Saudi Arabia, US sign Rohingya aid deal

Rohingya Muslim refugees children queue for aid suplies at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox's Bazar on Dec. 4, 2017. (AFP/File)
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Updated 13 November 2020

Saudi Arabia, US sign Rohingya aid deal

  • The agreement aims to rehabilitate housing with a total value of $2 million
  • The program will target 87,165 people for urgent assistance

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia signed virtually on Thursday an agreement with the US to implement a multi-sector refugee support program in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh.

The agreement aims to rehabilitate housing with a total value of $2 million, and will be managed by the World Food Program (WFP).

The agreement was signed by Supervisor General of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah and US Agency for International Development (USAID) Acting Deputy Administrator John Barsa, in the presence of Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud, Saudi ambassador to the US, and John Abizaid, US ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

The agreement aims to rehabilitate housing with a total value of $2 million, and will be managed by the World Food Program (WFP). (SPA)

The program will target 87,165 people for urgent assistance, including Rohingya refugees and groups affected by natural disasters and conflicts in Ukhiya, Teknaf, Kutubdia and Moheskhali.

Dr. Al-Rabeeah praised the agreement. He said Saudi Arabia has stood by the Rohingya, in their areas of displacement and in the Kingdom, throughout history, and provided them with all the necessary services, care and facilities.

He added that as a result of the eradication and torture faced by the Rohingya in Myanmar, the Kingdom provided urgent relief for disaster-stricken refugees. King Salman directed KSrelief to stand by the affected people and provide them with urgent aid, and the center sent a specialized team to Bangladesh to determine the state of the Rohingya refugees, meet their needs and provide them with emergency relief and humanitarian assistance. The center also implemented a number of diverse projects and programs for refugees in Cox’s Bazar and other areas.

Al-Rabeeah said the agreement comes within the framework of continuous Saudi support to alleviate the suffering of the Rohingya people and to increase their standard of living. He thanked the government of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for its valuable assistance to affected people and countries around the globe.

John Barsa thanked KSrelief and the WFP for the partnership in Bangladesh and other countries. He said that for more than three years Rohingya refugees have suffered, and that through this agreement they will receive much-needed support.

He expressed his pride in the partnership, which will boost access to basic needs and shelter for the Rohinyga. More than 860,000 of the persecuted minority live in the world’s largest refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar.

The Bangladeshi city is facing major problems, including natural disasters and the coronavirus pandemic, and through this agreement USAID and KSrelief hope to meet the needs of residents.

Barsa said that for the past five years, through 300,000 employees and volunteers, KSrelief expanded its relief and humanitarian work, reaching 54 countries and donating more than $4 billion.

At the end of his speech, he expressed hope for the partnership and urged international organizations to support the cause.

Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud said that KSrelief plays a major role in providing relief to disaster zones and people in need around the world. The center has taken part in more than 1,300 humanitarian operations to date.

She added that the center, along with USAID, will contribute to WFP efforts to assist Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, and said the agreement is a testament to what the continuous Saudi partnership with the US is capable of achieving, in order to achieve peace, security and prosperity in the region and around the world.

The agreement aims to improve the health, safety and standards of living of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, through rehabilitating houses and local shelters and providing disaster protection, she added.

She said that over the last two decades, the Kingdom has donated more than $15 billion to refugees around the world, and that in the past month alone, the Kingdom took part in the UN donor conference for the Rohingya refugee cause. The Kingdom is also hosting more than 270,000 Rohingya refugees, providing them with free health care, educational services and employment opportunities, she added.

Through the agreement, many families in Bangladesh will soon receive shelter, the ambassador said, adding that she looks forward to continued cooperation between KSrelief and USAID.

Abizaid recalled the historic relationship between the Kingdom and the US, which began 75 years ago when King Abdul Aziz and Franklin D. Roosevelt first met. The two countries have worked together ever since to support peace and stability, Abizaid said.

He praised the joint cooperation between KSrelief and USAID, adding that the agreement will also include disaster management training for people in areas with extreme weather conditions.

The US ambassador hailed joint humanitarian work between the Kingdom and the US in a number of countries, including Yemen, where help is provided in a community torn apart by conflict. Both countries also met the needs of around 12 million people who are internally displaced in Syria.

KSrelief is at the forefront of education in Syria, and meets the needs of displaced children through the provision of supplies and services for more than 100,000 students, Abizaid said.

He expressed his country’s pride in cooperating with the Kingdom, and said the project is one part of a broad and lasting partnership between the Kingdom and the US.

Saudi Arabia announces 5 more COVID-19 deaths

Updated 9 min 39 sec ago

Saudi Arabia announces 5 more COVID-19 deaths

  • The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom has increased to 368,011
  • A total of 6,488 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far

LONDON: Saudi Arabia announced five deaths from COVID-19 and 338 new infections on Saturday.
Of the new cases, 179 were recorded in Riyadh, 70 in the Eastern Province, 42 in Makkah, 10 in Asir, seven in Madinah, three in Hail, three in Jazan and two in Najran.
The total number of recoveries in the Kingdom increased to 368,011 after 320 more patients recovered from the virus.
A total of 6,488 people have succumbed to the virus in the Kingdom so far.


US not aiming ‘to rupture relationship’ with Kingdom: Politico

Updated 27 February 2021

US not aiming ‘to rupture relationship’ with Kingdom: Politico

  • Saudis show wide support at home for MBS, describe CIA report as speculative

RIYADH: US President Joe Biden and his administration may be seeking a recalibration of its relationship with Saudi Arabia, but is adamant not to rupture the relationship with the Kingdom, a senior US official said.

Speaking to Politico, the official said that there are “important interests” the US shares with Saudi Arabia. The administration views the Kingdom as an important partner in the Middle East, and it has promised to keep supporting the country as it defends itself against attacks blamed on Iran.

The official’s comments came after a classified CIA report was released on the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, who was killed by a group of rogue Saudi agents in Istanbul in 2018.

Despite a lot of hype that preceded the release of the report, many observers have described it as too analytical and lacking evidence.

“No smoking gun,” CNN’s International Diplomatic Editor Nic Robertson said.

Israeli journalist and commentator Barak Ravid wrote on Twitter: “US intelligence report on Khashoggi, which is 100% analysis and 0% information, raises real concerns about the quality of access US intelligence agencies have in Saudi Arabia.”

Meanwhile, in the Kingdom, Saudis took to social media to show support for Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who underwent a successful surgical procedure on Wednesday morning to treat appendicitis.

Saudi journalist Abdulrahman Al-Rashed tweeted there was nothing new in the declassified CIA report. He described those who were betting on Biden to damage the relationship with Saudi Arabia as “ignorant of how the world operates.”

Saudi columnist Salman Al-Dossari tweeted that the Biden administration should be praised for publishing the CIA report, saying that the findings support Saudi court rulings.

Last September, Saudi Arabia’s Public Prosecution announced the final sentences for the eight people convicted of the Khashoggi murder.

Five of them received 20-year jail sentences for their involvement in the killing. Another was sentenced to 10 years while two others received seven years. Commenting on the verdict, the Khashoggi family called the judgment “fair and dissuasive.”

Saudi Arabia ‘completely rejects’ US report on Khashoggi murder

Updated 27 February 2021

Saudi Arabia ‘completely rejects’ US report on Khashoggi murder

  • Foreign Ministry said it had followed report submitted to Congress regarding ‘heinous’ crime

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia on Friday rejected the findings of a US Congress report on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

The Saudi journalist was murdered in on Oct. 2, 2018 at the Kingdom’s consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul. He had gone there to complete paperwork relating to his divorce.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it has been following the report submitted to the US Congress “regarding the heinous murder of Saudi citizen Jamal Khashoggi” and “notes that the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia completely rejects the negative, false and unacceptable assessment in the report pertaining to the Kingdom’s leadership, and notes that the report contained inaccurate information and conclusions.”

It said: “The ministry reiterates what was previously announced by the relevant authorities in the Kingdom, that this was an abhorrent crime and a flagrant violation of the Kingdom’s laws and values. This crime was committed by a group of individuals that have transgressed all pertinent regulations and authorities of the agencies where they were employed.”

The ministry said that authorities in the Kingdom “took all possible measures within our legal system to ensure that these individuals were properly investigated, and to ensure that justice was served.” It pointed out that they were convicted and sentenced in Saudi courts and that “these sentences were welcomed by the family of Jamal Khashoggi.”

The statement continues: “It is truly unfortunate that this report, with its unjustified and inaccurate conclusions, is issued while the Kingdom had clearly denounced this heinous crime, and the Kingdom’s leadership took the necessary steps to ensure that such a tragedy never takes place again.

“The Kingdom rejects any measure that infringes upon its leadership, sovereignty, and the independence of its judicial system.”

The ministry reiterated that the relationship between the Kingdom and the US is “a robust and enduring partnership.”

It added: “This partnership has thrived for nearly eight decades on the basis of mutual respect and the institutions in both countries have worked diligently to deepen these ties in all aspects, through increased cooperation and consultations to bolster security and stability in the region and the world.

“We look forward to maintaining the enduring foundations that have shaped the framework of the resilient strategic partnership between the Kingdom and the United States.

Saudi Arabian Military Industries signs deals at IDEX

Updated 27 February 2021

Saudi Arabian Military Industries signs deals at IDEX

  • SAMI also agreed to be a strategic partner of Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI in next year’s IDEX

Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI) signed several cooperation agreements with international companies and government authorities during the International Defense Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) this week.

SAMI, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund (PIF), aims to enhance the Kingdom’s defense capabilities and localize its military industry as part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030.

“We are pleased to achieve outstanding success through our participation in IDEX 2021,” Walid bin Abdulmajeed Abu Khaled, CEO of SAMI, said.

“This will lead us to new achievements and make Saudi Arabia one of the leading manufacturers of military systems in the world.”

SAMI signed a joint venture agreement with the US firm Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest military defense company. The venture will develop capabilities in manufacturing software technologies, along with the production, maintenance, and repair of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.

SAMI also signed a cooperation agreement with Nimr, which is part of the Abu Dhabi-based EDGE Technology Group. The deal will allow both companies to work together on armored military and security vehicles. It also marks the first collaboration in the field of military industries between Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) also signed an agreement with SAMI to be a strategic partner in next year’s IDEX.

During the five-day exhibition, GAMI Gov. Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz Al-Ohali visited the Saudi pavilion along with Saudi Ambassador to the UAE Turki bin Abdullah Al-Dakhil.

The pavilion also welcomed Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed and Lt. Gen. Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the UAE’s deputy prime minister.






Who’s Who: Ziyad Al-Shiha, new CEO of Saudi Investment Recycling Co. 

Updated 27 February 2021

Who’s Who: Ziyad Al-Shiha, new CEO of Saudi Investment Recycling Co. 

Ziyad Al-Shiha has been appointed CEO of the Saudi Investment Recycling Co. (SIRC).

SIRC, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund, the National Waste Management Center and the municipality of the Eastern Province recently signed an agreement to start integrated waste management and waste recycling activities in the province.

Al-Shiha has been a board member of the National Petrochemical Company, a Saudi joint-stock company, since 2019, and was deputy chair of the Business 20 (B20) Trade and Investment Taskforce.

He was president and CEO of the Saudi Electricity Co. (SEC) from 2014 to 2018 and, prior to that, was a SEC board member from 2012 to 2013.

Al-Shiha has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, a master’s degree in engineering and control systems from Rice University, and a second master’s in executive business administration from MIT.

He had a number of positions at Saudi Aramco after joining the company in 1984. He was an electrical engineer and vice president of general planning in one of the international joint ventures in the Philippines. He was also a public relations manager at Aramco, the director of facilities planning, and the executive director of power systems.

Al-Shiha has participated in several leadership training programs, including MIT’s Sloan Fellowship Program.