NEW DELHI: New Delhi is seeking to enhance its strategic partnership with Riyadh and cooperation on international platforms, the Indian government said on Friday, ahead of External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar’s first official trip to Saudi Arabia.
Jaishankar is scheduled to arrive in the Kingdom on Saturday for a three-day visit, during which he will co-chair with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan the inaugural ministerial meeting of the Committee on Political, Security, Social and Cultural Cooperation under the framework of the India-Saudi Arabia Strategic Partnership Council.
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement that the ministers would “undertake a comprehensive review” of the bilateral relationship.
“During the visit, EAM will also meet other Saudi dignitaries, as well as Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council H.E. Dr. Nayef Falah Mubarak Al-Hajjraf. Both sides will review the bilateral relations and discuss ways to enhance them,” the ministry said.
“Both sides will also discuss regional and international issues of mutual interest including their cooperation at the UN, G20 and GCC.”
Jaishankar will meet representatives of the 3.5 million Indian expats living and working in the Kingdom.
Saudi-Indian ties reached new highs when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited New Delhi in February 2019. In October that year, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrived in Riyadh at the invitation of King Salman, and the Strategic Partnership Council was established.
The India-Saudi strategic partnership is focused on four areas: Political issues, security, socio-cultural relations and defense corporation.
“India and Saudi Arabia in the last few years exponentially strengthened their bilateral relations in various fields — be it political contacts, cooperation in the fight against COVID-19, at multilateral forums as well, whether it is the United Nations or the G20, which Saudi Arabia was heading in 2020,” Muddassir Quamar, a fellow at the Institute of Defense Studies and Analyzes in New Delhi, told Arab News.
Jaishankar’s visit is likely to further strengthen ties.
“Given the kind of regional and international developments we are witnessing today and given the fact that both India and Saudi Arabia are very important actors — regional and international actors — this is a very important visit from all these perspectives,” Qamar said.
The trip is also expected to help the leaderships of the two countries establish ways to proceed with investment projects.
“We have a strategic partnership between India and Saudi Arabia and there is a council also, and this council supervises various committees — economic, political, cultural. It supervises bilateral relations in various arenas: Investment, economic partnerships, counterterrorism, and also many other fields,” Prof. Zikrur Rahman, founding director of the India-Arab Cultural Center, who as a diplomat had served in several Middle Eastern countries, told Arab News.
“This is an important visit which will give an idea to the leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as well as the leadership of India, about how to proceed further regarding big investments and also opportunities for the new projects, which are being launched by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
RIYADH: In her recent visit to Saudi Arabia, Philippine Secretary of Migrant Workers Susan Ople met with Saudi government officials to discuss developing bilateral relations between the two countries, working conditions for overseas Filipino workers, and to create awareness around common issues.
Sitting at the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, the soon-to-be new Migrant Workers Office, Ople told Arab News that the purpose of her visit to the site is to oversee processes, learn more about the concerns of the workers, and of the inner mechanisms of the office.
During her visit, the secretary met with her counterpart at the Saudi Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development, Ahmad Al-Rajhi.
“We had a very pleasant conversation. We are creating new pathways to further strengthen the long, historic friendship between the Philippines and Saudi Arabia,” Ople said.
Saudization, the policy of creating and prioritizing opportunities for Saudi workers, was established as a key goal for the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, and Ople expressed her respect and understanding for the policy.
“We also have our own employment strategies in the Philippines, so Saudization and making sure that your own nationals are gainfully employed is something we respect.
“It’s very important that we keep talking with our counterparts in the Saudi government, because it’s only in having these bilateral conversations that we can guide our people accordingly,” she said.
One of Ople’s key goals is to undergo systems reviews to ensure the safety of the workers under their employers, both in the Philippines and in administrations abroad.
“It’s a necessary step towards reforms. Because we are a department in transition, we need to look at the old and current processes, and just see how to strengthen, improve, or perhaps even do away with some of them,” she said.
The goal of establishing the new Migrant Workers Office is to equip OFWs with the right resources, information, protection, and opportunities while working in Saudi Arabia, creating a “home for every migrant worker in government,” she said.
Last year, Saudi Arabia’s expatriate population of 13.49 million included about 1.6 million OFWs.
One of the initiatives by the Labor Department is establishing a One Repatriation Command Center. The 24 hour hotline is dedicated to serving Filipino residents in Saudi Arabia with any issues that arise by dialling 1348.
“Any Filipinos, their families who wish to come home because they are ill, or because there are certain violations in the contract, or are victims of human trafficking … can call up our hotline,” Ople said.
The secretary is an advocate against human trafficking, even being awarded the Trafficking in Persons Hero Award from US Secretary of State John Kerry, and was appointed trustee of the UN Trust Fund for Human Trafficking victims.
“I am quite optimistic that there is room for a partnership. We can work with different countries here across the Middle East in promoting awareness about the need to fight human trafficking, especially involving migrant workers, because some of them are extremely vulnerable to severe exploitation and abuse,” she said.
As an advocate, Ople also highlighted the importance of fair and ethical recruitment policies that adhere to human rights labor laws and promote fair wages.
“The recruitment agencies, the country of destination, the employers; they should all adhere to a human rights-based approach to the recruitment and hiring of migrant workers, whether they be Filipinos or whatever nationality,” she said.
Ople made a visit to Bahay Kalinga shelter in Riyadh, a safehouse for runaway maids, to check in on the situations of distressed OFWs and to provide a platform to express their issues.
Those talks found their way to Ople’s conversation with Al-Rajhi, who promised to look into the cases.
“It was an emotional visit … they were able to tell me about their journey as migrant workers here in Saudi Arabia. Some were not able to complete their contracts. Some complained about the treatment that they got. Others were just wishing to go home.
“I think it’s the role of our department to just look at how these problems can be solved and addressed and perhaps prevented, so that less and less of these women need to go home with so many invisible scars,” she said.
Aside from domestic abuse, some of the biggest issues OFWs face is cultural adaptation, proper education about their rights, and access to the justice system.
Ople hopes to establish clear legislation that ensures transparent terms and conditions of work, on-time salary payments, communication opportunities with family, proper rest time, and physical and mental health support for workers.
The agreement of domestic workers, ratified in 2014 by Saudi and Filipino parties, is a significant milestone in the field of labor cooperation and in the protection of the rights of Filipino workers.
“It is very important that we keep reviewing and even improving upon the bilateral labor agreement that we had with Saudi Arabia, and which is why we are here for the talks, and also why we appreciate the hospitality being shown by our Saudi counterparts,” she said.
Ople will join officials once again in December for a joint committee meeting, returning to Riyadh to have those formal talks.
RIYADH: Prince Faisal bin Farhan, Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs, received at the Ministry’s headquarters in Riyadh Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of India.
During the reception, they reviewed the historical and solid relations between the two friendly countries and peoples, and discussed aspects of enhancing joint action and bilateral coordination in regional and international issues of common interest, and everything that would enhance international peace and security.
The reception was attended by the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Political Affairs Saud Al-Sati and the Saudi ambassador to India, Saleh Al-Hussaini.
On Friday, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement that the ministers will “undertake a comprehensive review” of the bilateral relationship.
“During the visit, EAM will also meet other Saudi dignitaries as well as Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), H.E. Dr. Nayef Falah Mubarak Al-Hajraf. Both sides will review the bilateral relations and discuss ways to enhance them,” the ministry said.
RIYADH: Iraqi conjoined twins arrived in Riyadh on Sunday for medical evaluation amid hopes for a successful operation to separate them, the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The pair, Omar and Ali, landed with their parents at King Khalid International Airport from Iraq and were immediately transferred to King Abdullah Specialized Children’s Hospital.
Doctors and surgeons will study their case for a potential separation surgery for the twins, who can be seen in the pictures released by SPA to be joined at the lower chest and abdomen.
Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabiah, the head of the medical team and general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center, said that the center aims to support patients with difficult medical conditions across the world.
KSrelief’s Saudi Conjoined Twins Programme has led over 50 successful separation surgeries for twins from more than 23 countries.
In a statement to SPA, Mohammed Abdullah, the father of the twins, thanked the Kingdom for the warm reception and hospitality the family has received since their arrival, expressing his “great confidence” in the Saudi medical team for their extensive experience in this field.
JEDDAH: Under the Saudi law of cybercrimes, pranksters can face a punishment of SR5 million (more than $1.3 million) and three years in prison, according to a law expert.
Dr. Majed Garoub told Arab News that posting pranks on social media is a crime in Saudi Arabia, and it is classified as a violation of the country’s Anti-Cyber Crime Law.
“The punishment for such crime ranges from SR500,000 to SR5 million or imprisonment from six months to three years. However, both penalties can be applied, depending on the nature of the violating content.”
• Saudi law expert Dr. Majed Garoub said: ‘The punishment for such crime ranges from SR500,000 to SR5 million or imprisonment from six months to three years. However, both penalties can be applied, depending on the nature of the violating content.’
• Speaking about the difference from a legal perspective between the pranks that some people post on social media and what we see on television, Garoubs said that pranks on social media are different from those on TV as the latter present comedy shows.
• Hasan Faleh Al-Nahsi, a Saudi social media influencer, said that some social media users make pranks to collect as many followers as they can.
He added that posting pranks on social media is a violation even if it is a prank that has consent.
“A crime is a crime. We now have a law that criminalizes these activities and considers them as offensive. It is also considered a crime if someone reposts, likes or retweets a prank,” Garoub said.
Giving his personal opinion, the lawyer believes that anyone who reposts, likes or retweets a violating content should be penalized with the maximum punishment. However, he said that legal punishment takes the circumstances of every violation into consideration.
Garoub justified his point of view by saying that the first violator might have committed the content under the influence of certain emotional factors or be unaware of its negative effect, but the one who retweets or reposts it should have watched the content, reaffirming his belief in the content.
As for juvenile violators, Garoub said that young people are treated differently.
“The authorities require them to appear for investigation through a certain mechanism that takes into consideration their age and the presence of their guardians. There are special courts, youth detention centers for the offenders who are still underage,” he said.
He added that investigators and judges also consider the age of the violator and apply the punishments and imprisonment decisions to match their age and their illegal acts.
Speaking about the difference from a legal perspective between the pranks that some people post on social media and what we see on television, Garoubs said that pranks on social media are different from those on TV as the latter present comedy shows.
“Legally, the two are different. The TV shows are subject to the regulations of the General Commission for Audiovisual Media while the violations posted on social media platforms are subject to the Anti-Cyber Crime Law,” he said.
Hasan Faleh Al-Nahsi, a Saudi social media influencer, said that some social media users make pranks to collect as many followers as they can.
“Some of them also think that it is a means to please their followers, and that has become a phenomenon on social media. However, people should be aware that these activities are unlawful. Awareness campaigns should also be conducted to warn social media users against the negative impact of these illicit activities,” Al-Nahsi told Arab News.
According to Khaled Al-Zahrani, a specialist in psychology, social media platforms, including Twitter, TikTok and many others, have attracted various segments of society of both genders and different age groups for different reasons.
“Many young and adult social media users have found these social media applications a place to seek fame and even an income. For these reasons, these users sometimes tend to talk about controversial issues or tackle them in a funny way. Their goal is to gain followers and increase the view numbers of the materials they produce or publish,” Al-Zahrani said.
Al-Zahrani said that these people’s legal knowledge about cybercrimes is limited. They may also be unaware of the society’s cultural background, and this is perhaps because they are exposed to different sources of cultures and information and they think such things are accepted in Saudi society.
“These people are controlled by the rules of the social media platform they are using, which they will be penalized for in case they violate them,” he said.
In the case of others, Al-Zahrani said, some of those who produce prank content may be trying to market themselves as comedians. “However, the goal is money,” he said.
JUBAIL: Young Saudis will receive training in advanced technologies, including robot and game programming, at a “digital carnival” kicking off in Jubail Industrial City on Sunday.
The five-day carnival at Al-Fanateer Cultural Center is organized by the Lifelong Learning Committee of the Royal Commission for Jubail, in cooperation with the Tuwaiq Academy, under the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones.
The digital carnival is in line with the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan, which seeks to qualify one programmer for every 100 Saudi citizens by 2030.
Saad Al-Harbi, Head of the Lifelong Learning Committee in Jubail Industrial City
It aims to inspire and train young people in modern technologies, hone professionals’ technical skills, and implement technical programs for Jubail Industrial City residents.
Saad Al-Harbi, head of the Lifelong Learning Committee in Jubail Industrial City, said that the digital carnival is in line with the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 in digital transformation, which seeks to qualify one programmer for every 100 Saudi citizens by 2030.
• The five-day carnival at Al-Fanateer Cultural Center is organized by the Lifelong Learning Committee of the Royal Commission for Jubail, in cooperation with the Tuwaiq Academy, under the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones.
• Training programs and technical events will be available for all age groups, along with activities to help improve the tech capabilities of the next generation through Tuwaiq Academy programs.
It also falls in line with the Human Capability Development Program, and the concept and objectives of learning cities, the most prominent of which is creating an educational community, expanding the use of modern learning technologies, and contributing to sustainable development and entrepreneurship.
Training programs and technical events will be available for all age groups, along with activities to help improve the tech capabilities of the next generation through Tuwaiq Academy programs for juniors and professionals.
Al-Harbi said that the junior section will offer seven training programs: The ABCs of programming, artificial intelligence, robot programming, digital manufacturing, game programming, mobile application programming, and cybersecurity.
The professional section will offer four programs: Understanding the internet and website programming, building applications, building websites, and an introduction to interface design and user experience.