Saudi Summit Eyes Strengthening Partnership with the Caribbean

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan (SPA)
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan (SPA)
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Saudi Summit Eyes Strengthening Partnership with the Caribbean

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan (SPA)
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan (SPA)

Riyadh hosts on Thursday the inaugural Saudi-Caribbean Summit, a landmark event aimed at fortifying partnerships and opening new avenues for collaboration between the Kingdom and the region.

The Summit tackles cooperation in economics, investment, trade, tourism, and more.

Heads of state, presidents and senior officials of CARICOM (Caribbean Community and Common Market) countries started arriving on Wednesday in Riyadh to attend the Summit, which will be co-chaired by Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman and Prime Minister of Dominica and Chairman of CARICOM Roosevelt Skerrit.

The leaders, who left Barbados for Riyadh, include Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of Dominica, President Irfaan Ali of Guyana, President Chan Santokhi of Suriname and Prime Minister Keith Rowley of Trinidad.

The Summit comes two months after the approval of the Joint Action Plan between the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and CARICOM for the period 2023-2027.

This plan was endorsed during a joint meeting of foreign ministers on Sep. 18 in New York.

It delineates the primary objectives and mechanisms for political dialogue, trade facilitation, investment promotion, and tourism cooperation. The summit is poised to enhance trade and investment flows between the two regions.

While the trade volume between GCC nations and the Caribbean stood at approximately $6.5 billion in 2021, the plan provides a framework to amplify trade and investment through dialogues between officials from both sides.

It emphasizes engagement with business leaders, regional, and international organizations to meet investment needs and business opportunities through partnerships across public and private sectors, including transportation and logistical services.

Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the Saudi Foreign Minister, affirmed the Kingdom’s commitment to strengthening friendship and cooperation with its counterparts during his participation in a ministerial meeting of CARICOM in Guatemala last May.

He highlighted the crucial role of the group in enhancing regional cooperation and fostering collective efforts on shared interests such as trade, climate change, sustainable development, and more.



2 Million Pilgrims Begin Hajj on Friday with Comprehensive Services at Their Disposal

The pilgrims will spend the day at Mina ahead of heading to Arafat on Saturday. (SPA)
The pilgrims will spend the day at Mina ahead of heading to Arafat on Saturday. (SPA)
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2 Million Pilgrims Begin Hajj on Friday with Comprehensive Services at Their Disposal

The pilgrims will spend the day at Mina ahead of heading to Arafat on Saturday. (SPA)
The pilgrims will spend the day at Mina ahead of heading to Arafat on Saturday. (SPA)

Over 2 million pilgrims will begin on Friday the annual Hajj pilgrimage, starting at Mina, and amid a comprehensive package of services at their disposal aimed at ensuring that they have a safe and smooth journey.

The pilgrims will spend the day at Mina where they will perform the Duhr, Asr, Maghreb and Isha prayers ahead of heading to Arafat on Saturday in what is the most important day of the Hajj.

Mina is considered the greatest tent city of the world and one Saudi Arabia’s mega projects. It stretches 2.5 million square meters to accommodate 2.6 million pilgrims.

Muslim worshippers pray around the Kaaba, Islam's holiest shrine, at the Grand Mosque in Saudi Arabia's holy city of Makkah on June 13, 2024, ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage. (AFP)

The General Directorate of Passports revealed that it has registered 1,547,295 pilgrims this year.

Director of Public Security and head of the Hajj Security Committee Mohammad Al-Bassami inspected the readiness of the Hajj security forces and supporting military forces. He underscored their readiness in implementing security and organizational plans aimed at ensuring the safety of the pilgrims.

He stressed that the security forces will firmly confront anything that may undermine the safety of the pilgrims during their holy journey.

Pilgrims leave after offering prayers outside at the Grand Mosque during the annual Hajj pilgrimage in the holy city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia, early Friday, June 14, 2024. (AP)

The Saudi Royal Air Force will also be monitoring the Hajj to provide security and prevent any development that may impact the pilgrimage and worshippers.

Concerned parties at the Interior Ministry will follow up on the security plans and crowd control. They will monitor entrances to the holy city of Makkah to prevent anyone violating Hajj regulations from entering.

Meanwhile, the first of the Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro trips kicked off on Thursday. It will transport pilgrims between nine stations spread between Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifah. Seventeen trains will be operated by 7,500 employees.

The first of the Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro trips kicked off on Thursday. (SPA)

The Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence has provided the pilgrims with several digital services through the Tawakkalna app that is available in seven languages: Arabic, English, Filipino, Indonesian, Bengali, Urdu and Hindi. The app provides message, weather and Qibla services, a Quran, and prayer times. It also boasts features from the Nusuk Hajj digital card and other services.

The Public Health Authority will provide a number of services to the pilgrims. It has placed plans to combat infectious diseases, updated protocols and guidelines related to public health risks, and is constantly assessing risks.

The Ministry of Health is continuing its awareness campaign towards pilgrims throughout the holy sites. It is informing them of preventive measures that will help them protect their health and safety during the Hajj. This includes information on how to protect themselves from heat exhaustion due to the soaring heat. Pilgrims are advised to carry umbrellas and drink water.

The health ministry is also providing instant digital medical consultations around the clock. Pilgrims can contact consultants through a dedicated hotline with services provided in six languages: Arabic, English, French, Turkish, Persian and Urdu. They can also be contacted through the X platform or the Sehhaty app.