Saudi FM says Pakistan visit to reap ‘significant benefits’ amid push for strategic, commercial partnership

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan in Islamabad. (@KSAMOFA)
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan in Islamabad. (@KSAMOFA)
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Updated 16 April 2024
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Saudi FM says Pakistan visit to reap ‘significant benefits’ amid push for strategic, commercial partnership

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan in Islamabad. (@KSAMOFA)
  • Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan is in Pakistan to discuss bilateral economic cooperation, investments
  • Prince Faisal's visit comes a week after Saudi crown prince reaffirmed commitment to expedite $5 billion Pakistan investments

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Tuesday described his ongoing visit to Pakistan to discuss investments as “very, very positive” and said Islamabad's focus on results and overcoming hurdles would deliver “significant benefits.”

Prince Faisal arrived in Pakistan on Monday on a two-day visit aimed at enhancing bilateral economic cooperation and pushing forward previously agreed investment deals. His trip comes a little over a week after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in Makkah and reaffirmed the Kingdom’s commitment to expedite investments worth $5 billion.

Pakistan and Saudi Arabia enjoy strong trade, defense and cultural ties. The Kingdom is home to over 2.7 million Pakistani expatriates and the top source of remittances to the cash-strapped South Asian country.

“We were extremely impressed by the very, very proactive attitude that we saw in our meetings, especially with the [Special] Investment [Facilitation] Council,” Prince Faisal said at joint press conference with his Pakistani counterpart Ishaq Dar. He was referring to a Pakistani civil-military council set up last year to oversee and fast-track all foreign investments.

“I feel very, very confident that the results of this visit and the results of the work being done between the two respective teams, with this attitude, with this approach of a focus on results, focus on overcoming hurdles, will deliver significant benefits,” the Saudi official added. 

He said there was a “significant opportunity” for the Kingdom to increase its investments in Pakistan, adding that his engagements with Pakistani leaders had laid the groundwork for "significant and important work to be done" in the months ahead:

“There is a lot of untapped potential that is clear to everyone. It just needs to be tapped … And here, working together, we will do what we can with our colleagues in the government of Pakistan to make that happen.”

Pakistani foreign minister Dar said both sides had held comprehensive discussions covering various aspects of Pak-Saudi cooperation.

“We discussed ways and means to transform our fraternal cordial relations into a mutually beneficial strategic and economic partnership,” Dar said. “We greatly appreciate the keen interest of the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in enhancing investments in Pakistan.”

The Pakistani minister said Islamabad was committed to providing Saudi investors with full support, relevant safeguards and a conducive environment for investment.

 

PAKISTAN-SAUDI INVESTMENT CONFERENCE

Earlier, the Saudi foreign minister held meetings with top civilian leadership including the prime minister, president and foreign minister to discuss economic opportunities and also co-chaired an investment conference. He is also expected to meet the army chief before departing for Riyadh.

“We aim to transform our traditionally fraternal ties into a strategic and economic partnership,” Dar said as he addressed a Pakistan-Saudi Arabia Investment Conference in Islamabad, held under the umbrella of SIFC.

“Your investments are not just financial commitments but are crucial in nurturing a deeply valued partnership,” Dar told the visiting dignitary.

Pakistan was blessed with fertile agricultural lands, minerals and a large and dynamic population, complemented by a flourishing IT sector and abundant prospects for renewable energy creation, the foreign minister added.

He said Pakistan’s fertile lands and a vast network of water resources presented numerous investment opportunities in agri-tech and food processing, with the South Asian nation having the potential to become the region’s food basket.

“Our mining sector is marked by untapped potential especially in the expansive Tethyan belt known for its abundant deposits of copper, gold and other valuable minerals,” Dar said. “The strategic advancements in these areas are highlighted by projects such as Riko Diq copper [and gold] project which exemplifies our commitment to leveraging our natural resources for mutual benefit.”

On Sunday, Pakistani state media reported Saudi Arabia was likely to invest $1 billion in the mine project in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province, one of the world’s largest underdeveloped copper-gold areas.

The foreign minister said Pakistan’s goal was to transform the country into a hub of economic activity, and innovation and create an attractive environment for global investors like Saudi Arabia.

“Investing in Pakistan is not merely a placement of capital. It would actually be instrumental toward forging a partnership that promises mutual prosperity and progress,” he concluded.

“Your engagement and investment in Pakistan will be handled with utmost respect and institutionalized commitment from our side, ensuring that together we achieve remarkable success.”

 

MEETINGS WITH PM AND PRESIDENT

Prince Faisal also met Pakistani PM Sharif on Tuesday who said the Saudi official’s visit would herald a "new era" of strategic and commercial partnerships between the two long-time allies.

“The visit is the beginning of a new era of strategic and commercial partnership between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia,” Sharif was quoted as saying in a statement from his office after he met Prince Faisal. “Pakistan wants to further promote cooperation in the fields of trade and investment between the two countries.”

The PM said Pakistan was taking steps to promote foreign investment and make partnerships “mutually beneficial” for allies, adding that Islamabad was grateful to the Saudi leadership for increasing investment.

Informing the Saudi delegation about the wide potential of investment in Pakistan, Sharif briefed them about the Special Investment Facilitation Council and measures the body was taking to promote investment.

Sharif also invited the Saudi crown prince to Islamabad.

“The people of Pakistan are looking forward to the visit of His Highness the Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman to Pakistan,” the PM’s office said.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prince Faisal also met on Tuesday and reiterated the two nations’ resolve to build a strong partnership and promote mutually beneficial economic cooperation.

Zardari said Pakistan was working to transform its long-standing and decades-old relationship with Riyadh into a “long-term strategic and economic partnership.”

The two sides also discussed regional dynamics and recent developments in the Middle East and called for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire in Gaza and an end to Israeli air and ground offensives there.

INVESTMENT PUSH

In a statement shared with media on Monday, the Pakistan information ministry said the Saudi delegation would consult with Pakistani officials “on the next stages of investment and implementation issues.”

Saudi Arabia’s planned investment in the Reko Diq gold and copper mining project would be discussed during the visit, the ministry said, adding that Riyadh was also interested in investing in agriculture, trade, energy, minerals, IT, transport and other sectors in Pakistan:

“As a result of this visit, Pakistan’s export capacity will increase, joint ventures will be launched and new opportunities will be paved.”

Cash-strapped Pakistan desperately needs to shore up its foreign reserves and signal to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that it can continue to meet requirements for foreign financing that has been a key demand in previous bailout packages. Pakistan’s finance minister, Muhammad Aurangzeb, is currently in Washington to participate in spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank and discuss a new bailout program. The last loan deal expires this month.

Saudi Arabia has often come to cash-strapped Pakistan’s aid in the past, regularly providing it oil on deferred payments and offering direct financial support to help stabilize its economy and shore up its forex reserves.


Saudi deputy foreign minister offers condolences to Iran over death of president

Saudi deputy foreign minister offers condolences to Iran over death of president
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Saudi deputy foreign minister offers condolences to Iran over death of president

Saudi deputy foreign minister offers condolences to Iran over death of president
  • Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian died on Sunday when their helicopter crashed in dense fog

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, Waleed Elkhereiji, on Tuesday offered condolences and sympathy to Iran following the deaths of President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in a helicopter crash.

Elkhereiji delivered the message, on behalf of Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, to the Iranian ambassador to the Kingdom, Alireza Enayatiat, at the nation’s embassy in Riyadh, the Saudi foreign ministry said. He was accompanied by Abdulmajeed Al-Samari, the deputy minister for protocol affairs, who similarly expressed his condolences.

The Iranian president, foreign minister and six other people were killed on Sunday when the helicopter they were traveling in crashed amid dense fog in mountainous terrain near the border with Azerbaijan.


Saudi ministry says no truth in circulated information about livestock withdrawal periods and disease in humans

Ministry has emphasized that the withdrawal period for veterinary drugs varies depending on the active ingredient and the method
Ministry has emphasized that the withdrawal period for veterinary drugs varies depending on the active ingredient and the method
Updated 21 May 2024
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Saudi ministry says no truth in circulated information about livestock withdrawal periods and disease in humans

Ministry has emphasized that the withdrawal period for veterinary drugs varies depending on the active ingredient and the method

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture has said that information in the media on the subject of consumption of meat during the withdrawal period and its possible contribution to liver and kidney diseases in humans — which may include cancerous tumors — is inaccurate.

The ministry has emphasized that the withdrawal period for veterinary drugs varies depending on the active ingredient and the method of administering the dose, whether by injection or topical use. 

The ministry detailed that the scientific analysis in classifying drugs is based on infection-control vaccines which have a globally specified withdrawal period; viral diseases’ antibiotics, which have a precise withdrawal period; and external inflammatory diseases’ mastitis-abscess, which are subject to a temporary withdrawal period.

The ministry and the National Center for the Prevention and Control of Plants and Animal Diseases oversee slaughterhouses across the Kingdom to ensure that animals have not been injected with any veterinary products, by inspecting the animals post-slaughter.

This inspection covers more than 380 slaughterhouses across the Kingdom, supervised by more than 1,050 veterinarians who carefully examine over 22,000 carcasses daily to ensure they are safe and free of disease, injuries, or traces of injections, and confirm their suitability for human consumption.

The ministry has urged citizens and residents to have their animals slaughtered in official slaughterhouses that are subject to the supervision of the ministry and WEQAA.

The ministry has further indicated that, in cooperation with WEQAA, it monitors the use of veterinary products in animal health fields and conducts regulatory inspections at outlets selling veterinary products to ensure establishments abide by the necessary standards and requirements and clarify withdrawal periods to consumers.

Regulatory authorities in the Kingdom also play a meticulous role in approving veterinary drugs, with very high standards.

The ministry carries out field inspections of veterinary pharmacies, following specific requirements, to ensure proper drug storage conditions, expiration dates, and the extent of pharmacies’ commitment to precise prescription of medicines, in addition to providing accurate details to the consumer, including the withdrawal period, dosage, amount of time necessary for withdrawal, and method of administration, to raise awareness among breeders.


New world order must combat money laundering, says French senator Nathalie Goulet

Nathalie Goulet, French senator.
Nathalie Goulet, French senator.
Updated 4 min 50 sec ago
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New world order must combat money laundering, says French senator Nathalie Goulet

Nathalie Goulet, French senator.
  • French politician stressed the need for sanctions, regulations to address financial crimes

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia plays an important role in the fight against money laundering, French politician Nathalie Goulet said during a forum this week in Riyadh on global uncertainties and their impact on the Middle East region.

Fighting money laundering would create a much more favorable business climate, Goulet said in an exclusive interview with Arab News.

The forum, held under the patronage of the King Faisal Islamic Studies and Research Center and in collaboration with the UN Alliance of Civilizations  and the Nizami Ganjavi International Center, covered key themes including the new world order, which will have to face up to several challenges that call for restrictive, even draconian, measures to weaken the action of parallel economies undermining development and peace processes around the world.  

The forum held in Riyadh covered key themes including climate change and its impact on the economies of the Middle East. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)

Goulet, a senator for Orne since 2007 and a member of the Union of Democrats and Independents, said that money laundering was a global issue that impacted the stability of countries.

She said that money laundering represented 3 percent of gross world product, which amounted to more than $2,000 billion. “Not all money laundering is the financing of terrorism, but the financing of terrorism involves money laundering,” she told Arab News.

The issues of sustainable development, human rights and economic development are linked to the “parallel economy with money laundering, drug trafficking, human trafficking, plant trafficking, animal trafficking and, of course, corruption,” she said.

A few years ago, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched a campaign called ‘No Money for Terror.’ It was a first step, a very important first step, and one that was widely followed.

Nathalie Goulet, French senator

Stressing the need for regulations and frameworks to address the problem of financial crimes, Goulet said that migrant smuggling, which not only involved human beings but organ trafficking and drug smuggling, “brings in as much money as Finland’s national product.

“You have to put figures on it,” she added. “When you have figures, things take on a different consistency … So, it’s an absolutely necessary policy.

“Migrant smuggling alone is worth $7 billion. And you can see that the issue of migrant smuggling is disrupting our societies in Europe, in Italy, in France … (it) is driving up the extreme right.”

The fight against money laundering involved the intervention of a large number of international organizations, but it must comply with strict rules and the effective involvement of the legislative powers of governments and international organizations.

Speaking about efforts to combat corruption and money laundering, Goulet said: “Saudi Arabia has just taken a huge step forward. A few years ago, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched a campaign called ‘No Money for Terror.’ It was a first step, a very important first step, and one that was widely followed.”

Recently, Saudi Arabia entered a much more practical phase in the fight against corruption and money laundering. The Kingdom now fulfils almost all the obligations of international organizations, and the Financial Action Task Force and Egmont Group, which met a few days ago in Saudi Arabia.

Elaborating on practical measures that can be taken by countries and organizations, Goulet said that it was “important to hit traffickers in the wallet” through sanctions.

“So, we have all these sanctions, which are individual sanctions, we have collective sanctions, we obviously have all the United Nations sanctions on these issues, and then we have nations like France, which is now applying much tougher legislation on ill-gotten gains.”

Goulet added that it was important to “weigh up a number of criteria. For example, can we be a magnet, a hub for cryptocurrencies, but without trying to regulate them? Can we be a hub for ill-gotten gains from the misappropriation of resources in Africa and at the same time meet international criteria? Can we accept dirty money from Russia and at the same time fight for the liberation of Ukraine? And all this is ‘realpolitik.’”

The FATF’s grey list contains jurisdictions that have been placed under increased monitoring due to a country’s strategic deficiencies, which can significantly affect its business climate. The UAE, Goulet explained as an example, was recently taken off the list “because it has signed a number of conventions but remains on the European Parliament’s grey list of countries.”

If a country is on the list, which indicates that it does not comply with all the rules on money laundering, companies that have headquarters in that jurisdiction are more closely monitored and controlled and this significantly impacts the climate for doing business in.

The Kingdom became the first Arab nation to gain full membership of the FATF in 2019, in line with its efforts and financial and economic programs to achieve Vision 2030, which contributes to supporting the development of the national economy and enhancing the efficiency of the financial sector, one of the important objectives of the Financial Sector Development Program under the leadership of the Ministry of Finance.

 


Student club brings smiles with charity and community-building

Student club brings smiles with charity and community-building
Updated 21 May 2024
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Student club brings smiles with charity and community-building

Student club brings smiles with charity and community-building
  • “Our activities have already had a significant impact,” Shata told Arab News

RIYADH: Aya Shata, 13, was on a mission to enhance mental well-being and school spirit when she started the Middle School Happiness Club at the American International School in Jeddah.

Engaging in charitable acts with her family, like distributing food packages or taking part in the Iftar Saem program during Ramadan, has been an important part of her life growing up.

By championing charitable and community growth initiatives within the learning institution, Happiness Club has quickly become an integral part of the school’s fabric to nurture social responsibility and personal development.

The club has organized various projects including delivering essential food items to more than 200 people across Jeddah, as well as Eid clothing drives. (Supplied)

The club was established recently but has quickly grown to include 30 members from various middle school grades. It is open to any student who wants to make a difference in the community. “Our activities have already had a significant impact,” Shata told Arab News.

The club has organized various projects so far, including a Ramadan food drive, where students delivered essential food items to more than 200 people across Jeddah, as well as multiple Eid clothing drives.

Shata, who is an accomplished athlete and an ambassador for the Saudi Gymnastics Federation, said: “Middle school is a time when many teens struggle with the stress of academic classes, making friends and loneliness. The Happiness Club can help us connect through acts of kindness and shared activities.

Aya Shata, American International School student

“I thought this club would be a great way to bring us all together, do good things for our community, and help us to balance school life with personal growth and community service.”

In the first Eid drive, the club organized a clothing collection across the school in partnership with Kiswat Al-Sayida Aisha. The young philanthropists gathered used clothes for all ages, which were then sorted and organized at Kiswat Al-Sayida Aisha’s facility. They also installed a donation bin in partnership with the organization at their school to collect clothes year-round.

Middle school is a time when many teens struggle with the stress of academic classes, making friends and loneliness. The Happiness Club can help us connect through acts of kindness and shared activities.

Aya Shata, American International School student

The club hascollaborated with AlOula, one of the Kingdom’s leading nonprofits, to distribute Eid clothing and iftar meals to orphans and other children in need. This is Shata’s third year working with AlOula and the club’s first. In the third drive, they visited families in Bahra to deliver toys, Eidiyat (or Eid money), and candy to children in need.

Egyptian student Amina Mohamed, 14, said that the club “is engaging in activities that promote positivity … we can put smiles on people’s faces, whether it’s seeing orphans, volunteering to donate clothes, or simply spreading kindness in our daily routine, I saw the Happiness Club as a platform to help make a difference in people’s lives and that’s why I joined it.”

The program has taught students of all ages and backgrounds about the power of community. “If we do this when we’re younger it grants us a better tomorrow and also because you get a good feeling when you’re giving to charity,” said 11-year-old Lebanese Moroccan student Rahaf Ibrahim.

At school, the club organized a Mother’s Day event in March in celebration of the dedicated caretakers of their community, as well as a middle school iftar during Ramadan.

The events brought together students, staff and families of various backgrounds, celebrating diversity as they all gathered around one table to share a meal and their collective experiences.

“It was a perfect example of how our club aims to bring happiness and unity to our community, fostering stronger connections and understanding among all participants,” Shata said.

Mahdiya Elegbede, a 13-year-old American student, said her biggest takeaways from joining the Happiness Club are learning the importance of kindness and creating significant impact on others’ lives.

“I hope to spread more charity and good in this school because I think it is a useful and nice thing to do. In the end, doing something good makes us feel good, as well as others, and that itself is wonderful. I am so grateful to join the MS Happiness Club this year, and I hope others will be inspired and will be more giving and kind, too,” Elegbede told Arab News.

Saudi student Hamza Al-Tayyar, 11, joined the club to give back to “my beautiful city of Jeddah,” while Aseel Al-Horaibi, 13, wanted to show how little things can impact others and spread positivity. “It taught me to be grateful for everything I have and never take anything for granted,” she said.

“I learned so much from all the activities we did, such as event planning and time management. One of the most important things is teamwork, and resolving conflicts as they arise,” 11-year-old Zuhair Al-Marzouki said. But ultimately, the true prize is what they can bring to others: “What is there better to give than happiness?

“I love to be in this group to share my ideas and time, and all resources possible to add one extra smile into this world,” Meral Noor, 12, said.

With immense support from the school administration, the club has many more plans underway to continue making a positive difference both inside and outside the school in Jeddah.

 


Riyadh conference to explore museum innovation

The Saudi Museums Commission will host the International Conference on Education and Innovation in Museums in Riyadh. (SPA)
The Saudi Museums Commission will host the International Conference on Education and Innovation in Museums in Riyadh. (SPA)
Updated 21 May 2024
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Riyadh conference to explore museum innovation

The Saudi Museums Commission will host the International Conference on Education and Innovation in Museums in Riyadh. (SPA)
  • The winning team will earn a week-long educational trip to London, which will include expert-led museum tours and lectures

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Museums Commission is to host the International Conference on Education and Innovation in Museums, in Riyadh, from June 1 to 3, to help boost the sector in the Kingdom and beyond.

Leading museum professionals and educators will convene for knowledge exchange and collaboration, exploring best practices in museum education; the role of museums in fostering creativity and learning; and opportunities for international collaboration.

The three-day event will feature expert-led sessions, including panel discussions, workshops, and research paper presentations, addressing current museum issues and topics such as collaboration between museums and universities; beyond the textbook for active learning; beyond the museum walls for public engagement; and design thinking and innovation in museum management.

Additionally, the conference will host a competition in which participating teams will develop innovative solutions to enhance visitor engagement and museum experiences.

The winning team will earn a week-long educational trip to London, which will include expert-led museum tours and lectures.

Registration for the competition closes on May 25.