Saudi defense forces shoot down Houthi missile over Riyadh

A combo photo from a video on social media shows Patriots being fired against the oncoming Houthi missile over Riyadh on Saturday.
Updated 05 November 2017
0

Saudi defense forces shoot down Houthi missile over Riyadh





JEDDAH: Houthi rebels in Yemen fired a ballistic missile on Saturday night aimed at Riyadh.

Saudi defense forces intercepted and shot down the missile, and there were no casualties.
Fire engines and emergency vehicles sped to runway R33 at King Khaled International Airport after reports of loud bangs at about 8.45 p.m. 
The General Authority of Civil Aviation said some remnants of the missile landed inside the airport perimeter, but there was no significant damage and all flights were operating as usual.
The Iran-backed rebels admitted the attack in a statement on the Houthi-run Al-Masirah television channel. They said they had targeted the airport.
The Houthis have now launched 78 missiles at Saudi Arabia, including one aimed at Makkah in July, since the Saudi-led coalition began fighting to restore the legitimate government in Yemen in March 2015.
Col. Turki Al-Maliki, the coalition spokesman, said the missile was fired at 8.07 p.m. and intercepted by the Patriot defense system. Some debris fell in an inhabited area east of the airport, he said.
“This aggressive and futile act by Houthi militias proves the involvement of a regional state that sponsors terrorism in providing the armed Houthi militias with advanced capabilities in flagrant violation of UN Resolution 2216, threatening the security of Saudi Arabia as well as the regional and international security,” Al-Maliki said. “Moreover, targeting civilian areas is a violation of international humanitarian law.”
Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar in Riyadh, told Arab News: “The Houthi missile attack, coming on a day when Saad Hariri resigned as Lebanon’s prime minister in protest against Hezbollah and Iran’s blackmail in Lebanon, can be read as a sign of Iranian frustration.
“Iran and Hezbollah are playing a dirty and dangerous game in the region. They are undermining the stability of the region.
“We know how they targeted the holy city of Makkah in the past; now they have targeted civilians and the airport in the Saudi capital. They are a killing machine and have no qualms about attacking innocent people.”
The attack would only strengthen the determination of the Saudi people and their allies, Al-Shehri said. “This will make us resolute against Iran and Hezbollah and their puppets, the Houthis. They are running out of their dirty cards. Saudi Arabia will neutralize them. Now the Kingdom’s resolve will be even fiercer.”
Now was the time for the international community to put a stop to the Houthi missile menace, Al-Shehri said. “They need to be stopped at all costs. They can’t play with the stability of the region.
“They are playing with fire, and the United Nations and the world must condemn the attacks, and not just condemn, but use all resources — diplomatic and military — to bring Iran, Hezbollah, and the Houthis to heel.”


Saudi Arabia seeks to improve its knowhow

The challenge remains in changing a mindset in the Arab world which still focuses on the number of graduates rather than the quality of education.
Updated 19 January 2019
0

Saudi Arabia seeks to improve its knowhow

  • With the Kingdom ranking 66th out of 134 countries in the Global Knowledge Index, education is key to improving its standing
  • The Arab world needs to make strides in research, development and innovation in order to bridge the gap with the West

DUBAI: With Saudi Arabia standing 66th out of 134 countries in the Global Knowledge Index, the Kingdom is hoping that a focus on  innovative education will boost its ranking. 

Improving the quality and nature of education to enable youth to innovate and be creative will prove key to achieving that goal.

The index results were announced in Dubai last month by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation, in partnership with the UN Development Programme (UNDP), to measure the knowledge sector in 134 countries.

“With Saudi Arabia, we obtained the information from international organizations which were provided data from the government,” said Dr. Hany Torky, chief technical adviser at the UNDP and project director at the Arab Knowledge Project. 

“We rely on international organizations like the World Bank and UNESCO (the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization),” but Arab countries “don’t convey data to international organizations” or they do so “very late,” he added.

The aim of the index is to map trends in different areas of knowledge to be able to identify challenges facing countries in the field.

Saudi Arabia scored high in sectors such as health and environment, information and communications technology, and features of the labor market.  It also proved strong in research, development and innovation, ranking 38th, and the economy, at 47th. 

But in other sectors, the Kingdom scored relatively low. Technical and vocational education and training landed it in the 117th position, followed by 87th in the general enabling environment.

Khaled Abdul Shafi, director of the regional bureau for the UNDP, said focusing on education will be paramount for Arab countries. 

“Education can give young people this freedom and not consider that it should be based on memorization,” he added. 

“All the stages of education are important, and if Arab countries focus on education, we’ll be in a much better position compared to where we stand now.”

The knowledge gap between the Arab world and the West is large, with the exception of the UAE and a few other countries. 

Abdul Shafi blamed this on the quality of education in the Arab world, which he said is based on spoon-feeding and does not encourage innovation as much as it should. 

“It’s also not really related to the marketplace, so students are graduating without really having the skills required for the economy,” he added. 

“Education is the main reason, so we need to pay a lot of attention to the education sector in all its different stages to enhance its quality. It’s very important to determine where the problem is to work on dealing with it.”

He said research, development and innovation as a whole are lacking in the Arab world compared to other countries, with an absence of youth participation and the unavailability of data and research. 

“The importance of the index isn’t the ranking of countries, but to analyze the knowledge status in each country,” he added. 

“They’ll be able to put their hands on their weak points and work on further enhancing these indicators to achieve much more progress,” said Abdul Shafi.

“We encourage countries and work with them to transfer the practices of developed countries to less-developed ones, so we’re not just producing a report, we’re also collaborating with some of these countries to transfer their experience and knowledge.”

As part of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 reform plan, a major focus has been placed on youth and their education. 

With a predominantly young population, the Kingdom has identified and developed initiatives to bridge the knowledge gap between the Arab world and the West.

Some include the Misk Global Forum, the flagship platform of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s foundation, which held its “Skills for Our Tomorrow” conference in November to focus on youth, knowledge and innovation. 

The Misk Foundation has also launched a number of programs to foster talent across the Kingdom, with the aim of developing a knowledge-based economy as the country shifts away from oil.

“The report enables us to face reality,” said Aysha Al-Mansouri, a Saudi specialist in youth capabilities development. 

“In Saudi, we have a clear vision and a future objective, which we hope to achieve through our Vision 2030. We need to do right by our youth and our country.”

But with 30 million illiterate people under the age of 18 in the Arab world, the task at hand is momentous. 

“It’s shameful for us as Arabs, and I was surprised to see so many young illiterates,” said Jamal bin Huwaireb, CEO of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation. 

With 30 million illiterate people under the age of 18 in the Arab world, the task at hand is momentous.

“Success is going to be the result of those who work continuously and have a clear strategy. In 40 years, illiteracy was completely eliminated in the UAE, so countries like Egypt or Iraq, which used to disseminate knowledge for centuries, should work on this. We all share the same goal, so it’s not impossible.”

The challenge remains in changing a mindset in the Arab world, which Torky said still focuses on the number of graduates rather than the quality of education. 

“What’s the point in having 100 percent of graduates if they don’t have the skills required for the labor market?” he asked. 

“Investment in education is almost the same in all Arab (Gulf) countries, but the process and deliverables of education are problematic. To maintain the status quo is a failure, and we need to keep improving.”

The education sector will have to keep up with the pace of technological transformation. “There are impacts of the acceleration in technology, like artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, blockchain and the Internet of Things, and the related skills that you need to acquire to deal with such developing technologies,” Torky said. 

“In the near future, there will be seven countries that will lead the world in knowledge, and the UAE is one of them, having jumped six positions in the index in 2018,” he added.

“Arab countries can actually reach such status, like the US, the UK, Singapore, Finland, Sweden and Brazil.”

Bin Huwaireb expressed hope that other Arab foundations will eventually collaborate with the UNDP in disseminating knowledge. 

“We have a single goal of reinforcing the concept of knowledge in the Arab world,” he said. “Over the years, we can now see that the difference is clear and everybody is speaking about knowledge, the knowledge economy, the industrial revolution and knowledge reports.”

Workshops are being held in Arab countries such as Jordan and Egypt to create momentum across the region. 

“We are beginning to reap the benefits of this project,” bin Huwaireb said. “Many Arab countries have a problem with empowering environments, but they should do their best to bridge this gap between them and other developed countries so their knowledge indicators can climb to higher rankings.”

He touched on scientific research, a vital element still lagging in the region. “Scientific research centers are a real obstacle we suffer from in the Arab world, because without such centers there will be no progress and no knowledge generation,” he said.

“But there are major plans and strategies to allocate the proper funds for scientific research, and we want it to increase in all Arab countries. It needs some time, but encouragement, motivation and collaboration should continue.”