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Last Updated: Friday, 7 January, 2005, 12:35 GMT
Saudis boost aid to wave victims
A boy carries relief aid in Aceh, Indonesia
The UN says it urgently needs $1bn in cash for relief work
The organisers of a marathon fundraising event on Saudi Arabian TV say they have raised more than $80m to help the victims of the Asian tsunami.

The total includes a $5m donation from King Fahd. The Saudi government had already promised $30m.

Saudi citizens brought money, clothes and other goods to a sports stadium in the capital Riyadh from where the event was broadcast.

Qatar has donated $25m, the United Arab Emirates $20m and Kuwait $10m.

The marathon Saudi fundraising event featured religious figures calling on viewers to donate, saying it was their duty as Muslims.

'Collective miserliness'

Arab governments, and the oil-rich Gulf states in particular, have been criticised for not pledging more for the victims - the majority of whom are Muslims from Indonesia.

The two largest international donors are Germany, which offered $674m, and Australia, which says it will give $765m over five years.

There has been public criticism from inside the Gulf states that their contributions are not generous enough when the region's huge oil revenues are taken into account.

We have to give them more; we are rich
Waleed al-Nusif
Al-Qabas editor
"We have to give them more; we are rich," Kuwait's al-Qabas newspaper editor-in-chief Waleed al-Nusif told the New York Times earlier this week.

Lebanon's Daily Star newspaper accused governments of "collective miserliness in this hour of human need".

The most-watched Arab TV station, al-Jazeera, has announced its own campaign for donations, describing the comparative paucity of aid so far as "shameful" .

However, the Saudi ambassador to Britain, Prince Turki al-Faisal, denied his country's increase was a direct response to the criticism.

"The initial contribution [came] initially after the news came out, so the picture was not clear to anybody as to the extent of the devastation," he told the BBC's Today programme.

"Once that picture became clear, it was decided to treble the contribution," he said.

The Saudi donation was not insignificant, and it outclassed the UK's offer of $96m "in terms of GDP and population numbers", he added.


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