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Yemen’s Houthi rebels attack Saudi Aramco facility

The Yemeni Iran-backed Houthi militia has recently intensified cross-border drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia…reports Asian Lite News

Yemen’s Houthi militia on Monday announced that launched a long-range missile towards a large Saudi Aramco oil facility in the city of Jeddah.

“The attack targeted oil company Saudi Aramco’s distribution station in Jeddah,” Houthi-run al-Masirah TV reported citing the militia’s military spokesman Yahya Sarea as saying in a statement.

“The attack was in response to the blockade imposed by the Saudi-led coalition on Yemen,” Sarea said.

“We call on foreign companies to move away from Saudi vital facilities because they are on our target list,” he added in the statement.

Saudi Arabia is yet to comment yet on the alleged attack, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Yemeni Iran-backed Houthi militia has recently intensified cross-border drone and missile attacks on Saudi Arabia.

Most of the drones and missiles had been foiled by the Saudi-led coalition.

Yemen has been mired in a civil war since late 2014 when the Iran-backed Houthi militia forced the internationally-recognized government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi out of the capital Sanaa.

The Saudi-led Arab coalition intervened in the Yemeni conflict in 2015 to support the Hadi government.

Also read:Saudi to boost economy with a new national investment strategy

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Lee suggests ensuring affordable vaccines

In his address to the ongoing 12th G20 Summit, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has put forward two suggestions on what member countries could do together, the media reported on Sunday.

The first suggestion is to ensure affordable and equitable access to vaccines, Xinhua news agency quoted The Straits Times report as saying.

Lee said that he was glad the G20 had advanced vaccine multi-lateralism by backing global initiatives such as the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator and the Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility.

He also said that Singapore will continue to work closely with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations to accelerate vaccine development and enhance long-term pandemic preparedness.

The second suggestion is to strengthen global disease surveillance networks so that the world will be better prepared for the next pandemic.

Lee said that the effectiveness of such networks depends on countries investing in their domestic surveillance and response capabilities as well as on their willingness to share information with one another.

Besides, he said that Singapore stands ready to support the G20 in its endeavours to reinvigorate multilateralism, and to create a fair, predictable and stable international order, which will allow every country, big and small, to grow and prosper.

Singapore is an invited guest country to the G20 summit this year.

Also Read-French Prez Calls For United Response To Pandemic

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Saudi to boost economy with a new national investment strategy

Saudi Arabia has announced that it will launch a national investment strategy next year, according to a state media report.

Saudi Minister of Investment Khalid Al-Falih revealed in Riyadh at a media briefing ahead of the Group of 20 (G20) Leaders’ Summit that the strategy grants full ownership rights to Saudi and foreign investors, Xinhua news agency quoted the report as saying.

Despite a global pandemic, Saudi Arabia was not distracted from its strategy and Vision 2030, he said.

“In fact, we doubled down on it. We accelerated our reforms. We continued to diversify our economy, and commit our resources to make sure that Vision 2030 is not derailed by the Covid-19,” the Minister added.

He said that the strategy would ensure an increase in investment opportunities and involves the establishments of industrial cities and various economic zones.

The strategy will cover different sectors, including tourism, culture, sports, industries, Artificial Intelligence, technologies and health.

Also Read: G20 Summit: Saudi Calls For Equitable Access To Vaccines

Also Read: UAE lauds Saudi Arabia ahead of G20 summit

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G20 Summit: Saudi Calls For Equitable Access To Vaccines

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud at the opening remarks of the 2020 G20 Summit said: “We have a duty to rise to the challenge together during this summit and give a strong message of hope and reassurance to our peoples through adopting policies to mitigate this crisis.”

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on Saturday urged the G20 leaders to work towards fair and affordable access to COVID-19 vaccines, the Arab News reported.

King Salman was speaking during his opening remarks at the 2020 G20 Summit in Riyadh on Saturday. The Summit is being held virtually due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic on November 21-22, chaired by King Salman.

“Although we are optimistic about the progress made in developing vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics tools for COVID-19, we must work to create the conditions for affordable and equitable access to these tools for all peoples,” the official Saudi Press Agency quoted King Salman as saying.

“I am confident that the Riyadh Summit will deliver significant and decisive results and will lead to adopting economic and social policies that will restore hope and reassurance to the people of the world,” he said.

G20 Leaders’ family photo

“We have a duty to rise to the challenge together during this summit and give a strong message of hope and reassurance to our peoples through adopting policies to mitigate this crisis.”

According to Arab News report, the King said that the 20 largest global economies had contributed $ 21 billion to confronting COVID-19 and “took extraordinary measures to support our economies by injecting over $11 trillion to support individuals and businesses.”

Green development

Top European Union (EU) officials have called on leaders of the Group of Twenty (G20) to advance actions more ambitiously to build a more sustainable future, although the primary focus of the upcoming G20 Summit is believed to be fighting the pandemic.

At a joint press conference European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen underscored the urgency and vital importance of tackling climate change, urging G20 partners to commit to the full and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement.

“The threat of climate change is no less urgent today than yesterday,” said Michel.

He advocated World Trade Organization (WTO) reform to make international trade policies greener as well as development of common standards for “green bonds” that mobilize savings for green investments, Xinhua reported.

“The European Union has started work on this. And we believe the G20 should urgently address the global issue of green finance,” Michel said.

Calling it “a big step forward”, von der Leyen noted that half of the G20 members, such as Japan, China, South Korea or South Africa, are already committed to achieving climate- or at least carbon neutrality by 2050 or soon after.

As an ambitious climate target announced in September, China aims to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.

“Alongside fighting climate change, we need to focus global efforts on protecting our nature and addressing the alarming loss of biodiversity we see around the world,” von der Leyen noted.

She stressed the need of an ambitious global agreement at the next UN Biodiversity Conference in Kunming, China, in 2021, arguing that the increasing pressure on nature and wildlife is a major factor behind the rise of zoonotic diseases, and “it is a fertile breeding ground for future pandemics.”

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Trump will participate in virtual G20 Summit

US President Donald Trump

The White House announced that US President Donald Trump will participate in the virtual G20 Summit on Saturday and Sunday, as global leaders were trying to stem the raging Covid-19 pandemic.

Although the White House confirmed the President’s participation on both days of the Summit, information about which events he would attend was not immediately clear, The Hill news website reported.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman will chair the Summit, which was originally set to take place in Riyadh but had to be moved to a virtual format due to the pandemic.

This Summit will be the one of Trump’s last appearances with other world leaders before he is slated to leave the White House on January 20, 2021, after losing the November 3 presidential election to his Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

Major media outlets have projected Biden as the winner of the November 3 presidential election after he won more than the 270 electoral votes needed to secure victory.

Trump, who claimed that the election was a fraud, is yet to concede and was also mounting challenges in court over allegations of vote count misconduct.

The Summit also comes as the overall number of global coronavirus cases has surpassed the 57 million mark, while the deaths have surged to more than 1.36 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

In its latest update on Saturday, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload and death toll stood at 57,441,503 and 1,371,241, respectively.

The US is the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 11,908,395 and 254,383, respectively, according to the CSSE.

File photo of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (Xinhua/Ahmed Gomaa/IANS)

Addressing reporters at the Rose Garden on Friday, Trump said that his administration will not advocate a national lockdown to stem the spread of coronavirus despite the alarming resurgence, The Hill news website reported.

On similar lines, Biden has also said that he would not implement a national lockdown to get the pandemic under control.

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Saudi confident in executing full G20 agenda

The G20 brings together some of the largest economies, which account for about 85 per cent of the global GDP, to discuss the most challenging socioeconomic global issues. Saudi Arabia, the only Arab member of the group, assumed the presidency of the G20 in December 2019…reports Asian Lite News

Fahad Almubarak, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State and sherpa of Saudi G20, has said that the kingdom is able to execute the full agenda as the G20 presidency amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are honoured to hold the G20 presidency for this year. We had a very busy year and held over 100 meetings of deputies and ministers,” Almubarak told a media briefing in the capital Riyadh, ahead of the G20 Leaders’ Summit, which will be held virtually on November 21 and 22 and chaired by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

The G20 brings together some of the largest economies, which account for about 85 per cent of the global GDP, to discuss the most challenging socioeconomic global issues. Saudi Arabia, the only Arab member of the group, assumed the presidency of the G20 in December 2019.

With exceptional challenges posed by the global Covid-19 pandemic this year, the Saudi G20 presidency hosted a historic Extraordinary Virtual Leaders’ Summit on Covid-19 on March 26, followed by a series of ministerial meetings to tackle the Covid-19 crisis and mitigate its impacts, Xinhua reported.

This extraordinary Summit resulted in swift and unprecedented actions to protect lives, livelihoods and the most vulnerable, including an injection of a total of 11 trillion US dollars into the global economy, according to a G20 statement released on Monday.

The statement also highlighted the 21 billion dollars spent at the outset of the crisis in supporting the health systems and the hunt for a vaccine, and the 14 billion dollars in debt relief for the world’s most vulnerable nations in a move to ensure their ability to focus all resources available on fighting the pandemic.

The upcoming G20 Leaders’ Summit will set the foundations for a more inclusive, resilient, and sustainable recovery from the Covid-19 crisis, the G20 statement noted.

“2020 is an exceptional year. Covid-19 has taken the world off guard, and the whole world’s economy went into a real pause,” said Majid Al Qasabi, Saudi minister of commerce and acting minister of media, at the media briefing.

Under the theme of “Realizing Opportunities of the 21st Century for All,” this year’s G20 Leaders’ Summit seeks to “deepen global cooperation,” a separate G20 statement said.

According to the statement, the upcoming Summit will focus on three major topics: Empowering people by creating the conditions in which all, especially women and youth, can live, work and thrive; Safeguarding the planet by fostering collective efforts to protect natural resources; Shaping new frontiers by adopting long-term and bold strategies to share the benefits of innovation and technological advancement.
“But there is much more to do,” the statement noted.

Also Read: Saudi Gears Up To Host G20 Summit

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GCC chief denounces Houthi terrorist acts

These attacks are a flagrant violation of international laws and norms, and constitute a threat to the security and stability of the GCC states and the region, he said…reports Asian Lite News

Dr. Nayef Falah Al Hajraf, Secretary-General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC, has condemned the Houthi militia’s continued terrorist acts in a systematic and deliberate manner to target civilian objects and civilians in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, by launching booby-trapped drones.

These attacks are a flagrant violation of international laws and norms, and constitute a threat to the security and stability of the GCC states and the region, he said, stressing that the security and stability of the GCC countries are indivisible.

Al Hajraf reiterated the GCC stand by Saudi Arabia and support the measures it takes to preserve its security, stability and the safety of its citizens and expatriates on its lands.

He called on the international community to stand firmly against the Houthi militia and those behind it in its continuous attempts to destabilise security and peace of the region.

Also read:UAE reiterates need to leverage Israel peace accord in Middle East

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Saudi to allow Umrah for foreign pilgrims from Sunday

The latest development comes after Mecca’s Grand Mosque on October 4 reopened its doors to the first group of pilgrims performing Umrah after six months of Covid-19 restrictions…reports Asian Lite News

Saudi Arabia will allow foreign pilgrims, between the age of 18 and 50, to enter the country to perform ‘Umrah’ (the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca) starting from Sunday onwards, the media reported.

This move marks the third phase of the gradual relaxation of Umrah services, reports Gulf News.

According to the precautionary measures and preventive protocols issued by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, pilgrims will be required to remain in quarantine for three days upon their arrival in the wake of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Under these regulations, pilgrims must possess a PCR medical test certificate showing that they are Covid-19 negative, issued not more than 72 hours from the time of taking sample until the time of departure to the Kingdom, the Saudi Okaz newspaper said in a report.

The latest development comes after Mecca’s Grand Mosque on October 4 reopened its doors to the first group of pilgrims performing Umrah after six months of Covid-19 restrictions.

As part of its measures to combat the pandemic, Saudi Arabia had suspended the Umrah pilgrimage and prayers in mosques in mid-March, reports Arab News.

The Kingdom also halted international flights and implemented a lockdown.

As of Sunday, Saudi Arabia has reported a total of 335,997 coronavirus cases and 4,850 deaths.

Also read:Saudi steps up Umra pilgrims to 75% capacity

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UNRWA applauds Saudi Arabia’s support for Palestinian Refugees

UNRWA also praised the decades-long strategic relationship with Saudi Arabia …Reports Asian Lite News

Commissioner-General of United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Philippe Lazzarini has commended the generous support that UNRWA receives from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia represented by King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief),continues supporting Palestinian refugees in various countries worldwide.

This came in message addressed to KSrelief where the Commissioner-General also extended thanks to Saudi Arabia, represented by KSrelief, for its support and vital role that had a great impact on Palestinian refugees.

He also praised the decades-long strategic relationship between Saudi Arabia and UNRWA and looking forward to further cooperation between the two sides.

Also read:Saudi Begins Campaign to Host Asian Games 2030

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G20 Tourism Ministers mull over post-Covid revival plan

In a joint statement, the Ministers highlighted the role of tourism as a means to achieve sustainable socio-economic development…Reports Asian Lite News

G20 Tourism Ministers held a meeting where they discussed a revival plan for the tourism sector, one of the worst-hit by the global coronavirus pandemic, it was reported on Thursday.

The virtual meeting on Wednesday was chaired by Saudi Arabia, which holds the presidency of the G20 this year.

In a joint statement, the Ministers said that during the meeting, they highlighted the role of tourism as a means to achieve sustainable socio-economic development; promoted recovery of
the travel and tourism sector and realize its potential to drive faster economic recovery post health crisis; and further develop the sector as a key and resilient industry, contributing to the global economy and generating decent work.

Due to the pandemic, the tourism sector suffered severe setbacks, after many countries banned international travel or imposed other restrictions.

The global health crisis led to anticipated 60-80 per cent decline in international tourism in 2020.

Last year, the sector had contributed to 10.3 per cent of the world’s GDP, 330 million jobs and also accounted for 28 per cent of global service exports.

The Ministers also pledged to work together to “support those most impacted by the crisis within the sector, including micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, and developing economies that rely on travel and tourism, especially in Africa and small island states”, the statement said.

They also welcomed the progress that has been made in tourism initiatives during the Saudi Arabia’s tenure, “including global commitments made in response to the pandemic, the progression of inclusive community development through tourism, and the advancement of safe travel”

Also read:Asian Lite Daily Digital – Saudi To Host Virtual G20 Summit in November