Islamic anti-terror coalition is not against any country, sect or religion, says commander

Saudi Lt. Gen. Abdullah Al-Saleh (right) and Gen. Raheel Sharif, the military commander of the IMCTC, attend a press conference during the first meeting of the defense ministers of the 41-member coalition in Riyadh on Sunday. (AFP)
Updated 27 November 2017
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Islamic anti-terror coalition is not against any country, sect or religion, says commander

RIYADH: Gen. Raheel Sharif, the military commander of the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC), said on Sunday the coalition’s sole objective is to fight against terrorism and it is not against any country, sect or religion.
At the IMCTC Ministers of Defense Council in Riyadh, Gen. Sharif said: “A number of our member countries are under tremendous pressure while fighting well established terrorist organizations due to capacity shortages of their armed forces and law enforcement agencies.”
The coalition will act as a platform to assist member countries in their counterterrorism operations through intelligence sharing and capacity building, he said.
“The vision of IMCTC is to have a collective response against terrorism capable of leading and coordinating the efforts of member countries with high efficiency and effectiveness,” said Pakistan’s former military chief.
Explaining the mechanism of the coalition, he said it is divided into four main domains.
The first domain, Gen. Sharif said, will focus on countering terrorist Ideology. “Effort will be made to preserve and promote Islam’s universal message of moderation, tolerance and compassion, by creating intellectual, psychological and social impact to counter the perverted radical views.”
He said the IMCTC will also develop, produce and publish factual media content for dialogue to correct perceptions and discredit radical and extremist narratives.
“Next is terrorist financing. IMCTC will endeavor to dry up all types of financial support to terrorist organizations,” the retired Pakistani general said.
Responding to a query by Arab News about the likelihood of the coalition brokering a deal with social media companies in order to remove terrorist and extremist content, the IMCTC military commander said: “The collaboration is currently taking place. Besides fighting ideology, and denouncing the terrorist spirit, a lot of collaborations is going on.” 
The IMCTC military commander said to improve coordination, joint exercise will be conducted based on near real-time scenarios demanding quick response and promoting a sense of solidarity and shared responsibility to fight terrorism.
In addition, IMCTC will create a state-of-the-art intelligence and information-sharing platform to counter terrorist networks their facilitators, abettors, sympathizers and financiers. After correlating and incisive analysis of critical information, actionable intelligence will be put in place, he said.
Responding to a query by Arab News about the likelihood of the coalition brokering a deal with social media companies in order to remove terrorist and extremist content, the IMCTC military commander said: “The collaboration is currently taking place. Besides fighting ideology, and denouncing the terrorist spirit, a lot of collaborations is going on.”


Cirque du Soleil prepares ground-breaking show in King Fahd Stadium

Updated 21 September 2018
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Cirque du Soleil prepares ground-breaking show in King Fahd Stadium

RIYADH: A joint press conference between the MBC Group, the General Entertainment Authority, and Cirque du Soleil was held at King Fahd Stadium on Thursday afternoon to answer media questions and give some details about Cirque du Soleil’s upcoming special performance, part of Saudi Arabia’s 88th National Day celebrations. The show is slated to be one of the biggest performed by the Cirque and their first in Saudi Arabia. It is a one-night-only, exclusive event, designed especially for this occasion.
Daniel Fortin, vice president of Creation at Cirque du Soleil, teased the audience with a few details of the upcoming show. “With a cast and crew of over 300, this is one of the biggest shows we’ve ever done,” he said.
“Without giving too much of the plot away, the story is centered around the sun, and takes place from sunset to sunrise. Everything from the costumes to the stage props was created as a homage to Saudi culture. You’ll see a lot of Bedouin influences in the staging and in the music. We drew inspiration from a variety of sources, such as traditional Bedouin tents, desert scenery, even the stadium itself.”
The show has been in development for six months, and the cast and crew have been preparing for the show at the King Fahd International Stadium since the beginning of August.
The show will contain new technology, and 16 unprecedented acrobatic acts. However, Fortin refused to share too many details. “You’ll just have to see what we have planned at the show.” He said. “But I think you will be impressed. We’re doing things we’ve never done before.”
Tickets to the show sold out in less than 48 hours after their release; an incredible feat as the show has allocated more than 27,000 seats for the performance. Abdulrahman Al Khalifa, spokesperson for the General Entertainment Authority, was pleased— but not entirely surprised— by the public’s reaction to news of the show. “We felt that variety in the types of events we brought to Saudi Arabia was important,” he said, “and we conducted a number of research workshops to determine what sort of events would be well-received by the public. Cirque du Soleil was mentioned frequently in our research, so we’re very happy to have had the opportunity to bring them here.”
MBC head of events Omar Al Radi also expects a big response to the televising of the show, which he estimates will break records. “We’re broadcasting the show live on both our local and international channels, such as those in Europe and in America.” he said.
“We’re expecting over 200 million views. Probably record-breaking numbers. MBC is proud to have been part of bringing this historic event to Saudi Arabia, and we can’t wait for you to see it.”