Saudi Arabia remains committed to Palestinian state, foreign minister tells Arab League

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Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan head the Kingdom's delegation at an extraordinary Arab League meeting in Cairo on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan head the Kingdom's delegation at an extraordinary Arab League meeting in Cairo on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. (SPA)
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Arab League foreign ministers held an emergency meeting in Cairo on Monday, Feb. 8 2021, to discuss the Middle East peace process and preserving Arab national unity. (SPA)
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Arab League foreign ministers held an emergency meeting in Cairo on Monday, Feb. 8 2021, to discuss the Middle East peace process and preserving Arab national unity. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets his Palestinian counterpart Riyad Al-Maliki in Cairo on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets his Iraqi counterpart Fuad Hussein in Cairo on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets his Libyan counterpart Mohamed Taher Siala in Cairo on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan meets his Libyan counterpart Mohamed Taher Siala in Cairo on Monday, Feb. 8, 2021. (SPA)
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Updated 08 February 2021
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Saudi Arabia remains committed to Palestinian state, foreign minister tells Arab League

  • Prince Faisal bin Farhan used his address to condemn attacks by Yemen’s Houthi militia against civilian targets
  • Aboul Gheit says Palestinian position must be strengthened internally and externally

CAIRO: Saudi Arabia remains committed to the establishment of a Palestinian state, the Kingdom’s foreign minister said on Monday.
Prince Faisal bin Farhan told Arab League foreign ministers during an emergency meeting in Cairo that the Kingdom stands with the Palestinian people and firmly supports all efforts to reach a just and comprehensive solution. He added said that peace is a strategic option that would guarantee regional stability.
“We call on the international community to exert more efforts to revive the peace process to establish an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital,” he said.
The Arab League meeting took place as leaders from rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah held reconciliation talks in Egypt.
In their final statement, the ministers affirmed the “Arab rejection of any unilateral Israeli projects or steps that negatively affect the rights of the Palestinian people, violate international law and undermine the two-state solution, for which there is no alternative.”
They urged all international parties — including the UN and the other members of the Middle East Quartet: the US, the EU and Russia — to take all practical steps to launch credible negotiations that can address final-status issues and end the Israeli occupation. They stressed the importance of the Quartet’s role in achieving a peace agreement based on the two-state solution.
The ministers welcomed a ruling by the International Criminal Court on its territorial jurisdiction in Palestine, which concluded that it extends to the territories occupied by Israel since 1967: Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. They also praised the decision by the Palestinians to hold elections and the current reconciliation efforts.
During his opening address, Egyptian Foreign Minster Sameh Shoukry said Cairo is working to ensure this reconciliation process between the two sides succeeds, while supporting the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people in facing external challenges.
He added that regional stability will only be achieved when there is a “permanent and comprehensive peace based on a just settlement that fulfills the aspirations and hopes of the Palestinian people.”
Shoukry warned Israel against making any changes to the status of Jerusalem, and stressed the importance of Palestinian refugees’ right of return.
Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the “Palestinian issue is the focus of Arab consensus,” and warned that Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem constitutes a serious obstacle to the two-state solution.
He called for the relaunch of negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis, and renewed the league’s commitment to supporting Palestine until it achieves independence.
“The Palestinian position must be strengthened internally and externally,” he said, adding that while Israel continues to undermine the two-state solution, the Palestinian people are also losing confidence in that outcome.
Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s foreign minister, said the Palestinian issue is the key to stability in the region, and Amman is ready to engage with the new US administration as part of the efforts to achieve peace.
The Kingdom’s Prince Faisal also used his address to condemn attacks by the Iran-backed Houthi militias in Yemen against civilian targets, and hit out at Tehran’s destabilizing activities in the wider region.
“One of the most dangerous threats facing our region is the Iranian regime’s continuous violations of international laws, charters and norms by threatening the security and stability of our countries, interfering in their internal affairs and supporting armed militias that sow chaos, division and devastation in many Arab countries,” he said.
The Saudi foreign minister said the nations most affected by Iranian threats should be among the main participants in any international negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program and other activities that threaten regional security.
“We call on the international community to put an end to Iran’s violations and its threat to the region,” he added.
On the situation in Libya, he warned of the danger of regional interference and said the Kingdom supports the country’s unity and territorial integrity. He also said Saudi Arabia supports Iraq in its efforts to achieve stability at all levels and urged the international community to fulfill its responsibilities to ensure the security of the country.
Prince Faisal also held meetings with fellow foreign ministers Riyad Al-Maliki, from Palestine, Fuad Hussein, from Iraq, and Mohamed Taher Siala, from Libya, on the sidelines of the gathering.


Merwas — Riyadh’s beating heart of creativity

Updated 20 April 2024
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Merwas — Riyadh’s beating heart of creativity

  • World’s largest music production studio is nurturing Saudi talent, streamlining local industry

RIYADH: Riyadh’s Merwas, considered the biggest art and entertainment factory globally, is proving to be one of Saudi Arabia’s greatest music industry assets.

Nada Al-Tuwaijri, co-founder and CEO of Merwas, told Arab News that the facility, which holds the Guinness World Record for the largest music production studio, “is home to all artists.”

She added: “The methodology behind it is to create solutions through the subsidiaries, and invest in both talent and infrastructure.

“Alongside it being a one-stop shop for all content creators, we strive to take our local talents from local to global and create a unique stamp in the industry.”

Spread across almost 5,000 square meters, Merwas fosters creativity, collaboration, and the production of multimedia content, along with hosting workshops, networking sessions, and community events. (AN photos by Abdulrhman Bin Shalhoub/Supplied)

The entertainment zone and audiovisual production studio, located in Boulevard Riyadh City, houses 22 main studios alongside its academy.

Some of the top musicians in the world have visited Merwas since it opened in 2022. These include DJ Khaled, the acclaimed Saudi singer Rabeh Saqer, and the Emirati singer Ahlam. Afrojack, a world-renowned Dutch DJ and producer, also led an electronic music boot camp to nurture local talent and inspire a new generation of Saudi artists.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Merwas, located in Boulevard Riyadh City, houses 22 main studios alongside its academy.

• The academy’s classes offer local creatives and artists direct access to seasoned expertise.

• The Earth Sound Studio, or ESS, named after the late Saudi composer Talal Maddah.

Spread across almost 5,000 square meters, the culture factory fosters creativity, collaboration, and the production of multimedia content, while providing artists with access to top-tier services, facilities and industry expertise.

Spread across almost 5,000 square meters, Merwas fosters creativity, collaboration, and the production of multimedia content, along with hosting workshops, networking sessions, and community events. (AN photos by Abdulrhman Bin Shalhoub/Supplied)

The Earth Sound Studio, or ESS, named after the late Saudi composer Talal Maddah, features state-of-the-art technology, such as the SSL console, which is used to create depth on music tracks and ensures the true soul of the artist’s voice is protected.

This live recording space is booked almost every day by various artists, and has been used by some of the Arab region’s biggest stars.

The facility, which holds the Guinness World Record for the largest music production studio, is home to all artists according to co-founder Nada Al-Tuwaijri. (Supplied)

One of the only five Neve consoles in the world can be found in the Neve Studio. The panel is known for its high-quality sound and warmth, and is ideal for music recording, vocal tracking, and mixing for exceptional audio quality.

Its live studio can accommodate over 120 orchestra members and their instruments to provide a unique recording experience.

Spread across almost 5,000 square meters, Merwas fosters creativity, collaboration, and the production of multimedia content, along with hosting workshops, networking sessions, and community events. (AN photos by Abdulrhman Bin Shalhoub/Supplied)

Specifically designed for electronic music production, the EMP Suite is a DJ’s dream, with cutting edge synthesizers and digital audio workstations ensuring an artist leaves the room with a fully produced track.

Merwas is also home to three production suites, designed for content creators who require a comfortable and professional environment for music production, editing, and mixing. Each suite is equipped with industry-standard gear, software, and acoustics to support a wide range of projects.

Nada Al-Tuwaijri, Merwas cofounder and CEO

The studio also provides private rehearsal spaces to ensure Saudi talents are nourished to their full potential. The versatile space is designed for musicians, performers, and other artists to rehearse and refine their craft within a comfortable environment with access to instruments and equipment.

Part of the charm of recording studios is the live jam sessions that have given birth to some of the most iconic records to date. Merwas’ Band Live/Control Room also captures the spontaneity of live performance within its soundproof walls.

Alongside (Merwas) being a one-stop shop for all content creators, we strive to take our local talents from local to global and create a unique stamp in the industry.

Nada Al-Tuwaijri, Merwas cofounder and CEO

Championing audiovisual pursuits, the studio has made space for high-quality podcasts and videos to come to life.

The podcast suite and FM radio recording spaces are tailored to immerse listeners with unbeatable audio clarity, while the 25-meter-long Green Screen room helps ideas come to life, whether commercial, film, or music video.

Spread across almost 5,000 square meters, Merwas fosters creativity, collaboration, and the production of multimedia content, along with hosting workshops, networking sessions, and community events. (AN photos by Abdulrhman Bin Shalhoub/Supplied)

Material can then be edited at the color-grading suite, which is essentially a small theater with 4K projector. Producers, directors, writers, and engineers gather here to put the final visual touches on video projects through its DaVinci color grading software and hardware.

Academy Classes offers local creatives and artists direct access to seasoned expertise. These feature advanced stations for sound production, engineering, and technical programs, with everything necessary for a basic understanding and training of music production.

The studio hosts workshops, networking sessions, and community events in an effort to flourish the music industry locally while making it a magnet for international talent. Anyone can be a part of this community by booking a suite or signing up for a workshop on their website merwas.sa.

Merwas has positioned itself at the the forefront of the entertainment industry being the first of its kind in the MENA region. In less than a year since its launch, it has already became a hotspot for musicians across the globe to visit and utilize its services, from rising talents to international A-listers.

Founded by Al-Tuwaijri and Chief Content Officer Rumian Al-Rumayyan in partnership with Sela, Merwas treasures Saudi creativity and is a vital part of building an ecosystem and community for local artists.

Their partnership with the Saudi Authority for Intellectual Property has set a new focus on preserving the rights of local creatives, pillared by the aim to enrich the culture of the Kingdom while empowering its citizens and their creativity in an environment of abundant knowledge, education in culture, art, entertainment and music.

 


15k held for labor, residency, border violations in KSA

Saudi police have arrested hundreds of illegals breaching country’s law. (SPA)
Updated 20 April 2024
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15k held for labor, residency, border violations in KSA

  • The report showed that among the 996 people arrested for trying to enter the Kingdom illegally, 64 percent were Ethiopian, 33 percent Yemeni, and 3 percent were of other nationalities

RIYADH: Saudi authorities arrested almost 15,000 people in one week for breaching residency, work and border security regulations, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.

According to an official report, a total of 9,479 people were arrested for violations of residency laws, while 3,763 were held over illegal border crossing attempts, and a further 1,430 for labor-related issues.

The report showed that among the 996 people arrested for trying to enter the Kingdom illegally, 64 percent were Ethiopian, 33 percent Yemeni, and 3 percent were of other nationalities.

A further 37 people were caught trying to cross into neighboring countries, and six were held for involvement in transporting and harboring violators.

The Saudi Ministry of Interior said that anyone found to be facilitating illegal entry to the Kingdom, including providing transportation and shelter, could face imprisonment for a maximum of 15 years, a fine of up to SR1 million ($260,000), as well as confiscation of vehicles and property.

Suspected violations can be reported on the toll-free number 911 in the Makkah and Riyadh regions, and 999 or 996 in other regions of the Kingdom.

 


Authorities bust drug smugglers across Saudi Arabia

Updated 20 April 2024
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Authorities bust drug smugglers across Saudi Arabia

  • The Saudi government urges anyone with information related to suspected smuggling operations or customs violations to call the confidential hotline 1910, the international number +966114208417, or to email [email protected]

RIYADH: Saudi authorities recently made several drug-related arrests and confiscations in operations across the Kingdom, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.

Border Guard land patrols in Al-Ardah governorate, Jazan region arrested a Yemeni national attempting to smuggle 60 kg of qat.

In the Saqam sector of Najran region, the land patrols thwarted the smuggling of 58 kg of hashish.

The General Directorate of Narcotics Control arrested a Bangladeshi resident in the Hail region for attempting to sell methamphetamine, a narcotic substance commonly referred to as “shabu.”

The authorities also arrested a citizen in Jazan for selling amphetamines, highly addictive drugs that stimulate the central nervous system.

Preliminary legal procedures have been completed for all the individuals involved and all seized items have been handed over to the relevant authorities.

The Saudi government urges anyone with information related to suspected smuggling operations or customs violations to call the confidential hotline 1910, the international number +966114208417, or to email [email protected].

Tips received relating to smuggling and breaches of common customs law are treated with strict confidentiality. Financial rewards are offered for valid tips.

 


Urban greening begins in Irqah, Riyadh

Updated 20 April 2024
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Urban greening begins in Irqah, Riyadh

  • 24,000 trees planted in neighborhood as part of Green Riyadh program
  • 38 buildings will also be restored using the Salmani architecture style, and 111 parking lots will be greened

RIYADH: Urban greening works in the Irqah neighborhood of Riyadh began on April 18, continuing a tree-planting initiative that is part of the Green Riyadh program.
Irqah is the eighth residential neighborhood in the capital to become part of the urban greening initiative, following Al-Aziziyah, Al-Naseem, Al-Jazeera, Al-Uraija, Qurtuba, Al-Ghadir, and Al-Nakheel, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
In Irqah, works will include the planting of 24,000 trees and shrubs — all of which are heat-tolerant and suitable for the Kingdom’s summer climate, the creation of 39 parks, and the greening of eight schools, 54 mosques, four government buildings, and 69 kilometers of streets. These efforts will, the SPA said, “improve the neighborhood’s landscape, encourage walking, and reduce health care expenses and energy consumption.”
In addition to the greening works, bicycle paths and pedestrian walkways will be created between Mohammed bin Salman Nonprofit City with Wadi Hanifah.
According to the SPA, 38 buildings will also be restored using the Salmani architecture style, and 111 parking lots will be greened.
To mark the start of the urban greening works an exhibition and planting events have been organized, with the aim of raising residents’ awareness about the project and the accompanying works. The exhibition, which is being held near Prince Mishal bin Abdulaziz Mosque in Irqah and runs until April 27, includes renderings of how the neighborhood will look once the project has been completed.
Green Riyadh is one of four major projects related to Riyadh that were launched by King Salman in 2019, and is an initiative of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
It will involve the planting of more than 7.5 million trees in Riyadh, resulting in 9.1 percent of the city being covered in greenery, and an increase in the per-capita share of green spaces from 1.7 square meters to 28 square meters — 16 times its current level.
Green Riyadh will also help decrease Riyadh’s temperature and improve the city’s air quality, according to the SPA.
By 2030, project developers plan to have carried out urban greening in 120 neighborhoods in the capital.


Heritage celebrations in Diriyah and Baha draw crowds

Updated 20 April 2024
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Heritage celebrations in Diriyah and Baha draw crowds

RIYADH: The Diriyah Gate Development Authority, in collaboration with the Saudi National Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites and the Heritage Foundation, marked World Heritage Day on April 18.

The celebration included a variety of activities held over three days at several sites, notably the historic At-Turaif district in Diriyah, listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 2010.

Heritage experts embarked on a field tour to Diriyah’s sites undergoing rehabilitation, including Wadi Hanifa, Al-Bahli Farm, Ghassiba, and the historic At-Turaif district.

A multi-session seminar was also held to help understand challenges of rainfall and floods in Diriyah. Experts also discussed integrating traditional knowledge and modern engineering in preservation operations, aiming to counteract the impact of natural disasters.

The event highlighted the ongoing journey of the DGDA in rehabilitating, preserving, and raising awareness about the historical and cultural value of heritage sites in the Kingdom.

Meanwhile in Baha, the Saudi Heritage Commission and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Al-Makhwah Governorate of the Baha region organized a celebration for World Heritage Day at Thee Ain historic village.

The festivities included captivating sound and light shows projected onto the facades of 58 heritage houses in the village, a folk performance, a heritage council, and the traditional preparation of Saudi coffee.

Thee Ain village is renowned for its authentic heritage, rich history, and breathtaking beauty, leaving a lasting impression on visitors. According to the UNESCO website, the village dates back to the end of the 16th century, making it over 400 years old.