Saudi Arabia determined to protect, promote human rights

Dr. Bandar Al-Aiban, head of the Saudi Human Rights Commission, speaks at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Thursday. (SPA)
Updated 15 March 2019

Saudi Arabia determined to protect, promote human rights

  • Necessary measures have been taken in Jamal Khashoggi case: Bandar Al-Aiban

RIYADH: Dr. Bandar Al-Aiban, head of the Saudi Human Rights Commission, delivered a speech on Thursday in which he asserted that Saudi Arabia is determined to continue to protect and promote human rights and encourage sustainable development.

Al-Aiban was addressing the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva in a session to discuss the additional report presented by the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review of Saudi Arabia and the UN’s recommendations on human rights.

He stressed that Saudi Arabia was taking a balanced approach “between achieving the best systems and practices in the field of human rights and the right to the development and preservation of the values of Saudi society.”

He added that the Kingdom’s legal system exercises its authority in accordance with the internationally recognized principles of the independence of the judiciary, and that it has “all the elements and standards of justice, transparency and integrity, and operates as an independent authority.”

Al-Aiban said that the Kingdom’s progress in protecting and promoting human rights are “ongoing,” adding that Saudi Arabia believes the development of the awareness of human rights at official and social levels is a fundamental pillar of that progress.

With regard to recommendations on fair trials and criminal justice, Al-Aiban stated that there are no secret prisons and detention centers in the Kingdom. Such places are prohibited by Saudi law, he explained, adding that the prisons and detention centers in the Kingdom are monitored by the Public Prosecution, the Human Rights Commission, the National Society for Human Rights and other relevant bodies. Eight recommendations had been approved and two partially approved, he declared.

Concerning the recommendations made by a number of states regarding the death of Saudi citizen and journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Al-Aiban said the Kingdom considered this incident to be a “heinous and regrettable act” and that it had taken the necessary measures to deal with the case, in accordance with constitutional principles and the law.

Al-Aiban stated that the Public Prosecution has initiated an investigation into this case, as the competent authorities are entrusted to collect necessary information and evidence for the investigation and indictment.

With regard to some media statements to internationalize some procedures related to this case, the Kingdom categorically rejects this act, calling on all parties to lend respect to the Kingdom’s sovereignty and independence of its judiciary in extending its jurisdiction over all cases within its competency and dash out skepticism on the integrity of its judiciary’s independence and safety of legal procedures.

Locals welcome Sharqiah Season visitors from far and wide

Updated 15 min 55 sec ago

Locals welcome Sharqiah Season visitors from far and wide

  • The Sharqiah Seasonfeatures over 80 events in cities acrossf the Kingdom's Eastern Province
  • Events in the upcoming weekends feature sports events as as well as concerts

RIYADH: Residents of the Eastern Province are no strangers to foreign visitors — the nation’s oil heartland has been welcoming them for years. But more have been arriving with the opening of Sharqiah Season, featuring over 80 events across the region’s cities.

Organized as a collaborative effort by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage alongside the General Entertainment Authority, the General Culture Authority and the General Sports Authority, it is the first of 11 scheduled festivals planned across the country in 2019.

Faisal Al-Rayisi, an employee at King Fahd International Airport in Dammam, told Arab News he was surprised by the number of people arriving for the festival. 

“People are not only coming from Saudi Arabia, but from all over the Gulf as well — Kuwait and the UAE in particular,” he said. “I’ve even seen foreigners from Europe and Asia coming through. Time was, we used to go to Dubai for our entertainment, but now people from Dubai are coming to us.”

He also mentioned how happy he was to see the festivities coming to the Eastern Province. “Jeddah has this slogan, ‘Jeddah is different,’ but now that we’re seeing the first Sharqiah Season in our region, and all of these amazing activities and concerts are happening here, I think we can safely say ‘Sharqiah is different’ now.”

The Sharqiah festival aims to deliver an extensive entertainment experience for both Saudis and visitors to the Kingdom.

The festival features events in Eastern Province cities, including Dammam, Dhahran, Alkhobar, Al-Ahsa and Jubail. Future seasons will focus on different areas of Saudi Arabia, with different entertainment options for each city. Upcoming seasons will focus on different areas, and also different parts of the year, such as Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha.

Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, said in a statement that  the organization’s participation in the festival aligns with its goal of improving the quality of life in the Kingdom, and discovering local talent in various entertainment industries.  

He also highlighted the importance of the entertainment sector and its contribution to the economy and the creation of jobs for locals, all important aspects of Vision 2030.

The opening night of Sharqiah Season on Thursday drew crowds of Saudis to the Alkhobar Corniche, despite strong winds and sprinklings of rain earlier in the day. Groups of friends stopping to take selfies and families with young children in tow wandered through the Entertainment Boulevard, lined with food stalls selling karak and koshari.

Earlier in the day, the mega event began with the opening of an exhibit featuring the work of Leonardo da Vinci at the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra). 

The exhibit showcased some of Da Vinci’s original sketches, with several screens showing videos detailing how his designs have continued to inspire scientists and inventors in the modern era.

Sharqiah Season continues until March 30, with upcoming weekends featuring sports events such as the Red Bull Air Race and the Formula 1 H20 boat race, as well as concerts in Dammam featuring Akon, Deadmau5, Pitbull and French Montana.