Obama honors Maha Al-Muneef

Updated 31 March 2014

Obama honors Maha Al-Muneef

US President Barack Obama honored Saudi woman activist Maha Al-Muneef in Riyadh Saturday for playing an important role in drafting and advising on a law which protects women in the Kingdom from abuse and domestic violence. It is the first time for such a law to be established in Saudi Arabia which defines and criminalizes domestic violence.
Al-Muneef was honored with the US Secretary of State’s International Woman of Courage Award. As she was unable to attend the award ceremony in the US recently, she was presented the award during Obama’s visit to the Kingdom.
Al-Muneef, a specialist in pediatric infectious diseases, stands among 10 women honored for bravery by the US State Department. She was the only Arab woman among the group to have received the International Women of Courage Award.
Al-Muneef is the Executive Director of Saudi Arabia’s National Family Safety Program (NFSP), the first organization in the Kingdom founded in 2005 to campaign against domestic violence in the Kingdom.
NFSP has developed advocacy programs, reported on domestic violence and child abuse statistics in Saudi Arabia, and provided services for victims of abuse.
Recently, Al-Muneef said that domestic violence is a national security issue. She said that the security program against domestic violence is a true milestone in helping reduce the rate of abuse of Saudi women.
She also callws for educating children on ways to protect themselves against sexual predators and ensuring that parents are aware of the danger signs and their children's whereabouts at all times.
According to the recent statistics, a staggering 60 percent of women visit hospitals after suffering domestic violence and the number of cases being reported are on the increase.

Middle East's love affair with the moon and space

Updated 19 min 52 sec ago

Middle East's love affair with the moon and space

  • The UAE and Saudi Arabia are inaugurating a new era of Arab space exploration
  • Saudi Prince Sultan entered the history books when he journeyed into space on Discovery in 1985

RIYADH: It was a sleepy afternoon in Saudi Arabia, just days before schools were due to start after summer vacation. 

Fifty years ago today, Saudis joined the world in gathering around TV sets to watch a live broadcast of what was once thought impossible: American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took man’s first steps on the moon. 

Armstrong famously said: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” True to his words, advancement in space has skyrocketed since the Apollo 11 mission, opening up doors for space scientists to reach for the stars.

It was only 16 years later that Saudi Prince Sultan bin Salman became the first Arab, Muslim — and royal — astronaut to travel into space. Before traveling to Houston for the Apollo mission anniversary, he sat down with Arab News in an exclusive interview to talk about his NASA mission aboard the space shuttle Discovery in June 1985.

Prince Sultan, recently appointed chairman of the Saudi Space Commission, was only 13 when he watched the historic moon landing on TV. The picture quality might have been poor and the sound garbled, but footage of the landing captured his imagination.

“Humans made airplanes and made advances in industry, but for humans to leave their own planet, that’s really something else,” Prince Sultan told Arab News. 

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.”

It has been more than 30 years since space last had an Arab visitor (Syria’s Muhammed Faris became the second Arab in space on board USSR’s Soyuz spacecraft in 1987). But this September, the first Emirati will become the latest Arab visitor when he joins a team of astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS).

Hazza Al-Mansoori will travel to space on board a Soyuz-MS 15 spacecraft that is due to take off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Sept. 25.