KATHMANDU, June 13: The government has decided to confer highest medal on Saudi Arabian prince Al-Waleed bin Talal by holding a special function in Saudi Arabia.
Sources at Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said the medal will be conferred by Nepali Ambassador to Saudi Arabia as Prince Talal expressed his inability to visit Nepal again to receive the award. "He
[the prince] has conveyed to us that he would receive the award through Nepalese embassy," the source said.
The then government hastily decided to confer him the Mahaujjwal Rastradeep medal--- the highest medal to be given to a foreigner except the head of the state --- during his visit to Nepal in November, 2010 for ´further strengthening relations between Nepal and Saudi Arabia´. However, he could not receive the medal due to opposition from various quarters to award a person who has not made substantial contribution to Nepal as per the regulations governing the government awards.
Prince Talal was one of the 219 persons to receive medals from President Ram Baran Yadav during the decoration ceremony held at the presidential palace in Shital Niwas on May 22. "We had asked foreign ministry to enquire if the prince would be able to make it to Nepal to receive the medal. Since he expressed his inability we are making necessary preparations to send the medal through diplomatic channel," said a senior official at Home Ministry.
There are three orders of government awards, namely Nepal Ratna, Rastra Gaurab and Rastradeep. The Rastradeep award, which is meant for honoring both Nepali and foreign nationals for their contribution to promote Nepal´s image, dignity and interests, is the highest to be given to any foreigner except the head of the state.
Prince Talal had confirmed his visit to Nepal after then Nepali envoy to Saudi Arabia Hamid Ansari reportedly assured him that the Nepal government would confer a medal and a doctorate degree on him, but without consulting the government back home.
But the preparations for the medal function could not be held as then Home Minister Bhim Rawal, who was chairman of the Decorations Committee, was not positive about the idea, saying that Nepal did not have any precedence of honoring foreign nationals who had not made substantial contribution to Nepal.