Saudi Arabia severs Iran ties

Updated 05 January 2016
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Saudi Arabia severs Iran ties

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Sunday officially severed ties with Iran over the storming of the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, following the execution of Saudi Shiite radical Nimr Al-Nimr.

Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir told a news conference Iran’s diplomatic mission and related entities in Saudi Arabia had been given 48 hours to leave. He said Riyadh would not allow Tehran to undermine the Kingdom’s security.

He added that all Saudi diplomats and staff have arrived in the UAE from Iran and are on their way to the Kingdom. He called Tehran a regional menace for its smuggling of arms and explosives and its previous harboring of Al-Qaeda militants.

In Tehran, angry crowds hurled Molotov cocktails and stormed the Embassy. Fires were seen burning inside the building. He said the aggressive statements of the Iranian regime encouraged the attacks on Saudi missions, adding that Iran has a history of supporting terrorism, citing its support to the bloody regime of Bashar Assad.

Al-Jubeir said the Kingdom rejects all criticism of the Saudi justice system. He called on the international community to review Iranian intransigence, stressing that “all options are open for us to deter Iran.”

He added that each Gulf country will decide what measures to be taken to contain Iran. In response to a reporter’s question Al-Jubeir said the Iranian government is involved in the attacks on the Saudi Embassy, adding that Iranian security were present at the scene yet they never attempted to drive out the protesters.

“In Iraq, we have received assurances from the Iraqi government that it will ensure the safety of our embassy and our diplomats in Baghdad,” Al-Jubeir said. Earlier, a ministry spokesman accused Iran of sponsoring terror and undermining regional stability.

“The Iranian regime is the last regime in the world that could accuse others of supporting terrorism, considering that (Iran) is a state that sponsors terror, and is condemned by the UN and many countries,” he said in a statement to SPA.

“Iran’s regime has no shame as it rants on human rights matters, even after it executed hundreds of Iranians last year without a clear legal basis,” said the statement.

“Iran’s criticism of the execution of terrorists and its hostile statements are blatant interference in the Kingdom’s internal affairs,” said the statement.

Iran has offered “many Al-Qaeda leaderships safe haven since 2001” in addition to “offering an Iranian passport” to a Saudi suspect involved in 1996 bombings in the Kingdom who was arrested last year, the ministry said.

It criticized Iran’s “flagrant interference in regional countries, including Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon, as well as Syria where it has directly intervened through its Revolutionary Guard and Shiite militia” causing the deaths of tens of thousands of Syrians.

Al-Jubeir postponed his visit to Pakistan Sunday and preferred to stay back to assess the situation and answer those who are siding with terrorists.

A statement to Arab News by the Pakistani side said Al-Jubeir, who was due in Islamabad for talks with top-ranking Pakistani officials on Sunday, will now visit Pakistan on Jan. 7.


Saudi films soar at Golden Falcon film awards

Updated 20 min 41 sec ago
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Saudi films soar at Golden Falcon film awards

  • Winners of first Golden Falcon award will travel to the Netherlands to study filmmaking techniques
  • Film screenings have been revived in KSA as part of wide-ranging social and economic reforms encouraged by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman 

RIYADH: Saudi films have won awards at an international film festival organized by the Netherlands to coincide with the return of cinema to the Kingdom.

The first Golden Falcon Film Festival awards drew Saudi actors, filmmakers and cinema-lovers to the Netherlands embassy in Riyadh on Wednesday.

More than 30 shortlisted Saudi films were shown at the maiden festival on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Nine films were nominated, with three each in the best film, best script and best director categories. Overall winners were chosen by an international jury headed by Dutch filmmaker Hans Treffers.

Best movie award went to “Mazban.” The other two films nominated in the category were “Tongue” and “Building 20.”

“The Poetess,” “Matour” and “Atoor” were nominated in the best director category with “Atoor” bagging the award.

“Departures,” “Atoor” and “The Remaining” were nominated in the best script category with “Departures” winning the award.

Besides the Golden Falcon trophy, the winners will travel to the Netherlands to study filmmaking techniques.

Joost Reintjes, the Netherlands ambassador in Riyadh, told Arab News: “We are proud to organize the first Golden Falcon Film Festival here to promote filmmaking in the Kingdom and provide a platform for young Saudi filmmakers to show what they have to offer.”

Film screenings — banned in Saudi Arabia in the 1980s following religious changes in the Kingdom — have been revived as part of wide-ranging social and economic reforms encouraged by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

The return of cinema was heralded with a film screening on Wednesday at a newly built theater at the King Abdullah Financial District (KAFD) in Riyadh. 

Commenting on the lifting of the 35-year ban, Reintjes told Arab News: “That’s Vision 2030 — it is good sign to diversify and develop.

“Although the cinemas in the Kingdom have only been restarted now, Saudi filmmaking has already made a name for itself on the world stage.

“The Saudi film industry will grow very fast. The level of talent is high,” he said.

Mohammed Al-Qass, lead actor from “Departure,” said: “We have been working for this day for years. 

“Saudis with a thirst for cinema were traveling outside the country — now they can enjoy and share the experience in their homeland.” 

Mohammed Khawajah, a Saudi filmmaker and adviser for the film festival, told Arab News: “The idea for this festival came last year when the lifting of the cinema ban was being discussed.

“The Netherlands embassy had this idea about nine months ago; we sat together and planned the whole festival, which was carried out successfully, with hundreds of people enjoying Saudi films.

“We will improve with our next festival, which will have more fun and entertainment,” he said.