Saudi Arabia’s doors open for all pilgrims, asserts Khaled

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MAKKAH — The Kingdom is not responsible for the obstacles put up by the Qatari government to impede its citizens willing to perform Haj.

“We are not responsible for what others do. We are only responsible for what we do,” Emir of Makkah and Chairman of the Central Haj Committee, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, said at a press conference after completing a tour of the holy sites on Sunday.

He reiterated that the Kingdom’s doors are open to receive pilgrims from anywhere in the world. “We warmly welcome them and treat them equally,” he added.

Qatari Haj pilgrims can register their details, browse packages and pay for them at:

Pilgrims “are here for Haj and worship. Let them dedicate themselves to worship and leave the other things. They’ll be welcomed and served by Saudis,” the emir said.

The emir revealed that as many as 1,641,358 pilgrims have arrived in the Kingdom from outside for the pilgrimage this year and are being served by a cadre of more than 350,000 people from the government and the private sector.

Prince Khaled reaffirmed that whoever casts doubts on the services being provided by Saudi Arabia to the pilgrims has political motives, intent purely to disparage the Kingdom.

“They know very well deep inside their hearts that all their claims are untrue. They also know very well what Saudi Arabia provides every Haj season,” he said.

He said the Kingdom spends billions to make the Haj season a success, adding: “We are proud to serve the pilgrims and ensure their comfort.”

Prince Khaled said that he has directed the officials serving the pilgrims that they should always wear a smile on their face when dealing with pilgrims.

He said billions of riyals are spent on projects in the holy sites every year. These include water and electricity projects.

Meanwhile, Prince Khaled Al-Faisal handed over the Kaaba kiswa (dress) to the custodian of the House of Allah. A new kiswa will adorn the Kaaba on Dhul Hijja 9 (Aug. 10).


Source : Saudi Gazette

King directs all sectors to provide top quality services to pilgrims

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Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman presiding over the Council of Ministers meeting in Neom, Tabuk Region Tuesday. — SPA

NEOM — Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman has directed all state sectors to provide pilgrims with quality services of the highest standards, as serving them is a great honor.

The King issued this directive while presiding over the Council of Ministers meeting in Neom, Tabuk Region Tuesday, Saudi Press Agency reported.

King Salman congratulated the pilgrims from within the Kingdom and abroad on their arrival in the holy lands. He thanked Allah Almighty for honoring the Kingdom, leadership and people, with serving the Two Holy Mosques as well as the pilgrims, Umrah performers and visitors to the Two Holy Mosques.

He prayed to Allah to assist the pilgrims in performing their Haj rites and to accept their Haj. The King made sure preparations by the various sectors to serve pilgrims have been completed. He stressed that all facilities be provided to make the pilgrims’ stay in Makkah, Madinah and the holy sites comfortable.

At the outset of the session, the Cabinet members offered their sincere condolences to King Salman, Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, and the royal family on the death of Prince Bandar Bin Abdulaziz. They also offered condolences to the sons of the late Prince Bandar and prayed to Allah Almighty to have mercy on his soul.

The King expressed his thanks and appreciation to the leaders and envoys of a number of countries, princes, scholars, ministers, senior officials and citizens who offered their condolences on the death of Prince Bandar, praying to Allah Almighty to bestow mercy upon the soul of the deceased prince.

In a statement to Saudi Press Agency following the session, Minister of State, Cabinet Member and Acting Minister of Media Dr. Essam Bin Saad Bin Saeed said that the Cabinet reviewed a number of reports on the latest developments.

The Cabinet commended the signing of the minutes for the establishment of the Saudi-Bahraini Coordination Council (SBCC) which will lead to a number of specialized committees in political, military, economic, investment, media and social fields to enhance the prospects for joint action, cooperation and integration between the two countries and advance the process of joint cooperation between them for the interest of their peoples.

The Cabinet expressed its deepest and sincere condolences to the government and people of the Republic of Tunisia on the death of President Beji Caid Essebsi and to the family of the deceased, praying to Allah Almighty to bestow His mercy on the soul of the deceased president.

The minister said that the Cabinet expressed Saudi Arabia’s condemnation and denunciation of the terrorist bombing that targeted the headquarters of Municipality of Mogadishu, Somalia, and the terrorist attacks in Kabul and northeastern Nigeria.

It expressed condolences to the families of the victims and the governments and peoples of Somalia, Afghanistan and Nigeria, wishing the injured a speedy recovery, renewing the Kingdom’s solidarity with countries against all forms of violence, extremism and terrorism.

The Cabinet issued the following decisions:

The Cabinet authorized the Minister of Interior, or his deputy, to discuss with the Kuwaiti side a draft cooperation agreement between the governments of the Saudi Arabia and Kuwait in the field of countering illicit traffic in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and chemical precursors and their smuggling, and to sign and submit the final version to complete formal procedures.

The Cabinet approved a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China in the field of combating cybercrime. A royal decree has been prepared in this regard.

The Cabinet authorized the Minister of Interior, or his deputy, to discuss with the Iraqi side a draft security cooperation agreement between the government of Saudi Arabia and the government of the Republic of Iraq, and to sign and submit the final version to complete formal procedures.

The Council has decided to authorize the Minister of Commerce and Investment and Chairman of the Intellectual Property Rights Authority, or his deputy, to sign the UN Agreement on International Settlement Resulting From Mediation, and to hold talks with the Japanese side on a draft Memorandum of Cooperation in the field of intellectual property between the Saudi Intellectual Property Rights Authority and the Japanese Patents Office and sign it.

The Council approved the Kingdom joining “Striving towards Growth” Project of the United Nations OECD and the Ministry of Economy and Planning shall complete the regulatory procedures.

Upon the recommendation of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA), the Cabinet has decided to convert the National Committee for Enhancing Psychological Health to a center under the name “The National Center for Enhancing Psychological Health.

Upon the recommendation of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA), the Council of Ministers has approved the organizational structure and guide for the Ministry of Labor and Social Development.

Upon the recommendation of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA), the Cabinet has approved transferring “The National Program for Raising Government Spending Efficiency through job practices” from the Ministry of Civil Service to the Center for Achieving Spending Efficiency.

The Council has decided to authorize the Saudi Railways (SAR) to carry out the railways initiatives included and approved within the initiatives of the Program for Developing National Industries and Logistic Services. — SG/SPA


Source : Saudi Gazette

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

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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

Girl’s family matter raked to harm Saudi Arabia


NSHR: Countries and international organizations act politically, not in humanitarian way

Saudi Gazette Report

JEDDAH — The Saudi National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) was surprised by the incitement of countries to what they described as “Saudi girls delinquents” rebellion against the values of their families and seeks to receive them under the pretext of granting them asylum.

“Such methods followed by some countries and international organizations are politically motivated and not humanitarian,” said Mufleh Al-Qahtani, head of NSHR, in a press statement on Sunday.

The ongoing case of the girl fleeing to Thailand due to differences with her family and being granted asylum in Canada, caused a stir in social networking sites and was exploited by several international media in an attempt to harm the Kingdom.

Although the issue of the “fugitive girl” is purely a family matter, actors in the international scene, media, rights bodies and politics, tried to exploit the issue to harm the Kingdom, offend Saudi Arabia and reinforce negative stereotypes about Saudis.

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, who contravened diplomatic norms by attacking Saudi Arabia via Twitter, caused the Canadian-Saudi diplomatic row, was once again on the scene after receiving the “fugitive girl,” at the airport. This action was questioned by Al Qahtani about the motives behind Ottawa’s foreign minister personally appearing at the airport to receive the girl.

“The Kingdom prevents abuse and punishes offenders including the parents and the rest of the family. Even if what some of these girls statements were true the correct procedure is to lodge a complaint with the protection authorities in the Kingdom,” Al-Qahtani said

“The association condemns such behavior, which was issued by some officials of those countries, as it sees it as incitement and seduction of girls who are in adolescence and are unable to make the right decision,” Al-Qahtani stressed.

“This action also includes an attack on the rights of the families of these girls, who are severely harmed by the defamation following their daughters action that pushes them into the unknown,” he said. The girl who fled from her family to Thailand last week arrived at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Saturday after Canada granted her asylum.

Although the fugitive’s case appears to be “purely family,” several international media used this opportunity to completely attack Saudi Arabia in a frenetic media campaign.

The story of the “fugitive girl” has prompted several international media outlets to fall into the trap of “falsifying the facts” and misleading information about the situation of women in Saudi Arabia, which has witnessed remarkable development over the past two years. — SG

Source : Saudi Gazette

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