Pakistani PM, OIC chief discuss Islamophobia

Pakistani prime minister Shehbaz Sharif arrived in Saudi Arabia on Thursday on his first foreign trip since taking office. (SPA)
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Updated 02 May 2022

Pakistani PM, OIC chief discuss Islamophobia

  • At the meeting with the OIC chief, discussions centered on the situation in the Muslim world and issues on the OIC agenda, in particular the situations in Palestine, Afghanistan, Jammu and Kashmir, and the issue of Islamophobia

MAKKAH: Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Hissein Brahim Taha met Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in Makkah.

The prime minister arrived in Saudi Arabia on Thursday on his first foreign trip since taking office. The three-day visit to the Kingdom comes at the invitation of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

At the meeting with the OIC chief, discussions centered on the situation in the Muslim world and issues on the OIC agenda, in particular the situations in Palestine, Afghanistan, Jammu and Kashmir, and the issue of Islamophobia.

The two sides underscored the necessity to enhance cooperation among member states to defend the causes of the Islamic Ummah.

The meeting also discussed cooperation between the OIC and Pakistan in light of Pakistan’s role as the current chair of the Council of Foreign Ministers.

Taha reiterated the readiness of the OIC to support the government of Pakistan in the implementation of the resolutions adopted at the 48th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers held in Islamabad from March 22-23, 2022.

Sharif expressed his appreciation to Taha for his support and stressed the importance attached by Pakistan to advancing its Joint Islamic Action program.


Oil behemoth Aramco beats forecasts with record Q2 profit of $48.4bn

Updated 14 August 2022

Oil behemoth Aramco beats forecasts with record Q2 profit of $48.4bn

  • The oil giant was expected to report $46.2 billion in net income based on 15 analyst forecasts.
  • Profits of “the most profitable oil company in the world” hit SR182 billion ($48.4 billion) after revenue soared 80 percent to SR562 billion.

RIYADH: Saudi Aramco’s profit has surged 90 percent in the second quarter of 2022, beating the median of analysts’ forecasts with the highest quarterly profit since going public in 2019.

The oil giant was expected to report $46.2 billion in net income based on 15 analyst forecasts.

Profits of “the most profitable oil company in the world” hit SR182 billion ($48.4 billion) after revenue soared 80 percent to SR562 billion, according to a bourse filing.

This is up from SR148 billion in the prior quarter and SR95.5 billion in the second quarter of 2021.

The crude producer said the results were primarily driven by rising crude prices which soared to record highs earlier this year, higher volumes sold, and improved downstream margins.

“Our record second-quarter results reflect increasing demand for our products — particularly as a low-cost producer with one of the lowest upstream carbon intensities in the industry,” said CEO, Amin Nasser, commenting on the results.

“While global market volatility and economic uncertainty remain, events during the first half of this year support our view that ongoing investment in our industry is essential — both to help ensure markets remain well supplied and to facilitate an orderly energy transition,” he added.

Further to the solid results, Aramco maintained stable quarterly dividends at SR70.3 billion, representing a per-share payout of SR0.3198 to be paid on Sept. 7.

Capital expenditure during the quarter grew 25 percent to $9.4 billion as Aramco continued to invest and capture growth opportunities.

In terms of half-year performance, Aramco outperformed with an 86 percent profit surge to SR330 billion from SR177 billion a year earlier.

The Saudi-listed company almost doubled its revenue to SR1.03 trillion, compared to SR584 billion in the first half of 2021.

Buoyed by higher operating cash flow, Aramco managed to strengthen its balance sheet with a gearing ratio of 7.9 percent at June end, compared to 14.2 percent at the end of 2021.

“We expect oil demand to continue to grow for the rest of the decade, despite downward economic pressures on short-term global forecasts,” Nasser said.

“But while there is a very real and present need to safeguard the security of energy supplies, climate goals remain critical, which is why Aramco is working to increase production from multiple energy sources — including oil and gas, as well as renewables, and blue hydrogen.”

Recent highlights:

  • Aramco and Cognite, a global leader in industrial software, announced the launch of CNTXT, a joint venture based in the Kingdom, which will be headquartered in Riyadh. CNTXT will support industrial digitalization in Saudi Arabia and the wider Middle East and North Africa region.
  • Aramco was reported to weigh an initial public offering of its unit Aramco Trading Co. that could potentially raise over $30 billion, slated to become one of the world’s biggest listings this year.
  • Aramco joined hands with Thailand's national oil company PTT, as it expands its footprints in Asia. Both companies will work together in areas of blue and green hydrogen and various clean energy initiatives.
  • Aramco acquired US-based Valvoline Inc.’s global products unit in a $2.65 billion deal.

Saudi tour guides shine at NEOM’s The Line exhibition

Updated 12 August 2022

Saudi tour guides shine at NEOM’s The Line exhibition

  • Details of NEOM project on full display at the exhibition
  • About 49 tours are organised per day, allowing visitors to grasp the scope and complexity of the project’s designs

JEDDAH: An exhibition exploring Saudi Arabia’s ambitious The Line project is leaving visitors enthralled thanks to the work of specialist tour guides.

The details of the NEOM project are on full display at the exhibition, hosted at the Jeddah Superdome. Visitors of all age groups will get first-hand insights with the help of the Saudi tour guides, who explain visual displays in both Arabic and English.

The guides are bringing the exhibition to life with about 49 tours per day, allowing visitors to grasp the scope and complexity of the project’s designs, architectural concepts and engineering capabilities.  

Speaking to Arab News, several tour guides expressed their enthusiasm at taking part in the exhibition and playing a small but important role in NEOM. 

One of the guides, Ragad Seit, said: “The experience is beyond wonderful. I love the excitement on the people’s faces while we explain the details of The Line. It is amazing to see the excitement they have for this revolutionary project and watching that makes me feel that it’s worth being a part of this exhibition. I am sure this will be a great movement for the future and we can’t wait to see the completion of The Line.”

Another young guide, Ghalya Faisal Alsahhaf, said: “My job here is to explain the unique and rare NEOM flora that will be grown in The Line. The experience is definitely one of a kind where I get to educate people on the vegetation aspect.

“The look on the people when they learn about the different kinds of flora is incredible. Also, I get to meet people from different cultures and backgrounds where I interact with them about the exhibition, and have discussions. The enthusiasm of the visitors is unimaginable.”

Abdulaziz Salmin said: “Although I am here as a tour guide, I am very proud to be a part of NEOM and work on this project.

“I work on sections one and two where I explain to the people what The Line is all about. The thrill and anticipation that the public show is very similar to my excitement. I am eagerly waiting to see how the city will turn out, especially after learning a lot more about it through this exhibition,” Salmin added.

Apart from tour guides, NEOM officials are also present at the exhibition to assist those looking for in-depth answers. 

The Jeddah exhibition opens its doors from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. until Aug. 14, before moving to the Eastern Province and then staying in Riyadh.

“I learned about the project for the first time on social media and I was so excited to get my own first impression of the revolutionary model of The Line. I’m so excited to see this in reality,” Mohammad Ali, a visitor, said.

“Besides, we now understand more about the project with the help of the tour guides. It’s true that they can take the visitors on a whole different journey,” he added.

Another visitor, Raees Ali, said: “The tour guide turned my experience into a most pleasurable one by answering my questions and providing the information available in a clear and simple way.

“The project definitely looks futuristic and promising. After the tour, I did have many technical questions in my mind, but I am certain that they will be answered in the coming days. Hopefully, I would really like to relocate to this dreamy place.”

Saed H. was awestruck at The Line’s designs on display at the exhibition and is excited to see how the city will look after construction. 

“It is definitely a good idea to have a guide who gives some interesting details. I was surprised to learn about the football stadium in the city which will be embedded in a way where the city itself will turn towards the stadium and become the venue. All these details are so mind-blowing that the visitors were awe-inspired by this dreamy world. We really look forward to seeing it come to life,” said Saed.

Divided into different sections, the displays at the exhibition detail urban living plans being implemented in the city. The Line follows a human-first approach with health and well-being prioritized over transportation and infrastructure.

Free tickets can be booked through the Hala Yalla application for events.


Wanted militant detonates suicide vest as Saudi security forces try to make arrest

Updated 12 August 2022

Wanted militant detonates suicide vest as Saudi security forces try to make arrest

  • Abdullah bin Zayed Abdulrahman Al-Bakri Al-Shehri was listed as a wanted person by Saudi authorities
  • Pakistani resident, three security officials injured in explosion

JEDDAH: The list of the nine wanted individuals involved in a militant operation that targeted a mosque for Saudi Arabia’s special emergency forces in the southwestern Asir region in 2015 has been reduced, after the Presidency of State Security announced the killing of Abdullah Al-Shehri, who has been number four on a wanted list.
The man detonated a suicide vest he was wearing when security forces attempted to arrest him in Jeddah on Friday.
The spokesman for the Presidency of State Security said that in addition to the statement issued in February 2016 regarding the announcement of a list of the nine wanted persons for the security authorities, and as an extension of the existing security follow-up, the authority was able to track down the number four on the wanted list, Abdullah bin Zayed Abdulrahman Al-Bakri Al-Shehri, during a security operation.

Abdullah bin Zayed Abdulrahman Al-Bakri Al-Shehri has been listed as a wanted person by authorities in the Kingdom for the past seven years. (Supplied)

He had been approached by security personnel at 10:00 p.m. on Wednesday in the Al-Samer neighborhood in Jeddah. He died at the scene and a Pakistani resident and three security men with various injuries were taken to hospital to receive the necessary treatment.
Al-Shehri has been listed as a wanted person by authorities in the Kingdom for the past seven years, according to the statement. 
Security forces had tracked down the location of the militant and launched an operation to arrest him when he set off his suicide vest. 

With this announcement, only one wanted person remained from the announced list, Majid bin Zayed Al-Bakri Al-Shehri, who has been in hiding so far. The list included:
1. Saeed Aaidh Al-Dair Al-Shahrani, who was killed during a raid in Makkah in May 2016.
2. Taya Salem Eslam Al-Saiari was killed in a raid on his house in the Al-Yasmeen neighborhood in Riyadh in 2017.
3. Mutee Salem Islaam Al-Saiari was killed by a militant organization and it is believed that Taya’s sister beheaded him in a house in Al-Harazat neighborhood in Jeddah following orders from Daesh leaders after they doubted his intention to surrender to the security authorities in November 2016.
4. Abdulaziz Ahmed Mohammed Al-Bakri Al-Shehri was killed during a siege with another wanted man in the Barah area in Bisha governorate in April 2016.
5. Aqab Moajab Fazaan Al-Otaibi, who was arrested in Bisha in May 2016.
6. Mohammed Suleiman Rahyan Al-Saqri Al-Anzi was killed in a raid in Wadi Numan in Makkah in May 2016.
7. Mubarak Abdullah Fahad Al-Dosari was killed in a raid in Wadi Numan in Makkah in May 2016
8. Majid bin Zayed Al-Bakri Al-Shehri is still in hiding.
The nine militants affiliated with Daesh were involved in a militant attack that targeted worshipers at the Special Emergency Forces Command Mosque in Asir on Aug. 6, which killed 11 security officials and four Bangladeshi workers on the site, while 33 other people were injured.
The Presidency of State Security said the operation confirms the Kingdom’s determination to crack down on militants and ensure the safety of all citizens and residents. 


Saudi Arabia will now allow visitors holding tourist visas to perform Umrah – Hajj ministry

Updated 12 August 2022

Saudi Arabia will now allow visitors holding tourist visas to perform Umrah – Hajj ministry

  • 49 nations eligible under the new rules
  • Booking online or on arrival, says ministry

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has announced that the Kingdom will now allow visitors holding tourist visas to perform Umrah.

Citizens of 49 countries will be able to do so by securing their visas online at Visit Saudi Arabia, or immediately on arrival at airports.

The decision has been taken to allow as many people as possible to perform the ritual.

Those who qualify include holders of visas to the US and the UK, as well as those who have Schengen visas.

The regulations allow visitors to obtain a tourist visa, valid for 12 months, to visit other cities in the Kingdom.

Those who have family visit visas are allowed to perform Umrah, by booking through the Eatmarna app.

To perform Umrah, visitors are required to obtain comprehensive health insurance, which includes covering the costs of COVID-19 treatment, accidents resulting in death or disability, and expenses arising from flight delays or cancellations.

Those wishing to perform Umrah from nations other than those who currently qualify, should apply for visas at the Kingdom’s embassies in their countries.

Documents required include proof of residence and employment, return ticket, bank statement proving financial stability, itinerary, and complete personal information.


Beit Hail in Saudi Arabia’s north showcases local heritage

Updated 12 August 2022

Beit Hail in Saudi Arabia’s north showcases local heritage

  • Ancient Thamudic and Sadu embroidery on display

HAIL: The Beit Hail 15-day festival was launched on Wednesday showcasing local heritage including incense burners, daggers, wicker baskets, and clothes with ancient Thamudic and Sadu embroidery.

Dep. Gov. of Hail Prince Faisal bin Fahd inaugurated the event at Aja Park with the undersecretary of the region, Adel bin Saleh Al-Sheikh, and other officials.

Prince Faisal toured the site and visited the exhibition of the late artist Youssef Al-Shagdali.

The festival also features classic cars and popular, colorful handicrafts created by the region’s artisans.

There were also stalls that showed how cloth is woven and transformed into clothing.

Visitors were entertained by a folklore troupe performing the Saudi Arda.

The event aims to support local talent and boost small businesses.