Qatar PM: Challenges to Israel-Hamas Hostage Deal are 'Just Logistical'

Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani. QNA
Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani. QNA
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Qatar PM: Challenges to Israel-Hamas Hostage Deal are 'Just Logistical'

Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani. QNA
Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani. QNA

Qatar's prime minister said on Sunday the main sticking points blocking a deal for the release of dozens of hostages taken by Palestinian group Hamas in their Oct. 7 attack on Israel were now "very minor" and mainly practical and logistical issues.
"The challenges facing the agreement are just practical and logistical," Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said at a joint press conference with European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in Doha.
"The deal is going through ups and downs from time to time throughout the last few weeks. But I think that you know I'm now more confident that we are close enough to reach a deal that can bring the people safely back to their home."
Borrell said the UN security Council resolution on humanitarian pauses in Gaza must be implemented.

"The decisions of the Security Council are not just words ... They have to be implemented," Borrell said at the joint press conference.



Saudi State History: Three Stages of Development, Building on Ancestral Foundations

Individuals from the Saudi society in their different attire (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Individuals from the Saudi society in their different attire (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Saudi State History: Three Stages of Development, Building on Ancestral Foundations

Individuals from the Saudi society in their different attire (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Individuals from the Saudi society in their different attire (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Throughout the history of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, spanning over 300 years, there are tales of founding, unification, and development, weaving a connected narrative. This history holds bright moments and inspiring stories for those who explore it.

It reveals political shifts, social changes, and intellectual awakenings, reflecting the journey of a nation and the evolution of a state.

This nation, once overlooked, rose from adversity to reclaim its place. The Saudi state restored the Arabian Peninsula’s significance and revived its Arab heritage.

The Kingdom’s story features highs and lows, with its significance experiencing rare fluctuations thrice throughout history.

Modern historians label these phases as the “first, second, and third” epochs, though these terms aren't official.

The division started relatively recently, during King Faisal’s reign, with legal scholar and historian Dr. Munir Al-Ajlani being an early adopter. Even during King Abdulaziz’s era, historians like Amin Al-Rihani and Fouad Hamza referred to these periods as “first” and “second” eras.

But what about the years when the state was weak or absent?

These years are the reason behind this logical division historically, although they could be perceived as times that connected different phases.

Before that, it’s important to understand “the historical legacy established by the first state,” which the second and third eras built upon.

This underscores the importance of recalling the history of the Saudi state in all its stages and changes, reminding observers of its rich legacy and deep roots on its founding day, while also shedding light on lesser-known aspects of the Kingdom’s history.

Principles of the First Era of the Saudi State

According to writer and political researcher Jabran Shamia, the first era of the Saudi state embodied key principles.

These include an emphasis on knowledge and understanding in religious and worldly matters, judicial reform and ensuring security, breaking traditions, promoting the right to interpret texts, adhering to constitutional principles in decision-making and governance, educational and social reform, and striving for unity and expanding connections globally.

Shamia highlights several points about the “first Saudi state”:

Firstly, it was an Arab Islamic state, serving as a strong Arab defense against external powers. Secondly, it emerged in complex global, Arab, and local conditions, resisting repression and defamation. Thirdly, it presented a new image of governance in the Arabian Peninsula, leaving a lasting impact on intellectual and social developments in the region and beyond.

This viewpoint is echoed by Sir Harford Jones Bridges, who emphasized the free nature of the Saudi state’s system and its focus on justice, security, and discipline.

Similarly, historian Dr. Abdul Karim Al-Ghraibeh credits the Al Sauds with transitioning the Arabian Peninsula towards civilization, establishing security, order, and unity in previously unsettled lands.

This introduction is vital to grasp why the Saudi state has endured despite attempts to dismantle it, destroy its capital, erase its heritage, and persecute its people.

What’s remarkable is that observers face a rare case in history regarding the continuity of the Saudi state, both in its presence and absence.

Since Imam Muhammad bin Saud's leadership in Diriyah 297 years ago, the total years of weakness or absence amount to no more than 17 years at most, representing less than 6% of its entire existence.

Even during those times, preparations were underway to reclaim governance and symbolize the state’s presence through its legitimate rulers, regardless of their location.

Historian Abdulrahman Al-Ruwished highlights: “Even in their absence, the Al Sauds proudly carried the Saudi flag, never abandoning it."

Numerous stories, including one from a British navy captain, attest to this, describing the Saudi flag near Kuwait in 1901 as “green in color with the Arabic inscription: There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”

Years of Weakness

During times of weakness, the Al Saud family’s absence didn’t mean they were out of the picture. They kept working to regain control. Historians like Dr. Abdel Fattah Abu Alia suggest that the Saudi era is more than just about the state’s existence.

Why did the state return after being absent? According to Dr. Abu Alia, even though the first Saudi state collapsed, its ideas lived on, and people in Najd continued to support the Saudi family.

Despite the state’s absence, people still sent their support to the legitimate ruler.

French historian Felix Mengin predicted the return of rulers like Turki bin Abdullah bin Muhammad bin Saud and Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman bin Faisal bin Turki. He believed they would tap into the warlike spirit to reclaim their kingdom, and his predictions transpired over time.

King Abdulaziz’s reign was different. He didn’t just rely on his family’s legacy but also learned from history and modernized governance.

He built a strong state while staying true to his roots. His approach to governance set a unique precedent, focusing on justice, security, and religion, which were valued in Najd.

This legacy continues today, as King Abdulaziz’s descendants carry on his principles, adapting to modern challenges while preserving their heritage.

Saudi Arabia's Evolving Traditions

The descendants of the Kingdom's founder, King Abdulaziz, have upheld his legacy, each monarch surpassing the last in fulfilling their duties.

This sets Saudi Arabia apart, showcasing its rich yet adaptable nature. Over centuries, the kingdom has evolved through its royal customs, blending tradition with innovation.

Under King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s leadership, Saudi Arabia is undergoing a significant revival. The ongoing social changes are unprecedented.

Trying to isolate these achievements from their historical context ignores their ties to three centuries of royal heritage and a six-century history celebrated on the founding day.

Some historians mistakenly divide the state’s history into three eras. However, it’s a continuous story of a single state enduring different roles and epochs while staying true to its founding principles, despite the challenges it has faced.


Shuqir to Asharq Al-Awsat: Heritage of First Saudi State Was Erased, Marginalized

A group of people in an old Saudi market (Asharq Al-Awsat)
A group of people in an old Saudi market (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Shuqir to Asharq Al-Awsat: Heritage of First Saudi State Was Erased, Marginalized

A group of people in an old Saudi market (Asharq Al-Awsat)
A group of people in an old Saudi market (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The first Saudi state, upon its establishment, sought to support social harmony by boosting security and imposing strict penalties against crime, which significantly impacted creating a healthy environment, said a Saudi researcher and expert in sociology and anthropology, Abdulrahman al-Shuqir.

In an exclusive interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Shuqir pointed out that the local Saudi heritage is a gateway to the world.

He considered research into the social aspects and practice of people's daily lives during the first Saudi state to be one of the most important studies in contemporary sociology.

After the first Saudi state emerged, it sought to support the maintenance of social harmony by strengthening security and imposing strict penalties against illegal actions.

Asharq Al-Awsat asked the expert whether security is one of the components of community identity and its relationship with heritage, which Shuqir described as an "organic relationship."

He recalled that civilization is a social system that helps man increase his cultural production, noting that after establishing the first Saudi state, security emerged as one of the most important standards.

He cited the era of Imam Abdul Aziz bin Mohammad as an example of security, indicating that state enemies and opponents attested to that.

- A misleading history that obscured the achievement

Shuqir said there is cultural identity wherever there is an interactive and active society, which leads to the emergence of heritage, customs, and values.

He explained that the local Saudi heritage passed through three primary stages.

Firstly, most of the Saudi material and intangible heritage was established in the "Medieval Society" between 600 and 1139 AH and began before the establishment of the Saudi state.

Shuqir also noted that the vast heritage was erased and marginalized, leading many historians to describe society as lacking achievement.

Saudi historians and researchers have been influenced by the misleading history established for them for three centuries, said Shuqir.

He indicated that this motivated the documentation of the "Popular Memory" project by exploring the daily practices of ordinary people in Saudi society.

According to the expert, the kingdom's history moved along two different paths during the three centuries, including viewing society from religious and daily life perspectives.

He explained that the daily life perspective is the spirit of the Saudi state, evidenced by the imams of the state, which approved religious schools of thought, appointed Shiite judges in respective positions, and provided security for the people to practice their social and economic activities without change.

History has been neglected for a long time, even though it belongs to the nature of the state and confirms its openness and policies that contribute to keeping it strong, said Shuqir.

Regarding the sources of local identity, Shuqir explained that the essence of identity, culture, arts, and the tangible and intangible heritage that regulates human behavior today lies in medieval society. He recalled clear cognitive distinctions with the historical eras that came after and before, including the long period that separated the Islamic era from the first Saudi state.

Therefore, when addressing some aspects of contemporary life, such as marriage customs, war dance, arts, games, and proverbs, historians refer to the achievements of society in the Middle Ages, which do not belong to the Islamic ages that preceded it, nor does it belong to the Salafist heritage.

He further explained that the Saudi state was built on and contained the existing heritage by supporting its central culture and subcultures of various regions and tribes.

- A civilizational achievement for the first state

Shuqir believes that the sources of cultural identity are multiple and stem from the collective memory accumulated over generations, and its features began with the Thamudic era, approximately 3,000 years ago.

The Arab tribes of pre-Islamic times enacted some customs and values, and Islam came and added the religious spirit, rejecting some values and promoting others.

- "Najd: the complete story"

In studying the Middle Ages, Shuqir stated there was a great conviction that the future can be understood by considering history and identifying reality.

He spent eight years studying the Najdi society for hundreds of years and initially called it "Najd... the complete story," indicating that he reviewed history utilizing new research approaches and methods and found new theories at the level of the Arab world.

One of the most prominent conclusions is that society is the origin and that the state gains its stability by caring for society and enhancing its values and subcultures, said Shuqir, adding that the Saudi state achieved that.

The fall of the Abbasid state heralded the rise of an unprecedented Najdi civilization.

He recalled that after the second Abbasid state weakened, Najd and many regions in the Arab Peninsula were neglected, adding that after the collapse of Islamic civilization, the area became isolated and did not benefit from the renaissance.

After its marginalization, Najd experienced a massive increase in the population of individuals looking for safety away from conflict areas, he said, leading to the establishment of its renaissance after the Islamic world became dispersed.

At the beginning of the 7th century AH, the Najd region began to experience an unprecedented boom and became a "huge factory" for establishing agricultural towns and villages and restoring the road network.

Therefore, according to Shuqir, the downfall of the Abbasid state constituted the rebirth of the Arab and Islamic nations, leaving a void that the Mamluks, then the Ottomans, tried to fill.

However, according to the expert, the Saudi state was more likely to be accepted by the Islamic world due to the strength of Arabism, the proximity to the Two Holy Mosques, and the Saudi political awareness of this vacuum.

He indicated that the new vision is one of the basic ideas contradicting the prevailing views on Najdi history by transforming the declining renaissance index into a rising index regarding social, economic, political, and religious urbanization.

He further explained that it negated the prevalent critique, which asserts the difference between the results based on texts and those based on evidence, analysis, and reliable research methods.

- Diriyah brings together the identity of Saudi society

He said that attention to identity and heritage issues carries an added and sustainable value that flows into an integrated project.

People with living historical and cultural resources can withstand crises and derive moral strength from their history.

The Saudi regions enjoy a large cultural reserve and heritage encompassing all their historical eras. It possesses a linguistic product and a great literary heritage in pre-Islamic times and a contribution to the Islamic conquests at the beginning of Islam, according to Shuqir.

Shuqir believes Diriyah still possesses a radiant spirit that brings together the identity of Saudi society, as it was during the first Saudi state.

He believes that Diriyah can become once again the state's capital, as it was before, and be re-integrated according to a broader historical and cultural plan for its historical capitals.

Shuqir enjoys valuable knowledge and experiences, resulting in dozens of research and studies on sociology, history, and anthropology. He utilized his experiences and employed them in studying Saudi society.

He recalled that his career and interest in the historical development of society began in his early years, indicating that he used to travel a lot between various Saudi regions.

During travels, he met with several storytellers and notables and read about each region's history, heritage, and literature.

Shuqir has many publications about the society, but what caught his attention recently was the emergence of generations of readers immersed in the world's literary heritage, passionately following US, European, and Russian books, including ones that won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

He said that Saudi local heritage and popular literature are the gateway to the world, adding that many researchers had previously emphasized that globalism begins from localism.

Shuqir began writing about the customs of the society, which was widely accepted by Saudi youth, and some of them returned to reading Saudi novels, amazed at the creativity in their culture that parallels world literature.


Saudi FM: G20 Bears Responsibility to Take Decisive Action to End Gaza Catastrophe

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah. SPA
Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah. SPA
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Saudi FM: G20 Bears Responsibility to Take Decisive Action to End Gaza Catastrophe

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah. SPA
Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah. SPA

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah participated in the first session of the G20 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Rio de Janeiro.

The minister indicated that the G20 countries bear responsibility to take decisive action to end the catastrophe in Gaza, which poses a threat to regional peace and prosperity and global economic stability.

He stressed the importance of condemning the atrocities committed in Gaza, urging the G20 countries to exert pressure for meaningful actions to end the war in Gaza and support a credible, irreversible path towards a two-state solution.

He emphasized the importance of international institutions fulfilling their commitments and being clearer in their positions, especially in dealing with the tragic situation in Gaza.

In his statement, Prince Faisal said the “escalation and spread of global conflicts have placed pressures on international cooperation and weakened the credibility and trust in the multilateral framework.”

He also congratulated Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira on his country's assumption of the G20 presidency for 2024.


Saudi Arabia, US Discuss Developments in Gaza

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah met Wednesday with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. SPA
Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah met Wednesday with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. SPA
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Saudi Arabia, US Discuss Developments in Gaza

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah met Wednesday with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. SPA
Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah met Wednesday with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. SPA

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah met Wednesday with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines of the G20 foreign ministers’ meeting in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro.

During the meeting, the ministers discussed the latest developments in the Gaza Strip and its surroundings.

The Saudi minister also held a separate meeting with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, on the sidelines of the G20 meeting.

The two top diplomats discussed the deep-rooted relations between the two countries and ways to enhance them in various fields, as well as the latest regional and international developments, mainly in Gaza and its surroundings.


Saudi King Receives Message from Tajikistan’s President on Bilateral Ties

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. SPA
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. SPA
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Saudi King Receives Message from Tajikistan’s President on Bilateral Ties

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. SPA
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. SPA

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud received on Wednesday a written message from Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rahmon.

The message addressed ways to bolster bilateral relations in various fields.

It was received by Deputy Foreign Minister Waleed Al-Khuraiji on behalf of Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah during his meeting with Akram Karimi, the ambassador of Tajikistan to Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh.

During the meeting, the officials discussed ties between the two countries as well as other issues of mutual interest.


Saudi FM Arrives in Brazil to Attend G20 Meeting

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah. (AP file photo)
Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah. (AP file photo)
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Saudi FM Arrives in Brazil to Attend G20 Meeting

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah. (AP file photo)
Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah. (AP file photo)

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah arrived in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday to take part in the G20 foreign ministers' meeting.

Prince Faisal is slated to tackle the most prominent international challenges and ways of strengthening multilateral action to achieve prosperity.

He will also hold meetings with counterparts attending the meeting.


MWL Expresses Regret over Ceasefire Veto at UN Security Council on Israel’s Gaza War

MWL
MWL
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MWL Expresses Regret over Ceasefire Veto at UN Security Council on Israel’s Gaza War

MWL
MWL

The Muslim World League (MWL) has expressed its discontent and regret over the veto of a draft UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, which was submitted by the Republic of Algeria to protect the lives and property of Palestinians in the strip, SPA said on Wednesday.
MWL Secretary-General and Chairman of the Organization of Muslim Scholars Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulkarim Al-Issa reiterated in a statement his call on the international community to assume its responsibility to protect civilians, maintain international peace and security, and end the humanitarian disaster in Gaza.
This war is a flagrant violation of all international laws, and also shakes the confidence of the world community in the international order, the statement added.


OIC Regrets UN Security Council’s Failure to Adopt Resolution on Gaza

OIC regrets UN Security Council’s failure to adopt resolution on Gaza. (SPA)
OIC regrets UN Security Council’s failure to adopt resolution on Gaza. (SPA)
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OIC Regrets UN Security Council’s Failure to Adopt Resolution on Gaza

OIC regrets UN Security Council’s failure to adopt resolution on Gaza. (SPA)
OIC regrets UN Security Council’s failure to adopt resolution on Gaza. (SPA)

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) expressed deep regret over the UN Security Council’s failure to adopt the draft resolution to end the brutal Israeli aggression in Gaza Strip, SPA said on Wednesday.
OIC also said that it deeply regrets the United States’ use of veto on the draft resolution, describing it as a negative reflection of the Security Council’s role in maintaining international peace and security, protecting civilians and ensuring the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza Strip.
OIC renewed its call on the international community, particularly the Security Council, to assume its responsibility and take urgent measures to stop the genocide facing the Palestinian people in Gaza Strip.


Arab Leaders Congratulate Saudi Arabia's King on Founding Day

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz. (SPA)
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz. (SPA)
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Arab Leaders Congratulate Saudi Arabia's King on Founding Day

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz. (SPA)
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz. (SPA)

Arab leaders on Wednesday congratulated Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz on the occasion of Saudi Arabia’s Founding Day, which falls on Thursday.

Sultan Haitham bin Tarik of Oman has sent a cable of congratulations to the Saudi King on the occasion.

He wished the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques good health, happiness and a long life.

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani also sent a cable of congratulations to King Salman on the occasion.

Deputy Emir of Qatar Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad Al Thani and Qatari Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani also sent cables of congratulation to King Salman.  

Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa wished King Salman continued health, and Saudi Arabia and its people further progress and prosperity on the occasion.

He praised Saudi Arabia’s civilizational and developmental achievements, and praised the longstanding Bahraini-Saudi relations.

Bahraini Crown Prince and Prime Minister Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa also congratulated the Saudi leadership on the occasion.

Saudi Arabia celebrates the anniversary of its Founding Day observed annually on February 22.

President Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan sent King Salman a written message to congratulate him on the occasion.


KSrelief Provides Health Care Services to Syrian Refugees and Host Community in Lebanon

KSrelief continued implementing a project aimed at improving health care services for Syrian refugees and host communities in Bebnine, Akkar Governorate, Lebanon. (SPA)
KSrelief continued implementing a project aimed at improving health care services for Syrian refugees and host communities in Bebnine, Akkar Governorate, Lebanon. (SPA)
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KSrelief Provides Health Care Services to Syrian Refugees and Host Community in Lebanon

KSrelief continued implementing a project aimed at improving health care services for Syrian refugees and host communities in Bebnine, Akkar Governorate, Lebanon. (SPA)
KSrelief continued implementing a project aimed at improving health care services for Syrian refugees and host communities in Bebnine, Akkar Governorate, Lebanon. (SPA)

The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) continued implementing a project aimed at improving health care services for Syrian refugees and host communities in Bebnine, Akkar Governorate, Lebanon, SPA said on Wednesday.
In January 2024, a total of 2,749 patients were received at the Akkar-Bebnine Health Care Center and were provided with 6,580 health care services, part of the pharmacy, laboratory, nursing, and community and psychological health programs. Of the patients, 38% were men and 62% women, 66% refugees, and 34% locals.
The aid underscores Saudi Arabia's commitment, represented by KSrelief, to offer humanitarian assistance to those in need, particularly Syrian refugees. The support covers various sectors, and aims to alleviate the refugees’ suffering amidst the ongoing humanitarian crisis.