Saudi-Iran talks still ‘exploratory,’ says FM Prince Faisal bin Farhan

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell (left) and Saudi Arabia's FM Faisal bin Farhan hold a joint news conference in Riyadh on Oct. 3, 2021. (REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri)
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Updated 04 October 2021

Saudi-Iran talks still ‘exploratory,’ says FM Prince Faisal bin Farhan

  • Prince Faisal was speaking at a press conference in Riyadh with EU envoy Josep Borrell
  • Borrell voiced support for a peaceful settlement to the war in Yemen

RIYADH: Talks between Saudi Arabia and Iran are at an early stage but are a basis for addressing major issues between the two countries, the Kingdom’s foreign minister said on Sunday.

Prince Faisal bin Farhan said the latest round of discussions had taken place on Sept. 21. “We spoke about our deep concern about Iran’s transgressions on the nuclear issue,” he said.

“These discussions are still in the exploratory phase. We hope they will provide a basis to address unresolved issues between the two sides and we will strive and work to realize that,” he said.

Prince Faisal was speaking at a press conference in Riyadh with Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs. Among other issues, the two men discussed the conflict in Yemen, where Iran supports Houthi militia fighters who have launched a barrage of missile and drone attacks on civilian targets and energy infrastructure in Saudi Arabia.

Borrell described the situation in Yemen as a “terrible tragedy,” and voiced support for a peaceful settlement to the war.

He said the EU condemned Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, and was working diplomatically to prevent them.

“We appreciate Saudi Arabia’s efforts to end the conflict in Yemen as well as protect its territory,” Borrell said.

Borrell also said he hoped nuclear talks between global powers and Iran would restart in Vienna “soon.” Tehran is under pressure to rejoin the 2015 deal to curb its nuclear program in return for the lifting of economic sanctions. The deal collapsed in 2018 when the US pulled out, and talks are stalled in a deadlock over whether Iran or the US should be the first to resume compliance.

Borrell’s visit to Riyadh is part of a regional trip to GCC countries that includes the UAE and Qatar. The EU aims to advance strategic cooperation with the Gulf states on climate change, global access to vaccines and supporting the “green economy,” the bloc’s foreign policy chief told Arab News earlier.

Borrell also said that he would convene a joint cooperation council at ministerial level early next year during the Saudi presidency of the GCC.



Islamic Ministry unites volunteers to serve pilgrims

Updated 29 May 2024

Islamic Ministry unites volunteers to serve pilgrims

  • The initiative is part of the ministry’s ongoing efforts to promote a culture of volunteering within communities

MAKKAH: Almost 5,000 people are set to volunteer for programs launched by the Makkah arm of the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday.

The branch has launched 247 opportunities via its volunteering platform to coincide with the start of the Hajj season. These include distributing more than 235,000 water bottles at 3,850 mosques, providing umbrellas to pilgrims for protection against the sun, distributing booklets and providing meals.

The initiative is part of the ministry’s ongoing efforts to promote a culture of volunteering within communities.

Earlier, the Presidency of Religious Affairs at the Grand Mosque and the Prophet’s Mosque launched its operational plan for Hajj, promoting voluntary and humanitarian work.

It recognizes the Two Holy Mosques as attractive environments for such efforts, based on religious and Saudi values that highlight the importance of generosity and hospitality.

Al-Jubeir meets US, Costa Rica officials in Riyadh

Updated 29 May 2024

Al-Jubeir meets US, Costa Rica officials in Riyadh

Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and climate envoy Adel Al-Jubeir met Robert Karem, national security adviser to US Senator Mitch McConnell, on Wednesday in Riyadh.

In a separate meeting, Al-Jubeir met Costa Rica’s non-resident ambassador to the Kingdom, Francisco Chacon Hernandez.

The talks in both meetings centered on bilateral relations as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest.

Global artists contemplate the future at Riyadh exhibition

Updated 29 May 2024

Global artists contemplate the future at Riyadh exhibition

  • ‘Unfolding the Embassy’ contemplates humanity’s impact on the world

RIYADH: Fenaa Alawwal kicked off its most recent exhibition, “Unfolding the Embassy,” bringing together global artists to speculate on the looming future.

With scenography presented by Studio GGSV, the exhibition was curated by Sara Al-Mutlaq, whose initial instinct was to respond to the exhibition’s context.

Al-Mutlaq told Arab News: “The context is the Diplomatic Quarter and embassies … We ask: What is the future of the embassy?

“The moment that we’re living in today is witnessing a lot of changes. We feel it in technology, ChatGPT, the Ukraine war — there are a lot of things that are changing.”

As visitors enter the space, they are teleported to the year 2040. A SpaceX satellite orbiting the globe is the new reality, complete with a reception area, books, and brochures. Visitors soon realize that the decorative pieces around them are the artworks themselves.

As the story unfolds, they are left to wonder: What has happened to Earth?

The global experience was important for the curator; only artists of diverse backgrounds and practices could do justice to this collective narrative. Artists from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Egypt, Palestine, Bosnia, Zambia, and Belgium are taking part in the exhibition, presenting their vision and interpretation of the future through works that address important contemporary issues, such as climate change, artificial intelligence, migration, and identity.

“I really wanted to engage with Saudi creatives and artists, but also Arab artists … and to always include the rest of the world and look at the nuances of conversation that they’re also creating,” Al-Mutlaq explained.  

Saudi artist Ahaad Al-Amoudi’s “Frying Pan” video installation looks at the past to study the future, creating a place where memory is lost, readapted, and reinterpreted.

In an ever-changing world, the video questions the role of memory, the tools of navigation, and whether humans will be able to envision a future when the present is a disintegrating past.

Egyptian graphic designer and artist Ahmad Hammoud presents two complementary works: “Flag of the Stateless” and “Passport of the Stateless.” Using the common housefly as an emblem for the 10 million stateless individuals worldwide, the works contrast two “unwanted” elements, creating a sense of ownership and symbolizing strength and resistance to Western colonial views.

The exhibition also showcases a photography anthology created using images by Dia Murad, Naif Al-Quba, Federico Acciardi, and Peter Bogaczewicz.

The digital works by Bogaczewicz, a photographer with a background in architecture, are part of his larger series titled “Surface Tensions,” which focuses on how the natural and built environments come together in Saudi Arabia.

His selection includes captures of a car buried in sand dunes and an abandoned Ferris wheel amid construction, subtly reflecting the influence of his architectural background.

He told Arab News: “I think there’s an idea of Anthropocene being a theme of the exhibit. I think the way these photos fall into it is because they address a state of the man-made or man-altered environment. That is something completely unnatural and unique of our time. It’s probably something that can’t be reversed so purely … Natural environments are harder and harder to come by and that’s just a present fact of being on our planet.”

Visitors can also explore the fate of humanity in the context of climate change, shifting political structures, economic challenges, and AI’s subversive interventions in human life.

Adopting a forward-looking approach, the exhibition raises a challenging question: Do humans need the distance of light years to better see what is near?

Al-Mutlaq said: “At its essence, the exhibition is a fictional time-space that highlights the fictional attributes of our economic, collective and technological worlds. In exploring the role of fiction, the exhibition and its artists ask: At the depth of truth, do we find the landscape of the arbitrary?”

The exhibition, running until Sept. 1, also features works from Dima Srouji, Abbas Zahedi, Aseel Al-Yaqoub, Nolan Oswald Dennis, Jerry Galle, PHI Studio, and Lana Cmajcanin.

Saudi envoy presents credentials as non-resident ambassador to Bolivia

Faisal bin Ibrahim Ghulam presents his credentials as Saudi Arabia’s non-resident ambassador to Bolivia. (SPA)
Updated 29 May 2024

Saudi envoy presents credentials as non-resident ambassador to Bolivia

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Brazil Faisal bin Ibrahim Ghulam presented his credentials as non-resident ambassador to Bolivia, Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday. 

The credentials were presented to Bolivia’s President Luis Arce.

Ghulam conveyed the greetings of the Saudi leadership and its wishes for the continued progress and prosperity of Bolivia. 

Spanish PM meets Joint Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee on Gaza in Madrid

Updated 29 May 2024

Spanish PM meets Joint Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee on Gaza in Madrid

  • Officials discuss efforts to stop Israeli aggression in Gaza Strip, Rafah
  • Saudi FM thanks Spain for decision to recognize State of Palestine

RIYADH: Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez on Wednesday held talks in Madrid with the members of the Joint Arab-Islamic Ministerial Committee on Gaza, headed by Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The meeting, to discuss developments in the besieged Gaza Strip, was attended by the foreign ministers of Qatar, Palestine, Jordan and Turkiye and the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

The committee members hailed Spain’s move to recognize the State of Palestine and vowed to keep pushing to secure Palestinians’ rights and promote peace in the region and the world at a time of extremism, violence and violations of international law, the report said.

More than 140 countries now recognize a Palestinian state, after Spain, Norway and Ireland made the diplomatic move on Tuesday.

The meeting discussed efforts to stop Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip and the city of Rafah, the importance of an immediate ceasefire and the introduction of sustainable humanitarian aid.

It also called for an end to illegitimate Israeli actions in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in order to achieve a comprehensive peace, protect Palestinian rights and ensure regional security.

The meeting reviewed the committee’s efforts to support Palestinian statehood and take the necessary steps to implement the two-state solution in line with the Arab Peace Initiative and other international proposals.

The committee stressed the importance of the international community taking urgent steps to recognize Palestine to preserve the rights of its people and achieve security in the region.

Prince Faisal thanked Spain and said its move gave “hope in a very dark time.”

“We are here to say thank you to Spain, Norway, Ireland and Slovenia for taking the right decision at the right time, for being on the right side of history, for being on the right side of justice with all the dark we are seeing as a result of the continuing human catastrophe in Gaza,” he said.

“This is the right moment to give a beacon of hope to the two-state solution, to peace, to coexistence and for that we thank you and we hope that others will follow suit because the only way forward is the path to peace and the path to peace goes through a two-state solution, through a state of Palestine that lives in peace and harmony with all its neighbors including Israel.”