Middle East

Author: ARAB NEWSID: 1544560026253434600Tue, 2018-12-11 23:26

JEDDAH: A forum highlighting the Kingdoms cultural and natural heritage will be held between Dec. 12 and 16 at Riyadhs International Convention and Exhibition Center.
The Colors of Saudi Arabia forum, now in its 5th edition, will be held under the patronage of Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH).
The forum spans 15,000 square meters and is expected to attract over 30,000 visitors, including celebrities and innovators.
Awards will be handed to the winners of the forums photography and short film competitions, as well as the Prince Sultan bin Salman Award for Photography, during the opening ceremony by Prince Sultan himself.
“The forum has been given a makeover with the aim of increasing visitor numbers and interaction,” said Abdullah Al-Murshid, SCTH vice president, adding that the commission recently increased the number of categories and awards given during the contest in an attempt to motivate local filmmakers to shed light on the Kingdom.
“The move only inspired more people, even from neighboring Gulf countries, to enter into the photography contest, which will garner three finalists in each category (with the exception of the tourism film contest, in which only one winner will be selected per category). There will also be an additional voting contest held exclusively for Saudi photographers.”
Forum committee and jury members had received hundreds of photographs and video clips from both amateurs and professionals hoping to enter into the competition.
“The efforts made by the SCTH to enhance the contest will help strengthen national tourism and inspire youth to take part in introducing the Kingdoms many fascinating sites, monuments and scenery,” added Al-Murshid. “This may, in turn, inspire regional heritage cultivation and documentation efforts.”
This year, the Saudi Film Council (SFC) partnered with the SCTH to offer a group of intensive photography and filmmaking training courses held by American and Australian trainers.
The forum, which will be held every day between 4 and 10 p.m., includes seminars on the latest technology in the fields of photography and filmmaking, specialized programs, a daily short film theater, and an educational program of workshops and daily lectures.
The forums educational agenda also includes discussion sessions focused on filmmaking and film production, which are conducted by 30 local and international experts.
Al-Murshid explained that the SCTH would hold mobile exhibitions throughout the year in various cities across Saudi Arabia.
Photographers and visitors can register online and find more information at www.colors.sa

Main category: Saudi ArabiaTravelTags: Colors of Saudi ArabiaRiyadhSaudi Commission for Tourism & National Heritage (SCTH Colors of Saudi exhibition gets ready to rollColors of Saudi Arabia concludes with over 30,000 visitors

Middle East

Author: daniel fountainID: 1544564353863799300Wed, 2018-12-12 00:44

RIYADH: When the lights go green in Ad Diriyah, Saudi Arabia, Formula E drivers will begin their high-speed sprint to the finish line on a brand-new track in front of a roaring crowd.
But what the thousands of spectators wont see is the challenge of a lifetime faced by those creating the electric street racing circuit in the heart of a protected UNESCO city that is hundreds of years old.
Samer Issa-El-Khoury Managing Partner at CBX, took responsibility for delivering the venue and preserving Ad Diriyah – taking on a race against time to have the facility completed to host its first event – this is his story.

Q: What did you think when they first said lets build the track in Ad Diriyah, a UNESCO heritage site?
When they told us that we are coming to look for a race track in Ad Diriyah, personally I said its impossible. We were talking about a world heritage site, the oldest city in Saudi Arabia where the Kingdom was founded.
But once we decided, with Formula E and GSA, to bring the race to Saudi Arabia we were looking for an appropriate location to have a track that fits the sports specifications. These were mainly the width of the roads and the length of the track to meet the criteria for safety laid down by the sports world governing body, the FIA.
A big team from Formula E, GSA, CBX and SAMF scouted several locations around Ad Diriyah and we finally came up with this, the best location, because we were able to do the civil work required to widen the streets while having the restrictions of the building around it in a UNESCO world heritage site.
We then spent two to three months doing engineering studies, checking how to widen the roads and how to make it challenging with enough turns.

Q: Any construction project comes with significant challenges, but how did you approach protecting the archaeological integrity in Ad Diriyah while getting the site fit for Formula E racing?
We did not touch on the restricted area of UNESCO but we had streets which were the old city boundaries, where you can see the old stone walls and we made sure they were protected and preserved. I felt a personal responsibility for this.
This took months of planning and so much coordination with so many stakeholders to ensure compliance, from Riyadh Development Authority to Diriyah Gate Development Authority, the municipality, the governors office, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Tourism.
Even the infrastructure works below the roads, whether by the telecommunications companies, the water company, the electric company, we made sure preservation was at the heart of our work.

Q: Your company CBX has tackled some major projects in its time, but how does this compare?
This is one of the most challenging projects CBX has taken on. That is because of the timeframe we had, firstly the race was supposed to be held in 2019, it was not supposed to be in 2018. So that made it very challenging, but we made it.
We only started construction in September, so we had three months to do what usually requires six to eights months. That meant that we had thousands of machines on site for the construction and up to 3,000 people onsite throughout the last three months.
The track was the most obvious aspect of course but also we had to prepare parking of 300,000 sq m, we had to prepare the E Village, which is almost 180,000 sq m when usually the eVillage is 20,000 sq m. We want to give the whole population of Saudi Arabia something huge. This is a big event coming here and we wanted the supporting E Village to be as big.
We also had to find the space to put the paddock, the Emotion Club, the Royal Box, the grandstands, in a city that is hundreds of years old and the space is very limited.

Q: Talk us through your creation? What will fans and drivers make of the track?
When we unveiled the circuit layout the response worldwide was incredible. Really positive, and people are excited to see the cars going through 21 turns each lap. What is very challenging for the drivers is that some of the turns are ascending, some of them are descending, so not only do you have a slope, but you have a slope and a corner, one second you are going down the next going up.
This will show the drivers prowess and technical ability to cope with those turns because it is so easy to make a mistake, to lose speed if you take it a little bit wrong.
Also, at the end of turn 17 you have one of the longest straights, with the new Attack Zone that has been introduced. I think its going to be as interesting to see how this attack zone will happen, and whatever they gain on that, they might lose it on the turns.
All this makes the 2018 Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix more of a drivers race than a car or teams race.
How do you think people will react when they see whats been achieved here?
If theyve been to Formula E, and theyve been to any of the previous 45 races, what they are going to see built in Saudi Arabia is so much different from what theyve seen elsewhere. This is really something the GSA wanted to offer to Formula E the chance to feel at home in Saudi Arabia. Especially as the race will be here for at least 10 years.
Everything we are creating, such as the parking, is not just for Formula E, this is in the big masterplan for Ad Diriyah that will be used for the visitors who will be coming during the year.
The conservation of the past is a major element in the project. Formula E is hereto blend in with the heritage and enhance it by bringing electric racing and clean power to Ad Diriyah. It really is the future meeting the past.

Q. What are you most looking forward to on race day?
Once we race starts and We go green in Ad Diriyah, Im looking forward to hearing that, especially as it has a double meaning, the green light is on and we go green embracing sustainability with Formula E, I think this will be a new era for this stunning UNESCO heritage site.
The beauty of this Formula E race in Saudi Arabia that is so different to anywhere else Ive been. Ive been to every single race in the world and the big difference here is that the whole Saudi government, and all the entities within it, are working as one team. Whether its the General Entertainment Authority, the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Culture, the General Sports Authority, every single entity is working hand in hand to make this project a success.
You have tourism, you have culture, you have food and beverages and fine dining, and you have the online Sharek visa introduced for global visitors which is Saudi Arabia opening up to the world. They are welcoming everyone, and they dont have to go anywhere to get the visa, it can be done online. They buy their ticket, they get their visa, they print it and bring it to the airport, and they are welcomed to the Kingdom. This is really amazing.

Q. What will you remember most about this project?
I am so proud to be part of this project, this means a lot for CBX and means a lot for Ad Diriyah specifically, and for Saudi Arabia and Im sure it means a lot for Formula E as well.
So many good memories, so many sleepless nights, so many deadlines to meet. What has been incredible is how so many people came together and worked with a positive mindset, everyone only wanted the success of this event.
We are proud of the effort that CBX put into that process and were proud of the effort the young people of the Saudi team who we worked with, how energetic they have been, how this new generation were working more than us. I thought I can work 18 hours without sleep, some of the young Saudis that were part of our team were working 24 hours, really, and it was impressive.
I have been in Saudi Arabia for 15 years, but I have never seen this level of commitment. Ive been involved in some of the biggest infrastructure projects in Saudi Arabia, and in the world, and Ive never seen this energy specifically within the Saudi young people Im working with.
I think this project really is Vision 2030, you can see the diversification from oil going toward the clean energy, you can see how involved the young generation is, you can see how dedicated the government is to be opening up to the world with the online visa system.
From all sides this is Vision 2030, when I look at the track, when I look at this event, I see the future.

Main category: Saudi ArabiaTags: Saudi Arabiasaudia ad diriyah e-prixFormula EAd DiriyahMotorsportCulture and Entertainment Its epic: Al-Nassr, Al-Hilal stars tour incredible Ad Diriyah E Prix venueFormula E set to revolutionize motorsport fans experience at Ad Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia

Middle East

Wed, 2018-12-12 00:06

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is fast catching up with the worlds ever-growing energy and technology scene ahead of 2030. In fact, the King Salman Energy Park (SPARK) may soon prove a global destination for energy industry investors.

The new energy city mega-project is being developed by Saudi Aramco, which received authoritization to embark on the initiative in the summer, and is operated, managed and maintained in partnership with the Saudi Authority for Industrial Cities and Technology Zones (MODON).

With projections that the megacity will create more than 100,000 jobs, it is considered one of the most up-and-coming energy parks in the world.

SPARK will localize more than 300 new industrial services and facilities and will have specialized training centers to cater to the huge influx of manpower.

Situated in the Kingdoms Eastern Province, between Dammam and Al-Ahsa, the project will be developed in three phases.

The first phase is scheduled for completion by 2021, while the final phase of the project is set for completion in 2035. With all this on track, the 50-square-kilometer project is poised to be a magnet for foreign and domestic investment.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman inaugurated the King Salman Energy Park at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) on Monday. (SPA)

Whats more, Aramcos espousal of SPARK will also help businesses indulge in technological development, manufacturing and exports channels and build a world-class energy supply chain. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman inaugurated the King Salman Energy Park at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) on Monday.

During the groundbreaking ceremony, Energy Minister and Aramco Chairman Khalid Al-Falih declared SPARK a special economic zone (SEZ) in which businesses can enjoy exclusive benefits.

“We are looking forward to collaborating with our first anchor partners at SPARK,” said Saudi Aramco President and CEO, Amin Nasser.

SPARK has already attracted investment from foreign and local companies to produce and manufacture goods and services. The first phase of the project is expected to cost about $1.6 billion.

The park is set to attract industrial investors in the water, power, petrochemical and wastewater sectors, among others.

Facilities at SPARK will also help investors bridge gaps in local production back home, increasing competition in the long run.

“This energy city is exciting because it brings together a multitude of businesses,” Mark McCollum, president and CEO of Weatherford Corp, told SPARK.

“We firmly believe that collaboration and cooperation among service companies and individual providers to the energy sector is vital in breaking new ground.”

The King Salman Energy Park is also set to promote small and medium-sized enterprises. With focus on energy production, it also provides opportunities for investment in residential and commercial real estate projects.

Nasser said that the “King Salman Energy Park will spur a new era of growth for one of the Kingdoms already thriving sectors. Whats more, it will serve as a central gateway to the regions economies since Aramco is at the heart of the global oil and gas industry.”

Main category: Saudi ArabiaTags: King Salman Energy Park (SPARK)Saudi ArabiaEditors Choice

Middle East

Author: RASHID HASSANID: 1544559528683375800Tue, 2018-12-11 23:18

RIYADH: The King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief) has dispatched additional medical aid for Yemen to ensure an uninterrupted supply of medicines for kidney patients under treatment in various hospitals in the war-torn country.
Dr. Abdullah Saleh Al-Moallem, director of KSReliefs Health and Environmental Aid Department, said the relief goods including medical supplies for patients with acute renal problems crossed Al-Wadiah Port on Monday and were on its way to Yemens Al-Mahwit and Al-Bayda governorates.
“The aid is part of a huge medical project worth SR21 million that aims to provide medical supplies to all parts of Yemen ensuring uninterrupted health services,” he said.
Al-Moallem said the medical supplies will be distributed without any discrimination. He said seven KSRelief trucks carrying relief materials are also on their way to Marib governorate. The center is also actively involved in the rehabilitation of children affected by the war. It regularly organizes recreational trips for such children.
The program aims to help the children return to their normal lives, through teaching them and practicing different sports, as well as field trips.
KSRelief plans to rehabilitate 2,000 children who were recruited by the Iranian-backed Houthis.
Recently, the center carried out sewing classes as part of its program to develop manual skills in five Yemeni provinces to support orphan families.
Landmines
The Saudi Project for Landmines Clearance in Yemen (MASAM), launched by KSRelief, has managed to clear 22,952 landmines planted by the Houthi militia.
In the last week of November, members of the project managed to dismantle some 1,462 landmines planted in schools and residential areas.

Injured Yemenis
The center has provided treatment for more than 21,000 injured Yemenis, both inside and outside Yemen.
A total of 6,452 Yemenis received treatment in private sector hospitals in Yemen, while 1,000 received treatment in Yemeni medical centers specializing in eye injuries.
In addition, 12,795 cases were transferred to Saudi Arabia, 534 to Jordan, 280 to Sudan and one to India. The injured Yemenis expressed appreciation to KSRelief for its efforts to treat them.
KSRelief provides health services to all Yemeni people in coordination with the Yemeni Higher Relief Committee represented by the Yemeni Ministry of Health and Population, and local and international partners.

Main category: Saudi ArabiaTags: King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief)Yemen KSRelief steps up aid to war-torn YemenSaudi Arabias KSRelief removes over 22,000 land mines in Yemen

Middle East

Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's global chief financial officer, was arrested in Canada on 1 December (Reuters)

A Canadian court has granted bail to a top executive of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd while she awaits an extradition hearing to the United States.

Meng Wanzhou, Huawei's global chief financial officer, was arrested in Canada on 1 December at the request of the US.

On Tuesday in Vancouver, Justice William Ehrcke granted bail to Meng, subject to a guarantee of $7.5 million ($10 million Canadian) and other conditions, such as a nightly curfew and surrending all her passports and travel documents.

The US wants its northern neighbour to extradite Meng, who has been accused of covering up her company's links to a firm that tried to sell equipment to Iran in breach of US sanctions on that country, Reuters has reported.

US President Donald Trump told Reuters on Tuesday he would intervene in the US Department of Justice's case against Meng if it would serve national security interests or help close a trade deal with China.

READ MORE ►

China calls on Canada to free Huawei CFO or face consequences

Meng is specifically accused of lying to a US bank, identified by her lawyer as "Hong Kong Bank", about the use of a covert subsidiary.

The US alleges that she set up a subsidiary called Skycom to evade its economic sanctions on Iran, CBC News reported. The US government says that Skycom is a part of Huawei, not a separate partner.

From 2009 to 2014, a Canadian court heard last week, Huawei used Skycom to transact business in Iran despite US and European Union bans.

According to a Wall Street Journal report in April, the Department of Justice had launched a criminal probe into Huawei for its alleged trade with Iran, and both the US Commerce and Treasury departments had issued subpoenas for a potential violation of US sanctions.

Huawei is the worlds largest manufacturer of cellular-tower electronics and the third-biggest smartphone producer.

In a short statement on Sunday, China's foreign ministry said that Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng had issued a warning to release Meng to Canada's ambassador in Beijing, summoning him to lodge a "strong protest".

"China strongly urges the Canadian side to immediately release the detained person and earnestly protect their lawful, legitimate rights, otherwise Canada must accept full responsibility for the serious consequences caused," Le said.

Meng's next court hearing in Canada will be held on 6 February, the Canadian court justice said on Tuesday.

Also on Tuesday, a Canadian citizen was detained in China. The Canadian government said it saw no explicit link to the Huawei case, but analysts had predicted retaliation from Beijing.

Two sources told Reuters the person detained was former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig, who now works for a think tank.

Original Article

Middle East

US Energy Secretary Rick Perry has urged Iraq to partner with American companies to become more energy independent, as Baghdad's waiver exempting it from US sanctions on Iran nears its end.

Perry's paradoxical comments on Tuesday came during a visit by the largest-ever US trade delegation to Iraq, which saw more than 50 US companies largely linked to the petrol or security industries attend a two-day conference in Baghdad.

READ MORE ►

Major oil producers foresee oversupply, edge closer to production cuts

"Working together, the US and Iraq can develop Iraq's oil, gas and water industries," Perry told those in attendance.

"The time has come for Iraq to break its dependence … on less reliable nations seeking domination and control," he said, in an apparent reference to US rival Iran.

Iraq imports vast amounts of gas and electricity from Iran.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi also said on Tuesday that he will send a delegation to the US to attempt to secure another exemption from US sanctions against Iran that would allow Baghdad to keep importing Iranian gas.

Iraq seeking new waiver

When Washington reimposed tough sanctions on Tehran's energy sector last month, it gave Iraq a 45-day waiver to plan how it would stop depending on imports from Iran.

"The American side is cooperating with Iraq to find solutions that would remove pressure on Iraq because the [Iranian] gas is linked to a very sensitive issue, which is electricity," Mahdi told a news conference.

Washington is seeking to roll back Iranian influence in the Middle East, including in Iraq, where it holds broad sway over politics and trade.

The US granted eight exemptions to the sanctions on Iran, a measure that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at the time were handed out "only because [the recipients] have demonstrated significant reductions in their crude oil and cooperation on many other fronts".

Under US law, such exceptions can only be granted for up to 180 days.

On Tuesday, Perry said he discussed sanctions with Iraqi Oil Minister Thamer al-Ghadban and Electricity Minister Luay al-Khateeb, but did not say whether Baghdad would receive an extension to the waiver, which ends next week.

"Sanctions were mentioned; they're a reality, they're there," Perry told reporters in Baghdad after his meeting with Iraqi officials.

He also met Mahdi, who said it was "necessary to expand coordination" on oil, energy, and trade between the two countries, and Iraq's president, Barham Saleh. Perry then travelled to Erbil, in Iraq's northern Kurdish region, to meet Kurdish leaders.

Iraq's electricity ministry signed MOUs this year with both Siemens and GE to revamp its power sector, in deals that were widely seen as part of Baghdad's efforts to wean off Iranian energy at the US's request.

Original Article

Middle East

About 5.6 million Syrian refugees remain in neighbouring countries, UNHCR says (Reuters)

Up to 250,000 Syrian refugees could return to their devastated homeland in 2019, but persistent questions around documentation, forced military conscription and property ownership among the returnees must still be resolved, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Tuesday.

About 5.6 million Syrian refugees remain in neighbouring countries, namely Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, according to UNHCRs director for the Middle East and North Africa, Amin Awad.

That figure includes one million Syrian children born abroad and whose foreign birth certificates the Syrian government has agreed to recognise, Awad said on Tuesday.

"As the situation in Syria improves some of these refugees are making the journey home," he said during a news briefing in Geneva.

READ MORE ►

How Syrian refugees became victims on Turkey's 'fake news' front line

"We are forecasting, in what we call phase one, up to 250,000 Syrians go back in 2019. That figure can go up and down according to the pace with which we are working and removing these obstacles to return."

UNHCR said that 117,000 refugees have returned to Syria since 2015, including 37,000 that have gone back so far this year.

"These are organised returns, completely voluntary, in safety … and of course with UNHCR involvement," Awad said.

"Now, by and large, the war has ended. We have a few pockets [of hostilities], including Idlib, as you know that there is a negotiated ceasefire and a de-escalation zone," he said.

Syrian government and rebel forces reached a ceasefire agreement in Idlib, in northwestern Syria, earlier this fall, as part of an international effort to protect the region's three million inhabitants and stave off a government offensive there. Sporadic shelling and clashes have rocked the area in recent weeks, however.

Obstacles to overcome

On Tuesday, Awad said that issues relating to forced conscription into the Syrian army, and questions around the fate of Syrian refugees who deserted the army when they left the country, are hampering efforts to have them return to Syria.

The returnees also face uncertainty when it comes to their physical safety, as large swathes of Syria are covered in unexploded ordinance, including in places where the fighting has stopped.

Other obstacles include a lack of documentation confirming the refugees' identity and property ownership in Syria, as well as a dire lack of education, healthcare and sanitation services in the places to which they plan to return, Awad said.

UNHCR also appealed for $5.5bn on Tuesday to support neighbouring countries provide health, water, sanitation, food, education, and psycho-social support to Syrian refugees.

"Their living conditions have deteriorated as their existence in exile prolongs. They have been borrowing money, they are indebted and a lot of them are living below the poverty line, 70 to 80 percent of them are living below the poverty line in their host communities or countries," Awad said.

"We are asking donors to stay the course."

Original Article

Middle East

Author: Wed, 2018-12-12 02:42

RIYADH: Saudi audiences have been treated to a 10-day feast of classical music, including the world premiere of the Arabic translation of the lyrics of Schuberts “Winter Journey” romantic song cycle.

The performances took place at the German diplomatic missions in Riyadh and Jeddah, the French Consulate General in Jeddah, the Goethe Institute in Riyadh and KAUST in Thuwal.

The musicians were the German Debussy Trio, comprising cellist Birgit “Cella” Erichson, violinist Ulrich Beetz and pianist Vasil Laghidze.

As founders of the Abegg Trio, Erichson and Beetz have over 40 years experience performing in concert halls worldwide. Their latest formation, with the young Georgian pianist Vasil Laghidze, is called the Debussy Trio after the French composer of the late 19th and early 20th century, who created the gateway to modern music.

The French Consul General El-Mostafa Mihraje hosted the trios performance of an all-Debussy concert, including the famous Clair de Lune, played under the stars.

It was part of the worldwide centenary Debussys death that began in January in Paris with a concert for French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

For their German concerts the musicians performed Schuberts “Winter Journey,” with the lyrics by Wilhelm Müller recited in German by Claudia Ziegeler and — in a world premiere — in Arabic by the Saudi poet Dr. Adel Khamees Alzhrani.

The musicians concluded their encores in Jeddah with upbeat classical versions of the German and Saudi national anthems, delighting the diverse crowd attending.

Main category: Saudi ArabiaTags: Culture and Entertainment David Guetta, Black Eyed Peas and Amr Diab among headlining acts at Saudi Arabias E-PrixSouth Korean breakdancers excite thousands in Riyadh

Middle East

'He's the leader of Saudi Arabia. They've been a very good ally,' Trump says (AFP/Lawrence Jackson/Gage Skidmore)

US President Donald Trump told Reuters on Tuesday that he stood by Saudi Arabia's Mohammed bin Salman despite a CIA assessment that the crown prince ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and pleas from US senators for the White House to condemn the kingdom's de facto ruler.

Trump refused to comment on whether bin Salman was complicit in the murder, but he provided perhaps his most explicit show of support for the prince since Khashoggi's death more than two months ago.

"He's the leader of Saudi Arabia. They've been a very good ally," Trump said in an interview in the Oval Office.

Asked by Reuters if standing by the kingdom meant standing by the prince, known as MBS, Trump responded: "Well, at this moment, it certainly does."

He's the leader of Saudi Arabia. They've been a very good ally

– Donald Trump, US President

Some members of Saudi Arabia's ruling family are agitating to prevent MBS from becoming king, sources close to the royal court have told Reuters, and believe that the United States and Trump could play a determining role.

Middle East Eye reported late in October that Prince Ahmad bin Abdulaziz, the younger brother of King Salman, returned to Saudi Arabia after a prolonged absence in London, to mount a challenge to Prince Mohammed or find someone who can.

"I just haven't heard that," Trump said. "Honestly, I can't comment on it because I had not heard that at all. In fact, if anything, I've heard that he's very strongly in power."

While Trump has condemned the murder of Khashoggi, a US resident and Washington Post columnist who was often critical of MBS, he has given the benefit of the doubt to the prince with whom he has cultivated a deep relationship.

Trump again reiterated on Tuesday that the "crown prince vehemently denies" involvement in a killing that has sparked outrage around the world.

Trump has come under fierce criticism from fellow Republicans in the Senate over the issue, particularly after CIA Director Gina Haspel briefed them. Last month, the CIA assessed that MBS ordered the killing, which Trump called "very premature."

"You have to be willfully blind not to come to the conclusion that this was orchestrated and organized by people under the command of MBS," Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally, said last week.

Saudi Arabia has denied that the crown prince was involved and has arrested 21 people in connection with the killing.

However, several top aides to the crown prince were reportedly involved in Khashoggi's assassination, leaving many observers sceptical that MBS could have realistically been in the dark about what happened.

Also on Tuesday, Khashoggi was among a group of journalists named "Person of the Year" by Time Magazine, which described them as "guardians of the truth".

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner maintained informal contact with MBS and publicly defended him after the 2 October killing of Jamal Khashoggi, the New York Times reported on Saturday, citing two former senior American officials and the two people briefed by the Saudis.

Kushner became the princes primary defender inside the White House, people familiar with its internal deliberations told the Times.

Original Article