Schroder visit to boost German engagement in ME diplomacy

Tue, 2016-12-27

RIYADH: As part of a plan to boost German engagement in the Middle East, top German politician Gerhard Schroder, a former chancellor, will visit several countries in the region, including Saudi Arabia, on Jan. 15.
Schroder will visit the Kingdom in the capacity of the chairman of the German Near and Middle East Association (NUMOV) to strengthen German ties with its allies in the region.
“The visit of Schroder will boost links with the Kingdom, which is a crucial partner of Germany, besides being an important player in this region,” said German Ambassador Dieter Haller, on Sunday. “Our close coordination in bilateral fields, as well as at multilateral fora as two G-20 members, has been very intense,” said the envoy, adding that common challenges, especially in the region, need a coordinated response.
He said that the Kingdom and Germany have been working closely to boost “peace efforts.” He said that security cooperation and commercial engagements are the major components of Saudi-German relations. Germany currently holds the rotating presidency of G-20, hence the commercial partnership between the two countries demands broader cooperation and content.
Referring to the three-day visit of the former German chancellor, Dieter said that “his interaction with Saudi officials will be in the context of the efforts made by NUMOV to boost relations with Middle East countries, including Saudi Arabia.”
He said that NUMOV, founded in 1934, is Germany’s oldest and largest nonprofit and independent service provider for the Near and Middle East region. The diplomat said that that NUMOV supports bilateral business activities between Germany and the Arab countries, together with Afghanistan, Cyprus, Pakistan and Turkey.
Referring to the progressively growing relations between Riyadh and Berlin, Ambassador Haller said that the ties between the two countries are solid, vibrant and expanding.
In addition to the numerous visits by both countries’ heads of state, four visits by the foreign ministers of the two countries in less than a year between August 2015 and last May speak volumes about the excellent relations, he added.
He said that Germany is more than willing to support Saudi Arabia in its ambitious Vision 2030 and the National Transformation Program. German companies have outstanding experiences in fields like renewable energy, smart city management, water and sanitation and the privatization of the health sector. On the trade front, the two countries have forged closer ties.
The years 2014 and 2015 have been the most successful years for German-Saudi trade so far, with a trade volume of $12 billion reported in 2015. “The figures for the first half of 2016 show an interruption of this trend, but I am sure we will see further growth in the future,” said the envoy.
There are nearly 1,500 Saudi students enrolled in German universities. From all across GCC countries, about 2,300 students are studying in Germany.

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Crown prince praises SABIC efforts to help drug addicts

Arab News
Mon, 2016-12-26

RIYADH: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif, deputy premier and minister of interior, has expressed thanks and appreciation to the Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (SABIC), represented by Prince Saud bin Abdullah bin Thunayyan, for its initiative and donation to build a hospital for treatment of drug addicts at a cost of SR300 million.
The crown prince, who is also the president of the National Committee of Narcotics Control (NCNC), also thanked SABIC for a SR15 million donation for a rehabilitation center for drug addicts, fulfilling its corporate responsibility for the protection of the community from the scourge of drugs, and the spread of preventive awareness against this scourge, as well as treatment and rehabilitation of drugs addicts.
He also expressed thanks to the president of Maan Specialized Medical Co., Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Sharqi, and President of the Rehabilitation Specialized Medical Co. Abdulqadir bin Nasir Al-Obaikan for their national initiative to build two hospitals for drug addicts in Riyadh and Taif at the cost of SR100 million for each.
The crown prince praised their sense of social responsibility and contributions to the treatment of those who are the victims of drug addiction and their rehabilitation socially and psychologically.
He expressed hope that these works will be a good base in achieving the desired goals for the best interest of homeland and citizens, adding that such initiatives were normal and not surprising from the citizens of this country.
For his part, Secretary-General of NCNC and head of the National Project for the Prevention of Narcotics (Nibras) Abdulilah bin Mohammed Al-Sharif said these social initiatives are part of the national strategy concerning social responsibility and combating narcotics.
The businessmen’s initiatives are a translation of true citizenship in the context of social responsibility, in line with community needs and its strategic objectives and joint action in the face of drugs from security, preventive and treatment perspectives, as well as coordinated efforts between government and private bodies concerned with fighting drugs, he said.

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‘Roads of Arabia’ receives Chinese plaudits

Arab News
Mon, 2016-12-26

RIYADH: Chinese media and popular circles have highlighted the “Roads of Arabia” exhibition, which was recently inaugurated by Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, and Chinese Minister of Culture Luo Shugang.
A Chinese newspaper published article titled “Saudi archaeological masterpieces reveal the common cultural and historical heritage,” saying that the exhibition includes many artifacts revealing deep-rooted historical and cultural links between the Kingdom and China.
Beijing is the first Asian stop of the exhibition that has been held in five European countries and four cities in the United States and has attracted more than 4 million visitors around the world.
Director of the Chinese Art Gallery Wang Jun, the co-organizer of the Saudi exhibition said: “The exhibition represents a rare opportunity for Chinese citizens to learn about the rich civilization and ancient heritage of the Kingdom.”
He added that the ancient maritime Silk Road flourished due to the civilizations along the sea route, particularly in China and the Arabian Peninsula, and this exhibition helps to strengthen cooperation within the framework of the New Silk Road Initiative by achieving a deeper understanding of the historical legacy of the great civilizations of the two countries.
Chinese newspapers quoted Prince Sultan as saying: “The exhibition represents the convergence of Chinese and Saudi civilizations, and the importance of the exhibition lies in that it shows that the Kingdom, beside its economic weight, has a long history and rich culture which receives widespread response and interest from the Chinese side,” stressing there are many opportunities for cooperation between the two sides in various cultural fields.

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273,000 visit Jeddah book fair in nine days

Arab News
Mon, 2016-12-26

JEDDAH: The second Jeddah International Book Fair has attracted 273,000 visitors in nine days since its opening.
People from all walks of life, including young people, families, writers and intellectuals, have been visiting the cultural event in which 450 local, GCC, Arab and international publishing houses from 30 countries are participating.
A seminar was organized at the fair by Sahmi Al-Hajri highlighting the role of the Kingdom in the fight against terrorism. Participants included the official spokesman for the Interior Ministry, Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, sociologist Abdul Salam Al-Wayel and authors Saud Al-Museibih and Mohammed Al-Saed.
The seminar discussed the pivotal role played by Saudi Arabia in the fight against terrorism. The Kingdom warned the world against the dangers of terrorism, established a counterterrorism center and called on the world to participate in the fight. It also showed the world the most effective methods of fighting terrorism conducted by the Kingdom at all levels.
A cultural evening, which was chaired by Khaled Al-Youssef, with the participation of a number of media figures, discussed book production in Saudi Arabia — from publishing and marketing to the process of reading — highlighting the large and multiple challenges in this area.

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Man sentenced to death for his role in terror plots

Mohammed Al-Sulami
Mon, 2016-12-26

JEDDAH: The Special Criminal Court in Riyadh sentenced a Saudi to death after finding him guilty of participating in an Al-Qaeda terrorist plot in the Kingdom to kill an individual.
The defendant received a computer card that had that person’s name, access to his car and personal information. He was found being aware of that person’s killing and didn’t report it.
The court also proved the defendant’s guilt of being involved in an April 2004 plan to bomb the Interior Ministry and emergency forces’ building.
He did some monitoring for the group and drew a sketch for them, prepared the information on two computer cards and handed them over to a group member who took part in the bombing. He also handed him computerized information on forgery and bomb making.
The man was found guilty in the explosion at the Baqiq refinery in 2006 by collecting information, taking pictures of the refinery, and using his car in scanning the road for the participants in the refinery explosion.
He had proposed that the participants wear similar clothing to the refinery workers to ensure the success of their operation.
He was also convicted of setting up a plan for the withdrawal from the targeted areas; having prior knowledge of the operation’s implementation date; and accompanying the group that carried out the terrorist attack. He came back before the explosion and never reported any information on the group to the authorities as per the group’s request.
He also supported the group with weapons after he bought three Kalashnikovs and pistols, and handed them over to one of the group members who was killed in the attack. Upon his arrest, he was found in possession of 14 pistols.
He also provided the group with media support by collecting combat videos that had been published by the terrorist cell and contacted some of the group’s fugitives, and supported assassinations.
The defendant has 30 days to appeal the sentence.

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Saudi soldier killed near Yemen border

Agence France Presse
Sun, 2016-12-25

RIYADH: A Saudi soldier was killed in a cross-border firefight with Yemeni rebels, the interior ministry said Sunday.
A border post was attacked overnight by Houthi rebels, a spokesman said, adding that one soldier wounded in the exchange died before reaching hospital.
He was the latest of at least 111 Saudi soldiers and civilians to die in the country’s south since the kingdom launched a coalition to battle Yemeni insurgents in March 2015.
Most Saudi casualties have been from retaliatory cross-border rocket attacks or combat.
But there have also been previous deadly mine blasts in Jazan.
In Yemen itself, more than 7,000 people have been killed, mostly civilians, since March last year according to the United Nations.
A Yemeni military official said Sunday that five rebels were killed in a coalition air raid in the southern Shabwa province.
Also in Shabwa, three armed tribesman were killed in an ambush by fighters belonging to the Yemeni branch of Al-Qaeda.
Yemen’s conflict has allowed jihadist groups including Al-Qaeda and the Daesh group to expand, mainly in the country’s vast desert east.
President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi Sunday visited the port city of Mukhalla, on Yemen’s southeast coast, for the first time since loyalist forces retook it from jihadists.
In Shibam, around 100 kilometers (65 miles) north of Mukhalla, a local official survived an assassination attempt blamed by security sources on Al-Qaeda.
The sources said Faraj Neji survived the ambush but that two of his guards were killed.

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Saudi Arabia welcomes UN vote denouncing Israeli settlements

Sun, 2016-12-25

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has welcomed Friday’s UN resolution strongly advising Israel to end its illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, with the Saudi Foreign Ministry calling the decision “commendable.”
The vote on Friday at the 15-member UN Security Council passed the resolution 14-0 with the United States, which traditionally uses its permanent place on the council to veto any resolutions critical of Israel, abstaining.
“The Kingdom has commended the adoption of the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories and asked for a ban of settlements,” said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Saturday. “The decision undoubtedly confirms the illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem,” said the statement carried by the Saud Press Agency (SPA).
The statement said that the Kingdom hopes the decision will contribute to reviving the peace process in the region in line with relevant UN resolutions and the Arab peace initiative leading to an independent Palestinian state.
Also, the Jeddah-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) welcomed the adoption of the UNSC resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Secretary-General of the OIC Yusuf Al-Othaimeen said in a statement that the resolution is “historic and reaffirms the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.”
He commended the stances and the efforts of the Islamic countries, including all UNSC member states that voted for the resolution, and called for its implementation.
The US abstention that allowed UN to demand an end to settlements is indeed a serious step in the right direction, which will go a long way in restoring peace and security in the region.
In Cairo, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Abulghait also welcomed the UN Security Council resolution. The Arab League chief said that “settlement activities have been a major obstacle in reaching a two-state solution,” which is the most important component for peace and security.
Mishal bin Faham Al-Sulami, chief of the Arab Parliamentary Union, also welcomed the UN resolution that considers Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories “flagrant violations of international law and they constitute an obstacle of the two-state solution.” He said the decision is “an important step forward in the restoration of the Palestinian rights.”
Turkish Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Yunus Demirer said: “We welcome the resolution adopted by the UN Security Council, which notes that Israel’s settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories are contrary to international law.”
“Israel should fulfill its legal obligations as the occupying power, and it is confirmed that the settlements pose an obstacle to the vision for the two-state solution,” Demirer added
The diplomat reiterated the call for Israel “to abide by this resolution that reflects the joint approach of the international community, and stop at once its ongoing illegal settlement activities in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.” He said that Turkey stands with Saudi Arabia and other Arab states as far as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is concerned.
Stressing the need to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict urgentl,y Luca Ferrari, Italian ambassador to Saudi Arabia, called on the warring factions to “work out solutions within the framework of the two-state theory, and settle the conflict, which will go a long way in restoring peace and security in the region … Italy has been in favor of the Saudi peace plan of 2002,” added the envoy.
He said that the international community, including Italy and Saudi Arabia, have been exerting efforts to find a solution to the conflict for the last several decades. “It’s high time to solve the major problems of the Middle East region.”
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, in a astatement, called on Israel to stop the illegal construction of settlements in Palestine and said that the UN resolution is “a victory for the people of Palestine.”
The statement said that Malaysia and three countries, namely New Zealand, Senegal, and Venezuela, had put the text of a draft resolution to vote Friday in a largely tense and unexpected climax to the chain of events. “Alhamdulillah, with the grace of God, the resolution which faced uncertainty when Egypt withdrew the draft, has finally answered the prayers of the people of Palestine,” said Najib in the statement.
An Arab diplomat, who refused to be identified, said that the UNSC decision is “an endorsement of the support from the international community that opposed the breach of international law by Israel … The need of the hour is to sit together to find a solution to the problems besieging the Middle East, especially Palestine,” said the diplomat while talking to Arab News.

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Makkah governor exhorts officials to serve citizens

Arab News
Sun, 2016-12-25

JEDDAH: Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal said that the main goal of the province and its governorates is to serve citizens and residents, and to solve problems they face, as well as to follow up on development projects that contribute to the uplift of the region.
Prince Khaled was speaking while chairing a meeting of the governors of the province and the heads of the centers associated to the diwan of the governorate in Jeddah.
“Thank you for helping the emirate achieve the ​​distinct administrative position and the good reputation. This could not have been achieved — after the help of God — without the efforts of the emirate’s staff, who played a prominent role in realizing this leading position for the region and the subsidiary provinces and centers,” the governor said.
Prince Khaled stressed the importance of facilitating people’s affairs and helping them to accomplish their transactions, in addition to receiving the public with courtesy and a smile, especially as the emirate reflects the image of the state and is the body that receives the public and helps them to solve their problems and meet their demands.
He also stressed the importance for all officials to use the powers granted to them in accordance with the regulations, and utilize them to achieve the public interest and fulfill the people’s needs.
Prince Khaled also stressed the need to develop the mechanisms of action and the involvement of citizens in the security, development and utilization of technology in business.
During the meeting, he discussed ways to develop work in the subsidiary provinces and centers in order to ensure provision of the best services for the public and meet the citizens’ needs and solve their problems.
The meeting of the Makkah regional governors, which takes place every six months, comes within the framework of direct communication between the office of the emirate and the governors and promotes coordination.

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