Fraternal Saudi-Omani ties in focus as Muscat prepares to welcome Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit will build on talks that Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq had with King Salman during his visit to the Kingdom earlier this year. (Reuters)
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Updated 06 December 2021

Fraternal Saudi-Omani ties in focus as Muscat prepares to welcome Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to build on talks Sultan Haitham held with King Salman in July
  • Visit described as a reflection of ‘time-honored’ ties between two Gulf countries bound by bonds of history

RIYADH: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Oman, the first stop in a tour of Gulf states, is expected to build on the talks that Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq held with King Salman during his visit to the Kingdom in July.

On the agenda are issues of mutual concern and ways to promote the interests of the Kingdom and Oman as well as “fulfill the aspirations and hopes” of their peoples.

The Omani news agency ONA described the visit as a reflection of the “time-honored and historical” ties between the two Gulf countries.

For over half a century, Saudi-Omani relations have been characterized by cooperation, mutual respect and understanding on various regional and international issues.

Likewise, connections at the individual level run deep thanks to bonds of history, shared Arab customs and traditions, and a common Gulf Arab heritage.




Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will visit Oman during his tour of the Gulf. (SPA)

The two countries coordinate their actions under the umbrella of the Gulf Cooperation Council in accordance with the bloc’s common visions and strategic goals, with a view to achieving integration between member states in different fields.

A similar cooperative spirit informs their roles at the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the UN and various other international bodies.

Sultan Haitham’s visit to Saudi Arabia produced promises of cooperation in different fields, notably real estate development, tourism, petrochemicals, manufacturing industries, logistics, information technology and banking systems. Also on the agenda was a project to establish an industrial zone in the Special Economic Zone in Duqm.

A memorandum establishing a coordination council was signed by the two countries, with the aim of ensuring continued consultation and coordination in matters of common interest in all fields. A separate agreement was signed to boost government and private sector trade and investment as well as cooperation in the fields of environmental and food security.




The crown prince’s trip is set to build on the talks that Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq held with King Salman in July. (AFP)

According to a joint statement, the two sides also agreed to expedite the opening of their border crossings to ease the movement of people and goods to “integrate supply chains in order to achieve the desired economic integration.”

They further welcomed the “effective communication” between ministers of the two countries and directed them to work toward concluding a number of cooperation agreements.

“Saudi Arabia is the largest economy in the Arab world and its leading economic engine, home to a quarter of the world’s petroleum reserves and the largest free market in the Middle East and North Africa region. It’s a key, valued trading partner of Oman,” Sayyid Faisal bin Turki Al-Said, Oman’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, told Arab News on the eve of Sultan Haitham’s visit.

INNUMBERS

• SR 24bn ($6.4bn) total Saudi investments in Oman

• SR4bn total Omani investments in KSA

• SR2bn Saudi-Omani trade volume in first quarter of 2021

Ties between Oman and Saudi Arabia have remained strong in part thanks to regular bilateral meetings and shuttle diplomacy, a tradition established after the signing of the March 1990 agreement that finally delineated their 658 km border.

The border agreement signed at Hafr Al-Batin in Saudi Arabia solidified the relationship, sweeping away territorial disputes of the past and giving both states equal access to the area’s bountiful water resources.

Over the decades that followed, relations have grown from strength to strength, yielding ambitious economic partnerships and joint action on the GCC, which has seen a merging of strategic aims and a shared vision for economic diversification.

In 2006, Saudi Arabia and Oman agreed to open a new border crossing to help facilitate the expansion of trade.

Their engineers teamed up to build a Saudi-funded highway through Rub Al-Khali (the Empty Quarter), connecting Al-Ahsa in the Kingdom’s Eastern Province to Ibri in Oman, shaving some 16 hours off the journey time between the two countries.

Officials expect the road to be opened to civil and commercial traffic by the end of this year, which will potentially inaugurate a new era of business activities.

Once open, the new highway will cut the cost of import-export logistics, especially for merchants operating out of Oman’s ports of Sohar and Duqm, not to mention the potential boost to tourism — a sector both countries are keen to expand.

In particular, the Omani side hopes the new road — and perhaps even a future rail link — will encourage more joint investments at the Sohar Industrial Estate and the Special Economic Zone in Duqm.




Sultan Haitham’s visit to Saudi Arabia produced promises of cooperation in different fields. (AFP)

Other partnerships include the development of Khazaen Economic City, the Salalah 2 gas-fired power station and the Salalah desalination plant. Saudi Arabia is also a big importer of Omani fish, making the development of the sultanate’s fisheries a matter of tremendous common interest.

Another core area of cooperation is the environment, with the two states pulling together to cut carbon emissions by 60 percent, plant billions of trees, and make the Saudi and Middle East Green initiatives a reality.

Sultan Haitham has welcomed the initiatives in previous talks with the Saudi crown prince. The two countries have also begun sharing expertise in industrial development, city planning and mineral extraction, with ministerial delegations recently meeting via video link to discuss new collaborations.




The crown prince’s visit honors the historical ties between the two Gulf countries. (SPA)

High-level officials and delegations have made reciprocal visits in recent months with the aim of integrating Oman’s Vision 2040 and Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 — two development and economic diversification agendas designed to create vibrant, modern economies that offer young citizens exciting new career paths and improve the overall quality of life.

Among a long list of Saudi businesses looking for investment opportunities in Oman are Al Sayadiyah United Co., which has been operating for about 40 years, trading in fish and seafood items originating in different GCC countries.

In comments to Arab News in September, Marwan Raffa, CEO of Al Sayadiyah, said he expected a very good experience in trade operations with Oman and was in touch with his Omani counterparts to expand business operations there.

Commenting on Saudi Arabia’s drive to deepen ties with Oman, he said: “Good relationships open up more opportunities.”


Saudi, Bulgarian foreign ministers hold talks

Updated 27 May 2022

Saudi, Bulgarian foreign ministers hold talks

SOFIA: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Thursday met his Bulgarian counterpart Teodora Genchovska during an official visit to Bulgaria’s capital Sofia.

During their meeting, they discussed ways to further strengthen cooperation between the two countries in various fields and reviewed the latest developments on a number of regional and international issues.

Prince Faisal and Genchovska also talked about consolidating economic ties in relation to the Saudi Vision 2030 reform plan, stepping up political cooperation, and promoting bilateral efforts to bolster international peace and security.

Saudi Ambassador to Bulgaria Khalid Fakih, and the director general of the office of the Saudi foreign minister, Abdulrahman Al-Daoud, also attended the meeting.

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AmChamKSA discusses women empowerment during 2nd Women in Business Committee meet

Updated 27 May 2022

AmChamKSA discusses women empowerment during 2nd Women in Business Committee meet

  • The main theme of the AmChamKSA’s diwaniya was women empowerment and leadership in the business world

JEDDAH: The American Chamber of Commerce in Saudi Arabia (AmChamKSA) has held its second Women in Business Committee diwaniya at Sunbulah Group’s head office in Jeddah.

In Saudi culture, a diwaniya is a gathering of people in a special room at home or casual setting, usually for tea or coffee, where different issues or friendly conversations on political and social issues affecting the community are discussed.

The main theme of the AmChamKSA’s diwaniya was women empowerment and leadership in the business world. Attendees enjoyed monologues from two guest speakers, Mrs. Kaya Ikuma, wife of the consul general of the US, and Dr. Abeer Bar, who focuses on educational leadership and policy studies. They shared their inspirational life experiences as career women and mothers. 

Dr. Abeer Bar

Dr. Bar briefed everyone with a well-received presentation about higher education, current research in female leadership under the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plans, and how advanced education impacts empowering women and the mindset and policies in place to boost the country’s economy.

“Women from different sectors and around the world face similar challenges. It is important to celebrate women in their multiple roles in society and business and share experiences through such a platform that will help encourage and motivate women of different nationalities,” she told Arab News.

She added: “The Women in Business Committee spotlights women who have made it in their respective fields and recognizes those who go above and beyond in their work areas. Being an educator, I highly appreciate AmChamKSA for the warm welcome and for creating an inviting atmosphere to freely talk about the trials and triumphs in my career journey.”

The event was followed by an open dialogue that circulated around the topic, with a few attendees sharing their personal experiences and struggles in balancing careers and family life.

Some of them shared their experiences in changing sectors after many years so they could concentrate on family life.

Rozana Al-Tayyar, a professional mediator in business disputes, was one of the attendees who shared her amazing career-changing inspirational story from banking to arbitration during the open dialogue.

All of the attendees expressed how there is power in sharing stories for inspiration, education and uplifting others. The AmChamKSA members chose to share authentic stories from a diverse range of Saudi women in leadership roles. Each woman bravely contributed their story in the hope of encouraging others.

Among the many success stories, the members of AmChamKSA welcomed two iconic Saudi women who are excelling in their fields and climbing the stairs to leadership roles: Roaa Zaki, founder and CEO of the Design Studio, and Nouf Aldhahri, assistant F&B manager at the Jeddah Hilton. 

Nouf Aldhahri and Mohamad Tafesh

Rola Osta, the engagement manager of the chamber’s Jeddah chapter, said: “The AmChamKSA and Women in Business Committee members were highly interested in attending more of these insightful events, building the bilateral relationship between Saudi and US businesses while focusing on creating the engagement on the advancement of women as outlined in the Vision 2030 development goals.”

Mohammad Tafesh, vice president of the Jeddah chapter, said that these events help attendees build connections and enjoy thoughtful conversation on issues that focus on empowering, inspiring and motivating each other.

“As an organizer, we aim to hold more events, seminars, and panel discussions to bring in business leaders — both men and women — to share stories and to foster more diverse, more equitable, and more inclusive workplaces. Through this event, I am hopeful that everyone will leave with clear ideas on how to empower women and create workplaces that empower them,” Tafesh said.

Decoder

Diwaniya

In Saudi culture, a diwaniya is a gathering of people in a special room at home or casual setting, usually for tea or coffee, where different issues or friendly conversations on political and social issues affecting the community are discussed.


French envoy praises Yanbu, as ancient port city looks to the future

Updated 26 May 2022

French envoy praises Yanbu, as ancient port city looks to the future

  • ‘The tourist potential of Yanbu is impressive. It is captivating, both the traditional architecture of its historic district, and the beauty of its coasts and exceptional rich seabed’

RIYADH: The French ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ludovic Pouille, has highlighted Yanbu’s tourist potential during a visit to the ancient Red Sea port city in Saudi Arabia’s western region.

Pouille was welcomed by Yanbu Gov. Saad Al-Suhaimi, along with the consul general of France in Jeddah, Mostafa Mihraje, on Wednesday for discussions on industrial and tourist development in the governorate and the strengthening of ties with France.

Pouille told Arab News en Français: “The tourist potential of Yanbu is impressive. It is captivating, both the traditional architecture of its historic district, and the beauty of its coasts and exceptional rich seabed, as well as its surrounding mountains that offer promising perspectives in eco-tourism.” 

The French ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Ludovic Pouille, concluded his first day in the old town of Yanbu with a “very pleasant” visit to the traditional night souk. (Supplied)

Yanbu, a few hours’ drive west from Madinah, is the second-largest city on the shores of the Red Sea after Jeddah.

Pouille praised Yanbu’s gastronomy, saying that it “offers the best fresh fish in the country and the most delicious Sayadieh brown rice.”

The French envoy visited the Royal Commission in Yanbu and met with its CEO, Fahad Dhaifallah Al-Qurashi, and his team. 

On the second day of his tour in Yanbu, the Ambassador visited on Thursday the industrial and commercial port of King Fahad, one of the most important ports in the Red Sea. (Supplied)

Pouille and Al-Qurashi discussed the contribution of French companies to the economic development of the industrial city.

The ambassador also met with the mayor of Yanbu, Yasser Al-Rifai, for discussions that focused on the city’s promising industrial, energy, cultural and tourist outlook.

Pouille said that within the framework of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan, “the industrial development plans of the city and the port should double in the next 15 years, and also create many opportunities for strengthening Franco-Saudi economic relations.” 

Captain Ali Salem Al-Mehwari, Director General of King Fahd Industrial Port and Yanbu Commercial (right) and French ambassador Ludovic Pouille. (Supplied)

He ended his first day in the old town of Yanbu with a visit to a traditional night souq, where products made by the women’s cooperatives of the region are displayed and sold as part of the women’s empowerment policy steered by the governorate.

On the second day of his tour, the ambassador on Thursday visited the industrial and commercial port of King Fahd, one of the most important ports in the Red Sea.

Thanking Capt. Ali Salem Al-Mehwari, director general of King Fahd Industrial Port and Yanbu Commercial, for his warm welcome, Pouille said: “The greeting I received there from the authorities and the population confirms, if need be, the renowned Saudi hospitality.”

The French envoy ended his tour by visiting the industrial city, where he met with the CEO of the Yasref Refinery, Hicham Al-Adel, who established a strategic partnership with the French multinational Air Liquide group in the field of hydrogen production.


The Gulf-European Parliamentary Committee holds 5th meeting

Updated 26 May 2022

The Gulf-European Parliamentary Committee holds 5th meeting

  • The Gulf-European Parliamentary Committee is one of the permanent committees emanating from the periodic meeting of the heads of the Shoura, Representatives, National and Nation Councils in the GCC

RIYADH: The Shoura Council hosted today the fifth meeting of the Gulf-European Parliamentary Committee. The meeting was held virtually with the participation of several members of the Shoura, Representatives, National, and Nation Councils in the Gulf Cooperation Councils.

The meeting began with the committee offering its deepest condolences to the government and people of the UAE for the passing of Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The committee also congratulated and sent its sincere blessings to Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan on his election as president of the UAE, wishing him and the country more success, progress and prosperity.

In his speech, Shoura Council member and Chairperson Dr. Ibrahim Al-Nahas stressed the importance of coordinating Gulf stances to unify parliamentary diplomatic efforts towards all Gulf-European issues.

The committee agreed that the presiding state will work with the GCC General Secretariat to initiate a bilateral meeting with the European Parliament delegation for relations with the Arabian Peninsula.

The committee will also coordinate between the presiding state and the General Secretariat regarding communication with the European Parliament to determine the date of the mutual visits.

The Shoura Council delegation participating in the meeting included council member and chair of the meeting, Dr. Ibrahim Al-Nahas, the secretary-general of the Shoura Council, Mohammed Al-Mutairi, and council member Dr. Tariq Al-Shammari.

The Gulf-European Parliamentary Committee is one of the permanent committees emanating from the periodic meeting of the heads of the Shoura, Representatives, National and Nation Councils in the GCC.

The committee is concerned with studying issues related to parliamentary relations between the legislative councils in GCC countries and the European Parliament.


Human Rights Commission chief and New Zealand Foreign Ministry official hold talks in Riyadh

Updated 26 May 2022

Human Rights Commission chief and New Zealand Foreign Ministry official hold talks in Riyadh

RIYADH: Awwad Al-Awwad, president of the Saudi Human Rights Commission, met Jonathan Kerr, the director-general of the Middle East and Africa Department at the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in Riyadh on Wednesday to discuss a number of issues relating to human rights and the development of bilateral cooperation.

Also present at the meeting was Barney Riley, New Zealand’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

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