Saudi FM reiterates call for immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan speaks at an Arab League meeting in Manama. (SPA)
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan speaks at an Arab League meeting in Manama. (SPA)
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Updated 14 May 2024
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Saudi FM reiterates call for immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan speaks at an Arab League meeting in Manama. (SPA)
  • Minister reaffirmed the Kingdom’s ongoing efforts and full support for achieving peace in Yemen

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia reiterated its call on Tuesday for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and the continuous entry of adequate aid into the territory.

Speaking at a preparatory meeting for Arab League foreign ministers in Manama, the Kingdom’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said a reliable and irreversible path to a two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was needed.

The minister said the Kingdom had worked, in cooperation with friendly countries, to exert all efforts to mobilize international support to stop brutal Israeli attacks and limit the repercussions of the war in Gaza.

Prince Faisal added that continuous Israeli aggression and violation of all international laws and norms in the absence of international accountability measures has exacerbated the scale of the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and exposed the inability of international institutions to maintain international peace and security.

The minister reaffirmed the Kingdom’s ongoing efforts and full support for achieving peace in Yemen. He emphasized the importance of reaching a comprehensive political solution through dialogue and consultation between the Yemeni parties.

Prince Faisal also stressed the Kingdom’s commitment to preserving the security and safety of the Red Sea region, ensuring freedom of navigation, and preventing further crises in the region.

Regarding Sudan, the minister expressed the Kingdom’s concern about continued military operations there and the resulting humanitarian suffering.

He reiterated the Kingdom’s call for a return to dialogue in order to reach a political solution that spares civilians the horrors of war.

He said the solution to the crisis is a political one that respects the sovereignty and unity of Sudan and its national institutions.

Prince Faisal emphasized the importance of achieving security and stability in Syria and respecting its sovereignty, territorial unity, and Arab identity.


Digital Cooperation Organization secretary-general holds meetings in Cairo

Deemah Al-Yahya, secretary-general of the DCO, holds talks with Egyptian Minister of Communications and Information Technology.
Deemah Al-Yahya, secretary-general of the DCO, holds talks with Egyptian Minister of Communications and Information Technology.
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Digital Cooperation Organization secretary-general holds meetings in Cairo

Deemah Al-Yahya, secretary-general of the DCO, holds talks with Egyptian Minister of Communications and Information Technology.
  • Al-Yahya affirmed to Talaat that there were several opportunities for cooperation between DCO and Egypt in light of the latter’s digital strategy

RIYADH: Deemah Al-Yahya, secretary-general of the Digital Cooperation Organization, held talks with Egyptian Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat, and the Arab League’s Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit during her visit to Cairo.

Al-Yahya affirmed to Talaat that there were several opportunities for cooperation between the organization and Egypt in light of the latter’s digital strategy.

She added that this was the result of Egypt’s economic components and strategic goals aligning with the organization’s aims.

Al-Yahya added that the organization was able to provide opportunities that could be leveraged to achieve digital economic growth and prosperity.

She also praised the Digital Egypt Pioneers Initiative, which drives digital transformation by developing skills and innovation while supporting young talents in business.

Al-Yahya affirmed that the organization seeks to enhance cooperation with different sectors in Egypt to boost cooperation in the infrastructure of information technology and communications, as well as innovation ecosystems, through partnerships between private and public sectors.


Saudi Arabia, Jordan to airdrop aid to Palestinians

KSrelief has delivered equipment, tools to Jordanian Hashemite Charity Organization that will be sent to support Palestinians.
KSrelief has delivered equipment, tools to Jordanian Hashemite Charity Organization that will be sent to support Palestinians.
Updated 16 min 55 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia, Jordan to airdrop aid to Palestinians

KSrelief has delivered equipment, tools to Jordanian Hashemite Charity Organization that will be sent to support Palestinians.
  • Jordan’s Armed Forces will airdrop the 30 tonnes of supplies into the area that remains under siege by Israel
  • This effort is a part of Saudi Arabia’s campaign to help the Palestinian people

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s aid agency KSrelief has delivered equipment and tools to the Jordanian Hashemite Charity Organization that will be sent to support Palestinians in Gaza.

Jordan’s Armed Forces will airdrop the 30 tonnes of supplies into the area that remains under siege by Israel.

This effort is a part of Saudi Arabia’s campaign to help the Palestinian people.

The Kingdom remains committed to delivering humanitarian aid into Gaza through various means, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday.


Black cloth covering Kaaba in Makkah raised ahead of Hajj

Black cloth covering Kaaba in Makkah raised ahead of Hajj
Updated 23 May 2024
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Black cloth covering Kaaba in Makkah raised ahead of Hajj

Black cloth covering Kaaba in Makkah raised ahead of Hajj
  • Procedure meant to keep the cover, Kiswa, free from getting soiled and tampered
  • 36 specialized technical personnel carried out procedure with aid of 10 cranes

RIYADH: In keeping with the annual tradition, officials raised the lower part of the kiswa — the elaborately designed black cloth covering the Kaaba — in Makkah on Wednesday ahead of this year’s Hajj pilgrimage.
As approved by the General Authority for the Care of the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, the exposed part was covered with a white cotton fabric, two-and-a-half meters wide and 54 meters long on all four sides, according to the Saudi Press Agency.
Carrying out the procedure were 36 specialized technical personnel with the aid of 10 cranes.

In this handout photograph, taken and released by Saudi Press Agency, specialized technicians are seen at work at the Kaaba in Makkah on May 23, 2024, raising the special cover to keep it from being soiled and damaged ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage. (SPA)

As described in the SPA report, the kiswa is lifted in several stages: It starts with unscrewing the bottom of the cover from all sides, separating the corners, then untying the bottom rope and removing it from the fixing rings, after which the cloth is rolled upward. The lanterns are then dismantled and the white cloth are put in place, after which the lanterns are reinstalled over the white cloth until the final stage.
The procedure is repeated every year to protect the kiswa from getting soiled and damaged as pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba.

In this handout photograph, taken and released by Saudi Press Agency, specialized technicians are seen at work at the Kaaba in Makkah on May 23, 2024, raising the special cover to keep it from being soiled and damaged ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage. (SPA)

The annual Hajj in Saudi Arabia is considered the world’s largest human gathering, with year 2012 marking the biggest number of participants at 3.16 million.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Saudi authorities allowed only a symbolic observance of Hajj with just a thousand pilgrims. The numbers were gradually raised as the health crisis was placed under control worldwide. Last year, almost 1.84 million pilgrims performed the “once in a lifetime” journey and the figure is expected to go higher this year.
Every year, on the ninth day of the Islamic month of Dul Hijjah, the black silk cloth is removed and a new kiswa is draped in its place.


Saudi Arabia welcomes move by Norway, Ireland and Spain to formally recognize Palestinian state

Saudi Arabia welcomes move by Norway, Ireland and Spain to formally recognize Palestinian state
Updated 23 May 2024
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Saudi Arabia welcomes move by Norway, Ireland and Spain to formally recognize Palestinian state

Saudi Arabia welcomes move by Norway, Ireland and Spain to formally recognize Palestinian state
  • Palestinian Authority and its rival group Hamas both welcomed the recognition
  • Israel recalls envoys to Spain, Ireland and Norway for consultations

RIYADH/COPENHAGEN: Saudi Arabia said Wednesday it welcomed the “positive” decision taken by Norway, Spain, and Ireland to recognize a Palestinian state. 
The Kingdom said it appreciated this decision “which confirms the international consensus on the inherent right of the Palestinian people to self-determination,” in a foreign ministry statement. 

The kingdom also called on more countries to swiftly take the same stance, “which would contribute to finding a reliable and irreversible path to achieve a just and lasting peace that fulfills the rights of the Palestinian people.”

Leaders of Norway, Spain and Ireland said on Wednesday they were formally going to recognize Palestine as a state.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store said: “There cannot be peace in the Middle East if there is no recognition.”

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez also announced that the country’s council of ministers would recognize an independent Palestinian state on Tuesday May 28.

“Next Tuesday, May 28, Spain’s cabinet will approve the recognition of the Palestinian state,” he said, adding that his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu was putting the two state solution in “danger” with his policy of “pain and destruction” in the Gaza Strip.

Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris said it was a move coordinated with Spain and Norway, marking “an historic and important day for Ireland and for Palestine.”

The Palestinian Authority and its rival group Hamas both welcomed the recognition of a Palestinian state by Ireland, Spain and Norway.

The Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank territory while Hamas runs Gaza.

Jordan hailed the coordinated move as an “important and essential step towards Palestinian statehood.”

“We value this decision and consider it an important and essential step towards a two-state solution that embodies an independent, sovereign Palestinian state along the July 1967 borders,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told a press conference.

Qatar’s foreign ministry welcomed the announcement as an “important step in support of a two-state solution,” expressing hope that other countries would follow suit.

The six-member Gulf Cooperation Council also spoke out in support of the European countries’ move, with secretary general Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi saying it represented “a pivotal and strategic step towards achieving the two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a statement said.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, based in the Saudi city of Jeddah, similarly welcomed the move as an “important historic step”.

Several European Union countries have in the past weeks indicated that they plan to make the recognition, arguing a two-state solution is essential for lasting peace in the region.

Israel recalled envoys to Spain, Ireland and Norway over their moves to recognize a Palestinian state.

“Today, I am sending a sharp message to Ireland and Norway: Israel will not go over this in silence. I have just ordered the return of the Israeli ambassadors from Dublin and Oslo to Israel for further consultations in Jerusalem,” Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a statement.

Sanchez said in March that Spain and Ireland, along with Slovenia and Malta, had agreed to take their first steps toward Palestinian recognition, seeing a two-state solution as essential for lasting peace.

The efforts come as a mounting death toll in Gaza from Israel’s offensive to rout Hamas prompts calls globally for a ceasefire and lasting solution for peace in the region.

Norway, which is not a member of the European Union but mirror its moves, has been an ardent supporter of a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.

“The terror has been committed by Hamas and militant groups who are not supporters of a two-state solution and the state of Israel,” the Norwegian government leader said.

“Palestine has a fundamental right to an independent state,” Gahr Store told a press conference.

The move comes as Israeli forces have led assaults on the northern and southern edges of the Gaza Strip in May, causing a new exodus of hundreds of thousands of people, and sharply restricted the flow of aid, raising the risk of famine.

The Scandinavian country “will therefore regard Palestine as an independent state with all the rights and obligations that entails,” Gahr Store said.

Norway’s recognition of a Palestine state comes more than 30 years after the first Oslo agreement was signed in 1993.

Since then, “the Palestinians have taken important steps toward a two-state solution,” the Norwegian government said.

It said that the World Bank determined that Palestine had met key criteria to function as a state in 2011, that national institutions have been built up to provide the population with important services.

“The war in Gaza and the constant expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank still mean that the situation in Palestine is more difficult than it has been in decades,” the Norwegian government said.


Black cloth covering Kaaba in Makkah raised ahead of Hajj

Black cloth covering Kaaba in Makkah raised ahead of Hajj
Updated 23 May 2024
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Black cloth covering Kaaba in Makkah raised ahead of Hajj

Black cloth covering Kaaba in Makkah raised ahead of Hajj
  • The procedure is meant to keep the cover, known as kiswa, free from getting soiled and tampered with as pilgrims performing Hajj circumabulate the Kaaba

RIYADH: In keeping with the annual tradition, officials raised the lower part of the kiswa — the elaborately designed black cloth covering the Kaaba — in Makkah on Wednesday ahead of this year's Hajj pilgrimage.

As approved by the General Authority for the Care of the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, the exposed part was covered with a white cotton fabric, two-and-a-half meters wide and 54 meters long on all four sides, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

Carrying out the procedure were 36 specialized technical personnel with the aid of 10 cranes.

As described in the SPA report, the kiswa is lifted in several stages: It starts with unscrewing the bottom of the cover from all sides, separating the corners, then untying the bottom rope and removing it from the fixing rings, after which the cloth is rolled upward. The lanterns are then dismantled and the white cloth are put in place, after which the lanterns are reinstalled over the white cloth until the final stage.

The procedure is repeated every year to protect the kiswa from getting soiled and damaged as pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba.

The annual Hajj in Saudi Arabia is considered the world's largest human gathering, with year 2012 marking the biggest number of participants at 3.16 million.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Saudi authorities allowed only a symbolic observance of Hajj with just a thousand pilgrims. The numbers were gradually raised as the health crisis was placed under control worldwide. Last year, almost 1.84 million pilgrims performed the "once in a lifetime" journey and the figure is expected to go higher this year.

Every year, on the ninth day of the Islamic month of Dul Hijjah, the black silk cloth is removed and a new kiswa is draped in its place.