700 Qatari Pilgrims Crossed the Saudi Borders

Makkah– The supervisor of the General Secretariat of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques’ Program for Hajj and Umrah, Abdullah Al-Madlej, said that the “Communications” Center has received a flood of telephone calls from Qatari citizens to inquire about many issues related to the performance of the Holy Hajj.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, the Saudi official noted that a number of committees working in the Programs’ main locations that are dedicated to receiving guests in Makkah , have been contacted by Qatari citizens, who arrived in Saudi Arabia wishing to perform Hajj.

Madlej said that the number of Qatari pilgrims has not been completed for many reasons, including that the majority of GCC worshipers start coming to Saudi Arabia as of the fifth and sixth day of the month of Dhu al-Hijjah, pointing out the difficulty of determining the exact number of Qatari pilgrims at the moment.

He noted, however, that 600 Qatari citizens have so far entered the Kingdom to perform the Hajj and to meet the invitation launched by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz.

The Saudi authorities have announced that the number of pilgrims, who crossed the Salwa border with Qatar, until Thursday, have reached 700.

All the sites were provided with the necessary equipment to receive the Qatari pilgrims, including 50 buses and small transport vehicles, Madlej said, adding that hotels in Makkah have also been specified to accommodate the worshipers.

He also stressed that immediately after the issuance of the order to host Qatari pilgrims at the expense of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the Ministry of Islamic Affairs – the authority overseeing the program – has quickly completed all procedures in coordination and cooperation with the relevant authorities in the Kingdom.

The Saudi official said that the ministry had representatives in the port of Salwa, and others in Dammam, and Al-Ahsa, in order to provide the necessary services upon the arrival of Qataris to Saudi Arabia.

On a different note, Madlej said that King Salman has hosted 1000 families of martyrs from the Egyptian army and police during the current Hajj season, upon the request of the Saudi Embassy in Egypt.

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques also hosted about 350 families of martyrs in the Sudanese army, who had participated in the “Decisive Storm” Operation.

Iran Planned to Revive ‘Hezbollah Al-Hejaz’ Under Al-Mughassil’s Command

Riyadh- Almost 20 years after Riyadh dismantled the “Hezbollah al-Hejaz” movement, a group responsible for the 1996 attack on a housing complex in Khobar, judicial documents revealed that Iran persisted throughout those years in reviving the movement under the command of head of its military wing, Ahmed al-Mughassil, who was hidden by Tehran for two decades before the Saudi security apparatus arrested him in 2015.

The Saudi General Prosecution uncovered the way Iran planned to revive “Hezbollah al-Hejaz” through a case filed against five Saudis it accused of being trained on weapons inside the Iranian Revolutionary Guards camps.

The five Saudis, who can be described as “Iran’s powerful men in Saudi Arabia,” were also trained on the use of RPGs, which were also used lately by terrorists in the Awamiya town.

In addition, the five suspects are accused of receiving trainings on the use of other explosives, including TNT, RDX, C4 and others.

The Awamiya in Al-Qatif governorate is a town in the east of the kingdom that has been rocked in recent months by deadly clashes between security forces and Shi’ite militants that were triggered by the demolition of its old quarter.

The five Saudi suspects also face accusations of providing Iran with information, and of forming a terrorist cell that operates under Al-Mughassil’s command to train Saudi youths in military camps.

Official documents reveal that Iran was basically betting on igniting a revolution that kicks off from Al-Qatif governorate by training youths on what they called “soft war trainings.” However, Tehran failed in its attempt to ignite strife in the governorate and to trigger disputes between the residents and Saudi security officials.

Iran shifted its policy to another level by sending a number of its trained youths to execute armed attacks against police and security forces stations inside the governorate.

SAGIA Governor Issues Investment Licenses to Four Chinese Companies

The Governor of Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) Engineer Ibrahim bin Abdulrahman Al-Omar handed on Thursday investment licenses to four Chinese companies as part the visit being paid by China’s Zhang Gaoli to the Kingdom with Chinese representatives of ministries and businessmen.

According to the Saudi state news agency (SPA), the visit reflects the depth of relations between the two countries in various economic, industrial and investment sectors, where the People’s Republic of China is the first country among the countries licensed to invest by the Investment Authority in the Kingdom during this year with a share of SR 254 million.

Engineer Al-Omar said that SAGIA seeks to achieve economic diversification, attract more foreign investments to the Kingdom and strengthen the partnership between public and private sectors.

He also noted that granting investment licenses to four Chinese companies with a capital of more than SR 190 million reflects the efforts exerted by the Authority in cooperation with the relevant government agencies to develop the mechanism of getting licenses in easier and smoother way in order to improve the investment environment and facilitate the practice of business in the Kingdom.

Saudi Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih told Reuters on the sidelines of the conference that Saudi Arabia and China planned to establish a $20 billion investment fund on a 50:50 basis.

“It is preliminary at this stage but the commitment from the top is there,” Falih said. He said the fund would invest in sectors such as infrastructure, energy, mining and materials, but did not give further details of its strategy.

China has announced plans to establish such joint investment funds around the world in recent years as a way to cement bilateral economic ties. In December 2015 Beijing said it would establish a $10 billion fund with the United Arab Emirates, and last October a plan for a fund with France was revealed.

The Jeddah conference followed a visit to China by Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz in March during which as much as $65 billion of business deals were signed in sectors including oil refining, petrochemicals, light manufacturing and electronics

Saudi Minister discusses with the Iraqi PM Ways of Boosting Trade, Investment

The Minister of Commerce and Investment of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi, who is also Chairman of the Saudi side in the Saudi-Iraqi Coordination Council, discussed on Tuesday with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi ways to enhance bilateral relations.

Boosting ties will influence both economies, trade relations, agriculture and investment fields, said the Saudi state news agency SPA.

Al-Qasabi’s discussions, which took place in Baghdad, were designed to develop and deepen strategic and economic relations, discuss promising investment opportunities and distinctive partnerships that serve the interests of the two parties, promote trade exchanges and find suitable opportunities that serve development plans for the two sides.

The Saudi delegation included high-level government officials and businessmen chosen to strengthen the partnership of the two countries during the visit which comes in line with the priorities of the Kingdom in all sectors, foremost of which are the industrial, agricultural, education, health and other sectors.

The minister said that the visit comes after the opening of border crossings between the two countries, stressing the Kingdom’s desire to open trade and investment, develop trade exchanges with the Iraqi side, and strengthen ties between the two countries.

The two sides discussed the Kingdom’s participation in the international economic forum which will be held in Baghdad, the establishment of the Saudi-Iraqi Business Council during the coming period, and the Saudi-Iraqi Business Opportunities Forum in the Kingdom next year.

Saudi Arabia Issues Rules for Small-Scale Solar Energy

Riyadh– Saudi Arabia’s Electricity and Co-generation Regulatory Authority (ECRA) issued a regulatory framework for electricity consumers to operate their own small-scale solar power generating systems which will allow self-consumption and export excess to the grid.

The authority aims to create an encouraging environment where consumers use solar energy as part of the goals of Vision 2030. The Kingdom has few renewable energy facilities but aims to generate 9.5 gigawatts of electricity from such sources annually by 2023 through 60 projects, investing between $30 billion and $50 billion.

The authority also declared that all excess electricity will be exported to the national grid and later, consumers’ excess electricity offset will be put against their future consumption and after a year they will receive cash payments at a tariff approved by the authority.

ECRA believes that this is an essential step forward towards the realization of the deployment of renewable energy in Saudi Arabia.

The energy ministry is drawing up an incentive program to encourage companies and households to generate their own solar power, but no timetable for its introduction has been set yet.

The authority determined a set of rules and regulations to ensure productivity during the installation of the systems and secure all required actions.

According to ECRA, the new regulations will be put into action as of mid-2018.

Households account for about half of power consumption in Saudi Arabia, much of it is for air conditioning due to weather conditions.

Riyadh Says Iran Spreading Terrorism, Cannot be Negotiated with


Jeddah- Saudi Arabia has stressed its firm position to reject any form of rapprochement with the Iranian regime which spreads terrorism in the region and the world and meddles in the affairs of other countries, an official source at the foreign ministry said.

Riyadh has not requested any mediation in any way with Iran, the source was quoted as saying by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) on Wednesday.

The source pointed out that what has been circulated in the news in this regard is completely false.

The source stressed “the Kingdom’s adherence to its firm position that rejects any rapprochement with the Iranian regime which is spreading terrorism and extremism in the region and the world and is interfering in the affairs of other countries.”

The Kingdom believes that the current Iranian regime can not be negotiated with after a long experience has shown that it does not respect diplomatic rules and norms and the principles of international relations, the state-run agency quoted the source as saying.

The statement also accused the Iranian regime of “lying and distorting facts.”

It warned from “the danger of the Iranian regime and its aggressive orientations to peace and world stability,” urging all countries to work to deter it from its hostile actions and compel it to comply with international law, United Nations resolutions, and diplomatic norms and regulations.

Saudi Arabia Sentences Two al-Qaeda Members to Death

Riyadh– Al-Qaeda’s involvement in the assassination of Saudi top security officer 12 years ago will soon be concluded after Saudi court sentenced two terrorists to death and a third to 28 years in prison.

The three defendants in this case are members of a terrorist cell of nine members, eight of which were trialed in 2013 for providing logistic support to terrorists Mansour al-Thubaity and Kamal Foudah the main executors of the assassination of Lieutenant Colonel Mubarak al-Sawat.

On June 18, 2005, terrorists assassinated Lieutenant Colonel Mubarak al-Sawat in the suburb of al-Sharie in Makkah in front of his house as he was leaving for work.

Thubaity and Foudah were killed during a police raid in 2005, while eight others were arrested.

On Monday, Criminal Court issued its new verdicts on this case with the presence of the three criminals. One was sentenced to death by Hirabah punishment and the other was sentenced to Discretionary penalty.

The terrorist cell’s role revolved around three primary elements: planning the operation, surveillance, and arming the executors. The cell also attempted to carry out several terrorist operations inside Saudi Arabia and coordinate to transfer several Saudi militants to the hot zones.

Four years ago, Specialized Criminal Court heard the case against the eight terrorists of the cell four years ago. The court refused the death sentences and issued life in prison of total 152 years, of maximum 25 years and minimum 10 years.

However, the Supreme Court of Saudi Arabia specialized in hearing death penalties, overruled the sentence of three defendants for their primary involvement in the assassination of Lt. Sawat and ordered the Specialized Criminal Court to retrial them again, which in turn sentenced two to death and the third to 28 years in prison.

Makkah Grand Mosque Imam Warns against Politicizing Hajj


Makkah- Imam of the Makkah Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia Sheikh Dr. Saleh Bin Abdullah bin Humaid urged on Friday that all efforts are being spent to stop the Hajj pilgrimage from being politicized.

Delivering the Friday sermon to thousands of pilgrims visiting the Grand Mosque from all over the world, bin Humaid reiterated that engaging in such political activities, seriously compromises the noble and high religious sanctity attached to the Hajj pilgrimage, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

The Imam also commended the Kingdom’s stand on the issue as unmatched.

Saudi Arabia strictly forbids politicizing pilgrimage rites with activities linked to ideologies, parties, sects, schools of thought and propaganda to gain an advantage over some issue, said bin Humaid.

Sheikh Bin Humaid said the Kingdom does not allow for holy sites to become a political platform exploited, diverting the pilgrims’ attention from their main goal.

Muslims seek to spend all their time and effort in worshiping Almighty Allah and carrying out their Hajj rites with devotion and sincerity of purpose during Hajj season.

Politicizing Hajj rites will not bring any good to the Ummah–an Arabic term referring to the Muslim nation– which is already suffering from discord and differences.

The Kingdom is entrusted with providing all services to the pilgrims and caring for them.

Therefore, Saudi Arabia is tasked with taking strict and firm measures to safeguard the security of the country, people, citizens, expatriates, Hajj and Umrah pilgrims and visitors, he said.

National security and that of the holy sites do not open up the chances for anything to cloud this spiritual atmosphere, harms the public interest or causes disrespect to the general sensibilities of Muslims, he said.

The responsibility of providing best possible services and placing facilities at the pilgrims’ disposal have been divinely entrusted on the Saudi government and its people and they are doing their best to perform this task diligently and sincerely, he said.

Sheikh bin Humaid reiterated that the Kingdom adopts a constant and unwavering policy.

Arab Parliament Speaker Lauds Saudi Efforts Combating Cholera in Yemen

Speaker of Arab Parliament Dr. Meshaal Al-Salami praised on Friday agreements signed by the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid with World Health Organization (WHO) and with UNICEF, to combat and curb cholera in Yemen.

In an official statement, Dr. Al-Salami praised efforts exerted by the Kingdom to alleviate the suffering of the brotherly people of Yemen due to this deadly epidemic and to improve the poor health conditions surrounding Yemeni people in difficult living conditions.

He called on the international community, UN Security Council and the Arab, Islamic and international relief organizations to support efforts to combat epidemics and deliver aid to the affected areas, in Yemen to prevent the worsening humanitarian and health conditions.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid, dubbed KSRelief, had signed with the World Health Organization (WHO) a USD337-million-worth initiative to combat the cholera epidemic in Yemen.

The project was signed by Advisor at the Royal Court, KSRelief’s General Supervisor Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabiah and WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Dr. Mahmoud Fikri, said the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

Following the signing, Rabiah said that this second agreement was signed under the directive of Vice Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, as an extension of efforts made by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to alleviate suffering of the Yemeni people.

He said also that US66.7 million was allocated to fight the epidemic, as well as another USD8.2 million agreement signed with WHO several weeks ago tackling related challenges.

Saudi Crown Prince Launches Global Tourism Project


Jeddah – Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz announced on Monday the launching of an international tourism project in the Kingdom under the name of the “Red Sea Project”, which will be built in one of the world’s most beautiful and diverse natural spots, in cooperation with the world’s largest hotel companies.

The project aims to develop exceptional resorts on more than 50 natural islands between the cities of Amlaj and Al-Jawh, just a few kilometers from one of the Kingdom’s protected reserves and inactive volcanoes in Harat Alrahat area.

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which is chaired by Prince Mohammed, will inject initial investments into the project and open partnerships with leading international companies, which will bring new and direct investments to the Kingdom while seeking to attract and redirect Saudi tourism expenses into the country.

The project will be a leading coastal destination, located on a number of islands in the Red Sea, the SPA reported on Tuesday.

Visitors will be able to discover hidden treasures in the Red Sea area, including a nature reserve, which highlights the region’s diversity of flora and fauna.

Adventure enthusiasts will be able to traverse routes between the inactive volcanoes located next to the project area, while divers would be able to explore the abundant coral reefs in the surrounding waters.

As tourism is considered as a main pillar in the success of Vision 2030, the Red Sea Project will contribute to a qualitative shift in the concept of tourism and hospitality.

Heritage sites will also be rehabilitated on a scientific basis to accommodate visitors.

The global tourism project will be developed as a private area where systems will be applied in accordance with international best practices and expertise to enable the achievement of the project objectives.

Construction will begin in the third quarter of 2019, with a first phase that includes expanding a domestic airport and developing luxury hotels and housing, expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2022, the SPA statement said.