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.



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.