The Saudi Cabinet has welcomed statements from the Arab Coalition Supporting Legitimacy in Yemen calling for restraint and to open a dialogue over the developments in the temporary capital of Yemen in Aden. Chaired by King Salman, the Cabinet also praised the coalition’s call on the Yemenis to work jointly with the coalition to complete liberation of Yemeni lands from the Iranian-backed Houthi militias and to avoid partition, discord and the undermining of state institutions in the conflict. The Cabinet further welcomed the coalition’s demand to all Yemeni parties to stop fighting immediately and to focus on the key objectives, notably restoration of legitimacy, security and stability, and to resolve all issues through available political mechanisms.
The Cabinet, chaired by King Salman, on Tuesday reaffirmed the statement issued by the emergency meeting of the Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo and their condemnation of all terror acts committed by Iran and its continued interference in the internal affairs of the Arab countries. The Cabinet meeting, which was held at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh, also stressed that Iran should refrain from supporting groups that fuel sectarian conflicts, notably in the Arab Gulf states, and to stop funding militias and armed parties in the Arab countries. The Cabinet also stressed the Kingdom’s continued stance at the UN on the Palestinian issue. The Cabinet said the Kingdom will vote in support of a decision to allow the Palestinian people to keep their permanent sovereignty in the occupied Palestinian lands, including Eastern Al-Quds; to support the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan to exploit their natural resources; and to support the Palestinian people to regain their usurped lands and reject Israeli policies, which do not respect international laws and norms.
China supports Saudi Arabia’s efforts to safeguard national sovereignty and achieve greater development, President Xi Jinping told Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, at a time of regional tensions between Saudi Arabia, Iran, Lebanon and Yemen. China has traditionally played little role in Middle East conflicts or diplomacy, despite its reliance on the region for oil. But it has been trying to raise its profile, with Salman visiting China in March. Speaking by telephone, Xi told Salman that China’s determination to deepen strategic cooperation with Saudi Arabia will not waver, no matter how the international and regional situation changes, China’s Foreign Ministry said late on Thursday. Remarking on the importance of maintaining close communication between the two countries’ heads of state, Xi said China and Saudi Arabia are comprehensive strategic partners whose strategic mutual trust is deepening.
King Salman has set up a new cyber authority to protect information technology networks, systems and data, and improve online security for companies and individuals. The National Cyber Security Commission will be linked to the office of the king and will boost the cybersecurity of the state and protect its vital interests, national security and sensitive infrastructure. Al-Aiban said the commission would be the competent authority for cybersecurity, and aimed to maintain the privacy of all vital data of the state, individuals and companies in the private and public sectors. He said it would protect networks, IT systems, operating systems, hardware and software components, services and data, taking into account the increasingly vital importance of cybersecurity in the life of individuals and the community. The new commission will provide a platform for young Saudis, both men and women, to take part in the national effort to strengthen cybersecurity, DNJ Technologies Chief Executive Othman Al-Robaish told Arab News.
The forthcoming visit of King Salman to Moscow will open new areas of cooperation with Russia and the two countries will reap mutual benefits as a result of such cooperation. Member of the Shoura Council Fayez Al-Shehri said King Salman’s visit to Russia comes within the framework of bolstering relations with the one of the biggest countries of the world. He said Russia agrees with the political trends of the Kingdom in many fields, notably terrorism and finding a solution to the Yemen crisis, and other global issues. Shoura Council member Maj. Gen. Ali Al-Tamimi told Arab News that Saudi Arabia under King Salman, being the leader of the Islamic world and an important member of the G-20, will open a new chapter not only in Saudi-Russian relations, but also in combating terror in the world. There are a lot of expectations during this historic visit especially in the oil sector, he said, hoping that the visit will benefit the two countries. The head of the Council of Saudi Chambers, Ahmed bin Sulaiman Al-Rajhi, said that the visit aims to promote and develop economic and trade relations between the Kingdom and the Russian Federation and he foresees brighter prospects for the two countries because of the strong bilateral relations. He hoped to see increases in the contribution of the private sector in both countries to the level of strategic relations between them, and pave the way for the diversity of vital areas in favor of the Saudi and Russian economies. Al-Rajhi will lead a team of 100 Saudi businessmen to Russia to strengthen economic cooperation between the two countries in accordance with Vision 2030. The program of the Saudi businessmen will also include several meetings with the Russian business community and Russian officials to discuss ways of boosting economic relations; developing trade and investment partnerships; holding bilateral meetings between businessmen from both sides; reviewing the latest developments in the economic situation; creating a conducive business environment; and identifying important investment opportunities available in the Kingdom and Russia, Al-Rajhi said.
Saudi women are now allowed to issue fatwas following a vote in the Shoura Council. The historic move was approved by 107 votes and ends 45 years of only specialist men being able to issue fatwas in the Kingdom. The female muftis are to be chosen by a royal decree. The Shoura Council approved the recommendation, made by one of its members, during its 49th meeting, calling on the General Presidency of Scholarly Research and Ifta, the only governmental body authorized to issue fatwas in the Kingdom, to open independent sections for women. Women members of the Council last March had demanded that the issuing of fatwas should not be limited to men, through the involvement of female academies specialized in the study of jurisprudence in issuing fatwas.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman continued his push to improve women’s rights in the Kingdom this week, calling on the interior minister to draft a law criminalizing sexual harassment. The announcement came just days after the decree lifting the ban on women drivers. The interior minister has been given 60 days to draft the new sexual harassment law enforcing penalties on perpetrators, according to Saudi daily Okaz.It continues by noting the “importance of passing a law that criminalizes it [sexual harassment] and outlines the necessary penalties that categorically prohibit such acts and deter anyone who feels tempted to commit them”. A 2014 study revealed that nearly 80 percent of women aged 18-48 said they had been exposed to some form of sexual harassment. And the problem appears to not be going away. Canada’s Institute for International Research, revealed that the Kingdom had seen an 11.4 percent increase in sexual harassment rates in 2016, compared to 2014.
Saudi Arabia on Tuesday said it would allow women to drive in the Kingdom, in the latest move in a string of social and economic reforms underway in the country. King Salman issued the decree, according to a royal court statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA). The royal decree will implement the provisions of traffic regulations, including the issuance of driving licenses for men and women. The decree orders the formation of a ministerial body to give advice on the practicalities of the edict within 30 days and to ensure the full implementation of the order by June 2018. The move was announced on television and also by the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The decree referred to the “negative effects of not allowing women to drive vehicles, and the positive effects envisaged from allowing them to do so” within the context of Islamic laws. The prohibition is considered a social issue in the Kingdom, as there is no actual law or religious edict that prohibits it. For years, the topic has been the center of extensive debate in government, media and social circles.