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 Arabia Appoints Faisal al-Mujfel Ambassador to Syria

Saudi Arabia's new Ambassador to Syria Dr. Faisal Al-Mujfel. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia's new Ambassador to Syria Dr. Faisal Al-Mujfel. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia Appoints Faisal al-Mujfel Ambassador to Syria

Saudi Arabia's new Ambassador to Syria Dr. Faisal Al-Mujfel. (SPA)
Saudi Arabia's new Ambassador to Syria Dr. Faisal Al-Mujfel. (SPA)

Saudi Arabia appointed a new ambassador to Syria on Sunday, reported the Saudi Press Agency.

Dr. Faisal Al-Mujfel will be the Kingdom's first envoy to Damascus since the closure of the Saudi embassy there in 2012 during the Syrian civil war.

Dr. Faisal expressed his gratitude to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister, for entrusting him with this duty.

Saudi Arabia reopened its embassy in Syria earlier this year after the two countries cut diplomatic ties more than a decade ago.

Syria reopened its embassy in Riyadh last year and appointed a new ambassador in December.


Dar Tantora: A Sustainable Oasis Steeped in AlUla's Rich History

This innovative project is testament to AlUla's commitment to preserving its rich heritage while embracing a sustainable tourism future. (SPA)
This innovative project is testament to AlUla's commitment to preserving its rich heritage while embracing a sustainable tourism future. (SPA)
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Dar Tantora: A Sustainable Oasis Steeped in AlUla's Rich History

This innovative project is testament to AlUla's commitment to preserving its rich heritage while embracing a sustainable tourism future. (SPA)
This innovative project is testament to AlUla's commitment to preserving its rich heritage while embracing a sustainable tourism future. (SPA)

Dar Tantora, a name synonymous with the historic sundial that once graced its entrance, has unveiled its eco-friendly luxury hotel facilities, reported the Saudi Press Agency on Sunday.

This unique property, also known as "The House Hotel", boasts 30 guest rooms meticulously built using traditional AlUla construction methods. Skilled artisans employed time-honored tools and seamlessly blended them with modern engineering techniques for a truly immersive experience.

Stepping inside Dar Tantora is like stepping back in time. The corridors bathed in warm candlelight emanate serenity, while the restaurant, café, and health club seamlessly integrate in the traditional home lifestyle of AlUla old town.

Sustainability is at the heart of Dar Tantora's philosophy. The hotel utilizes specially designed irrigation and ventilation systems to minimize energy consumption and environmental impact. The hotel's design, echoing the changing seasons and temperature fluctuations, reflects a deep respect for the natural world.

This innovative project is testament to AlUla's commitment to preserving its rich heritage while embracing a sustainable tourism future.


WHO Praises Saudi Arabia's Healthcare Aid, Signs New Agreements with KSrelief

King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) Supervisor General Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah speaks at the panel in Geneva. (SPA)
King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) Supervisor General Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah speaks at the panel in Geneva. (SPA)
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WHO Praises Saudi Arabia's Healthcare Aid, Signs New Agreements with KSrelief

King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) Supervisor General Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah speaks at the panel in Geneva. (SPA)
King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) Supervisor General Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah speaks at the panel in Geneva. (SPA)

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced from Geneva on Saturday a new agreement with King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief), which provides over $19 million in funding to WHO programs in three countries: Yemen ($9.5 million), Sudan ($5 million), and Syria ($4.75 million).

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed great appreciation for Saudi Arabia's generous support over the past five years. These contributions, he noted, have been instrumental in tackling malnutrition, cholera, and malaria, while also aiding in the rehabilitation of healthcare systems in crisis zones, and have had a positive impact on vulnerable populations.

The WHO applauded Saudi Arabia, with which it has a strong partnership, and highlighted the Kingdom's crucial role in alleviating health challenges across the globe, including its vital support to Sudan, Gaza Strip in Palestine, Yemen, Somalia, Ukraine, and Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

The organization also welcomed the continued support KSrelief lends it to address global health emergencies, and acknowledged Saudi Arabia's position as one of WHO's top contributors in recent years.

WHO Regional Director for the Eastern Mediterranean Dr. Hanan Balkhi emphasized the significant role these funds will play in the region, supporting vulnerable communities facing multiple emergencies.

Meanwhile, KSrelief Supervisor General Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah called for finding innovative ways to boost the partnership with the WHO to improve and coordinate response efforts, ensure that all resources are allocated efficiently, and enable communities to become more resilient and independent.

Speaking at a panel discussion, "From Crisis to Opportunity: Health in the Eastern Mediterranean Region", at the 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva, Al Rabeeah thanked the WHO on its efforts to address the humanitarian crises in the Eastern Mediterranean region, including conflicts, migration and economic instability.

He said the Saudi leadership made intensive and generous efforts to alleviate the suffering of millions of people in need in the region and around the world, particularly children, women and other vulnerable groups.

Total humanitarian assistance provided by Saudi Arabia to the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean exceeded $1.4 billion, he revealed.

Al Rabeeah said KSrelief provides comprehensive health treatment and support services in humanitarian emergencies.

KSrelief, he added, implemented various volunteer programs in the medical sector, as part of its relief and humanitarian work, including 298 projects worth over $46 million in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

Moreover, he urged all parties in conflict areas to ensure that relief aid providers are allowed to deliver aid in a safe and effective manner.

When aid delivery is prevented and attacks on humanitarian workers and hospital staff are allowed, those in need of the aid suffer even more. The situations in Gaza Strip and Sudan are clear example of this, he said.

Al Rabeeah said KSrelief works closely with its partners to overcome challenges and ensure the safe delivery of aid even under the most difficult circumstances.  

For instance, during the siege of Taiz, Yemen, the center used airdrops to deliver assistance and even resorted to camels to deliver medical supplies, oxygen cylinders and other urgent items to remote mountain locations where health services were either very limited or unavailable, he said.

In Gaza, the center succeeded in providing assistance despite the current challenges.

"Restricted access to Gaza has led to severe shortages of food, water, medical supplies and other much-needed items," he noted, urging that restrictions be addressed to save lives, especially those of children, women and the elderly.

Al Rabeeah called on the international community to take decisive action to protect health facilities and humanitarian workers, and all authorities to abide by international humanitarian law. He also called for involving healthcare workers in policy-making processes to ensure that their expertise and experience are used to shape effective healthcare strategies.

He emphasized the crucial role of international collaboration in ensuring that all people in need have access to humanitarian assistance and medical care.


First Flight of ‘Makkah Route Initiative’ Beneficiaries from Morocco Arrives in Kingdom

First Flight of ‘Makkah Route Initiative’ Beneficiaries from Morocco Arrives in Kingdom
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First Flight of ‘Makkah Route Initiative’ Beneficiaries from Morocco Arrives in Kingdom

First Flight of ‘Makkah Route Initiative’ Beneficiaries from Morocco Arrives in Kingdom

The first flight of beneficiaries from the “Makkah Route Initiative” from the Kingdom of Morocco arrived on Saturday at Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah.
The flight came to the Kingdom through the initiative's terminal at Mohammed V International Airport.
The Makkah Route Initiative is one of the Ministry of Interior’s initiatives under the Pilgrim Experience Program, a part of Saudi Vision 2030, SPA reported.
The initiative aims to complete the procedures for pilgrims in their home countries, starting with the electronic issuance of visas and capturing biometric data, followed by completing passport procedures at the departure airport after verifying health requirements.
Additionally, it includes tagging and sorting luggage according to transportation and accommodation arrangements in the Kingdom.
Upon arrival, pilgrims are transported directly by buses to their accommodations in Makkah and Madinah via designated routes, while service agencies handle the delivery of their luggage to their residences.


Saudi Relief Arm, WHO Sign Executive Programs Worth $19ML for Yemen, Sudan, Syria

The five agreements were signed by Advisor at the Royal Court and KSrelief Supervisor General Dr. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Rabeeah and WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in the presence of Saudi Arabia's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Abdulmohsen bin Khothaila - SPA
The five agreements were signed by Advisor at the Royal Court and KSrelief Supervisor General Dr. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Rabeeah and WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in the presence of Saudi Arabia's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Abdulmohsen bin Khothaila - SPA
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Saudi Relief Arm, WHO Sign Executive Programs Worth $19ML for Yemen, Sudan, Syria

The five agreements were signed by Advisor at the Royal Court and KSrelief Supervisor General Dr. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Rabeeah and WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in the presence of Saudi Arabia's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Abdulmohsen bin Khothaila - SPA
The five agreements were signed by Advisor at the Royal Court and KSrelief Supervisor General Dr. Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Rabeeah and WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in the presence of Saudi Arabia's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Ambassador Abdulmohsen bin Khothaila - SPA

The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) signed five executive programs with the World Health Organization (WHO) for Yemen, Sudan, and Syria, with a total value of $19,496,000.

The agreements were signed on the sidelines of the 77th session of the World Health Assembly in Geneva, SPA reported.
The first agreement aims to address the severe shortage of kidney dialysis supplies in Sudan to reduce mortality among kidney failure patients across various Sudanese states by providing dialysis supplies sufficient for some 235,000 dialysis sessions, securing 100 dialysis machines, and paying the salaries of medical staff in 77 dialysis centers, with a value of $5 million.
The second agreement entails providing medical assistance to earthquake victims in Syria, with a total cost of $4,746,000.
The third agreement focuses on combating the spread of measles among children under five in Yemen, with a total cost of $3 million.
The fourth agreement aims to improve water and sanitation services in healthcare facilities, ensuring sustainable water supplies to serve the neediest populations in Yemen, valued at $3,750,000. The agreement includes drilling solar-powered wells in 10 healthcare facilities.
The fifth agreement aims to reduce the spread of cholera across Yemen, with a value of $3 million.
These agreements are part of the humanitarian and relief efforts provided by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, through KSrelief, to support the health sectors in needy countries, enhance their capabilities, and provide them with essential medical needs.


Saudi Leadership Congratulate King of Jordan on Independence Day

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister. (SPA)
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister. (SPA)
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Saudi Leadership Congratulate King of Jordan on Independence Day

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister. (SPA)
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister. (SPA)

Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has sent a cable of congratulations to King Abdullah II bin Al Hussein of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan on the anniversary of his country's Independence Day.
The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques wished King Abdullah continued good health and happiness, and the government and people of Jordan further progress and prosperity.

For his part, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud also sent a similar cable of congratulations to King Abdullah.

The Crown Prince wished King Abdullah continued good health and happiness, and the government and people of Jordan further progress and prosperity.


Saudi Arabia Welcomes World Court Decision Ordering Israel to Stop Military Offensive in Rafah

International Court of Justice (ICJ) President Nawaf Salam (C) stands during an ICJ ruling over the situation in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, in the Hague, Netherlands, 24 May 2024. EPA/Koen van Weel
International Court of Justice (ICJ) President Nawaf Salam (C) stands during an ICJ ruling over the situation in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, in the Hague, Netherlands, 24 May 2024. EPA/Koen van Weel
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Saudi Arabia Welcomes World Court Decision Ordering Israel to Stop Military Offensive in Rafah

International Court of Justice (ICJ) President Nawaf Salam (C) stands during an ICJ ruling over the situation in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, in the Hague, Netherlands, 24 May 2024. EPA/Koen van Weel
International Court of Justice (ICJ) President Nawaf Salam (C) stands during an ICJ ruling over the situation in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, in the Hague, Netherlands, 24 May 2024. EPA/Koen van Weel

The Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said the Kingdom welcomed the decision of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordering Israel to immediately stop military attacks or any other offensive actions in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, based on the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

“The Kingdom appreciates the ICJ decision, which is a positive step towards the moral and legal right of the Palestinian people,” it said in a statement on Friday.

The Kingdom reiterated its call on the international community to shoulder its responsibilities to stop all forms of aggression against the Palestinian people.


Saudi, French FMs Discuss Developments in Gaza

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah has met with French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Stéphane Séjourné in Paris. SPA
Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah has met with French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Stéphane Séjourné in Paris. SPA
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Saudi, French FMs Discuss Developments in Gaza

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah has met with French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Stéphane Séjourné in Paris. SPA
Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah has met with French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Stéphane Séjourné in Paris. SPA

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah has met with French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Stéphane Séjourné in Paris.

During the meeting, the two ministers discussed Saudi-French relations and ways to enhance them in all fields and to improve coordination on various issues of mutual concern.

The two ministers also discussed the situation in Gaza and its surroundings and the need to deliver humanitarian assistance to the civilians in the enclave.

The meeting was attended by Saudi Ambassador to France Fahd bin Mayouf Al-Ruwaili, Foreign Minister's Office Director General Abdulrahman Al-Dawood, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs Advisor Dr. Manal Radwan.


Saudi Crown Prince Offers Condolences to Iran’s Interim President for Late President Raisi

Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
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Saudi Crown Prince Offers Condolences to Iran’s Interim President for Late President Raisi

Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia. (SPA)

Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, held telephone talks on Friday with Iran’s interim President Mohamed Mokhber to offer his condolences over the death of President Ebrahim Raisi, Foreign Minister Hossein Amid-Abdollahian and their entourage.

Mokhber expressed his gratitude to Crown Prince Mohammed for his gesture.

The officials hailed the progress achieved in bilateral relations between their countries on various levels.

They underscored the importance of continuing to bolster cooperation in various fields.


King of Bahrain Says No Reason to Delay Normalizing Ties with Iran

King of Bahrain Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Moscow on Thursday. (AFP)
King of Bahrain Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Moscow on Thursday. (AFP)
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King of Bahrain Says No Reason to Delay Normalizing Ties with Iran

King of Bahrain Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Moscow on Thursday. (AFP)
King of Bahrain Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Russian President Vladimir Putin meet in Moscow on Thursday. (AFP)

King of Bahrain Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa extended on Thursday an invitation to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to attend a Middle East peace conference that will be hosted by the kingdom.

King Hamad is on an official visit to Russia where he held talks with Putin at the Kremlin. The leaders discussed several issues, including expanding trade between their countries.

On the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, King Hamad said: “Arab countries are in agreement over the need to hold a peace conference to resolve the problem of the Middle East.”

“Russia is the first country we are turning to to support this conference because it has the greatest international influence,” he went on to say.

King Hamad also said Bahrain supports normalizing ties with Iran.

“We had problems with Iran, but not anymore,” he remarked. “We see no reason to delay the normalization of relations with it.”

He underlined the principle of good neighborliness, adding: “We are trying to establish normal diplomatic, trade and cultural relations with it.”

King Hamad had kicked off his official visit to Russia on Wednesday at the invitation of Putin.