Jeddah: Gateway to Mecca and A Living Cultural Artifact

Paige Peterson is the Executive Vice President of the Huntsman Cancer Foundation and a board member of the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations in Washington, D.C.

This photo essay illustrates her visit to Jeddah’s Old City, on the Red Sea, in Saudi Arabia.

 

 

Health conferences are held everywhere but there is a special pleasure in attending one in Jeddah. Having visited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia many times for the Huntsman Cancer Foundation, I have experienced the genuine warmth of Arab hospitality. To have the opportunity to visit friends there and attend the Saudi American Health Care Forum in Jeddah was a double pleasure.

Accepting an award on behalf of the Huntsman Cancer Foundation from Adel A. Shakoor and HRH Prince Mish’al bin Majed bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Governor of Jeddah.

While in Jeddah, I was invited to stay in the guesthouse of my dear friend Fawzia Algosaibi, wife of Saleh Alturki, a prominent Saudi Arabian businessman who was recently named Mayor of Jeddah. What was planned as a two week trip turned into a stay of almost two months but my hosts were beyond gracious. Their hospitality gave me precious time to tour the western seaboard of Saudi Arabia.

With Saleh Alturki, Mayor of Jeddah.

I spent time exploring and photographing the once walled-in city of Old Jeddah, which was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014. It’s a cliché to say that a picture can be worth a thousand words. These pictures were worth more than that for me — this visit was like time travel, transporting me to another century. It’s a privilege to share my story here.

 

 

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Madain Saleh: An Archeological Marvel in the Saudi Arabian Desert

Paige Peterson is the Executive Vice President of the Huntsman Cancer Foundation in Salt Lake City, Utah, and a board member of the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations in Washington, D.C.

This photo essay illustrates her visit to Madain Saleh, one of Saudi Arabia’s “hidden treasures.”

 

 

When he was the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States, Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir gave me an extended visa. He had two good reasons for doing that. One was professional. I am the Executive Vice President of the Huntsman Cancer Foundation, where one of my missions has been to build alliances with Saudi Arabia’s excellent cancer researchers. The other was personal. As a writer and photographer, I was endlessly curious about Saudi Arabia’s people — and its landscape.

It’s a cliché to say that a picture can be worth a thousand words. These pictures were worth more than that for me — they are the story of a rare and extraordinary adventure. It’s a privilege to share it here.

 

Map depicting location of Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is located on the continent of Asia. It shares land borders with 8 countries: Kuwait, Iraq, Yemen, Qatar, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan. Saudi Arabia’s geography is dominated by the Rub’ al Khali desert, the second largest desert in the world with only the Sahara being larger. The Kingdom’s population is over 28,000,000.

Saudi Arabia is the 13th largest nation in terms of land area. The United States is about 5 times bigger than the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia is four times the size of France, western Europe’s largest country.

Two bodies of water border Saudi Arabia, the Arabian Sea to the East and the Red Sea to the West.

The flight to Al-Ula was one hour and fifteen minutes from Jeddah.

Prince Abdul Majeed bin Abdulaziz Airport.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by local nature photographers who had an exhibition of their work at the airport. Notice the distinctive ways men can wear their ghutra (headscarf).

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Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s Upcoming Visit to America: Implications and Opportunities for the US-Saudi Arabian Relationship

On March 15, 2018, the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations and the U.S.-GCC Corporate Cooperation Committee hosted a public affairs briefing exploring “Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s Upcoming Visit to America: Implications and Opportunities for the U.S.-Saudi Arabian Relationship” in Washington, DC.

Mr. Khush Choksy, Senior Vice President for Middle East and Turkey Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, discusses U.S.-Saudi Arabia trade and investment relations at NCUSAR’s March 15, 2018 public affairs briefing.

The featured specialists were:

  • Mr. Nawaf Al Thari, Distinguished International Affairs Fellow, National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, and Political Adviser and Counter-Terrorism & Counter-Piracy Focal Point, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Permanent Mission to the United Nations;
  • Mr. Fahad Nazer, International Affairs Fellow, National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, and Consultant, Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, DC;
  • Mr. David Des Roches, Senior International Affairs Fellow, National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, and Associate Professor, Near East/South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, National Defense University, U.S. Department of Defense;
  • Mr. Khush Choksy, Senior Vice President for Middle East and Turkey Affairs, U.S. Chamber of Commerce;
  • Mr. Mike Ryan, Strategic Markets Advisor, U.S.-Saudi Arabian Business Council; and
  • Colonel Abbas K. Dahouk, Former U.S. Defense and Army Attaché in Saudi Arabia (2013-2017).

Dr. John Duke Anthony, Founding President and CEO, National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, served as context provider and moderator.

A podcast recording of the program is available below.

 

 

“Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s Upcoming Visit to America: Implications and Opportunities for the US-Saudi Arabian Relationship” podcast (.mp3)

What’s the Status of President Trump’s Counter-Terrorism Campaign?

On January 11, 2018, the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations and the U.S.-GCC Corporate Cooperation Committee hosted a public affairs briefing asking “What’s the Status of President Trump’s Counter-Terrorism Campaign? Arab and U.S. Perspectives” in Washington, DC.

Dr. John Duke Anthony delivers opening remarks at the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations’ January 11, 2018 public affairs briefing asking “What’s the Status of President Trump’s Counter-Terrorism Campaign?”

The featured specialists were Mr. Nawaf Al Thari, Distinguished International Affairs Fellow, National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations; and Political Adviser and Counter-Terrorism & Counter-Piracy Focal Point, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Permanent Mission to the United Nations; Mr. Christopher Blanchard, Specialist in Middle Eastern Affairs, Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress; Mr. David Des Roches, Senior International Affairs Fellow, National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations; and Associate Professor, Near East/South Asia Center for Strategic Studies, National Defense University, U.S. Department of Defense; and Mr. Fahad Nazer, International Affairs Fellow, National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations; and Consultant, Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, DC. Dr. John Duke Anthony served as context provider and moderator.

A podcast recording of the program is available below.

 

 

“What’s the Status of President Trump’s Counter-Terrorism Campaign?” podcast (.mp3)

Humanitarian Challenges in Yemen

On September 18, 2017, the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations and the U.S.-GCC Corporate Cooperation Committee hosted a public affairs briefing on “Humanitarian Challenges in Yemen” in Washington, DC.

His Excellency Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, Supervisor General of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid & Relief Centre, speaks on Capitol Hill on September 18, 2017.

His Excellency Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah (Supervisor General, King Salman Humanitarian Aid & Relief Centre; Advisor, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Royal Court; and Former Minister of Health, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) was the featured specialist. Dr. John Duke Anthony served as context provider and moderator.

A podcast recording of the program is available below.

 

 

“Humanitarian Challenges in Yemen” podcast (.mp3)

The 1990-1991 Kuwait Crisis Remembered: Profiles in Statesmanship

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For the last twenty-seven years, today has marked the anniversary of an infamous event: Iraq’s brutal invasion and subsequent occupation of Kuwait, which began on August 2, 1990, and which was brought to an end on February 28, 1991. The regional and international effects of numerous aspects of the trauma then inflicted upon Kuwait remain ongoing. Like Kuwait itself, the world, even now, has yet to fully recover.

National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations Founding President and CEO Dr. John Duke Anthony was one of the first American civilians into Kuwait following its liberation. He would return there twelve times over following year with delegations of American leaders tasked with assisting in one or more facets of the war-torn country’s reconstruction. He is here with his escort observing one among over 650 of Kuwait’s oil wells set ablaze by the retreating Iraqi armed forces. Photo: National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations.

Over a quarter century later, important postwar facets of what Iraq did to Kuwait fall short of definitive closure. And they defy effective description. The international legal requirement that an aggressor provide prompt, adequate, and effective compensation for a war’s victims was not honored at the end of hostilities. Despite continuing United Nations-supervised efforts to collect on this inhumane debt, what is due has still not been paid.

The Missing in Action and Context

A full accounting of Kuwait’s and other countries’ missing citizens swept up and carted off to Iraq in the war’s waning hours – in the immediate aftermath of the conflict its main cause celebre – continues to remain incomplete.  The reason is not for lack of effort.  After Kuwait’s liberation, an informal and unofficial effort was mounted by George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs to provide an estimate of the MIAs’ status.

The focus group included diplomats, scholars, media representatives, American armed forces’ civil affairs personnel, and other individuals who fought to liberate Kuwait. Their unscientific consensus reported that more than 400 of the missing Kuwaitis died after they were captured. The fate of more than 200 of the missing, however, was unknown.

In the immediate hours and early days following Kuwait’s liberation, when none of the country’s electric power, desalination water purification plants, and far more of the country’s infrastructure were left operative, and domestic security prospects had been rendered uncertain, armed personnel carriers and mounted automatic weaponry units were omnipresent in the country. Photo: Dr. John Duke Anthony.

That possibly countless others remain missing is no small matter. The numbers in question, to some, may seem few. Not so, however, for those among the loved ones who tear up at the thought of them. Not so either for those who, despite the absence of grounds to warrant optimism for a fortuitous ending to their pining, and continue to wait and pray for their return.

We Americans would do well to stop and think about this for a moment. We are often criticized, and rightly so, for having an empathy deficit when it comes to understanding the suffering of people in other countries and situations. An irony in this needs to be understood and underscored. The irony is that many in the United States demand that people in other countries understand us. For those in front of an American Consular Officer with ticket in hand to visit a friend or relative in Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, or wherever, but who lack such empathy along with the understanding and civility that comes with it, they need to be wished good luck in obtaining a visa to the United States.

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Vision 2030: Enhancing American and Saudi Arabian Business and Investment Dynamics

On June 20, 2017, the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations, the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center, and the U.S.-GCC Corporate Cooperation Committee hosted a public affairs briefing on “Vision 2030: Enhancing American and Saudi Arabian Business and Investment Dynamics” in Washington, DC.

Featured specialists included Dr. John Duke Anthony, Dr. Paul Sullivan, Mr. Fahad Nazer, and Mr. Edward Burton.

A video and podcast recording of the program, along with presentation slides from Dr. Sullivan and Mr. Burton, are available below.

 

 

“Vision 2030: Enhancing American and Saudi Arabian Business and Investment Dynamics” podcast (.mp3)

Dr. Paul Sullivan slides (.pdf)

Mr. Edward Burton slides (.pdf)

How the World Turns: Saudi Arabia in Transition

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Following is important background information. It has to do with numerous high-profile administrative changes made by Saudi Arabia Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud in the past few weeks in the government of Saudi Arabia. Of special significance is the appointment of a new Ambassador to the United States, HRH Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, and a new Minister for Culture and Information, H.E. Dr. Awwad bin Saleh bin Abdullah Al-Awwad.

HRH Prince Khalid bin Salman was previously an adviser to the Saudi Arabian Minister of Defense, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Royal Court, and the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington, D.C. He is also an accomplished F-15 pilot and was one of the first Saudi Arabian fighter pilots to conduct attacks on ISIS in Syria. H.E. Dr. Awwad Al-Awwad was most recently the Kingdom’s envoy in Germany.

Note also the more than a dozen new ministerial-level appointments of governors and deputy governors of various among the Kingdom’s 13 provinces. Note, too, the assignment of new director-generals to key agencies responsible for various aspects of the country’s modernization and development.

Saudi Arabian princes and ministers designated to new posts with the King, Crown Prince, and Deputy Crown Prince.

Saudi Arabian princes and ministers designated to new posts with the King, Crown Prince, and Deputy Crown Prince. Photo: Saudi Press Agency.

The declaration of such changes will naturally invite close examination and comment by specialists. This is to be predicted. What even the country’s critics will be unable to deny, however, is that the shakeup in the upper echelons of the country’s leaders gives the lie to those – and no doubt there are many – among the country’s critics, adversaries, and enemies who tend to dismiss any announcement that contains positive information about and insight into the Kingdom as rubbish.

As ever, these include those that are prone to perceiving the nature and extent of any Saudi Arabian governmental commitment to economic or any other kind of reforms as insincere, deceptive, cosmetic, and/or sclerotic. These will almost certainly do the same in this case.

The latest changes illustrate not only the degree to which important components of the Kingdom’s reforms are underway. They also demonstrate that among the reasons the reforms are being undertaken is an effort to enhance the country’s image, reputation for, and the increasing reality of its public sector accountability.

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