Saudi Arabia key in fight against terror: UN chief

Mon, 2017-02-13

RIYADH: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has lent all support to the warring factions in Yemen if they are willing to reconcile and reach a political solution to the bloody conflict within the framework of the UN resolutions and GCC-brokered initiative. Guterres also strongly backed the efforts of UN envoy Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, saying that the UN envoy enjoys full support from the UN.
“Our envoy has my full support and I believe that he is doing an impartial work, that he is doing it in a very professional way and independently of what other people may think, he has my full support,” said Guterres, while addressing a joint press conference with Adel Al-Jubeir, foreign minister, here Sunday. The UN chief, who speaking at the press conference after holding talks with King Salman, said that “Saudi Arabia is a pillar of stability in the region besides being a key in the fight against terrorism.”
At the outset of the meeting at Al-Yamamah Palace, King Salman congratulated Guterres on his appointment to the UN’s top post.
“The king and UN secretary general reviewed the efforts and the missions entrusted to the UN to achieve international peace and security,” said a report published by SPA Sunday. Later, the UN secretary general met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif, deputy premier and minister of interior; who praised UN efforts to achieve global peace and stability.
The UN chief also met with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, minister of defense, and discussed the latest developments in the Middle East region, particularly in Syria and Yemen, as well as the efforts exerted by the Kingdom to restore peace, security and stability in the region. The meeting also addressed the Kingdom’s support for the efforts of the UN.
Al-Jubeir deplored the Yemen situation saying, “We made many agreements with Houthis and the faction led by Ali Abdullah Saleh, but none of the agreement was implemented by them. The Kingdom and the GCC went ahead to help Yemen and its government within the framework of the article 51 of the UN charter.”
Al-Jubeir said that he had extensive discussions with UN secretary general on a range of issues including “on Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Iran, Islamophobia and counter-terrorism efforts.” In a question about support to Syria, the foreign minister expressed hope that “the global support for moderate Syrian opposition will continue.”
The foreign minister said he expected support for rebels in Syria to continue despite the fall of Aleppo to the Syrian government in December, but noted that any decision would be made as part of the US-led international coalition.
“We believe that the moderate opposition has an important role to play. We believe that they need to be able to defend themselves, as well as to fight against Daesh and Al Qaeda,” he said.
The foreign minister also said, “The US-Saudi relations have been strong for the last eight decades, during which we overcame several challenges.” He said that “we can see eye to eye with the US on the issue of Iran, on Syria, on Lebanon, on fight against Daesh and on Yemen.”
Al-Jubeir also described the Saudi-American relationship as “excellent,” continuing to signal warm ties with new administration of US President Donald Trump after visiting Washington and New York earlier this month.
UN chief Guterres said that the UN has concerns over the issues affecting the peace and security of the region as a whole. He appealed to the warring factions in Yemen not to hamper the relief efforts and the delivery of humanitarian aid. He also called for “inclusive reconciliation in Iraq,” while condemning Islamophobia and Islam bashing.
“Islamophobia” in parts of the world is fueling terrorism, said the UN chief adding that “one of the things that fuel terrorism is the expression in some parts of the world of Islamophobic feelings and Islamophobic policies and hate speeches. This is the best support that Daesh can have to make its own propaganda.”
The UN chief also spoke about the reforms of the UN, saying that the Kingdom will have to play a major role in any UN initiative.
Before wrapping up his visit to the Kingdom, Guterres visited the Riyadh-based King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid, where he met with Adviser at the Royal Court and General Supervisor of the Center Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah.

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Saudi social media users break silence on violence against women

Mon, 2017-02-13

JEDDAH: Saudi women found an innovative way to break their silence and expose stories of harassment, rape and physical abuse they face often on a daily basis.
The hashtag #Break_Your_Silence_Speak_Up went viral among Saudi women who started sharing their bitter stories that often go untold.
One woman said that she has been locked up for a year inside the house after her mother learned that her father had raped her over three years. She now needs to be treated for depression as a result of the psychological damage she endured.
Another woman named Sarah spoke up against her brother’s sexual harassment with the knowledge of the father who, in return, slapped her in the face. “I was 8 years old,” she said. “He taught me how to shut up every time I was molested.”
The fact that such abuse continues to happen in a conservative Muslim society is shocking, the women wrote under the trending hashtag.
Along with sexual harassment, physical and verbal abuse takes place daily, according to some women.
Statistics released in 2016 show the continuous exposure of a large number of Saudi women to violence, despite a domestic violence awarencess campaign launched in 2013 and a subsequent law criminalyzing domestic abuse.
Research has shown that 37 percent of husbands in Saudi Arabia oppress their wives and children, in addition to depriving women of seeing their family.
Mashael Al-Bakri, a Saudi researcher, said in an interview with Al-Hayat newspaper one of the Saudi centers for domestic abuse victims that suppression of the wife or children and forbidding them from expressing their issues freely is prevalent and a form of psychological violence.
An estimated 53 percent of men in 2016 are willing to use violence against their wives in case of disobedience, where 32 percent have already used physical abuse against their wives, according to a study conducted by researcher Norah Al-Musaed.
The study also reported that 36 percent of the women expressed their acceptance of violence against them in case of misbehavior. Social media confirm that abuse is commonplace.
A college student said her father hit her after she failed to get home on time due to heavy traffic, and he threatened to deprive her of college if she does not change her schedule.
Professionals are also subjected to such treatment by their male guardians.
“My brother threatened my sister, who is a physician, to prevent her from working because she wanted to attend a conference in Kuwait,” said Rahaf Al-Otaibi.
The abuse extends in some cases to depriving a woman of her own children. “I cannot describe the pain of losing my children,” said another woman.
Violence against women can take many forms, not only physical or verbal. Psychological pain can result from constant threats or possibility of violence, one woman tweeted. “I may not have been exposed to physical or verbal violence but I suffer from psychological violence every day because my life could turn upside down if someone wishes.”
#Break_Your_Silence_Speak_Up has been trending along with the hashtag that calls for the abolition of the male guardianship system, which reached day 220 of fighting.
“Don’t back down from demanding your rights if you believe in justice,” tweeted (@MARIAM_AL3TEEBE) who is an outspoken justice activist with 21,000 followers. She urged her Saudi sisters to demand their rights and not to be ashamed as long as they are protesting peacefully.
Meanwhile, the women’s campaign to expose the forms of harassment against them was faced with rejection and accusations of lying. However, despite the attacks by some deniers, those women have the support of several international human rights organizations.
Amnesty International paid tribute to Saudi women last Thursday on International Women’s Human Rights Defenders’ Day.

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Arab interior ministers laud crown prince’s anti-terror efforts

Arab News
Mon, 2017-02-13

RIYADH: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif, deputy premier, minister of interior and honorary president of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers, was bestowed the “George Tenet” medal by CIA director Mike Pompeo in recognition of his efforts to fight terrorism and promote international peace and security.
The council expressed pride in the achievement, with Secretary-General of the council Mohammad bin Ali Koman saying that the honor reflects the international community’s appreciation of the crown prince’s efforts to combat terrorism and the role he has been playing in uprooting extremist ideologies and thwarting terrorist groups’ designs to undermine the Kingdom’s security and stability.
He also hailed the role Mohammed bin Naif Center plays in promoting the Munasaha program, which has been rehabilitating many extremist young men through dialogue and scientific methods.
Gulf Cooperation Council’s Secretary-General Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani also congratulated the crown prince for receiving the medal.
“The awarding of this prestigious medal to His Excellence Prince Mohammad bin Naif bin Abdulaziz is a recognition of his serious, concrete endeavors to fight terrorism at local, regional and international levels,” Zayani said.
He praised the successes achieved by the Saudi Ministry of Interior, headed by the crown prince, in fighting terrorist organizations in the Kingdom, thwarting their criminal plots and protecting the society against their evil designs. The GCC secretary-general also expressed appreciation for the great support the Saudi Interior Ministry gives security agencies, contributing to their readiness to counter terrorist groups.

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Prince Sultan to patronize Madinah Islamic tourism festival

Arab News
Mon, 2017-02-13

MADINAH: Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH), will patronize the inauguration of the festival “Madinah, the capital of Islamic tourism 2017” on Saturday at King Fahd Central Park, in the presence of Prince Faisal bin Salman, the governor of Madinah.
The official spokesperson of the event, Khalid Al-Shahrani, said the organizing committee has finalized preparations to host guests from all over the Islamic world, adding that it will be the first of its kind among member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The event will be attended by senior officials, ministers, intellectuals, writers and media personalities from the Kingdom and abroad.
It will be broadcast live on large screens in certain Madinah areas such as King Fahd garden, the Hijra path and Al-Rashed mall.
Al-Shahrani said many live activities and programs will be launched in parallel with the inauguration event, which will attract more tourism to Madinah.
He stressed the organizing committee’s keenness on having an event that suits Madinah’s status and holiness.
He said the festival will highlight young people’s talent in event management, adding that it is employing more than 700 people.

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Attractions on worldwide tourism to be featured in 7th JTTX

Fouzia Khan
Mon, 2017-02-13

JEDDAH: The 7th Jeddah International Travel and Tourism Exhibition with the participation of 160 exhibitors from 20 countries opens Wednesday at Hilton Hotel Jeddah.
JTTX, a Saudi International travel exhibition, promotes domestic, regional and international tourism and feature attractions from around the globe to promote worldwide tourism.
A Public Authority for Tourism and National Heritage report showed a high volume of tourism in the first nine months of 2016, 24 percent more than 2015. The local tourism contribution was 2.9 percent.
Maya Halfawi, president of the organizing committee of the exhibition, said JTTX is a leading industry exhibition in Saudi Arabia, which highlights the importance of travel and tourism and contributes in the development of the local economy. Saudi Arabia’s tourism market is one of the fastest growing, in the world.
According to UNWTO World Tourism, the Kingdom saw a 14 percent growth in tourism in 2014, the fifth best performer globally. Halfawi said that tourism in Saudi Arabia has increased and has taken action to comply with the Kingdom’s vision 2030. It is an essential sector for the economic development of the Kingdom, all the government agencies and sectors are putting great efforts to develop the sector and improve the performance of the system.
JTTX presents a platform for investors and operators and the best place to partner with local, governmental and international agencies for their services and expertise. This aids investors and their partners to build trade and investment relations, strategic cooperation, share best practices, exchange ideas, and promote the industry in the Middle East and Worldwide.
Sultan Al-Mansouri, director of Abu Dhabi Authority for Tourism and Culture, said JTTX is one of the leading exhibitions in the Gulf States, and aims to promote tourism and attract tourists and visitors, and it contributes in improving the status of Abu Dhabi on the map of world tourism.
Mohammad Abdullah Al-Amri, executive director, SCTH Branch, Makkah Province, said the exhibition is important with a strong presence of both Saudi and foreign travel destinations and companies.
The importance of this exhibition is to host participants from the public and private sector. It will also host participants from ministries, representatives from tourism and tourist destinations, management companies, travel agencies, tour operators, medical tourism, educational tourism, entertainment and adventure as well as a range of related services sector to meet the needs of all visitors wishing to travel.
Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority, the Travel and Tourism Board of Indonesia, Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) and Tourism and Heritage Authority in Makkah are the strategic partners. JTTX organizers are 4M Event Management and the Saudi Commission of Tourism and Heritage (SCTH).
The event is being held under the patronage of Jeddah Governor Prince Mishaal bin Majed.

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Saudi Arabia to address cyber security at the national level

Arab News
Mon, 2017-02-13

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia, fueled by its commitment to sustainable growth through economic diversification and technological transformation, climbed four spots to become the 16th biggest economy in the world in 2016.
However, with the widespread use of technology, the risk of cyber threats from hackers, insiders, and foreign governments has reached new heights.
Enhancing the nation’s cybersecurity infrastructure to combat these threats, develop standards, share critical information and educate stakeholders has become a key priority for the Saudi government.
The Ministry of Interior (MOI) represented by National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), in partnership with Naseba, is organizing the Second annual International Cyber Security Conference (ICSC) Feb.27-28 at the Security Forces Officers Club.
The conference is the largest cybersecurity gathering in the Kingdom with over 600 VIPs, CEOs, CIOs, CISOs, IT and Security Managers representing the nation’s critical national infrastructure organizations, private sector and academia.
Committed to supporting the Kingdom’s bid to safeguard its critical networks, providers such as STC, Spire Solutions, TCC, Raytheon, SecurityMatterz, Advanced Electronics Company, Attivo Networks, BT, Fortinet, Innovative Solutions, Kaspersky, Northrop Grumman, PhishMe, Darktrace, Paloalto Networks, Protection Group International, Symantec and VirtualForge will be holding private one to one meetings with the attendees.
Dr. Abbad Alabbad, Communication & Strategic Development executive director, NCSC, said that a key objective of the conference is to “facilitate national, regional and international collaboration between government, industry and critical infrastructure organizations.”
Nicholas Watson, managing director of Naseba, said, “effective information and knowledge sharing within and across industries is crucial to help mitigate cyber threats and attacks. The conference emphasizes this, in addition to facilitating business transactions, partnerships and deals between the key stakeholders and vendors.”
Sanjeev Walia, CEO of Spire Solutions, the lead sponsor of the conference, noted, “At a juncture when the region is targeted by advanced cyber-attacks, cybersecurity is mandatory for every organization and here in Spire Solutions, we work closely with organizations to protect their business by helping them understand, detect and manage cybersecurity threats in an effective way. Our team will demonstrate some of the niche solutions available today such as deception technology, endpoint security, automated threat hunting, and advanced threat exposure management.”

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French expats in Saudi Arabia prepare to vote in elections

Mon, 2017-02-13

RIYADH: French expatriates, who have been living and working in Saudi Arabia, will be able to vote in French general elections this year. France will go to the polls in April and May this year to pick the new president, and the world will be watching to see how and who it elects as its new leader at a time, when the world in general and Europe in particular are facing new challenges.
“A total of 3,121 French nationals living in the Kingdom have been registered to vote,” said Slimani Mounir, a spokesman of the French Embassy in Riyadh. He pointed out that the first round of the French presidential election will take place on April 23, while the second round will be held on May 7 in case none of the candidates bag more than 50 percent in the first round.
He further explained: “For the presidential election process, it is necessary to go to the polling station or vote by proxy.” He said that it is not possible to vote via postal ballot or Internet. French nationals only registered on the consular electoral list 2017 at the French Embassy in Riyadh and the consulate in Jeddah will be able to vote in the Kingdom, said Mounir.
Referring to the legislative elections, the spokesman said that the first round of poll for electing members of Parliament will be held on June 4 in which French expatriates, including those living in Saudi Arabia, will cast their votes. The first round of legislative elections, however, will be held in France on June 11 and the second round on June 18. “For the legislative election process, it is required to go to the polling station or vote by proxy or vote via Internet,” he noted.
He pointed out that three polling stations — one in Riyadh, one in Jeddah and another one in Alkhobar — will be set up in the Kingdom. The election in France has generated a lot of interest. After the surprise of Britain’s Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump as US president, just what kind of politician — and politics — France chooses will be of huge interest to many, not just those inside Europe. The top four candidates in 2017’s French election are Francois Fillon (Les Republicains), Benoit Hamon (Socialists), Marine Le Pen (Front National) and Emmanual Macron (Independent). There is no clear winner at this stage.

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Ghazal maestro Vakil to perform live in Riyadh

Mon, 2017-02-13

RIYADH: Indian ghazal virtuoso Mohammed Vakil will perform live in the Saudi capital on Feb. 17.
“The event is likely to be attended by about 500 people, including diplomats, businessmen and top-notch professionals from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh,” Parvez Rahman, head of the Vakil Concert’s Organizing Committee, said Saturday.
Hailing from Jaipur in India from a family of classical ghazal singers, Vakil has lent his voice to Indian films and concerts on numerous occasions.
Vakil, who is very popular in the Middle East and India, is promoted by Rahman and Mohammed Shibli, two prominent Indian community leaders.
Rahman said: “I’m sure it will be a memorable event. I usually listen to country music or rock songs, but the way Vakil sings, putting his entire heart and soul into the song, has made me a fan of his ghazals.”
The event will include food stalls featuring a range of Pakistani and Indian cuisine. The performance is being organized by the Indo-Arab Friendship Association (AIFA), a non-profit social organization with a mandate to promote goodwill and understanding between India and Arab countries.

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Qawwali event regales thousands of Indian expats

Mon, 2017-02-13

DAMMAM: On the occasion of the 68th Indian Republic Day, the Indian Embassy, in association with the Indian Council of Cultural Relations, organized a Mehfil-e-Qawwali (evening of Qawwali) at the International Indian School in Dammam.
Qawwali is a form of music and is believed to have originated in the 13th century in India.
It has been presented at the palaces of Mughal emperors, and popularized by Bollywood and other mainstream cultures.
Chief guest Ahmad Javed, Indian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, spoke about celebrating the diversity of India with the Indian community in the Eastern Province.
This is the first time the International Indian School in Dammam has hosted a cultural event of this kind.
On behalf of the Indian Embassy, Dr. Hifzur Rahman, second secretary (political, information and culture), introduced the performers: Naushad Sabri and a five-member group from Uttar Pradesh.
Visiting Saudi Arabia for the first time, the group performed in Jeddah and Jubail before coming to Dammam.
Sabri has been a Qawwal for 28 years. He and the group have to their credit 14 Qawwali albums on love, faith and devotion.
Side-singers Mohammed Umar Daraz and Danish Hussain played the harmonium and banjo, respectively.
Arshad Hussain and Shehzad Hussain performed on the percussion instruments of hand drums and larger drums (tabla and dhol).
The Qawwals entertained the crowd with popular Qawwalis.
“It has been a memorable evening, not only for the school but also for the large Indian community here,” said Mohammad Abdul Waris, chairman of the International Indian School in Dammam. “Through the collective efforts of the Indian Embassy and the Indian Council of Cultural Relations, we were able to witness a culturally rich and fervent event.”
Javed told Arab News that such events “promote cross-cultural understanding between the members of a diverse, secular and multilingual country like India.”
He said the Mehfil-e-Qawwali is among many such activities planned by the embassy for the Eastern Province.
His message to the Indian community in the province is: “This is the beginning of strong cultural ties between the two countries. It reflects the relationship between people that will lead to economic development and further enhancement of the age-old relations of trade and commerce.”

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