A landmark day in the history of Pakistan

Author: Muhammad Hassan WazirThu, 2017-03-23ID: 1490218590554278100Today, we are celebrating the 77th National Day of Pakistan with zeal and fervor both inside and outside the country. On this auspicious occasion, I convey my sincere felicita…

Cherishing Pakistan-Saudi long-standing ties

Shehryar Akbar Khan
Thu, 2017-03-23

On the auspicious occasion of the 77th National Day of Pakistan, I wish to convey my felicitations to all Pakistanis particularly those who are living in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I also take this opportunity to extend to them my best wishes for success in their future endeavours.
The creation of Pakistan is the result of a heroic struggle of the Muslims of South Asia for an independent homeland. The independence movement was effectively launched on March 23, 1940. Around seven years later, under the great leadership of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Muslims succeeded in achieving their objective — an independent homeland, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. An independent country was achieved without any war and practically by moral and intellectual force.
Under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s economy has made significance progress toward strengthening macroeconomics, ensuring financial stability and all-inclusive growth, a fact that has also recently been acknowledged by global economic bodies.
Today, our country stands economically and financially stronger and it has been due to the concerted efforts of all segments of society, including Pakistani expatriates who play a vital role in this regard. I would like to acknowledge the valuable contribution of the vibrant and dynamic Pakistani community. Our community has served both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia with loyalty, commitment and dedication. These Pakistanis, in fact, serve as an important link between the two countries.
The Consulate General of Pakistan, Jeddah has always striven to provide the best services to all members of the Pakistani community. The consulate has also launched several initiatives to further improve its services. I am grateful to our community for their cooperation and support that has enabled us to succeed.
Pakistan and Saudi Arabia share common political, strategic and economic objectives. The relationship between the two countries is unique and rooted in history. Pakistan fully supports Saudi Vision 2030, which provides an insight into Saudi Arabia’s future endeavors. We hope that Pakistan will be able to offer an effective partnership to the Saudi government so as to help it realize its goals envisioned in Vision 2030.
Today, let us pledge to augment our efforts to further enrich the existing time-tested relationship between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Let us pray for the security and prosperity of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

Long live Pakistan.
Long live Pakistan-Saudi Arabia friendship.

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US bans electronic devices on flights from eight Middle Eastern countries

Wed, 2017-03-22

JEDDAH: Thousands of passengers traveling on nonstop flights to the US from Saudi Arabia and seven other Middle Eastern and North African countries are now banned from carrying electronic devices on board.
The ban, issued by the US Department of Transportation, targets 10 international airports. It is set to exclude smartphones on board, but will apply to laptops, tablets, portable DVD players, electronic readers and cameras.
Following a similar move, the UK is due to announce a ban on laptops and other electronics on certain flights, the BBC reported, adding that the “UK restrictions may differ from the US Department of Homeland Security’s ban.”
Saudi Airlines (Saudia), which operates nonstop US-bound flights from King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah and King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, received the information from the General Authority of Civil Aviation, and will abide by the new laws as of Wednesday.
“The US transportation authorities have implemented new procedures on US-bound flights which include taking any laptops, iPads and Kindles (electronic readers), with their carry-on baggage,” Saudia said in a statement sent to Arab News. “These devices can be accepted as part of checked-in luggage only.”
Saudia spokesman Mansour Al-Badr told Arab News: “We do not know the reasons behind the ban.”
A Homeland Security statement sent by the US Embassy in Riyadh to Arab News on Tuesday said the “US Government is concerned about terrorists’ ongoing interest in targeting commercial aviation, including transportation hubs over the past two years.”
The statement cites the 2015 airliner downing in Egypt, the attempted airliner downing in Somalia last year, and the 2016 armed attacks against airports in Brussels and Istanbul.
“Evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation, to include smuggling explosive devices in various consumer items,” the statement said. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has determined that it was “prudent to enhance security.”
The ban applies to nonstop flights to the US from international airports in the cities of Riyadh, Jeddah, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Cairo, Amman, Kuwait City, Casablanca, Doha and Istanbul. About 50 daily flights will be affected, an unnamed US official told the Associated Press (AP).
The Homeland Security statement said airlines flying from the 10 determined airports were notified on March 21 at 8 a.m. (EDT) and expected to comply within 96 hours.
The UAE’s Emirates, which flies to New York, Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles, told AP on Tuesday that the ban would take effect on Saturday.
Egyptian officials at Cairo International Airport said they did not receive any instructions to ban passengers from carrying laptops, tablets and cameras on board, AP reported on Tuesday.
Royal Jordanian airlines previously issued a statement on Twitter instructing its passengers to abide by the electronics ban, before deleting it later, posting: “Further updates will be announced soon regarding #electronicsban.”
“I’m really still not convinced with this new law,” Zeina Sharawi, a Saudi Ph.D. candidate in Washington DC, told Arab News. She said using electronic devices is routine on long-haul flights, especially when flying with children.
“I’m really worried about putting my laptop in the baggage and have it get damaged or stolen, since I have all my important files and research articles, personal pictures and videos in it. I’d rather if they inspect it at the airport and keep it on board with me instead of keeping it in the baggage.”
Anas Abbas, a Jordanian studying English literature in Minnesota, told Arab News that he might resort to sending his electronic valuables via a secure parcel delivery service instead of packing them in his suitcase: “Instead of having my precious devices (checked in), as traveling without them is impossible and the chance of getting them lost is irritating… I might use DHL to receive them without any possibility of losing any bag.”
An alternative solution to bypass the new procedure is to have a layover at an airport in Europe on the way to the US. Abbas said if he is traveling from Amman, he could book a flight to Paris, for example, before connecting to a flight to the US. “That way I can get all my devices in my (carry-on) luggage.”

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UK follows US electronic curbs on ME flights

Wed, 2017-03-22

JEDDAH/WASHINGTON: The US and Britain on Tuesday imposed restrictions on carry-on electronic devices on planes coming from certain airports in Muslim-majority countries in the Middle East and North Africa in response to unspecified security threats.
“The US transportation authorities have implemented new procedures on US-bound flights, which include taking any laptops, iPads and Kindles (electronic readers), with their carry-on baggage,” Saudia said in a statement sent to Arab News.
“These devices can be accepted as part of checked-in luggage only,” Saudia spokesman Mansour Al-Badr told Arab News: “We do not know the reasons behind the ban.”
The US Department of Homeland Security said passengers traveling from a specific list of airports could not bring into the main cabin devices that are larger than a mobile phone such as tablets, portable DVD players, laptops and cameras.
Instead, such items must be in checked baggage.
A spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said that there would be curbs on electronic items in the main cabin on flights from six countries in the Middle East. The foreign office said the measures would be implemented by March 25.
The moves were prompted by reports that militant groups want to smuggle explosive devices inside electronic gadgets, US officials told reporters on Monday.
“The US government is concerned about terrorists’ ongoing interest in targeting commercial aviation, including transportation hubs over the past two years,” a US counter-terrorism official said in a statement, adding that efforts were “intensifying.”
French and Canadian officials said they were examining their arrangements but neither government was taking additional security measures at this stage.
The airports covered by the US restrictions are in Cairo, Istanbul, Kuwait City, Doha, Casablanca, Amman, Riyadh, Jeddah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

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Iraq PM seeks to ‘normalize relations’ with KSA

Joyce Karam | Special to Arab News
Wed, 2017-03-22

WASHINGTON: Iraq’s prime minister, speaking on a high-level meeting to the US capital, has indicated that Baghdad seeks to “normalize” relations with Saudi Arabia.
Improved regional ties, the fight against Daesh and support from the US were all on the agenda during Haider Al-Abadi’s visit to Washington, which on Monday saw him meet US President Donald Trump for the first time in the Oval Office.
The prime minister struck a different tone to his predecessor Nuri Al-Maliki, in welcoming better relations with Iraq’s Arab neighbors including Saudi Arabia.
This comes a month after Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir visited Baghdad — the first such visit by a Saudi official since 1991.
Al-Abadi said the “Saudi relations are warming, and at a very good track.”
In a speech delivered to the United States Institute of Peace after his meeting with Trump, Al-Abadi spoke of “an opening for a very good neighborly relationship” with Saudi Arabia.
“Don’t forget no Saudi official has visited Baghdad since 1991, not even after 2003, this is the first time, we welcome it,” he said.


VIDEO: Iraqi PM says Baghdad seeks to ‘normalize’ ties’ with Saudi Arabia

The visit by Al-Jubeir was good for Saudi Arabia “to see what is happening in Iraq”, he added. “Our Saudi friends used to think Iraq is under control of our Iranian neighbors, but we are not and they saw for themselves,” Al-Abadi told his US audience.
Saudi-Iraqi cooperation to boost commercial and humanitarian ties could be one outcome of the visit, the official suggested.
Al-Abadi said Riyadh wants to have a role “in providing reconstruction for areas that are liberated from Daesh, and this is welcome for us, we want to normalize the relations.”
He added that “our aim is to control and stop regional conflict in the region… We cannot move Iraq from the map, and we… are to live with our neighbors.”

Counter-Daesh summit
Al-Abadi’s visit coincides with the Trump administration’s counter-Daesh summit in Washington. It is expected to convene 68 dignitaries on the foreign ministry level, with the aim of agreeing on a holistic strategy against the terror group.
Buoyed by military advances in Mosul against Daesh and good relations with senior officials in the Trump administration, Al-Abadi is holding high-level US meetings during his second state visit to Washington, where he was promised a “bigger commitment” and “assurances” 14 years after the US invasion.
Al-Abadi held breakfast talks with Vice President Mike Pence and met lawmakers from the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the US Congress. The advances in Mosul against Daesh were highlighted in the meetings.
Pence, according to the White House readout, “commended Iraqi Security Forces for their progress in western Mosul and thanked Prime Minister Al-Abadi for the sacrifices of the Iraqi people in our shared fight against Daesh.”
In the meetings with Trump and Pence, the US emphasized “opportunities to strengthen the bilateral relationship” and not allow any country to destabilize Iraq or its democratic institutions.
Both sides stressed as well a “commitment to the long-term partnership between the United States and Iraq grounded in the US-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement” without getting into actual numbers of new US deployments or forces that could stay in Iraq after the defeat of Daesh.

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Shoura appreciates outcome of King Salman’s Asia tour

Wed, 2017-03-22

RIYADH: The Shoura Council expressed appreciation over the outcome of King Salman’s recent tour of Asian countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Japan and China.
The tour reaffirmed the Kingdom’s international position and influence in bringing about peace and security, and in fighting terrorism and extremism, said a statement read by Deputy Speaker Dr. Mohammed Al-Jafri on Monday at the 22nd ordinary session.
Meanwhile, the council approved a number of recommendations proposed by the Committee of Security Affairs, which support the Ministry of National Guard in protecting the country.
The Committee of Economy and Energy called on the Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources to work out a plan to promote the local content of commodities and services, and localize manpower in sectors and companies affiliated with the ministry.
The committee also urged the ministry to increase investments in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the mining and gas sectors, facilitate the issuance of mining licenses and remove obstacles for investors.
The committee called on the ministry to study the reasons for the failure of some strategic industrial projects working under the umbrella of the National Program for the Development of Industrial Compounds.
One member stressed the importance of keeping the Saudi production quota in the international oil market, and another said as oil and mining are the biggest sectors in the Kingdom, the ministry should provide more support in employing Saudis in these sectors.

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World’s biggest camel fest to attract about 2 million visitors

Wed, 2017-03-22

RIYADH: Sunny weather on Tuesday attracted more visitors to the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival in Rumah, 120 kilometers northeast of Riyadh.
The total number of visitors to the 28-day camel festival is expected to exceed 2 million, according to the festival organizers.
“The festival has emerged as a grand event with about 1,390 owners of camels participating from different Gulf countries,” said Dr. Talal bin Khalid Al-Torify, spokesman of the festival.
He said this year’s festival seeks “to connect the new generations to the old heritage, while it also serves as an inspiration and reflection of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.”
The slogan for the festival is “Camels are Civilization.”
A total of 270 prizes will be given for camels judged in five different categories, including breed and color, said Al-Torify, adding that the closing ceremony will be held on April 15.
A jury of Bedouins, who are considered experts in camel-rearing, will judge the camels.
Mohammed Al-Shaple, a member of the festival’s media panel, said that programs include how to ride camels.
“The camels are beautifully bedecked and form a colorful spectacle that is a must for everyone to watch,” said Al-Shaple.
He said that arrangements have been made to ensure a comfortable stay for tourists. There are plenty of opportunities for eating, souvenir-shopping and photography at the festival site.
The festival has been organized under the aegis of the Riyadh-based King Abdulaziz Foundation for Research and Archives (KAFRA). The KAFRA was founded in 1972 by a royal decree with a mandate to promote the history and heritage of the Kingdom, the Arabian Peninsula and the Arab and Islamic world.

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Saudi citizen account registration continues, no end date given yet

Wed, 2017-03-22

RIYADH: Registration in the citizen account program continues, and there is no final registration date yet, according to the supervisor at the Social Development Sector in the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, and general supervisor of the citizen account program, Majed Al-Iseimi.
The official said that the allowance of those who did not register for the program yet will be assessed and if eligible, they will be given the allowance at the next disbursement.
He said that the first allowance will be paid in the month preceding the change in prices of energy and water products, adding that “the eligibility of beneficiaries will be assessed periodically, within a specified period each month.”
The general supervisor of the citizen account program said that the files of the beneficiaries will be examined after registration and eligibility reports on beneficiary families are completed.
“All the eligible applicants will be registered automatically and subsidy will be paid to beneficiaries by bank transfer. Allowances will be paid to eligible families before any reforms that may affect citizens are implemented,” Al-Iseimi said.
He added that the ministerial committee responsible for this, formed of ministries of economy and planning, finance, labor and social development, is working on preparing the program’s policies, which will be presented to the royal court.
Al-Iseimi renewed his call on citizens to register for the citizen account program online at http://ca.gov.sa.
If there are queries, problems or complaints about registration, he said, citizens can communicate via the call center number 19912, or through Twitter.
The citizen account program is one of the most important tools in the economic transformation process in the Kingdom, which works to establish the necessary infrastructure to achieve the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 goals.
The program aims to protect small- and medium-income families from the consequences of reforming the government subsidy system by making government subsidy allocations more equitable and suitable to the needs of each individual or family, based on their income.
It also works to ensure an optimal use of resources dedicated to the subsidy.

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SME wage compliance to rise to 80 percent by 2020: Saudi Labor Ministry

Wed, 2017-03-22

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Labor and Social Development said its wage-management system will increase transparency and protect contractual relationships between workers and employers, adding that it expects compliance by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to reach 80 percent by 2020.
The ministry said the system aims to create an attractive and safe work environment, as it seeks to regulate the labor market and develop pathways to social development within the National Transformation Program (NTP) 2020 and Vision 2030.
The system achieves various benefits for stakeholders, including the release of payments agreed upon and without delay, the existence of reliable databases that regulate the market, the protection of labor parties’ rights, increased financial security and fewer disputes over wages.
Meanwhile, the ministry is monitoring if monthly wage payments are rigorously made to workers in the private sector, and enhancing the audit of wages in private companies in order to ensure their commitment to the paychecks of their workers.
The ministry said the initiative overcomes several challenges in the labor market, including low turnover of Saudis in the private sector compared to the public sector, lack of a wage-protection mechanism, lack of transparency among labor parties, weakness of monthly wage supervision in the private sector, and lack of tools that govern payments.

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Saudi consul-general issues statement on death of Saudi students in Illinois

Arab News, SPA
Tue, 2017-03-21

Saudi Arabia’s consul-general in Houston issued a press statement Monday on the death of two Saudi scholarship students studying at Illinois’ University of Rockford.
Amjad Ali Hassan Balkheir and Mohammed Samir Hassan Mufti were found dead in off-campus accommodation on Sunday.
The consul-general said that he received a phone call from the head of the students club the same day and asked the consulate’s head of legal affairs to travel to Rockford to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of the students.
In his statement, he said that, according to preliminary information received from the police, the matter is not being treated as suspicious but the case remains under investigation.
The consulate communicated with the families of the two students and the relevant US authorities to ensure the deceased could be flown back to Saudi Arabia.

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