Saudi Arabia calls on citizens to leave Lebanon immediately

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Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir during an interview with American broadcaster CNBC on Thursday.
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Updated 10 November 2017
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Saudi Arabia calls on citizens to leave Lebanon immediately

BEIRUT/JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia on Thursday urged its citizens to leave Lebanon "as soon as possible."

An official source at the Saudi Ministry of Foriegn Affairs was quoted by Saudi Press Agency (SPA) as calling on Saudis not to travel to Lebanon.

"Due to the situation in the Republic of Lebanon, the Kingdom asks its nationals visiting or residing in Lebanon to leave as soon as possible, and advises its citizens not to travel to Lebanon from any other international destinations," the official source said.

Minutes later, Kuwait's Foreign Ministry also ordered its nationals to leave Lebanon immediately, according to a statement carried by Kuwait News Agency (KUNA).

The Saudi and Kuwaiti positions come six days after the sudden resignation of Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri. He announced his resignation from Riyadh on Saturday.

Al-Hariri accused Iran and its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, of “controlling the Lebanese state,” and pointed out that he sensed that something was being plotted covertly to target his life.

Bahrain already asked its citizens on Sunday to avoid travelling to Lebanon and advised those already in the country to leave immediately for their safety.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir on Thursday accused Hezbollah of "hijacking the system" and putting "roadblocks in front of Al-Hariri" at every opportunity.

In an interview to CNBC's Hadley Gamble, he said: "Hezbollah put roadblocks in front of every initiative that Prime Minister Hariri tried to implement. Hezbollah has pretty much hijacked the Lebanese system. It has been the instrument that Iran used to dominate Lebanon, the instrument that Iran used to interfere with Syria, with Hamas, and with the Houthis. We see Hezbollah’s mischief all over the region. Hezbollah has been responsible for smuggling weapons into Bahrain. Hezbollah is involved in criminal activity, such as drug dealing and money laundering."

He urged the international community to take a firm stand against Hezbollah.

"We are saying that the world has to make sure that we designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. There can be no difference between a political wing and a militant wing. The world needs to take action in terms of curtailing Hezbollah's activities, and the world needs to push back against Hezbollah wherever they operate. We cannot allow Lebanon to be a platform from which harm comes to Saudi Arabia."

Al-Jubeir described the Lebanese people as innocent.

"The Lebanese people have been dominated by Hezbollah and we need to find a way to help the Lebanese people come out from under the thumb of Hezbollah," he said. "We cannot allow Lebanon to be a base from which attacks against Saudi Arabia can take place and we are urging the Lebanese government in particular to take firm and resolute action against Hezbollah."

On possible Saudi measures against Hezbollah, he said: "We are looking at various options and in consultations with our friends and allies around the world to see what is the most effective way of dealing with the menace called Hezbollah."

He said there was no difference in the positions of Saudi Arabia and the US vis-a-vis Hezbollah.

"The US wants the Lebanese government to be strong and independent; so do we. The US wants to curtail Hezbollah’s influence in Lebanon; so do we. The US wants to push back hard against Hezbollah, its terrorist activities, and its criminal activities, and so do we. So I don’t see a difference between the positions of our two governments," he said.

In Beirut, for the third consecutive day, Lebanese President Michel Aoun carried on consultations with Lebanese leaders.

Aoun's press office said: “The president is still adhering to his position, announced on Saturday, stating that he will wait for Al-Hariri’s return to discuss with him the reasons behind his resignation in order to take the proper actions.

“Our main concern should be the preservation of national unity. The measures taken to maintain security and financial stability are still effective and have so far achieved their objectives.”

The head of the Maronite Catholic church, Patriarch Beshara Al-Rai, visited Aoun at the Presidential Palace on Thursday evening. A source at the Patriarchate’s headquarters said: “The patriarch’s visit to Saudi Arabia is still on as scheduled, at the beginning of next week.”

The Future Movement Bloc and Political Bureau held a joint meeting, headed by former Prime Minister, Fouad Siniora, at the residence of Prime Minister Al-Hariri in Beirut. In the statement that was delivered at the end of the meeting, Siniora said: “The Future Movement trusts and fully supports Saad Al-Hariri and his leadership. The movement will support and abide by any decision taken by Al-Hariri under any circumstances.”

The Future Movement said: “The return of Al-Hariri, head of the Future Movement, is a necessity to restore the internal and external balance of powers in Lebanon and respect Lebanese legitimacy represented by the constitution and the Taif Agreement. Al-Hariri’s return is also imperative to preserve Arab and international legitimacy.”

Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, representing the Lebanese president, said: “We have already said, and we will keep on saying, that we paid a high price so that we would get a president and a premier who represent us; we chose them and we are the ones to decide if they should be removed from their posts or not.”

In Riyadh, Al-Hariri met the French ambassador to Saudi Arabia on Thursday, Al-Hariri's office said in a statement.

Al-Hariri also met diplomats from the EU, Britain and the US in the past two days.


Meet Saudi Arabia’s artist to the kings

Saudi painter Hisham Binjabi’s stunning creations have become the choice of kings. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 13 min 58 sec ago
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Meet Saudi Arabia’s artist to the kings

  • From the age of three, Hisham Binjabi has never lost his appetite for art

JEDDAH: When it comes to royal connections, Saudi painter Hisham Binjabi can truly claim to have made it an art form.

During a lifetime at the easel, the unassuming Jeddah-based artist’s stunning creations have become the choice of kings.

And it all began at the age of just 14, when Binjabi painted a portrait of King Faisal and ended up presenting it in person to the late king of Saudi Arabia.

Further commissions were to follow, which resulted in Binjabi producing works of art not only for the Saudi royal family, but royalty in other countries too.

Today he owns two galleries in Jeddah from where he exhibits artwork and sculptures from around the world. 

Binjabi revealed his incredible story to Arab News while at work painting on canvas at a recent Jeddah book fair.

Hisham Binjabi made works of art not only for the Saudi royal family, but royalty in other countries too. (Photos/Supplied)

From the age of three, when he painted the walls of his family home in black, Binjabi has never lost his appetite for art. His talent was recognized at school where he was known as the “boy who paints,” and although he chose to major in science, a teacher spotted his artistic skills and taught him the basics of mixing colors.

Binjabi said: “After that I started to practice, and whenever I didn’t need to attend a class, I would escape to the painting room. As I became stronger with the use of colors, my teacher suggested I pick a subject to paint and I chose to do a portrait of King Faisal.”

After framing his picture, Binjabi was spotted carrying his creation down the street by the then-minister of education, who was so taken by it that he invited the teenager to present it to King Faisal himself. 

On the right track

The young artist continued to paint in his home and later studied English literature at King Abdul Aziz University, where again his talents were spotted. 

The dean of the university asked him to produce a painting to display in a tent, and this time the subject was to be camels.

During a visit to the campus, the then-King Khaled saw the painting and asked to meet the artist. “Before I knew it, I was standing in front of King Khaled,” said Binjabi. 

“The king asked me why I had painted camels, and I told him that camels were the friends of Bedouin people.”

The king invited Binjabi to go to Riyadh and attend the first ever Janadriyah Festival, and from then on his works became highly prized by royalty. The then-Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz asked him to produce a painting of his guests, a French prince and Sheikh Zayed of the UAE, watching camels through binoculars. 

As a result, Binjabi was invited to stay at Sheikh Zayed’s palace in Abu Dhabi, where he spent four months painting a family portrait for the leader.

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was to be another of Binjabi’s distinguished clients, and even while studying for a Master’s degree in Lebanon, he painted for the king of Lebanon.

He said: “It did get overwhelming. I never asked to be associated with royalty, it just happened. Something in my heart kept pushing me along and telling me I was on the right track.”

Today he still represents the Kingdom in many different countries. 

“My life is full of stories about art which I find inspirational,” Binjabi added.