Riyadh condemns Assad strikes on aid convoys

An opposition fighter fires a heavy machine gun in Jobar, an opposition-held district on the eastern outskirts of Damascus. (AFP)
Updated 21 March 2017
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Riyadh condemns Assad strikes on aid convoys

RIYADH: The Cabinet, in its weekly meeting Monday, renewed Saudi Arabia’s condemnation of Syrian air attacks on UN humanitarian aid convoys, which led to the suspension of assistance in the war-wracked country.
The meeting, chaired by King Salman, also expressed concern over the findings of an international commission on Syria — discussed by Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) — citing war crimes and crimes against humanity being committed by the regime, its allies and militias against Syrian people, especially in Aleppo, causing deaths of innocent civilians and destruction of schools, hospitals, water supplies, farms and food stores.
The EU imposed sanctions on Monday against four senior Syrian military officials accused of using chemical weapons on civilians, after Russia and China blocked similar measures at the UN.
The move marks the first time the EU has blacklisted Syrian officials for the regime’s alleged use of chlorine gas during the six-year conflict, although it previously accused one commander, Maj. Gen. Tahir Hamid Khalil, of deploying chemical weapons as part of repressive tactics in 2013.
It has also targeted Syrian companies accused of manufacturing chemical weapons.
The four military officials, who the EU will name on Tuesday, will be banned from traveling to the EU and will be unable to access any assets in the bloc or its banks, according to a statement by the EU.
The EU measures take the number of people under its Syrian sanctions to 239, as well as 67 companies.
EU sanctions also include an oil embargo, restrictions on investments, a freeze of Syrian central bank assets held in the EU and a ban on exports of equipment and technology that could be used against civilians.
Meanwhile, heavy airstrikes hammered opposition-held neighborhoods of Damascus on Monday after regime forces pushed back a surprise assault that saw opposition fighters try to fight their way into the city center.
The Levant Liberation Committee, a coalition of several militant groups led by Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, and the independent Failaq Al-Rahman faction spearheaded the blitz, which caught the Syrian military off guard.


KSA’s Madinah to host 4-day international conference on ‘humanizing cities’

Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman
Updated 24 April 2018
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KSA’s Madinah to host 4-day international conference on ‘humanizing cities’

  • The conference will review global trends in the areas of “humanization of cities” and “living cities
  • The event is being organized by the Development Authority of Madinah

JEDDAH: The First International Conference on Humanizing Cities will take place from May 7 to 10 at Taibah University in Madinah.

The event is being organized by the Development Authority of Madinah, under the patronage of Prince Faisal bin Salman, governor of Madinah region and chairman of the Development Authority of Madinah.

The conference will review global trends in the areas of “humanization of cities” and “living cities,” looking at modern ways to develop public places, city centers and neighborhoods to improve urban spaces and the quality of urban life, so that cities are more friendly and comfortable places to live.

There will be discussions of the best ways to develop cities, and of the most suitable local and international mechanisms for doing so to most benefit residents. Ways to encourage various sectors and communities to get involved in the initiatives and humanization projects will also be examined.

There will be 20 panel discussions, including presentations, case studies and open debates on the humanization of cities. The participants will include 20 international experts in the planning and development of cities, public areas and open spaces, and 27 distinguished local experts in architecture, design, planning and urban development. The speakers come from 14 countries, including Saudi Arabia, the US, Canada, the Netherlands, the UK, Sweden, Germany, Greece, Singapore, Indonesia, Bahrain, UAE, Egypt and Jordan.

A number of experts and academics will take part, including: Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, a professor at Harvard University Graduate School of Design; Charles Landry, a British planner known for his studies on creative cities; Joel Kotkin; Michael Mahaffey; Khoo Teng Chye, director of the Center for Liveable Cities in Singapore; Michael Sorkin, a professor at Columbia University in New York; Fred Kent, the founder and president of the Public Spaces Project; and Herbert Dreiseitl, director of The Liveable Cities Lab.

The conference will also feature senior officials from the Kingdom and other Gulf countries, and Saudi mayors. Directors of regional and international organizations working in the field will also take part and visit the Development Authority of Madinah to discuss the current state and future of moves to humanize cities.

Speakers will discuss a number of key themes, including the principles and practices of achieving human cities, a review of how best to manage them, and the role of local authorities, highlighting planning and design, and the part played by public areas and open spaces.

Other aspects covered by the conference include the financing and the transformation of cities to make them more suitable for all residents. The integration of environmental sustainability with humanization programs will also be discussed, as will the role of culture and education.

The conference will also present and discuss the experiences gained through the projects and initiatives that are part of the Humanization Madinah project carried out by Madinah Development Authority, which aims to make Madinah an example for the development of modern cities.

The conference is targeted at specialists in ministries and other government agencies and bodies, leaders of local administrations, and employees of non-profit organizations, private-sector institutions, universities and specialized research centers, along with other researchers and individuals interested in the field.