Saudi FM calls for peaceful solutions to multiple world crises

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Furhan Al-Saud addresses the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, at United Nations headquarters. (AP)
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Updated 24 September 2023

Saudi FM calls for peaceful solutions to multiple world crises

  • Prince Faisal bin Farhan discusses Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, Sudan, Palestine
  • Foreign minister praises Saudi-Iranian rapprochement, calls for global action against Islamophobia

NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister called for peaceful solutions to multiple world crises during his address to the 78th UN General Assembly in New York on Saturday.

Prince Faisal bin Farhan stressed the importance of human rights to Saudi Arabia, saying: “Our country has enacted a number of laws, and has also amended existing laws, in order to promote the dignity of the citizen and protect livelihoods and decent living while ensuring protection for all.”

He reaffirmed the Kingdom’s support for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “that allows the Palestinian people to have an independent state within the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

Prince Faisal also called for solutions to the conflicts and crises in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, Libya, Ukraine and Sudan.

“The Kingdom affirms its keenness on the security and stability of the Republic of Yemen and supports all efforts aimed at resolving the crisis in Yemen, and alleviating the human suffering of the Yemeni people,” he said.

He called for de-escalation in Sudan, saying Saudi Arabia hosted ceasefire talks between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces in Jeddah earlier this year with the participation of the US.

“Saudi Arabia is working actively to protect civilians and to guarantee delivery of aid to the population,” he said.

“We have, since the beginning of the crisis, constantly taken humanitarian action by conducting evacuation operations by sea of thousands of Sudanese and citizens of neighboring and brotherly countries.”

King Salman has also launched an initiative to raise funds for the Sudanese people, and decreed $100 million in humanitarian assistance to the country through the Saudi aid agency KSrelief, Prince Faisal said.

Prince Faisal said Saudi Arabia supports calls for the withdrawal of all foreign forces in Libya.  

“The Kingdom stresses the importance of achieving security and stability in Libya ensuring its sovereignty independence and territorial integrity and stopping interference in its internal affairs,” he said.

Further demonstrating the Kingdom’s important role as a global mediator, Prince Faisal mentioned Saudi efforts to end the conflict in Ukraine, including inviting the country to attend the Arab League Summit in Jeddah in May, and hosting an international summit on the war in August.

The latter meeting saw the attendance of over 40 countries, including many that had not specifically condemned Russia.

Prince Faisal also praised the resumption of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran “based on mutual respect for sovereignty, independence, security and non-interference.”

The two countries resumed diplomatic ties in April after seven years of strained relations, as part of a deal brokered by China during a meeting in Beijing between the Iranian and Saudi foreign ministers.

Prince Faisal also called on the international community to take action against Islamophobia. “The world must show firmness and determination when it comes to supporting or sponsoring terrorism or extremism,” he said.

“We must reject all forms of attacks against sacred values, and the propagation of hate and Islamophobia under any pretext, and prevent incidents such as the burning of the Holy Qur’an.

“We warn against the gravity of these acts, which jeopardize mutual respect and understanding between peoples, and which hinder international efforts towards tolerance, moderation and rejection of extremism.”

On the subject of climate change, Prince Faisal reaffirmed Saudi Arabia’s commitment to reducing emissions and “a gradual and responsible transition towards clean energy systems with low emissions using all available sources of energy to ensure sustainability.”

He said: “We know this is a massive challenge, and we’d like to consolidate our leading role throughout the world when it comes to sustainability.”

He added that the Kingdom has launched the Saudi Green Initiative and Middle East Green Initiative in order to protect the environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He said the Kingdom is using the circular economy approach towards carbon neutrality and has doubled its contributions to this goal, adding that efforts are under way to promote better governance of water resources.

On the issue of global energy supply, he said Saudi Arabia is striving to meet the needs of consumers and producers on a global level while working with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

“We’ll focus on prospects for a future focused on technology and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It will be an excellent opportunity to promote projects with universal impact that can foster cooperation to find solutions through innovation, inclusiveness, and sustainability.” 

He also stressed "the importance of efforts to achieve the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons.”

Prince Faisal noted that Saudi Arabia has submitted its bid to host the World Expo 2030 under the title “The Era of Change: Together for a Foresighted Tomorrow.”

“We also have an ambitious policy towards the future,” he said.  

He concluded by thanking all countries that have supported the Kingdom’s World Expo bid, and conveyed to the world “our message, values and principles in a spirit of partnership and respect to lay the groundwork for a better future for humanity.”

Saudi FM, Qatari PM hold meeting in Doha

Updated 6 sec ago

Saudi FM, Qatari PM hold meeting in Doha

  • Prince Faisal and Sheikh Mohammed emphasized the importance of sustained coordination between the two countries

RIYADH: Saudi foreign minister and Qatari Prime Minister and foreign affairs minister co-chaired the inaugural meeting of the Executive Committee of the Saudi-Qatari Coordination Council in Doha on Sunday, Saudi Press Agency reported.

During the meeting, Prince Faisal bin Farhan and Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani commended the cooperation and coordination demonstrated by the subcommittees and the working groups of the council's general secretariat in both countries.

Working groups of the council's general secretariat presented their progress on preparatory work and the outcomes achieved recently by the subcommittees and their respective working groups.

The outcomes encompassed targets, initiatives and memoranda of understanding that are to be signed during the forthcoming meeting of the Saudi-Qatari Coordination Council, SPA added.

Prince Faisal and Sheikh Mohammed emphasized the importance of sustained coordination to fulfill the aspirations of the leaderships and to advance the interests of the peoples of the two countries.

The Saudi ambassador to Qatar Prince Mansour bin Khalid bin Farhan and director-general of the Foreign Minister's Office Abdulrahman Al-Dawood also attended the meeting.

Saudi surgeon who gave Gaza’s conjoined twin new lease of life fearful about her fate

Updated 03 December 2023

Saudi surgeon who gave Gaza’s conjoined twin new lease of life fearful about her fate

  • Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, supervisor general of KSrelief, separated Haneen from twin sister in 2018 in marathon surgery
  • Whereabouts of the six-year-old unknown following destruction of her hometown, northern Gaza, in Israeli military action

RIYADH: Five years before Israeli forces bombarded the Gaza Strip in one of the most intense escalations of force the region has witnessed, one baby girl was given a new lease of life. 

Baby Haneen, who was born on Oct. 21, 2017 as a conjoined twin with her sister Farah, underwent surgery at the King Abdullah Specialized Children’s Hospital in Riyadh at less than two months old.

The complex surgery to separate her from her sister, who sadly did not have the necessary organs to live and was thus treated as a parasitic twin, would take up to 15 hours to complete and was led by pediatric surgeon Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, who had already carried out 44 successful twin separation procedures.

As of 2023, as part of the Saudi Program for the Separation of Conjoined Twins for poor families, Dr. Al-Rabeeah has evaluated more than 134 sets of conjoined twins, and separated 59 sets of twins from 24 countries, with a success rate close to 100 percent.

“We brought a smile on the face of the parents of those twins, and we managed to take (Haneen) back to Gaza in 2018,” Dr. Al-Rabeeah, who is also the supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, said in the latest episode of the Arab News show “Frankly Speaking.”

The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund reported in May this year that Haneen, now six years old, was alive and thriving, despite health issues including the loss of a leg and kidney problems.

“Despite her challenges, Haneen has a positive outlook on life. She loves playing with other children, attending kindergarten, singing, and helping her mother with housework. She always greets people with a smile and brings positive energy to her family and those around her. Haneen dreams of becoming a doctor in the future and helping children,” the PCRF site read, adding that Haneen had joined their amputee program, which helps children with amputations living in the Gaza Strip.

However, with much of northern Gaza — Haneen’s home — destroyed by Israeli military action, Dr. Al-Rabeeah fears the worst.

“Now, I am not sure as of today whether Haneen is alive, whether her parents are alive, or all of this work that has been done by Saudi Arabia has been lost,” he said. “It’s painful for me until I secure that Haneen and her parents are alive.”

Saudi Arabia’s AlUla, Kenya’s Space for Giants sign deal to enhance natural reserves

Updated 03 December 2023

Saudi Arabia’s AlUla, Kenya’s Space for Giants sign deal to enhance natural reserves

  • The partnership aims to protect biodiversity in AlUla, reduce carbon emissions and increase carbon storage capabilities

JEDDAH: The Royal Commission for AlUla Governorate has partnered with Kenyan-based Space for Giants, an organization specializing in environmental conservation, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Saturday.

The partnership aims to protect biodiversity in AlUla, reduce carbon emissions and increase carbon storage capabilities in AlUla’s natural reserves.

Over the next three years, the two parties will work together to design and implement joint activities focused on managing, protecting and monitoring biodiversity and natural environments.

These efforts will align with international standards and support the goals of the Saudi Green Initiative, which was launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in 2021 to promote climate action, and with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

The partnership includes providing nature conservation groups in the authority’s natural reserves with the necessary equipment, systems and capabilities to protect areas and ensure the health and safety of rangers.

It will also look to develop means and techniques of communication between nature protectors to enhance their capabilities to preserve reserves and share data quickly.

The partnership also includes developing the management of the reserves to enable them to achieve the requirements of the IUCN Green List certification by 2025, as well as working to reduce carbon emissions and increase carbon storage.

Both parties are also keen to promote a sustainable and environmentally friendly tourism model in AlUla, SPA said.

RCU is developing natural reserves throughout AlUla Governorate, which include Sharaan, Al-Gharamil, Wadi Nakhla, Harrat Al-Zaben and Harrat Awairid, each of which is characterized by distinctive plants, organisms, and geological features.

The reserves extend over an area exceeding 12,000 sq km, constituting more than 50 percent of the land area of Al-Ula governorate.

The nature reserves are patrolled with 154 AlUla nature conservancy staff who have completed an 18-month training program.

Tokyo governor looking forward to ‘exciting’ World Expo in Riyadh

Updated 03 December 2023

Tokyo governor looking forward to ‘exciting’ World Expo in Riyadh

  • Japan will pass baton to Kingdom after Osaka hosts global event in 2025
  • Saudi Arabia, Japan can learn from each other on green issues, Gov. Koike Yuriko says

DUBAI: The governor of Tokyo hopes World Expo 2030 in Riyadh will be an exciting and sustainable event with the potential to “surprise the world.”

Speaking to Arab News Japan on Saturday, Gov. Koike Yuriko offered her best wishes to Saudi Arabia after Riyadh this week won its bid to host the prestigious event.

“I’d like to congratulate the Kingdom,” she said. “And I hope the Expo … would be an exciting one (and) make the people of the world surprised.”

Japan will pass the Expo baton to the Kingdom after Osaka hosts the event in 2025. Speaking on the sidelines of the COP28 climate summit in Dubai, Koike said she hoped the event in Riyadh would be a “sustainable one.”

Saudi Arabia, the Gulf region and Japan should learn from one another and collaborate in order to achieve decarbonization and other green initiatives, the governor said.

“Saudi Arabia and the UAE are producing countries, while Japan is a buying one. Both regions already collaborate and can share knowledge and initiatives to seek the best ways to save the great climate,” she said.

Tokyo’s first female governor, Koike also spoke about the plans and initiatives in place to make the city greener.

“To tackle climate change in Tokyo is very challenging,” she said. “Our timeline is to curb CO2 emissions by 2030 and (achieve) net zero by 2050.”

As 70 percent of Tokyo’s CO2 emissions come from residential property, Koike said the city would implement a new policy in 2025 requiring all new buildings to install solar or renewable energy equipment.

“This is the very first regulation that requests people, or especially house-builders, to set solar panels or solar cells.”

Next year, Tokyo will host the SusHi Tech summit, which aims to make Tokyo a smart city and promote a digital economy. The event will also encourage startups to come up with new initiatives to help Tokyo achieve its green goals.

On the situation in the Gaza Strip, Koike said she was “anxious” for the Palestinian people.

“I have asked a Japanese company, which runs the sanitary goods products in that area, to send their products to children and women in Gaza,” she said. “The Japanese government previously supported building a school for deaf children. But that was bombed many years ago.”

Koike said she hoped the crisis could be resolved as soon as possible.

Saudi Arabia’s cultural renaissance embraces metal music

Updated 03 December 2023

Saudi Arabia’s cultural renaissance embraces metal music

  • Local band Immortal Pain fulfills growing appetite for genre among Saudi music lovers

JEDDAH: Saudi metal band Immortal Pain delivered a loud and lively concert at Comic Con Arabia in Jeddah, with a huge crowd of fans cheering and singing along with them.

Friday night marked the second performance of the band at the convention. They have been in the rock and metal scene since late 2005, starting with two members and later doubling.

In a previous interview with Arab News, rhythm guitarist and vocalist Emad Ashoor said the band started with only him and the lead guitarist Rasheed Attar. Later, drummer Moayad Al-Shammari and bassist Anan Al-Sabban joined the group, and just last year, they signed a contract with Saudi recording company Wall of Sound: Dark Mode.

The local band has been in the rock and metal scene since late 2005, gradually increasing their audience over the years. Instagram/immortal_pain_official. (Supplied)

The Jeddah-based band has been throwing mini-concerts across the Kingdom. They have also released original music and are working on releasing more to their Saudi, Arab, and international audiences.

While they previously spoke to Arab News about their origins, this time the members shared insight into the dynamic of the group and how they work together on making their songs and music videos.

It all begins with inspiration.

“The four of us gather, talk about our latest encounters in life and how we felt,” said the drummer Al-Shammari. “Then we express everything in music. We let our instruments talk for us.”

The four of us gather, talk about our latest encounters in life and how we felt. Then we express everything in music. We let our instruments talk for us. (Supplied)

On the unusual places or moments that can inspire, Al-Shammari said: “One day, I was passing by a construction site, and the sounds of wrecking and drilling inspired me somehow and I made a song based on the noise of the construction site.”

Ashoor, gifted with a poetic sense, takes over the next step of writing the lyrics.

So far, they have been writing lyrics in English, but they all agreed they were open to the challenge of writing in Arabic and were eager to experiment and evolve with their music.

The four of us gather, talk about our latest encounters in life and how we felt. Then we express everything in music. We let our instruments talk for us.

Moayad Al-Shammari, Immortal Pain drummer

Once the lyrics are in place, they decide upon a melody and arrange the song, deciding which riff goes first and which follows. The lyrics are recorded last.

When asked about the difficult times they have encountered throughout their career, the four agreed that starting was tough as metal music was considered a Western genre and was not popular locally. Although they have supportive families, they said it was hard for them to find an audience at the very beginning.

Their audience gradually increased from a few people to several dozen, and by the time they played at Comic Con last year and this year, they had amassed about 1,000 music fans.

“Rock and metal are both on the rise contrary to what Gene Simmons and the likes of KISS might think. They can go ahead and retire if it’s getting too loud,” bassist Al-Sabban joked when asked about the metal scene in the Kingdom.

“But the local and global scenes are growing,” he said, adding that Metallica would be playing in the Kingdom next week. “As we all know, when Saudi Arabia gets involved, it’s going to be bigger and better.”

When MDLBeast announced that Metallica would be performing in Saudi Arabia, fans from across the Middle East and North Africa bought tickets to see the legendary metal band.

Immortal Pain also told Arab News exclusively that after only releasing singles, they are officially going to record their first full album first thing next year. They also revealed that in 2024, they will hit the road on a tour across the MENA region, throwing concerts in the Kingdom, the UAE, and Egypt.

Al-Shammari proudly added that they have also received an invitation to perform in Germany, and while nothing is yet confirmed, they are hoping things will work and they will hold an international concert.

For updates about the band, follow their Instagram @immortal_pain_official.