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Saudi crown prince meets Yemeni MPs including new speaker in Riyadh
April 30, 2019


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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met the newly elected speaker of the Yemeni parliament in Al-Yamama Palace, Riyadh. (SPA)

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Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met MPs from the Yemeni parliament, which convened in April in eastern Yemen. (SPA)

  • Yemeni delegation included Sultan Al-Burkani, who was recently elected speaker of the parliament
  • Yemen's House of Representatives met for the first time in more than four years in April in the east of the country
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met Tuesday with members of the Yemeni parliament.

The reception came just weeks after a rare convening of the House of Representatives on Yemeni soil attended by President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi.

Prince Mohammed shook hands with several members at Al-Yamama Palace including Sultan Al-Burkani, who was elected speaker during the session on 13 April held in Sayun, Hadramout province.

The crown prince welcomed the delegation and wished for their success in serving Yemen and its people.

Al-Burkani thanked King Salman, the crown prince, and the Saudi government and people for their “sincere brotherly support.”

He also thanked the countries participating in the Arab Coalition in support of Hadi’s internationally recognized government, which has fought a more than four year war against the Houthi militia after they seized the capital Sanaa in 2014.

Al-Burkani is a member of the General People’s Congress, the party of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was killed by the Iran-backed Houthis in December 2017.
The General People’s Congress holds the most seats in the parliament.

The session this month was the first since the conflict started when Hadi was forced to flee Sanaa, and base the government in Aden in the south.
More than 130 members of the 301-seat assembly attended.

 

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Cabinet hails commonalities between China’s BRI and Saudi Vision 2030
May 01, 2019

The Cabinet meeting, chaired by King Salman at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on Tuesday. (SPA)


  • Saudi Arabia rejects interference in Bahrain’s internal matters
  • Cabinet announced a collaboration between Saudi Arabia and the UK on strategic partnerships
RIYADH: The Saudi Cabinet has welcomed what it describes as common ground between the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

The move follows Saudi Arabia’s participation in the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing last week.

Both programs focus on the sustainable development of their respective countries based on emerging technologies, according to the Cabinet.

The Cabinet meeting, chaired by King Salman at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on Tuesday, also highlighted the Kingdom’s contribution to regional prosperity by developing its logistics and industrial capabilities.

According to a report from the Saudi Press Agency, Media Minister Turki Al-Shabanah stressed the statement issued following a meeting of the Quartet Committee on Yemen in London to discuss the latest developments in Yemen and ways to support the efforts of the UN envoy to Yemen.

The Cabinet warned against interference in the internal affairs of Bahrain, and said it wanted to see relations between Bahrain and Iraq develop in a spirit of mutual respect.

The Cabinet also discussed the latest developments in Yemen, a memorandum of understanding between the Saudi General Authority of Civil Aviation and the French Civil Aviation Authority, and a memorandum of understanding between the Saudi Transport Ministry and the US Department of Transportation. It also announced a collaboration between Saudi Arabia and the UK on strategic partnerships.

 

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King Salman receives Algerian foreign minister


King Salman receives Algerian Foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh on Tuesday. (SPA)

Updated 40 sec ago
SPA
April 30, 2019 22:52

  • King Salman wished the brotherly Algerian people steady security and prosperity
Algerian Foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum called on King Salman at his palace in Riyadh on Tuesday. During the meeting, they reviewed the latest regional and international developments.

King Salman wished the brotherly Algerian people steady security and prosperity.

Saudi Interior Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif, State Minister and Cabinet member Dr. Musaed bin Mohammed Al-Aiban, Foreign Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf, State Minister for African Countries Affairs Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz Qattan, Saudi Ambassador to Algeria Abdul Aziz bin Ibrahim Al-Omairini and a number of Algerian officials attended the meeting.

Saudi Arabia and Algeria enjoy strong relations. Trade between the two countries has reportedly risen from $116 million to $527 million within 10 years. In December 2018, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited Algeria. During the visit, the Council of Saudi Chambers and the Algerian Chamber of Commerce and Industry held a joint business forum. During the forum, four joint projects in the fields of chemicals manufacturing, metal processing, pharmaceutical and paper production were inaugurated.

 

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Oracle opens Riyadh tech hub


Oracle honorees at the launching ceremony of the innovation hub. (AN photo)

Updated 38 min 52 sec ago
Rashid Hassan
April 30, 2019
  • The hub will act as a platform for Oracle customers, partners and other stakeholders to better understand the potential of emerging technologies
RIYADH: The Californian tech company Oracle has opened its first innovation hub in Saudi Arabia to drive the implementation of artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and other technology in the Kingdom’s public and private sectors.

The hub in Oracle’s office in Riyadh was opened on Monday by Haitham Abdulrahman Al-Ohali, vice minister at the Ministry of Telecommunications and IT, who said that it would form part of a network of 13 innovation labs that would enable the digital transformation of Saudi Arabia — a key part of Vision 2030 reform plans to diversify the Kingdom’s economy.

Al-Ohali said that spreading the culture of digital transformation would enhance the growth and development of the Kingdom.

“Digital transformation is a vital part of the Saudi Vision 2030. We live in an age where data is the new oil and given the rapid global economic changes that are unfolding around us, we are constantly moving ahead to keep Saudi Arabia up to pace,” he said.

The hub will also act as a platform for Oracle customers, partners and other stakeholders to better understand the potential of emerging technologies and create innovations with company experts.

Abdul Rahman Al-Thehaiban, Oracle’s senior vice president for technology in the Middle East and Africa and Central and Eastern Europe, said that digital transformation was at the heart of government initiatives such as Vision 2030.

“Organizations in Saudi Arabia now understand the importance of digital transformation ... Oracle’s innovation hub will help raise awareness levels of key stakeholders, encourage an innovative approach and also support the skills development of next generation of Saudi leaders,” he said.

Oracle has been working in Saudi Arabia for almost 30 years. Its clients and partners include the Saudi Telecom Company, Umm Al-Qura University, Nahdi Medical, Zahran Holdings, Riyadh Metro, Bab Rizq Jameel and Fitaihi Holding Group.


 

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Saudi Arabia is on the way to ‘becoming the digital hub of the region’



Updated 17 sec ago
HALA TASHKANDI
April 30, 2019
  • The summit is planned to be held annually in Saudi Arabia as a way to gather local and international experts in the field to discuss further developments in government digitization
RIYADH: The Saudi government must keep pace with technological advances if the Kingdom is to stay on course to become the digital hub of the region, a major international conference has been told.

More than 200 executive directors of information technology from government departments throughout Saudi Arabia, gathered in Riyadh to discuss digitization and how to adapt it to benefit society.

The Global Digital Government Summit, held at the capital’s Ritz-Carlton hotel, was organized by the new Saudi e-Government program, Yesser, under the title “Putting Citizens First.”

The forum focused on the future of government services and explored how authorities around the world are leveraging digital technology to move toward a unified and citizen-friendly service delivery model.

Welcoming delegates to the opening of the summit on Monday, Ali Al-Asiri, CEO of Yesser, said the Saudi government needed to re-evaluate its role in society and to review the services it delivered.

Al-Asiri said the gathering was “very important to our country, the future of our country, and the future of all countries and societies. The world has changed in the past decade at a speed that has not been seen for centuries.

“We are witnessing technological changes that have far-reaching implications on society, and what has an impact on society has to have an impact on the government.”

The chief executive drew attention to the latest technological advances that have impacted society over the past decade, such as artificial intelligence and robotics, and highlighted how Saudi Arabia could utilize them to enhance government activities and improve quality of life in the country.

He added that the organization of health care and education in the country had seen little change since the industrial revolution and pointed to how digitization could help the Saudi government update its structure to better adapt to the modern era.

“These advancements come with important societal challenges, and governments must adapt, today, in order to maximize the social benefits to their citizens. And not enough has changed,” Al-Asiri told conference attendees.

Saudi Minister of Telecommunication and IT Abdullah bin Amer Al-Sawaha said in a statement that the Kingdom was a prime location to stage the summit.

“The Kingdom is on the way to becoming the digital hub of the region, executing it in a visionary, agile, and remarkable fashion powered by its talent.”

The government forum kicked off on Monday evening with networking and a gala dinner, followed by an all-day event on Tuesday that featured panels of international digitization experts.

Speakers included Swedish journalist, author, and digital futurist Andreas Ekstrom, practice manager of governance global practice at the World Bank, Renaud Seligmann, and deputy director of the analytic center of the Russian government, Mikhail Pryadilnikov.

Ekstrom gave a presentation on the future of digital transformation and its impact on humanity, public service provision, and government policymaking.

The summit is planned to be held annually in Saudi Arabia as a way to gather local and international experts in the field to discuss further developments in government digitization


 

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Saudi Arabia launches major project to revive Kingdom’s industrial heritage


Minister of Culture Prince Badr Al-Saud, second left, at the meeting with the minister of trade and investment and minister of energy. (Photo/Supplied)

Updated 22 min 38 sec ago
April 30, 2019 22:47

  • Transforming the Hijaz railway into a heritage site is one of projects being considered
  • The creation of Saudi Society for the Preservation of Industrial Heritage was announced by the culture minister
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has launched a major initiative to bring its rich industrial past back to the future.
The Kingdom has become the first country in the Arab world to commit to investing in its industrial heritage with the establishment on Monday of a dedicated preservation society.

Turning the famous Hijaz railway into a heritage site is already one of the ambitious cultural projects being considered for the future.

Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan announced the setting up of the Saudi Society for the Preservation of Industrial Heritage at a meeting attended by Minister of Commerce and Investment Dr. Majid bin Abdullah Al-Qassabi and Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih.

The prince noted that a country’s industrial history reflected its level of civic progress and said: “Saudi Arabia has an established industrial heritage going back thousands of years and has monuments that deserve care and consideration.”

Examples of the Kingdom’s industrial past and present include its involvement in sectors such as oil, water supply systems, minerals, gold, transport, cement and concrete.

The new society aims to raise awareness of cultural landmarks associated with historic Saudi industries by organizing workshops and promotional campaigns in cooperation with commercial bodies, while also preserving, documenting and enhancing heritage sites throughout the country.

Dr. Miles Oglethorpe, board member of The International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage (TICCIH), who attended the society launch, said the Kingdom had a vast industrial heritage to draw on that could “deliver social, economic and political benefit that reinforces Saudi society.”

He told Arab News: “Industry is extremely important, and the history of industry is that which lies behind how we live today. All across the world there are hugely important industries that have employed people and changed the world around them. Sometimes they have rapidly altered the environment and landscapes, sometimes not very nicely, other times very spectacularly.

“Industry lies at the heart of our daily lives today, therefore it’s an amazing historical resource, a source of so many different stories and something that effects millions of people who work in it, or have worked in it, or families who’ve worked in it.”

On Saudi Arabia and its impact on the world, Oglethorpe said: “If you step back for a moment and ask has Saudi Arabia had any impact on the wider world, the answer is a massive yes.

“Saudi petroleum dominated the world and is still extremely important, so the history of that is very significant. Both how it works now and how it originated.”

Oglethorpe said the Saudi concrete industry was another good example of a global export, which had even been put to good use in the Harry Potter movies. “Hogwarts Express, that is in Scotland, the first mass concrete bridge in the world and an enormous structure.”
The TICCIH official noted huge potential for turning the Hijaz railway into an industrial heritage site.

“Railways are the low-hanging fruit, one of the things that you can make immediate progress with because, everybody loves railways. Many children across the world are brought up with Thomas the Tank Engine. It’s already recognized and there are international links. It would be an immediate win, but there is a lot of work to be done.

“It would capture the imagination,” added Oglethorpe.

“The Hijaz railway is famous worldwide. There have even been movies made about it and you have major historic figures, both Saudi and foreign figures like T. E. Lawrence, so you know you can make a national and international impact.”

He said one of the first aspects of turning old industrial sites into heritage attractions was to encourage communities to show an interest in their local history. Their contribution would be “important and valuable” because their family histories were often tied to these places.

Oglethorpe also pointed to the educational value of delving into the industrial past. “What industry gives you is a way into an education of STEM subjects. We are trying to get many men and women into STEM subjects. Try to get kids at a young age engaged into where steel comes from. How a steam locomotive works. How you build things like this.”

He said that as well as teaching people about the technologies they could also learn the skills required to keep them alive.

 

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Why Saudi Arabia is investing in innovation


Dr. Hayat Sindi, above, the first Saudi and female scientist to become a UNESCO goodwill ambassador for sciences. (Supplied)

Updated 30 April 2019
Caline Malek

  • Dr Hayat Sindi, the first Saudi and female scientist to become a UNESCO goodwill ambassador for sciences, says it’s important to cultivate among youth
  • It’s not just a buzzword: Saudi Arabia and other UN member states believe it’s key to the post-oil future
DUBAI: Innovation and creativity have become the buzzwords in the Gulf, and it’s not just by coincidence. The United Nations marked World Creativity and Innovation Day this month, on April 21, which it began recognizing in 2017 as the “true wealth of nations in the 21st century.”
Saudi Arabia is working on cultivating these qualities among its talent to help drive its economy in the post-oil era.

“Nurturing economic growth is the best route out of poverty, both here in Saudi Arabia and across the world,” said Dr. Hayat Sindi, the first Saudi and female scientist to become a UNESCO goodwill ambassador for sciences. “Science, technology and innovation are offering more solutions than ever before, but there has never been a greater need for those solutions to modern developmental challenges. As we approach 2030, where the world’s governments will be judged on progress toward the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is key we transform the way we approach development.”

In 2016, Dr. Sindi was appointed by then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to the 10-Member Group to support the implementation of the SDGs.

She believes innovation and creativity will lead to achieving the goals and drive economic growth.

“If you give people the tools to build a sustainable future for themselves, their communities and their countries, you will build up their pride and enable them to fulfil their potential,” she explained. “Science, technology and innovation are offering bold new solutions, but there has never been a greater need for real and creative answers to the world’s developmental challenges.”

As the chief scientific adviser at the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank, Dr. Sindi believes it is crucial to engage young people in development to drive meaningful change. “One of my life-long passions has been to transcend the existing gaps between education and opportunity, particularly for young people,” she said. “In 2011, I launched i2, the Institute for Imagination and Ingenuity, to encourage innovation among young people — specifically scientists, technologists and engineers.”

Through fellowships, training and mentorships, she sought to inspire the next generation of innovators so that they may realize their dreams and, ultimately, contribute to the world. “Islamic tradition holds its young people in special esteem and calls upon them to be active members of society by contributing to development,” she said. “Education is the key to unleashing the potential of future generations, and that’s why it is key to fund skills and education training that enables access to the labor market and improves their life prospects.”

One of her roles at the bank involves putting science, technology and innovation at the heart of its work. As such, she helped launch its $500 million Transform Fund and Engage platform to support innovators to find solutions to development challenges.

“My passion in life is to see that the impact of science and the benefit of innovation reaches every single person in the world,” Dr. Sindi said. “And that work continues at the (bank), which is doing a huge amount to embrace creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship around sustainable development in its initiatives, having a positive impact on both Saudi and the wider world.”

But more still needs to be done in the realm of attracting and supporting women in roles related to science, technology and innovation. “At a young age, inspired by great scientists and thinkers, I convinced my family to allow me to travel alone to England to pursue higher education, a rare permission for a young Saudi woman,” she said.

“With the great support of my family and tutors, I became the first Saudi woman to be accepted at Cambridge University in biotechnology, and the first woman from any of the Arab states of the Gulf to complete a doctoral degree in the field. I have always been passionate about advocating social innovation and, with a team from Harvard, I co-founded Diagnostics for All to link science and society together.”

Together, they created affordable diagnostic devices for people in impoverished regions, which won first place in Harvard Business School’s Business Plan Contest, in the social enterprise track, and first place in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s $100,000 Entrepreneurship Competition in 2008.

“I am truly passionate for the promotion of science-based skills for women, particularly in the developing world,” she added. “I was pleased to be named UNESCO goodwill ambassador in October 2012 to empower STEM education for women and girls. Women in STEM subjects will be crucial if we are to find new models that will provide the outcomes the UN global goals strive for.”

Entrepreneurship is gaining momentum across the Kingdom. According to Philip Bahoshy, CEO and founder of MAGNiTT, a database for start-up information across the Middle East and North Africa, it is a key driver, as part of the Vision 2030, for the diversification of the Saudi economy, to help drive youth productivity and innovation, and support employment opportunities.

“Across Saudi Arabia, institutions have embraced this to meet the objectives,” he said. “According to MAGNiTT data, 2018 saw $49 million of investment in venture-backed start-ups (in Saudi Arabia), and we saw initiatives through the creation of multiple accelerator programs, like Misk 500. We foresee investment and start-up activity to grow in 2019 and beyond.”

Having attended the STEP Conference in Riyadh earlier this year, he spoke of a tangible buzz around innovation and entrepreneurship. “The Hajj Hackathon in 2018 also held the record number of participants attending a hackathon event,” he said. “This highlights the appetite across the Kingdom with plenty of room for growth, and early success stories are paving the way for further investment and start-ups to help drive economic growth, job opportunities and digitalization of the Saudi economy.”

Vision 2030 supports the Kingdom’s will to help local businesses and aspiring youth who are keen to explore opportunities and make their mark. “The indication of these steps in Saudi Arabia can be seen from the introduction of creative hubs, such as Hayy, that act as an incubator for creatives and entrepreneurs, which will also help in further nurturing KSA artists, creators and entrepreneurs,” said Rami Hmadeh, managing partner at Serviceplan Middle East, a Dubai-based communications agency.

Innovation accelerators are also becoming more common in the Kingdom, such as Accelerate Makkah, a five-stage program that helps young people venture into the entrepreneurial scene. “These steps will help to contribute to a rise in entrepreneurship in Saudi Arabia by reshaping, redefining, and helping to diversify its economy,” Hmadeh added.

“The number of Saudi women entrepreneurs has also grown significantly from 2007 to 2017, from 4 to 39 percent, which illustrates the positive impact of this new thinking. Saudi Arabia is rapidly evolving as one of the preferred destinations with a conducive environment for change, creativity and innovation,” Hmadeh said.

Around the world, countries are developing national plans to elevate entrepreneurship and support innovation. King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is no exception.

“An innovative approach is essential for success,” said Dr. Kevin Cullen, KAUST’s vice president of innovation and economic development. “It takes creativity to translate ideas from the lab to the world. That creativity is embedded in science and it starts in the laboratory, and to push the boundaries of knowledge, you need to look at problems through a different lens.”

KAUST looks for entrepreneurs and scientists who push the boundaries of science and technology, thinking about problems in new ways. “A core part of KAUST’s mission is to instill an innovation mindset into the youth of the Kingdom,” he said. “Over 8,000 young people have taken part in our start-up accelerators and training programs, resulting in new ideas, new companies and new jobs. Youth are the impact-makers and the change-makers of the future, and we need to empower them and give them the tools to be able to make those changes.”

Mohammed Abdullah, president of the Dubai Institute of Design and Innovation, said that the region is experiencing significant growth in innovation and entrepreneurship. “By investing in minds, you are preparing the young talent for a new future,” he said. “According to Saudi’s Vision 2030, the Kingdom will continue investing in education and training students to excel in future jobs. Alongside that, the UAE Vision 2021 is based on building a new competitive knowledge economy.”

Art Jameel, Ithra’s Tanween creativity festival and Saudi Design Week are other examples of innovation. “They showcase the potential for design as a tool to solving problems of the future, across a range of sectors and industries,” Abdullah said.

“This is the work of the next generation, and now is the time to access these young minds and cultivate that creativity. In this region, we have to think of other ways to innovate, and you can’t do that if you don’t have people thinking creatively.”

 

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What strengthening Saudi-Iraq relations means to the region
by Caline Malek

May 07, 2019
  • A recent agreement between the two countries could help counter Iran’s actions
  • Co-operation between the two will bring more stability, experts say
DUBAI: Stronger relations between Saudi Arabia and Iraq will mean more stability in the region, particularly when it comes to stemming the influence of Iran, according to experts who commented on a recent agreement promoting co-operation between the two countries.

Exerting more influence in Iraq will prove crucial for the Kingdom, they explained, as Iran’s close relationship with the former causes concern among many neighboring countries. Security and intelligence are some of the areas in which Iraq and Saudi Arabia will cooperate in the near future, Iraqi Foreign Minister Mohamed Ali Alhakim was reported as saying.

The announcement came during a state visit last month by an Iraqi delegation to Saudi Arabia led by Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, who met King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The leaders signed 13 agreements in areas such as trade, energy and political cooperation.

According to experts, Saudi Arabia may have the best chance of bringing stability and security to Iraq. “These actions are based on an economic and security approach, having intelligence as a key element to project all potential scenarios, including countering Iran’s possible actions to alter this relation,” said Johan Obdola, president of the International Organization for Security and Intelligence.


“Iran will be facing, from the United States and Europe, the hardest actions, including additional sanctions. On the other hand, there is a momentum in Iraq, with an increasing interest from a vast majority of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds, to stop the influence of Iran in Iraq.”

Obdola said this will create an important opportunity for Saudi Arabia to establish a strong security and intelligence strategy with Iraq, along with economic investments, to stabilize it against the actions of Daesh.

“This toxic influence from Iran has reached a level of rejection within the Iraqi population,” he said. “With this announced security and intelligence cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Iraq, there is very much an opportunity to stabilize and reconstruct Iraq, strengthen military and intelligence capabilities, and get a better capacity to counter any actions from Iran in the region, and even abroad.”


Obdola expressed concern about Iran implementing new low-intensity actions against the Arab Gulf states, with even more serious security implications for the rest of the region and abroad.

“The Iranian regime’s actions in Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq show its confidence regarding a lack of direct retaliation from the international community,” he said. “This will change if Iran keeps (up) this disruptive behavior. Iran is still building military and terrorist capabilities, and networks in other regions around the world to create conditions which will impact the US and European forces established in Africa, including Central Africa.”

On Yemen, he said, the Houthis had frequently stated their tactics were modelled on those of the Viet Cong and resistance movements in Latin America, as well as Lebanon’s Shia Hezbollah, with which they have obvious kinship.

“Both Hezbollah and Iran have increased their provision of guns, missiles, military training and funds for the Houthi war effort since 2014, (pleased) to see their Saudi enemies expend soldiers and money on the Yemeni stalemate,” he said. “We must also be aware that there are old and new alliances in this scenario, including Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Iran, among other actors, who must be closely watched.”

Obdola spoke of Saudi Arabia’s strong military capacity and intelligence, supported by its allies in the GCC, and military cooperation with other nations. “However, Iran has global intelligence and terrorist networks which must be analyzed and approached by traditional and non-traditional intelligence strategies,” he said. “Iran’s military apparatus will not be used against Saudi Arabia — it is not projected, at least — and it could be a huge mistake if there is any intention to. Its actions are and will continue to be based on a more low-level, low-intensity, and irregular warfare, and as such, the intelligence strategy of Riyadh must be developed and implemented accordingly.”

According to Dr. Albadr Al-Shateri, politics professor at the National Defense College in Abu Dhabi, the Saudi Arabia-Iraq rapprochement was born out of domestic change within Iraq. He mentioned the demonstrations by the Shiite majority region of Basra, which have shown the extent of general Iraqi discontent with Iran’s hegemony over their country. “The assertiveness of Kurds, especially the uncompromised new president Barham Salih, and determination not to be a pawn (of) any geopolitical competition, led to Iraq’s willingness to get closer to the Saudi-led order,” he said.

“Finally, Iran’s gradual weakening as a result of the US pressure and sanctions may have contributed to Baghdad’s hedging its bets.”

He said both Saudi Arabia and Iraq stood to benefit from cooperation in many fields, especially security in the post-Daesh Middle East. “As the terrorist group is splintering into smaller cells, monitoring and coordination by all countries are necessary to avoid a repetition of the Al-Qaeda post-Afghanistan situation,” he said. “Another issue of the smuggling of narcotics between the two countries is of increasing demand. The security cooperation between Saddam’s Iraq and Saudi Arabia, prior to the former’s invasion of Kuwait, could serve as a model of security cooperation between the two countries.”

Funding is also a key element of the cooperation. Raffaello Pantucci, director of International Security Studies at the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies in London, foresees much financial support from the Kingdom for Iraq. “There could also be capacity-building and worrying about the regional threat — Saudis are worrying about groups emanating from Iraq, and about managing their relationship with Iran, as Iraq has a strong relationship with Iran.”

He said it would be complicated, with militias involved in the Iraqi government. “But Saudi Arabia has money, and they can use that to get themselves access and influence,” he said. “Saudis are trying to make sure they are buying themselves an influence in a neighboring country where Iran has a lot of influence — there is a big push happening in Iran, and a part of that is for Saudi Arabia to have an influence in Baghdad.”

Iraq is of great geostrategic importance for Iran, Obdola said. “So a multi-dimensional intelligence component, along with a strong military cooperation, are the most fundamentally important elements for any security cooperation to be effective,” he said.

“This is truly the key component here, having the facts of not only regional players in any scenario to be considered, but potentially more global actors who could, in any particular situation, be used against Saudi Arabia. If all intelligence and security scenarios are projected in a local, regional and even international arena, then Saudi Arabia will be successful in this needed security cooperation with Iraq.”

 
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