Saudi Arabia raises India’s Haj quota to 200,000, releases 850 Indian prisoners


Saudi Gazette report

NEW DELHI – India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi thanked Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, for increasing the quota for Indian Haj pilgrims from 170,000 to 200,000.

The prime minister also hailed the decision to release 850 Indian prisoners from Saudi jails.

This was contained in the India-Saudi joint statement issued on Wednesday at the end of the state visit to India by the Crown Prince.

The Crown Prince and Modi agreed on the need for creation of conditions necessary for resumption of the comprehensive dialogue between India and Pakistan. They also condemned in the strongest terms the recent terrorist attack on Indian security forces in

Pulwama in Jammu & Kashmir. Affirming that the menace of extremism and terrorism threatens all nations and societies, the two sides rejected any attempt to link this universal phenomenon to any particular race, religion or culture. Both sides called on all states to reject the use of terrorism against other countries; dismantle terrorism infrastructures where they happen to exist and to cut off any kind of support and financing to the terrorists perpetrating terrorism from all territories against other states; and bring perpetrators of acts of terrorism to justice.

The Indian government has agreed to increase the seats of Saudi Arabian Airlines from 80,000 seats/month to 112,000 seats/month and studies are underway to increase that number substantially, it was announced in the joint statement. Both sides also agreed to explore opportunities for cooperation in the area of payment systems including RuPAY for the benefit of Indian community in general and more particularly the Haj and Umrah pilgrims. The Prime Minister thanked the Crown Prince for sorting out the issue of iqama (residency permit) for the Indian workers who were stranded in Saudi Arabia for no fault of their own, and resolving this humanitarian issue. The Saudi leadership was also lauded for hosting a large Indian community and for ensuring their continued welfare and well-being.

The two sides re-affirmed their deep commitment to cement the existing ‘Strategic Partnership’ with ‘high level monitoring mechanism by the creation of Strategic Partnership Council led by the Prime Minister and the Crown Prince, supported by ministerial representation covering the whole spectrum of strategic relationships.

The two sides also agreed to cooperate in the areas of space, science and technology, including remote sensing, satellite communication and satellite-based navigation. The two sides welcomed the recent developments in India-Saudi cooperation in the defense sector, particularly in the fields of exchange of expertise and training. It was also agreed to hold the inaugural joint naval exercises at the earliest and agreed to further expand bilateral exercises in other domains. The two sides agreed to cooperate and collaborate in joint defense production of spare parts for Naval and Land systems as well as supply chain development, in line with ‘Make in India’ and ‘Vision 2030’.

Taking note of the positive trend in the bilateral trade over the recent years, the two sides acknowledged the huge untapped potential available in the merchandise trade, particularly in the non-oil trade. They stressed the importance of increasing trade volume between the two countries, and eliminating export barriers. The two sides agreed on further deepening trade and investment cooperation between the two countries by aligning the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and its 13 Vision Realization Programs with India’s flagship initiatives of “Make in India”, “Start Up India”, “Smart Cities”, “Clean India”, and “Digital India”. The Saudi side expressed its readiness to attract Indian public and private sector investments and expertise, in the upcoming mega projects in Saudi Arabia.

India and KSA welcomed the key initiatives taken by both governments to improve the ease of doing business, simplify and rationalize existing rules and relax the foreign direct investment norms in key areas. Both sides hailed the positive change in investment climate after the signing of the Framework Cooperation Agreement in 2016. The two sides urged the business communities to utilize the investment opportunities in both countries, especially in the fields of infrastructure, mining, energy including renewables, food security and technology transfer, and to further consolidate cooperation in the areas of skilled human resources in information technology, electronics and telecommunications. Recognizing the availability of sophisticated infrastructure and logistical services in the Kingdom’s industrial cities and ports, the Crown Prince welcomed investments by Indian companies in the Kingdom for domestic and regional market access.

Modi welcomed the announcement of the Crown Prince to invest in the areas of energy, refining, petrochemicals, infrastructure, agriculture, minerals and mining, manufacturing, education and health potentially worth in excess of $100 billion. The two sides expressed satisfaction at the first Joint Venture West Coast Refinery and Petrochemical Project estimated to cost $ 44 billion and agreed to expedite the implementation of the project, which will be the largest green field refinery in the world to be implemented in one phase. In addition, $10 billion through the Public Investment Fund and its technology partners, and other investments opportunities potentially worth $26 billion being explored. India hailed the Saudi intend to make investments in the areas of energy, refining, petrochemicals, infrastructure, agriculture, minerals and mining, manufacturing, education and health, the joint statement added.


Source : Saudi Gazette

Saudi student’s death in San Deigo under probe


Saudi Gazette report

Washington — The Saudi Consulate General in Los Angeles is following up on the investigation into the cause of death of Saudi scholarship student Bandar Al-Barqi, the consulate said in a statement.

The consulate is dealing with the case as per the instructions of Saudi Ambassador to US Prince Khalid Bin Salman, the statement said.

The consulate said it has appointed an attorney to follow up on the case which is still under investigation.

The final report has not yet been issued by local authorities on the cause of death, it said.

The consulate clarified that it has not issued any statement related to the death of the student, confirming that it will clarify the cause of death immediately after the issuance of final report.

Bandar Bin Amer Bin Ali Al-Barqi was found dead in his apartment on Feb. 1 in San Diego, California.

Source : Saudi Gazette

KSA not involved in leak of Bezos’ private texts


Adel Al-Jubeir
WHASHINGTON — Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir denied that the Kingdom was involved in the leak of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ private text messages and photos to the National Enquirer tabloid.

“Absolutely not,” Jubeir said, when asked by “Face the Nation” moderator Margaret Brennan about potential Saudi involvement.

“This sounds to me like a soap opera. I’ve been watching it on television and reading about it in the paper. This is something between the two parties. We have nothing to do with it.”

In an extraordinary public statement posted to Medium on Thursday, Bezos said an investigation he directed into how the Enquirer obtained private messages he exchanged with Lauren Sanchez, with whom he was reported to be having an affair, had angered David Pecker, CEO of American Media, Inc., which owns the Enquirer.

“Maybe some of our citizens read The National Enquirer when they’re in the United States,” Jubeir told Brennan.

“Other citizens watch the soap opera unfold on television but that’s it.” — Agencies


Source : Saudi Gazette

Crown Prince chairs ‘Tourism Talk’ in historical Diriyah


RIYADH ـــ Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier, minister of defense and president of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA), chaired in Al-Turaif District, Historical Diriyah, a CEDA-organized workshop, under the theme of “Tourism Talk”.

The workshop discussed the visions and directions of the tourism sector in the Kingdom in line with the aspirations of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said Tuesday.

The workshop, which was presented by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), was based on three main topics that included an overview of the tourism industry globally and locally, as well as an overview of the aspirations of the tourism sector in the Kingdom, and the partners involved in the implementation.

The workshop focused on the tourism industry worldwide, including analysis and explanation of the growth prospects in tourism sectors, economic, social and cultural returns, and the role of the tourism sector in creating investment opportunities globally.

The workshop included an analysis of the national opportunities in the tourism sector, including the enhancement of the Kingdom’s global position in this sector.

It included elements of the successful tourism sector, in addition to diagnosing the opportunities and possibilities in national tourism, as well as analysis of governance, sector strategy, legislation, standards and raising tourism awareness. — SPA

Source : Saudi Gazette

Ban on milk sale sends camels into hiding in residential areas


Municipality inspectors removed as many as 495 barns along main roads after the ban on sale of camel milk in the streets.

By Ibrahim Alawi

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — The residents of south and east Jeddah neighborhoods have expressed deep concerns about their health after seeing camels wandering near their houses.

The shepherds with their camels tend to hide behind residential areas following the order by Makkah Emir Prince Khaled Al-Faisal prohibiting the sale of camel milk on public roads.

A large number of angry residents expressed worries about their health and the grave environmental consequences as the animals are believed to be quickly transmitting diseases such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) to humans. They have called upon the municipality inspectors to run intensive inspection visits in their neighborhoods.

Khalid Al-Shehri, resident of south Jeddah, said they started seeing lot of camels wandering in their neighborhood right after the order that banned selling camel milk on streets.

“The shepherds hide the camels away from municipality inspectors because they do not want to get caught and fined. This is a dangerous practice, which can turn into a grave environmental problem jeopardizing the public health,” Al-Shehri said.

When Okaz/Saudi Gazette asked one of the shepherds why they brought the camels to the neighborhoods, he said on condition of anonymity that they had no other option as the municipality inspectors were cracking down on them.

“We raise camels and sell their milk to make money. The inspectors of the municipality do not let us keep the camels in the barns and they always remove these barns, which they say are against the law. The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture should allow us to build barns and provide us with licenses. We don’t want to hide inside residential areas,” he said.

He also said the ministry should help them get vaccinated against certain diseases, which might be transmittable by camels and should provide them with awareness programs about the proper ways of raising camels.

The Jeddah Municipality inspectors removed 495 camel barns in south and east Jeddah and confiscated all their tools as well as 72 camels in order to force the violators to evacuate the place.


Source : Saudi Gazette

A day of historic firsts as action gets under way at KAEC


JEDDAH — Sporting history was made in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on Thursday, as the inaugural Saudi International powered by SBIA teed off at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC).

The first-ever European Tour event in Saudi Arabia has attracted a star-studded line-up of the world’s best players, with four of the world’s top five, eight major championship winners and dozens of crowd favorites among the tournament’s 132-strong player field.

As golf broke new ground in a new destination, the first round of the Saudi International powered by SBIA proved to be a day of historic firsts.

With Yasir Al-Rumayyan, chairman of the Saudi Golf Federation (SGF), playing a ceremonial tee shot to start the tournament, Englishman David Howell had the honor of hitting the first competitive shot of the tournament.

Announced on the first tee at 7.15 a.m. (local time), Howell dispatched a 3-wood more than 260 yards down the middle of the fairway.

“It’s a nice honor, a notable thing,” said Howell. “Who knows what will happen with golf in Saudi Arabia from here, but we have definitely opened the door. I was slightly aware of the situation, so I was probably a little bit more focused, which is a good thing for me — I hit a beautiful shot,” said Howell, who also notched the tournament’s first bogey during an eventual opening round of 72, two-over par.

“The course is looking great, facilities are fantastic. It’s probably a course that requires a bit of wind to challenge the players, but it’s great for the first time here.”

Howell’s playing partner Marcus Kinault, of Sweden, scored the first birdie of the Saudi International powered by SBIA, recording a memorable three on the 361-yard first hole.

Big-hitting New Zealander Ryan Fox then went one better, entering the history books with the first eagle at a European Tour event in Saudi Arabia, a two on the 439-yard 14th hole.

“I’ll take that!” said Fox, whose landmark eagle helped him to a three-under par round of 67. “I had the perfect number for a gap wedge, about 129 yards, just out of the first cut of rough on the left and it was an inviting pin to go. I hit a really good shot, I didn’t see it finish, but there was a couple of caddies walking the course outside the ropes and they cheered so I knew it must have been close.”

Elsewhere, Joachim B Hansen literally inked his name into the annuls of Saudi sporting history by handing in the first signed scorecard at the Saudi International powered by SBIA. The Dane finished his round three-under par after a solid three-under par 67 featuring seven birdies and four bogeys.

“That’s something nice for me. It’s great to experience somewhere new and it’s good to get the first round done. The course was great, we had really good conditions and I hope we keep coming back here,” said the 28-year-old.

Saud Al Sharif made a little slice of homegrown history when the young amateur became the first golfer from Saudi Arabia to complete 18 holes in a European Tour event in Saudi Arabia.

Sharif, who recorded a nine-over par 79 in his first round in a professional event, said: “It was amazing, I couldn’t have asked for a better tournament to play in. I was very nervous on the first tee. Unfortunately I didn’t play very well, but it was still a great experience for me. I hope I can play way better tomorrow.”

Later in the day, Othman Almulla became the first Saudi Arabian professional to complete a tournament round in a European Tour event. — SG


Source : Saudi Gazette

NEOM set up as joint-stock company

Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg

The change in the legal status of NEOM will allow the company to create 16 economic sectors. — SPA

Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — Saudi Arabia has set up NEOM, the world’s future destination for dreamers and innovators, as a closed joint-stock company fully owned by the Public Investment Fund, the Kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund. The change in the legal status of NEOM will allow the company to create 16 economic sectors that will put it on the global investment map, which includes the future of energy, water, tourism, media, health and well-being, sport, food, mobility, biotech, manufacturing and livability.

Nadhmi Al-Nasr, will serve as the CEO of NEOM, while the 16 sectors will be spearheaded by leading international executives and experts in their fields.

Commenting on this milestone, NEOM’s Chief Executive Officer, Nadhmi Al-Nasr said: “The new entity will have a unique and historical role to play as it will be responsible for developing a new global destination from scratch on a huge area, and a futuristic civilization that is based on sustainability and livability.”

“All this aims to turn NEOM into a global center for attracting investment, knowledge, innovation and technology in order to compete with all economic capital cities,” he added.


Source : Saudi Gazette

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