Saudi Arabia backs UN’s coronavirus response plan with $100 million


During a virtual meeting with UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, announced the Kingdom’s donation of US$100 million to support the International Response Plan to coronavirus pandemic. (Twitter/@ksamissionun)
  • Kingdom’s donation will support UN’s International Response Plan to coronavirus pandemic
  • Guterres thanked Saudi Arabia for its generous and continuous support to UN

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia said Friday it was donating $100 million to the World Health Organization (WHO) and toward a number of projects in support of a United Nations response plan to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement was made by the Kingdom’s permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, during a virtual event with UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Saudi Press Agency reported.
“The International Response Plan to coronavirus pandemic, the WHO and other UN agencies will benefit from this Saudi donation,” Al-Mouallimi tweeted following the meeting.

Earlier, Al-Mouallimi said that “this support comes within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s international efforts in support of the response to combating the coronavirus, and awareness of the importance of cooperation, solidarity and collective and international action to foster a transparent, robust, coordinated and wide-ranging global response.”
He said the Kingdom was carrying out “the role it has been entrusted with toward multilateralism, collective and international action in order to confront the COVID-19 pandemic,” adding that Saudi Arabia was one of the first countries “to extend a hand of aid and coordination” with countries affected by the spread of the virus.
Al-Mouallimi said that the Kingdom is working to enable the UN to lead international action to intensify global efforts to combat coronavirus, and to enhance support for developing countries and the most vulnerable regions in fighting this pandemic.
In particular, he mentioned assisting refugees, raising the standards of living among the world’s poorest groups, developing fragile economies, mediating an end to conflicts, and building more harmonious relationships between nations.
Guterres thanked King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the Kingdom’s generous and continuous support to the organization, saying that Saudi Arabia worked in partnership with the UN to support security, stability and prosperity in all parts of the world, especially in Yemen.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Perpetrators of ideology of hatred and racism must be confronted: Muslim World League chief


MWL Secretary-General Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa speaks at the second Media Forum of the Union of OIC News Agencies. (SPA)

RIYADH: The secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL), Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, has stressed the need for promoting coexistence among followers of different faiths and cultures.

Speaking at an online forum of the Union of OIC News Agencies (UNA-OIC), he called on everyone to confront perpetrators of the ideology of hatred and racism to achieve lasting global peace.

He said Islam promotes peace and harmony and respects diversity. In this regard, the MWL chief cited the “Covenant of Madinah” drawn up by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), which embodied the principles of coexistence in Islam, celebrated civic values, and preserved the legitimate rights and freedoms of all members of society.

Al-Issa also referred to the Makkah Declaration signed last year and endorsed by 1,200 muftis and 4,500 Muslim scholars representing different schools of thought. He said the declaration reiterated the Islamic principles of equality, human rights, and coexistence.

Condemning all elements bent on driving a wedge between different cultures and religions, the MWL chief said peaceful coexistence is the only way forward and promotion of peace is a religious, moral, and humanitarian duty.

The UNA-OIC is keen on hosting international organizations and opening doors for discussion to promote peace and harmony to ensure global peace.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi Crown Prince holds call with Iraqi PM

Time: 19 August, 2020

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)

RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman held a telephone call with Iraq’s prime minister on Wednesday.

During the call, Prince Mohammed and Mustafa Al-Kadhimi discussed efforts to stabilize global oil markets and restore balance to them.

They agreed it was important that all member states were fully committed to the OPEC+ agreement.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi body to help UN devise policies for sustainable living

Time: 13 August, 2020

SGBF represents Saudi Arabia and its call to communities, stakeholders, and policymakers to build on the principles of volunteering, advocacy and sustainable development for a better future. (Reuters/File)
  • Saudi Green Building Forum granted accreditation as an observer to UNEP governing body

RIYADH: A professional association from Saudi Arabia will play a key policymaking role at a UN governing body addressing the importance of environmental needs.
Following careful assessment and consideration of the commitments and engagements of the Saudi Green Building Forum (SGBF), the nonprofit organization has been granted accreditation as an observer at the governing body of the UN Environment Program (UNEP). SGBF will play a role as an observer at all public meetings and sessions of the UNEP and its subsidiary organs.
Speaking to Arab News, Faisal Al-Fadl, founder of the nonprofit organization, said that the forum’s mission has been developing for the past 10 years and this accreditation was considered an important step in strengthening the role of Saudi civil society institutions, locally and internationally. This was in line with Vision 2030, which has not only played an integral role in the NGO’s mission but also paved the way for the Kingdom’s people to go the extra mile in building an advanced and resilient society.
SGBF was initiated in 2010 and established in 2014. In 2017, it became the first professional body from Saudi Arabia in consultative status with the UN.
“The Saudi Forum was an advocacy group with an honest voice to bridge the gap; through UNEP we now have the tools to become the policymakers,” Al-Fadl said. It is a challenge that the group founder says will be met by providing communities with the proper tools to implement commitments.
As the observing body on the environmental framework at the UNEP, SGBF’s role will include promoting its concepts and goals to be reflected within the community of change. For change to happen, people of a community at a grassroots level who have committed to the preservation of moral codes of conduct are key to changing mentality and behavior to guarantee a future for the next generations, Al-Fadl said.
“As an open platform, our role is being the honest voice of bridging the gap. Economic and social progress accompanied by environmental degradation and pandemics are endangering the very systems on which our future development and our survival depends,” he said.
SGBF represents the Kingdom and its call to communities, stakeholders, and policymakers to build on the principles of volunteering, advocacy and sustainable development.
For the NGO, their next step is increasing the engagement of civil society, finding solutions to the problem of volunteer integration in societies, and to prioritize and address social challenges for women, youth and the elderly, calling on member states to increase their role in building and developing practices that minimize the negative impact on the planet.
Al-Fadl added that protecting the planet and building resilience was not easy. Without bolstering local action, including volunteers to accelerate the implementation, it would be a long time until goals were met and result seen, he said.
“UN member countries have the responsibility in confronting the human crisis of inestimable proportions, which impose its heaviest tolls on the supply chain for those marginalized and
most vulnerable in cities and communities around the world,” Al-Fadl said.

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Third Saudi aid plane arrives in Beirut

Time: 09 August, 2020

KSRelief aircraft contains medical supplies, ventilators and other relief goods for blast victims. (Photo/Supplied)
  • KSRelief teams are also active in treating blast victims

RIYADH: A third King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) plane loaded with aid arrived in Beirut on Saturday as part of a relief air bridge that was set up to help the people in wake of the Beirut blasts.

The air bridge was established on the directives of King Salman to provide urgent humanitarian aid to Lebanon.
KSRelief Adviser Dr. Ali bin Hamed Al-Ghamdi said the third plane is loaded with ventilators, hospital and medical equipment, as well as various medicines and disinfectants. It also contains food, tents, mattresses, blankets and cooking supplies.
So far, 200 tons of aid from the Kingdom have been flown to Lebanon with specialized teams to follow up and supervise the distribution operations.
KSRelief teams are also active in Lebanon in treating victims of the blast.
Earlier, two Saudi aircraft carrying more than 120 tons of medicines, equipment, and emergency supplies were dispatched to Beirut.
KSRelief Supervisor General Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah said in a statement that the assistance highlights the pivotal role of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in providing humanitarian assistance to all people in need around the world with complete impartiality.

The Saudi aid will help alleviate the sufferings of Lebanese people.

Maj. Gen. Mohammad Khair, Chief of the High Relief, Commission in Lebanon

The twin blasts devastated large areas of the Lebanese capital and destroyed vital infrastructure, including grain storage silos and port facilities.
Lebanon, already reeling from an economic and currency collapse, now faces the threat of food shortages and a major hit to exports and imports.
Countries around the world have rushed to help Lebanon in the wake of the port explosion on Aug. 4.
The secretary-general of the High Relief Commission in Lebanon, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Khair, thanked the Kingdom for the urgent humanitarian aid provided through KSRelief.
In a press statement, he praised the historical relations between the two countries, noting the Saudi aid will help alleviate the suffering of Lebanese people.
Residents in the Kingdom can also help Lebanon by making donations through KSRelief’s website.

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Saudi king orders urgent humanitarian assistance for Lebanon

Time: 06 August, 2020

  • King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center will send supplies to help Lebanese authorities deal with aftermath of Beirut explosion

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced that the government, on the orders of King Salman, will urgently send humanitarian aid to Lebanon to help the authorities there deal with the aftermath of the massive explosion that ripped through downtown Beirut on Tuesday.

The assistance will be provided through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

At least 135 people were killed by the blast, which is believed to have been triggered by a fire at a warehouse where 2,750 tonnes of confiscated, highly explosive ammonium nitrate was being stored. More than 5,000 were injured and dozens are missing.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Arab version of NATO could stabilize region

Time: 30 July, 2020

The opening ceremony of the NATO-led military exercises Noble Partner 2018 at Vaziani military base outside Tbilisi, Georgia, August 1, 2018. (Reuters)

France’s withdrawal this month from the NATO Mediterranean mission due to the behavior of fellow member Turkey was an echo from Paris’ history with the organization. In 1966, then-President Charles de Gaulle withdrew France from NATO’s integrated military command and downgraded its overall membership following a series of frustrations, from the US position on the Suez Crisis in 1956 to a lack of French representation compared to the US and UK, the two other steering powers. This French position was also translated into the European Common Market, with De Gaulle twice refusing to allow the UK to enter. On this point, he seems to have been proved right by the Brexit vote.

However, when it comes to NATO, even if distancing itself enabled France to build its own nuclear deterrent, it was probably not the best decision. It was only in 2009, under President Nicolas Sarkozy, that France corrected its course and reclaimed full NATO membership in a clear understanding of the changing nature of the threats the Western alliance was facing and the rise of new competing blocs. It is, nevertheless, important to note that, despite being in the NATO background for so many years, France made clear agreements stating its commitment to support the alliance in the case of war in Europe.

We often state that the reason for the creation and building of NATO was as a deterrent to the USSR and to avoid nuclear war. But such alliances go beyond the purpose of military action or facing an enemy as they change through time. Indeed, by sharing the burden of defense and putting a common interest at the forefront, it also serves the purpose of supporting political integration and avoiding national militarism between neighbors. It is beyond doubt that, despite France’s withdrawal from NATO’s integrated military command, the European political project would not have been possible without the concept of a common defense plan that NATO created.

There is something sacred about sharing the security burden that unlocks many developments. However, it must start with sharing common values. The US’ contribution and role in supporting the post-Second World War reconstruction of Europe was a success and created stability for the Old Continent — a stability it had never seen before. Although still an open wound, conflict in the former Yugoslavia showed that NATO and Europe were able to bring peace and stability to the continent’s most difficult regions.

Today, NATO faces new challenges arising from a changing geopolitical landscape and the emergence of new threats. It will certainly adapt like it did in the past and go through the transformation needed with a shifting but continuous US support. It seems that the European members will have to take on a bigger role and assume more of the responsibilities that were overseen by the US in the past. It is quite strange to see some European analysts complain about this, as they are the same voices who previously accused the US of hegemonic plans through NATO. One cannot have it both ways. It is also important for NATO to listen to the Europeans when it comes to resetting or renewing relations with Russia. Stability can only come from a common understanding and trust with Moscow, which is far from impossible to build.

Today, the Arab world faces various challenges and one might ask what we can learn from the European experience and NATO’s role. Is it possible to build a similar organization for the Arab world? How can we start sharing the burden of our defense? More importantly, what do we stand to protect, what are the values we cherish, and what do we aspire to build? This immediately puts everything into perspective. Any such alliance is bigger and broader than standing against a common enemy. Thus, this construction effort for the Arab world should be bigger than just opposing Iran or any other single enemy.

If we examine NATO, we can see that it protected free will in the face of totalitarianism. Therefore, France was able to dissent and exit without consequences — something countries within the Warsaw Pact could not do without seeing the Soviet Union’s tanks invading them. This also means that there is room for political disagreements within the alliance, but it draws a clear line when it comes to the safety and protection of any member state’s sovereignty and the security of its citizens.

The Arab region is far away from what Europe is today and the integration it has built since the end of the Second World War. Our regional institutions have been eroded by numerous crises and, in particular, the lack of capacity to act and make a decisive change on any file. The Arab League, for example, has not been able to react properly to the recent challenges the region faces and is constantly trying to maneuver the Arab world’s interests the best way it can. Unfortunately, it has become a punching bag for some member states and populist agendas.

The Arab region urgently needs to build a Middle East security architecture. The Heritage Foundation’s James Carafano recently discussed this subject in a webcast and pointed out that a political, military and economic architecture that includes the nations of the region needed to be created. The US, which has recently been less prone to taking an active role in the global scene, would then come in as a stabilizing force and support it. This would, over time, create a sustainable and dependable deterrent against all threats to the region.

There is something sacred about sharing the security burden that unlocks many developments.

Khaled Abou Zahr

Carafano clarified that this would not just be another NATO, as the Middle East is not Europe, but that there is the need for something stronger than just the US’ current bilateral alliances to create trust and continuity. This would help address the many problems in the Greater Middle East and create a sustainable front against Iran, sending the right message to the Iranian people that the region will not accept the hegemonic actions of the regime.

In my view, the steering committee for this new architecture should be led by Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Egypt. It would take on the key files of the region and build a unified decision-making committee to protect the region’s security. It might not be a NATO but it should not be a Warsaw Pact either. Our region is complicated and, even among allies, we can disagree, especially when it comes to political solutions. By starting to share our defense infrastructure, we create a catalyst toward building something greater and bringing stability to our citizens. Once again, this alliance should not be built against a common enemy, but to protect shared and common values.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi official Sarah Al-Tamimi recognized for her anti-human trafficking efforts

Time: 29 July, 2020

Vice-chair of the Saudi National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, Sarah Al-Tamimi, is reviewing the exhibit which includes works of local Saudi artists who volunteered to create works of art around trafficking that can be utilized in their campaign, which was done through the volunteer unit at Human Rights Committee. (Supplied)
  • The report, globally recognized as the most comprehensive analysis of anti-trafficking efforts

RIYADH: Coinciding with World Trafficking Day, the vice-chair of Saudi Arabia’s National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, Sarah Al-Tamimi, has been nominated by the UN Office in Drugs and Crime (UNODC) for her efforts in raising awareness against human trafficking in the Kingdom.

This year, UNODC’s campaign focused for the first time on profiling people that work in human trafficking. Nominations came from various offices around the world and Al-Tamimi was the only person from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to be chosen.

“Enhancing quality of life for all is a key pillar of Vision 2030, which is a goal we also strive for at the committee,” she said.

The US State Department upgraded Saudi Arabia’s ranking in its latest annual Trafficking in Persons Report.

The report, globally recognized as the most comprehensive analysis of anti-trafficking efforts, raised the status of Saudi Arabia from “tier 3” to “tier 2 watch list.”

It highlighted improvements in inter-ministry coordination, greater transparency and data-sharing and “significantly increased” numbers of prosecutions and convictions under the Kingdom’s anti-trafficking laws.

Al-Tamimi said that this is “an achievement we are proud of. Our goal is to reach tier 1.”

She joined the fight against human trafficking when she joined the committee in October 2019. One of her responsibilities was developing strategy.

In March, the Kingdom launched its first National Referral Mechanism. The mechanism coordinates the responsibilities of all relevant Saudi authorities in the protection of victims and the prosecution of trafficking-in-persons crimes.

“Overseeing the National Referral Mechanism is the best practice to tackle this crime,” she said.

In February, she was appointed the committee’s vice-chair. Her work includes coordination with various ministries and authorities that work together as a national team.

She oversees training programs at the committee with partners at the UNODC Office for the GCC region and the International Organization for Migration as part of her capacity-building strategy, along with coordinating protection responses for victims and potential victims of trafficking.

“Human trafficking is a crime that knows no borders, therefore neither can we who fight it,” said Al-Tamimi. “Combatting human trafficking, therefore, requires the participation of a variety of international and local actors that goes far beyond the public sector and operates in many areas –ranging from cyberspace to private-sector supply chains.”

The Kingdom’s work on countering human trafficking falls under the “four Ps of anti-trafficking”: partnerships, prevention, protection and prosecution.

“The most vulnerable are the ones who are most likely to be victims,” she added.

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Opposing sides in Yemen accept Saudi proposal to implement Riyadh agreement

Time: 29 July 2020

RIYADH: An official source on Tuesday night said that the Yemeni government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) have accepted a proposal by Saudi Arabia designed to accelerate the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement.

The proposal includes the continuation of the ceasefire that came into effect on June 22, and an announcement by the STC that it is abandoning self-rule in favor of the power-sharing Riyadh Agreement, and will appoint a governor and security director for Aden governorate. The Yemeni prime minister will form a government that includes representatives of both northern and southern Yemen within 30 days. In addition, opposing military forces will leave Aden governorate and retreat from Abyan.

Saudi Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman thanked Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and the STC for their support of the Saudi effort to accelerate the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement.

“I am optimistic and confident about its implementation and the parties coming together to put the interests of the Yemeni people first,” he said.

The Kingdom’s efforts in encouraging political leaders to talk to each other, resolve their differences and reach a consensus on the implementation of the agreement shows the potential for resolving the disagreements in Yemen peacefully through dialogue, he added.

“A major goal of the coalition to support the legitimate Yemeni government is the security, stability and return of Yemen as an active member of the Gulf and the Arab world. The Riyadh Agreement is a key factor in reaching this, in addition to supporting the efforts of the UN envoy to Yemen,” said Prince Khalid.

“The consent of the Yemeni parties to accelerate the implementation of the agreement reflects a serious desire for dialogue, the resolution of disputes, acceptance of each other, the pursuit of political partnership, and support for a comprehensive political solution to end the crisis.”

Saudi Minister for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir Tweeted: “The mechanism to accelerate the implementation of the Riyadh agreement represents an important step towards activating state institutions to serve all Yemeni citizens, in addition to supporting UN efforts to reach a comprehensive political solution to the crisis in Yemen.”

The source said that with the assistance of the UAE, representatives from the two Yemini sides met in Riyadh and agreed to the proposal as an acceptable solution to the obstacles that have prevented the implementation of the Riyadh Agreement, which was signed on Nov. 5, 2019.

They also agreed to prioritize the interests of the Yemeni people, make preparations for the government to operate from Aden, launch development projects in liberated areas, and work to end the crisis in Yemen in cooperation with the UN and its envoy.

The source added that the Saudi authorities welcomed the positive responses from the Yemeni president and the delegations of the government and the STC, while stressing the importance of both sides adhering to the agreement.

He also reaffirmed the continued support of the Saudi-led Arab coalition for the legitimate Yemeni government and the continuation of UN efforts to reach a comprehensive political solution to the crisis, in accordance with the wishes of the Yemeni people.

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Drive to combat human trafficking launched in Saudi Arabia

Time: 28 July, 2020

Awwad Al-Awwad. (SPA)

RIYADH: Awwad Al-Awwad, the president of the Saudi Human Rights Commission (HRC), on Monday, launched a campaign to mark World Day Against Trafficking in Persons.
He said global cooperation is required to eliminate this crime that constitutes a violation of human rights. Al-Awwad said the campaign has been launched at a time when the Kingdom has taken several initiatives to fight human trafficking.

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