Indian Embassy launches key series with Arab News editor-in-chief as inaugural speaker

Indian Ambassador Dr. Ausaf Sayeed presents a memento to Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas at the Indian Embassy in Riyadh on Tuesday. (Supplied)

Faisal J. Abbas spoke about Vision 2030 and the evolution of Saudi society through the prism of the Kingdom’s media

RIYADH: To mark the 75th anniversary of India’s independence, as well as the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Saudi Arabia, Indian Ambassador Dr. Ausaf Sayeed on Tuesday launched the “Distinguished Speakers Series,” with Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas the inaugural speaker.

Abbas spoke at length about the evolution of Saudi society as viewed through the prism of Saudi media. The editor-in-chief also talked about the cultural renaissance that has followed the recent path-breaking social reforms.

In his welcome address, Sayeed said that rapid socioeconomic changes have been happening in the Kingdom thanks to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 program.

“It was felt that we needed to organize events to help the diplomatic and expatriate community get a perspective on these changes and other aspects of the Kingdom and its rapidly evolving society. We should be aware of the points of view of prominent personalities, mainly Saudis, from various walks of life including business, media, art and culture,” Sayeed said

He said that when he conceived the idea of the series he thought it should begin with a very distinguished personality

“Faisal Abbas was an automatic choice for the inaugural edition. He is a very familiar name to all of us who follow English media in the Kingdom and, apart from his incisive and analytical articles on political issues, he is also a regular speaker at the World Economic Forum and we also see him regularly interviewing global leaders,” Sayeed said

He added that, under Abbas’ leadership, Arab News had extended its global footprint and now had several editions in different parts of the world. “The newspaper provides a critical voice from the Middle East, not only covering events in the Kingdom but also throughout the region, where he is an eminent columnist. It’s always a pleasure to read what he writes.”

The audience included a large number of serving ambassadors to the Kingdom, along with former diplomats, fellow journalists and members of Saudi Arabia’s Indian community, which is estimated at more than 2.5 million.

“I need no welcome to come to my home,” said Abbas. “The Indian Embassy is not only my home but home to every Saudi. As the ambassador mentioned, we are celebrating the 75th anniversary of India’s independence and the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Saudi Arabia. We look forward to forging stronger ties and strategic relationships between our countries.”

He added: “It is a great responsibility to be in charge of a Saudi newspaper looking outward to the world. The changes we have witnessed over the past four or five years and our responsibilities have quadrupled because of the transformations occurring in the Kingdom.”

As for the newspaper being the leading voice for diplomats, he said: “We are very privileged at Arab News to be, in most cases, the first point of contact with diplomats when they arrive in Saudi Arabia and also the last point when we get the farewell interview.”

The evening was anchored and moderated by Asim Anwar, second secretary (economic and commercial) at the Indian Embassy. It concluded with the ambassador presenting Abbas with an honorary memento

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