Saudi air defense forces shoot down Houthi missile aimed at Makkah

The holy Kaaba at the Grand Mosque in Makkah is packed with worshipers in this file photo taken during Ramadan in June 2017. The Iran-backed Houthi militia in Yemen launched a missile aimed at Makkah on Thursday night but it was intercepted by Saudi air defense forces. (SPA file photo)
Updated 29 July 2017
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Saudi air defense forces shoot down Houthi missile aimed at Makkah

JEDDAH: Saudi air defense forces intercepted a ballistic missile launched by Yemen’s Houthi militias on Thursday night toward the holy city of Makkah, according to the Arab Coalition command.
In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency, the coalition command said the missile was shot down over Al-Wasliya area in Taif province, some 69 kilometers away from the holy city. No damage or injuries were reported.
The missile attack was “clearly a desperate attempt to disrupt the Hajj season,” said the statement.
The alliance command confirmed that the non-stop trafficking of missiles into Yemeni territory comes from the lack of control and monitoring at Al-Hodeida Port in western Yemen, “as well as the misuse of permits granted by the alliance to relief and goods shipments.”
The coalition said that “missile trafficking” is going on because of “the world community’s failure to take a decision to prevent such violations that prolong the war and endanger the lives of civilians.”
“The alliance reiterates its support for the decision of the legitimate Yemeni government for the endeavor of the UN envoy for Yemen, Ismail Ould Al-Chieck, to impose control on this vital sea outlet,” the coalition statement said.
Earlier, the Saudi-led coalition urged the UN to take control of Hodeida Port to enable the continuous flow of humanitarian support for civilians, but the UN refused to take responsibility. The Iran-backed Houthis have continued to disrupt operations at the key port despite an offensive by the coalition.
Thursday’s missile attack was the second to be aimed at Makkah. On Oct. 27, 2016, a Houthi missile launched from Yemen toward the holy city was shot down by Saudi air defense forces before it could reach its target.
Houthi forces have also launched numerous attacks on other targets, mostly along the Saudi border with Yemen, killing more than 100 soldiers and civilians.
Saudi Arabia, along with the UAE, organized the coalition in 2015 to support the UN-recognized government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi amid an onslaught of Houthi militias and loyalist forces of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
The coalition has accused Iran of arming the Houthis as part of Tehran’s destabilization efforts in the region.
The secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Yousef Al-Othaimeen, stated that the outrageous attempted assault on Makkah once again, after the first attempt last year in October, undoubtedly affirms the insistence of the Houthi and Saleh militias to target the holy sites in the Kingdom in implementation of conspiratorial plans against the country, its citizens and residents.
He described it as a futile attempt to destabilize the Hajj season, and an attack on all Muslims in the world, given the sacred city’s holiness as the cradle of revelation.
Al-Othaimeen said that this attack reflects very clearly the lack of seriousness on the part of the Houthi and Saleh militias to end the conflict in Yemen through peaceful means.
He reiterated the support of the OIC for the legitimate Yemeni government and for the efforts of the UN to find political solutions that will guarantee the security and stability of Yemen, while preserving its unity and territorial integrity.
He also reaffirmed the organization’s support for the ongoing efforts by Saudi Arabia to bring about peace in Yemen and to support its legitimate institutions. He affirmed the full solidarity of the OIC in all steps and measures the Kingdom takes to safeguard the country’s security and stability.


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

Updated 14 November 2018
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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?”

Stan Lee made a number of movie cameos in the Marvel universe, including Spider-Man: Homecoming. He has also featured in the X-Men world.

“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!