Saudi Arabia’s crown prince gives $66.7m in aid for cholera outbreak in Yemen

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Yemenis wait outside a tent where patients infected with cholera are receiving treatment at Sabaeen Hospital in Sanaa. (AFP)
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Prince Mohammad bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
Updated 24 June 2017
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Saudi Arabia’s crown prince gives $66.7m in aid for cholera outbreak in Yemen

RIYADH: The King Salman Center for Relief and Humanitarian Aid (KSRelief) donated $66.7 million to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Health Organization (WHO) and their partners to respond to the outbreak of cholera in Yemen.
The donation is an initiative of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, deputy premier and minister of defense, to accelerate the Kingdom’s humanitarian efforts in Yemen.
The figure of $66.7 million was requested by UNICEF and the WHO as the total funding needed to effectively respond to the cholera outbreak in Yemen through a combination of water, sanitation and health care activities.
Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, adviser at the Royal Court and general supervisor of KSRelief, was quoted by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) as saying that the Kingdom is committed to working closely with its aid partners to effectively address the cholera and general humanitarian situation in Yemen. “We have listened to the call from UNICEF and WHO for an immediate donation of $66.7 million to address cholera specifically, and have acted accordingly,” he said.
“We will continue to work with our partners across a broad range of humanitarian and relief efforts for the people of Yemen.”
A cholera outbreak will probably have infected more than 300,000 people by September, up sharply from the current tally of nearly 193,000 cases, the UN said Friday.
“Probably at the end of August we will reach 300,000 cases,” UNICEF spokeswoman Meritxell Relano told reporters in Geneva during a conference call.
Since the outbreak was declared in April, an estimated 1,265 people have died, she said.
“The number of cases continues to increase,” Relano said, adding that all of the 21 governorates in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest country, have been affected.
She said children had been hit hard by the outbreak, accounting for half of the registered cases to date. But only a quarter of the people who have died so far were children.
Cholera is a highly contagious bacterial infection spread through contaminated food or water.
Although the disease is easily treatable, doing so in conflict-torn Yemen has proved particularly difficult.
According to the UN human rights agency, civilians account for nearly 5,000 of the recorded deaths and more than 8,500 of the injuries.
Yemen is on the brink of famine, with about 17 million people — two-thirds of the population — uncertain of where their next meal will come from, the UN’s World Food Program (WFP) said.
“This is the largest humanitarian crisis happening in the world at the moment,” WFP spokeswoman Bettina Luescher told reporters.
She said the agency was scaling up its response and aimed to provide food aid to 6.8 million people across the country this month alone.
But more than half of those people will receive reduced rations because of a dire funding shortage, she warned.
— With input from AFP


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

Updated 20 July 2019
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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.


EVENTS WATCH

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.