Emir of Kuwait thanks King Salman for efforts to resolve Gulf dispute


  • Progress made to end the dispute between Gulf countries is an achievement that will restore unity: Emir
  • Saudi FM said the Kingdom was committed to the “diplomatic resolution of regional tensions”

LONDON: The emir of Kuwait thanked King Salman on Saturday for his efforts to resolve regional tensions.
In a letter that he sent to the king, Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah said the Kingdom’s representation of the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt reflects its prestigious position and its pioneering role in seeking to support security and stability in the region.
The emir added that it also shows Saudi Arabia’s keenness on solidarity and unity in light of the delicate conditions that the world and the region face.
Saudi Arabia – along with the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt – severed diplomatic ties with Doha in June 2017. They accused Qatar of supporting regional extremist organizations and terrorist groups, and want the country to change its policies as a condition for dialogue.

Progress made to end the dispute between Gulf countries “is an achievement that will restore our Gulf entity and our joint Arab action, its unity and cohesion in facing the challenges that plague the whole world. It will also enable us to work together in order to achieve the legitimate hopes and aspirations of our peoples for security, stability, prosperity and well-being,” the emir said.
Sheikh Nawaf’s comments come as Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said the Kingdom was committed to the “diplomatic resolution of regional tensions,” during the IISS Manama Dialogue on Saturday.
“The Kingdom continues to demonstrate its commitment to the diplomatic resolution of regional tensions and maintaining multilateral frameworks to tackle the challenges we face today,” Prince Faisal said.

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Saudi Arabia ‘safest among G20 countries,’ indicators say

Time: 01 December 2020

Saudi Arabia’s progress has led to the Kingdom ranking first among G20 nations for safety, outperforming the five permanent members of the UN Security Council (UNSC), international safety indicators have shown. (Shutterstock/File Photo)

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia has topped the list as the most secure country according to international indicators related to security, outperforming the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

The results were revealed through five security indicators included in the Global Competitiveness Report 2019,and the Sustainable Development Goals Index 2020.

The Kingdom ranked first among the G20 countries, ahead of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, surpassing China and Canada among the G20, and surpassing China and the US in the “Feeling safe while walking alone at night” index for this year.

Saudi Arabia also came first in the citizens’ confidence in police services index, which measures confidence in security and effectiveness in enforcing law and order.

Saudi Arabia also ranked first in the reliability of police services index, an indicator which measures public confidence in law enforcement and its success in achieving order and safety. The Kingdom topped the G20, and surpassed the five permanent UN Security Council members in this index, too.

Saudi Arabia ranked third among the G20 countries, after Australia and Japan and ahead of Canada, South Korea, France and Germany in the Security Index for 2019 issued by the Global Competitiveness Report. The Kingdom also surpassed, in the same index, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.

The Global Competitiveness Report, issued by the World Economic Forum, showed that the Kingdom advanced three places to rank 36th internationally in terms of international competitiveness. The report indicated that the Kingdom is making rapid steps to diversify its economy, with expectations of growth in the non-oil sector, and that more investments outside the mining sector will appear in succession in the public and private sectors in the coming years.

The report commended Saudi Arabia’s clear insistence on carrying out structural reforms and its widespread adoption of communication technology, with the high potential for innovation, especially in the field of patent registration.

The Global Competitiveness Report, published annually, is designed to support and help policymakers, business leaders and stakeholders identify policies and practices best suited for long-term measures to assess their progress.

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Prominent communications executive hails Saudi Arabia’s ‘admirable’ Hajj and G20 amid COVID-19

Time: 01 November 2020


LONDON: According to one of the UK’s most prominent communications executives, Muddassar Ahmed, Saudi Arabia has “not only done an admirable job but has set a precedent for other nations to follow” with regard to its handling of Hajj amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The Kingdom’s decision to suspend the Hajj pilgrimage during the pandemic was a brave one, all the more so because it is a religious occasion that hundreds of thousands of people spend their lives preparing for,” Ahmed, the founder of Unitas Communications, told Arab News.

“To tell people making a once-in-a-lifetime journey that their plans must be put on hold cannot have been easy. But it was without a doubt the right thing to do. In our religion, the protection and preservation of life are of paramount value,” he added.

Ahmed, one of the UK’s top 1000 most influential people, also praised the Kingdom’s handling of the G20 summit last month after deciding to go fully virtual, calling it “absolutely the correct course of action.”

“In both instances, Saudi Arabia has set a precedent for other countries to follow. We can contrast its proactive, forward-thinking and compassionate approach, as well as its own COVID-19 statistics, with other countries’ track records,” he said.

Countering extremism as a British Muslim

Ahmed is not only known for his role as a communications expert, but also as a leading figure in the Muslim community in the UK, countering hate speech and the rise of extremism as an advisor to the British government on anti-Muslim hatred.

“As a born-and-bred British Muslim, this is not just important to me on a policy level but on a deeply personal level. I have dedicated my life to improving relationships between Muslim and other communities and I believe that, through Unitas and other projects I have dedicated myself to, we have made tremendous progress in improving the image and position of Muslims in Britain and the West,” Ahmed, who was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims worldwide three times, said.

Before founding Unitas, Ahmed was an activist campaigning against the Iraq war and founder/host of East London’s Radio Ramadan shows.

“I soon realized that adversarial campaigning only went so far. I was concerned by the growing divide between Muslims and wider society, between the Islamic world and the West, and I wanted — I needed — to help heal these divides, to bridge these allegedly irreconcilable narratives,” he explained.

Soon after, he teamed up with fellow East Londoner and childhood classmate Shiraz Ahmad to give birth to the world’s first public relations agency dedicated to bridging the gap between the Islamic and Western worlds: Unitas Communications.

One of the group’s first clients was the National Health Service, which needed to access hard-to-reach minority communities in East London.

It was not long before their work earned the attention of people invested in efforts to do the same. A few years after the start of the Iraq War and after the 7/7 2005 London terrorist attacks, community cohesion in the UK was at an all-time low.

The UN’s Alliance of Civilizations then reached out to Unitas to “see minority and Muslim communities have the training and develop the skills necessary to engage effectively and constructively in wider British society.”

Ahmed and Unitas’s work is not restricted to the UK alone, with the group and its founder earning praise and recognition from former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and by the City of New York.

Brexit and what is to come

While many businesses have been critical of Brexit and its potential consequences, Ahmed looks to the bright side of matters and instead calls it “an opportunity for Britain to reset its narrative on the world stage.”

“I have every confidence in the ability of the British nation to reinvent itself,” he added, explaining that “Unitas operations extend across continents in order to connect people, cultures and ideas and to make communicating effective and impactful.”

With regard to what the future holds for Unitas in such uncertain times, Ahmed remains optimistic.

“The future will see Unitas continuing to work with leading international brands and expanding its presence across Europe and the Middle East and deeper into Southeast Asia. But I should also say that a major priority for us has always been the US. We’ve had major American clients, like the National Football League and the US State Department,” he said.

“We will continue to choose clients who contribute to making the world a more understanding place, and we will engage those relationships to improve the world, to leave things better off than where they were when we started.

Because this work isn’t just a business to me or my team. It’s a moral calling.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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MWL, UPEACE join hands to promote peace, civilized dialogue

Time: 26 November 2020

MWL Secretary-General Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa (shown on screen) presides over a meeting on Thursday. (SPA)

RIYADH: The Muslim World League (MWL) and the UN-mandated University for Peace (UPEACE) have launched a book dedicated to the promotion of peace, human rights, and dialogue among civilizations.

The work, co-authored by 32 leading religious, international, political, intellectual, and media figures from around the world, was launched in Jeddah to mark the UN’s 75th anniversary and 100 years of multilateralism.

Dr. Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the MWL, said: “I have always said that 10 percent of humans are capable of bringing peace and harmony to our world.

“Religious leaders and public and private institutions, including international institutions, have a responsibility to contribute effectively to achieving our common aspirations.

“A civilized alliance must be reached that represents the reality of understanding, tolerance, and cooperation of all, as well as promoting awareness of the fact that God has established the principles of difference, diversity, and pluralism.”

Al-Issa added: “History has given us lessons and sermons that prove that there is no victor in civilizational clashes and conflicts, which means that ideas can only be communicated through wisdom and mutual respect.”

Alvaro Iranzo Gutierrez, the Spanish ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said Spain had also tried to play a role in international efforts aimed at providing a structure for dialogue between communities and religions.

He pointed out that the book’s research, coordinated by UPEACE and the MWL, provided “the necessary and comprehensive intellectual refutation of all the negatives in order to rise above the perceptions of the past that highlights divisions.”

Francisco J. Chacon Hernandez, Costa Rica’s ambassador to the UAE and Jordan, congratulated the MWL and UPEACE on the “inspiring” work that he said would help pave the way for peace.

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Saudi Arabia to make coronavirus vaccine free for citizens and residents

Time: 24 November 2020

Muslim pilgrims wearing protective face masks arrive to circle the Kaaba at the Grand mosque during the annual Haj pilgrimage amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia July 29, 2020. (Reuters)
  • It hopes the vaccines would cover 70 percent of the Kingdom’s population by the end of 2021

JEDDAH: The Saudi Ministry of Health is aiming to offer free vaccines to 70 percent of citizens and expats in the Kingdom who have not yet contracted the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Officials are hoping to have met the target for inoculations by the end of next year.

“Those who have not tested positive for COVID-19 will be given priority in the vaccine campaign in the coming months,” said Dr. Abdullah Asiri, the ministry’s assistant undersecretary for preventive health.

However, under-16s are not to be vaccinated unless research or tests prove there to be a need, he added.

He noted that the Kingdom planned to announce a clear schedule of vaccinations arrival to the country in the coming weeks.

“The Kingdom worked on two paths to obtain the vaccine, through the COVAX organization, which the G20 had a role in creating and financing.

“Saudi Arabia will obtain a large amount of vaccines through this facility, while the second track is direct contracting with the big companies to cover the gap that cannot be covered through COVAX,” Asiri said.

COVAX is a global initiative aimed at working with vaccine manufacturers to provide countries around the world with equitable access to safe and effective vaccines once they are licensed and approved.

Asiri pointed out that obtaining effective vaccines required a long preparation plan and supply chain, and time for the vaccine to arrive in large enough quantities to the countries requiring it.


The Kingdom plans to announce a clear schedule of vaccine arrival in the coming weeks.

“Therefore, what will be released this year is not expected to be in the large quantities that would affect the pandemic’s trajectory, which isn’t expected before mid-2021,” he added.

Assistant to the minister of health and official spokesman, Dr. Muhammad Al-Abd Al-Aly, said that the ministry would only provide COVID-19 vaccines that were effective against the virus, had no side effects, and were approved by the authorities concerned with granting licenses.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia recorded 19 new COVID-19-related deaths on Monday taking to 5,796 the total number of people in the country who had now died after contracting the virus.

There were 231 new cases reported in the Kingdom, putting the total so far at 355,489. Officials said 5,877 cases were still active, of which 765 patients were in a serious or critical condition.

According to the Ministry of Health, 46 of the newly recorded cases were in Riyadh, 18 in Makkah and Jeddah, and 11 in Madinah.

In addition, 445 patients had recovered from COVID-19, moving the total number of recoveries in the Kingdom up to 343,816.

Saudi Arabia has so far conducted 9,295,599 polymerase chain reaction tests, with 40,395 carried out in the last 24 hours.

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G20 envoys laud Saudi presidency

Time: 23 November 2020

This handout photo provided by G20 Riyadh Summit, shows Saudi King Salman, center, and the rest of world leaders during a virtual G20 summit hosted by Saudi Arabia and held over video conference amid the Covid-19 pandemic, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. (AP)
  • Ambassadors approve of proposal that the G20 hold two summits each year

RIYADH: The ambassadors from the G20 states on Monday praised the Saudi presidency for undertaking such a huge task under extraordinary circumstances and providing a clear direction for tackling the coronavirus crisis.

After the Riyadh Summit concluded on Sunday, King Salman formally handed over the rotating presidency to Italy, which will hold the 2021 summit.

Speaking ahead of the closing remarks Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman recommended holding two G20 summits — a virtual event in the middle of the year and a physical summit later.

Italian ambassador Roberto Cantone told Arab News: “The Kingdom has given proof of excellent organization. The Saudi presidency has worked since the beginning to adapt the original program to the challenges of the reality.”

“The Saudi president managed to catalyze G20 action to tackle one of the most pressing global emergencies of our time. This has been done in a very comprehensive manner, focusing both on the health emergency and on the socioeconomic impact of the pandemic,” he said.

He said the incoming Italian presidency will build on the legacy that Saudi Arabia has left.

South Korean ambassador Jo Byung-wook said: “The G20 Summit this year once again proved itself to be the premier forum for international economic cooperation. It would not have been possible without Saudi Arabia’s tremendous efforts leading all G20 member countries to invest their resources in responding to the global crisis.”

The Kingdom has given proof of excellent organization.

Roberto Cantone, Italian ambassador

“Saudi Arabia demonstrated its leadership and competence to the world by successfully hosting two summits this year,” he added. “In this respect, as suggested by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, holding two G20 summits annually would actively utilize this global forum with proven effectiveness.”

Japanese ambassador Tsukasa Uemura told Arab News: “The summit successfully provided a clear direction for the international community in the midst of the crisis, which is significantly meaningful in such a difficult year.”

“Saudi Arabia has demonstrated tremendous leadership in delivering clear and vital messages to the international community that the G20 would take the lead in creating an international order for the post-corona world,” he added.

EU ambassador Patrick Simonnet said: “We have very much appreciated the Saudi presidency for holding the Extraordinary Summit in March, where G20 leaders discussed the most urgent consequences of the pandemic on all aspects of our lives.”

Praising the Kingdom for the G20 Summit’s success Chinese ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chen Weiqing tweeted: “A friend sent me a message from China that amid the uncrecedented pandemic Saudi Arabia has achieved exceptional success in chairing the G20 over virtual conferences, and he was very impressed. I agree, as the Kingdom has won the respect and appreciation of the world.”

Mexican ambassador Anibal Gomez-Toledo noted: “The crown prince’s proposal to hold two G20 annual summits could have potential and should be further discussed by the group’s members.”

Indonesian ambassador Agus Maftuh Abegebriel told Arab News: “We acknowledge the recommendation made by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on holding two summits. It would surely be beneficial to the economic recovery.

He said the Saudi presidency has proven that the G20 Summit can also be held virtually and prove effective.

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Saudi crown prince, Brazil’s Bolsonaro discuss G20 coordination


Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro (L) shakes hands with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as they attend a meeting on the digital economy at the G20 Summit in Osaka on June 28, 2019. (Photo by Jacques Witt / POOL / AFP)

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro (L) shakes hands with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as they attend a meeting on the digital economy at the G20 Summit in Osaka. (File/AFP)
  • They also discussed bilateral relations and ways to enhance them
  • Riyadh will host 15 G20 Summit on Nov. 21 and 22

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman telephoned Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Friday, Saudi Press Agency reported.

During the call, they discussed bilateral relations between the two countries and ways to enhance them, as well as ways to coordinate efforts made within the activities of the G20 leaders’ summit that the Kingdom will host from Saturday.

Saudi Arabia assumed presidency of the G20 on Dec 1, 2019 and is set to host the 15th two-day annual summit in the capital Riyadh on Nov. 21-22.

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Saudi Arabia’s success in eliminating extremism praised


JEDDAH: The secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen, confirmed that the speech of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, in which he thanked King Salman, according to his speech before the Shoura Council, was characterized by transparency in all local affairs, including achievements made by Saudi Arabia in a short period of time.
He praised the assurance of the crown prince that the Kingdom combated terrorism and extremism by eliminating the ideological project that was made for 40 years, as Saudi citizens showed their tolerance and reject extremist ideas. “The crown prince’s digression explained that Islam criminalized terrorist operations and prohibited bloodshed.”

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Setting Saudi Arabia’s image straight, one podcast at a time


I see Western media put a negative spin on our country, so I wanted to show it in a different light, said Mohammad Islam, Saudi podcaster of Mo Show. Right: Lana Nazer, yoga and wellness teacher, a guest on the show. (Supplied)

Mohammad Islam who began Mo Show in UK during lockdown wanted to remove misconceptions about Kingdom
JEDDAH: With the spike in the number of podcast listeners this year, there has been an increase in podcasters as well. “Mo Show” is one such podcast, with just one goal: “To set the narrative about Saudi Arabia straight.”

The “Mo Show” is a way to show Saudis and the outside world what the real Saudi Arabia is like, said Mohammad Islam, 37, who started the show in lockdown in the UK.
“I see Western media put a negative spin on our country and not really talking about the positives, so I wanted to show it in a different light,” he told Arab News.
The podcast focuses on what is changing in the country, including women’s empowerment and their rapidly growing role in the Kingdom, and its progress in general.
The show’s four pillars are female empowerment, personal stories, business, and tech.
“I like the element of personal stories heard from entrepreneurs, startups, people who got out of the corporate life and started businesses of their own, which is commonly seen in the restaurant industry and the health and fitness sector. So, I wanted to highlight that,” said Islam.
“In a nutshell, I want to highlight the progress of Saudi Arabia,” he added.
The idea of the podcast was inspired when he was looking at American podcasters and wanted to have a say on the misconceptions about his own country.
He called some of his close friends and recorded a few episodes. “That was when it started looking doable. I looked at the areas that are changing and decided to focus on that,” he said.
Islam has lived in the UK for a long time and defines English as one of his strengths. The idea of starting a podcast came to him during the lockdown introduced to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease.

• The ‘Mo Show’ is a way to show Saudis and the outside world what the real Saudi Arabia is like.

• The podcast focuses on what is changing in the country, including women’s rapidly growing role in the Kingdom.

• The show’s four pillars are female empowerment, personal stories, business, and tech.

“The lockdown made me take life at my own pace, and when I wasn’t rushing I was more in touch with my mind and my ideas. I also had a lot of time to observe the world and see what it is that I am doing and what I want to do,” he said.
The target audience at first was the English speaking majority of the globe, but later it became anyone who lives in or visited Saudi Arabia, “or anyone who has an open mind and curiosity about this country.

“The reason why I changed the target audience was that I realized that there are a lot of Saudis that don’t know what’s happening in their country,” he said. “That’s when I realized that it is for Saudis as well as pan-Arabs.”
It came as a surprise to the podcaster that pan-Arabs were interested, but he later realized they were the most curious about what was happening in Saudi Arabia and had very little information about it.
Islam was able to provide them a seat at his table as he discussed the progress of the country with his guests.
The guests are not strictly Saudi — one of his episodes featured an expat from South Africa who shared his experience of seeing the country progress over the past five years. He also talked about the negative image of the Kingdom as being an unsafe country, whereas, for him, it is the “safest country” he has ever been to.
Islam would like to see more Saudis joining podcasting. “We still have a lot of space for them, we can have many more podcasters which will allow us to amplify the positivity,” he said.
“It doesn’t have to be in English … (if you speak other languages) we can let our voices reach those countries and show them what the real Saudi Arabia is like.”
The podcast adopts an interpretation mechanism for all episodes to ensure that the information reaches the widest range of audience, and is also advertised on social media on a weekly basis.
“The importance of this initiative increases as it is a basic source for the transmission of information in various fields, specifically for the average citizen in America and Europe who follows up and interacts with what matters to him in terms of events, whether they are economic, political, religious or social events,” said Islam.

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India and Saudi Arabia ‘partners in post-pandemic world,’ says envoy to Riyadh

Time: 11 November 2020

Royal cenotaphs in Jaipur, India. (Shutterstock)
  • Kingdom’s ‘shining example’ shows people’s welfare is top priority, Indian envoy says

RIYADH: With the G20 2020 presidency Saudi Arabia has demonstrated that the health and welfare of the people is a top priority, and has undertaken all necessary steps to control the spread of the coronavirus, according to Indian Ambassador to the Kingdom Ausaf Sayeed.

In an interview with Arab News the envoy said: “The conduct of a very successful Hajj under extraordinary circumstances, bearing in mind all the health protocols, was a shining example of this.”

On managing the G20 amid the pandemic, he said: “The swift decision to organise a virtual summit in March 2020, when the dangers of the pandemic were just beginning to emerge globally, is evidence of the fact that the Kingdom handled the situation admirably.

“While the world would have hoped for a summit which would have brought all the leaders together in one place and experience the generous hospitality of the Kingdom, the decision to hold the summit virtually, bearing in mind the dangers of the pandemic that continue to linger, is well appreciated,” Sayeed added.

On shouldering the responsibility to help the world move forward and the importance of the summit in Riyadh, the Indian envoy said: “Given the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, the role of the G20 has increased manifold.

The health, economic and social impact globally of COVID-19 needs coordinated efforts towards solutions that a platform like the G20, which includes two-thirds of the world’s population and 85 percent of the global economy, is well suited to deliver.”

The economic impact of the pandemic on all affected countries has exposed the challenges that we continue to face in terms of poverty and inequality, he said. As we have seen, the pandemic knows no national boundaries, and has affected the poorest the most. Apart from the tragic loss of lives, there has been an economic slowdown that has severely affected the livelihoods of the most vulnerable.

The expectation from the Riyadh G20 presidency, held under the theme “Realizing Opportunities of the 21st Century for All,” is that a consensus will be built around the steps that the world, led by the G20 countries, will take to transition towards economic recovery that will help people regain lost livelihoods and provide the healing touch to those most severely affected by the pandemic, he explained.

It can also build systems and strategies that will better prepare the world for the challenges of the future.

On the hosting of the G20 Summit in Riyadh — the first time by an Arab country — the envoy said: “Saudi Arabia being the largest economy in one of the most important geopolitical regions of the world, it is only fitting
that the G20 Summit is being hosted by the Kingdom at this critical moment.”

Apart from being one of the world’s foremost producers and exporters of energy, Saudi Arabia is transforming rapidly under the Vision 2030 through diversification of its economy and development of a vibrant society under the wise and able leadership of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ausaf Sayeed.

“The G20 presidency during these challenging times is yet another testimony to the significant leadership role that the Kingdom has played and will continue to play in dealing with the most pressing issues that matter to the entire world,” the envoy said.

He went on to say that India shares an excellent history of relations with Saudi Arabia, and the two countries have seen many high-level visits in recent years that have progressively transformed the bilateral relationship into a strategic partnership.

On the economic front, Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth-largest trading partner and supplies around 18 percent of India’s crude oil requirement and 30 percent of its LPG needs, he said.

There is even greater scope to increase trade and investments between the two countries, he added. There are several sectors in which India and Saudi Arabia can work closely in the post-pandemic world.

In the virtual summit in March, Prime Minister Narendra Modi elaborated on India’s role in forging a collaborated response against COVID-19, he added.

Thanks to its leadership in medical research and pharmaceuticals, India is playing its part in the global fight against the pandemic, as a “pharmacy to the world,” delivering medicines and equipment to countries that need them the most. It is also at the forefront of vaccine development, he added.

As an important member of the G20 and as a developing country with one-sixth of the global population, India’s focus is on ensuring growth through the development of fair and equitable systems and frameworks.

Sayeed said: “The G20 provides an important platform for both India and Saudi Arabia to work even more closely on various issues, with particular focus on those that concern developing countries the most.”

“This is particularly significant as India is set to assume the G20 presidency in 2022, the 75th year of its independence, and continue to take forward the agenda of global cooperation,” he added.

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