saudi arabia

Pakistan gets USD 8 billion package from Saudi Arabia amid sinking economy

Islamabad [Pakistan]- Pakistan, which is grappling with an economic slump, has secured a “sizeable package” of around USD 8 billion from Saudi Arabia during the visit of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, reported local media.

The USD 8 billion package includes a doubling of the oil financing facility, additional money either through deposits or Sukuks, and rolling over of the existing USD 4.2 billion facilities, reported The News International.
“However, technical details are being worked out and will take a couple of weeks to get all documents ready and signed,” the media outlet quoted the top official sources privy to the development as saying.

Notably, Shehbaz Sharif and his official entourage have left Saudi Arabia but Pakistan Finance Minister Miftah Ismail is still staying there to finalize the modalities of the increased financial package.

“Just said goodbye to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and other colleagues at Jeddah Airport, who are on their way to Islamabad after a brief stopover in Abu Dhabi to meet Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Zayed. I remain in SA to meet Saudi officials and start technical-level talks,” tweeted Ismail.

According to the official, Pakistan’s proposal of doubling the oil facility from USD 1.2 billion to USD 2.4 billion was accepted by Saudi Arabia, which also agreed that the existing deposits of USD 3 billion would be rolled over for an extended period up to June 2023.

“Pakistan and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia discussed an additional package of over USD 2 billion either through deposits or Sukuk and it is likely that even more money will be provided to Islamabad,” the media outlet quoted the official sources which added that the size of the total package would be determined after additional money was finalized.

Earlier in December 2021, Saudi Arabia had provided USD 3 billion deposits to the State Bank of Pakistan and also provided Pakistan with USD 100 million to procure oil after the Saudi oil facility was operationalized in March 2022.

Under the Imran Khan government, Saudi Arabia provided Pakistan a package of USD 4.2 billion, including USD 3 billion deposits and a USD 1.2 billion oil facility for one year.

Meanwhile, amid a combination of internal and external challenges of unpredictable tenure in Pakistan, the Ministry of Finance on Friday forecasted tough days ahead — including rising inflation, expanding current account deficit, higher fiscal deficit and dampening economic growth prospects.

According to the Finance Ministry, high international commodity prices not only keep inflation elevated, but they are also a burden on Pakistan’s external account and hence on its foreign exchange reserves, Dawn reported.

Moreover, economic activities in Pakistan’s main trading partners continue to remain slightly above the trend as some slowdown has been observed due to geopolitical uncertainty and a surge in commodity prices. If these tensions continue, the country’s growth may be affected as well. (ANI)


Mass execution of 81 people in Saudi Arabia, UN condemns

Riyadh [Saudi Arabia] : The UN human rights chief has condemned the beheading of 81 people, charged with terrorism-related offences, by Saudi Arabia during the course of a single day.

In a statement released following Saturday’s mass execution, High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet urged Saudi authorities to “bring the country’s counterterrorism laws fully into line with international standards”.
Bachelet said she understood that 41 of those put to death on March 12 were Muslims from the Shiite minority who had taken part in anti-government protests in 2011-12, calling for greater political participation. Another seven were Yemenis and one was a Syrian national.

“Our monitoring indicates that some of those executed were sentenced to death following trials that did not meet fair trial and due process guarantees, and for crimes that did not appear to meet the most serious crimes threshold, as required under international law,” she said.

The High Commissioner also expressed concern that some of the executions appeared to be linked to the ongoing armed conflict in Yemen, between Houthi rebels and a Saudi-led coalition, backing the internationally recognized Government forces.

The UN rights chief said implementing death sentences following trials that do not provide the required “fair trial guarantees” is prohibited by international human rights and humanitarian law and “may amount to a war crime.”

Moreover, the death penalty is “incompatible with fundamental tenets of human rights and dignity, the right to life and the prohibition of torture”.

She said that failure to provide relatives with information on the circumstances of their loved ones’ executions “may amount to torture and ill-treatment”. “Authorities should return the bodies of those executed to their families,” underscored the top UN rights official.

Bachelet voiced her concern over the broad definition of terrorism in Saudi legislation, including non-violent acts that supposedly “endanger national unity” or “undermine the State’s reputation.”

“This risks criminalizing people exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” she warned.

Despite a global move away from the death penalty, Saudi Arabia is among some 38 countries that continue to implement it.

“I call on the Saudi authorities to halt all executions, immediately establish a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, and commute the death sentences against those on death row,” said the High Commissioner. (ANI)


Salman Khan Honoured At Joy Awards 2022 In Saudi Arabia

New Delhi [India], January 31 (ANI): Bollywood superstar Salman Khan has been honoured at the Joy Awards 2022, held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Taking to his Instagram handle, Salman shared a picture from the ceremony in which he can be seen receiving the ‘Person of the Year’ Award. In the caption, he wrote, “My brother Bu Nasser … it was lovely meeting with you ..@turkialalshik.”

Salman’s acceptance speech video also flooded the internet, in which he reflects on his journey as an actor.

“You saw me when I was about 12 years old and now I am 56,” he said in reference to the video montage showcased at the award ceremony, featuring his career highlights.

Organised by Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, Joy Awards 2022 recognises and honours artistic achievements, awarding celebrities across various genres and categories.

At the ceremony, Salman also met actor John Travolta and introduced himself to the ‘Pulp Fiction’ star, along with praising him for his performance in films.

Saudi King hopes that Iran will abandon ‘negative behavior’ in region

Riyadh [Saudi Arabia]: Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has expressed hope that Iran will abandon what he described as a destabilizing regional policy.
“Iran is a neighboring country for the Kingdom [Saudi Arabia] and we hope that it will change its policy and negative behavior in the region, and will switch for dialogue and cooperation. We are very concerned over the policy of the Iranian regime aimed at undermining security and stability in the region,” the king told Majlis ash-Shura on late Wednesday, as quoted by the SPA news agency. The king also voiced concern over the Iranian refusal to cooperate with the international community on its nuclear program as well as over the development of ballistic missiles by Tehran.
Saudi Arabia’s relations with Iran remain strained over Riyadh’s concerns over the Iranian military buildup as well as Tehran’s support for Shia movements in other countries, especially the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia bans Tablighi Jamaat, calls it ‘one of the gates of terrorism’

Riyadh [Saudi Arabia]: Saudi Arabia has banned the Tablighi Jamaat, terming it a “danger to society” and “one of the gates of terrorism”.
The country’s Minister of Islamic Affairs made an announcement on social media directing the mosques to warn people against associating with them during the Friday sermon. “His Excellency the Minister of Islamic Affairs, Dr.#Abdullatif Al_Alsheikh directed the mosques’ preachers and the mosques that held Friday prayer temporary to allocate the next Friday sermon 5/6/1443 H to warn against (the Tablighi and Da’wah group) which is called (Al Ahbab),” tweeted Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Islamic Affairs.
The Saudi government also asked mosques to inform people about the danger that Tablighi Jamaat poses to society.
Minister Dr Abdullatif Al Al-Sheikh also directed that the should include a declaration of the “misguidance, deviation and danger of this group” and note that it is one of the “gates of terrorism, even if they claim otherwise.”
In addition, it should mention their “most prominent mistakes”, that they are a “danger to society” and issue a statement that “affiliation with partisan groups, including (the Tablighi and Da’wah Group) is prohibited in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
Tablighi Jamaat, a transnational Sunni Islamic missionary movement that focuses on exhorting Muslims and encouraging fellow members to follow the pure form of Sunni Islam.

Saudi Arabia GP: Hamilton beats Verstappen in controversial race to draw equal on points

Riyadh [Saudi Arabia]: Lewis Hamilton won a controversial debut Saudi Arabian Grand Prix from pole position ahead of Max Verstappen and Valtteri Bottas amid two red-flag stoppages.
The result means the two championship protagonists go to the Abu Dhabi finale level on points. Hamilton led Bottas and Verstappen – who shrugged off his qualifying crash – at the start but on Lap 10, Mick Schumacher spun and hit the Turn 23 barriers. The Safety Car soon turned into a red flag, crucially giving Verstappen a free stop in the pits, while the Mercedes had stopped under yellows. “The Lap 15 standing start saw Hamilton lead, but Verstappen went wide and off-track at the first chicane, cutting back across Hamilton, who dropped to P3 behind Alpine’s Esteban Ocon (who also enjoyed a red flag tyre change and the subsequent advantage). However, there were two separate incidents behind in which Sergio Perez was collected by Charles Leclerc and Nikita Mazepin collided with George Russell – so another red flag was called,” read an official F1 report.
Ocon, who had benefitted from a stop during the first red flag, missed out on a podium by just a tenth of a second having lost P3 right on the line at the chequered flag. That put the Alpine driver fourth ahead of Daniel Ricciardo of McLaren, who started 11th but enjoyed a rapid start and a red-flag pit stop for P5.
Abu Dhabi hosts the season finale, and with Hamilton having taken 26 points to Verstappen’s 18 here, the championship protagonists are now equal on 369.5 points. But the fallout from Jeddah may well continue through the night, with the stewards set to investigate Hamilton and Verstappen’s Turn 27 tussle after the race.

Saudi Arabia detects 1st case of Omicron variant

Riyadh [Saudi Arabia]: Saudi Arabia announced on Wednesday the detection of its first case of the COVID-19 Omicron variant, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The variant was detected for an inbound citizen coming from a North African country, the Saudi Health Ministry said, adding that the infected one was quarantined and those close contacts were tested. The ministry called on the public to complete their COVID-19 vaccinations to protect the safety of all.
Saudi Arabia has been witnessing a drop in daily COVID-19 cases after serious efforts were made in fighting the spread of the virus, especially the nationwide vaccination drive.

Pakistan revisits ties with Saudi Arabia to revive its crumbling economy

Islamabad [Pakistan] : Pakistan is trying to mend its ties with Saudi Arabia in order to get financial help to revive its crumbling economy.
While Pakistan has hailed its ‘brotherly’ relations with Saudi Arabia, it is evident that its new ‘brotherhood’ with Saudi Arabia comes at a time when Pakistan is on the brink of a financial crisis, according to the Times of Israel. “The Pakistani economy has been faltering, with an imminent balance of payment crisis and the country increasingly dependent on external debts to stay afloat. Given its inability to negotiate with the International Monetary Fund for release of USD 1 billion,” wrote Sergio Restelli, an analyst for the Times of Israel.
Despite this, Saudi Arabia has pledged financial assistance package which includes about $ US 3 billion in deposits and $ 1.2 billion to USD 1.5 billion worth of oil supplies on deferred payments to bail Pakistan of its never-ending financial crisis.
Earlier, Saudi Arabia had demanded early repayment of a $3 billion loan to Pakistan and refused to renew a $3.2 billion oil credit facility considering Islamabad’s poorly performing economy.
Pakistan is desperate to get help from countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates compromising on its proclaimed strategic autonomy.
Despite Saudi Arabia’s financial assistance, Pakistan was to blame for the souring relationship with the Arab country as it clearly lacks geopolitical acumen, economic heft, and ideological leadership had been making attempts to create a substantial international bloc, according to the Times of Israel.
Further, Pakistan failed to note that both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates share deep strategic and economic ties with India. Traditionally, India has been a more viable partner for the two countries. India’s total trade with Saudi Arabia has been over $ US33 billion which is better than Pakistan.
In contrast, Pakistan’s trade with Saudi Arabia has been around $ US 3.6 billion, a tenth.
Further, India-Saudi ties had been strengthened further with the signing of defence cooperation pact adding to Pakistan’s problem

Oman, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia suspend travel with African countries over Omicron variant

Al Masnaah [Oman]: Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait have announced suspending air travel from several African countries amid the spread of the new Omicron coronavirus variant.
The Saudi Ministry of Interior said on Sunday that the kingdom is stopping travels with Angola, Zambia, Mauritius, Madagascar, Malawi, the Seychelles and Comoros islands, as well as prohibiting their citizens from entering the Arab country. At the same time, Riyadh will allow entry to those who are coming from a third country, provided they spend 14 days in quarantine there as well as another five days in Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, Oman has decided to bar entry from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, and Mozambique starting Sunday. According to the state-run Oman News Agency, the ban does not affect the sultanate’s citizens, diplomats and health workers.
Kuwait is also postponing passenger flights with the same countries as Oman as well as Malawi and Zambia. Citizens arriving from those countries will be able to enter Kuwait after a 14-day quarantine, government spokesman Tareq Mizrem told the state-run Kuwait News Agency.
The World Health Organization (WHO) identified on Friday the new South African strain as one of concern, as it is reported to carry a high number of mutations — 32 — which possibly makes it more transmissible and dangerous. The WHO has dubbed it Omicron, the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet.

Saudi-led coalition in Yemen warns of danger to global trade in Red Sea

Riyadh [Saudi Arabia]: The Saudi-led coalition fighting the Iran-backed Houthi movement in Yemen said it detected an imminent danger to the global trade in the Red Sea, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported on Monday.
“There are indicators of the imminent danger to shipping and world trade in the south of the Red Sea. We are taking prompt actions to detect the maritime threat and ensure freedom of navigation,” the coalition said. It also stated that the concerns were raised after the coalition had detected hostile movements by the Yemeni Houthi forces using explosive-laden boats, according to SPA.
The statement was delivered after the coalition had intercepted and destroyed remotely piloted aircraft launched by Houthi rebels targeting the Najran airport on Sunday.
Yemen’s civil war began in 2014 when Houthi insurgents took control of Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, demanding lower fuel prices and a new government. The rebels seized the presidential palace in January 2015, forcing President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and his government to resign. In March 2015, the Gulf states coalition led by Saudi Arabia launched a campaign of economic isolation and airstrikes against the Houthi insurgents.

Saudi Arabia launches 1st non-profit city

Riyadh [Saudi Arabia]: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud announced on Sunday the launch of the first non-profit city, the Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Non-Profit City.
The city in Riyadh is expected to be a model for the development of the non-profit sector globally and an incubator for youth and volunteer groups as well as local and international non-profit institutions, the Saudi Press Agency reported. The city will be built on an area of around 3.4 square kilometers and will support innovation, entrepreneurship and qualifying future leaders by defining non-profit work.
The city that implements the digital twin model, will host academies, colleges, schools, a conference center, a science museum, a creative center offering a space to support the ambitions of innovators in sciences and new generation technology, the crown prince said.
In addition, the city will host venture capital firms and investors to support and incubate innovative enterprises to drive community contributions from around the world.
The launch of the city comes days after the announcement of the offering of Saudi nationality to some talented individuals, in order to promote creativity and innovations.

Inflation in Pakistan will continue to rise for next 6 months

Islamabad [Pakistan] : The inflation will remain high in Pakistan for the next six months and the rupee is likely to continue on a depreciatory path despite a support package from Saudi Arabia, local media reported citing the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
The EIU’s assessment comes after data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) showed that the Consumer Price Index — a key marker of inflation — surged 9.2 per cent year-on-year in October, reported Geo News. “Strengthening inflationary headwinds are being driven largely by rapid import growth, exacerbated by a surge in global commodity prices, as the economy recovers from the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” EIU said.
“We continue to expect that upward pressure on consumer prices will persist during the first half of 2022, as the global economic recovery is likely to keep commodity prices elevated and the rupee will continue on a depreciatory path despite short-term relief in the form of a financial assistance package from Saudi Arabia due to Pakistan’s persistently wide trade deficit and strong inflationary pressures,” the EIU added.
The EIU used its assessment to predict that the State Bank of Pakistan will raise rates again at its next monetary policy meeting on November 26, according to Geo News.
“We maintain our forecast of an elevated inflation rate of 9.2 per cent in 2021, eliciting further policy tightening from the SBP,” it said.
Inflation in Pakistan is on the rise and it has triggered countrywide protests by the opposition and people.

Saudi Arabia’s oil company Aramco’s net income rises to USD 30.4bn in 3rd quarter 2021

Riyadh [Saudi Arabia] : The world’s largest oil company, Saudi Arabia’s Aramco announced on Sunday that its net income in the third quarter 2021 increased to $30.4 billion, which is 158% more than in the same period 2020.
“The increase in net income was primarily the result of higher crude oil prices and volumes sold and stronger refining and chemicals margins in Q3, which were underpinned by rebounding global energy demand and increased economic activity in key markets,” Aramco stated. The company also said that free cash flow rose to $28.7 billion in the third quarter 2021. Aramco declared a dividend of $18.8 billion to be paid to its shareholders.

Saudi Arabia will revive financial support to Pakistan

An agreement to this effect was reached during visit of Pakistan PM Imran Khan to the kingdom this week, a senior govt official told media.

Islamabad , Pakistan : Saudi Arabia has agreed to revive its financial support to Pakistan, including about $3 billion in safe deposits and $1.2bn to $1.5bn worth of oil supplies on deferred payments, Dawn reported.

An agreement to this effect was reached during the visit of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to the kingdom this week, a senior government official told Dawn. However, a formal announcement would be made by the PM’s adviser on finance and revenue Shaukat Tarin and Energy Minister Hammad Azhar on Wednesday at a news conference.

The development was later confirmed in a midnight tweet by Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry. “Saudi Arabia’s announcement support Pakistan with 3 billion US dollars as deposit in Pakistan central bank and also financing refined petroleum products with 1.2 billion US dollars during the year,” he wrote.

The Saudi government would immediately deposit $3bn in Pakistan’s account for a year and keep it rolling at least until the completion of the IMF programme in October 2023, the official earlier said, as per the report.

The facility is expected to help Pakistan convince the IMF about its financing plan. In addition, the Saudi government would provide crude oil to Islamabad on deferred payments worth up to $1.5bn per annum.

Saudi Arabia had also provided $3bn in cash deposits and promised a $3bn oil facility to Pakistan to help the latter shore up its foreign exchange reserves in 2018. However, as the bilateral relations deteriorated later Islamabad had to return $2bn of the $3bn deposits, the report added.

Jaishankar welcomes Saudi Minister

New Delhi [India], September 19 : External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar on Sunday welcomed Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, on his first-ever visit to India.
“Delighted to welcome FM of Saudi Arabia HH Prince @Faisalbinfarhan for his first-ever visit to India,” Jaishankar tweeted and posted a picture of two of them. A few hours ago, Prince Faisal bin Farhan arrived in New Delhi on a three-day visit. During his visit, he will call on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 20.

Earlier in August, Saudi Arabia lifted the quarantine rule for Indians who have received both doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the Gulf country.
Jaishankar also held bilateral talks with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir last month.

India beat Saudi Arabia for third straight win at Asian Volleyball C’ship

Funabashi Arena [Japan]: The Indian men’s volleyball team defeated Saudi Arabia in straight sets in the Asian Volleyball Championship 2021 at the Funabashi Arena, Japan, on Saturday.

Saudi Arabia put up a strong show, but the Indians ended as the better side, with a 3-0 (25-22, 25-22, 25-23) win in the ninth to 12th place semi-finals, as per India was in good form going into the match, having picked up back-to-back victories against Kuwait and Uzbekistan in the classification round — played to decide the teams’ standings between the ninth and 16th positions.

Earlier, India had finished last in the group stage, following losses to Bahrain, Qatar and nine-time champions Japan, which closed their door to the quarter-finals. Only the top two teams of the group — Japan and Qatar — made it to the last eight.

Against Saudi Arabia, Charles Jerome Vinith and Rai Ashwal were the standout performers for India. Both ended with 15 points each.

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia captain Azouz Asaad, with 20 points, was the top scorer for the gulf nation.

Following the win, India moved up to 71 in the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) men’s rankings.
The Indian volleyball team will now fight Bahrain for ninth place on Sunday. The previous contest between the two, during the group stage, ended 3-0 in Bahrain’s favour (27-25, 25-21, 25-21).

Saudi Foreign Minister to arrive in India today for 3-day visit

New Delhi [India]: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud will arrive in India on Saturday evening for a 3-day visit.
During his visit to India, Farhan Al Saud will also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. As per his schedule, Farhan Al Saud will hold a meeting with his Indian counterpart Jaishankar on September 19 at Hyderabad House, Delhi, and will call on PM Modi the next day.
Earlier in August, Saudi Arabia lifted the quarantine rule for Indians who have received both doses of COVID-19 vaccines in the Gulf country.
Jaishankar also held bilateral talks with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Adel Al-Jubeir last month.

Air India Resumes Flights To Saudi Arabia From India

After a long gap, Air India has resumed flights to Saudi Arabia from India. Those wishing to travel to Saudi Arabia from India can now book their tickets through the Air India website. They can also visit booking offices or book tickets via call centres or travel agents. The big decision comes after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) relaxed travel restrictions for fully vaccinated passengers from India

Air India took to Twitter to make the following announcement:

“Air India opens bookings from India to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). Before booking tickets kindly read the travel guidelines carefully. Bookings opened through Air India Website, Booking Offices, Call Centre & Authorised Travel Agents. It will be the sole responsibility of the passengers to ensure his/her eligibility to enter the destination country. Air India will accept no liability in this regard”.

Saudi Arabia travel guidelines

1) Resident permit holders (Iqama holders and valid exit re-entry visa) who have taken their two doses of the vaccine inside the Kingdom before their departure from the Kingdom are permitted to travel.

2) Passengers must confirm through their Tawakalna mobile application (vaccine certificate and health passport) that they have completed two doses of vaccine from Saudi Arabia prior to check-in.

3) Passengers must carry an RT-PCR negative report not older than 72 hours.

4) The PCR report must be from an ICMR accredited laboratory and must feature a QR code.

5) Passengers will have to register the immunisation data on the Muqeem website.

6) They must also carry their fully vaccinated COVID-19 certificate to enter the nation.

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