Saudi Arabia forms new apparatus of state security

Updated 21 July 2017
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Saudi Arabia forms new apparatus of state security

JEDDAH: King Salman on Thursday decreed the consolidation of the counterterrorism and domestic intelligence services under a new body named the Presidency of State Security.
The new state security agency will be headed by intelligence chief Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed Al-Howairini, who will hold the rank of a minister.
In a series of royal decrees, King Salman also appointed Abdullah bin Abdulkarim bin Abdul Aziz Al-Essa as assistant to the head of the Presidency of State Security, with the rank of minister.
The new body will be concerned with all matters related to state security, and will be overseen by the king.
The General Directorate of Investigation, the Special Security Forces, the Special Emergency Forces, General Security Aviation Command, the General Directorate of Technical Affairs, the National Information Center and all matters related to combatting terrorism and financial investigations will be separated from the Interior Ministry and placed under the new Presidency of State Security.
It is well-known that the Interior Ministry did a remarkable job since its inception until the early 1990s with regard to police, traffic, Passport Department and other services that concern citizens and residents.
However, after the rise of the terror threat, the Interior Ministry concentrated much of its efforts on fighting this scourge.
This led to the addition of a large number of responsibilities, which affected the ministry’s other services such as police, traffic and the Passport Department.
The Presidency of State Security will enable the Interior Ministry to provide the best services to citizens and residents in all sectors. The new presidency will be able to focus on the fight against terrorism on the security and intelligence levels, as well as monitor its financing.
Everything related to the Security Affairs Agency and other functions related to the ministry — including tasks involving civil and military employees, budgets, documents and information — will also be added to the Presidency of State Security.
Experts believe the creation of the Presidency of State Security will rationalize state expenditure, increase revenues, achieve economic growth and competitiveness, and increase exports to reduce reliance on imports.
All sectors, bodies and departments of the Interior Ministry and the Presidency of State Security are mandated to cooperate with each other to ensure necessary support, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported. All decrees are to be implemented from the start of the next fiscal year.

Other appointments
Also appointed on Thursday were Mohammed bin Abdullah bin Ibrahim Al-Kuwaiz as chairman of the Capital Market Authority with the rank of minister; Bader bin Mohammed bin Abdul Aziz bin Asaker as director of the crown prince’s Special Office with the rank of minister; and Sulaiman bin Naif bin Atallah Al-Kathiri as head of special affairs of the crown prince.
Among other appointments, Lt. Gen. Suhail bin Saqr Al-Mutairi was promoted to the rank of general and appointed head of the Royal Guard, in place of Gen. Hamad bin Mohammed Al-Ohaili.
Lt. Gen. Khaled bin Garrar Al-Harbi was appointed commander of the Special Emergency Forces and promoted to the rank of general.
Maj. Gen. Mufleh bin Sulayem Al-Otaibi, commander of the Special Security Forces, was promoted to lieutenant general.


Stan Lee’s work was introduced to the Arab World in the 70s — and his fanbase has grown ever since

Updated 28 min 39 sec ago
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Stan Lee’s work was introduced to the Arab World in the 70s — and his fanbase has grown ever since

  • The wise-cracking, smart-mouthed godfather of contemporary comic books died on Monday, aged 95
  • I’ve been in this business so long dealing with fans that I can really tell within a couple of days of receiving the fan mail whether or not we're on the right track: Lee

Stan Lee, Marvel Comics’ legendary creator of super heroes and super villains, has left behind an enduring legacy for all ages — including for fans in the Middle East.

The wise-cracking, smart-mouthed godfather of contemporary comic books, who died aged 95 on Monday, created outcasts, misfits, super heroes and extraordinary characters from all walks of life, who found their way into almost every home in the world.

Lee wanted his characters to be “real,” have problems, girlfriends, children, alter-egos, crushes, and to fight with each other; all the while trying to find a place in society like everyone else. In doing so, he won the comic genre success among children, teens and adults alike.

“They’d be fallible and feisty and, most important of all, inside their colorful-costumed booties, they’d still have feet of clay,” Lee once said of his creations.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Arab world was introduced to some of the comics published by Marvel through Behind the Universe (Ma Wara’a Al-Kawn), an initiative by Bizat Al-Rih in Lebanon. With a passion for visual tales and storytelling, editor-in-chief and Lebanese author Henry Mathews oversaw the translation process.

The magazine began with tales of science fiction, bringing in stills from “Star Trek” to tell the story to readers, before moving on to bigger Marvelverse characters that were thriving at the time such as “Spider-Man,” “The Hulk,” “Spider-Woman” and “Fantastic Four.” Later, an additional story was added to the collection, Japanese manga “Grendizer,” which was then animated and became a classic for Arab generations in the 1970s and 1980s.

@huda4comics is an Instagram account that has become a home for comic lovers who wish to relive their childhood by acquiring pieces from the past. They provide customers with collections of translated comics in Arabic and make it easier for people to find them by simply visiting their page rather than looking for stories that have ceased production, such as Behind the Universe.

Huda spoke to Arab News about her collection: “I’ve been collecting these specific publications (Behind the Universe) through many sources. Some I’ve gathered while traveling, others I’ve acquired through sellers online throughout the Arab world.”

Asked whether these rare publications’ value will rise with the death of Lee, Huda said: “I don’t think Arab fans will be affected by it. I think pieces that have been signed by Stan Lee himself, first and limited editions, and original art collections, will be affected by his passing, but not Arabic publications.”

Growing up, Huda had no interest in such collections, but as an adult she became passionate about providing fans with a place where they could get their hands on these rare treasures.

Riyadh-based Naif Alkhairallah, author of “Black Bonds,” got to know about super heroes through “Sesame Street,” which used to feature a sketch of “Spider-Man,” while the first comic book he read was a translated version of “Grendizer” on Behind the Universe.

“Since then, I have become fascinated by the world of super heroes and comic books,” he told Arab News in Jeddah’s first Comic Con in 2017, where he had a book launch.

Dr. Naif Al-Mutawa, creator of “The 99” and an award-winning entrepreneur and clinical psychologist, shared his memories and thoughts on the influence Stan Lee had on the world of comics in the Middle East. “I had lunch with Lee in the summer of 2007 in Beverly Hills, and had a really nice discussion about the work I was doing and the influence of ‘X-Men’ on ‘The 99’,” he said.

“I could connect with him because I had hired the former head of marketing, the former publisher, and the former editor-in-chief of Marvel — they were all working for me at the time. It was my way of attracting Western talents and my passport into the world of Stan Lee and former Marvel executives,” he said.

Having a team that had worked alongside Lee in some of Marvel’s most successful comics surely had an invaluable influence on helping to create and realize the grand vision of Al-Mutawa’s “The 99?”

“Absolutely. These are the writers that I used for ‘The 99.’ They’d worked on ‘Iron Man,’ ‘Spider-Man,’ ‘X-Men.’ One of them was involved in the creation of ‘Deadpool.’ One of my original artists who created the first iteration of the character guide of
‘The 99’ was the same person who did the original ‘X-Men.’ So I would
say definitely the influence was there — both stylistically in the creation of the characters, as well as ideologically,” he said.

With a career that spanned decades, he was instrumental in creating some of the most iconic TV and movie characters. Marvel movies conquered Hollywood, with more than $12 billion in global sales. The witty creator took any chance he could to make cameo appearances in every Marvel movie until his death.

Lee’s influence on the comic scene in the Arab region is very evident.

With more up-and-coming comic creators than ever, Lee’s work has shown that it can stand the test of time. Na3am, a new media company, launched a comic “Saudi Girls Revolution” and “Latifa,” Saudi Arabia’s first female comic super hero game.

In an interview earlier this year, Lee told Arab News that he was pleased by the number of fans that had flocked to the Middle East Film and Comic Con in Dubai. Although he never visited the Middle East, he said that his fanbase was beyond his expectations.

“It’s incredible that they have one out there,” he told Arab News. “They’ve always treated me kindly and with the utmost respect. They are an A-class show.”

When asked whether Marvel would introduce a Middle Eastern super hero on the big screen, Lee had no doubt it would happen. “It’s only a matter of time,” he said.

Abdulrahman Alhaidari, comic fanatic and instructor at Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah, said that he got into comics when he was very young, before he learned to read. He found the details of the drawing and the epic events that took place in the stories mesmerizing.

“Stan Lee was a legend among all fans of pop culture. We all loved his short appearances in all late Marvel movies, and he really showed us how humble and funny he is in his appearances in ‘The Big Bang Theory’  show. 

“It takes a special character to have all that fame, power, glory, wealth, and yet to remain a down-to-earth, friendly person. I guess he showed us what a super hero he was. He will surely be missed by his fans all over the globe.”

Excelsior!