Saudi Arabia pledges $200m to support Islamic endowment and international relief programs in Palestine

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Saudi King Receives Palestinian President Abbas. AN Photo ( Essa Doubisi )
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Saudi Arabia’s King received Arab leaders and heads of delegations participating in the 29th Arab League Summit at the King Abdulaziz International Cultural Center in Dhahran on Sunday. (SPA)
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Saudi Arabia’s King received Arab leaders and heads of delegations participating in the 29th Arab League Summit at the King Abdulaziz International Cultural Center in Dhahran on Sunday. (SPA)
Updated 15 April 2018
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Saudi Arabia pledges $200m to support Islamic endowment and international relief programs in Palestine

  • King Salman announces $150m to maintain Islamic heritage in East Jerusalem
  • Arab member states reiterate rejection of US decision to recognize Jerusalem as capital of Israel

Dhahran: Saudi Arabia announced on Sunday a $150 million donation to the maintenance of Islamic heritage, namely the religious administration that oversees Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque— one of Islam’s holiest sites at the start of an Arab summit.

The Kingdom announced another $50 million for programs run by the UN relief agency for Palestinians (UNRWA) after the US slashed its aid.

King Abdullah II of Jordan opened the 29th Arab League Summit in Saudi Arabia’s Dhahran, stressing the need for a two-state solution and condemning the US’s decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman also condemned the move and reiterated the Kingdom's rejection of the US decision, while emphasizing the need to have East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

Saudi Arabia, which takes over the rotating chair of the Arab summit from Jordan, announced that the current gathering would be named the “Quds (Jerusalem) Summit,” a reference to US President Donald Trump’s decision last year to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel which Arab states condemned.

"We reiterate our rejection of the US decision on Jerusalem," Salman said. "East Jerusalem is an integral part of the Palestinian territories."
The king said he had named this year's meeting "the Jerusalem summit so that the entire world knows Palestine and its people remain at the heart of Arab concerns".

However, the strongest criticism of the Trump administration came from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
“The decisions have made the United States a party to the conflict and not a neutral mediator,” Abbas said at the summit.

Saudi King Salman told leaders from across the 22-member Arab League that Iran was to blame for instability and meddling in the region. He said Yemeni rebel Houthis, backed by Iran, had fired 116 missiles at the kingdom since Saudi Arabia went to war in Yemen three years ago to try and roll back Houthi gains there.“We renew our strong condemnation of terrorist acts carried out by Iran in the Arab region, and we reject its blatant interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries,” King Salman said in the eastern Saudi Arabian city, without giving specifics.

He called on the international community to take a strong stance against Iran’s aggression in the region, as well as the militias that are cutting off aid to war-torn Yemen.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit said Assad’s government and “international players trying to achieve their own strategic political goals” bear responsibility for the crisis there.
“Regional interference in Arab affairs has reached an unprecedented degree. And first of these is the Iranian interference, the aim of which is not for the well-being of the Arabs or their interests,” he said.

Aboul Gheit added that major threats facing Arabs are all equally important and dangerous.

“Current challenges call for dialogue on priorities of Arab national security,” Aboul Gheit said.

He also said that the Syrian regime bears a great responsibility in the “collapse of its homeland and loss of dignity.”

Prior to the opening of the summit, King Salman received Arab leaders and heads of delegations participating in the 29th Arab League Summit at the King Abdulaziz International Cultural Center in Dhahran.
 


90-year anniversary: How the Arab world came to know Tintin and Popeye

Updated 39 min 1 sec ago
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90-year anniversary: How the Arab world came to know Tintin and Popeye

  • Middle Eastern fans fondly look back at two comic icons who share a birthday this year, although they’re not without controversy
  • An Egyptian publisher printed Tintin in Arabic, while Popeye was broadcast on Saudi Channel 2 and Spacetoon

Popeye, the scruffy sailor who remains one of the most loveable characters of all time, has been a popular fixture in Middle Eastern pop culture since the early 1980s. In addition to mountains of merchandise, particularly stuffed toys, being available in local shops, the cartoons were broadcast on Saudi Channel 2 (in their original English) and on Spacetoon (with Arabic dubbing). 
“I remember the first time I watched Popeye,” Zainab Basrawi, a 36-year-old insurance lawyer and self-professed Popeye enthusiast, told Arab News. “I learned to love spinach just from watching him save Olive every time. I believed him. I think he was a great influence on children to subtly ease them into eating their greens.”
Just one week after Tintin first appeared in “Le Petit Vingtieme,” Popeye made his debut on Jan. 17, 1929 as a side character in the daily King Features comic strip “Thimble Theatre.”
Created by the American cartoonist Elzie Crisler Segar, the one-eyed sailor with bulging forearms quickly grew in popularity, becoming the star of his own strip, an animated TV cartoon and a 1980 movie starring
Robin Williams. The theme song from the cartoon, “I’m Popeye the Sailorman,” is one of the most recognized pieces of music in pop culture history.
Compared to boyish, clean-cut, good- natured Tintin, Popeye is his polar opposite.
The sailor is rough, gruff and extremely tough, famous for the super-strength he gets from eating canned spinach, and his never-ending love triangle with his girlfriend Olive Oyl and rival Bluto.
Like Tintin, as a relic from another era, Popeye has also been criticized for racial stereotypes. In “Popeye the Sailor Meets Ali Baba and His Forty Thieves,” he is shown beating up poorly made caricatures of Arab men. In “You’re a Sap, Mr. Jap,” the Japanese characters in the cartoon get the same treatment.
However, literary critic Sophie Cline said the comic strip is reflective of the time it was created in, almost a century ago. “I think it’s important not to ignore these pieces of our history, or hide them away, but rather to own up to our mistakes and learn from them,” she told Arab News.
She alluded to the new disclaimer that now precedes old Looney Tunes cartoons, informing viewers that their outdated “racial prejudices” no longer reflect Warner Bros. values but are “products of their time.”
“Popeye cartoons reflect the common view of the era,” she said. “A disclaimer should be enough.”

Tintin, one of the world’s most famous fictional journalists, traveled the world seeking stories and adventure, so he naturally spent a good amount of time in the Middle East.
Created by Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi, better known by his pseudonym Herge (say his initials in reverse out loud in a French accent), Tintin travels the region in four of his books: “Cigars of the Pharaoh,” “The Crab with the Golden Claws,” “Land of Black Gold” and “The Red Sea Sharks.”
Tintin gained more of a foothold in the region when Egyptian publisher Dar Al-Maarif began printing the comics in Arabic in 1971. Renaming him “Tantan,” Dar Al-Maarif continued to publish the comics weekly
until 1980.
“Tintin has been one of my idols for as long as I can remember,” said Haytham Faisal, a journalist from Cairo. “I literally became a journalist because I wanted to be him. My dad used to take me to buy the comics from the local bookstore. I remember them being so expensive, so they were a rare treat. I’d always think twice before buying them, but I couldn’t always wait for the next comic to see what new story they have next. I still have some of them, they were that precious to me.”
Before appearing in book format, Tintin and his constant companion, the dog Snowy, were first introduced to audiences in “Le Petit Vingtieme,” or “The Little Twentieth,” a supplement to the Belgian newspaper “Le Vingtieme Siecle” (The Twentieth Century) on Jan. 4, 1929. Herge, however, maintained that Tintin was actually “born” on Jan. 10, when “Tintin in the Land of the Soviets” began its serialization in the paper.
Despite the fact that he never seems to hand in any stories, the loveable and quirky Tintin is portrayed as talented at his profession, so much so that he is shown to be in high demand, with many press agencies offering him bribes for his dispatches.
Over the years, Tintin’s face has been used to advertise quintessentially French items such as Citroen cars and La Vache Qui Rit cheese. Enthusiasts of Tintin lore, known as Tintinolo- gists, have written entire books devoted to him.
Since 1929, more than 250 million copies of the Tintin comic books have been sold. His adventures have been translated in more than 110 languages, and the books are sold in almost every country in the world.
Tintin continues to grow in popularity, even 90 years on. He was the star of a full-length feature film, directed by Steven Spielberg, in 2011 and of an animated television series. The latter was broadcast on Saudi Channel 2 between 1991 and 1992 and a dubbed version has been on MBC 3 since 2003.
However, the history of Tintin has not been without its hiccups. Over the years, critics have argued that, like many of the comics of the era, it should undergo censorship or even outright banning from bookstores and libraries. One of the more troublesome ones is his second adventure, “Tintin in the Congo.”
The natives Tintin visits are crude stereo- types of African people, who are portrayed as ignorant and uneducated, and the references to slavery, such as when the natives refer to Tintin as “master,” make the comics hard to stomach.
Similarly, “Land of Black Gold,” which takes place in a fictional Red Sea state named Khemed, is also banned in several Middle Eastern countries today for its stereotypical portrayal of Arabs.
While some argue the comics are simply byproducts of their era, they are nonetheless somewhat difficult to revisit in the modern era. Attempts have been made to soften some of the references, with edits being made to “Tintin in the Congo” in 1975, but is that enough?
Not according to the London-based human rights lawyer David Enright, who wrote in the Guardian newspaper that “Tintin in the Congo” shouldn’t be sold to children. “Books are precious, but so are the minds of young children. It is vital that our children learn and explore the grotesque history of slavery, racism and anti-Semitism, but in the proper context of the school curriculum.”