Tunisia recalls Morocco envoy in Western Sahara row

Western Sahara's "Polisario front" independence movement leader Brahim Ghali (C-L) attends the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in Tunisia (AFP).
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Updated 27 August 2022

Tunisia recalls Morocco envoy in Western Sahara row

  • Tunisian President Kais Saied had hosted Polisario chief Brahim Ghali who arrived in Japanese-African investment conference
  • Morocco earlier withdrew its Tunis ambassador and canceled its participation in the conference

TUNIS: Tunisia said Saturday it would recall its ambassador from Morocco for consultations, a day after the kingdom did the same in response to Tunisia’s president hosting the Polisario movement’s head.
The Polisario wants an independent state in the Western Sahara, a vast stretch of mineral-rich desert which Morocco sees as a sovereign part of its own territory.
Tunisian President Kais Saied had on Friday hosted Polisario chief Brahim Ghali who arrived to attend the Japanese-African investment conference TICAD.
In response to what it called a “hostile” and “unnecessarily provocative” act, Morocco immediately withdrew its Tunis ambassador for consultations and canceled its own participation in the high-profile conference.
On Saturday the Tunisian Foreign Ministry voiced its “surprise” at Morocco’s reaction.
“Tunisia has maintained its total neutrality on the Western Sahara issue in line with international law,” it said in a statement.
“This position will not change until the concerned parties find a peaceful solution acceptable to all.”
Saied spent much of Friday welcoming African leaders arriving for the TICAD conference, including Ghali who is also president of the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).
Morocco accused Tunisia of “unilaterally” inviting the Polisario chief “against the advice of Japan and in violation of the process of preparation and established rules.”
But Tunisia said Saturday the African Union had issued a direct invitation to the SADR, a member state, to join the conference, noting that it had attended previous such gatherings — alongside Morocco.
The move came as French President Emmanuel Macron visited Morocco’s arch-rival and Polisario backer Algeria for a three-day visit aimed at healing ties with the former French colony.
It is not the first time that Ghali’s travels have sparked Moroccan anger.
In April 2021, he headed to Spain to be treated for Covid-19, sparking a year-long diplomatic row between Spain and the North African kingdom.
That only ended after Madrid dropped its decades-long stance of neutrality over the Western Sahara — a former Spanish colony — and backed a Moroccan plan for limited self-rule there.
The Polisario had waged an armed struggle before agreeing to a cease-fire in 1991 on the promise of a UN-supervised referendum on self-determination, which has never happened.
The African Union’s chairman Macky Sall, in a speech to TICAD delegates on Saturday, said he “regretted the absence of Morocco.”
“We hope that this problem will find a solution for the smooth running of our partnership” between Africa and Japan, he said.


Al-Hilal send out timely reminder that they remain Saudi Arabia’s premier club on the big stage

Updated 12 min 17 sec ago

Al-Hilal send out timely reminder that they remain Saudi Arabia’s premier club on the big stage

  • Cristiano Ronaldo and Al-Nassr may have stolen the spotlight in recent weeks, but the reigning Asian champions’ FIFA Club World Cup semifinal spot reinforces an unmatched legacy on the pitch

LONDON: Al-Hilal are into the FIFA Club World Cup semifinals for the third time in four years.

Yes, Al-Hilal. Remember them? Four-time Asian champions and three-time defending Saudi Pro League champions. That Al-Hilal. Ring a bell?

For those just tuning their antennae to Saudi football for the first time over the past few months, there was only one club dominating the headlines, and it was not the reigning AFC Champions League winners.

It was, of course, Al-Nassr after their headline-grabbing signing of Cristiano Ronaldo, which catapulted them into the international consciousness like no club from Saudi Arabia had ever achieved. Not even Al-Hilal.

To highlight just how much the yellow half of Riyadh was dominating the narrative, one UK-based pundit even claimed Al-Nassr were the most successful Saudi side in recent years — despite Al-Hilal winning five of the past six Saudi Pro League titles.

Al-Hilal? They were cast as a mere footnote to the Al-Nassr-Ronaldo storyline. The Ronaldo-shaped shadow cast not just over Al-Hilal but every other Saudi club was hard to escape.

All that global attention on their Riyadh rivals, while they were still serving a transfer ban and unable to counter the signing of Ronaldo with a move of their own, would have stung a club that has made the AFC Champions League final in three of the past four seasons — something Al-Nassr has not yet managed to achieve even once.

While the world has been busy occupying itself with every exploit of Al-Nassr and Ronaldo — and clips of his first goal for his new club were shown in all corners of the globe over the past few days — Al-Hilal have served a timely reminder that, not only do they still exist, but that they do their best talking on the pitch and have no intention of ceding anything to their crosstown rivals.

Their dramatic win over Wydad Casablanca at the Club World Cup in Rabat on Saturday was a huge statement from Ramon Diaz’s side: “Don’t forget about us.”

The win was all the more impressive given that they are still missing a number of their best players through injuries sustained in Saudi Arabia’s stunning win over Argentina in Qatar just over two months ago.

Talisman and midfield maestro Salman Al-Faraj and energetic full-back Yasser Al-Shahrani both remain sidelined and were absent from the team that silenced the parochial Wydad fans inside the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium.

But while the veteran duo were absent, there were a host of other World Cup stars on show, including Saud Abdulhamid, Ali Al-Bulayhi, Mohammed Kanno and star man Salem Al-Dawsari.

The only sour note in an otherwise historic win was the red card for Kanno, whose absence from midfield against Brazil’s Flamengo on Tuesday could be sorely felt, especially with Al-Faraj already missing.

Al-Hilal’s passage to the semifinals continues a golden period for Saudi football, with the national team’s heroics in Qatar fresh in the memory and Ronaldo’s signing generating international attention for the domestic league the likes of which has never been seen before.

But for a club like Al-Hilal, playing at the pinnacle of the club game is not just where they want to be, it is where they expect to be. On both previous occasions they have played at the Club World Cup, they have also advanced to the semifinals; losing to Flamengo in 2019 before coming up short against Chelsea in the 2021 edition.

They will be hoping it is third time lucky in Morocco, but standing in their way again will be Flamengo.

Such is the belief and mindset of the club that, when players like Odion Ighalo and Al-Dawsari mention they are not just playing to make up the numbers but have ambitions of winning the Club World Cup, it is not just hubris.

Do not rule them out from becoming just the third Asian club to make the final of the Club World Cup because Al-Hilal does not just expect success, it demands it. The name carries an aura right around the continent. They are the top dogs and, more importantly, they know it. Not just that, they revel in it; being the center of attention, the envy of all others, is what they crave most.

“The club has to be at the top, always, to meet our fans’ hopes, to win the most trophies,” club legend Nawaf Al-Temyat, who retired in 2008, told Arab News in 2021.

“Any player who can’t play under pressure won’t be a superstar. Playing under pressure is a key factor to show the real personality of the player. This is what the young players must learn,” he added.

One player who mastered playing under pressure is arguably the club’s greatest player, Sami Al-Jaber. During a glittering career that spanned almost 20 years, he played and won everything for Al-Hilal.

“Al-Hilal is not just a football club, Al-Hilal is a legacy, it’s a very big legacy in Saudi Arabia and the region,” he told Arab News back in 2017.

“(It’s) just like my family, just like home and my family. It’s a club that has a legacy and it’s more than just a football club. You can see the history, and in Asia I would say it’s No. 1.

“I can’t say any more than the club is more than a football club, it’s a community.”

While the Club World Cup may not generate the same emotion as its international counterpart, it still comes with significant international exposure and Al-Hilal will bask in taking the spotlight away from Al-Nassr, even if just momentarily.

How could anyone forget Al-Hilal?

Sokhna port welcomes first cruise ships amid ongoing development

Updated 29 min ago

Sokhna port welcomes first cruise ships amid ongoing development

  • Movement of vessels ‘working perfectly’ alongside construction, official says
  • More than 3,000 tourists arrived by ship on Saturday

CAIRO: Development work at the Suez Canal Economic Zone is progressing well, a senior official said, with the new berth at Sokhna port recently welcoming its first cruise ships.

Walid Youssef, deputy chairman of the southern part of the zone, said that the circulation and reception of vessels was “working perfectly” alongside the construction work, which was nearing completion.

The development included four new basins and 18 km of marine berths, as well as commercial and logistical areas covering 5.3 sq. km, he said.

The area is served by a rail network stretching 33 km, which also connects to the Sokhna-El Alamein electric train service.

Youssef said there was constant coordination with the relevant authorities to ensure the smooth operation of the port as the work progressed.

On Saturday, the port welcomed the cruise ship Splendida MSC with 2,826 passengers aboard. It was en route from Yanbu to Safaga.

It also received the Emerald Azzurra, carrying 75 tourists from Sharm El-Sheikh, and the Clio, which had traveled from Hurghada with 85 passengers.

Kane’s record goal earns Tottenham 1-0 win over Man City

Updated 21 min 31 sec ago

Kane’s record goal earns Tottenham 1-0 win over Man City

  • The 29-year-old is now also just the third player to net 200 Premier League goals, after Alan Shearer (260) and Wayne Rooney (208)

LONDON: Harry Kane’s record-breaking goal pushed Tottenham to a 1-0 win over Manchester City on Sunday to further dent the champions’ hopes of retaining the Premier League title.
Kane slotted home after 15 minutes and moved past the late Jimmy Greaves as Spurs’ all-time leading scorer on 267 goals.
It proved enough to keep up Tottenham’s excellent recent home record against City, which could have moved two points behind first-place Arsenal following its defeat at Everton on Saturday.
Fifth-place Spurs instead claimed a third victory from their last four matches against Pep Guardiola’s team — despite Cristian Romero’s late sending-off for a second yellow card — to aid the recovery of absent manager Antonio Conte, who is still in Italy after having his gallbladder removed on Wednesday.
Despite Conte recovering from surgery, he was involved in team selection and deadline-day signing Pedro Porro was only on the bench for Spurs with City surprisingly naming Kevin De Bruyne among the substitutes, too.
The visitors had seen Arsenal drop points a day earlier and signaled their intentions with Riyad Mahrez and Julian Alvarez having shots blocked in the opening exchanges.
City was dominating possession but soon felt the familiar feeling of trailing to Tottenham — and it proved a record-breaking goal.
Eric Dier urged his teammates to press higher and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg stole in ahead of Rico Lewis outside the away penalty area to intercept Rodri’s pass and slip the ball into the path of Kane, who scuffed an effort beyond goalkeeper Ederson and into the corner.
The screens inside the stadium acknowledged Kane’s achievement before the striker waved to his family in the West Stand.
Bookings followed with Rodrigo Bentancur and Romero cautioned in quick succession, the latter for clattering into the ineffective Erling Haaland.
Tottenham assistant coach Cristian Stellini, filling in for Conte, was attempting to match the animated presence of his fellow Italian on the touchline but saw his team enjoy a slice of luck before the break.
After Rodri and Jack Grealish failed to find the net with curled efforts late in the half, Mahrez sent a stinging half-volley crashing against the crossbar from 12 yards (meters) that bounced away to safety to ensure Spurs were ahead at the break for the first time at home since Oct. 12.
Ben Davies headed wide for the hosts at the start of the second period before Guardiola turned to De Bruyne with 57 minutes played.
De Bruyne’s first real involvement saw his short free kick find Alvarez, who saw a low shot diverted over by Dier’s thigh.
It sparked a frantic spell with Romero blocking Manuel Akanji’s shot and, seconds later, Ivan Perisic’s cross agonizingly evaded the Argentina defender and Kane at the back post.
Kane was in the thick of the action minutes later, sending one effort wide before Ederson denied him after the striker surged between Kyle Walker and Akanji.
More drama was to follow with referee Andrew Madley showing Romero a second yellow card for a foul on Grealish before five minutes of stoppage time was added on.
Despite plenty of City possession, Tottenham held firm to move a point off the top four and do rivals Arsenal a big favor in the title race.


PepsiCo initiative on track to empower 1m Saudi women by 2030

Updated 1 min 21 sec ago

PepsiCo initiative on track to empower 1m Saudi women by 2030

Since its official launch in 2019, PepsiCo has been continuously looking to empower, inspire and guide generations of women in the Kingdom through its “Tamakani” platform. Originating from the Arabic term that translates to “enable,” Tamakani is the company’s women’s empowerment platform with the goal to empower 1 million Saudi women by 2030.

As of 2022, women comprise 35 percent of the workforce in the Kingdom, which is an impressive 18.5 percent increase over the last five years.

“At the heart of Vision 2030’s values and our intrinsic values, empowering women comes as a priority,” PepsiCo said.

“When introducing the initiative, we focused on implementing three main platforms: Amplifying Voices, Facilitating Mentorship and Fostering Entrepreneurship, to bridge the varying gaps we came across in the job market.”

Aiming to equip women with the necessary tools, knowledge, skills and networks to become impactful leaders, PepsiCo has been partnering with associations dedicated to empowering women.

To mark the launch of Tamakani, the company collaborated with Eggdancer Productions — the Kingdom’s first female-owned and managed production company — to create “Rise — The Journey of Women in Saudi Arabia.” It is a documentary that chronicles the changing social landscape of Saudi Arabia through the lens of influential Saudi women. Directed by Danya Alhamrani, it allowed Saudi women to see themselves represented like never before, and the younger generations to get inspired.

Through the Amplifying Voices pillar, PepsiCo’s aim was to give a platform to the unheard stories of Saudi women. In partnership with the Family Affairs Council, the Mozn Podcast was born. The first-of-its-kind in the Kingdom, not only does the platform offer emerging and leading Saudi females the space to shed light on their professional success stories to inspire others, but it also allows their personal stories to come to light.

Some of the most notable personalities to have graced the platform include Dr. Hala Al-Tuwaijri, head of Saudi Human Rights Commission; Dr. Thuraya Obaid, executive director of the UN Population Fund; and Princess Haifa bint Abdulaziz Al-Muqrin, representative of Saudi Arabia to UNESCO.

Tamakani also partnered with AmCham — a platform for the American business community to connect, grow and prosper in the Kingdom — under the PepsiCo-sponsored Women in Business Committee, to launch the Diwaniya Quarterly event. It offers a safe space for both men and women executives in the Kingdom to come together in an informal setting to discuss business and social issues.

Under the Facilitating Mentorship pillar, PepsiCo collaborated with the largest women’s university in the world, Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University, to sponsor the “Qudwah” program. 

The program aids Saudi females to take up the mantle of leadership, by connecting them with accomplished leaders to advance their professional goals and leadership potential. 

Through this program, Tamakani has empowered 68 beneficiaries to embark on a rewarding career path and recently welcomed the second cohort of future beneficiaries, with the aim to empower more than 70 of them in 2023.

Under the same pillar, Tamakani collaborated with Al-Nahda Society, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering Saudi women for almost six decades, to sponsor their innovative “Fursa” and “Himmah” programs. This way, it is empowering more than 50 beneficiaries to be financially independent and secure sustainable employment opportunities.

As for Tamakani’s Fostering Entrepreneurship pillar, the platform partnered with the Atlantic Council to sponsor the WIN Fellowship Program. The council promotes constructive leadership, and in collaboration with it in April 2022, Tamakani supported 33 Saudi women entrepreneurs, to build their leadership and executive capacity to scale their businesses to new heights.

Overall, PepsiCo’s Tamakani initiative has empowered more than 100,000 Saudi women since its inception.

Zagzoog for Home Appliances opens first store in KSA

Updated 2 min 28 sec ago

Zagzoog for Home Appliances opens first store in KSA

Zagzoog for Home Appliances opened its first KitchenAid showroom in Saudi Arabia. The brand for small appliances has stores across the world, including in the US since 1919.

Yasser Al-Zagzoog said: “The company was keen to bring this American brand to the Saudi market through its agent, the Zagzoog Company for Home Appliances. This was done after a careful study that indicated the ability of this brand to compete and obtain a share in the market owing to its rich experience in the field.”

He added: “The inauguration of the KitchenAid showroom is the first in the series of others that will be opened in the Kingdom. The aim is based on a well-studied strategic plan to expand the marketing of KitchenAid products, as the showroom includes a series of new products characterized by best performance and modern design, in a wide variety of colors to meet the needs of every consumer.”

Zagzoog for Home Appliances was founded in 1959 by Sheikh Suleiman Said Zagzoog. The company has rich experience in the marketing and sale of home appliances for more than 60 years. 

It has 20 branches, 95 showrooms, 20 customer service centers and more than 300 distributors

Zagzoog is the agent and distributor for several brands in Saudi Arabia.