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India’s Haj quota raised to 2 lakh, women get special focus

The Haj Committee official stated that the decision was made after extensive and thorough consultation with the Saudi Arabia Government’s Haj ministry…reports Asian Lite News

The Haj Committee of India (HCoI) has decided to allow two lakh pilgrims to perform the sacred pilgrimage from India with special focus on women.

With the increase in Haj quota, the number of pilgrims from Jammu and Kashmir will also be more compared to previous years. for the Haj 2023, the Good Morning Kashmir reported.

Official announcement in this regard will be made shortly. This is for the first time that two lakh Indian Muslims will perform Haj 2023.

Member HCoI, Er Aijaz Hussain said that HCoI after thorough consultations with the Saudi Arabia Government’s Haj ministry, has decided to allow two lakh pilgrims from India for the Haj 2023.

“The Haj quota has been increased and for the year 2023, two lakh pilgrims will perform the holy pilgrimage. In Haj 2023, special focus will be on women pilgrims,” the Good Morning Kashmir report quoted Er Aijaz as saying that.

Asked whether the J&K will also have an enhanced Haj quota, Er Aijaz said that the number of pilgrims from UT will obviously be more than the previous years given increase in Haj quota.

He said it was after hectic efforts by the HCoI that the Haj quota for India was increased to two lakh. “We are also working to make Haj 2023 cheaper and smooth compared to previous pilgrimages,” Er Aijaz said.

He said that HCoI has already decided to ensure more embankment points to facilitate pilgrims in a friendly manner. “Pilgrims will have a choice to choose the embankment points of their choice,” he said. He said that in Haj 2023, special focus will also be on women pilgrims. “Earlier, many women aspiring to go for Haj without ‘mehram’ faced a lot of issues. We will address their issues and allow them to perform the Haj smoothly,” Er Aijaz said.

Union Minority Affairs Minister Smriti Irani Chairs Haj Review Meeting (HRM) for review preparation of Haj 1444(H) – 2023.

Reliable sources in the HCoI said that it was after a series of meetings in Mumbai and New Delhi followed by the brainstorming sessions where feedback taken by the pilgrims from various parts of the country was discussed and strategies formed to plug the loopholes. They said that in the upcoming Haj, pilgrims will be facilitated in a more efficient manner.

Pertinently, after the resumption of Haj in 2022 after two years of break due to Covid pandemic, only 80,000 Indian Muslims performed Haj. All of them had to undergo Covid vaccination and take along the vaccination certificate as part of mandatory documents.

Sources said that in Haj 2023, pilgrims will be also allowed to bring sacred water called ‘Zam Zam’ without any hassle or hindrance. “Each pilgrim will be allowed to bring 5 kg Zam Zam. HCoI will fully facilitate the process of providing Zam Zam water to each pilgrim,” he said—(KNO)

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-Top News China Saudi Arabia

Xi Cements Ties With Saudi Arabia

King Salman and President Xi Jinping signed a comprehensive strategic partnership agreement and stressed the importance of expanding relations to set an example for developing countries….reports Asian Lie News

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud yesterday received Chinese president Xi Jinping in Riyadh during his official visit to the Kingdom.

During the meeting, which was held at Al-Yamama Palace in the presence of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, they reviewed “the historical friendship” between Riyadh and Beijing, and ways to enhance them in various fields, Saudi Press Agency reported.

The meeting culminated with the signing of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Agreement between King Salman and President Xi.

The Chinese president arrived in the Kingdom on Wednesday for a three-day visit where he will attend Saudi, Arab and Gulf summits aimed at bolstering relations and investment with China.

In a separate meeting, the crown prince welcomed Xi Jinping for an official reception ceremony at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh. Chinese President expressed his thanks and appreciation for the hospitality and good reception he and the accompanying delegation received.

The crown prince and President Xi held a session of official talks, during which they reviewed aspects of partnership between both countries, and joint coordination efforts to enhance cooperation in various fields in line with their vision.

They have also discussed opportunities to invest available resources in order to achieve common interests, in addition to discussing regional and international developments and the efforts exerted in this regard, it was reported.

During the meeting, both leaders have also witnessed the exchange of a number of bilateral agreements and memorandums of understanding.

First deal was a harmonisation plan between the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative.

The second one was a memorandum of understanding in the field of hydrogen energy. It was exchanged from the Saudi side by Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Minister of Energy, and from the Chinese side by Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) He Lifeng.

They also signed an agreement for cooperation and judicial assistance in civil, commercial and personal status matters. It was exchanged from the Saudi side by Minister of Justice Dr. Waleed bin Mohammed Al-Samaani, and from the Chinese side by State Councillor and Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi.

A memorandum of Understanding in the field of encouraging direct investment was signed and exchanged by Saudi Minister of Investment Eng. Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al-Falih, and Chinese Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao.

Later, a ceremony was held to award President Xi an honorary doctorate in administration from King Saud University.

President of King Saud University Dr. Badran Al-Omar has announced the decision of the University’s Council to award the certificate in recognition of the achievements of President Xi and his great efforts in management and leadership, and in gratitude for the thriving relationship and continuous cooperation between the two friendly countries.

Later the crown prince also held a luncheon banquet in honour of the Chinese President.

‘New Era’

The two sides also stressed that holding China-GCC summit and Arab- Chinese summit is of particular importance in light of the current international situations, and affirmed their support for ” China-Arab community with a shared future in the new era” initiative.

Furthermore, they commended the important role of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum in promoting collective cooperation between China and Arab countries, and expressed their willingness to participate in building and developing the Forum.

They also stressed the importance of joint action to strengthen strategic partnership relations between the GCC States and China, conclude a free trade agreement between the GCC and China, and work towards holding GCC-China Meeting of Ministers of Economy and Trade 6 + 1 between GCC and China.

Regarding bilateral relations, the two sides stressed the importance of continuing to expand Saudi-Chinese relations in their international framework, and setting an example of cooperation, solidarity, and mutual gain for developing countries.

The Saudi side congratulated China on the success of convening the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. In addition, the Chinese side congratulated the Kingdom for the great achievements made in the field of national development within the framework of Vision 2030.

ALSO READ: Anti-China protests blur Beijing’s influence in South Asia

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UAE-Saudi mediate high-profile US-Russia prisoner swap

The mediation secured the release of US basketball star Brittney Griner who had been held in Russia since February….reports Asian Lite News

In a major development, Washington and Moscow have conducted a prisoner swap, exchanging US basketball star Brittney Griner for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, held in an American prison for 12 years.

The exchange has happened after a successful mediation led by UAE President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman with US and Russian governments.

In a joint statement, the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia said the success of the mediation efforts was a reflection of the mutual and solid friendship between their two countries and the US and Russia.

They also highlighted the important role played by the leaderships of two countries in promoting dialogue between all parties.

The statement confirmed that Abu Dhabi received American citizen Brittney Griner yesterday by private plane from Moscow, after the Russian authorities released her, in conjunction with the reception of Russian citizen Victor Bout on a private plane from Washington, after the US authorities released him, in the presence of specialists from the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Both US and Russia claimed their citizens, in preparation for transfer to their countries.

The UAE and Saudi Arabian foreign ministries expressed the thanks of their respective governments to the governments of both countries for their cooperation and response.

Griner, the 32-year-old championship-winning player with the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury who for years played for a Russian basketball team in the WNBA’s off-seasons, had been held in the country since February after she was arrested on drug possession charges at a Moscow airport, reports CNN.

Meanwhile, Bout, popularly known as the “merchant of death”, has reached Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed in a statement on Friday.

US President Joe Biden’s administration had proposed a prisoner exchange in July, the BBC reported.

Thursday night’s elaborate swap involved two private planes bringing Griner and Bout to Abu Dhabi airport from Moscow and Washington, and then flying them home.

Footage on Russian state media showed them crossing on the tarmac with their respective teams.

Speaking in the Oval Office, Griner’s wife Cherelle praised the efforts of the Biden administration in securing her release and said: “I’m just standing here overwhelmed with emotions.”

Also addressing the media at the Oval Office, President Biden said that “she’s safe. She’s on a plane. She’s on her way home”.

“After months of being unjustly detained in Russia, held under intolerable circumstances, Brittney will soon be back in the arms of her loved ones, and she should have been there all along.

“This is a day we’ve worked toward for a long time. We never stopped pushing for her release,” he said.

President Joe Biden.(photo:Instagram)

Biden thanks UAE

Biden also thanked the UAE “for helping us facilitate Brittney’s return”.

“I’m glad to say Brittney’s in good spirits… she needs time and space to recover,” he added.

Bout’s release comes after Biden signed an order for his release, commuting his 25-year jail term, in a direct swap for Griner.

In remarks to the media after landing in Moscow, Bout said that “in the middle of the night they simply woke me up and said ‘Get your things together’ and that was it”, reports the BBC.

Bout’s lawyer, Alexei Tarasov, told Russian media that from the start the US wanted two of its citizens –Griner and former marine Paul Whelan — returned, and the Foreign Ministry in Moscow complained that “Washington categorically refused to engage in dialogue”.

Bout sold arms to warlords and rogue governments, becoming one of the world’s most wanted men.

His secretive career was brought to an end by an elaborate US sting operation in 2008, when he was arrested at a hotel in Bangkok.

He was extradited two years later and has spent the past 12 years languishing in an American jail for conspiring to support terrorists and kill Americans.

Meanwhile Whelan, who continues to be imprisoned in Russia since 2018 on spying charges, told CNN that he was “greatly disappointed” more had not been done to free him, as he had carried out no crime.

“I don’t understand why I’m still sitting here,” he said.

ALSO READ: US climate envoy hails holding COP28 in UAE

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-Top News Saudi Arabia USA

US court dismisses lawsuit against Saudi crown prince

During the court filing, the State Department expressed misgivings about Khashoggi’s murder in its determination last month that Crown Prince Mohammed was legally immune…reports Asian Lite News

A US judge, on Tuesday (local time) dismissed the lawsuit against Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

This statement came after US President Joe Biden’s administration recommended that the crown prince be granted immunity in the case, CNN reported. It is pertinent to mention that Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi was a dissident Saudi journalist who was killed at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

The case was brought against Arabia’s crown prince by Khashoggi’s fiancee, according to CNN.

During the court filing, the State Department expressed misgivings about Khashoggi’s murder in its determination last month that Crown Prince Mohammed was legally immune, according to The Hill.

“In making this immunity determination, the Department of State takes no view on the merits of the present suit and reiterates its unequivocal condemnation of the heinous murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” the department said.

Judge John Bates said in an opinion that despite his “uneasiness,” the US government told the DC District Court that Prince Mohammed bin Salman is immune since he also holds the title of prime minister and so he is “entitled to head of state immunity,” according to the CNN.

That unease was not only due to the prince’s involvement in Khashoggi’s murder, the judge wrote, but also the timing of his appointment as prime minister of Saudi Arabia. Bin Salman, known as MBS, was only made Prime Minister – and therefore the technical head of the government – in late September in what observers saw as a ploy to secure the head of government immunity in the lawsuit brought by Hatice Cengiz and Khashoggi’s advocacy group DAWN.

Bates noted the “suspicious timing” of the prince’s appointment and the plaintiffs’ argument that until now, only the king was the country’s prime minister, CNN reported.

“A contextualized look at the [Saudi] Royal Order thus suggests that it was not motivated by a desire for bin Salman to be the head of government, but instead to shield him from potential liability in this case,” Bates wrote.

Earlier, Biden, who went to Saudi Arabia in July this year, raised the issue of Khashoggi during his meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and said that he believed the Saudi leader was responsible for the US-based journalist’s death.

“I raised it at the top of the meeting, making it clear what I thought of it at the time and what I think of it now,” Biden said in a speech after hours of meetings with the Saudi Crown Prince in Jeddah. (ANI)

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Arab News Saudi Arabia

NEOM announces Sindalah as its first luxury island destination

Extending over an area of approximately 840,000 square meters, Sindalah, is one of a group of islands that will be developed in NEOM, each according to its unique vision and design…reports Asian Lite News

His Royal Highness Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince, Prime Minister and Chairman of the NEOM Company Board of Directors, has announced the development of Sindalah, the first luxury island destination in NEOM and one of the most important projects supporting Saudi Arabia’s national tourism strategy.

A main gateway to the Red Sea offering bespoke nautical experiences, Sindalah is expected to start welcoming guests to enjoy its exquisite facilities and exclusive offerings from early 2024. It is anticipated that the development will create 3,500 jobs for the tourism sector and hospitality and leisure services.

Extending over an area of approximately 840,000 square meters, Sindalah, is one of a group of islands that will be developed in NEOM, each according to its unique vision and design.

His Royal Highness said: “This is another significant moment for NEOM and a major step in the Kingdom realizing its tourism ambitions under Vision 2030. Sindalah will be NEOM’s first luxury island and yacht club destination in the Red Sea, providing a scenic gateway to the Red Sea that will become the region’s most exciting and attractive tourism location. It will be a destination where travelers can experience the true beauty of NEOM and Saudi Arabia, above and below the water, making Sindalah the future of luxury travel.”

Adding to NEOM’s growing tourism offerings, Sindalah will reshape the luxury international yachting calendar offering a new season for visitors and guests to enjoy. It will feature a prestigious 86-berth marina, an ideal destination for accommodating luxury vessels, while offshore buoys will house superyachts. Providing one-of-a-kind nautical experiences, Sindalah will offer 413 ultra-premium hotel rooms, in addition to 333 top-end serviced apartments. A luxe beach club, glamorous yacht club, and 38 unique culinary offerings will provide an incomparable experience in the Red Sea.

With its incredible array of amenities, state-of-the-art marine facilities, strategic location and exceptional natural landscapes, Sindalah is expected to become established as one of the most alluring islands in the Red Sea.

Building on its ability to design new tourism opportunities from the ground up, NEOM is working with world-class leisure and hotel brands to make Sindalah an exclusive and glamorous destination in the Red Sea for the world’s yachting community. NEOM is developing the island to be a premium destination surrounded by a stunning and diverse marine environment which has one of the world’s most beautiful coral reserves.

Sindalah is also expected to become a popular golfing destination by offering enthusiasts the opportunity to experience a world-class 6,474-yard (5,920 meters) par 70 course. With its 18 tees, the Sindalah golf course will deliver two unique nine-hole experiences.

The announcement of Sindalah affirms the accelerated pace in the development of NEOM towards achieving the ambitious vision of His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, with the development of its flagship projects such as THE LINE, its designs recently revealed by His Royal Highness the Crown Prince; TROJENA, its global mountain tourism destination that will be the Arabian Gulf’s first outdoor skiing retreat; and OXAGON, its reimagined manufacturing and innovation city. All NEOM projects are aligned to redefine the way humanity lives and works in harmony with nature.

ALSO READ-NEOM launches ‘THE LINE’ exhibition in Jeddah

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-Top News Arab News Saudi Arabia

King Salman declares holiday to celebrate victory

Following the team’s shock win, Saudi Arabia manager Herve Renard said that sometimes “things completely crazy can happen”….reports Asian Lite News

Saudi Arabia has declared a holiday on Wednesday after its football team’s stunning victory over two-time champions Argentina in a Group C clash at Lusail stadium on Tuesday, local media reported.

“King Salman orders that tomorrow, Wednesday, will be a holiday for all employees in public and private sectors as well as for students in all phases of education, in celebration of #SaudiArabia’s stunning victory against Argentina in #WorldCup2022,” Saudi Gazette, an English language daily in Saudi Arabia, said in a tweet.

Saudi Arabia broke Argentina’s 36-match unbeaten streak, including winning the Copa America 2021. The world no.51 team started their World Cup campaign with a momentous win.

Saudi Arabia stunned two-time champions Argentina 2-1 in a group C FIFA World Cup tie played here at the Lusail stadium.

Following the team’s shock win, Saudi Arabia manager Herve Renard said that sometimes “things completely crazy can happen”.

“Congratulations to these fantastic players. I decided to come to this country three and a half years ago and since this time I have had the management, an amazing president and the ministry of sport always behind us,” Renard was quoted as saying by Sky Sports.

“Even when we visit our prince two, three weeks ago he did not put any pressure on us. This is the way you have to work in football because when you are putting too much pressure it is not working all the time.”

“We prepared very well and today all the stars in the sky were in the same line for us. But do not forget Argentina are still a fantastic team. They came here without losing lose any game in 36 and they are South American champions.”

“They have amazing players, but this is football. Sometimes things completely crazy can happen. Have a good celebration during 20 minutes and that is it. There are still two games – or more – for us,” concluded the manager.

Argentina got off to a great start as Lionel Messi converted a penalty in the 10th minute to give his side a 1-0 lead. Playing in his fifth World Cup, Messi beat Saudi Arabia’s goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais to find the net.

The second half was a different story altogether as Saudi Arabia came with a new vigour with Saleh Al-Shehri scoring a goal for them to level the score 1-1. Al-Shehri squeezed in a low shot into the nets.

Five minutes later the Saudis took the lead as Salem Al-Dawsari tapped in a goal in the 53rd minute.

Despite a lot of possession after conceding the goal, the two-time champions were unable to level the score. Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais made many important saves and their defence also stood tall in the match’s dying moments.

Abdulelah Al Amri was awarded the ‘Player of the Match’ award for his brilliant performance. (ANI)

ALSO READ: Saudi Arabia shocks Messi’s Argentina with 2-1 win

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Saudi Arabia Sport

Saudi Arabia shocks Messi’s Argentina with 2-1 win

The Argentines also had three goals ruled out for offside as they went into half-time with a 1-0 lead…reports Asian Lite News

Saudi Arabia stunned two-time champions Argentina 2-1 in a group C FIFA World Cup tie played here at the Lusail stadium.

Argentina got off to a great start as Lionel Messi converted a penalty in the 10th minute to give his side a 1-0 lead. Playing in his fifth World Cup Messi beat Saudi Arabia’s goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais to find the net.

The Argentines also had three goals ruled out for offside as they went into half-time with a 1-0 lead.

The second half was a different story altogether as 51st-ranked team Saudi Arabia came with a new vigour with Saleh Al-Shehri scoring a goal for them to level the score 1-1. Al-Shehri squeezed in a low shot into the nets.

Five minutes later the Saudis took the lead as Salem Al-Dawsari tapped in a goal in the 53rd minute to give them a crucial 2-1 lead.

Despite a lot of possession after conceding the goal, the two-time champions were unable to level the score. Saudi’s goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais made many important saves and their defence also stood tall in the match’s dying moments.

Abdulelah Al Amri was awarded the ‘Player of the Match’ award for his brilliant performance.

Lionel Scaloni’s Argentina came into the FIFA World Cup 2022 as one of the favourites. Saudi Arabia broke Argentina’s 36-match unbeaten streak, including winning the Copa America 2021.

The two-time champions had 69 per cent of possession in comparison to Saudi Arabia who had only 31. There were six shots on target for Argentina in comparison to Saudi who had just two.

The Argentines will face Mexico on Saturday in their next group C match, while Saudi Arabia will take on Poland (ANI)

ALSO READ: FIFA revenue expected to break records

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-Top News Arab News Saudi Arabia

Saudi eases visa rules for Indians

Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) will no longer be a requirement for Indian citizens to obtain a visa for travelling to Saudi Arabia, reports Asian Lite Newsdesk

Owing to strong ties and strategic partnership with India, Saudi Arabia on Thursday announced the exemption of Indian nationals from submitting a Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) to obtain a visa for travelling to Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi Embassy in New Delhi tweeted on its official handle and said that the PCC will no longer be a requirement for Indian citizens and the decision has been taken as a part of the efforts of the two countries to strengthen their relations further, ANI reported.

“In view of the strong relations and strategic partnership between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the Republic of India, the Kingdom has decided to exempt Indian nationals from submitting a Police Clearance Certificate (PCC), the Saudi Embassy in New Delhi wrote on Twitter.

In a statement issued on Thursday via social media, the Saudi Embassy made the announcement and appreciated the contribution of over two million Indian citizens living in the country.

“The PCC will no longer require Indian citizens to obtain a visa for travelling to Saudi Arabia. This decision has been taken as a part of the efforts of the two countries to strengthen their relations further. The Embassy appreciates the contribution of over two million Indian citizens living peacefully in the Kingdom,” the statement read.

India-Saudi Arabia relations have strengthened considerably over the past few years including in political, security, energy, trade, investment, health, food security, cultural and defence fields.

The top leadership of both countries remained in close touch even during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Earlier in September, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar visited Saudi Arabia during which he reviewed all aspects of India-Saudi Arabia bilateral relations and discussed regional and global issues.

During the EAM’s visit, several areas were identified for further enhancing bilateral cooperation such as food security, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, the defence industry and entertainment.

India hails Saudi move

The Indian mission in Saudi Arabia has welcomed Riyadh’s decision to exempt Indian nationals from submitting a Police Clearance Certificate (PCC) to obtain a visa for the country.

“Embassy of India welcomes this announcement and thanks Government of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its decision to exempt Indian Nationals from submission of Police Clearance Certificate (PCC). It will provide much needed relief to over 2 million strong Indian community in KSA,” the Indian mission in Saudi Arabia tweeted.

Earlier, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman was expected to make a state visit to India on his way to Indonesia for attending the G20 Summit in Bali on November 15 and 16, but it was cancelled, according to reports.

For India, cooperation with Saudi Arabia is important for several reasons. It is an important trade partner of India with bilateral trade rising to USD 27.48 billion in the financial year 2017-18, up from USD 25.1 billion in the preceding year. Since then the bilateral trade has continued to increase in an uninterrupted fashion. Saudi Arabia is India’s fourth largest trade partner (after USA, China and UAE) and a major source of energy as India imports around 18 per cent of its crude oil requirement and 22 per cent of its LPG requirement from the Kingdom.

In FY 2021-22, bilateral trade was valued at USD 42.8 billion. During the period, India’s imports from Saudi Arabia reached USD 34.01 billion and exports to Saudi Arabia were worth USD 8.76 billion registering an increase of 49.5 per cent over the previous year. Trade with Saudi Arabia accounted for 4.14 per cent of India’s total trade in FY 2021-22. Even the Covid-19 pandemic did not affect the trade much between the two countries.

Major commodities of export from India to Saudi Arabia include engineering goods, rice, petroleum products, chemicals, textiles, food products, ceramic tiles. Whereas, major commodities of import for India from Saudi Arabia are crude oil, LPG, fertilizers, chemicals, plastic and products thereof etc. Still there is a huge scope and potential for India to export in Saudi Arabia.

Apart from trade relations, the two countries have substantial investment interest in each other’s economy. Saudi Arabia is the 17th largest investor in India with investments amounting to USD 3.13 billion (March 2021). Major investments include PIF’s investments in Reliance Jio Platforms (USD1.5 billion to acquire a 2.32 per cent stake) and Reliance Retail Ventures Limited (USD1.3 billion to acquire a 2.04 per cent stake).

On the other hand, Indian investments in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have spiked in the recent years and have crossed USD 2 Billion. These investments are dispersed in diverse sectors such as management and consultancy services, construction projects, telecommunications, information technology, financial services and software development, pharmaceuticals, etc.

ALSO READ: Saudi Crown Prince postpones Pakistan trip

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-Top News Arab News Saudi Arabia

Saudi Crown Prince postpones Pakistan trip

Saudi diplomatic sources are also confirming the development. However, the government has not confirmed or denied it yet…reports Asian Lite News

Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Pakistan has been postponed which was scheduled to take place later in November.

Official sources told The Express Tribune that the Saudi crown prince’s visit to Asia has been delayed, therefore, his trip to Pakistan was also postponed. The Saudi prime minister will now go straight to Bali, Indonesia, where he will attend the G20 summit.

Saudi diplomatic sources are also confirming the development. However, the government has not confirmed or denied it yet.

The government of Prime Minister Shebhaz Sharif, which is facing multiple economic challenges, was keen to ensure the visit takes place as the Saudi crown prince was expected to announce another financial bailout package for Pakistan.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia sought additional $4.2 billion financial bailout package. He told reporters on Friday that Saudi Arabia had given a positive response to his request.

The MBS visit was seen as crucial as government was expecting some financial bailout package as well as revival of certain projects that were shelved during the PTI government.

The visit of MBS was being planned at a time when the coalition government led by Shehbaz is facing daunting economic challenges and when Saudi Arabia is involved in a diplomatic row with the US over the recent cut in oil supplies by major exporting countries.

ALSO READ: Pakistan eyes $13bn package from China, Saudi Arabia
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Arab News Saudi Arabia

Aramco announces $1.5bn Sustainability Fund

The fund plans to invest in technologies that support the Company’s announced net-zero 2050 ambition in its wholly-owned operational assets…reports Asian Lite News

Aramco today announced the creation of a $1.5 billion Sustainability Fund to invest in technology that can support a stable and inclusive energy transition. It was unveiled at the sixth edition of the Future Investment Initiative (FII) and is among the largest sustainability-focused venture capital funds globally.

Managed by Aramco Ventures, the venture capital arm of Aramco, the fund is an extension of the Company’s efforts to meet the world’s growing energy demand, with lower greenhouse gas emissions.

The fund plans to invest in technologies that support the Company’s announced net-zero 2050 ambition in its wholly-owned operational assets, as well as development of new lower-carbon fuels. Initial focus areas will include carbon capture and storage, greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency, nature-based climate solutions, digital sustainability, hydrogen, ammonia and synthetic fuels. The fund will target investments globally.

In addition, Aramco’s wholly-owned subsidiary Aramco Trading Company has participated in the first voluntary carbon credits auction organized by the Public Investment Fund (PIF). It follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Aramco and PIF earlier this year, to participate in a regional voluntary carbon market to be launched in Saudi Arabia in 2023.

Aramco Chairman, HYasir O. Al-Rumayyan, said: “Climate change is a critical issue, which is why sustainability is well-integrated in Aramco’s strategy and investment decisions. The Company is harnessing innovation and collaboration as it seeks long-term solutions to global energy challenges. By driving large-scale investments and building key domestic, regional and international partnerships, Aramco aims to enable a stable and inclusive energy transition that meets the world’s need for energy with lower emissions.”

Aramco’s ambition is to achieve net-zero Scope 1 and Scope 2 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across its wholly-owned operated assets by 2050. In June, the Company also announced  a set of interim targets that it aims to achieve by 2035, which are intended to reduce or mitigate net Scope 1 and Scope 2 GHG emissions across its wholly-owned operated assets by more than 50 million metric tons of CO2e annually, when compared to the business-as-usual forecast.

ALSO READ: Saudi signs 6 MoUs on FII conference Day 1