G20 leaders seek to help poorest nations in the post-COVID world

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Media watches Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz's virtual speech live at the media centre during an opening session of the 15th annual G20 Leaders' Summit in Riyadh on Nov. 21, 2020. (REUTERS)
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King Salman in Riyadh presides over the G20 Summit on Saturday, virtually attended by world leaders because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (SPA)
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In this handout image provided by Saudi Royal Palace, King Salman gives his opening remarks at a virtual G20 summit hosted by Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. (AP)
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King Salman said on Saturday that Saudi Arabia was pleased with the meeting of the leaders of the G20 countries, stressing that the G20 had demonstrated its ability to join efforts against COVID-19. (G20)
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King Salman said on Saturday that Saudi Arabia was pleased with the meeting of the leaders of the G20 countries, stressing that the G20 had demonstrated its ability to join efforts against COVID-19. (G20)
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King Salman gives his opening remarks at a virtual G20 summit hosted by Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 22 November 2020

G20 leaders seek to help poorest nations in the post-COVID world

  • King Salman says member countries must work toward equitable access to coronavirus vaccines
  • Adds that economies and borders must be reopened to facilitate the movement of trade and people

RIYADH/LONDON: G20 leaders must work toward fair and affordable access to COVID-19 vaccines, King Salman said during his opening remarks at the G20 summit in Riyadh on Saturday.

“Although we are optimistic about the progress made in developing vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics tools for COVID-19, we must work to create the conditions for affordable and equitable access to these tools for all peoples,” he said, opening the unprecedented meeting held virtually due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

“It is unfortunate that we are unable to host you in person in Riyadh, due to the exceptional circumstances that we are all facing this year,” King Salman told G20 leaders.

“Our peoples and economies are still suffering from this shock. However, we will do our best to overcome this crisis through international cooperation,” the king said. 

King Salman gives his opening remarks at a virtual G20 summit hosted by Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on Nov. 21, 2020. (Royal Palace photo via AP)

Together, King Salman said, people can protect their lives and livelihoods while shaping a better world.

The G20 leaders are holding a two-day virtual meeting via video-conference due to the pandemic, under the chairmanship of Saudi Arabia, which holds the rotating presidency of the G20 until the end of November.

The pandemic, which will throw the global economy into a deep recession this year before an economic rebound expected in 2021, is at the top of the agenda.

The king noted that the 20 largest global economies had so far contributed $21 billion to confronting COVID-19 and “took extraordinary measures to support our economies by injecting over $11 trillion to support individuals and businesses.”

Environmental protection

G20 countries should provide support to developing countries to maintain development progress, the king said.

The role of women and youth in society and the labor market must be strengthened, he added.

King Salman added that G20 countries must lead the international community in conserving and protecting the environment, combating land degradation and preserving coral reefs. 

He added that G20 countries have adopted the Riyadh Initiative on the Future of the WTO which aims to make the multilateral trading system more capable of facing any challenges.

Economies and borders must be reopened to facilitate the movement of trade and people, the king said. 

The Kingdom launched the summit with an aerial display of passenger and aerobatic planes over Riyadh and on Friday, a virtual “family photo” of G20 heads of state was displayed on the walls of the historic Salwa Palace in Diriyah at a cultural dinner for journalists, guests and envoys. 

Individual photos of the G20 leaders were joined together with King Salman at the center.

“I am confident that the Riyadh Summit will deliver significant and decisive results and will lead to adopting economic and social policies that will restore hope and reassurance to the people of the world,” King Salman said at the end of his speech. 

Earlier on Saturday, King Salman said that Saudi Arabia was pleased with the meeting of the leaders of the G20 countries, stressing that the G20 had demonstrated its ability to join efforts against COVID-19.

“The group demonstrated its strength and ability to cooperate in order to mitigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the world,” he tweeted.

It’s everyone’s responsibility “to move towards to a better, healthier and prosperous future for all,” King Salman added.

 

Dealing with COVID-19

G20 leaders are concerned that the pandemic might further deepen global divisions between the rich and the poor.

“We need to avoid at all costs a scenario of a two-speed world where only the richer can protect themselves against the virus and restart normal lives,” French President Emmanuel Macron told the summit.

To do that, the EU urged G20 leaders to quickly put more money into a global project for vaccines, tests and therapeutics called Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator.

“At the G20 Summit I called for $4.5 billion to be invested in ACT Accelerator by the end of 2020, for procurement & delivery of COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines everywhere,” European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said on Twitter. “We need to show global solidarity.”

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin offered to provide Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine to other countries and said Moscow was also preparing a second and third vaccine.

China, where the pandemic originated a year ago, also offered to cooperate on vaccines. 

“China is willing to strengthen cooperation with other countries in the research and development, production, and distribution of vaccines,” Xi told the G20 Summit.

“We will ... offer help and support to other developing countries, and work hard to make vaccines a public good that citizens of all countries can use and can afford,” he said.

 


Riyadh prepares for opening of 14 top international restaurant brands

Updated 04 October 2022

Riyadh prepares for opening of 14 top international restaurant brands

  • The new fine-dining establishments, which include five with Michelin-starred restaurants in other countries, are due to open in December

RIYADH: More than a dozen renowned international restaurant brands are set to open in Riyadh by the end of the year, including several with establishments in other countries that have earned a coveted Michelin star.

As the tastes of Saudis develop, the Kingdom is increasingly becoming a focus for major dining brands, which are contributing to the development of the tourism and entertainment sectors in the country as well as the national economy. During Riyadh Season celebrations, for example, residents and visitors to the capital have spent more than SR6 billion ($1.6 billion), according to the General Entertainment Authority.

Prince Saud bin Abdulaziz bin Farhan, who chairs the board of directors at Yakoon, a leading company in the hospitality industry, said that 14 international restaurant brands are due open in the capital in December. Five of them have establishments elsewhere in the world that have been awarded a Michelin star, an honor considered by many to represent the pinnacle of fine dining.

The new restaurants in Riyadh will include L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, La Cantine du Faubourg, Sass Cafe and MusicHall. Renowned in Europe and elsewhere, they are considered to be among the most luxurious and distinguished in the world. In the Kingdom, they will be located in areas such as The Boulevard, Al-Bujairi in Diriyah, and King Abdullah Financial District.

“Bringing these restaurants to the Kingdom is in line with the development we are witnessing in the tourism and entertainment sectors,” Prince Saud told Arab News.

“We expect this category of restaurants in the food and nutrition sector to contribute positively to the tourist’s journey and the entertainment experience of the citizen and resident.”

He said his team’s investment aims reflect the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, including the development of the Kingdom as a global tourism destination. Part of this involves the comprehensive development of the entertainment sector and the promotion of a luxurious lifestyle, he added, and as part of its efforts to establish itself as a global destination, Riyadh will continue to enhance its image by embracing fine-dining brands.

“We aim to create an exceptional experience in the tourist’s journey or the experience of the citizen and resident in the food sector in the Kingdom, and bringing international restaurants to Riyadh and other cities of the Kingdom will contribute to enhancing the region’s touristic position,” Prince Saud said.


Who’s Who: Abdullah Al-Assaf, co-founder and chairman, OCEANX Consulting Firm

Updated 04 October 2022

Who’s Who: Abdullah Al-Assaf, co-founder and chairman, OCEANX Consulting Firm

Abdullah Al-Assaf is the co-founder and chairman of OCEANX, a Saudi consulting firm that provides consultative services to the government and private sectors through a selection of experts and competencies.

With over 14 years of experience, Al-Assaf has significantly contributed to the entrepreneurship sector. His specialties include financial engineering, developing financial models, redesigning financial plans and creating governance systems for various government and private entities.

He is also an approved valuer of economic facilities by the Saudi Authority for Accredited Valuers, also known as Taqeem.

During his early years, he established small manufacturing plants and cafes in 2005. While completing his university studies, he began working part-time as a business developer for a real estate company in 2006.

He worked as a financial business developer for the Badir Program for Technology Incubators from 2011 to 2012, following his bachelor’s and master’s programs.

In 2012, Al-Assaf was a vice president of finance at Gulf Furnishing Group. Subsequently, he co-founded OCEANX, and established the International Senbar Group, where he is currently a Chairman.

In 2014, Al-Assaf established Aram Investment Holding, affiliated with several manufacturing, wholesale and retail companies. Additionally, he co-founded VEST Investment Co., VoM Cloud Accounting Platform, and Fuel for Funding.

Moreover, Al-Assaf gave workshops on topics related to entrepreneurship and financial management in collaboration with public universities, including King Saud University, Taibah University, King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, and chambers of commerce, such as the Riyadh, Al-Ahsa, and Abha chambers.

He holds a master’s degree in international business and finance from De Montfort University, UK, a bachelor’s degree in finance from Qassim University, and diplomas in investment and management, finance and business strategy.


Saudi minister lauds workplace safety, health advances as major industry conference opens

Updated 04 October 2022

Saudi minister lauds workplace safety, health advances as major industry conference opens

  • The three-day conference is the Saudi sector’s most important annual event providing delegates with the chance to share information and experiences about the latest industry practices and technology trends on local, regional, and international levels

RIYADH: Saudi occupational safety and health legislation had helped slash the cost to businesses of work-related injuries, the Kingdom’s human resources minister said.

And as a major industry conference opened in the Kingdom, Ahmed Al-Rajhi highlighted efficiency improvements brought about through the implementation of new workplace rules, regulations, procedures, and initiatives.

The minister of human resources and social development’s comments came as the fifth international Conference on Occupational Safety and Health got underway on Monday at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center. The gathering is running in tandem with the fourth Arab Conference on Occupational Safety and Health under the theme, Upgrade and Safety. 

Ahmed Al-Rajhi, Minister of Human Resources (center), Abdullah Abu Thunain, Deputy Minister of Human Resources (left) and Fayez Ali Al-Mutairi, Director-General of the Arab Labor Organization, during the opening of the Fifth International Conference on Occupational Safety and Health, which began in Riyadh on Monday. (Supplied)

Al-Rajhi said: “I commend the private sector’s compliance with occupational safety and health legislation, as well as initiatives that reflect the genuine concern for providing safe, healthy, and sustainable working environments that upgrade the Saudi labor market.”

He praised Saudi government legislation, procedures, and initiatives aimed at improving working conditions and promoting occupational safety and health in the business sector.

“These steps have had a positive impact on reducing the costs of work injuries and enhancing the efficiency of facilities,” the minister added.

The three-day conference is the Saudi sector’s most important annual event providing delegates with the chance to share information and experiences about the latest industry practices and technology trends on local, regional, and international levels. 

Abdullah Abu Thunain, Deputy Minister of Human Resources, speaking in the first session of the Fifth International Conference on Occupational Safety and Health, which began in Riyadh on Monday. (Supplied)

Specialist working papers, certified training sessions, and interactive simulators form part of the conference events, and it was announced that a number of occupational safety and health training programs would be launched in collaboration with Makkah’s Umm Al-Qura University.

A conference statement also revealed that a training and rehabilitation program for certified occupational safety and health supervisors in the construction and building sector would be organized in collaboration with the Diriyah Gate Development Authority, in addition to training programs for workers’ accident and injury investigators.

The project will aim to organize the recording and investigation of workplace accidents and injuries, while putting initiatives in place for high-risk occupations.

Sattam Alharbi, deputy minister of human resources and social development for the control and development of the work environment, said the exhibition sought to meet the ministry’s goals of analyzing and exchanging Arab and global occupational safety and health experiences and best practices.

He added that while looking to promote a workplace culture of occupational safety and health by highlighting the latest technical advancements, the Kingdom was also engaged in encouraging research into prevention and helping to strengthen sector cooperation in developing the Saudi labor market.


Saudi healthcare facility honored at Patient Safety Conference

Updated 03 October 2022

Saudi healthcare facility honored at Patient Safety Conference

  • Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Humanitarian City takes platinum award at event in Dubai
  • Prize is ‘a culmination of tireless work,’ Prince Faisal bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz says

JEDDAH: A specialist healthcare services facility in the Saudi capital was honored at the Patient Safety Conference 2022, which ended in Dubai over the weekend.

Sultan Bin Abdulaziz Humanitarian City was presented with a platinum award in the Global Quality and Safety Initiative category after competing with 71 other medical projects in 16 countries across the Middle East.

It was recognized for its high-quality standards that guarantee the safety of surgical and medical procedures provided to patients.

Prince Faisal bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, secretary-general of the Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Foundation, said: “This award is a culmination of tireless work … to implement the highest quality standards and the best international applicable methods.

“The city’s vision aims to create an exceptional healing and working environment, whether for patients or for the workforce. By this, it contributes to the development of everything that would positively reflect on the growth of programs and the development of medical care, which in turn helps in providing advanced services to the community.”

The prince also praised the Ministry of Health for working with the nonprofit sector and enabling it to better serve the community, and said he hoped the award would motivate other institutions in different sectors to innovate and develop positive working environments.

According to its website, the three-day conference and exhibition aims to highlight key issues in the healthcare field and support the training and education of workers to enhance medical care around the region and globally.

Tom Coleman, event director, said: “Never before has access to healthcare affected so many people, and these kinds of events, bringing together key actors in the sector from decision-makers to caregivers, is critical for us to continue working to bring better healthcare to all.”

He added: “Whether we are speaking to hospital workers or aid workers out in the midst of humanitarian crises, the issues we are addressing, such as patient safety and infection control, remain pivotal, whatever and wherever.”

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Saudi coffee forum speakers brew up fresh thinking in sustainability

Updated 02 October 2022

Saudi coffee forum speakers brew up fresh thinking in sustainability

  • Expert emphasizes the importance of teaching coffee farming to the next generation

JAZAN: The second day of the Saudi Coffee Sustainability Forum welcomed some of the Kingdom’s experts in medicine, research and agriculture to shed light on Saudi Arabia’s expanding coffee industry.

Organized by the Ministry of Culture and held at the Grand Millennium Jazan, the second day of the forum took a deeper look into joint cooperation in the agricultural sector as well as the positive and negative effects of caffeine.

During the first session, the panelists highlighted ways to promote research cooperation on a global basis and the current obstacles faced within the local coffee industry limiting international progress.

The speakers highlighted the important role the government and research agencies can play in the coffee sector. They also covered the specifics of farming coffee such as the types of beans, climate conditions, and the growing customer demand.

Bandar Al-Fifi, director of the National Coffee Component Food and Agriculture Organization, said: “Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages worldwide, and the average daily consumption of coffee is increasing year after year. The consumption of coffee (is) increasing worldwide and with it so is this demand.”

He stressed that this increase in consumption requires a rise in production to meet demand. He emphasized the importance of teaching the next generation about farming to secure growth for the industry.

Industry leaders need to teach “the importance of applying good practices of farming techniques, and strategies to protect the coffee from diseases and pests, in addition to knowing the varieties that must be grown in order to achieve high productivity and reduce crop losses,” he stressed.

During the same session, Radi Al-Faridi, deputy director general of the National Research and Development Center for Sustainable Agriculture, discussed the importance of cooperation of all authorities in agricultural integration.

“The definition of agricultural sustainability includes all environmental, social and economic aspects,” Al- Faridi said.

“Currently coffee is considered the second-largest traded commodity in the world after oil, with the global coffee market value reaching $102 billion in 2020. It is expected that the coffee market will continue to grow to reach a rate of 4.28 percent during the period 2022-2026, as we find that the expansion in the coffee market increases so will the pressure on coffee supply chains,” he said.

The second session of​​ the Saudi Coffee Sustainability Forum welcomed a panel of medical specialists to highlight their research on the effects associated with the consumption of caffeine.

Dr. Amzaina Al-Naimi kicked off the final session of the forum, discussing a scientific paper on the effects of caffeine on mental health.

She highlighted the way caffeine contributes to the improvement of physical and cognitive performance of individuals. Al-Naimi said that a moderate (40 mg) to medium (300 mg) consumption of caffeine was a healthy way to improve alertness.

Rania Bogis, standards and regulations specialist of the Saudi Food and Drug Association, highlighted the various components in the different types of coffee that are present in the Kingdom and the safety measures and the proper storing methods that will prevent them from producing any harmful or poisonous elements.

“Supportive dates should be written on all products, the type of beans must be written, the types of roasting included even the types of grinding,” Bogis stressed.

“For instant Arabic coffee, it must be written on the packaging and the mix label, the additives must also always be clearly written as an additive,” she said.

The forum concluded on Sunday afternoon, with the Ministry of Culture highlighting 10 achievements the gathering accomplished.

The forum was designed to examine the challenges related to Saudi coffee in the value chain, the insight of farmers, obstacles they are facing as well as the ways to support and spark the entrepreneurship industry contributing to Saudi coffee on an international scale.

Closing the forum, Raed Alsufyani, the director of data management at the Ministry of Culture, highlighted 10 concepts discussed during the two-day event that will contribute to the sector.

1. Considering the accession of Saudi Arabia to the International Coffee Organization to exchange experiences.

2- Cooperating with international organizations related to research and promoting the field of scientific research for coffee.

3- Holding a special annual forum to discuss the advantages, aspirations and achievements of coffee.

4- Studying the launch of specialized indicators in cooperation with stakeholders to monitor support for the industry in this sector.

5- A day dedicated to celebrating coffee in the Kingdom.

6- Enhancing the role of farmers to improve production and sector sustainability.

7- Supporting the innovation and entrepreneurship industry to support the value and sustainability of Saudi coffee.

8. The presence of potential in the Kingdom to be in the first place for the manufacture and trade of coffee with unique specifications, including the coffee fruit and its strategic location.

9- The consideration of establishing an electronic magazine for Saudi coffee.

10 - Allocating an annual award for the best efforts, in all its diversity and in the media and culture, to contribute to the Saudi coffee sector.