Saudi FM stresses GCC-Central Asia cooperation for regional stability

Saudi FM stresses GCC-Central Asia cooperation for regional stability
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Prince Faisal attends the second GCC-Central Asia Strategic Dialogue ministerial meeting in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. (SPA)
Saudi FM stresses GCC-Central Asia cooperation for regional stability
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Prince Faisal attends the second GCC-Central Asia Strategic Dialogue ministerial meeting in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. (SPA)
Saudi FM stresses GCC-Central Asia cooperation for regional stability
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Prince Faisal attends the second GCC-Central Asia Strategic Dialogue ministerial meeting in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. (SPA)
Saudi FM stresses GCC-Central Asia cooperation for regional stability
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Prince Faisal met with his Uzbek counterpart, Bakhtiyor Saidov, and the two signed a reciprocal visa-exemption agreement for holders of diplomatic and special passports. (SPA)
Saudi FM stresses GCC-Central Asia cooperation for regional stability
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Prince Faisal met with his Uzbek counterpart, Bakhtiyor Saidov, and the two signed a reciprocal visa-exemption agreement for holders of diplomatic and special passports. (SPA)
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Updated 15 April 2024
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Saudi FM stresses GCC-Central Asia cooperation for regional stability

Saudi FM stresses GCC-Central Asia cooperation for regional stability
  • Prince Faisal addressed the second GCC-Central Asia Strategic Dialogue ministerial meeting in Tashkent, Uzbekistan
  • Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan sign visa-exemption deal for diplomatic, special passport holders

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Monday emphasized the importance of promoting the interests of Gulf Cooperation Council countries and Central Asian states so the two regions become safe, stable and prosperous, offering hope for a better future for all.

Prince Faisal was speaking at the second GCC-Central Asia Strategic Dialogue ministerial meeting in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

In his speech he affirmed the importance of continuing to strengthen coordination and consultation between GCC countries and Central Asian states based on joint values, interests and historical ties, noting the broad growth in relations over the past years.

Prince Faisal pointed out the broad consensus between GCC countries and Central Asian states on the importance of achieving peace, promoting negotiated solutions and supporting security, stability and development.

He emphasized the importance of joining efforts to ensure the Palestinian people’s internationally recognized rights and to achieve peace through negotiation, in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative and the principles of international law.

The Saudi minister also highlighted the ongoing efforts to achieve peace and stability in the region, as well as the need to pursue a sustainable ceasefire, lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip, and ensure the delivery of humanitarian and relief assistance.

He called for the forced displacement of Palestinians to cease and emphasized the need for the international community and the UN Security Council to permanently stop Israel’s aggression against the Palestinian people.

Prince Faisal also met with his Uzbek counterpart, Bakhtiyor Saidov, and the two signed a reciprocal visa-exemption agreement for holders of diplomatic and special passports.

The parties held official talks during which they discussed ways to strengthen cooperation, as well as opportunities for further bilateral and multilateral cooperation on issues of mutual interest.

The GCC ministerial council also held an extraordinary meeting at the Qatari embassy in Tashkent on the military escalation in the Middle East on Monday.

In a statement issued after the meeting, the council expressed its deep concern about the military escalation in the region and its negative impact on its security and stability.

It stressed the importance of reducing the escalation immediately to maintain regional security and stability, and the need for all parties to settle disputes diplomatically, exercise the utmost self-restraint, and spare the region and its people from the dangers of war.

The council also called on the United Nations Security Council to assume its responsibility towards maintaining international peace and security, especially in the Middle East, and to prevent the worsening of the crisis there that will have serious consequences if it expands.


Preservation of heritage and nature top priority for Soudah Peaks project, says head developer

The Soudah Development company plans to rehabilitate about 200 heritage sites within the Soudah Peaks project area.
The Soudah Development company plans to rehabilitate about 200 heritage sites within the Soudah Peaks project area.
Updated 10 sec ago
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Preservation of heritage and nature top priority for Soudah Peaks project, says head developer

The Soudah Development company plans to rehabilitate about 200 heritage sites within the Soudah Peaks project area.
  • Project prioritizes sustainable environmental practices and protection of natural landscapes, cultural heritage and region’s unique architecture, says Daniel McBrearty
  • The project aims to establish a luxurious mountain tourism destination at an altitude of 3,015m above sea level in the Asir region of southwestern Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Soudah Development company plans to rehabilitate about 200 heritage sites within the Soudah Peaks project area in Saudi Arabia, and the work will be carried out in ways that preserve the authentic nature and natural splendor of the area, said Daniel McBrearty, the organization’s chief development officer.

The preservation of the sites and the natural landscapes around them is of paramount importance to the company as it undertakes its transformative tourism project, he added.

McBrearty told the Saudi Press Agency: “The Soudah project’s master plan places sustainable environmental practices at the forefront, ensuring the protection of natural landscapes, cultural heritage and the unique architectural style of the region.”

The Soudah Peaks project aims to establish a luxurious mountain tourism destination at an altitude of 3,015 meters above sea level in the Asir region of southwestern Saudi Arabia. In keeping with the objectives of the Saudi Green Initiative, only 1 percent of the 627-square-kilometer project area has been allocated for development.

“We will focus on safeguarding the environment and mitigating climate change impacts,” McBrearty said. “Soudah Development is committed to translating climate ambitions into tangible sustainability efforts aimed at restoring and reviving the area’s exceptional biodiversity.”

Several environmental initiatives are already underway, he said, most notably an afforestation project that aims to plant more than a million trees by 2030, in support of the Saudi Green Initiative and to help offset carbon emissions by 4 percent.

Soudah Development has already planted 165,000 indigenous trees, SPA reported, including species such as juniper, wild acacia, Dodonaea and katam (wild olive). This has taken place in collaboration with the National Center for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification, to help achieve environmental balance and climate resilience.

And in partnership with the National Center for Wildlife, the company has reintroduced 23 mountain ibexes and 10 idmi, or mountain, gazelles in the past three years, supporting efforts to protect the species from extinction.

McBrearty said that working under the auspices of the Public Investment Fund, the company is leading the development of Soudah Peaks to enhance the Kingdom’s increasingly diverse tourism offerings.

“The luxury mountain resort will feature 2,700 hospitality keys, 1,336 residential units and 80,000 square meters of commercial space across six development zones: Tahlal, Sahab, Sabrah, Jareen, Rijal and Red Rock,” he explained.

“By 2033, the project is projected to create thousands of direct and indirect job opportunities, contribute over SR29 billion ($7.7 billion) to the non-oil GDP (gross domestic product), and attract 10 million visitors annually by 2030, aligning with the nation’s tourism goals.”

Developers say Soudah Peaks will offer a wide range of attractions and activities, including mountain trails, long-distance hiking paths, paragliding, mountain biking, horseback riding and zipline adventures. Nature lovers will be able to immerse themselves in the natural splendor of its attractions, including national parks, biodiversity and agricultural terraces, and indulge in luxurious wellness experiences at eco-resorts, meditation centers and yoga retreats. There will also be an 18-hole golf course atop Soudah mountain, and mild temperatures of around 15 degrees Celsius will allow visitors and residents to enjoy the outdoor pursuits year-round.


Japan, Saudi Arabia leaders exchange views in video summit meeting

Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio held a productive video meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday.
Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio held a productive video meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday.
Updated 9 min 56 sec ago
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Japan, Saudi Arabia leaders exchange views in video summit meeting

Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio held a productive video meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Tuesday.
  • The crown prince expressed his desire to visit Japan as soon as possible to further strengthen ties with Japan
  • Kishida expressed his wishes for King Salman’s early recovery

TOKYO: Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio held a productive video meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the prime minister of Saudi Arabia, on Tuesday.
Kishida offered his best wishes for King Salman’s health, a gesture that was appreciated by the crown prince.
The crown prince expressed his desire to visit Japan as soon as possible to further strengthen ties with Japan. Kishida expressed his wishes for King Salman’s early recovery and said that he was also looking forward to strengthening the strategic partnership between Japan and Saudi Arabia, according to the foreign ministry in Tokyo.
As the two countries approach the 70th anniversary of their diplomatic relations, the Japanese prime minister expressed his desire to work even more closely with Saudi Arabia. He emphasized the shared goal of realizing peace and stability in the Middle East, a sentiment that was echoed by the crown prince. The leaders agreed to establish a “strategic partnership council” chaired by them to further strengthen bilateral relations.
Kishida expressed gratitude for Saudi Arabia’s stable supply of crude oil to Japan over the years. He also expressed his anticipation for Saudi Arabia to continue playing a leading role in stabilizing the global oil market, including through production increases, a sentiment that was appreciated by the crown prince.
Kishida added that he would like to cooperate in establishing a global supply chain for clean energy, such as hydrogen and ammonia, and promote cooperation in the field of mineral resources while using Japanese technology under the “lighthouse initiative” agreed between the two countries in July last year.
The crown prince said that Saudi Arabia would like to cooperate with Japan in various areas, including clean energy, and the Kingdom remained committed to providing a stable supply of crude oil to Japan.
Kishida expressed interest in creating business opportunities in Saudi Arabia, and making direct investments in Japan in a wide range of fields, including construction, power transmission, hydrogen, digital fields, information and communications technology, space, health, medicine, food and agriculture.
He also said that he would like to work together to achieve an early realization of the Japan-GCC free trade agreement. This agreement, once implemented, will significantly boost trade and investment between Japan and the GCC countries, creating new business opportunities and fostering economic growth. Negotiations are scheduled to resume soon.
The crown prince said that he welcomed the resumption of negotiations for the Japan-GCC free trade agreement and cooperation with Japan in fields beyond energy.
On peace and security, Kishida explained Japan’s diplomatic efforts and contributions in Gaza, including humanitarian aid and diplomatic initiatives. The crown prince said that he envisioned continued cooperation with Japan on diplomatic efforts to realize peace and stability, appreciating Japan’s active role in the region.
Kishida said that he would be pleased to hand over the symbolic “torch” of the expo to Saudi Arabia following Expo 2025 in Osaka-Kansai. This act symbolizes the continuation of the spirit of international cooperation and cultural exchange. He added that he would like to encourage cultural exchanges in entertainment, tourism, academia and football.
The crown prince said that Japan was an outstanding country in terms of culture and that he sought to strengthen cooperation with Japan in this area.
Read More: Saudi, Japan discuss ties at Vision 2030 business forum in Tokyo  


300 tons of Zamzam supplied daily in Madinah

300 tons of Zamzam supplied daily in Madinah
Updated 21 May 2024
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300 tons of Zamzam supplied daily in Madinah

300 tons of Zamzam supplied daily in Madinah
  • To ensure that Zamzam water is safe, a specialized technical staff takes more than 80 samples daily and examines them with the latest equipment

RIYADH: The General Authority for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque exerts all efforts to provide Zamzam water at the Prophet’s Mosque so that worshippers and visitors can enjoy the blessed water.

The authority supplies 300 tons of Zamzam water, brought daily from Makkah to the mosque in Madinah on bowsers equipped for this purpose, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

To ensure that Zamzam water is safe, a specialized technical staff takes more than 80 samples daily and examines them with the latest equipment.

Meanwhile, Zamazemah Co. and the Coordination Council for Institutions and Companies Serving Domestic Pilgrims (Mutahed) signed a memorandum to provide Zamzam water bottles to domestic pilgrims during Hajj.

Deputy Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Abdulfattah Mashat attended the signing. This agreement aims to ensure high-quality services for pilgrims.


Saudi Arabia a ‘faithful friend’ of Cameroon, says envoy

Cameroon celebrates its national day at a diplomatic event in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Cameroon celebrates its national day at a diplomatic event in Riyadh. (Supplied)
Updated 21 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia a ‘faithful friend’ of Cameroon, says envoy

Cameroon celebrates its national day at a diplomatic event in Riyadh. (Supplied)
  • Cameroon’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia said that cooperation between his country and the Kingdom has “continued to deepen over the decades”

RIYADH: Cameroon has celebrated its national day at a diplomatic event in Riyadh, with the country’s ambassador hailing Saudi Arabia as a “faithful friend.”

Iya Tidjani, speaking at a reception on Monday in the Saudi capital to mark Cameroon’s 52nd national day, said that cooperation between his country and the Kingdom has “continued to deepen over the decades.”

Riyadh Mayor Prince Faisal bin Abdulaziz bin Ayyaf was the guest at the reception, which was attended by diplomats in Riyadh, Saudi officials and businessmen, the Cameroonian community and embassy staff.

“Since 1966, the year of establishment of relations between the two countries, these ties have continued to deepen and diversify to the mutual benefit of both countries,” Tidjani said.

The ambassador praised Saudi Arabia for sending medical missions every year to support the Cameroonian health sector.

“Our government also expresses sincere thanks to Saudi Arabia for their laudable efforts for the Hajj, both in terms of organization and infrastructure,” he added.

In 2019, the Great Mosque of Maroua in northern Cameroon was inaugurated, built with the support of Saudi Arabia.

The mosque can accommodate up to 5,000 worshipers and is “considered one of the most beautiful achievements in mosque construction in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Tidjani.

The ambassador highlighted Cameroon’s battle against the Boko Haram militant organization, describing Saudi Arabia as a “friend and a major player … as can be seen from its role in the fight against terrorism.”

He added: “Cameroon and Saudi Arabia share similar views on international issues and Cameroon joins the international community to support Saudi Arabia in its effort toward peace in the Middle East and beyond.”

Cameroon’s national day on May 20 saw citizens celebrate the “unity, peace and stability of a country firmly committed to the path of emergence,” the embassy said in a statement.


Saudi center maps 246 areas to fight desertification

Saudi center maps 246 areas to fight desertification
Updated 21 May 2024
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Saudi center maps 246 areas to fight desertification

Saudi center maps 246 areas to fight desertification

RIYADH: The National Center for Vegetation Development and Combating Desertification has completed a significant step in its fight against desertification: the first phase of a project to assess the state of land degradation across the Kingdom, resulting in the creation of 246 detailed maps.

These maps provide valuable insight into desertification trends and the current state of land degradation in different regions, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Tuesday.

The center’s teams conducted extensive studies to better understand the processes of desertification and land degradation and to identify effective strategies to combat them.

The project combined cutting-edge technologies and traditional methods to gather data, including geographic information systems, remote sensing techniques, and field surveys.

Fieldwork included collecting soil samples for analysis, studying plant life at designated sites, and analyzing satellite imagery.

The center has launched the second phase of the project, starting in the Riyadh region. During this phase, it will focus on identifying areas most vulnerable to desertification, classifying the causes and types of land degradation, and conducting further field surveys to gather more detailed data.