Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques calls for boosting scientific research

King Abdullah sends message to Sultan Qaboos of Oman

Defense Minister Prince Salman tours military facilities in Taif

Saudi prosecution presses charges against 85 officers involved in terror operations

British Museum opens Hajj exhibition

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has sent a message to Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman concerning strengthening of bilateral relations between the two brotherly countries and aspects of cooperation between them in all fields.

The message was delivered to Sultan Qaboos during his meeting with Saudi Minister of State and Cabinet's Member Dr. Mutlab bin Abdullah Al-Nafeesah.

The Minister also conveyed to the Sultan the King's greetings and his best wishes for him and the Omani people. For his part, the Sultan sent his greetings and best wishes for the King and the Saudi people.

The meeting was attended by Saudi Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman Abdulaziz bin Suleiman Al-Turki.

Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz, Minister of Defense received Director of French Military Intelligence, General Didier Bolelli and his accompanying delegation.

In implementation of the order of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Supreme Commander of Armed Forces, Prince Salman decorated General Bolelli with King Abdulaziz Medal of Excellent Rank in recognition of his distinguished efforts in strengthening the ties of friendship and cooperation between the two countries.

The meeting was attended by Director General of the Office of Minister of Defense Lieutenant General Abdulrahman bin Saleh Al-Bunyan; Saudi Military Attaché to Switzerland and France Air Vice Marshal Abdullah Al-Suhaibani, and French Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Bertrand Besancenot.

Prince Khalid bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, Deputy Minister of Defense received General Bolelli and his accompanying delegation.

During the meeting they discussed relations between the two friendly countries and ways of strengthening them.

The meeting was attended by French Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Bertrand Besancenot and Saudi Military Attaché to Switzerland and France Air Vice Marshal Abdullah Al-Suhaibani.

Prince Salman also received the Ambassador of Germany to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Dieter Walter Heller.

During the meeting, they discussed aspects of cooperation between the two countries.

The meeting was attended by the Director General of the Office of the Minister of Defense, Lt. General Abdulrahman bin Saleh Al-Bunyan.

Meanwhile, Prince Salman made an inspection tour of the military sector in Taif on Wednesday. He started the tour at the Taif Military Command where he was welcomed by Taif Gov. Fahd Muammar and Chief of General Staff Gen. Hussain Al-Qabil and Commander Maj. Gen. Muhammad Al-Ghamdi.

The defense minister was on his first inspection tour of the Taif military area, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Wednesday. He also offered condolences on the demise of the late Prince Sultan.

During the tour, Prince Salman visited a tank project and viewed various related processes in the development and deployment of the tanks. He also visited the King Abdullah College of Air Defense and inspected the King Fahd Airbase.

Prince Salman made a field visit of the fleet of advanced warplanes and inspected various types of aircraft.

The prince also witnessed the demonstration of the instant take-off technique of aircraft and was briefed on their operations. The prince visited the headquarters of the third squadron at the King Fahd Airbase and viewed the operations of Typhoon aircraft. The prince also inspect- ed the Weapons Maintenance Institute.

Addressing an event held in his honor, the prince said he was pleased to start his inspection tour in Taif because the first armed forces of the Kingdom were constituted in the city.

He also conveyed greetings of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and Crown Prince Naif, deputy premier and interior minister, to officers, soldiers and other officials.

Under the patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Minister of Commerce and Industry Dr. Tawfiq bin Fawzan Al-Rabiah inaugurated this week the 13th GCC Industrialists Conference entitled 'Knowledge-based Industries and Modern Technologies' and the International Exhibition held on the sidelines of the three-day conference.

The Minister of Commerce and Industry delivered the King's speech in which he said that the Kingdom has adopted a national plan for science and technology whose finances amounted to more than SR8 billion, stressing that its implementation will result in the achievement of a major shift in support of scientific research, technical development, transfer and indigenization of technology, shift to a knowledge-based society, and provision of the educational system with the ability to produce qualified manpower capable of meeting the requirements of current and future plans, projects and initiatives of the country.

The King said, 'I submit the following recommendations including support and promotion of cooperation between universities and industrial companies in the field of scientific research, support for scientific research in industry, and adoption and support of the works of GCC youth in scientific research field.

The King wished the conference every success to come out with recommendations benefiting GCC citizens.

The trial has resumed against 85 men accused of carrying out terrorist attacks on three housing compounds in Riyadh on May 14, 2003.

The attack resulted in the deaths and injury of 239 innocent people including women and children.

During the session the court approved requests by 16 defendants for lawyers to plead on their behalf. It then gave 27 of the defendants the chance to reply to charges against them. The 32nd accused admitted to some of the charges against him; however he asked the court to take into consideration his attestation of his confessions and his repentance.

The 33rd accused read out a statement in which he denied the all charges against him. He said, “I surrendered to the authorities concerned and I’m one of the repentants. I request implementing the regulations.” He insisted that if he had been an Al-Qaeda member, he never would have surrendered.

The 43rd, 46th and 47th defendants totally denied the charges against them, despite the fact that they had attested their confessions. They admitted to the court that they made these confessions out of their own free will and were not subjected to any duress by the judge. However they indicated that they made the confessions out of fear of the investigators.

The specialist penal court also heard the fifth session in the trial against a Saudi accused of supporting Al-Qaeda. The prosecutor general says he embraced the Takfiri approach of the Kharijites of unjustly denouncing other Muslims as infidels.

In the next session, the Prosecutor General will reply to the defendant’s statement that some of the charges against him were ruled on in a previous case.

In collaboration and partnership with King Abdulaziz Public Library, the British Museum has meticulously finished all preparations for the opening ceremony of the major hajj exhibition entitled 'Hajj: Journey to The Heart of Islam' to be held on January 26, 2012.

It will be the first major exhibition committed to the Hajj, exploring the importance and history of this religious journey to be hosted ever by the British capital.

The exhibition will highlight in details how more than three million Muslims perform annually the fifth pillar of Islam pillars.

It will also highlight the efforts being exerted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in serving pilgrims and the development and expansion of Makkah and its holy Mosque as well as other holy sites to accommodate the annual increasing numbers of the pilgrims and visitors and to facilitate their performance of Hajj.

In a statement to Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Qaisra Khan, project curator in the department of the Middle East section at the British Museum said that the Hajj exhibition will provide details on the importance of Hajj.

She also said that the exhibition explains the importance of pilgrimage since the early days of starting this Islamic ritual, and also displays the first Hajj journey of the Prophet Mohammed peace be upon him.

'The exhibition is also touring during the Hajj journey with time and geography to our present days in addition to reviewing the meanings of Hajj, which highlights the fact that the pilgrimage is a ritual, and a peaceful phenomenon, and that Islam is a religion of peace, since that nobody in the Hajj journey can dare to hurt the feelings of others or anyone,' Ms. Khan asserted.

She also termed the exhibition as a great opportunity for non-Muslims to identify closely with Hajj as one of Islam's pillars.

For his part, the British museum's director, Neil MacGregor, said the Hajj exhibition's importance is highlighted from several aspects, since it provides an opportunity for the museum itself to present to its visitors whether from the UK or around the world how millions of Muslims perform Hajj rituals, from its religious part.

In a statement to Saudi Press Agency (SPA), MacGregor also said that the message of the exhibition has cultural and historical sides, highlighting the importance of the exhibition in enabling the non-Muslim visitors to live the Hajj journey and its experience and to become aware of its meaning and importance'.

The exhibition includes new photos, recent and old movies as well as models with which King Abdulaziz Public Library provided the museum, reflecting the big jumps of development witnessed by Makkah and the holy sites as a result of the great attention accorded to them by the prudent leadership of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since the era of the late founder King Abdulaziz bin Abdurrahman Al-Saud, until the auspicious era of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

Commenting on the exhibition, the British author and commentator Karen Armstrong highlighted the meanings of Hajj, such as peace, tolerance, noting that these meanings were clear in the biography of Prophet Mohammed peace be upon him.

In a statement to SPA, the writer Armstrong also said that 'Hajj's Journey Exhibition is a wonderful opportunity to understand each other'.

'I think that the exhibition will represent for non-Muslims an opportunity for a deep understanding of Islam from its spiritual and its quest for peace instead of the myths circulating in the Western media about Islam,' she added.

For her part, Dr. Venetia Porter, Curator of the Islamic Collections in the Department of Asia at the British Museum drew the attention that the exhibition is an important occasion for them in the museum, because no-one has ever to stage such a show and at this level'.

In a statement to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Dr. Porter also said that 'in fact, the pilgrimage journey is important and interesting'.

On the other hand, all those senior officials at the British museum asserted the efforts exerted and big role played by both the Saudi embassy in the United Kingdom and King Abdulaziz Public Library (KAPL) to the museum.

Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf bin Abdulaziz, Saudi ambassador to the United Kingdom, formed a committee under his own chairmanship and members from KPAL and the Saudi embassy.

This committee holds meeting weekly since signing the understanding agreement between the British Museum and KPAL to provide all capabilities to ensure the success of the exhibition and provide the true image of the meaning of Islamic tolerance, peace, unity and brotherhood that arise in the performance of the fifth pillar of Islam, in addition to the efforts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to serve the pilgrims in Makkah, Madinah and Holy Sites.

Activities of Hajj's Journey exhibition at the British Museum will be concluded on April 15, 2012.