Saudi Arabia takes over G20 presidency from Japan

News Network
December 1,2019

Riyadh, Dec 1: Saudi Arabia became the first Arab nation Sunday to take over the G20 presidency as it seeks to bounce back onto the world stage following global uproar over its human rights record.

The oil-rich kingdom has promoted a liberalisation drive, including granting greater rights to women, but faced strong criticism over a crackdown on dissent and the murder last year of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The G20 presidency, which Saudi Arabia takes over from Japan, will see it host world leaders for a global summit in its capital next November 21-22.

"The kingdom of Saudi Arabia assumes the G20 Presidency today, leading up to the summit in Riyadh" in 2020, the official Saudi Press Agency said.

"The Saudi G20 presidency is committed to continuing the work from Osaka and promoting multilateral consensus." Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom's de facto ruler, hailed it as a "unique opportunity" to shape international consensus, SPA added.

Saudi Arabia will host more than 100 events and conferences in the run-up to the summit, including ministerial meetings, the agency said.

"When Saudi Arabia assumes the G20 presidency, it will become the first (Arab) nation to lead this intergovernmental body," Dennis Snower, president of the think-tank Global Solutions Initiative, said in a statement.

"This presidency... will be challenged by a central paradox: global risks like climate change, demographic developments, such as low birth rates, rising life expectancy and aging societies... but rising populism and nationalism are preventing progress at the multilateral level."

Rights groups have urged G20 member states to exert pressure on the kingdom over its intensifying crackdown on dissent, which has seen several women activists, journalists and political dissidents jailed.

Campaigners reported on Monday that Saudi Arabia had detained at least nine academics, writers and activists, the latest in a series of crackdowns on intellectuals over the past two years.

Activists say that some were subsequently released, but the detention of liberals -- in the midst of the much-hyped liberalisation drive -- underscores what observers call increasing repression and authoritarianism.

"Saudi Arabia steps up to the G20 presidency amid a new wave of arbitrary arrests of peaceful critics, with many human rights defenders still languishing behind bars, and just over a year since the horrifying killing of Jamal Khashoggi," Heba Morayef, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement.

"World leaders in the G20 must pressure Prince Mohammed to ensure the enjoyment of all human rights including freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly."

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Will Ramdev’s Patanjali bid for IPL title sponsorship after Vivo's exit?

News Network
August 10,2020

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Baba Ramdev's Patanjali Ayurved is considering bidding for the 2020 IPL edition following the sudden exit of Chinese smartphone maker Vivo, according to a report by media. 

"We are considering the IPL title sponsorship for this year, since we want to give the Patanjali brand a global marketing platform" Patanjali spokesperson S K Tijarawala told the publication.

According to the report, names of several high-profile companies like Jio, Amazon, Tata Group and Adani have been doing the rounds as potential candidates for the IPL sponsorship, which is expected to draw in big advertising numbers despite playing outside India owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vivo made a sudden exit from the 2020 IPL edition following an intense call to boycott Chinese products and strained Sino-India relations after the clash in Galwan Valley in East Ladakh, but may return in 2021 for a three-year period.

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Saudi Arabia says it has 'unprecedented plans' for Haj 2020

Agencies
July 22,2020

Dubai, Jul 22: Saudi Arabia's Minister of Haj and Umrah, Dr Muhammad Saleh Benten, has inspected the facilities and arrangement made for the Haj pilgrims in Makkah and the holy sites.

Speaking to the Saudi Press Agency after the tour, the minister said that the Saudi government has worked out unprecedented plans for the running of this year's Haj, enabling pilgrims to perform their rituals in ease and comfort.
 
This year's Haj, which has been scaled back dramatically to include only around 1,000 Muslim pilgrims as Saudi Arabia battles a coronavirus surge, will begin on July 29, authorities said Monday.

"The comprehensive, foolproof plans will be implemented by the security, health and service agencies. The plans include the provision of the best health services, and the most appropriate crowd control, strictly in line with the precautionary measures and preventive protocols, formulated by the Ministry of Health to ensure full safety of pilgrims from the coronavirus pandemic," Dr Benten said.

According to the Saudi Gazette, Benten emphasised the eagerness of the government of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to implement the Haj operation by following the highest health standards and precautionary measures in order to ensure the safety of the pilgrims.

Earlier, the minister inspected the arrangements and facilities for the reception and accommodation of pilgrims at Four Point Hotel in Makkah.

He was briefed by ministry officials with regard to receiving and accommodating pilgrims during the period from 4 to 8 of Dhul Hijjah before leaving for Mina.

Benten also visited the tents in Arafat and the facilities in Muzdalifah.

After that, his inspection tour visited the tent city of Mina, where he viewed one of the towers designated for the housing of pilgrims. 

According to the Saudi Gazette, he was impressed with the services and facilities being arranged for the accommodation and serving of food for the pilgrims.

To complete his visit, the minister watched a visual presentation of the mechanism for providing logistical services for the pilgrims during their travel from accommodation to Jamarat to undertake the stoning ritual.

Meanwhile, Maj. Gen. Mohammed Bin Wasl Al Ahmadi, assistant commander of the Haj security forces for the Grand Mosque and its premises, said on Tuesday that the security plan for this year's pilgrimage prioritises on organisational, security, humanitarian and health aspects.

He said the Haj security forces have installed entry and exit mechanisms from the Grand Mosque during Haj, with passages for pilgrims extending from the southern and western premises of venue as well as special passages around the circumambulation and Saey areas.

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Kozhikode air crash: List of deceased passengers and crew

Agencies
August 8,2020

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Kozhikode, Aug 8: The death toll in Kozhikode air crash is likely to rise as the condition of 22 injured passengers is said to be extremely critical. A total of 149 injured passengers have been admitted to hospitals in Malappuram and Kozhikode districts. 22 others have been discharged after first aid, says K Gopalakrishnan, Malappuram Collector

Deceased passengers:
Mohammed Riyas VP, 24 years - Palakkad, 
Saheer Sayed, 38 years -Malappuram, 
Lailabi KV, 51 years -Malappuram, 
Rajeevan Cherikka Parambil, 61 years - Kozhikode, 
Manal Ahamed, 25 years - Kozhikode, 
Sharafudheen, 35 years - Kozhikode, 
Janaky Kunnoth, 55 years - Kozhikode, 
Azam Muhammed Chembayi ,1 year - Kozhikode, 
Santha Marakkat, 59 years - Malappuram, 
Sudheer Vaariyath, 45 years -Malappuram, 
Sheza Fathima, 2 years -Malappuram, 
Remya Muraleedharan, 32 years - Kozhikode
Aysha Dua, 2 years – Palakkad 
Shivathmika, 5 Years- Kozhikode
Zhenobia, 40 years – Kozhikode
Sahira Banu, 29 years - Kozhikode

Deceased crew:
Deepak Sathe (Pilot)
Akhilesh Kumar (Copilot)

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