Saudi King Salman meets Pakistani PM

SOURCE: Al Arabiya

16 April 2018

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz met with Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Monday at the location where the closing ceremony of the Gulf Shiels 1 exercise was held.

During the meeting, both leaders discussed bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan and different ways of developing them. They also discussed regional developments.

Also in attendance were Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Interior Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud, the Minister of State Dr. Musaid al-Aiban, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel al-Jubeir and the Saudi Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf al-Maliki as well as the accompanying delegation of the Pakistani prime minister.



Saudi Arabia says Arab summit wants international probe into use of chemical weapons in Syria

SOURCE: Arab News

Time: April 15, 2018

DHAHRAN: Arab League leaders on Sunday condemned the “criminal” use of chemical weapons in Syria and called for an international investigation, the Saudi foreign minister said.
Adel Al-Jubeir was speaking at a news conference after the end of an Arab League summit in Saudi Arabia, which had not mentioned Syria in a statement read out at the close.
Saudi Arabia and its allies have expressed support for the missile launch by the United States, Britain and France on Saturday against three alleged chemical weapons facilities in Syria, while Arab states like Iraq and Lebanon have condemned them.
The Syrian government denies using or possessing chemical weapons and said the strikes were an act of aggression.
Meanwhile, at a preliminary meeting in Riyadh on Thursday, Arab ministers focused heavily on blocking the embassy move, unanimously condemning US President DonaldTrump’s decision and moving to block Israel’s bid to secure at seat at the UN Security Council this June.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir however insisted Riyadh would maintain “strong, strategic” ties with Washington.
“There is no contradiction with having very strong strategic ties with the US while telling your friends where their policy should change,” Jubeir said.
“That’s what friends are for.”
“The fact that we have very strong ties with the US over history, and the Trump administration in particular, is a positive factor, not a negative factor in trying to help guide them toward a positive engagement in the Middle East,” Al-Jubeir told reporters after the summit.


Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia boost military relationship

SOURCE: Arab News

Time: April 15, 2018

DHAKA: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited Saudia Arabia on Sunday to attend the concluding ceremony of a joint military exercise named “Gulf Shield -1” hosted by the Kingdom.
An 18-member Bangladesh Armed Forces delegation has taken part in the month-long joint exercise.
It is for the first time that Bangladesh armed forces are taking part in a joint military exercise in Saudi Arabia.
Apart from Bangladesh and the host Saudi Arabia, 19 other countries have participated in the exercise with a view to increase more military coordination.
The Bangladesh premier was invited by King Salman to witness the concluding ceremony.
“The prime minister will attend the concluding ceremony of the joint military exercise,” said acting Foreign Secretary Khorshed Alam.
Bangladesh enjoys a diversified historic relationship with Saudi Arabia.
“During this visit so far, there is no schedule of any bilateral talks and after the concluding ceremony, the prime minister will fly to the UK to attend the Commonwealth Head of Government Summit,” according to Alam speaking to Arab News.
Earlier in 1990, the Bangladesh military participated in the first Gulf War. “The joining of the Bangladesh military in this joint exercise has a huge significance,” said a renowned security analyst, Maj. Gen. (retired) Abdur Radhid.
“This joint military exercise may initiate a new era of military relationship between Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia and definitely it’s a very bold decision from Bangladesh side,” said Rashid.
Bangladesh’s military has a huge prospect to work with Saudi Arabia in different capacity. “Our military can help the Saudi Arabia in maintaining security of VP (Vulnerable Points) and KPI (Key Point Installations) areas as we have earned a very high estimation in global area through the UN Peace Keeping Forces,” commented another security analyst, Major General (ret.) Helal Morshed Khan.
In the Middle Eastern countries, Bangladesh has a great interest in terms of labor market, oil purchase and religious fellow feelings. ” Bangladesh is ready to take the new opportunities this time by nurturing a close relationship with Saudi Arabia,” said Professor Dr. Delwar Hossain, a Middle East expert.


Saudi-Spanish joint venture launched for naval combat systems

SOURCE: Al Arabia English

Time: 14 April, 2018



The Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) and Spanish firm Navantia on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) to create a joint venture that will manage and localize naval combat systems activity including integration and installation.

The signing ceremony took place in Madrid during the official visit of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in his presence along with the Spanish Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy.

The MoA was signed by Ahmed Al-Khateeb, Chairman of SAMI, and Esteban García Vilasánchez, Chairman of Navantia.

Both parties also inked a Letter of Intent (LoI) to design and build five Avante 2200 corvettes including Combat Management System, for the Ministry of Defense of Saudi Arabia.

Al-Khateeb, Chairman of SAMI, explained that the agreement comes in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and following the announcement of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to localize 50 percent of the total military spending by 2030.

“As one of the ambitious outcomes of the Crown Prince’s vision, SAMI is currently exploring all collaboration and localization opportunities to build a strong autonomous military industries ecosystem,” he said.

“Navantia is committed to partnering with Saudi Arabia and determined to expand its presence in the Saudi and regional market,” Al-Khateeb added.

Once operational, new joint venture (JV) will focus on program management and combat system integration and ‎installation, system engineering, system architecture, hardware design, and software ‎development, testing and verfication, prototyping, simulation, and modelling.

Saudi fleet readiness

Esteban García Vilasánchez, Chairman of Navantia, said: “We are delighted to be working with our friends in Saudi Arabia, and we are proud of the trust Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman places in Navantia, and our ability to contribute to achieving the objectives of the Saudi Vision 2030 through this joint venture. The historical relationship between the two kingdoms [Spain and Saudi Arabia] dates back more than six decades, and we look forward to continuing our successful partnership in support of the Kingdom’s national security and technology development needs.”

The MoA will further solidify the relationship between Navantia and Saudi Arabian Military Industry company (SAMI). The resulting JV will contribute in maintaining the readiness of the Saudi military fleet.

In addition, the agreement will create approximately 1,000 jobs and training opportunities for Saudi youth, and augment the participation of Saudi nationals in the industry, contributing towards the objectives of the Kingdom’s comprehensive Vision 2030 plan.


At Riyadh meeting, Arab quartet sticks to their demands from Qatar

SOURCE: Al Arabia English

Time: 13 April, 2018

Foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE and Bahrain held a consultative meeting on the sidelines of the Arab ministerial meeting on Thursday ahead of the 29th Arab summit to be held in Riyadh, reported Saudi Press Agency.

The ministers discussed the latest developments in the regional and international arenas and issues of common concern.

They affirmed their countries’ steadfast positions in combating extremism and terrorism, rejecting any attempts to interfere in the affairs of the Arab countries from outside the region.

They stressed their solidarity and continuing coordination to maintain security and stability in the Arab region as a whole.

The ministers discussed the developments of the crisis, stressing the position of the four boycotting countries and the need for the State of Qatar to meet the list of 13 demands that were put forward and adhere to the six principles agreed upon in Cairo and Manama as a necessary basis for establishing a normal relationship.

The ministers also agreed to continue coordination and consultation among them during the next phase.


No solution to Qatar crisis at Arab Summit: Saudi foreign minister

SOURCE: Gulf News

Time: April 13, 2018


RIYADH:  Qatar crisis — which was triggered after Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain, cut ties with Qatar over its support of terrorism — is not on the table at the upcoming meeting of Arab League states, Riyadh’s foreign minister said Thursday.

“The solution of Qatar will be within the GCC,” or the six-state Gulf Cooperation Council, Foreign Minister Adel Al Jubeir told reporters in Riyadh ahead of the Arab Summit.

He was responding to an AFP question on whether the crisis was on the agenda at the meeting on Sunday, which is hosted by Saudi Arabia and joins 21 of the 22 Arab League member states.

Syria is technically a member of the league but has been suspended from the summit since 2011 over the government’s role in the war there.

Qatar has confirmed its attendance at the Saudi summit.

Riyadh and its allies broke off relations with Doha in June, accusing it of fostering close links with Tehran and supporting extremists.


Saudis shoot down new Al Houthi missile

SOURCE: Gulf News

Time: April 13, 2018

Riyadh: Saudi air defences intercepted a missile fired by Yemeni rebels at the kingdom’s southern city of Jizan on Thursday, the Saudi-led coalition fighting the rebels said, the latest in a series of such attacks.

“The missile was fired at Jizan indiscriminately with the aim of hitting civilian areas,” a coalition spokesman told the official Saudi Press Agency.

“It was successfully intercepted… and the debris fell on a residential neighbourhood… but no casualties or damage was reported.”

A missile was launched from Sada’, the stronghold of Iran-backed Al Houthi rebels in northern Yemen, the coalition added.

The attack was claimed by the rebels via their news outlet Al Masirah.

The strike comes after Saudi forces on Wednesday said they intercepted rebel ballistic missiles fired at Riyadh and the south of the kingdom, where two drones were also shot down.


The increased importance of cultural diplomacy

SOURCE: Arab News

Time: April 13, 2018


Joseph Nye coined the term “soft power” in the 1980s, explaining that whereas hard power relies on coercion, power can also be derived from attraction and persuasion. Writing in the pre-Internet era, his work has been transformed by the speed and volume of information exchange in the digital age.
Within this crowded environment, culture is an important tool in allowing states to project themselves. As a currency of soft power, culture has an important role in influencing public opinion through increasing the cultural appeal of states.
Cultural diplomacy is not a phenomenon of the digital age; it has existed for centuries. Explorers and traders have acted as cultural ambassadors, facilitating cultural exchanges in language, art, science, religion and business. Rome gave the known world a legal system, central authority and the clear parameters of the state. Britain’s mastery of the seas made the English language the lingua franca of international business.
Despite the colossal footprint of the US overseas, Britain and France continue to top soft-power rankings, in great part due to their cultural attractiveness. Investment in cultural diplomacy is central to successfully navigating the ever-changing international system.
Cultural diplomacy is broadly a force for good. The establishment of frequent exchanges of information, and a willingness to share culture, are clear examples of deliberate efforts to invest in cultural diplomacy.
Historically, the interaction of peoples, and the exchange of languages and ideas, have broadly improved relationships between people. Chinese green tea is central to Moroccan culture, and chillies from the Americas are what gave Indian food its spice. Whereas cultural diplomacy was once on the periphery of international relations, it is now a growing focus for practitioners, becoming a theory in its own right.


“In an age where posts are shared within seconds across borders, it is imperative that governments that seek to have an impact invest in making their nations more attractive.”

Zaid M. Belbagi


Relations between divergent groups can either be governed by hard or soft power. But the deployment of military might can have long-term consequences, and is a somewhat blunt tool to achieve influence. Cultural diplomacy can allow states to be more attractive.
Professor Simon Anholt, who conceived the term “nation branding,” argues that in the last century the international system has grown more competitive; in a world of customers and competitors, the profile of countries is of great importance.
From the standpoint of attracting trade and competing for influence, “countries with powerful and positive reputations spend less to achieve more, while those with weak or negative reputations spend more to achieve less. In short, countries with a good image trade at a premium; those without trade at a discount.”
Concerning smaller states, their size prohibits them from projecting force to a transformational degree. Lacking the strategic mass to hugely influence military matters, cultural diplomacy is of great importance.
Though military force has historically been the favored approach of governments to achieve their aims, the increased connectivity of the globalized international system favors the importance of exchange as opposed to conflict to guarantee prosperity.
Successive French governments have taken issue with the domestic policies of the Arab states. But now, under a new administration, it seems the government is only too keen to become involved in cultural pursuits across the region. The loaning of billions of dollars in art and antiquities to the Abu Dhabi Louvre, and the readiness to get involved in Al-Ula project, reflect a longer-term strategy to influence allies by projecting French culture.
The decision to involve France in Al-Ula illustrates how impressive its cultural influence is. A member of the Saudi delegation to Paris noted: “There is nobody better than the French to whom to entrust this task. We will be relying heavily on French expertise in preserving and promoting our culture.”
As he came to rule a large and disparate empire ravaged by civil war, Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus reformed coinage to display his face. That did more to unify the multilingual and multi-ethnic peoples of the empire than the endless campaigns that Rome’s legions embarked on.
Soft power relies heavily on culture. In an age where posts are shared within seconds across borders, and speeches are televised and kept as a record online, it is imperative that governments that seek to have an impact invest in making their nations more attractive. The traveling business people of today are inundated with choices of where to invest. In this context, building a positive image is critical to the long-term prosperity of nations.


Mohammed bin Salman’s visit breaks new ground in Saudi-US relations

SOURCE:Al Arabiya

13 April 2018

Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman’s successful visit to US can be called truly historical. If we review the character of the meetings and the route of his long trip, we can understand why it can be called historical. Historical not only for Saudi Arabia, but also for the whole Gulf region and the Arab world.

This year it will be 80 years since the oil production began in Saudi Arabia in 1938. It is notable that the anniversary of the first oil-production coincides with the efforts of Saudi Arabia to shift away from oil dependency, diversify its economy and leapfrog into the era of high technology.

If you look at the kind of businessmen Mohammad Bin Salman chose to meet with during his trip, you will find that the majority of them are not representatives of old banks, oil companies and metallurgical giants, but businesspersons from high-tech industry, people that have built their billion-dollar businesses from scratch. The Prince understands that the future will be driven by high-tech and it will be the creative people who will drive this technolgy. We live in a world where a portal selling various goods can be more profitable than a large factory and respectively can cost more.

Investments, jobs

Certain businesspersons the Crown Prince met with already do business in the Kingdom, others not yet. However, if at least some of those who met with the Crown Prince will come to Saudi Arabia or expand their business in KSA, it promises multi-billion investments and many jobs for highly qualified local and foreign specialists.

The article in Washington Post published by the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to USA and Mohammad Bin Salman’s brother Prince Khalid Bin Salman, may be interesting in terms of understanding the plans and intentions of Mohammed Bin Salman.

Prince Khalid writes in his article: “Seldom in human history do countries peacefully and voluntarily embark upon a resolute course correction to recalibrate a national economy and expand societal norms — without compromising religious sensibilities. Yet that is precisely what the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is attempting to do.

If you look at the kind of businessmen Mohammad Bin Salman chose to meet with during his trip, you will find that the majority of them are not representatives of old banks, oil companies and metallurgical giants, but businesspersons from high-tech industry, people that have built their billion-dollar businesses from scratch

Ali Hajizade

For decades, the Kingdom lived according to social and cultural norms that went unchallenged, thus inhibiting our progress. But our leaders have set a new course that aims to transform our economy and society, and unlock our untapped potential.”

I think these words express the mood of the Prince and his team. I want to stress that such a mood is typical not only for the Prince’s team, but also for many Saudis I was privileged to meet with, during my visit to Riyadh earlier this year.

Epochal reforms in Saudi Arabia in the area of women’s rights and their involvement in the social life, changes in business world can now already be called historical achievements of Saudi Arabia. However, Prince Mohammad Bin Salman and King Salman bin Abdul Aziz do not intend to stop there.

One of the main plans of the Prince-reformer is the implementation of ‘Vision 2030’ plan. In case of successful implementation of this plan, we will witness an enormous positive shift for Saudi Arabia and this shift will affect almost all fields of activity in the Kingdom, including Saudi society.

Such epochal changes in the country, of course, will have a positive effect on the region and the completely Arab world.

Neom City project

The Neom City project alone is enough. In case of successful implementation of this project, billion-dollar investments can flow into the Kingdom. In addition, great minds from all over the world will be able to live and work there, thereby making Saudi Arabia the leading state in high technology in the Islamic world. This visit and its success can determine the success of such an ambitious project as ‘Neom’.

Nevertheless, we should remember that apart from the Prince’s determination and desire of the progressive part of the population, there is a need for stability in the region, to implement such ambitious plans.

The main threat to the stability in the Middle East is the Iranian expansionist policy towards the Arab neighbors. I am sure that the Iranian issue was the overriding theme of his meeting with President Donald Trump.

The Prince’s visit was also highlighted in American mass media, and even though certain “liberal” and “leftist” authors in USA much prefer the Iranian ‘mullocracy’ to Saudi Arabia’s aspiration to reforms and modernization, in general, mass media paid special attention to the Prince’s visit, his personality and plans for modernization. This can be considered a success for the Prince as well as for Saudi Arabia, which shows the world its new face and new opportunities.

Saudi Arabia, Spain exploring new horizons: Experts

SOURCE: Arab News

Time: April 11, 2018


Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is scheduled to meet King Felipe VI in Madrid during his official visit to Spain.

The crown prince’s stopover follows a two-day official visit to France and a tour lasting several weeks in the US. He began his current foreign trip — to promote the Kingdom as a growing investment hub in line with Saudi Vision 2030 — in Egypt, before traveling to Britain for another official visit.

Mohammed Al-Khunaizi, a Shoura Council member, told Arab News: “The visit assumes great significance as the two countries share cordial relations and the Kingdom is looking for key partners in line with the National Transformation Program and Vision 2030.”

“The focus during the visit is more on expanding cooperation in diversified fields including defense, security, digital economy, renewable energy and the investment sector,” he said.

Majed bin Abdullah Al-Hedayan, a Riyadh-based analyst and legal adviser, told Arab News: “The visit of the crown prince is aimed at promoting a new strategic partnership between the two countries.”

“It will be supportive of cooperation in future investments in the knowledge economy and renewable energy in line with Vision 2030,” he said.

The Kingdom and Spain have shared common approaches toward many global and regional issues, notably the peace process in the Middle East where the two sides have played a significant role: Spain through the Madrid Peace Conference (1991) and Saudi Arabia through the Arab Peace Initiative proposed by King Salman (crown prince at the time), which later developed into an initiative adopted by the Arab League Summit in Beirut in 2002.

King Felipe VI visited Riyadh in January 2017, and while speaking at the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry he said that bilateral relations between the two countries rested on long-standing historical and cultural ties. The Kingdom and Spain are close business allies.

The volume of trade between the two countries annually is estimated at more than $3.5 billion, with a focus on commodities including chemicals, metal products, medical supplies and wooden products.

Saudi Arabia is reportedly Spain’s third largest Arab partner and ranked 12th among exporter countries to Spain from outside the EU.

The countries also share close cultural ties. Roads of Arabia, the premier exhibition of Saudi archaeological masterpieces which highlights the Kingdom’s cultural heritage internationally, began in 2010 at the Louvre Museum in Paris, then moved to Barcelona.

The Roads of Arabia exhibition was hosted by the La Caixa Foundation in Barcelona from Nov. 12, 2010 to Feb. 27, 2011.

Another example of close historical and cultural ties was the “From Qurtuba to Cordoba” exhibition in Riyadh in 2013.