Saudi plans to overcome challenges welcomed

Updated 10 January 2016

Saudi plans to overcome challenges welcomed

RIYADH: The Kingdom’s domestic and foreign policies outlined this week to meet economic and political challenges were welcomed by a broad spectrum of citizens, expatriates and experts on Friday.

The priorities of the government were unveiled by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, second deputy premier and defense minister, in a wide-ranging interview published by The Economist magazine on Thursday.
Saudi Arabia’s plans for its economy amid dropping oil prices and tackling conflicts in the Middle East, including its gains to restore the legitimate government in Yemen, made headlines in the Kingdom and abroad, including on social networking sites.
The deputy crown prince had ruled out a war with Iran because it would be “catastrophic”; spelled out plans to diversify state income with various measures including the possibility of certain taxes and making Saudi Aramco public and launching job creation initiatives for citizens.
Mosad Al-Zayani, a Dubai-based Saudi journalist, said the Kingdom’s approach to Iran showed it was committed to stability in the region. He welcomed the economic initiatives outlined, including the move to shun dependence on oil revenues and the proposed Aramco privatization.

Mohsin Sheikh Al-Hassan, an author and public relations expert, praised the government for not wanting a war with Iran, but said Tehran must be “taught a lesson” for its destabilizing tactics with a boycott of its products.
He said the Kingdom’s exports stood at SR400 million to Tehran, whereas its imports amounted to SR685 million. “This has to be stopped because we can import these Iranian goods from other friendly countries,” he said.
Zakir Aazmi, an Indian expatriate and author, praised the deputy crown prince for dealing with every important policy area of the government, which he said reflects his “dynamic, visionary and energetic leadership.”
Naif Al-Rashid said the deputy crown prince had outlined initiatives that would ensure the country can effectively face up to political, social and economic challenges. “It is good that Aramco, linchpin of the oil market, goes public,” he said.
Seyed Hamid Moulana, a senior business executive, said it was clear that the government had an answer to all obstacles, including Iran’s “unnecessary” attempts to create tension in the region, and the fall in oil prices. He said he was “overwhelmed” by the analysis provided by the deputy crown prince.
In the interview, which was also translated into Arabic, the deputy crown prince had, in his capacity as head of the newly formed Council of Economic and Development Affairs, said the country was not facing an economic crisis.

Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

Updated 20 July 2019

Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

  • The TV images beamed from 320,000km away in space left viewers astounded but happy
  • The TV coverage influenced thinking and attitudes in the Kingdom just like everywhere else

DUBAI: It was a sleepy afternoon in Saudi Arabia, just days before the end of the school vacation, and Saudis had their eyes glued to their TV sets as they waited for live coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Before July 20, 1969, the idea of a human walking on the moon was the stuff of science fiction. However, almost overnight, sci-fi had turned into reality with a live broadcast showing American astronaut Neil Armstrong’s dramatic descent onto the empty lunar landscape.

Between science fiction and science fact, the live coverage of the lunar landing amounted to an unusual fusion of news and entertainment.

Saudi TV technicians bring the first live images of Neil Armstrong’s 1969 moon landing to
viewers around the Kingdom. (Supplied photo)

The historic images — beamed back to Earth more than 320,000 km away — left Saudi viewers astounded and confused, but mostly elated to be witnessing such an epoch-making event.

The event was covered live on television and radio stations in Saudi Arabia. Most Saudis and residents living in the Kingdom watched it on Saudi channels 1 and 3, owned by Saudi Aramco.

Hessah Al-Sobaie, a housewife from Al-Dawadmi, recalled watching the moon landing from her grandparents’ backyard as an 11-year-old.

“It felt weird watching a human walk on the moon,” she told Arab News. “I remember the endless questions I asked as a child.”

While most people were aware that going to the moon was risky, many Saudis believed that such a journey was impossible and all but unthinkable.


1. NASA’s Apollo 11 mission control room in Houston has been restored to its 1969 condition and regular tours
will be conducted by the Johnson Space Center.

2. NASA ‘Science Live’ will have a special edition on July 23 on board the aircraft carrier that recovered the Apollo 11 capsule.

3. A summer moon festival and family street fair will be held in Wapakoneta, Ohio, from July 17-20.

4. Downtown Houston’s Discovery green will host a free public screening of the ‘Apollo 11’ documentary, with an appearance by NASA astronaut Steve Bowen.

5. Amateur radio operators will host a series of events on July 20-21.

6. The US Space and Rocket Center is staging a special ‘Rockets on Parade’ exhibition.

The Apollo 11 mission prompted discussions across the Middle East over the reality of what people saw on their TV screens. Some Saudi scholars found it hard to believe their eyes.

“I watched it, and I clearly remember each and every detail of the coverage,” Hayat Al-Bokhari, 68, a retired school principal in Jeddah, said.

“My father, Abdul, was 56 at the time. He said the landing was faked. He couldn’t believe or accept that a human could go to the moon.”

Khaled Almasud, 70, a retired university lecturer, was a student in the US state of Oregon at the time of the mission. “Americans were stunned and over the moon, happy with their national achievement. But many Saudis like me were either in denial or insisting on more proof.”

Since the beginning of the 1960s, King Faisal had been rapidly transforming Saudi Arabia, inviting foreign-trained experts to help build a modern country with world-class infrastructure.

Billie Tanner, now 90, lived in the Kingdom for many years with her husband, Larry, and their two children, Laurie and Scott, aged six and four. The family had just arrived in Saudi Arabia and headed to the Aramco compound in Ras Tanura in the Eastern Province.

A screengrab of video of the first lunar landing beamed toward Earth and shown on television worldwide. 

“We were going through a culture shock,” she told Arab News. “I wasn’t thinking of the moon landing, but we heard about it on the news from Dhahran.

“My kids tried to see the astronauts on the moon with their binoculars and said they could see them walking around.”

The Apollo 11 spaceflight has become a milestone in the annals of human history and science. Since 1969 space exploration has greatly expanded man’s knowledge of the universe, far beyond Earth’s limits.

The captivating live coverage of the moon landing inspired millions of people around the world, profoundly influencing their thinking and attitudes.

The people of Saudi Arabia were no exception.