10 August 2016
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has become the most generous among donor nations with a record allocation of SR224 billion in humanitarian aid and assistance given so far to needy countries.

The Kingdom does not differentiate in extending aid to countries on the basis of religion, race, denomination or political affiliations, which is an essential component of its foreign policy.

This was disclosed by Sulaiman bin Abdullah Al-Roumi, dean of student affairs at the Madinah-based Islamic University on Tuesday.

Al-Roumi, while giving an overview of the aid and charity programs launched by the Kingdom, pointed out that the Kingdom has extended aid and assistance to 83 countries "without any conditions."

Moreover, Riyadh is also at the forefront of extending soft loan facilities to poor African countries that total SR22 billion so far.

This makes Riyadh one of the largest lending nations that have been providing finance to execute development projects across the African continent, said the latest report issued by the Saudi Fund for Development, Tuesday.

Al-Roumi said that several non-Islamic countries were surprised to receive aid from Saudi Arabia. The leaders of these countries have been praising the success of the King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid, which one country more than $460 million in just one year.

He said that "there are various examples which explain the track record of the Kingdom in providing aid ... more than SR200 million had been given by Riyadh to Afghanistan when it suffered from the Soviet invasion and that country was in urgent need of relief at that time."

This was followed by the continued support for the Palestinian people as they have been suffering from Israeli atrocities.

Besides the official donation campaigns organized by the Kingdom to support those affected in Syria and provide aid to Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, the Kingdom has also built about 300 housing units in Gaza. Not only this, Riyadh has been at the forefront in extending aid to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Pakistan and Somalia, besides many other nations.

Referring to the loan facilities extended by the Kingdom for infrastructure projects across the world, especially in Africa, the SFD report said it had provided more than 332 loans to finance 318 development projects and programs in 44 African countries. The above-mentioned contributions represent about 51.02 percent of the fund's total cumulative contributions.

The transportation and communication sector came at the top of the fund's contributions list. In this regard, 108 projects were financed at SR6185 million, which represents 28.65 percent of the total loan amount allocated for Africa. The SFD devoted special attention to this sector given the fact that Africa's has very poor transportation and communication networks.

"From 1975 to 2013, the SFD financed 88 social development projects and programs with SR5685 million in Africa," said the report, adding that the social infrastructure projects have played a key role in poverty reduction strategies recently adopted by various countries. This is in addition to a number of projects financed by the private charities owned by Saudi philanthropists and individuals.

Given Africa's increasing demand for energy and based on the crucial need to increase energy roduction, expand its networks and deliver to rural areas, the SFD has also included the energy sector within the framework of its development activity. It has, accordingly, financed 23 projects and programs in this sector with SR2930 million, almost 13.57 percent of its total contributions to Africa.

© Arab News 2016