Saudi hospital staff win trip to FIFA World Cup

The Green Falcons open their World Cup account against the hosts Russia. (AP)
Updated 14 June 2018
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Saudi hospital staff win trip to FIFA World Cup

  • The KFSHRC launched the sports tourism program for their Saudi staff members to take part in the mega-event by traveling to the host country
  • More than 400 employees took part in the contest

RIYADH: The Saudi national football team, the Green Falcons, play against the host country in the opening match of the FIFA World Cup 2018 — a tantalizing clash, with the match being seen by many as a big honor to kick off the world’s most-watched sporting event.

The KFSHRC launched the sports tourism program for their Saudi staff members to take part in the mega-event by traveling to the host country.

Dr. Majid Al Fayyadh, CEO of the KFSHRC, announced a free package containing return flights, accommodation and tickets for the matches to be played by the Green Falcons, for eight employees, who were selected through an electronic draw.

More than 400 employees took part in the contest. 

“In the past six months, Saudi Arabia ranks second globally in the number of tweets about the World Cup, with Japan in first place and Brazil in third,” Benjamin Ampen, managing director for the Middle East and North Africa at Twitter, told Arab News. 

With people all over the Kingdom looking forward to the World Cup, coffee shops and restaurants are gearing up to host more customers.

Special arrangements have been made by a number of local cafes and restaurants that will air the matches live for customers. Abdullah Alotaibi, a football fan at a local cafe, told Arab News: “Watching matches live with friends makes it more exciting, and filled with patriotic fervor.”

FIFA 2018 will be the fifth appearance for Saudi Arabia in the World Cup finals after qualifying for the first time in 1994.

Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco have also secured their places in the competition.


Hodeidah offensive: Coalition forces seize weapons supplied by Iran to Houthis

Arab coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki speaks during a press conference in Riyadh. (AN photo by Bashir Saleh)
Updated 20 June 2018
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Hodeidah offensive: Coalition forces seize weapons supplied by Iran to Houthis

  • The arsenal included drones, a sniper rifle, roadside bombs disguised as rocks and even a “drone boat” which had been filled with explosives that failed to detonate.
  • Equipment used to produce and load fuel for rockets that target Saudi Arabia contained Iranian labels.

JEDDAH: Saudi-led coalition officials on Tuesday displayed weapons and explosives supplied by Iran to Houthi militias in the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah. 

The arsenal included drones, a sniper rifle, roadside bombs disguised as rocks and even a “drone boat” which had been filled with explosives that failed to detonate.

Equipment used to produce and load fuel for rockets that target Saudi Arabia contained Iranian labels. The weapons were captured on the battlefield in Hodeidah and displayed at a military base in the UAE. 

“Unsurprisingly, there are advanced military components in the Houthi militias’ hands,” said Talal Al-Teneiji, an official at the UAE Foreign Ministry.

“We took time to inspect and disassemble these to figure out the source ... and we can say that these elements are military-grade materials imported from Iran to the Houthi militias.”

As the week-long offensive in Hodeidah intensified on Tuesday, coalition forces consolidated their grip on the city’s airport and there was new fighting on the main coast road leading to the city center, with Apache helicopters providing air support to the coalition. 

“We can hear the sounds of artillery, mortars and sporadic machinegun fire. The Houthis have been using tanks,” one civilian on the coastal strip said. 

“Water has been cut off to many of the areas near the corniche area because the Houthis have dug trenches and closed water pipes.”

At the airport, which the coalition has controlled since Saturday, their forces stormed the main compound and took full command.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said: “We are waiting for the Houthis to realize the sort of military and psychological blow that they got with the airport ... we are giving them time to decide if they want to save the city ... and pull out.”

Oubai Shahbandar, a strategic communications adviser, told Arab News that “without the sea and airport of Hodeidah, the Houthi militia has effectively lost the war.”

They should agree to UN-hosted peace talks and not prolong the fighting. “The tide in this conflict has clearly turned in favor of the Arab coalition and the welfare of the Yemeni people ought to be paramount,” he said.