after the incident.

The reports encompassed laboratory analyses of samples from various establishments and details of medical care provided to suspected victims, it said.

Precise laboratory testing, conducted by local and international foodborne illness specialists, swiftly identified the type and cause of the poisoning, the authority said.

Nazaha said the incident was contained and has been resolved.


Saudi Arabia secures membership in International Transport Forum

Saudi Arabia secures membership in International Transport Forum
Updated 23 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia secures membership in International Transport Forum

Saudi Arabia secures membership in International Transport Forum

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia secured membership in the International Transport Forum on the sidelines of the event held in Leipzig, Germany.

Saudi Minister of Transport and Logistics Saleh bin Nasser Al-Jasser said that the membership symbolizes the Kingdom’s commitment to addressing transportation challenges through innovative and sustainable solutions. It also supports the Kingdom’s established role in developing the transport and logistics sector, he added, highlighting the Saudi Vision 2030 goal of benefiting from the country’s strategic location to become a global logistics center.

Al-Jasser said that the Kingdom has made significant strides in logistics, jumping 17 places to reach 38th place globally in the logistics services performance index. Additionally, the Kingdom achieved 13th place globally in the IATA’s international air connectivity index and 16th in the maritime navigation network connectivity index. He also noted the launch of a new air carrier, Riyadh Air, aimed at connecting the Kingdom to more than 250 international destinations.

The Kingdom is committed to enhancing the resilience of its transport infrastructure, promoting sustainable mobility and ensuring equitable access to transport services for all, Al-Jasser said.

Saudi membership of the ITF confirms its prominent position in the global transport sector, the minister added. This membership will enable the Kingdom to contribute to enacting legislation and regulations that improve and develop transportation on an international scale, he said.