Saudi FM: G20 summit comes in exceptional circumstances due to COVID-19

Collaborative approach of G20 key to overcoming COVID-19 pandemic: Saudi minister

RIYADH: Joint efforts by the G20 to fight the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic had proved that through collaboration the world could overcome the health crisis, Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs said on Friday.

Speaking at the International Media Center for the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Riyadh, Adel Al-Jubeir pointed out that nations had rallied together with a village-like mentality to combat the virus outbreak.

He noted that the G20 had provided billions of dollars to obtain a vaccine for COVID-19, and added: “The lessons learned from this are that by working together, we can develop a vaccine faster and more effectively. We can develop protocols for how to deal with this pandemic.”

His comments came during a roundtable discussion — which was moderated by the minister alongside Arab News’ assistant editor-in-chief, Noor Nugali, and UAE minister of state, Reem Al-Hashimi — on how the G20 had reconnected the world.

Al-Jubeir said that the world had always been connected. “The only difference is that now we’re connected much more intensely and at a much greater speed, which means we have to perform at a much greater speed than we used to in the past.

“I see much more benefit from it than anything negative. And I see that when we can use technology and use our different backgrounds, we just enrich our global culture that much,” he added.

Al-Hashimi said the COVID-19 pandemic had shown how much nations depended on each other.

“The global challenges are not going to be solved by one nation no matter how strong. And any fragility in one part of the world is going to have a ripple effect everywhere else,” she added.

Al-Jubeir said the G20 had showcased to the world how Saudi Arabia was empowering its youth and women and making significant reforms through its Vision 2030 plan. However, the COVID-19 pandemic had curtailed some aspects of the Kingdom’s presidency year.

“It (the pandemic) prevented most of the meetings from happening physically. And it would have been nice to have thousands of people come to Saudi Arabia, walk the streets, meet Saudi men and women, see the changes that have happened in the country, feel the changes that are happening in the country, but … we will be able to do that as time goes by,” he added.

Al-Hashimi said: “It’s been phenomenal. I think that the challenge that 2020 has brought was very well-handled by the Kingdom that was able to bring everybody together in such difficult and extraordinary circumstances.

“Nobody wants a conference for the sake of a conference. And here you see that the Kingdom has taken a very robust and rigorous approach in really trying to bring together the things that matter to everybody else.

“I mean, when the theme is realizing opportunities of the 21st century for all, it talks about unlocking that potential,” she added.

On Saudi Arabia playing a more vocal and visual role in international organizations, Al-Jubeir said that the Kingdom had a huge interest in the world and in the stability of the region.

“We want to make our government more efficient … to empower our youth and our women so that the future generations can realize their hopes, their dreams, and their ambitions.

“So, to do this, we need stability in the region. We don’t need conflict. We have a series of conflicts around us, and to stabilize them, we need to work with the international community.

“So of course, our role will continue to be strong when it comes to dealing with the international community and dealing with international organizations,” he added.

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