Saudi-Pakistan bond stronger than ever, says ambassador

Raja Ali Ejaz, Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia (AN photo)
Updated 17 February 2019

Saudi-Pakistan bond stronger than ever, says ambassador

  • At least 2.7 million Pakistani expats live in Saudi Arabia, 1.6 million of whom moved there to work between 2011 and 2015
  • The total volume of trade between the two countries is currently worth about $3.4 billion

RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will arrive in Pakistan on Sunday to begin his official visit to a country that is widely considered to be “Saudi Arabia’s closest Muslim ally.”

Given this close relationship, it is little surprise that Raja Ali Ejaz, Pakistan’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, considers it such a privilege and honor to be the envoy to a country he considers a “second home” for Pakistanis.

“Saudi Arabia is an important country for Pakistan,” he told Arab News. 

“The Kingdom hosts one of the largest expatriate communities of Pakistanis. Under the present leadership in both countries, the role of the Pakistan Embassy has become more challenging and more significant.”

According to the Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at least 2.7 million Pakistani expats live in Saudi Arabia, 1.6 million of whom moved there to work between 2011 and 2015.

The ambassador was keen to highlight the strong relationship between the countries, and the ways in which the crown prince’s visit will further strengthen the bonds. The nations have long enjoyed a close, mutually beneficial relationship and Pakistan has benefited from Saudi resources in many ways, not least because the Kingdom is the country’s biggest supplier of oil. 

“Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have always stood by each other in times of need,” he said. 

“The leadership of the two countries has a vision of taking the relationship to new levels in the days ahead, and the bilateral visits by the highest leadership are the manifestations of this.

“The upcoming visit of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will be historic and elevate relations to an unprecedented height. The government and people of Pakistan appreciate (his) visionary policies, which will lead to the prosperity and development of Saudi Arabia and stability in the region.”

The total volume of trade between the two countries is currently worth about $3.4 billion. Pakistani exports to Saudi Arabia include food and textiles.

“We are looking forward to enhanced cooperation between two brotherly countries in areas including culture and media, energy, trade and investment, mining and tourism and so on,” said Ejaz. 

“These agreements will create enormous opportunities for both sides, as well as for people-to-people contact.”

The ambassador also suggested that cultural exchanges could become increasingly important, creating eye-opening experiences for citizens of both countries.

“The people of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were united in an everlasting bond of faith and culture even before the creation of the two countries,” he said. “This spiritual bond has gradually transformed into a strategic political alliance.

“The people of Pakistan consider Saudi Arabia their second home and a visit to the Two Holy Mosques is the lifelong desire of every Pakistani. On the other hand, Pakistan is blessed with regions of historical heritage, unmatched natural scenery and excellent climate.”

Obtaining a visa to visit Pakistan is a difficult task; the application process is one of the lengthiest of its kind. Ejaz said, however, that steps were being taken to make the process easier and more accessible for Saudi citizens.

“Pakistan is working to simplify the visa process and improve infrastructure to facilitate tourists,” he said. “Hopefully these steps will attract more tourists from the Kingdom. In addition, both governments under different frameworks, particularly Vision 2030, are actively working on increasing cultural exchanges.”

The ambassador also had encouraging words for Saudi investors interested in the potential offered by Pakistan.

“Pakistan would like to diversify and see its economic relations expanding,” he said. “One of the important factors in improving economic relations is bilateral investment. Pakistan needs a refinery, gas pipelines and fuel storage, and I feel Saudi Arabia can invest profitably. Other areas of investment could be the agriculture and mining sectors, especially copper and gypsum.

“Pakistan has an investment-friendly legal framework in place. We are also endowed with enterprising human resources, particularly in services and the IT sector, which can be utilized in development projects in the Kingdom under Vision 2030.”


Hajj ministry announces guidelines for Umrah, Ramadan prayers

Updated 12 April 2021

Hajj ministry announces guidelines for Umrah, Ramadan prayers

  • Taraweeh, Qiyam prayers should not exceed 30 minutes in all mosques
  • Prayer permits will not be provided for unvaccinated individuals, Hajj ministry says

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has set guidelines and protocols for issuing Umrah and prayer permits for the month of Ramadan. 
Vaccinations are at the top of the priority list as no worshippers are allowed into either Makkah’s Grand Mosque or Madinah’s Prophet’s Mosque without having received at least one dose of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine.
Permits will only be allowed through the Tawakkalna and Eatmarna apps, and will not be provided for unvaccinated individuals, as the latest Tawkkalna update has designated each category with a color code and barcode specific to their health status.
Unauthorized vehicles will not be allowed in the central region around Makkah, and visitors must arrive on time or risk losing their time slot.
Children will not be allowed to enter either mosques, nor the courtyards around the mosques.

HIGHLIGHT

Permits will only be allowed through the Tawakkalna and Eatmarna apps, and will not be provided for unvaccinated individuals, as the latest Tawkkalna update has designated each category with a color code and barcode specific to their health status.

The Ministry of Interior issued a warning that a SR10,000 ($26,671) fine will be issued to pilgrims wishing to perform Umrah without permits, and a SR1,000 fine for worshippers trying to enter the mosques without one.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance issued a statement saying that Taraweeh and Qiyam prayers should not exceed 30 minutes in all mosques in the Kingdom. This comes after King Salman issued a decision to permit Taraweeh prayers in the two holy mosques and reduce them to five tasleemat.
The ministry reminded people for the need to follow the preventive measures to ensure the safety, health and security of those visiting the two holy mosques.


Ramadan 2021 will start on Tuesday: Saudi Arabia

Updated 13 April 2021

Ramadan 2021 will start on Tuesday: Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: Nearly 2 billion Muslims worldwide will mark the first day of Ramadan on Tuesday after an official sighting of the new crescent moon, Saudi Arabia’s Supreme Court said on Monday evening.

The court extended its best wishes to King Salman, the crown prince, citizens and expatriates in the Kingdom, and all Muslims on the advent of the holy month.

For a second year, Ramadan in Saudi Arabia will be observed under coronavirus precautions.

“The month of Ramadan is upon us and the world is suffering from the coronavirus pandemic,” King Salman said.

“We thank God for the scientific efforts in developing vaccines to curb the pandemic.”

READ MORE

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman approves Tarawih prayers in Two Holy Mosques Read more here.

Preventive measures remain in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus during Ramadan. Only vaccinated or immune worshippers will be allowed to enter the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, and pilgrims who try to perform Umrah at the Grand Mosque in Makkah without a permit will face a fine of up to 10,000 riyals.

Nevertheless, with more than 6 million people already vaccinated, more people will be able to attend the holy sites than a year ago, and many Saudi families are looking forward to a more “normal” Ramadan after a year of restrictions.

READ MORE

Hajj Ministry announce Ramadan guidelines for Umrah and prayers Read more here.

Rahaf Hussain and her husband Abdullah Al-Rashidi both have families in Jeddah but live in the Eastern Province. They have made it their mission this Ramadan to spend as much holiday time together as they can for the sake of their children.

The couple have planned careful iftar gatherings of no more than 20 people this year, in line with official recommendations.

“This year, we plan on a COVID-free Ramadan,” Hussain told Arab News. “We got our vaccines, and we are still wearing masks and constantly washing our hands.

“We were deprived of our families, and we lost some dear ones. Our Ramadan gatherings last year were spent on screens, but I’m making sure that won’t happen this year. We’re sticking to the rules.”

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Saudia airline getting ready to operate on May 17

Updated 12 April 2021

Saudia airline getting ready to operate on May 17

  • Saudia was ranked among the top 10 airlines worldwide for its health and safety measures and received the highest certification by APEX Health Safety in January

JEDDAH: The Kingdom’s flagship carrier is preparing for full-capacity operations ahead of the lift of the travel ban next month, with Saudis eager to safely return to traveling during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Saudi Minister of Transport Saleh Al-Jasser chaired a meeting with the Saudia airline board of directors to discuss preparations for the return of international flights on May 17.
The date will mark the end of the suspension of international travel for Saudi citizens by land, air, and sea.
The minister expressed his thanks for the efforts made to safely continue domestic flights by limiting the spread of COVID-19.
Saudia was ranked among the top 10 airlines worldwide for its health and safety measures and received the highest certification by APEX Health Safety in January.
Saudis are feeling more comfortable with the idea of traveling abroad again.
Ismail Ayoub, 30, said he will travel as soon as the opportunity strikes, with Dubai being his first choice due to their high safety standards. “Safety is one factor, another reason is I have good contacts in Dubai and in the region, so this is an opportunity to reconnect with them,” Ayoub told Arab News.
“The closeness of Dubai to the Kingdom makes it very convenient as well,” he added.
Ayoub said he will travel to countries where tourism offerings follow the strict COVID-19 safety guidelines. “I would avoid countries with unmanaged crowds. I want to enjoy my trip while staying safe.”

Saudis are feeling more comfortable with the idea of traveling abroad again. (SPA)

Software engineer Alia Al-Sadat, 27, said she is glad to have the option to travel but would rather postpone her international flight plans until the global cases drop.
“I feel very safe in the Kingdom. I’m happy to simply travel between Jeddah and Riyadh, or even go and explore AlUla,” Al-Sadat told Arab News.
She highlighted that the travel restrictions were a good opportunity to explore the Kingdom.
“Many people do not know it, but Saudi Arabia has some spectacular destinations. This year made me want to explore places like Abha, Taif and of course Umluj,” she added.


Saudi Supreme Court: No evidence of Ramadan moon sighting

Updated 12 April 2021

Saudi Supreme Court: No evidence of Ramadan moon sighting

  • Supreme Court says it will hold another session on Monday evening

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s moon sighting committee said on Sunday that the crescent for the month of Ramadan could not be seen from the Tamir and Hawtat observatories in Sudair, due to the weather conditions. 
Following a meeting on Sunday, corresponding to Shaban 29, according to the Umm Al-Qura lunar calendar, the Supreme Court said that it had not received any evidence of the crescent sighting in the evening.
The Supreme Court said it would hold another session on Monday evening, and issue a decision on the start of Muslim fasting month.


Who’s Who: Dr. Munira Al-Amer, the vice dean of the College of Law at King Faisal University in Al-Ahsa

Updated 12 April 2021

Who’s Who: Dr. Munira Al-Amer, the vice dean of the College of Law at King Faisal University in Al-Ahsa

Dr. Munira Al-Amer has been the vice dean of the College of Law at King Faisal University (KFU) in Al-Ahsa since January.

Al-Amer received a bachelor’s degree in law from the Jeddah-based King Abdul Aziz University (KAU) in 2008. In 2012, she entered the University of Strasbourg, France, where she was granted a master’s degree in fundamental private law two years later. 

In 2019, she obtained a Ph.D. in private law from the same university, where she also received a university diploma in artificial intelligence and intellectual property from the university’s Center for International Intellectual Property Studies.

In 2009, Al-Amer became a faculty member at the KFU’s College of Law, where she is now an assistant professor.

Al-Amer, who became the deputy chairperson of the KFU’s Legal Studies and Consultations Center in 2020, speaks Arabic, English and French, and she is doing her best to improve in a fourth language she has begun to learn — Spanish.

From September to October 2017, she was a legal researcher at the Mansour Al-Dhafeeri law firm in Riyadh, where she studied judicial decisions and verdicts on  personal status cases and compiling information about the Saudi family law system.

For nearly the same period, she provided the same service to the Tunisia-based Malik Badri law firm. There, she conducted research and compiled information on family law, created case studies for academic use and participated in the legal activities within the legal firm.

From October 2019 to January 2020, she also provided similar services to Peking University, Beijing, China. She studied in detail all aspects of Chinese family law, as well as working with Chinese lawyers and law professors to comprehend legal issues properly.