$100m Saudi aid hailed by Palestinian PM

Time: 08 June, 2020

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad yesterday hailed an emergency $ 100 million donation received from Saudi Arabia after Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas visited the Kingdom recently.
“Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and the Palestinian people thank Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah after he instructed the Saudi Finance Ministry to transfer $ 100 million to the Palestinian Authority treasury at the request of President Mahmud Abbas,” Fayyad’s office said, according to an AFP report. The money, the office added, would “support the Palestinian Authority and assist them in overcoming the financial crisis they are suffering from.”
Abbas on Friday had asked King Abdullah for emergency financial assistance for his West Bank Palestinian Authority government, which is facing a shortfall that officials have said is the worst in the government’s history. On Friday, the top Palestinian diplomat in Riyadh, Jamal Shobaki, told AFP that the PA’s debts stood at $ 1.5 billion.
Citing statistics from Fayyad’s government, Shobaki said an estimated $ 500 million was needed in urgent aid to tackle the current crisis, which has left the government unable to meet payroll for its employees.
“This $100 million is important and significant because it’s coming from a leading Arab state, and this hopefully can be an example for other countries to follow,” Ghassan Khatib, a Palestinian government spokesman, told Reuters.
With the Kingdom’s aid offer, Palestinians may hope for an end to the shortfall in pledges by traditional Arab benefactors.
“This generosity added to the track record of financial and political support by the Kingdom,” the Palestinian prime minister added.
“This support will have a deep impact in deepening the steadfastness of the Palestinian people,” he said.

This article was first published in Arab News

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’We’re working on war footing,’ says Pakistani doctor from Saudi Arabia’s COVID-19 team

Time: 22 May, 2020

Dr Zia Ullah Khan Dawar is posing for a photograph with other members of Saudi Arabia’s COVID-19 team at a quarantine center in Makkah. (Photo courtesy: Zia Ullah Khan Dawar)
  • Says Pakistani doctors are considered very competent, trustworthy in Kingdom
  • The Pakistani public health specialist has been living in Saudi Arabia for the past four years

ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia’s concerted coronavirus response has paid off by bringing the disease spread under control, a Pakistani doctor working for the kingdom’s health ministry told Arab News, as he described the approach taken by Riyadh to contain the outbreak.

“It is an emergency assignment and we are working on war footing,” Dr. Zia Ullah Khan Dawar said in an interview on Thursday, but added that effective and efficient leadership, data-driven policy, enhanced testing and citizens’ strict adherence to health guidelines have made Saudi Arabia’s anti-COVID-19 efforts successful.

Pakistani Dr Zia Ullah Khan Dawar is seen at a quarantine center in Jeddah. (Photo courtesy: Zia Ullah Khan Dawar)

“The Saudi ministry of health is taking concerted approach to flatten and squash the curve,” he said, “Whenever any positive case reported, we immediately go there and do the needful.”

The Pakistani public health specialist has been living in Saudi Arabia for the past four years, earlier serving in its programs to stem tuberculosis, dengue fever and malaria.

“Pakistani doctors and specialists are seen as very competent, trustworthy, skillful and are enjoying great respect, recognition and very good reputation among the public and the government,” he said.

Dawar currently works for the health ministry’s Jeddah office, in its team for COVID-19 surveillance and data analysis.

Pakistani doctor Zia Ullah Khan Dawar is sitting at his office in Jeddah. (Photo courtesy: Zia Ullah Khan Dawar)

“Saudi government policy is in line with World Health Organization (WHO) standard guidelines,” Dawar said as he explained that concerned ministries cooperate with each other in implementing different strategies such as complete or selective lockdowns, social distancing and self-isolation, contact tracing, and enhanced testing and monitoring.

He said that in Jeddah alone, the government has established 37 fully equipped quarantine centers at hotels and new buildings. Separate facilities are provided to the contacts of persons who tested positive for COVID-19, those who are asymptomatic virus carriers, and those who entered the kingdom from abroad.

This article was first published in Arab News

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91 Indonesians return home through Awdah initiative

Time: 17 May, 2020

RIYADH: A Jakarta-bound flight carrying 91 passengers left from Khalid International Airport in Riyadh on Sunday, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The flight is part of Saudi Arabia’s “Awdah (return)” initiative for expatriates wanting to return to their home countries through a dedicated application system.

The Awdah initiative enables expatriates holding exit and re-entry visas, final exit and visit visas of various kinds to return to their countries by air travel.

The initiative can be used by accessing the Awdah icon on the Absher platform and providing the following information: Iqama number, date of birth, mobile number, city of departure and arrival airport. It is not necessary to have an account on the Absher platform for expatriates of all nationalities to access this service.

The total number of applications registered in the initiative reached 149,671 during the period from April 22 to May 16.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi Arabia pledges $2.66m worth of aid to Palestine as coronavirus relief

02/05/20

A Palestinian girl carries a portion of soup, given out to poor families, during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in Gaza City on April 24, 2020, amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Mohammed ABED / AFP)

The aid comes as the country has repeatedly emphasized the importance of cooperation against the pandemic. (File/AFP)

  • The $2.66 million supplies, include medical equipment from Europe, China and the Kingdom

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia, with its charity arm King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), has pledged more than $2.5 million worth of medical supplies to Palestine in the fight against coronavirus, state-run SPA reported.

The $2.66 million supplies, include medical equipment from Europe, China and the Kingdom.

The aid comes as the country has repeatedly emphasized the importance of cooperation against the pandemic.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi king increases Ramadan meals project funding in 18 countries

Time: 24 April, 2020

Food distribution for needy families and those affected by precautionary measures against the COVID-19 pandemic in Makkah on the occasion of Ramadan has begun. Saudi King Salman on Thursday also increased funding for the Kingdom’s Ramadan meals project for 18 countries around the world. (SPA)

RIYADH:  Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has approved an increase in funding to SR5 million ($1.3 million) for Ramadan meals projects in 18 countries around the world.

The Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance will implement the program, which aims to provide iftar (breakfast) meals for 1 million people during the holy month of Ramadan.

Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh thanked the monarch for his ongoing support of the ministry’s various projects in serving Islamic works.

He said preparations had been made to deliver the initiative in 18 countries through religious attaches’ offices in the Kingdom’s embassies and Islamic centers under ministry supervision.

Al-Asheikh added that this year’s iftar project would be carried out through the distribution of food baskets in line with precautionary measures put in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi Aramco donates coronavirus masks to Houston, Texas

20/04/20

Saudi Aramco has donated 30,000 of the masks to Houston. (File/Shutterstock)

  • Most recent statistics show Texas with 18,923 cases of the disease, a daily increase of 663, and 477 deaths
  • The masks are being offered to protect protect fire, police and health responders in Houston

DUBAI: Saudi Aramco has come to the aid of the US city of Houston, Texas, with a donation of 30,000 masks for first responders fighting the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak in the heart of the American oil industry.

A statement from Aramco Americas said: “We are supporting efforts to protect fire, police and health responders in Houston through a donation of 30,000 KN95 masks to help the city and the major of Houston, Sylvester Turner.”

The mayor responded: “We know that medical supplies and protective equipment, like these masks, are in short supply throughout the US. We are fortunate to have a great corporate citizen like Aramco utilizing its procurement and global supply chain to source this quantity of masks during this challenging time.”

Most recent statistics show Texas with 18,923 cases of the disease, a daily increase of 663, and 477 deaths. The biggest number are in Harris County, which contains the densely populated city of Houston.

Turner said Aramco works side-by-side with local government and other charitable organizations to address issues ranging from education, hunger and environmental protection.

Mohammed Alshammari, president and chief executive of Aramco Americas, said: “The safety of our employees and the community is a top priority for us. Houston has been our headquarters for nearly 50 years.

“This donation is one of the ways we are looking to help the city during these challenging and difficult times,” he added.

As the business center for the American shale oil industry, Texas is also facing a wave of financial challenges as a result of falling oil prices in the wake of the global collapse in demand for crude.

This article was first published in Arab News

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WHO thanks Saudi Arabia for donating $500 million in fight against coronavirus

18/04/20

A tv grab taken from the World Health Organization website shows WHO Chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus delivering a virtual news briefing on COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) at the WHO headquarters in Geneva on March 23, 2020. (File/AFP)

  • The Kingdom will allocate $150 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation
  • Coronavirus has killed over 150,000 people globally

DUBAI: The World Health Organization thanked Saudi Arabia’s King Salman for donating $500 million to support the international efforts in preventing the coronavirus spread, state news agency SPA reported on Friday.

“I express my great gratitude to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and to the Saudi people for their great generosity by donating $500 million, in response to plan to combat the Coronavirus, hoping the rest of the G20 members to follow King Salman step,” the World Health Organization’s Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said.

The Kingdom will allocate $150 million to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation, $150 million to the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations, and $200 million to other international and regional health organizations and programs.

Coronavirus has killed over 150,000 people globally and infected more than 2.2 million individuals in 193 countries and territories.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Envoy highlights Saudi Arabia’s efforts to confront COVID-19

12/04/20

SPA

NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, participated in a video conference in which Arab efforts to combat the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic were discussed.

Other issues of common concern to the nations represented at the meeting, especially the Palestinian cause and the current political challenges facing Arab countries in the international arena, were touched on.

Al-Mouallami briefed the group on the announcement of the Arab coalition for a two-week comprehensive ceasefire in Yemen as of Thursday. The announcement came in response to the call of the UN secretary-general and his special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths.

Al-Mouallami also briefed the group on the Kingdom’s efforts to support Yemen for the year 2020, including its contribution of $500 million to support the humanitarian response plan and its $25 million allotted to combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Later on Thursday, Griffiths praised the Arab coalition’s ceasefire announcement in a tweet and thanked Saudi Arabia for “putting forward this positive initiative.”

He added that the initiative demonstrates the Kingdom’s commitment to “de-escalating the conflict” in Yemen and “aligning its efforts with those of the UN.”

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi Arabia launches two development projects in Yemen

04/04/20

SPA

SOCOTRA, YEMEN: The Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen (SDRPY) has launched two new projects in Socotra governorate related to air and road transport, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Friday.
The first project will provide buses on the island, while the second is to support Socotra Airport by providing security and safety measures and equipment, including a state-of-the-art firetruck —which complies with recommendations for airport safety and firefighting from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) — and a fully equipped ambulance.

This article was first published in Arab News

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SAMA pledges financial support for those hit by coronavirus crisis

29/03/20

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) has pledged to support people living in the Kingdom who lose their jobs as a result of the ongoing coronavirus crisis. (Shutterstock)

Statement said it was important for banks to commit to supporting their customers
RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) has pledged to support people living in the Kingdom who lose their jobs as a result of the ongoing coronavirus crisis – offering financial support for any charges incurred as a result.

“The measures taken include supervisory measures and their preventive policies to tackle the impact of coronavirus. This aims to support the banks during these difficult times and help them focus on providing their customers with the best banking services to meet their financial needs,” the Authority clarified.

The statement added that it was important for banks to commit to supporting their customers, so that they can withstand the impact of the virus, as well as support the private sector as its cash flow falls.

These means include supporting and financing the private sector through preventive measures that benefit the customer, the bank and the economy, the statement added.

The SAMA said this would be achieved by adjusting or restructuring existing funds without incurring any additional expenses or fees on banks.

The aim is to also sustain their activities and adopt and implement the plans of their private sector customers to preserve the employment rates of the affected enterprises.

Rates will be preserved by providing the enterprises’ financing needs, supporting the individual customers that have lost their jobs in the private sector and exempting all customers, for at least six months, from e-transaction fees, minimum balance fees and from any fees imposed on refinancing operations or on terminating existing agreements.

The reassessment of interest rates and other fees on credit cards for current and new customers will be reviewed in line with the current decrease of interest rates due to the economic situation. The fees on foreign money exchange will be refunded to customers wishing to cancel their transactions. Those who cancel travel-related bookings made on credit cards, Mada debit cards or prepaid cards will also be refunded.

“SAMA is following up on the development of the coronavirus-related impact on various economic sectors including the banking and financial sector. It will provide the required assistance to maintain the safety and stability of the financial sector and enable it to support and finance the activities of other economic sectors,” the Authority stressed, highlighting the importance of banks following up on all the development and challenges and the extent of their impact on the available capital, liquidity and other financial safety indicators.

This article was first published in Arab News

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