Saudi-Russian Summit Opens Door for Partnership… Agreements Worth Several Billion Dollars

Moscow- Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud stressed Thursday the importance of bilateral cooperation between his country and Russia during a historic summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin Palace in Moscow.

In a speech delivered during official talks held with Putin in the Russian capital, King Salman said: “We are confident that there are vast opportunities for expanding and diversifying economic cooperation between our countries and establishing an economic, commercial and investment base in order to increase exploitation and consolidate the relative advantages in the interest of the two countries.”

For his part, Putin highlighted the importance of the King’s visit to Russia and the talks made between the two sides, describing them as rich and trustworthy.

“I am confident that the visit will give a fresh impetus to the development of bilateral relations between the two countries,” Putin said.

In Russia, King Salman also called on Iran to “stop interference in the region’s affairs and destabilizing the region,” stressing that the security and stability of the Gulf region and the Middle East are an absolute necessity for achieving international security and stability.

The King concluded his speech by officially inviting the Russian president to visit the Kingdom and to continue consultations towards the issues of common interest and enhance bilateral cooperation between the two countries in all fields.

The Saudi-Russian Summit saw the signing of a number of memorandums of understanding and joint investment deals worth several billion dollars for the establishment of Saudi-Russian platforms in the fields of military, energy, space, commerce, communication, technology, culture and investment.

Meanwhile, during a joint press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir said that Saudi Arabia and Russia agree on the need to preserve Syria’s territorial integrity and state institutions.

The Saudi foreign minister also uncovered that his country is working closely with Russia on uniting Syria’s opposition.

“We are certain that the further strengthening of Russian-Saudi relations will have a positive impact on strengthening stability and security in the region and the world,” Al-Jubeir said.

King Salman Says Coordination with Russia Continues on All That Promotes Security, Prosperity

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Russian President Vladimir Putin held a session of official talks at Kremlin Palace in Moscow on Thursday, said the Saudi state-owned news agency (SPA).

At the outset of the session, the Russian President delivered a speech in which he highlighted the importance of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ visit to Russia and the talks made between the two sides and said ” we made rich-content and trustworthy talks.”

Putin said he was glad to welcome the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques during his first visit to Moscow. He expressed confidence that the visit will give a fresh impetus to the development of bilateral relations between the two countries.

For his part, King Salman bin Abdulaziz delivered a speech in which he thanked the Russian President for the good reception and warm hospitality accorded to him and the accompanying delegation.

“I express appreciation of your speech containing noble feelings. We are glad to be in your friendly country. We are keen to enhance and consolidate relations between the two countries and peoples in various fields,” King Salman said.

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques noted identical of the two countries’ views on many regional and international issues.

“Bilateral coordination is continuing on everything that promotes security and the prosperity of our countries and serve the international peace and security. We are keen on a continuation of the positive cooperation between the two countries to achieve stability of the global oil markets in order to serve growth of the global economy,” King Salman said.

“We are confident that there are vast opportunities for expanding and diversifying economic cooperation between our countries and establishing an economic, commercial and investment base in order to increase exploitation and consolidate the relative advantages in the interest of the two countries and push the trade exchange in accordance with the Kingdom Vision 2030,” the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques added.

“The International Community needs to step up efforts to combat extremism, terrorism and the sources of its funding. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia earlier called for establishing the UN Counter-Terrorism Center and donated $110 million for this purpose. The Kingdom also worked to establish Islamic Military Coalition to Combat Terrorism including 41 Islamic states in addition to an establishment of the Global Center for Combating Extremism in Riyadh,” King Salman said.

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques stressed the need to end the suffering of the Palestinian people, “the Arab Peace Initiative and resolutions of the international legitimacy should be the basis for reaching a comprehensive, just and lasting peace that guarantees the right of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state with Al-Quds as its capital,” he said.

“The security and stability of the Gulf region and the Middle East are an absolute necessity for achieving international security and stability. Therefore, Iran must commit to stop interference in the region’s affairs and destabilizing the region,” King Salman said.

“In Yemen, we emphasize the importance of the political solution to the Yemeni crisis according to the GCC initiative, its executive mechanism, the outputs of the Yemeni national dialogue, and the Security Council resolution no. 2216 which preserves Yemen and its unity and achieves its security and stability. With regard to the Syrian crisis, we are required to put an end to it in accordance with the Geneva resolutions 1 and the Security Council resolution no. 2254 and to find a political solution that guarantees security and stability and preserves Syria’s unity and territorial integrity,” the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques said.

King Salman stressed the importance of preserving Iraq’s unity and territorial integrity and its internal efforts to combat terrorism.

“We call upon the international community to shoulder its responsibilities with regard to the problem of the Rohingya Muslims and to find a solution that protects them from violence and violations in order to alleviate their suffering,” King Salman added.

“I am pleased to invite you to visit the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to continue our consultations towards the issues of common interest and enhance bilateral cooperation between the two countries in all fields,” the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques concluded.

Moscow Welcomes Saudi King, Describes Visit As ‘Most Important Event’

Saudi Arabia's King Salman arrives at Vnukovo airport outside Moscow

Moscow, Riyadh- Official and popular Russian circles applauded the historic visit by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman to Moscow upon an official invitation by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Adel al-Jubeir said after talks with Valentina Matviyenko, chairman of the State Duma, that King Salman and Putin would sign a package of bilateral agreements of great importance.

He described the visit of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques – the first visit of a Saudi king to Russia – as a historic event, stressing that it would contribute to the development of relations between the two countries in various fields.

Matviyenko expressed her hope that King Salman’s visit would be successful and fruitful, and would give a strong impetus to the development of bilateral relations.

She also expressed her gratitude to the Saudi foreign minister for his cooperation with Moscow, especially with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

“We are well aware that the development of cooperation between Russia and Saudi Arabia serves not only our common interests but also stability in the region because Saudi Arabia is one of the most influential countries in the Middle East and the whole world,” she stated.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov welcomed King Salman’s visit, posting on his Instagram account: “Welcome to Russia.”

“We warmly welcome King Salman and we hope that his visit would contribute to strengthening economic, political, cultural and religious relations between our countries,” he stated.

Alexey Gremov, director of the Energy Department at the Institute for Energy and Finance, described the Saudi King’s visit to Russia as a “very important event”, stressing that discussions over oil-related issues between Russian and OPEC countries came following several visits by Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih.

Saudi Royal Order to Establish National Development Fund


Jeddah – Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud issued a royal order on Tuesday establishing the National Development Fund to be under the mandate of the Prime Minister.

The royal orders also included a minor cabinet reshuffle where Minister Sulaiman al-Hamdan was assigned to the Ministry of Civil Service and head of the Saudi Ports Authority Nabeel al-Amudi was appointed transport minister.

The royal order stated that the Fund was established to enhance the performance of other funds and development banks in the kingdom.

The National Development Fund will oversee the functions of the Saudi Fund for Development, the Saudi Industrial Development Fund, the Agricultural Development Fund, the Social Development Bank and the Human Resources Development Fund.

The Fund will supervise the functions of its affiliated bodies and will assume all tasks and powers, and make decisions, take progressive measures and other actions deemed necessary for establishing the fund.

The Fund’s board of directors will be headed by the deputy prime minister and will comprise a membership of not less than seven members nominated by the prime minister. It shall have a governor with a minister’s rank, who will be the executive officer of the fund.

According to the royal decree, an Experts Committee from the Council of Ministers will prepare a draft regulation for the operations of the fund, taking into account the aims and objectives stipulated by the king’s order within a period not exceeding thirty days from the date of this order.

Another royal order was issued appointing Sulaiman Abdulfattah bin Sulaiman Mashat as deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah, Saad bin Moqbil al-Maimooni as governor of Taif, Isam bin Hamad bin Ali al-Mubarak as governor of the Real Estate General Commission with excellent rank, and Majid bin Ibrahim al-Fayadh as general executive supervisor of the general corporation of King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center.

In addition, a royal decree relieved Mohammad Ibrahim bin Abdulaziz al-Hasan from his post as director of Najran University and appointed Falah bin Faraj bin Ali al-Sobaiei in his place.

Also, Nabil bin Abdulqadir bin Hamzah Koshak was relieved from his position as director of al-Baha University while Abdullah bin Yahia bin al-Hussein Qasim was appointed as director.

Abdullah bin Mifrih bin Nahar al-Rooqi was appointed as director of Tabuk University with excellent rank.

State Security Arrests 21 Saudis, One Qatari for Incitement


Riyadh – The Saudi State Security announced on Wednesday the arrest of 21 Saudis and a Qatari citizen who were all involved in inciting the public opinion and encouraging the commitment of illegal acts.

An official source at the Saudi authority said that the state security service has “monitored circulated video clips on social media websites that include different topics, which ignite the public interest and stir feelings towards issues that are still in consideration.”

The videos included “direct and indirect incitement to commit acts against the law and order”, according to the same sources.

The state security body has managed to identify the persons involved in posting these videos, which included 21 Saudis and one Qatari. They are currently being investigated for motives and affiliations, the sources noted.

The recent arrests were based on Article 6 of the Anti-Cyber Crime Law, which punishes by “imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years and a fine of not more than SAR3 million, a number of crimes, including the production of anything that violates public order, religious values, morals and the inviolability of private life, or the preparation, transmission or storage of it through the internet or a computer.”

Also on Wednesday,  Saudi security forces arrested 24 people involved in incitement and spreading rumors in Hail region, spokesman of the Ministry of the Interior said.

The ministry noted that the authorities, which were carrying out legal procedures in a social case in Hail, have noticed that “some of those who are involved in the case had exploited social networking sites to disseminate lies and exaggerations about the circumstances of the case. They did so in order to stir sedition and to push the ordinary people to commit what is undesirable.”

The security authorities managed to arrest 24 suspects for their involvement in incitement and dissemination of rumors, including the person who created a ‘hashtag’ on a social networking site for that purpose, according to the ministry’s spokesperson.

Saudi Humanitarian Relief Continues across Syria, Yemen, Jordan

Riyadh- King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid (KSRelief) continued distributing aid to 507,310 displaced people in Syrian governorates of Aleppo and Hama, reported the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

According to the Tuesday SPA statement, aid includes clothes, cooking appliances, family hygiene products, gas heaters, blankets and sponge bed mattresses.

All relief efforts are in compliance directives of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to alleviate the sufferings of displaced people in Syria.

Syria has spiraled down into disastrous humanitarian conditions as civil war ripped throughout the country.
More on the aid foundation’s relief works in the region, KSRelief sponsored the second mosquito pesticide preemption wide-area spray in Yemen.

Mosquitos are carriers of dengue fever. Yemen’s Tarim Directorate and the Hadramout Governorate were a part of the Dengue Control Project financed by the Saudi body.

This campaign is a part of a series of efforts which proved successful with eliminating mosquitoes carrying dengue fever.

No affected case has been registered until this very moment in the Directorate of Tarim, reported SPA. About 153,516 people benefit off the protective effort.

Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Jordan also contributed to the distribution of 24,000 cattle heads, a part of the ‘Adhi venison’ allocated yearly to the poor. The meat was provided by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and given to refugees and poor people in Jordan.

Saudi Deputy Ambassador in Jordan Mohammed Al-Ateeq visited one of the distribution centers accompanied by representatives of Islamic Development Bank and a delegation from Jordanian Ministry of Interior and were briefed on the distribution mechanism of sacrificial meat in 12 Jordanian governorates.

Joint Military Exercise between Saudi Arabia, France


Ta’if – Saudi Arabia and France kicked off a joint military exercise in the Saudi region of Ta’if, southwest of Makkah on Tuesday.

The exercise, involving an unspecified number of ground troops from the two countries, would focus on battles in mountainous regions and on how to back ground operations with proper air cover.

The drill was a routine part of military cooperation between France and Saudi Arabia.

Leader of the drill Colonel Fawaz al-Osaimi explained that it is considered an extension of joint exercises between the Saudi Royal Land Forces, represented by paratroopers and special security forces, the Special Mountain War Center, and the French Special Forces.

It aims at enhancing joint military bilateral cooperation and exchanging experiences and concepts in terms of operations using all available resources.

Training on offensive operations and those in support of Air Force and Ground Forces fighter jets will be conducted with a focus on all skills in the mountainous environment.

Saudi King Salman Heads to Russia for Official Visit


Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz traveled to Russia on Wednesday on an official visit, reported the Saudi Press Agency.

The monarch will hold talks there with Russian President Vladimir Putin and a number of senior officials.

They will focus on bilateral ties and ways to bolster them.

Later on Wednesday, King Salman issued a royal decree appointing Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as deputy Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques during his time abroad, said SPA.

Saudi Economy on New Threshold of Growth following Diversification of Investments


Riyadh – The mega projects in Saudi Arabia announced by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) have become a new frontier on the country’s investment map.

These mega projects, announced by one of the world’s biggest investment funds, carry great opportunities for investment, diversification of the economy, creation of thousands of jobs for Saudi youth, localization of the tourism industry and enhancement of their contribution to the GDP.

These major developments come at a time when Saudi Arabia is preparing to launch the Future Investment Initiative (FII), which is a pioneering new global investment event that will connect the world’s most powerful investors, business and intellectual leaders and public officials with groundbreaking innovations that are defining the future.

The initiative, which is hosted and organized by PIF in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, will be sponsored by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz, and its activities will be launched from the Kingdom’s capital, Riyadh, between October 24 and 27.

In this context, PIF announced that it is preparing to launch “Rou’a Al Haram” (Haram Vision), a development company set to increase capacity for pilgrims and visitors to the Grand Holy Mosque performing the annual Hajj or Umrah.

“Rou’a Al Haram” will act as a catalyst for developing the areas around the holy sites and improving the quality of services in the local hospitality sector.

The company’s establishment is in line with Vision 2030, which aims to provide an opportunity for the largest possible number of Muslims to perform the Hajj and Umrah and to enrich and deepen their experience through the development of the two Holy Mosques. The number of people visiting Makkah for the pilgrimages is expected to reach more than 30 million by 2030.

“Rou’a Al Haram” will raise the level of development in the areas surrounding the Grand Holy Mosque, making it among the best examples of development worldwide.

In addition, it will support job creation and investment as part of a wider plan to diversify the national economy.

Initial preparation works are currently underway, with construction due to start in 2018. The first phase of the project is anticipated to be launched in 2024.

The projects will create around 160,000 job opportunities by 2030, with an estimated annual contribution to GDP of eight billion Saudi riyals.

In addition, PIF announced the establishment of the “Rou’a Al Madinah” company, which will deliver projects designed to increase capacity for pilgrims and visitors to the Prophet’s Mosque, while also enriching spiritual and cultural experiences across the holy city of al-Madinah.

Preliminary estimates indicate that the total number of annual visitors to al-Madinah will increase to 23 million by 2030.

The company aims to develop a 1.3 million square meter site no more than 1,000 meters away from the east wing of the Prophet’s Mosque.

The project will see the development of 500 new housing units and 80,000 hotel rooms, increasing hotel capacity to receive 240,000 guests per day, in addition to increasing the number of prayer areas to accommodate 200,000 worshipers per day.

Wide-ranging Russian Preparations to Receive Saudi King Salman


Moscow – Preparations for the upcoming landmark visit by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz to Russia are ongoing in Moscow.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold talks on Thursday with King Salman, who will be on a state visit to Russia,” the Kremlin said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Kremlin is planning to discuss Russian-Saudi relations cooperation. Both Putin and King Salman will discuss joint steps to strengthen bilateral cooperation in trade-economic, investment, cultural and humanitarian fields.

Talks are expected to witness extensive exchange of views on international issues, the Kremlin added.
Specific attention will be given to issues evolving in the Middle East and North Africa, with a focus on settling regional conflicts.

Authorities in Russia and Saudi Arabia are showing political will to foster bilateral economic ties, and their potential is yet to be fulfilled, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday.

The presidential spokesman stressed that Russia has long-running ties with Saudi Arabia, which Moscow values. “There are very broad prospects, and the potential is far from being fulfilled. Now both sides are showing political will to contribute to developing business contacts,” he said.

Peskov refused to link developing relations with Saudi Arabia to Russian-Iranian ties. “The relations between Moscow and Riyadh are absolutely self-sufficient and in this case there is no need to draw any parallels, this is a separate vector of our foreign policy, given the important role of Saudi Arabia in the region and in the Arab world in general,” he said.

Media and research circles in Russia have turned a great deal of attention to King Salman’s visit and anticipated talks with Putin, in view of the important position that Saudi Arabia occupies in the Arab world and among Islamic nations.

Speaking on issues of contrast, Deputy head of the North Africa department at the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry Oleg Ozerov said that although the two states may differ on many topics in the Middle East, namely the Syrian crisis, Moscow and Riyadh are willing to work through matters of conflict.

When it comes to the larger picture, both Saudi Arabia and Russia are willing to set aside their differences for the greater good, said Ozerov.

Meanwhile, head of the media center for Arab-Russian studies Dr. Majed Al-Turki said that the Russians and Saudis both agree that a peaceful solution for the Syrian crisis is the only way to resolve the conflict.

The official hoped that the upcoming visit would focus on matters of common interest, adding that dwelling on problems without a clear solution would be counterproductive for both countries’ aims to boost relations.

On her part, Russian Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) affairs expert Elena Melkumian said that issues pertaining to the Syrian and Yemeni crises, the future of the Iraq’s Kurdistan region, developments in the Gulf region and the Middle East peace process will be high on the list of discussions between King Salman and Putin.