Saudi envoy chairs UN conference of heads of counterterrorism agencies

Ambassador Abdallah Al-Mouallimi (rightmost) presiding over the second UN High-level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies of Member States in New York on June 30, 2021. (SPA)
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Updated 02 July 2021

Saudi envoy chairs UN conference of heads of counterterrorism agencies

  • The aim of the session was to explore good practices, innovative methods and new ideas for addressing challenges relating to terrorism

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the UN, Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, on Wednesday chaired the fourth session of the second UN High-level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism Agencies of Member States. 

He said that the session, titled Responding to New and Evolving Counterterrorism Challenges in the New Decade, aimed to explore good practices, innovative methods and new ideas for confronting ongoing, emerging and evolving challenges, and discuss the priorities and needs of member states in the face of evolving terrorist threats.

It also considered the roles of national agencies, international and regional organizations, civil society, local actors and the private sector in facing the terrorism-related challenges of the new decade, he said, as well as the basic policy tools needed at the national, regional and international levels.

Al-Mouallimi added that the participants discussed the basic practical and operational tools needed to meet new and existing counterterrorism challenges, which include new types of threats and the growing use of the internet to incite and recruit people to commit terrorist acts.

China’s permanent representative to the UN, Zhang Jun, said during the session that despite the progress that has been made in enhancing global cooperation in efforts to combat terrorism, the world still faces terror threats and Daesh remains active in Syria and Iraq.

He also warned that the withdrawal of international forces from Afghanistan has led to a significant deterioration in the security situation in that country. Meanwhile terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda and Daesh are causing unrest and chaos, he added, at a time when unilateralism and increased polarization are leading to the politicization of human rights issues and creating a vicious cycle of violence and instability.

Zhang also highlighted the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused massive increases in unemployment and poverty around the world, widening the gap between rich and the poor, and leading to a growing number of people becoming marginalized. As the pandemic has exacerbated economic and social challenges, he said, it has created a fertile breeding ground for terrorism.

Gilles de Kerchove, the EU’s counter-terrorism coordinator, said that the war on terror is not over and the EU is keen to strengthen its capabilities to confront the threats. He added that as a result of enhanced cooperation, EU members have strengthened their ability to combat terrorism over the past 20 years, including through the work of the European Counter-Terrorism Office.

Terrorism has been on the rise worldwide since 2001, he said, and international cooperation is crucial to combat it. He also stressed the need to study the types of environment that create the conditions that fuel the spread of terrorism.

Chris Landberg, the US State Department’s deputy counterterrorism coordinator, said: “It is important that we assess the progress we have made together and discuss approaches to combating the ever-evolving terrorist threat.”

He added that his country has made significant progress in its efforts to combat the activities of Al-Qaeda and Daeshh, and dismantle their networks. He pointed out that the threat posed by the two groups continues to evolve — including the growing Daesh presence in West and Central Africa, and Al-Qaeda’s activities in Central Asia through its proxies in East Africa and Southeast Asia — and so the world must remain vigilant and tighten its focus on their recruitment operations.

Closer to home, Landberg said that on June 15 Washington launched a national strategy to combat domestic terrorism, with a particular focus on ethnic terrorism and the connections, especially through the internet, between violent extremists in the US.

Morocco’s permanent representative to the UN, Omar Hilal, said that the defeat of Al-Qaeda and the fall of Daesh marked a new phase of the global fight against terrorism, and that the international community is determined to continue its efforts to counter the threats.

Terrorism has begun to take new and diverse forms, he said, and extremists prey on people in places ravaged by conflict or where state influence is weak.

“Terrorists provide social and basic services to some citizens, to replace the central state,” he said. “This means that these terrorist groups control these areas, and this enhances the terrorist threat and undermines the security of these countries.”

Oscar Fernandez Taranco, the UN’s assistant secretary-general for peacebuilding support, said that terrorist threats have become more globalized and complex as extremists increasingly have the ability to reinvent themselves and recruit in new and innovative ways. The changing nature of the threats they pose has become clear over the past year, he added.

Daesh used the internet to step up its radicalization efforts during the pandemic, which could lead to an increase in terrorist activities in the years ahead, he warned. The UN is concerned about the long-term effects of the pandemic on international peace and security, as well as economic and social effects.

Elena Chernenko, a Russian journalist, talked about the role of the media in combating terrorism and the effectiveness of codes of conduct established by media organizations worldwide.

She also highlighted a recent success as a result of media pressure, saying that on June 23, 1,000 channels linked to terrorism on a popular online platform were blocked as part of an agreement between the Russian government and the service provider to preserve security, peace and privacy for subscribers.

Digital infrastructure enabled Saudi Arabia to confront pandemic

Updated 26 September 2021

Digital infrastructure enabled Saudi Arabia to confront pandemic

  • Kingdom’s technological progress contributed to raising level of transparency, efficiency, says Saudi envoy to UN

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s strong digital infrastructure has enabled the public and private sectors to meet the devastating challenges of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the Kingdom’s envoy to the UN has said.

“Guided by the national transformation program, the Kingdom’s technological progress has contributed to raising the level of transparency and digital efficiency,” said Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative to the UN.

Al-Mouallimi made these remarks during a high-level side event organized by the Digital Cooperation Organization under the theme “Shaping a Comprehensive Digital Age,” a recently established global organization working toward achieving “digital prosperity for all.”

The DCO works with governments, the private sector, international and nongovernmental organizations and civil society to push for an inclusive digital transformation and the growth of digital industries.

The DCO’s seven-member body includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Nigeria, Oman, and Pakistan. It accounts for a population of 480 million, 80 percent of which are under the age of 35. It said it is open to any new member that shares the same goals of “empowering youth, women, and entrepreneurs and leapfrogging the digital transformation.”  

In his remarks, Al-Mouallimi highlighted the Kingdom’s digital achievements and the efforts of the DCO during the pandemic. 

“They helped to make it possible to work remotely and adapt to the new conditions imposed by the pandemic,” said the ambassador, adding that the world is undergoing a shift towards digital transformation at a faster pace than ever before. 

“Digitization creates opportunities and challenges that go beyond borders, making digital collaboration an essential element in facilitating digital transformation at the international level, so that our digital future must be more inclusive and global efforts ensure that technology is available to all.”

Al-Mouallimi underlined that multilateral cooperation is necessary to meet digital challenges and opportunities. Countries must harness their full potential to integrate into the digital age, mainly dependent on global collaboration.

Al-Mouallimi said it is clear that the DCO emphasizes promoting digital cooperation to meet the current challenges.

“The core objectives of the DCO are about accelerating the growth of the digital economy, as well as promoting social prosperity to include all,” the envoy said, adding: “The organization also seeks to develop an ambitious model for promoting global digital efforts, making us, as members of the organization’s coordination office, forced to exert all efforts to reach our goals and objectives.”

He said that the Kingdom accelerated the growth of the digital economy in the region and around the world as a member of the DCO, stressing that the Kingdom will continue its commitment to maximizing digital capabilities at the national and international levels.

He added: “The Kingdom has put digitization at the forefront of the technological progress it seeks, and as a result, several outstanding achievements have enabled Saudi Arabia to make significant progress in global indicators, ranking first among the G20 countries in digital competitiveness according to the European Centre for Digital Competitiveness.”

Taste of history as Saudi turns old police station into heritage eatery

Updated 26 September 2021

Taste of history as Saudi turns old police station into heritage eatery

  • Abha restaurant draws visitors from around the Gulf with traditional southern flavors

ABHA: A young Saudi “jack of all trades” has used his creative talent and love of cooking to transform a former police station in Abha into a traditional restaurant.

Now Ibrahim bin Mansour Bashashah Al-Asiri’s Al-Hosn Al-Turathi — or Abha castle heritage restaurant — has become a landmark attraction, serving up traditional southern flavors to tourists visiting the historic southwest Saudi city.

Diners from around the Kingdom and Gulf states regularly visit the eatery for a taste of southern hospitality.

Al-Asiri, a plastic artist, and gift and flower designer, told Arab News that the restaurant was previously a coffeeshop owned by his brother.

“The building was originally the Asir police station. I did not favor strong additions and alterations that would erase the designs that characterize the building,” he said.

“My main objective was for the visitor to be able to sense the history of a place that is 40 or 50 years old.”

Being a jack of all trades, Al-Asiri decided to invest his talents and help preserve the city’s heritage by turning the coffeeshop into a restaurant.

He used his talent with lighting and art to transform the site into a heritage icon that takes diners back in time.

Initially, the restaurant served only breakfast, but the menu quickly expanded until meals became available throughout the day. 

Ibrahim bin Mansour Bashashah Al-Asiri, owner of Al-Hosn Al-Turathi. (Supplied)

One form of art found in the restaurant is Al-Qatt Al-Asiri, a traditionally female interior wall decoration and ancient art form considered a key element in Asir’s history.

Al-Hosn Al-Turathi restaurant relies on the work of two people — Al-Asiri, who cooks and oversees artistic tasks, and his brother, who handles management.

“There aren’t many restaurants that offer popular southern meals, especially in Abha, while there are many popular restaurants in Khamis Mushayt,” he said.

Menu favorites offered at Al-Hosn Al-Turathi include al-arika, a traditional dessert in the southern region made with brown flour mixed with warm water, oil and ghee to form a dough, and flavored with a drizzle of honey and cardamom.

The restaurant is the first to serve “miva” or southern “tannour” bread, Al-Asiri said, adding that he is the first Saudi in the Kingdom to cook while wearing a traditional Saudi outfit.

Al-Asiri also launched the Asiri bouquet, a collection of local plants with aromatic scents, gifting them to a number of princes and other high-profile personalities.

Al-Hosn Al-Turathi heritage restaurant supports local productive families. A coffee and hot beverages corner is managed by one of the sisters, Umm Joud, who holds a master’s in business management, and supervises the preparation of hot drinks using traditional ingredients.

Al-Asiri urged Saudi youth to work hard, saying Saudi Arabia offers many opportunities to realize the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. “We need to be patient and active, and try to reach the top with the capabilities that we have. So we need to be persistent and work hard,” he said.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, Greece complete military exercises

Updated 26 September 2021

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, Greece complete military exercises

  • The drills are part of a program to enhance military cooperation between friendly countries

RIYADH: Special security forces of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Greece and Egypt completed joint drills in the Greek capital, Athens.

Taking part what was hailed as further cooperation between allied states were the Royal Saudi Land Forces paratroopers, Emirati Special Forces, the Egyptian Army’s El-Saa’ka (Thunderbolt) Forces and Paratroopers and the Greek Joint Special Operations Forces.

The drills are part of a program to enhance military cooperation between friendly countries, to exchange training and experience and to increase the level of combat readiness to confront challenges in the region.

The training plan was conducted by the Royal Saudi Land Forces to maintain a high level of performance, training and combat efficiency as part of the annual training programs that are implemented with friendly countries.

The drills were observed by the Greek Deputy Minister of Defense, the Chief of the Hellenic National Defense General Staff, the commanders of the Greek Ministry of Defense’s forces, the Saudi ambassador in the Republic of Greece, Saad bin Abdul Rahman Al-Ammar, and the Assistant Commander of Paratrooper Units and Special Security Forces Major General Sultan Islam.

Saudi FM meets Colombian, Qatari counterparts 

Updated 26 September 2021

Saudi FM meets Colombian, Qatari counterparts 

NEW YORK: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Saturday met Colombia’s Vice President and Foreign Minister Marta Lucía Ramírez on the sidelines of the 76th session of the UN General Assembly in New York.

The meeting discussed relations between the two countries and the means to strengthen them to serve common interests. They also exchanged views on regional and international issues of common interest.

The meeting was attended by the Saudi ambassador to the US, Princess Reema bint Bandar; the undersecretary of the Foreign Ministry for multilateral international affairs, Abdulrahman Al-Rassi; and the director general of the Saudi foreign minister’s office, Abdulrahman Al-Daoud.

In a separate meeting, Prince Faisal met Qatar’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani. They reviewed relations between the two countries and considered how to best promote them.

Saudi content creators set up local production studio

Updated 26 September 2021

Saudi content creators set up local production studio

  • The idea of Karkand is to have a studio space for social media influencers

JEDDAH: Making social media videos is a competitive business, and for content creators and entrepreneurs the stakes are high.

Saudi social media content creators Sultan Al-Saggaf and Ahmed Al-Kiyadi have made this process easier with the opening of “Karkand” rental studio.

For content creators, videos are what attract viewers and must be done well. Issues of background noise, poor lighting and finding the right setting can be intimidating for those starting out in the business.

The idea of Karkand is to have a studio space for social media influencers. According to the founders, whether the videos are about gaming, unboxing gifts, beauty and makeup tutorials or fashion, anyone can visit Karkand Productions and create a professional clip.

“Located in Jeddah, we launched Karkand Productions when we realized that we don’t have a professional space for content creators. As YouTubers we struggled to make professional videos and we thought that there must be a lot of creators who are struggling too,” Al-Kiyadi, Karkand co-founder, told Arab News.

Fellow co-founder, Al-Saggaf, said that Karkand provided a comfortable space for creators. “Basically the creator can book a room per hour and this room is equipped with soundproof walls, microphones, cameras, and we can edit anything for the creator,” he said. “After we finish producing the video, we email it to the creator.”

“We have the technology, just bring your idea and come.”


• For content creators, videos are what attract viewers and must be done well. Issues of background noise, poor lighting and finding the right setting can be intimidating for those starting out in the business.

• According to the founders, whether the videos are about gaming, unboxing gifts, beauty and makeup tutorials or fashion, anyone can visit Karkand Productions and create a professional clip.

Al-Kiyadi said that they were trying to create an environment and space for online content creators who struggled to find a place to film their content, and Karkland provided professional video and audio solutions using their experience in multimedia.

The idea behind the name was to have an identity based on a creature. “Since we also do a lot of video cutting during the post-production phase, we wanted a unique name that is both Arabic and easily pronounced in English. The closest name we could come up with was the lobster, which translates in Arabic as karkand.”

Al-Saggaf said that one of the obstacles they enountered had been price range. “As this is our first business venture, the normal obstacles were faced and many lessons were also learned. Understanding market pricings and scoping down our real value compared to the local market, and finding the right location, were important to get the right footing as soon as we launched.”

“Karkand is a first of its kind locally, we can say that it is a monopoly, and we try to be more flexible with timings and restrictions since we are dealing with a creative field.”

Al-Saggaf said that aside from their primary target audience — online content creators — they also welcomed business owners who sought to advertise their products and services.

Vision 2030 had made people aware of media and content creation, he said. “The interest in developing online content is growing among people, and there are a lot of upcoming YouTubers, including many Saudi women, who are entering the field of online content. They are more than welcome to book a room with us, the price range is affordable, ranging around SR300 ($80) per hour.”

Al-Saggaf advised young content creators to start with a small sum to “scope your strength and find your weakness, follow your passion, and specialize in one field.”