King Salman Decorates Special Emergency, Security Forces’ Commanders with New Ranks

Saudi King Salman at the decoration ceremony

Jeddah- Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz on Tuesday decorated both Special Emergency Forces Commander Lt. Gen. Khaled bin Qarar Al-Harbi and Special Security Forces Commander Maj.Gen. Mofleh bin Salim Al-Otaibi with their new ranks.

King Salman wished both officials booming success in their careers, said the state-owned news outlet the Saudi Press Agency.

For their part, Lt.Gen.Harbi and Maj.Gen.Otaibi thanked King Salman for the royal trust bestowed on them.

King Salman appealed to Allah Almighty to support them in performing their duties.

The rank-decorating ceremony was attended by Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, Minister of Interior, and Abdulaziz bin Mohammed Al-Howairini, Head of the State Security.

On that note, a royal order issued by King Salaman established the National Development Fund to be under the mandate of the Prime Minister.

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 have a Board of Directors chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister and a membership of no less than seven members to be appointed by the Prime Minister, according to the order.

An Experts Committee from the Council of Ministers will prepare a draft regulation for the Fund within a period not exceeding thirty days from the date of this order, the royal order stated.

In other royal orders, Suleiman al-Humaidan was relieved of his duties as minister of transport and appointed as minister of civil service while Nabil al-Amoodi was appointed as minister of transport.

Also, Essam al-Mubarak was appointed as Governor of the General Property Authority.

Another order appointed Sulaiman Abdulfattah bin Sulaiman Mashat as deputy minister of Hajj and Umrah.

Saudi Cabinet Welcomes PIF’s Launching of Development Companies, Projects

Saudi Arabia’s national Cabinet session welcomed on Tuesday the Public Investment Fund’s decision on establishing development companies tasked with enhancing visitor accommodation capacities of the Kingdom.

King Salman bin Abdulaziz, chairing the session in Jeddah, also expressed his looking forward that his visit to Russia and talks with President Vladimir Putin and Russian officials will achieve the aspirations of the two countries to enhance and develop bilateral relations in all fields in the service of common interests and efforts to achieve the international peace and security.

‘Al Haram Rou’a Company’ and ‘Al Madinah Rou’a Company’ were founded in line with the Kingdom’s vision 2030. They aim at expanding Saudi Arabia’s capacity for hosting increasing numbers of incoming visitors seeking to perform Hajj and Umrah rituals.

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 metres 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.

The Cabinet session lauded the PIF’s announcement on the redevelopment of the Jeddah City waterfront Corniche as well.

The renovation project’s budget is estimated at SR 18 billion, with a deadline set after 10 years. It aims at fully transforming the scene into a vital area and a unique tourist, residential and commercial attraction, placing Jeddah as one of the top 100 cities worldwide.

On the other hand, Cabinet members reviewed the meetings of the Kingdom’s delegation with the representatives of Russian, American, Japanese and South Korean delegations on the sidelines of the 61st General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna to discuss the options for implementing the National Atomic Energy Project in the Kingdom and ways of cooperation to support the project, especially with regard to the feasibility study of the initial technical aspects of engineering designs FEED to build the first two reactors in the Kingdom.

King Salman bin Abdulaziz briefed the Cabinet on the results of his meeting with Bahrain’ s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, his talks with Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo Mohamed, and his meetings with UAE interior minister Sheikh Lieutenant General Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and British Conservative lawmaker Leo Docherty.

The Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Awwad bin Saleh Al-Awwad said in a statement to Saudi Press Agency following the session that the Cabinet expressed its thanks and appreciation to the King for the issuance of the royal order to apply the traffic system and its executive regulations, including issuing driving licenses for males and females.

The Cabinet commended the King’s inauguration of new Taif projects whose costs estimated at SR 11 billion, stressing the contents of the King’s speech on the enjoyment of the Kingdom and its people with blessings including the presence of wealth, security and stability and his directive to citizens that the doors are open and ears listen for every citizen who sees that there is an interest to the religion above all and the country of the Two Holy Mosques to which we are all servants.

King Salman Visits Russia Thursday, $10 Billion in Joint Projects


Riyadh- Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz will kick off next Thursday his official visit to Russia where he will discuss with President Vladimir Putin joint cooperation between the two countries in addition to regional and international issues, mainly the region’s crises.

Abdurrahman Al-Rasi, Saudi ambassador to Russia, told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday that the visit of the Saudi King that came in response to an invitation from President Putin, would boost bilateral relations.

“We will see a qualitative leap of those relations in various domains of cooperation,” the ambassador said.

Al-Rasi described the visit as important in its content and timing for being King Salman’s first trip to Russia in the historic and long-term relations between both countries.

“The visit crowns the Saudi-Russian relations following the trips made by Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, deputy premier, minister of Defense and chairman of the Council of Economic and Development Affairs to Russia in the last two years,” he said.

The Saudi diplomat also said that the King’s visit would have a great impact, not only on boosting mutual relations between both countries, but on the situation in the entire region.

“This trip will surely help finding solutions to many crises in the region,” Al-Rasi said.

Meanwhile, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said in an interview broadcast by Al Arabiya TV on Monday that Saudi Arabia and Russia plan to set up a $1 billion fund to invest in energy projects.

“Our focus is not just on strengthening our cooperation within the framework of the OPEC and non-OPEC (agreement) but also the strengthening of cooperation in oil, gas, electricity renewable energy and other projects for oil and gas equipment,” he told the television channel regarding the fund’s activities.

Novak said that the Saudi-Russian sides have already set $10 billion to fund joint projects in several other fields than the oil sector.

‘Vision 2030’ Opens up Prospects for Investment between Saudi Arabia, Russia

Both Saudi Arabia and Russia had agreed at a meeting, on the sidelines of the G20 summit held in China in 2016, to strengthen their cooperation, said the Saudi state-owned news agency (SPA).

The two countries also agreed to explore the possibility of establishing a common database on advanced energy technologies and to make assessments of the feasibility of using, utilizing and financing these technologies through sovereign wealth funds belonging to both countries.

Cooperation encompasses the oil and gas sector, including the use of new technologies and the exchange of information and experiences to raise the level of technical applications in the fields of production, refining, storage, transportation, distribution, manufacturing and research activities as well as cooperation in the production of electricity and renewable energy.

Russia ranks 12th in the world in terms of GDP and 6th globally in purchasing power and the world’s largest natural gas reserves.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil exporter, the second largest oil reserve in the world and leading member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and a member of the G-20 which includes the world’s 20 largest economies.

The Kingdom has a promising and sustainable economy of growth following the Kingdom Vision 2030.
The Russian investments focused on three development fields in the Kingdom: service, industry and construction in accordance with a statement issued by the General Authority for Investment. The total capital in the service sector is SR2.25 million, the industrial sector is SR71.221 and the construction sector is SR31.15 million.

Bilateral relations between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Russia have recently witnessed identical views towards the regional and international issues in addition to joint desire to support these relations in various fields, including economic field.

The trade volume between the two countries reached about $2.8 billion in 2016 amid ambitions seeking to raise this number in light of the Kingdom Vision 2030.

The Kingdom proved its economic strength after achieving a positive growth rate with 1.7% in 2016 despite fluctuations of the international oil prices.

Saudi Crown Prince Receives Message from Singaporean PM

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

Jeddah-Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Premier and Minister of Defense, has received a message Sunday from Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The message was handed over to Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Nizar bin Obaid Madani by Senior Minister of State at the Singaporean Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mohamad Maliki Osman, who visited Madani in his office in Jeddah.

The meeting was attended by Singapore’s Ambassador to the Kingdom Lawrence Anderson and Consul General of Singapore in Jeddah Razif Al-Junaid.

Preliminary Ruling Acquits 13 Accused in Makkah Crane Crash Case

Toppled crane in Makkah Grand Mosque.

Makkah- A penal court in Makkah acquitted on Sunday 13 employees in Binladin Group, charged with negligence in the September 11, 2015 crane crash incident, which had resulted in deaths of at least 109 people and the injury of some 400 others.

“The court said that they are not criminally responsible for the incident,” adding that the Saudi attorney general had filed an appeal against the decision which was approved.

The crane toppled over near the Grand Mosque in Makkah amid stormy weather, just days before Hajj.

The Binladin Group’s defense team claimed the Saudi Arabia-based construction firm could not have predicted the severe thunderstorm and violent winds that caused the crane to fall.

The construction firm had been working for years on a multi-billion-dollar 400,000 square-meter enlargement of the Grand Mosque to accommodate increasing numbers of pilgrims to the site.

The collapsed crane was one of several erected by the Binladin Group as part of the project.

King Salman to Citizens: Doors, Ears Open

King Salman was briefed on the New Taif projects by Advisor to Governor of Makkah Region Dr. Saad Mohammad Mareq. (SPA)

Jeddah- Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz launched the new projects of the New Taif at Salam Palace on Sunday by saying that “Our doors, our phones, and our ears are open for every citizen.”

“With the blessing of Allah, we endorse in principle and in accordance to the capacities available and accredited fiscal funds, praying Almighty to grace these projects with munificence and good returns,” he said.

The King was briefed on the New Taif projects by Advisor to Governor of Makkah Region Dr. Saad Mohammad Mareq who pointed out that the New Taif is located north-east of the current city of Taif on an area of about 1250 square kilometers and its total costs are estimated at about SR 11 billion.

The ceremony was attended by Prince Khaled Al-Faisal, Adviser to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, Governor of Makkah Region and Chairman of Taif Development Supreme Committee; Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, President of the National Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, Prince Dr. Turki bin Saud bin Mohammed, President of King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST); Prince Abdulaziz bin Saud bin Naif bin Abdulaziz, Minister of Interior; Prince Abdullah bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Governor of Makkah Region, and a number of ministers.

The General Authority for Civil Aviation has signed a contract to develop and operate the new Taif International Airport with a group of companies including Asiad, the Contractors Association Co. and Munich Airports Co.

The airport will be built on a 48 million square meter site 40 km from Taif and 117 km from Makkah and is expected to be operational by 2020. The touristic project will create 4,400 jobs and is expected to attract more than 260,000 visitors a year.

A consortium of global companies has been selected to design a business park called the Oasis of Technology, a joint venture between King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology and the Morganti Group. The 35 million square meter site will accommodate projects to assemble and manufacture Antonov aircraft, make solar panels and develop solar energy.

A new Industrial City, the first in Taif Province, will be built on an 11 million square meter site 55km from the city center and 29km from the airport. The first phase will include light, medium and heavy industries, and a vocational training center.

The new university will be built at Sysid National Park. It is composed of 16 separate projects over an area of 16.344.000 square meters.

Saudi Diplomacy Saves Yemen From ‘Syrian, Korean’ Scenario of Internationalizing Investigations


London, Geneva- The Dutch project to internationalize the investigations in Yemen, which was proposed by Human Rights Council in Geneva, has ended with the formation of a group of international and regional prominent experts to investigate claimed violations of human rights that have been made in the war in Yemen.

The Council’s call on Friday, following the so-called “Dutch Project” at the beginning, resulted in forming an official UN investigation committee.

The committee, which is supposed to be formed before the end of 2017, won’t be like that of Syria and North Korea, according to the German New Agency.

The diplomatic efforts of Saudi Arabia have managed to persuade the European countries and other countries that support the Dutch draft resolution to withdraw its draft resolution.

The Arab draft resolution, which supports the Yemeni National Commission for Inquiry, was adopted, and the High Commissioner will form a group of international experts in the field of human rights, according to SPA.

The resolution adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Council at its current 36th session on Friday is an extension of the Council’s 33rd session issued in September 2016.

The adoption of a single resolution based on the Arab project is an advanced step as a result of the efforts made by Saudi Arabia at the bilateral and multilateral level with European countries, USA and Canada.

Yemeni Minister of Human Rights Dr. Mohammed Askar told Asharq Al-Awsat that the difference between the Dutch project, which was withdrawn, and the consensus on Friday is that the Dutch project is based on three axes: to send a commission of inquiry into allegations of human rights violations and war crimes in Yemen, to let the commission be under the second article on international inquiry and to submit the report of the Commission of Inquiry to the Human Rights Council, the United Nations General Assembly and the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Whereas the Arab project, which was approved Friday, is based on four pillars, first of which it doesn’t investigate but observes the situation, supports the national inquiry commission, sends its report to the High Commissioner only and was adopted under the 10th article on providing technical support for the investigation process.

For his part, Yemen’s Deputy Premier and Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulmalik al- Mekhlafi thanked and expressed gratitude for the Arab group and the delegations that directly contributed in reaching a consensus.

Saudi-Russian Summit Next Thursday


Moscow- The Kremlin said it hopes that the upcoming visit of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud to Moscow next week will give a new powerful impetus to the development of bilateral relations with Riyadh which is the leader of the Arab world.

“Russia is interested in maintaining a dialogue, including in the framework of the discussion of the situation in the Middle East and Syria,” the press secretary of the Russian president Dmitry Peskov said on Friday.

King Salman is expected to arrive in Moscow next Wednesday on an official visit to Russia.

A summit between the Saudi King and Russian President Vladimir Putin will be held on Thursday to discuss enhancing and developing bilateral relations, and would also tackle a number of regional and international issues. The visit will last until Sunday.

“We hope that this visit will give a new powerful impetus to the development of bilateral relations, because the potential of our relations is much richer than the de facto situation, and we want to develop our dialogue in every possible way,” Peskov said.

Saudi King’s official visit will also witness the signing of Russia of a number of memorandums and agreements with 6 Saudi governmental bodies.

Two Saudi companies will also sign a number of deals with four Russian companies. The visit will also see the delivery of a number of investment permits.

Asked whether the visit of King Salman constitutes a sign of the rapprochement of positions between Moscow and Riyadh, particularly concerning the Syrian crisis, Peskov said: “Saudi Arabia is a state that plays an important role in Arab and inter-Arab affairs. It is the leader of the Arab world.”

He added that Russia is undoubtedly interested to keep its dialogue with the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia: Houthi-Saleh Militias Endanger Civilians


Geneva- The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia confirmed that the coalition operations in Yemen began in 2015 at the request of its legitimate government when it faced an illegal armed rebellion that obstructed the process of peaceful political transition and seized state institutions by armed force.

In his speech before the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Head of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Department at the Saudi delegation to the United Nations Fahd bin Obaidullah al-Mutairi stressed that the coalition’s operations aim at restoring the legitimate government in Yemen, which is internationally recognized by the Security Council through resolution no. 2216.

Mutairi confirmed that the Houthi militias and forces loyal to ousted President Ali Abdullah Saleh violated the international humanitarian law and human rights without any penalties, pointing out that these militias targeted the Kingdom’s security with ballistic missiles.

He expressed his deep regret over the suffering and loss of innocent lives suffered by the Yemeni people, and he said that the Saudi-led coalition is taking major steps to protect civilians during its military operations to end suffering, minimize humanitarian damage and speed-up the relief efforts for the Yemeni people.

He stressed that the Kingdom welcomed the role played by the Yemeni National Committee for the Investigation of Human Rights Violations, pointing out that the Joint Incidents Assessment Team (JIAT) will continue to carry out its tasks, ensure that all military operations comply with the provisions of international humanitarian law and investigate all incidents that are alleged to cause civil damage in order to avoid any errors.