China and GCC ‘natural partners for cooperation,’ Chinese President Xi Jinping tells Riyadh summit

Among the GCC leaders in attendance were King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa of Bahrain; Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Sharqi, the ruler of Fujairah and representative of UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan; and Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud Al-Said, Oman’s deputy prime minister. (SPA)
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Updated 10 December 2022
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China and GCC ‘natural partners for cooperation,’ Chinese President Xi Jinping tells Riyadh summit

  • To be partners, China and GCC states must harmonize development strategies, Xi tells summit in Riyadh
  • He assures that China will continue to support the GCC bloc by building a collective security system

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia hosted the first Riyadh Gulf Cooperation Council-China Summit for Cooperation and Development on Friday.

The event was jointly chaired by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who ws in the Kingdom on a three-day state visit, and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman.

In his opening address, the crown prince said the meeting reflected a mutual desire to enhance Chinese-Gulf cooperation and would establish a historic new phase in relations.

Among the GCC leaders in attendance were King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa of Bahrain; Sheikh Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Sharqi, the ruler of Fujairah and representative of UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan; and Sayyid Fahd bin Mahmoud Al-Said, Oman’s deputy prime minister.




Xi said his country will work with the GCC over the next three to five years across five priority areas. (SPA)

The delegation also included Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, the emir of Qatar; Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the crown prince of Kuwait; and Nayef Falah Mubarak Al-Hajraf, the GCC secretary-general.

Xi said China and the GCC were natural partners due to their shared values and interests.

He added: “For more than 40 years the two sides have written impressive chapters of solidarity, support, and joint cooperation.

“China enjoys a wide consumer market and an integrated industrial system, while the Gulf side is characterized by rich energy resources and prosperous development to diversify the economy.

“The two sides are natural partners for cooperation and understanding as both sides, the Chinese and Gulf, belong to an Eastern civilization with similar cultural values and peoples who understand and converse with each other and share in good times and bad.”

One of the first areas of cooperation to be discussed was the approval of the joint 2023-27 action plan to strengthen the existing strategic partnership between the Gulf countries and China in economic, political, and cultural fields.

The volume of trade between the GCC states and China reached $228.9 billion in 2021 — a big leap from the $148.2 billion recorded in the previous year.

Leaders stressed the importance of continuing to develop cooperation in the fields of energy, trade, investment, finance, industry, advanced technology and space, along with the need to complete free trade negotiations as soon as possible.

The need for greater links in the fields of culture, education, tourism, media, and sport was also discussed.

Xi added: “In order to be partners in the pursuit of development, we must strengthen the harmonization between our strategies, activate the advantages of integration and generate an impetus for development.”

Xi said his country will work with the GCC over the next three to five years across five priority areas, including energy, investment, the digital economy, space, and cooperation in culture and language, with plans to teach the Chinese language in 300 schools and universities.

He said he wants to work with the Gulf to import natural gas and enhance cooperation in the fields of upstream recycling, engineering services, storage and refining of oil and gas, and to make full use of the Shanghai Petroleum and Natural Gas Exchange as a platform for oil.

Xi said: “China will also enhance cooperation in the field of clean and carbon-reduced energy technologies, such as hydrogen energy, energy storage, and smart electrical networks, and enhance cooperation in consolidating the production of equipment related to new energy.”

He expressed his desire to establish a Chinese-Gulf forum for the sound uses of nuclear energy, and a center of excellence for nuclear security to train 300 qualified specialists in the peaceful uses of the power source for the GCC countries.




The event was jointly chaired by Chinese President Xi Jinping, who ws in the Kingdom on a three-day state visit, and Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)

Xi highlighted the potential for cooperation in space technology, giving Arab and Chinese students and specialists the chance to work together.

“Chinese foreign relations are distinguished by a long history and a promising future,” he said.

Other topics covered during the summit were security and stability, and the priority of restoring international peace through mutual respect and cooperation.

Xi said: “To be partners to improve security, China will continue its unwavering support for the GCC countries in maintaining their security, and support the countries of the region to resolve differences through dialogue, consultation and building a collective security system in the Gulf.

“China welcomes the GCC countries to participate in the global security initiative in order to maintain peace and stability in the region with joint efforts, and to be partners for the advancement of civilization.

“Then we must strengthen the rapprochement among our peoples, diversify human and cultural communication, benefit from the distinguished cultural fruits on both sides, and strengthen the jewel of Eastern civilization, which provides a positive contribution to the development and progress of human civilization.”

Bahrain’s King Hamad expressed his gratitude to King Salman for his invitation to participate in the summit.

He said it reflected “the keenness of the GCC countries, brotherly Arab countries, and the friendly People’s Republic of China to intensify cooperation and joint coordination in various fields, for the benefit and good of our countries and the whole world.”

Al-Hajraf said President Xi’s visit to Saudi Arabia represented an important opportunity to address issues of common interest, build on countries’ relations, and enhance cooperation in energy, investment, the economy, and development.


Historic Jeddah launches art events to boost culture, tourism

Updated 49 min 59 sec ago
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Historic Jeddah launches art events to boost culture, tourism

  • Initiative includes four art exhibitions, music programs, theatrical performances, and specific events for schoolchildren

JEDDAH: The Historic Jeddah Program has several new activities that will strengthen the Kingdom’s culture and tourism sectors, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Sunday.

The activities were launched under an initiative entitled “Balad Al-Fann,” and will run until March 9.

The initiative includes four art exhibitions, music programs, theatrical performances, and specific events for schoolchildren.

Abdulaziz Ibrahim Al-Issa, the general supervisor of the Historic Jeddah Program, said the events would help with artistic skills development and entrepreneurship in the sectors, in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 plan.


Saudi Arabia joins air taxi race

CGI of a concept design for a Vertiport developed for Urban Air Mobility by Setec and its partners. (Supplied)
Updated 10 December 2023
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Saudi Arabia joins air taxi race

  • French engineering firm Setec Group a key partner in sustainable transport
  • ‘We’re trying to put our green touch and valued engineering expertise to have buildings and assets with lower impact on the environment,’ says official

RIYADH: French engineering and consulting firm Setec Group is working on urban air mobility in the Kingdom.

The concept being developed with the company’s European partners and manufacturers aims to provide air mobility for people and goods.

With Dubai expecting to launch its first flying taxi by 2026, and countries considering the service as a way to ease traffic conditions, Saudi Arabia is also joining the race for air mobility.

King Salman Park is the world’s largest urban park in the heart of Riyadh, with multidisciplinary engineering design by Setec. (Supplied)

The French integrated engineering solutions provider is developing new mobility solutions, especially for the Gulf region, with the development of public transport and soft mobility services for smart cities.

“It is like an air taxi. We have developed a preliminary feasibility study for Riyadh, to connect Riyadh with the new centralities that are being developed in the vicinity, namely Diriyah and Qiddiyah, and the service might be implemented in the coming years, to ease the road infrastructure, and for fast transit between the different centralities,” Patrick Bteich, a partner at Setec Group, told Arab News en Francais.

“Air mobility needs special permits from various ministries,and you need to work on corridors to mitigate security issues … from pilot to the implementation, it can take a few years depending on the regulation. But it’s a project that could be developed for Vision 2030,” Bteich added.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Urban air mobility would serve to ease traffic conditions.

• Dubai expects to launch its first flying taxi by 2026.

• Setec Group is one amongst several French companies working in AlUla.

Development of AlUla in recent years has witnessed significant French-Saudi collaboration through the AfAlUla and RCU intergovernmental agreement. The partnerships demonstrate the Kingdom’s ambition to make AlUla a leading international destination for culture and tourism.

Setec Group is one amongst several French companies working in AlUla.

The engineering firm’s presence in AlUla falls in line with the intergovernmental agreement, as well as the group’s desire to expand its presence in the western parts of the Kingdom.

Patrick Bteich, Setec Group partner

The French group, which is also working on King Salman Park and the development of metro lines, aims to “help the Kingdom reach its objectives as part of Vision 2030,” Bteich said.

“We’re looking to position ourselves, working on iconic buildings in terms of assets, high-rise tower projects, and we are interested in all the metro and LRT (light rail transit) developments that are happening in the region. In Riyadh, we have line extensions that are going to be floated to the market, including the Qiddiya LRT,” he added.

In its manifesto for low-carbon construction, Setec Group committed to offering low-carbon alternatives on its projects.

Our motto today is resilience and adapting to climate change, which is quite important in the region knowing that heat waves may become stronger and last longer.

Patrick Bteich, Setec Group partner

“We’re also trying to put our green touch and valued engineering expertise to have buildings and assets with lower impact on the environment. Our motto today is resilience and adapting to climate change, which is quite important in the region knowing that heat waves may become stronger and last longer,” he added.

The engineering firm is focused on international expansion, which makes up more than 30 percent of its activity.

With established offices in KSA, the UAE, and Egypt, the group is centering its efforts and business development in Saudi Arabia, in line with the Kingdom’s mega projects, with three offices across the country.

The Louis Vuitton Foundation, a contemporary art center located in the Bois de Boulogne, Paris. Architectural design by Frank Gehry and multidisciplinary engineering design by Setec. (Supplied)

“In the Kingdom, we are now finalizing our work on the King Salman Park, the landscape design with our partners Gerber Architekten (German architects) and Buro Happold (English engineers), and we have submitted the last package at the end of October, and the construction is underway and within budget. The project is expected to open soon,” Bteich said.

Setec is also working on the project management for Diriyah Gate and has worked on project management within the FAST consortium on 3 out of the 6 metro lines of Riyadh.

“The core of our activity is related to transport and infrastructure: Metros, trains, highways, high-speed lines, airports … this is around 60 percent to 65 percent of our activity, and this was the core activity when we started, with complex structures,” he added.

Among its flagship projects, Setec worked on the French section of the underwater Channel Tunnel between France and the UK.

The group also designed the Viaduc de Millau, the world’s tallest cable-stayed bridge, as well as iconic buildings including the Louis Vuitton Foundation Museum in France, the Tribunal de Justice in Paris, and the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

“We assist architects in the design to make the project happen … we had the chance to meet key clients from Saudi Arabia recently and it is going to open good opportunities for collaboration,” Bteich said.

Setec Group includes more than 40 companies. The firm develops feasibility studies leading to detailed design studies, environmental impact assessments, and offers client site supervision and consulting services.

 

 

 


International Olympic Committee chief visits Diriyah

(Left from right) Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, Thomas Bach and Jerry Inzerillo. (Supplied)
Updated 10 December 2023
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International Olympic Committee chief visits Diriyah

  • During his official meeting with Prince Abdulaziz, they discussed the major role played by the Kingdom on the global sporting stage

RIYADH: Saudi Minister of Sports Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal on Sunday accompanied Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, on a tour of the historic Turaif neighborhood in Diriyah, Riyadh. The CEO of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority Jerry Inzerillo was also present.

Bach arrived in the Kingdom on Saturday and was also was given a tour of the facilities hosting the ongoing Saudi Games 2023.

During his official meeting with Prince Abdulaziz, they discussed the major role played by the Kingdom on the global sporting stage.

 

 


Saudi students shine in international science contest

The Saudi team secured 3 international awards at the International Junior Science Olympiad (IJSO) which took place in Thailand.
Updated 10 December 2023
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Saudi students shine in international science contest

  • “The organization aims to push them toward success in inspiring scientific and technological paths, prioritizing national interests”

JEDDAH: Saudi students competing against contestants from 55 countries scooped three awards at the 2023 International Junior Science Olympiad.

The competitions, held in Thailand’s capital Bangkok, took place from Dec. 1 to 10.

Representing Saudi Arabia were the King Abdulaziz and his Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity (Mawhiba), and the Ministry of Education.

Hussein Habib Al-Saleh clinched a silver medal, while Suha Suleiman Al-Salama and Reda Emad Al-Khalaf were both awarded a bronze, adding to the Saudi science team’s medal tally total of 30 – one gold, six silver, and 23 bronze.

In a post on X, Mawhiba said: “The Saudi team secured three international awards at the International Junior Science Olympiad #IJSO2023, which took place in Thailand and attracted 304 students, representing 55 countries. Congratulations to our Kingdom, our students, and our strategic partner @moe_gov_sa.”

Each member of the Kingdom’s team underwent intensive training at Mawhiba, conducted by a group of expert Saudi and foreign trainers.

Praising the students’ efforts, Amal Al-Hazzaa, Mawhiba’s secretary-general, thanked the ministry, the families of the students, and their schools and teachers for their support.

She said: “Mawhiba strives in all its initiatives to inspire and motivate talented Saudi students with exceptional minds and abilities, enabling them to compete globally in scientific, technological, and applied fields.

“The organization aims to push them toward success in inspiring scientific and technological paths, prioritizing national interests.”

 

 


OIC calls for end to human rights ‘double standards’

A displaced Palestinian man rests next to a tent at a camp in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip Dec. 10, 2023. (Reuters)
Updated 10 December 2023
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OIC calls for end to human rights ‘double standards’

  • IPHRC voiced concerns after joining worldwide events to mark Human Rights Day 2023 on Dec. 10, the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

RIYADH: The Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation has condemned what it describes as double standards in applying human rights norms globally in light of the Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip.

The IPHRC voiced its concerns after joining worldwide events to mark Human Rights Day 2023 on Dec. 10, the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In a statement, the commission said that after more than two months of Israeli aggression in Gaza, and more than 17,000 civilian casualties, the international community is failing in its responsibility to act on credible accounts of war crimes being committed by Israeli forces.

The commission urged the international community to intervene for an immediate and lasting ceasefire in the enclave.

It also described Israeli orders for civilians in Gaza to evacuate without basic necessities as a violation of International humanitarian law.

The commission voiced concern about human rights violations affecting millions worldwide, and cited the deteriorating conditions for Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, persistent violence and discrimination against Muslims in India, and the continued plight of Palestinians and Kashmiris under oppressive regimes.

The IPHRC called for an end to double standards in applying human rights norms globally, and reaffirmed its commitment to promoting good governance, the rule of law, and safeguarding fundamental freedoms.

It also highlighted the need for technological equality and equitable development for OIC member states and other developing nations, and urged the international community to prioritize bridging the technological divide, saying that developing countries face disparities in accessing cutting-edge technologies.

The commission urged member states to adopt innovative, rights-based approaches to address economic, social, and cultural challenges.