Monthly Archives For November 2017

‘Historical Nights of Jubbah’ — a new touristic destination in Saudi Arabia

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Wed, 2017-11-08 19:39

HAIL: The “Live Saudi Arabia” program, launched by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), has created a number of trips from Hail city to Jubbah in Hail province to encourage people to attend the “Historical Nights of Jubba” event and learn about the city’s rock art (petroglyphs), Jabal Umm Sinman and Jubbah’s civilization and growth.

The event, organized by SCTH in Hail, created several temporary career opportunities in the crafts, handicrafts and productive families’ pavilions.

Many families from Jubbah and surrounding villages display their products during the event at 15 pavilions.

“The Historical Nights of Jubbah event is a good opportunity to introduce the heritage of Jubbah and the petroglyphs found in the city, promote social conscience and strengthen citizens’ love for their homeland,” said the director general of SCTH’s branch in Hail, Faisal bin Khaled Al-Madani.

“This is achieved through educating the youth on their homeland’s accomplishments and different cultures as well as building cognitive and personal capacities; instilling positive values in the hearts and minds of the youth; encouraging them to play a part in introducing their country to the world; and introducing them to their country’s heritage,” he continued.

He pointed out that such tourism events aim to benefit the local community, which is the key driver of tourism activities, and he praised the efforts of the municipality of Jubbah, the Social Development Committee of Jubbah and all private sector partners.

The “Historical Nights of Jubba” event was organized by SCTH in Hail in conjunction with the first Saudi Antiquities Forum and in collaboration with the municipalities of Hail and Jubbah, the Tourist Development Council, and the committees of social and tourism development in Jubbah.

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Saudi Arabia is a dynamic country with a high volume of trade with EU

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Wed, 2017-11-08 21:39

RIYADH: Visiting European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan said on Wednesday that there is a positive trend to develop businesses with the Kingdom since it is a growing and dynamic country, which has recorded a high volume of trade with the EU.
Hogan was speaking to Saudi businessmen on “Doing Business in the Saudi Arabian Agri-food sector” at the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry during a business event chaired by its chairman, Ahmed Al-Rajhi.
The visiting minister met GCC Secretary-General Abdul Latif bin Rashid and Minister of Water, Environment and Agriculture, Abdul Rahman Al-Fadli on Wednesday. The meeting was also attended by EU Ambassador to the Kingdom Michele Cervone D’urso.
Hogan is currently leading a 40-member EU delegation to promote quality food and beverage products from Europe.
Speaking on the occasion, Hogan said that Saudi Arabia is a dynamic country whose population is 32 million and many of them are young and urban. “We believe that this growing generation of consumers will be happy to choose our high-quality EU food and agricultural products,” he said, pointing out that EU agri-food exports to Saudi Arabia had increased from €1.5 billion to €4.6 billion between 2009 and 2016.
Describing Saudi consumers, Hogan said they are well informed and demanding, and the delegation wants to tell them how safe and healthy EU products and the raw materials that are supplied to the Kingdom from EU countries are.
“From farm to fork, at each stage of the food production chain, the EU sets a series of rules to ensure that our 500 million citizens enjoy the safest food in the world.”

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Conserving archaeological and cultural heritage is part of Vision 2030, King Salman says

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Thu, 2017-11-09 03:00

RIYADH: Conserving Saudi Arabia’s archaeological and cultural heritage is a part of Vision 2030, and the Kingdom is proud to be the birthplace of inspiration and the cradle of civilization, King Salman said on Wednesday.
In a speech delivered on the king’s behalf at the first Saudi Antiquities Forum, Prince Faisal bin Bandar, the governor of Riyadh, praised a Saudi archaeological expedition that has toured 11 museums in Europe, the US, China and South Korea.
The exhibition, called Saudi Archaeological Masterpieces Through the Ages, features 466 rare archaeological pieces presenting Saudi Arabia’s cultural heritage and civilization.
The governor honored 140 Saudis who have donated archaeological pieces to the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH), revealed new archaeological locations and cooperated in maintaining the Kingdom’s cultural heritage.
He also presented the Abdul Rahman Al-Ansari awards to recipients who had best served Saudi heritage and antiquities.
It is named after Abdul Rahman Al-Ansari, the pioneer of archaeology in the Kingdom and the doyen of Saudi archaeologists. He was the first Saudi to study archaeology at the University of Leeds. Under his supervision, generations of Saudi archaeologists graduated. He led various archaeological surveys and explorations in different regions of the Kingdom for more than half a century. He was also involved in the first Saudi prospecting unit at Al-Faw village of Wadi Ad-Dawaser.
The Riyadh governor also honored groups participating in archaeological excavations in the Kingdom.
“Saudi Arabia holds the key to solving many mysteries of the prehistoric era due to its geographic location, which provided a gateway for early human migrations from East Africa to the ancient world’s continents,” Dr. Al-Abbas Sayed Ahmed of the University of Dongola, Sudan, told a scientific conference at the antiquities forum.
“Until recently, the Arabian Peninsula remained outside the world archaeology map due to historical circumstances that led to the scarcity of work in this field.”
Experts also discussed the depth of Saudi Arabia’s history, and referred to a collection of ancient rock carvings that reflect the evolution of human civilizations and their lifestyles.
Dr. Robin Engels, Professor of Archaeology at the University of York, said that although Saudi Arabia was the junction of ancient trade routes, only a few of the rock carvings and pictographs had been studied. “The southwestern region housed many pictographs that can help us understand ancient man’s passage to Africa,” he said.
Abdulrazzaq Al-Maamari, professor of Archaeology at King Saud University, presented a research paper in which he discussed how rock art provided evidence that ancient man crafted and used nets.
Robert G. Bednarik, the Australian prehistorian and cognitive archaeologist, said: “The carvings and drawings on rocks can be viewed and discussed using radioactive carbon and colors in order to discover the dates and information they convey.”
Dr. Majeed Khan, an archaeologist at the SCTH, presented photos of rock art found in different parts of Saudi Arabia, the most modern of which are 900 years old. They show that ancient man’s clothing was made of animal skin and not much different from that of modern man, which provides evidence that Saudi Arabia were a center for human activities in the ancient world and not merely a route for trade and convoys.
Dr. Zulfiqar Ali Kalhoro, an anthropologist at the University of Islamabad, spoke about how Saudi civilizations reached East Asia, and said identical rock drawings of Arab camels had been found in both Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

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Muslim World League chief lauds Saudi Arabia for opposition to extremism

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Thu, 2017-11-09 03:00

RIYADH: The secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL), Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, said on Wednesday that Saudi Arabia has established itself as “an international platform to fight extremist ideas” and that the Kingdom has put into place “strong and effective procedures” to prevent the funding of terrorism.
Al-Issa — who is also the Kingdom’s minister of justice — was speaking to a high-level diplomatic delegation from Belgium headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Derek Ashton, in the presence of Belgian Ambassador to the Kingdom, Geert Criel.
Al-Issa briefed the delegation on the MWL’s own efforts to combat extremism, support moderation and strengthen cultural ties among people, stressing the League’s adoption of programs that promote civilized communication between the Islamic World and those with different political, religious, intellectual and cultural views, in accordance with its new vision.
He described the League as “a global umbrella for Islamic people that promotes the principles and values of peace, forgiveness, co-existence, and humanitarian cooperation.”
Al-Issa discussed June’s meeting in Makkah — organized by the MWL — of Islamic community leaders from around the world. The historic meeting, he said, resulted in an important report ascertaining that the League promotes religious, intellectual and cultural awareness and positive integration among Muslim minorities, and rejects extremism.
Al-Issa explained that while terrorists and extremists come from different intellectual and religious backgrounds, and some have no link to religion at all, they have unfortunately chosen Islam to be “the umbrella for their crimes that have nothing to do with religion.”
For his part, the Belgian deputy foreign minister praised the League’s new vision, its transparent approach and its efforts to support cultural integration programs.

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$500m deals signed at Saudi investment forum

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SIRAJ WAHAB | Arab News Staff
Thu, 2017-11-09 02:22

JEDDAH: King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC) signed agreements worth SR2 billion ($533 million) with various companies on the sidelines of the Time Forum on Wednesday.
Time Forum is a platform where KAEC’s leaders can meet with partners from ministries, government agencies, the private sector and other interested parties.
More than 300 investors and leaders from business and government attended the forum, including representatives from international organizations, including the Young Professionals’ Organization (YPO) and a delegation of global leaders interested in the development of major global infrastructure projects.
KAEC’s new deals include an agreement with the General Customs Authority and the Economic Cities Authority (ECA) to establish a deposit and re-export zone in KAEC; an agreement to establish an auto-racing circuit at Lagoona and Marina Dreams; an agreement to establish a gas station; and an agreement to expand the Industrial Valley.
In addition, deals were signed in the real estate development, tourism and leisure, and administrative services sectors.
Time Forum was held under the patronage of Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) Gov. Ibrahim Al-Omar.
In his address to the attendees, Al-Omar said: “Under Vision 2030, we are creating new growth engines in strategic sectors including transport, health care, ICT, renewable energy, and local manufacturing to drive greater economic diversification in the Kingdom.
“KAEC, which combines a strategic location, strong national and international connectivity, and a robust private-sector mindset, is an important part of our vision for the future.
“KAEC is one of the main development engines in the region and is witnessing rapid growth in a range of promising sectors such as infrastructure, services and facilities.
“The interaction and turnout of local, regional and international companies at the Time Forum shows the strength and attractiveness of the Saudi economy.”
Fahd Al-Rasheed, managing director and chief executive officer of KAEC, presented KAEC’s strategic vision, as well as its latest developments and achievements.
Al-Rasheed emphasized the important role that the Saudi government has played in the success of KAEC through its emphasis on the development of the non-oil economy.
He stressed the value of the public-private partnership model in attracting investors to the promising opportunities offered by KAEC.
Al-Rasheed also highlighted the key role played by the economic city in generating quality employment opportunities for young Saudis.
“At KAEC, we need to focus on the creation of jobs. That is our primary driver. Everything we are doing aligns with Vision 2030,” he said. “The vision is telling us where we are heading and what our pivot should be.”
Speaking to Arab News later in the day, Al-Rasheed revealed KAEC had launched new projects that offered investment opportunities worth more than SR7 billion.
“These are the investments that we are offering to the private sector to develop either entirely on their own or in partnership with us,” he said.
“These are opportunities that we want to develop and we will make sure that every investment we are offering today is delivered and developed.”
Al-Rasheed explained that, so far, KAEC had funded a number of different projects in their entirety but was now looking to establish partnerships with investors because “we believe that, ultimately, a city is built by hundreds of entities.”
He revealed that KAEC had already signed two hotel development deals, including one yesterday, along with “other real estate deals, such as compounds.”
Mohanud Helal, secretary-general of the Economic Cities Authority, said: “We take pride in KAEC’s achievements and we look forward to further growth in all developmental fields.
“Today, economic cities are among the social and economic pillars that attract large companies, embrace small and medium-sized enterprises, and provide residential solutions, career opportunities and modern lifestyles to meet people’s aspirations and the leadership’s ambitions.
“Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman recently highlighted that the government is working with KAEC on 45 programs, showing the enormous support given by the Kingdom’s government to the private sector, which strengthens KAEC’s position on the national economic map.”
SAGIA chief Ibrahim Al-Omar declared that the Kingdom is “the hub of Arab and Islamic countries,” adding that since the launch of Vision 2030, the number of investment licenses SAGIA has issued is up 40 percent compared to last year.
“Investment is the major theme of the vision,” he said. “To increase foreign direct investment in our economy and to increase the contribution of the private sector.”
Talking of SAGIA chief Al-Omar’s focus on facilitating ease of investment in the Kingdom, Al-Rasheed told Arab News, “SAGIA is responsible for the investment environment in Saudi Arabia. We work with them because SAGIA can be a great enabler for us to attract global companies to KAEC.”
Al-Rasheed stated that he had told Al-Omar that KAEC was willing to offer considerable incentives to investors, including “the provision of free office space for five years, education and travel costs for their children, as well as subsidized accommodation.”
“We want to accelerate investment in the city. We have done this already in Industrial Valley, attracting 120 companies,” Al-Rasheed continued. “We believe that with partners we will do things faster and bigger.”

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Refugees flee to Zambia, accusing DR Congo troops of killings

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Thu, 2017-11-09 06:17

NCHELENGE, Zambia: Recounting horrific stories of rape and murder allegedly by government soldiers, thousands of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo have sought safety on the Zambian side of Lake Mweru.
About 6,000 Congolese residents have fled across the border since late August, triggering an emergency response from the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) which has struggled to provide basic food rations and shelter.
DR Congo’s huge eastern region has long been wracked by violence, but fighting between government soldiers and militia groups, as well as inter-ethnic clashes, has increased this year.
The UNHCR said that the unrest had caused the largest influx into Zambia for the past five years, with many refugees blaming DR Congo President Joseph Kabila’s troops for the worst of the violence.
“I witnessed an incident where one pregnant woman was raped, her stomach ripped open and the baby killed before they killed her,” Kaimba Kazili, 39, a former subsistence farmer, told AFP at the Kenani transit camp in Nchelenge, northern Zambia.
“It is not safe to live in Congo any more because government soldiers are killing people,” she said.
On her journey to the camp, Kazili gave birth to triplets Ari, Kalangila and Kanaila — two boys and a girl — who were born on August 20, before she finally arrived in Zambia on September 14.

“It was not an easy thing but luckily we found a man driving a minibus who gave us a lift,” said Kazili, originally from the Kivu region of DR Congo.
The triplets were shown to Zambian President Edgar Lungu when he visited the camp last week accompanied by UNCHR officials and reporters.
But Lungu had an uncompromising message for the refugees.
“You have run away from lawlessness, so don’t bring lawlessness here,” he told them.
“We have laws which should be obeyed by everyone. If we jail you, when you finish your jail, we will send you back to Congo.”
Despite Lungu’s harsh words, Pierrine Aylara, the UNHCR head in Zambia, told the president that she wanted “to applaud your hospitality toward those displaced by war and conflict.”
For those in the camp, the only priorities have been the safety of their lives and getting enough to eat.
“Thank God that we all arrived safely as a family with my husband and all the four children,” said Mauno Rukogo, 42.
“I will never go back to Congo because war is tough. Kabila’s government was supposed to protect citizens but is killing its people.”
Rukogo said she had been repeatedly displaced inside DR Congo, where the eastern region has been roiled by conflict for more than two decades, before she fled to Zambia on September 9.
The UNCHR said the refugees have fled inter-ethnic violence and clashes between the army and myriad militia groups, particularly in Haut Katanga and Tanganyika provinces since end of August.
Earlier this year, security worsened sharply in the Pweto area of Haut Katanga, which shares a border with Zambia.
Many refugees said that they feel safer in Zambia but that food rations were scarce and children were not getting enough to eat.
“We are also asking for medical clinics for the children,” Rukogo added, with rampant malaria and diarrhea posing major health problems.

The UNHCR has set up tents and grass-thatched shelters at the 56-hectare (140-acre) site, as well as sunk two boreholes and nearly 300 pit latrines.
An agency official said that they provide 400 grams of maize (14 ounces) and 60 grams of rice a day for each family, as well as other food supplies.
“I saw my wife be killed by government troops and I only just managed to run away with my three children,” said Minga wa Minga, a 40-year-old school teacher.
“I had to keep going until I found some Congolese heading to Zambia,” he added.
“The UN have described the situation as a humanitarian crisis but let them do something to stop Kabila from destroying the country.”
Kabila failed to step down after his second and final term last December.
Elections were re-scheduled for this year, but have now been announced for December 2018.
DR Congo’s military spokesman in Kinshasa could not be reached for comment on the refugee’s accusations.

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US expected to name North Korea terror sponsor

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Thu, 2017-11-09 04:20

WASHINGTON: It will have to wait until President Donald Trump has finished his tour of Asian capitals, but the United States is expected to return North Korea to its list of state sponsors on terror.
In itself, the designation will not have much practical impact on a pariah state already facing an array of US and international sanctions and intense diplomatic pressure.
But the imminent decision marks another turn of the screw as Washington ratchets up rhetoric designed to convince Kim Jong-Un he will not win his latest nuclear stand-off.
It will also add Pyongyang to a very exclusive list. Only Iran, Syria and Sudan are still blacklisted as terror sponsors, and Sudan is expected to be relieved of the title soon.

Trump’s spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said Wednesday that no decision will be made before the president returns from his Asia trip, on which he is rallying opposition to Pyongyang.
This would imply no sooner than November 15 after the Southeast Asian summit, but for some in Washington that is already late.
While the White House has been mulling a decision on the designation since coming to office in January, in July Congress passed a bill demanding an answer by October 31.
Lawmakers have been chivvying the State Department for a ruling since then, but officials privately argue Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson needed time to consult allies.

The United States and North Korea have been enemies since the 1950 to 1953 war that split the peninsula between the communist North and the westward-leaning South.
In 1988, Pyongyang was added to the US list of state sponsors of terror after Korean Air Flight 858 exploded in midair on a flight between Baghdad and Seoul in November 1987.
Some 115 people were killed and a North Korean agent later confessed to the bombing.
In 2008, then US president George W. Bush’s administration removed North Korea from the list as an incentive to join a round of negotiations on its nuclear program.
Those talks eventually failed and, since Kim Jong-Un took over as dictator from his late father Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs have made rapid progress.
Foreign policy hawks in Washington now want to tag the North again, citing in particular Pyongyang’s presumed implication in the murder of Kim’s older brother and rival, Kim Jong-Nam.
The elder Kim died in February after suspected agents of his brother’s regime sprayed a nerve agent in his face in an airport in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
“North Korea was removed from the list in 2008 in part because Pyongyang had promised to end its nuclear weapons program, another promise the Kim regime did not keep,” said Anthony Ruggiero, a sanctions expert with the Federation for Defense of Democracies.
“The determination should make it easier for the Trump administration to draw a line with countries, noting that continued business with Pyongyang aids a state sponsor of terrorism.”

All signs point to Trump deciding that North Korea deserves to return to the list.
“The president’s cabinet is looking at this as part of the overall strategy on North Korea,” National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told reporters last week.
“But a regime who murders someone in a public airport using nerve agent and a despotic leader who murders his brother in that manner, that’s clearly an act of terrorism that fits in with a range of other actions, so this is something that’s under consideration. You’ll hear more about that soon.”
In addition to the assassination, US officials have been infuriated by the death of Otto Warmbier, a young US student who was arrested in North Korea for a petty offense and held for more than a year before he was released in a comatose state.
Warmbier died, aged 22, shortly after his unconscious body was flown home and, although North Korea claimed he had contracted botulism in detention, Trump has since alleged that he was tortured in custody.

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Trump receives elaborate welcome in China

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The Associated Press
Thu, 2017-11-09 03:00

BEIJING: President Donald Trump has received an elaborate welcome on his state visit to China. Chinese President Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng) treated Trump to a grand display of Chinese hospitality in the courtyard outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
Children waved US and Chinese flags and jumped wildly. A Chinese honor guard played the national anthems of both countries, and Trump and Xi walked along red carpets to review the troops. At one point, Trump started clapping for the kids.
US first lady Melania Trump and Xi’s wife, Peng Liyuan (puhng LEE’-yoo-en), also attended the ceremony.
The ceremony opens a day of meetings and business events between Trump and Xi that will culminate in a lavish state dinner in Trump’s honor.

North Korea is responding to President Donald Trump’s tough words in Asia by saying the US should oust him from power.
State-run media in North Korea is referring to Trump as a “lunatic old man.” It says the US should force Trump out “to get rid of the abyss of doom.”
It says the US should heed its advice “if it does not want a horrible nuclear disaster and tragic doom.”
Trump is in China, where he is expected to ask President Xi Jinping to do more to pressure North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program.
Before arriving in China on Wednesday, Trump told the South Korean National Assembly that “all responsible nations must join forces to isolate the brutal regime of North Korea.”

President Donald Trump’s visit to China has opened with diplomatic niceties aplenty from Chinese President Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng), but thorny issues await the two world leaders behind closed doors.
Among them are potential tensions over trade and China’s willingness to put the squeeze on North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.
Before his arrival, Trump issued a stern message to Beijing, using an address to the National Assembly in South Korea to call on nations to confront the North.
White House officials said Trump would make the same pitch to Xi in private when the two sit down together Thursday.
China is North Korea’s largest trading partner and Trump is expected to demand that the nation curtail its dealings with Pyongyang and expel North Korean workers from its borders.

President Donald Trump says his welcome to Beijing was “unforgettable.”
Trump thanked Chinese President Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng) on Twitter on Wednesday. He said: “THANK YOU for an unforgettable afternoon and evening at the Forbidden City in Beijing.” Trump added: “We are looking forward to rejoining you tomorrow morning!“
Trump is on a two-day visit to China. He hopes to press the rising Asian power on trade and North Korea.
The ceremony accompanying the US president’s arrival Wednesday afternoon was elaborate even by China’s lavish standards. Trump and his wife, Melania, were met by Chinese and American dignitaries, soldiers, a band playing martial music and children waving miniature Chinese and American flags.

President Donald Trump’s granddaughter Arabella Kushner has once again played a bridging role in US-China diplomacy.
China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported that Trump played a video of Arabella reciting ancient Chinese poetry and verses from the Confucian text the “Three Character Classic” to Chinese President Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng) after they met at the Forbidden City ancient palace complex in Beijing on Wednesday.
Xi responded that Arabella’s Chinese deserved an “A-plus.”
Earlier this year, a brief video clip of Arabella singing in Chinese circulated to strong approval on the Internet in China. The clip posted by Trump’s daughter Ivanka showed then 5-year-old Arabella singing best wishes for the holiday while playing with a traditional Chinese puppet.
Ivanka Trump and daughter Arabella also made a surprise visit to the Chinese Embassy in Washington in February to participate in Chinese New Year festivities.

President Donald Trump says he’s having a “great time” in China.
Trump commented after he and first lady Melania Trump took in a music-and-dance performance Wednesday in the Forbidden City by young opera students dressed in ornate traditional Chinese costumes.
They were joined by their hosts, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife, Peng Liyuan (puhng LEE’-yoo-en). US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Terry Branstad, the US ambassador to China, are among US officials taking in the performance.
The show is part of an elaborate welcome Xi has planned for Trump that will extend into Thursday.
After the show, the youngsters shouted “Welcome to China! I love you.”

China is pulling out all the stops for Donald Trump’s airport arrival in Beijing.
The ceremony accompanying the US president’s arrival Wednesday afternoon was elaborate even by China’s lavish standards.
Trump and his wife, Melania, were met by Chinese and American dignitaries, soldiers, a band playing martial music and children waving miniature Chinese and American flags.
As Trump’s motorcade pulled away, the children jumped up and down while they waved and chanted.
The US president and first lady appeared pleased, smiling and accepting flower bouquets, with Trump at one point throwing his arms open and appearing to exclaim, “Wow.”

President Donald Trump is touring the sprawling Forbidden City compound in the heart of Beijing.
The 15th century compound was the imperial palace for several dynasties. Access was forbidden to all but the imperial family and those who had business with them.
Trump, Chinese President Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng) and their wives walked through the Gate of Supreme Harmony and gazed across a sprawling yet deserted courtyard. They all wore overcoats against the chill. After a guide explained the sites, the couples walked down a flight of stairs and into the courtyard.
They posed for photos, strolled toward the Palace of Supreme Peace and climbed another long flight of stairs.

President Donald Trump will push China on trade and North Korea during a two-day visit in which he will alternately cajole, flatter and scold the rising Asian power.
White House aides view Trump’s visit to China as the centerpiece of his lengthy tour of the region. Trump is mired in consistently low approval ratings at home and will encounter a newly emboldened Chinese President Xi Jinping (shee jihn-peeng), who recently consolidated power in his country.
Before arriving in Beijing, Trump used a speech to South Korea’s National Assembly to send China a stern message.
He called on China to stop supporting North Korea, China’s largest trading partner.
Trump said “all responsible nations” must unite to isolate North Korea for its aggressive development of nuclear weapons.

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US tightens travel rules to Cuba, blacklists many businesses

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The Associated Press
Wed, 2017-11-08 03:00

WASHINGTON: Americans seeking to visit Cuba must navigate a complicated maze of travel, commerce and financial restrictions unveiled Wednesday by the Trump administration, part of a new policy to further isolate the island’s communist government.
Now off-limits to US citizens are dozens of Cuban hotels, shops, tour companies and other businesses included on a lengthy American blacklist of entities that have links to Cuba’s military, intelligence or security services. And most Americans will once again be required to travel as part of heavily regulated, organized tour groups run by US companies, rather than voyaging to Cuba on their own.
The stricter rules mark a return to the tougher US stance toward Cuba that existed before former President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro restored diplomatic relations in 2015. They come as President Donald Trump tries to show he’s taking action to prevent US dollars from helping prop up the Cuban government.
Still, the policy is only a partial rollback of Obama’s changes. Cruise ship visits and direct commercial flights between the countries will still be permitted. Embassies in Washington and Havana stay open.
The rules are designed to steer US economic activity away from Cuba’s military, intelligence and security services, which dominate much of the economy through state-controlled corporations. The goal is to encourage financial support for Cuba’s growing private sector, said senior Trump administration officials, who briefed reporters on a conference call on condition they not be quoted by name.
To that end, the Treasury Department said it is expanding and simplifying a license that allows some US exports to Cuba despite the embargo. They include tools and equipment to build or renovate privately owned buildings.
“We have strengthened our Cuba policies to channel economic activity away from the Cuban military and to encourage the government to move toward greater political and economic freedom for the Cuban people,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.
Trump announced his new policy in June during a speech in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, the cradle of Cuban-American resistance to Castro’s government. The administration took several months to finalize the details of the new rules, which will take effect Thursday.
The new policy maintains several categories of travel to Cuba that are permitted despite the embargo, which carries on decades after the Cold War’s end. Americans can still travel on educational and “people to people” trips as well as visits designed to support the Cuban people by patronizing privately owned small businesses that have popped up across the island in recent years.
But those traveling to support Cuba’s people must have a daylong schedule of activities designed to expose them to Cubans and steer dollars toward citizens, such as renting rooms in private homes. Those on organized, “people to people” or educational visits must be accompanied by a representative of the US-based group organizing the trip.
There was no immediate reaction from Cuba’s government. But the rules were quickly denounced by travel groups and proponents of closer US ties to the island.
“Cuba is still open for business,” said Charel van Dam of the Cuba Travel Network. “It is still possible for people to travel, but I think these announcements will serve mainly as something to scare off people who want to visit.”
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, a vocal advocate of improved US-Cuban relations, noted the announcement came as Trump was in China pushing more US business engagement with another communist-run country. “The hypocrisy of the White House ideologues is glaring,” Leahy said.
The rules come amid deep strains in the US-Cuba relationship stemming from invisible, unexplained attacks that have harmed more than two dozen US government personnel in Havana since 2016. The attacks led the Trump administration to order most of its diplomats to leave Cuba in September and issue a sweeping travel warning urging Americans to stay away.
Officials insisted that the new, tougher rules had no connection to the attacks. The US first complained to Cuba’s government about the attacks in February, four months before Trump announced his broader policy intentions.
Some exceptions will accommodate Americans who already plan to visit Cuba. Those who booked “people to people” trips before Trump’s June announcement will be exempt, along with Americans who organized education trips before the rules start on Thursday. Business deals already reached with entities on the prohibited list will be allowed to proceed.
It’s unclear how aggressively the US will police the new rules. Officials said they would use information obtained from several US agencies to catch violators, who could be subject to penalties and criminal prosecution.
The blacklist bars business with the large military-run corporations that dominate the Cuban economy. These include GAESA and CIMEX, holding companies that control most retail business on the island; Gaviota, the largest tourism company; and Habaguanex, which runs Old Havana.
It also targets a new cargo port and special trade zone outside the city of Mariel that has been the focus of Cuba’s efforts to draw foreign investment in manufacturing and distribution.
Blacklisted hotels include the Manzana Kempinski, which opened with great fanfare this year as Cuba’s first to meet the international five-star standard.
The overall impact on American business with Cuba will likely be limited. Trade is sparse. Many American travelers already stay at hotels not on the no-go list, and the company that imports most American food products to Cuba is similarly unaffected.
Bringing home limited quantities of rum and Cuban cigars is still allowed, officials said.

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Saudi delegation participates in symposium on regional security, transnational crimes

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Wed, 2017-11-08 21:22

RIYADH: A Saudi delegation participated in an international symposium on regional security and transnational crimes in Taiwan that exchanged ideas on modern threats and security issues.

The two-day symposium was organized by the Investigations Bureau of the Taiwan’s Ministry of Justice in Taipei, said Muhammad Khurram Khan, a professor of cybersecurity at King Saud University, who represented KSU in the international symposium attended by experts from 33 countries.

Khan, who just returned from Taiwan, told Arab News on Wednesday that the main objective of this symposium was to discuss and exchange ideas and knowledge about modern threats, crimes and security issues in the region that could undermine the overall security of nations.

Khan said: “This conference was very important to create harmony and dialogue against emerging global security challenges.”

He further stated that networking and information exchanges with other attendees of this conference will enable the Kingdom to enhance skills and approaches to address different facets of terrorism and crimes across borders.

The government of Taiwan invited over 155 foreign scholars, law-enforcement agents, political representatives, think-tanks and senior officials from 33 countries to attend this symposium for exchanging ideas and creating synergy in curbing transnational crimes.

Recommendations from the symposium underlined that the criminal groups and terrorist organizations that use modern science and technology, social media, cyberspace and other resources, have seriously threatened national and regional stability, and should be dealt with seriously.

In addition, global law enforcement agencies must take steps and adopt modern strategies to effectively control emerging cross-border crimes and combat international terrorism, both in the physical space or cyberspace.

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