Madinah festival set for Saturday launch

Wed, 2017-02-15

MADINAH: Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, will launch “Madinah, the capital of Islamic Tourism 2017” festival on Saturday in King Fahd Central Park.
Spokesperson for the organizers of the event, Khalid Al-Shahrani, said the organizing committee has finalized preparations for hosting Madinah’s guests from all over the Islamic world. He said the countdown for the first-of-its-kind event in the member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
Al-Shahrani said the event will be attended by ministers, intellectuals, writers and media personalities. He said the festival will be shown live on large screens in certain Madinah areas, such as the Zuhoor alley in the King Fahd garden, the Hijra Road and Al-Rashed mall compound.
Al-Shahrani added that many activities and programs will be held with the launching of the event, which will attract more tourists to Madinah.
Waheeb Al-Sahli, the undersecretary of the Madinah Governorate and head of the Executive Committee of the “Madinah: Islamic Tourism capital” event, has overseen preparations for the inauguration event in King Fahd Central Park. Assisting are Munir bin Mohammed Nasser, director of the Madinah Branch of the Tourism and National Heritage, and Wafi Al-Qahtani, executive manager of the organizing company.
Over 700 people are employed to run the event.

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Manila eyes better trade, investment ties with Riyadh

Mohammed Rasooldeen
Wed, 2017-02-15

RIYADH: A senior government official from Manila, who is on a brief visit to the Kingdom, told Arab News that he foresees a greater economic cooperation between Saudi Arabia and the Philippines with the upcoming exchange of high-level visits between the two countries.
Abdullah Mamao, presidential adviser on OFWs, who arrived in Riyadh from Manila on Sunday, said that negotiations are going on between Riyadh and Manila for a series of bilateral talks for enhanced economic cooperation.
He said the Philippine government is making arrangements for President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s visit to the Kingdom following an invitation by the Saudi government.” These matters are not finalized yet and the date of his visit is not yet known,” he added.
Mamao, accompanied by Abdul Hannan Tago, a journalist in Manila, said the purpose of his current visit is to explore new business opportunities with the Kingdom.
“We have not done much in bilateral trade,” he said, pointing out that there are several areas where the two countries could join forces.
He said the Philippines is interested in harnessing Saudi expertise in manufacturing halal products and there are several infrastructure projects such as construction of railway lines in Mindanao.
He added that his president is keen on encouraging manufacturing industries with the Saudi investments, which could generate adequate job opportunities for his country’s youths.
He said his country was solely concentrating on sending manpower to the Kingdom and now the leadership wants to diversify to new areas of cooperation that could benefit both the countries.
He said that his country is interested in attracting Saudi tourists to the country.
“We are going to appoint an attaché for tourism in the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh,” he said, explaining that such an officer would coordinate matters related to tourism to ensure a safe and comfortable stay in the country.
“We are also seeking a joint venture partnership to set up a Muslim retirement city in the Philippines, which would help the returnees and those who come from the Kingdom to stay there for a longer period.”
Purchasing properties inside such a city would qualify foreigner for a package of benefits, which include long-term residency, education for their children and peaceful living in a cultural environment.
Hannan said that Saudi businessmen have expressed their intent to invest in the Philippines in several areas, which could benefit both the countries.
There are plans to set up an oil refinery with the help of the Kingdom. He pointed out that his country’s president gives top priority to Saudi Arabia and the Kingdom will be his first destination during his Gulf tour.

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Memons honor outstanding students

Wed, 2017-02-15

JEDDAH: Memon Welfare Society, under the banner of MASA, organized on Feb. 10 the 5th annual awards and prize distribution ceremony for meritorious students of the community at Al-Shallal Park.
Dignitaries and businessmen including Mohammed Chapra, Ahmed Abdul Karim, M. Amin Almaimani, Sohail Almaimani, Haji Ismail Gadit attended the event.
The plaques of appreciation and prizes were presented by the dignitaries to the outstanding students — from Grade 1 to university graduates who performed well in exams last year.
Doctors, chartered accountants, postgraduates and students of A-Level, O-Level and other grades were among the awardees.
The ceremony commenced with recitation of Holy Qur’an by Qari Abdul Malik Asif Lala followed by a “naat” by Altaf Batatewala. A popular prayer written by Allama Iqbal was recited by Arfa Irfan Kolsawala.
Irfan Haji Ahmed Kolsawala, president of MWS — MASA, welcomed guests in his address and thanked sponsors and members who worked to make the event successful.
He congratulated the meritorious students and advised their peers to work harder to be among award recipients next year.
Tayyab Moosani, secretary-general of MWS, briefed the guests about social and welfare activities of the society, which were applauded by the audience.
Complimentary gifts sponsored by various businessmen were distributed among 500 attendees.
The event concluded with a vote of thanks by Younus Habib, vice president.
He also thanked Mansoor Shivani, Shoaib Sikander, Nasir Ibrahim, Wasim Tai, A.Kader Africawala, A. Qader Teli, Ahmed Kamal, Rashid Kasmani and office bearers of welfare society for their efforts to organize the event.
All invitees enjoyed rides at the park after the function.

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Bangladeshi love story regales diplomatic corps at film festival

Wed, 2017-02-15

RIYADH: Bangladesh screened its famous film “Amar ache jol” (Tears in my eyes) at the 10th Asian Film Festival held in Jeddah on Saturday.
The film festival, which ends on Friday, is being held at the residence of the Indonesian consul general’s residence in Jeddah. It is organized by the Asian Consul Generals Club in Jeddah every year.
The participating countries are Bangladesh, Brunei, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Thailand, Japan, Korea, China and Singapore.
This year, the Sri Lankan Consulate in Jeddah was forced to cancel its program on Feb. 4 due to unforeseen circumstances.
An Indonesian film will be screened on the final day of the festival followed by a food festival.
Muhammad Nazrul Islam, acting consul general of Bangladesh, stressed the importance of having recreational facilities for Asian community members in the western province. He hoped that by showcasing different films of Asian nations would develop a cultural understanding.
“Amar ache jol” is based on a novel of famous Bangladeshi writer late Humayun Ahmed, who himself directed the film.
The storyline goes as a retired police chief goes to a forest holiday resort along with his wife and two daughters Dilshad and Nishat. A young man Jamil is also accompanying the family during the journey. Jamil knows the family for many years. Another young man Sabbir also goes with them. But he does not know the family. His main job is photography. Nobody knows why he is part of the journey. Dilshad falls in love with Jamil. The story goes on. Suddenly it is revealed that Nishat also loved Jamil once. The story becomes complex and ends in a tragedy.

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Civil Defense put on alert after rainstorms hit Asir region

Mohammed Al-Sulami
Thu, 2017-02-16

ABHA: Civil Defense forces in Asir continued their rescue efforts Tuesday of several stranded people due to floods. Flooding in the region caused road closures and the launch of warning sirens in Abha dam area.
Civil Defense authorities said that rescue teams in Abha city saved several people whose cars were submerged in water. No injuries were reported. Many schools were closed following the severe rainstorms.
Asir Gov. Prince Faisal bin Khalid has directed the Emergency and Civil Defense Committee to closely follow up efforts to alleviate the poor weather conditions in the region.
Saad bin Abdullah Al-Thabet, spokesman of the Governor’s office, said the governor is following up the efforts of government agencies. He also said warning sirens in the Abha Dam Valley are a precautionary measure when the dam has flooded. He said that it is a routine measure to preserve the safety of citizens and residents.
Al-Thabet urged citizens to take caution, and avoid going near valleys that could threaten their safety.
He also noted that the Emergency and Civil Defense Committee, headed by Undersecretary of the region Suleiman Al-Greish, has been following up the situation since the start of rain early on Tuesday. He added that the committee has also studied ways of activating the precautionary measures and how to alert citizens and residents, as well as finding urgent solutions to avoid hazards.


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‘Homeland 87’ exercise boosts internal security forces’ skills

Arab News
Wed, 2017-02-15

MADINAH: Gen. Saeed bin Abdullah Al-Qahtani, assistant minister of interior for operations affairs, said that joint tactical exercise “Homeland 87” aims to enhance skills of internal security forces in their fight against terrorism.
“The exercise will ensure the safety of Saudi citizens and pilgrims of Umrah and Haj against any possible attacks,” Al-Qahtani said upon inaugurating “Homeland 87,” held at the Madinah-based Mohammed bin Naif Center for Special and Advanced Operations.
“Officers and personnel from various Saudi security sectors and units participate in the drill, which is held at Madinah,” Al-Qahtani said.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif, deputy premier and interior minister, “has been closely following up the completion of the drill site, which was built in record time, arrangements and plan of this exercise,” he added.
Al-Qahtani pointed out that personnel at all sectors of the Ministry of Interior have the experience and skills that entitle them to hold such exercises to enhance the efficiency and performance of the internal security forces.
“Thankfully, all arrangements were distinctive and simulation fields were available,” he noted.
“The internal security forces work in cooperation with the Saudi society, which is responsible for maintaining the security of this country… Security personnel don’t hesitate to sacrifice their lives in order to carry out their duties.”

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Saudi Agriculture Ministry won’t withdraw bread subsidies

Arab News
Wed, 2017-02-15

The Ministry of Agriculture confirmed Tuesday that subsidies on flour and bread will not be withdrawn, pointing out that the milling companies in the Kingdom continue selling flour to bakeries for the same prices, according to the local Al-Hayat newspaper.
The daily withdrawal rate for customers quotas is at normal levels.
Bread is considered to be the second most important food source for Saudis after rice, and is usually present at the dinner table in the Kingdom.
Saudi Arabia is the world’s top consuming nation of bread. The Kingdom relies heavily on imports to maintain a constant supply of wheat. By the end of 2016 the country had imported more than 3 million tons of wheat.
People in Saudi Arabia consume 235 grams of wheat, or slightly more than half a pound of wheat, cakes or other types of bread a day.
The Saudi government has not made any changes in the price of bread for 35 years despite the changes in the prices of energy and materials used in making bread, which increased about 300 percent. However, the policy has forced some bakery owners out of the profession.
In October 2016, the Saudi cabinet decided to impose fines and sanctions on wasting bread and flour products from bakeries and factories.
More than 1,000 bakeries in the eastern region presented a proposal to raise the prices at the end of last year in order to link them to the increase of prices of energy sources. However, the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture repeatedly warned bakeries of raising prices or changing the size without a formal decision or order.
The domestic flour prices of the Saudi Grains Organization, brown and white, increased in 2015 at a rate of 14.96 percent for brown, and 14.02 percent for white flour.
According to the average prices of food commodities of the General Authority of Statistics, the kilogram price of local brown flour rose in December 2015 to SR 2.27, while the price in the same month of 2014 was about SR 1.97. The price per kilogram amounted to SR 2.24 in November 2015 and dropped from in December at a rate of 1.39 percent.
The rise in the price of flour in the domestic market coincided when the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced the decline in world wheat prices during 2015, which was affected by the abundance of global crops and increase of supply levels.
White pita bread (four loaves) prices settled at SR 1 only in 2015 and maintained this price between December 2014 and December 2015 without recording any change.
Bread sticks is among the most important types of bread after the pita bread (known as Arabic Bread) as it is one of the most popular and heavily traded in the Kingdom, and called “Samoli” among Saudis.

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Saudi Patent Office awards 5,181 patents in 28 years

Arab News
Wed, 2017-02-15

JEDDAH: The Saudi Patent Office has granted 5,181 patents since its inception in 1989.
The Office’s general supervisor, Sami bin Ali Al-Sudais, told Alwatan newspaper that Saudis received 528 patents out of 25,581 total applications.
The patents the office has granted during the past five years numbered 2,365. One-quarter of those patents were in the field of chemistry and mining, 23 percent in human needs and 22 percent in the field of transportation.
To apply for a patent, an applicant must file the application electronically through the office website and deposit the fees through Sadad payment system.
“Once the application is filed, the office makes sure that formal conditions prescribed in the Patents Regulation are met. If not, then a report is sent to the applicant who is obliged to respond in three months,” Al-Sudais said.
After that phase, a request for payment of application fees within three months is sent to the applicant. The application is processed after the payment. If the application is qualified for certification then the applicant is required to pay fees for granting the patent.

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Coalition’s priority is to protect Yemen civilians

Tue, 2017-02-14

ADEN: The Saudi Arabia-led Arab coalition supporting the legitimacy in Yemen has made the protection of civilians its top priority and is taking all measures to minimize losses.
The coalition leadership, which reaffirms its commitment to international human rights and humanitarian law, has taken steps to protect civilians, members of medical units and humanitarian organizations as well as journalists.
The coalition works extensively with UN organizations and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent societies to support humanitarian efforts based on respect for international human rights.
An independent team formed by the coalition, consisting of top officials, military advisers and military, international and humanitarian law authorities, is working to assess incidents and accidents and investigation procedures.
The team is working to develop these processes and it provides reports about each incident that include studies, lessons learned, conclusions and recommendations for future action.
The coalition forces that participated in the Operation Decisive Storm and are now participating in the Operation Restoration of Hope have an interest in restoring legitimacy to Yemen and shows a great concern for the lives of civilians, their homes and for the provision of their basic needs such as water, food, schooling, hospitals and others.
The coalition is also determined to protect existing infrastructure in Yemeni cities and towns that are in the crossfire of Houthi rebels.
Despite the fact that the Geneva Convention and the additional protocol warn against the use of civilians as human shields, Houthis and ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s forces are still concentrated in residential areas.
Abdulrahman Berman, a lawyer with the Yemeni National Organization for Defending Rights and Freedoms, said that Houthi rebels in Yemen are seeking revenge by using people as human shields.
As such, these rebels are legally and ethically accountable to the Yemeni people and the international community, he said.
The coalition has on several occasions, especially in conflict areas such as Saadah, evacuated civilians as soon as possible before launching airstrikes on hiding places of Houthis and other rebels.
A confidential report by UN experts monitoring the sanctions imposed on Yemen has also accused Houthis of using civilians as human shields.
The report revealed that Houthis deliberately hid fighters and weapons near civilians in Al-Mokha and Taiz in order to avoid being attacked, which is in violation of international humanitarian law.
Earlier, Mansour bin Ahmed Al-Mansour, media spokesman of the joint team for evaluating incidents in Yemen, rejected accusations that the Arab coalition targets civilians in Yemen as “inaccurate” and stressed that Houthis use civilian facilities for military purposes.

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Cabinet appreciates US for acknowledging KSA’s role toward stability in ME region

Tue, 2017-02-14

RIYADH: The Cabinet, chaired by King Salman at Al-Yamamah Palace here on Monday appreciated the United States for its acknowledgement of the Kingdom’s role toward stability in region.
The Cabinet lauded the comments made by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during his conversation on the phone with the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques during which he expressed appreciation of the Saudi leadership and the Kingdom’s endeavor to bring about stability to the region and the importance of the role it was playing to achieve peace in the world.
The Cabinet also appreciated his assertion that the US underscores the importance of working with the Kingdom in general and forging a comprehensive plan to strengthen bilateral relations in the field of military cooperation and working together against terrorism as well as to further enhance economic relations.
Earlier, the king briefed the Cabinet about the telephone call he received from the Tillerson during which they reviewed historical and strategic relations between the two countries, especially in light of the identical orientations of the two countries in political, military and economic fields and ways of development of strategic relations to serve their common interests.
He also briefed the Cabinet about his meeting with the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres during which they discussed the United Nations’ efforts and missions entrusted to it to achieve international peace and security. He also discussed his talks with Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov and the message he received from President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates.
Adel Altoraifi, minister of culture and information, said later that the Cabinet expressed its pride of the constructive role being played by the Kingdom under the leadership of King Salman in fighting terrorism and its efforts to achieve stability and peace in the region and the world.
The minister said the Cabinet was also briefed on the outcome of the fourth meeting of the heads of Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic missions. He stressed the contents of the speech delivered by King Salman including his instructions, particularly his insistence that they should properly introduce the Kingdom to the world. He cited the country’s keenness that peace and stability be
achieved in the world community. He highlight its approach and policies, which are based on moderation and tolerance as well as its keenness on good neighborhood, co-existence among peoples of the world and rejection of violence and terrorism.
The Cabinet also lauded the outcome of the first meeting of the Saudi-Turkish Coordination Council, particularly underlining the wish of the two countries to enhance the strategic relations and their keenness to confront the challenges facing the region.
Later, the Cabinet approved decisions that included authorizing the minister of health or his deputy to discuss with Malaysia and Indonesia two separate agreements to cooperate in the health fields.
An agreement is also considered for the minister of energy, industry and mineral resources or his deputy to discuss with Turkey issues in the industrial field. In addition, the minister of commerce and investment will discuss with Jordan a draft agreement on encouragement and mutual protection for investments.
The Cabinet approved a MoU in the industrial field between the ministry of commerce and investment and the ministry of trade of the Peoples’ Republic of China. It approved a MoU between Imam Mohammed bin Saud Islamic University and each of the Renaissance Universities League, the Mohammadis University located in the city of Malang and the government-run Islamic Al-Raniri University of Indonesia. Another approval dealt with a MoU between the Saudi Broadcasting and Television Commission and the Turkish Broadcasting and Television Foundation.
Upon recommendation of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs, the Cabinet approved the legal procedures as basics for enhancing confidence in the home rent market, necessitating registering house rent contracts on the Internet and stipulating the availability of house rents for issuing or renewing labor license for non-Saudis.

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