Saudi Arabia Stresses Commitment to Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its Capital

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia December 20, 2017. Palestinian President Office (PPO)/Handout via REUTERS
Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia December 20, 2017. Palestinian President Office (PPO)/Handout via REUTERS
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Saudi Arabia Stresses Commitment to Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its Capital

Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia December 20, 2017. Palestinian President Office (PPO)/Handout via REUTERS
Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia December 20, 2017. Palestinian President Office (PPO)/Handout via REUTERS

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, reiterated his country’s firm stance on the Palestinian issue and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

King Salman received Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday in his palace in Riyadh, where the two sides held a session of talks on the recent developments in the Palestinian territories.

In earlier comments, Palestinian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Bassem al-Agha, said that developments in the Palestinian issue and Jerusalem would be the main focus of the Saudi-Palestinian summit talks in Riyadh, pointing to the Saudi firm stance on the Palestinian cause.

The Palestinian leader arrived in the Kingdom on Tuesday night. King Salman held a luncheon banquet in his honor.



Moroccan Delegation Visits Abu Dhabi in Preparation for COP28

The Moroccan delegation in Abu Dhabi. (COP28 on Twitter)
The Moroccan delegation in Abu Dhabi. (COP28 on Twitter)
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Moroccan Delegation Visits Abu Dhabi in Preparation for COP28

The Moroccan delegation in Abu Dhabi. (COP28 on Twitter)
The Moroccan delegation in Abu Dhabi. (COP28 on Twitter)

A Moroccan delegation visited Abu Dhabi as part of preparations for the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (COP28), which will be organized in the UAE in November.

Headed by the director of Global Issues at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and African Cooperation, Ismail Chekkori, the delegation included Secretary General of the Mohammed VI Foundation for Environmental Protection Nazha Alaoui, Director of Partnerships at the Foundation Kenza Khalafi, Director of Partnership, Communication and Cooperation at the Ministry of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development Rachid Feradi, and Director of Climate Change Biodiversity and Green Economy at the Ministry Razi Bouzkari.

The delegation held discussions with Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and President-Designate of the COP 28, Adnan Amin, CEO of the COP28, and Majid Al Suwaidi, the Conference director-general.

The visit was an opportunity to study practical ways to support the UAE's presidency of the COP28, and to prepare for Morocco's participation at the conference.

During the meetings, officials reviewed Morocco’s experience in organizing the COP22, the initiatives taken by the country in this context, as well as the partnerships it forged in the field of combating climate change.

Emirati officials expressed their praise and appreciation for Morocco’s involvement and commitment to international and regional efforts aimed at combating climate change, in accordance with the vision of King Mohammed VI.


Kuwait’s Elections: Candidates Face Voter Reluctance

Electoral campaigns in the previous elections (Photo: Mirza Al-Khuwailidi)
Electoral campaigns in the previous elections (Photo: Mirza Al-Khuwailidi)
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Kuwait’s Elections: Candidates Face Voter Reluctance

Electoral campaigns in the previous elections (Photo: Mirza Al-Khuwailidi)
Electoral campaigns in the previous elections (Photo: Mirza Al-Khuwailidi)

With the start of the countdown for Kuwait’s legislative elections, 207 candidates, including 15 women, are in a race against time to persuade undecided voters to cast their ballots.

The elections to select members of the National Assembly are expected to be held on June 6.

Some observers and analysts noted that the lack of enthusiasm among the voters was due the political atmosphere in the country, which led to the formation of three legislative councils during the last four years, with the dissolution of parliament twice and the annulment of the elected National Assembly in 2022 based on a decision by the Constitutional Court.

On March 19, the Court issued a ruling annulling the elections of 2022, and the return of the speaker and all members of the former National Assembly (Majlis 2020), which was previously dissolved in August of the same year.

This was not the first time that the Constitutional Court in Kuwait had annulled an election and reinstated a council that was dissolved by decree. In 2012, the court issued a similar ruling to nullify the elections, dissolving the elected legislature, which was dominated by the opposition.

As the date of the upcoming elections is approaching, electoral campaigns have started, with candidates trying to persuade reluctant voters to cast their votes.

In this context, Kuwaiti writer Jassem Al-Hamar told Asharq Al-Awsat: “I do not see any reluctance to participate in the elections.”

He added: “So far, the people’s participation in electoral seminars and campaigns on social media show a desire to renew the blood and support highly qualified candidates.”

“We are expecting a change in the political class, and a new approach to political action,” he concluded.

The presence of prominent names such as former speakers Ahmed Al-Saadoun and Marzouq Al-Ghanim, along with a number of parliamentary blocs, constitutes a motive to mobilize the eligible voters to participate in the elections.


General Presidency of Grand Mosque Launches Greatest Operational Plan for Hajj

The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques and the Prophet's Mosque launched on Thursday the greatest operational plan ever for the annual Hajj pilgrimage. (SPA)
The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques and the Prophet's Mosque launched on Thursday the greatest operational plan ever for the annual Hajj pilgrimage. (SPA)
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General Presidency of Grand Mosque Launches Greatest Operational Plan for Hajj

The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques and the Prophet's Mosque launched on Thursday the greatest operational plan ever for the annual Hajj pilgrimage. (SPA)
The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques and the Prophet's Mosque launched on Thursday the greatest operational plan ever for the annual Hajj pilgrimage. (SPA)

The General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques and the Prophet's Mosque launched on Thursday the greatest operational plan ever for the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

With the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, the plan is designed to accommodate millions of pilgrims according to an integrated system of services prepared by the Saudi leadership.

President of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques and the Prophet's Mosque Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais unveiled the plan to the media on Thursday.

The plan is based on main pillars connected to the Presidency’s 2024 strategic goals, which are inspired from the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

Al-Sudais said the plan is an extension of the great successes and achievements made possible under the directives of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister. The leadership is closely monitoring all services offered to the pilgrims to ensure that they have a smooth journey.

Al-Sudais added that the plan seeks to enrich the experience of the pilgrims through various services.

He underlined the importance of volunteers and humanitarian work in ensuring the success of the plan, adding that the two mosques will attract the largest number of volunteers in the world during the Hajj. This reflects the Presidency’s faith in the abilities of the Kingdom’s youth in serving the pilgrims, he stressed.

The integrated services will cover six main areas at the two mosques: The outer courtyards, prayer areas, tawwaf area, Saudi portico, al-Masaa and the Rawdah at the Prophet’s Mosque. Services will also cover permanent and mobile exhibitions, libraries and others areas with the aim of enriching the spiritual experience of the pilgrims.

The plan boasts 185 programs and initiatives that will be provided at the Grand Mosque and Prophet’s Mosque during the Hajj. They will employ AI technologies, and make use of digital programs and apps that would facilitate and enrich the experience of the pilgrims. Programs will be available in several languages.

Around 14,000 workers will implement the 2023 plan, while over 8,000 opportunities are available for volunteers, who collectively could dedicate a total of 200,000 hours during the Hajj.

The Presidency has sought to provide some 300,000 Qurans at the Grand Mosque and Prophet’s Mosque. Lessons in teaching, reciting and memorizing the Quran will be available. Lectures and other lessons, spanning 300 hours, will be held in cooperation with the Council of Senior Scholars.

The lessons will also be available on the Manarat Al-Haramain platform. Users will have access to over a thousand hours of lessons that are available in ten languages.

On the ground, the Presidency offers guides and translation services in 51 languages at the Grand Mosque and Prophet’s Mosque.

Al-Sudais added that the Presidency is seeking to distribute 40 million liters of Zamzam water during the Hajj. Over a million bottles of Zamzam water will be handed out daily.

A variety of electronic services, apps and social media platforms are available to the pilgrims throughout their holy journey, he stated.

Minister of Hajj and Umrah Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabiah highlighted the cooperation between his ministry and the Presidency in implementing the Hajj plan, stressing their keenness on ensuring that the best services are provided to the pilgrims.


Saudi Foreign Minister Meets with Russian Counterpart

The Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, met with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov in Cape Town. SPA
The Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, met with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov in Cape Town. SPA
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Saudi Foreign Minister Meets with Russian Counterpart

The Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, met with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov in Cape Town. SPA
The Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, met with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov in Cape Town. SPA

The Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prince Faisal bin Farhan, met on Thursday with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, on the sidelines of the Ministerial Meeting of Friends of BRICS Group in Cape Town, South Africa.

During the meeting, the two sides reviewed aspects of friendship and cooperation between the two countries and ways to enhance and develop them in all fields. They also discussed consolidating bilateral and multilateral work regarding many fields of common interest.

During the meeting, Prince Faisal reiterated the Kingdom's position in support of all regional and international endeavors to find a political solution to the Russian-Ukrainian crisis.

The two sides also discussed the key issues raised in the Ministerial Meeting, held under the slogan "BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism.”

The meeting was attended by the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Multiple International Affairs, Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Rassi, the Saudi Ambassador to South Africa, Sultan Al-Luyhan Al-Anqari, and Director-General of Prince Faisal's office Abdulrahman Al-Daoud.


11th Saudi Relief Plane Arrives in Sudan

The aid is in implementation of the directives of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. SPA
The aid is in implementation of the directives of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. SPA
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11th Saudi Relief Plane Arrives in Sudan

The aid is in implementation of the directives of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. SPA
The aid is in implementation of the directives of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. SPA

The 11th Saudi relief plane arrived at Port Sudan International Airport on Thursday, carrying 30 tons of foodstuff and medical supplies, as part of the Saudi relief aid operated by the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) to help the Sudanese people, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The aid is in implementation of the directives of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz and Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, SPA said.

Delivering aid reflects the noble humanitarian role played by the Kingdom through KSrelief in all countries in need, the news agency added.


Saudi FM Participates in BRICS Friends Ministerial Meeting in South Africa

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud attends a news conference at the Arab Gulf Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 9, 2022. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri/File Photo
Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud attends a news conference at the Arab Gulf Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 9, 2022. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri/File Photo
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Saudi FM Participates in BRICS Friends Ministerial Meeting in South Africa

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud attends a news conference at the Arab Gulf Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 9, 2022. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri/File Photo
Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud attends a news conference at the Arab Gulf Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 9, 2022. REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri/File Photo

Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah heads to South Africa on Thursday to participate in the two-day ministerial meeting of BRICS Friends in Cape Town.

A number of Foreign Ministers of friendly countries will attend the meeting that will be held under the theme “Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Multilateralism," the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The Saudi Foreign Minister will discuss with his counterparts the most important developments in the world, and boosting multilateral action to achieve prosperity in all countries, SPA said.

He is also scheduled to hold bilateral meetings with the Foreign Ministers of friendly countries, the news agency added.


Saudi Population at 32 Million, 51% Under 30

Riyadh is the largest Saudi city in terms of population, followed by Jeddah and Makkah (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Riyadh is the largest Saudi city in terms of population, followed by Jeddah and Makkah (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Saudi Population at 32 Million, 51% Under 30

Riyadh is the largest Saudi city in terms of population, followed by Jeddah and Makkah (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Riyadh is the largest Saudi city in terms of population, followed by Jeddah and Makkah (Asharq Al-Awsat)

The General Authority for Statistics (GASTAT) announced the results of the Saudi 2022 census, which puts the population of the Kingdom at 32.1 million with 18.8 million nationals, of which 63 percent are under the age of 30 and 13.4 million residents.

The census showed that the total number of Saudi families accounted for 4.2 million, with an average size of 4.8 persons per family.

The percentage of Saudi males was close to that of Saudi females, as the ratio of males reached 50.2 percent, compared to 49.8 percent for females.

The census data was collected using various techniques, such as more than one million phone calls, 900,000 field visits, and advanced data analysis and statistics methods.

It has been conducted in line with the best international methodologies and with the help of the latest technologies.

Comparisons included five different data sources, and more than 200 indicators reviewed the data to confirm its accuracy.

- Saudi Arabia: a young society

The statistics showed that the Kingdom has a young population, with a median age of 29 and a population of Saudis under 30 making up 63 percent of the total, making Saudi Arabia one of the youngest countries in the world.

Minister of Economy and Planning, Chairman of the Board of Directors of GASTAT, Faisal al-Ibrahim, said the 2022 census was the most comprehensive and accurate in the Kingdom's history.

Ibrahim indicated that the outputs would be a "key pillar for planning and decision-making" and supporting the investment environment in the Kingdom for developing various sectors and achieving Vision 2030 goals.

The minister stressed that the figures are a performance measurement for government agencies and help make local, regional, and international comparisons with accuracy and transparency.

- Modern technologies and accurate data

The Chairman of the Authority, Fahad al-Dossari, indicated that they are seeking to keep pace with the transformations witnessed by Vision 2030.

Dossari noted that since the Authority's launch, the quality and accuracy of data have improved steadily, integration and participation between government agencies have increased, and the digital infrastructure has developed in the Kingdom.

He asserted that the Authority followed the best international methodologies and the latest technologies in implementing the census plan and followed modern methods for issuing data through cooperation with various government agencies.

The Saudi 2022 census is the most comprehensive and precise population survey conducted in the Kingdom's history, noting the official indicated that the results were more than 95 percent accurate.

- Successful housing plans

Researcher Abdulsalam al-Wail reported that the results of the announced census showed an improvement in data collection methodologies and modern technologies, significantly increasing its accuracy compared to previous years.

Wail told Asharq Al-Awsat that it was a positive indication to have a large number of young citizens in the country, noting that the results of the statistic showed a young society that would work in the coming years to advance development under Vision 2030.

Compared to the previous census, the data showed an increase in the number of Saudi homeowners, said the expert, which he believed was an indication of the success of the citizens' housing plans.

Over the past five years, the Ministry of Housing announced many initiatives to increase home ownership in the Kingdom.

Last year, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced that Saudi Arabia is seeking a population of 50 to 60 million by 2030, half of whom are Saudis.


Saudi Ambassador Abdullah bin Khalid Presents his Credentials to German President

The German President receives the new Saudi Ambassador to Berlin on Wednesday. SPA
The German President receives the new Saudi Ambassador to Berlin on Wednesday. SPA
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Saudi Ambassador Abdullah bin Khalid Presents his Credentials to German President

The German President receives the new Saudi Ambassador to Berlin on Wednesday. SPA
The German President receives the new Saudi Ambassador to Berlin on Wednesday. SPA

Saudi ambassador to Germany Prince Abdullah bin Khalid bin Sultan has affirmed the Kingdom’s keenness to strengthen friendly ties between the two countries, as he presented on Wednesday his credentials at the Presidential palace in Berlin.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier wished the ambassador success in his mission.

During the reception, the prince conveyed a greeting from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz to the president, wishing the people of Germany continued progress and prosperity.

Steinmeier conveyed his greetings to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and the Crown Prince, and his wishes for further progress and prosperity for the Kingdom and its people.


Over 198,000 Pilgrims Arrive in Madinah

The data showed that the largest number of pilgrims arrived from Indonesia, amounting to 40,364 pilgrims, while 27,789 pilgrims arrived from India. - SPA
The data showed that the largest number of pilgrims arrived from Indonesia, amounting to 40,364 pilgrims, while 27,789 pilgrims arrived from India. - SPA
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Over 198,000 Pilgrims Arrive in Madinah

The data showed that the largest number of pilgrims arrived from Indonesia, amounting to 40,364 pilgrims, while 27,789 pilgrims arrived from India. - SPA
The data showed that the largest number of pilgrims arrived from Indonesia, amounting to 40,364 pilgrims, while 27,789 pilgrims arrived from India. - SPA

The Ministry of Hajj and Umrah's latest report on the pilgrim flow to and from Madinah revealed that the number of Hajj arrivals amounted to 198,670 of several nationalities. Those include who traveled through the air and land ports to perform the Hajj rituals this year.

The data indicated that 124,946 pilgrims arrived at Prince Mohammad bin Abdulaziz International Airport in Madinah since the first batch of pilgrims arrived so far, while the land immigration center received 7,100 pilgrims.

The report also showed that the largest number of pilgrims arrived from Indonesia, amounting to 40,364 pilgrims, while 27,789 pilgrims arrived from India.

Also, 26,749 pilgrims arrived from Pakistan, 13,734 pilgrims arrived from Bangladesh, and 13,004 pilgrims arrived from Iran.

More than 20,000 pilgrims left Madinah during the past few days on their way to the holy sites in Makkah, the report indicated.


Saudi Arabia, Kenya Sign MoU on Combating Corruption

Saudi Flag via Reuters
Saudi Flag via Reuters
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Saudi Arabia, Kenya Sign MoU on Combating Corruption

Saudi Flag via Reuters
Saudi Flag via Reuters

The Saudi President of Control and Anti-Corruption Authority, Mazen bin Ibrahim Al-Kahmous, met with the Secretary and CEO of Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) of the Republic of Kenya, Twalib Abdallah Mbarak, and the accompanying delegation.

The Saudi and Kenyan officials discussed ways of joint cooperation between the two countries in protecting integrity and combating corruption.

The Kingdom and Kenya signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to enhance cooperation in this regard.

The MoU aims to raise the exchange levels of relevant information about corruption crimes and develop the institutional capacity of the two countries.

The two sides also reviewed the most important measures adopted by the Control and Anti-Corruption Authority (Nazaha) in promoting integrity and transparency principles and combating corruption, in addition to discussing the Kenyan experience in the same field.