Riyadh donates additional $150m to help Yemenis

War-displaced Yemeni children stand next to a tent at a camp near Sanaa. (Reuters)
Updated 26 April 2017
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Riyadh donates additional $150m to help Yemenis

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia on Tuesday donated $150 million (SR562 million) to the King Salman Center for Humanitarian Aid and Relief (KSRelief) to boost its work in war-torn Yemen.
The donation was announced by Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, head of the center, who led the Kingdom’s delegation to a donors’ conference in Geneva.
Al-Rabeeah said the most recent donation is part of the $8.2 billion the Kingdom has pledged to help its humanitarian and developmental assistance to Yemen since April 2015.
International donors pledged $1.1 billion for Yemen, said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Tuesday. Officials did not immediately provide a full breakdown of the pledges — or specify how much was new.
Guterres appealed to the fighting sides to grant access to humanitarian relief and revive diplomatic efforts to end the conflict in which more than 10,000 civilians have died.
Guterres ended the daylong Yemen aid conference by hailing the “clear generosity and solidarity” of governments and civil society in their efforts to aid people caught up in two years of conflict in the Arab world’s poorest country.
The conference, cosponsored by the UN, Switzerland and Sweden, raised pledges of over half of the $2.1 billion sought by the UN this year.
Yemeni Prime Minister Ahmed Obeid bin Daghr said the Houthi militias and those loyal to ousted Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh were blocking state salaries owed to employees in areas under their control. He added that the funds pledged are enough to pay state salaries for a period of nine months in Sanaa and other cities.
“We sent 12 billion Yemeni riyals from Aden to Sanaa and Taiz, which are under the control of the Houthis, and we are still sending funds to cities, despite the obstacles, as we do not differentiate between the provinces. We will continue to support the humanitarian aid teams irrespective of where they are as there is no differentiation between provinces under the control of the government and others,” he said.
Bin Daghr stressed that the Yemeni government will continue to lend support to UN efforts and the humanitarian response plan for 2017, adding that millions of Yemeni citizens are awaiting this assistance, some facing starvation.
“Taiz is the largest city after the capital, and it has been suffering from siege and continuous shelling over the past two years. Iranian-made ballistic missiles are continuing to hit cities and neighborhoods. The destruction continued with the march of militias on the cities of Yemen, city after city, including the capital of Sanaa, Taiz, and others, resulting in a clear assault on the legitimate elected government,” said Bin Daghr.
After years of shortfall in funding for Yemen, Guterres said there is a “very encouraging signal” that the target could be met this year.
He said the pledges must now be “translated into effective support” for Yemenis.
“We basically need now three things: Access, access, access,” for humanitarian actors to reach all Yemenis in need, he said.
“On average, a child under the age of five dies of preventable causes in Yemen every 10 minutes,” Guterres said at the opening of the conference.
“This means 50 children in Yemen will die during today’s conference, and all of those deaths could have been prevented.”


Innovative Saudi cultural center showcases world-famous ‘The Scream’ artist’s exhibition

Updated 5 min 59 sec ago
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Innovative Saudi cultural center showcases world-famous ‘The Scream’ artist’s exhibition

  • 40 works by Edvard Munch go on display for first time in Middle East

DHAHRAN: A dynamic Saudi cultural center is to showcase the works of one of the world’s most famous painters in an exhibition-first for the Middle East.

Forty pieces by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, best known for his iconic “The Scream” painting, will go on public display at the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra).

The special exhibition, titled “Landscapes of the Soul,” is the latest in a series of high-profile cultural events to be staged at the showpiece Dhahran museum.

Developed by Saudi Aramco with the aim of stimulating knowledge, creativity and cross-cultural engagement, Ithra’s theater, museum, exhibition hall and art gallery complex forms a key part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan to promote culture and entertainment.

The Munch exhibition, which runs until Sept. 3, portrays the artist’s personal life experiences of misery, love, despair, loneliness and reflections of the soul, through his distinctive works.

“It is such an honor to host and introduce to Saudi Arabia, and indeed, the Middle East, the work of the world-renowned artist Edvard Munch,” Rania Biltagi, Ithra’s head of communications and partnership, told Arab News.

Munch’s (1863-1944) original exhibition has been located in Oslo, Norway since 1963, and the Saudi display is being staged in Ithra’s Great Hall in partnership with the Munch Museum in Norway.

As well as a lithograph version of his most famous painting “The Scream,” other works on show will include “Summer Night. The Voice,” 1894, “Self-Portrait,” 1895, and “The Sick Child,” 1896.

“A moment that stood out from the opening was when speaking to a couple visiting the exhibit, they mentioned that they were Norwegian and working in Saudi,” Biltagi said. “They explained that they had never had the chance to visit the Munch Museum in their homeland and what an unexpected pleasure it was to be able to see Munch’s work in Saudi.”

Biltagi added that the event epitomized the aim of Ithra in providing a platform to bring together cultures as well as people.

The center, featured in Time magazine’s list of the world’s top 100 places to visit, is a pioneer on the Kingdom’s culture and arts scene, organizing a variety of events, performances, programs and experiences to suit all ages and backgrounds. Previous exhibitions have included a focus on Saudi contemporary art, Leonardo da Vinci, and installations symbolizing creativity and innovation.