Saudi Arabia denounces terrorist stabbing attacks in Russia and Finland

Memorial cards, candles and flowers for the victims of Friday's stabbings are placed on the Market Square in Turku, Finland, on August 19, 2017. (Lehtikuva/Vesa Moilanen/via REUTERS)
Updated 20 August 2017
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Saudi Arabia denounces terrorist stabbing attacks in Russia and Finland

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia on Sunday strongly condemned the stabbing attacks that took place in Russia's far northern city of Surgut and the Finnish city of Turku, killing and wounding a number of people.
A statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), quoting an official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the Kingdom offers its "condolences to the families of the victims and to the government and people of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Finland, wishing a speedy recovery to the wounded."
The official source reaffirmed the Kingdom's solidarity with the friendly countries against terrorism and extremism.
The Daesh international terrorist network has claimed responsibility for the attack in Russia, in which a man stabbed seven people before being shot dead by police.
“The executor of the stabbing operation in the city of Surgut in Russia is a soldier of the Islamic State,” Daesh propaganda outlet Amaq said in a statement, after the jihadists also claimed responsibility for twin attacks in Spain that left 14 dead.
In the Finland case, a Moroccan asylum-seeker was arrested after he went on a knife rampage on Friday night, killing two women and wounding six others. Police shot the suspect in the leg before his arrest.
Police said the 18-year-old suspect arrived in Finland last year.
Police also arrested four other Moroccan men over possible links to him and issued an international arrest warrant for a sixth Moroccan, they said.
The stabbing spree occurred on Friday afternoon in the main market place in Turku, on the southwest coast of the country, 160 kilometers from Helsinki.
“First thing we heard was a young woman, screaming like crazy. I thought it’s just kids having fun ... but then people started to move around and I saw a man with a knife in his hand, stabbing a woman,” said Laura Laine, who was sitting in a cafe.
“Then a person ran toward us shouting ‘He has a knife’, and everybody from the terrace ran inside. Next, a woman came in to the cafe. She was crying hysterically, down on her knees, saying someone’s neck has been slashed open.”
Four of the wounded were still in hospital, three of them in intensive care, while the other injured persons would be sent home on Saturday, the hospital said.

Muslim community voice concern
Turku’s Iraqi, Syrian and Islamic community condemned the attacks and organized a rally of solidarity in the city’s main square, but decided to cancel it due to security concerns.
“Finns and immigrants, and people from different religions, have had very good relations in Turku... We are shocked, but I don’t see this changing that,” said Abdirahman Mohamed, chairman of the Islamic community of Turku.
He said the Moroccan suspects were not familiar to him or to the Islamic community in town, which has around 2,000 members.


Height of adventure: Treading the ‘Edge of the World’ near Riyadh

Updated 19 April 2018
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Height of adventure: Treading the ‘Edge of the World’ near Riyadh

  • Cliffs in Tuwaiq were formed as a result of the movement of the Arabian plate toward the northeast because of the spread of the Red Sea rift
  • Several prominent Saudi tour companies offer daylong excursions to the site

Thrill seekers and fitness gurus all over the Kingdom will be pleased to know that their choices for weekend activities have increased. 

Several tour operators in Riyadh have started offering trips to the area known as the Edge of the World, making the location more accessible than ever.

With the country’s obesity rates on the rise and many citizens growing more concerned about their physical health and stress levels, people are seeking ways to maintain their fitness without having to restrict themselves to the monotony of a gym routine.

One such solution that has steadily increased in popularity over the past year is hiking, which many have embraced as being much more exciting and fulfilling than spending hours on the treadmill. And most popular of all for hiking and other fitness activities in a natural setting is the magnificent landmark of Jabal Fihrayn, more commonly known as the Edge of the World.

Described as a “window framed by rock,” the Edge of the World offers stunning views of the valley below, a lush grove of acacia trees teeming with wildlife and vegetation. The spot is well-known for being a favorite of visiting picnickers.

Hikers can choose from several trails of varying levels of difficulty, making their way to the top of the Tuwaiq escarpment to take in the magnificent views at the top of the trail, where the colossal cliff faces drop off to reveal the dizzying height from the valley below. In addition to the rich wildlife unique to the location, you can also find samples of fossilized coral and raw mineral deposits in certain areas of the valley.

The cliffs in the areas were formed as a result of the tectonic movement of the Arabian plate toward the northeast because of the spread of the Red Sea rift situated 1,000 km to the west of Tuwaiq.

Due to the increasing popularity of the site, the authorities have built a hardtop that leads to the gates of the sites and arrangements are in place to protect the area and its natural treasures. 

Several prominent Saudi tour companies offer daylong excursions to the site. The more intrepid explorer also has the option to go alone; though past visitors recommend that solo travelers take an all-terrain, 4x4 vehicle and extra precaution. Visitors can spend the day at the site and leave before 6 p.m. (when the gates are closed for the night) or stay behind for a night of camping to enjoy the sunset and the breathtaking celestial views of a star-studded night sky.

Nora Alfard, amateur hiking enthusiast and two-time visitor to the location, was quick to offer praise about her trip. 

“The trip out there was a bit tiring, but totally worth it,” she said. “The views are stunning, and the hiking itself is not that difficult. Most people should be able to make it to the top without too much trouble.” She said she was likely to go a third time, and encouraged others to do the same.

The Edge of the World is roughly 100km northwest of Riyadh, about 1.5 hours’ drive from the capital. Visitors should be prepared for at least 30 minutes of hiking, possibly more depending on your trail and your level of fitness and experience. Previous visitors recommend bringing water and snacks, and stress the importance of dressing appropriately — hiking shoes only!

Decoder

What is hiking?

Hiking means a long, vigorous walk, usually on trails in the countryside. Day hikers generally carry at least food, a map or a GPS navigation device.