Muslim World League launches rapid response to assist survivors in Indonesia

Scientists say the earthquake that killed hundreds of people lifted the island it struck by as much as 25 centimeters. (AP)
Updated 16 August 2018

Muslim World League launches rapid response to assist survivors in Indonesia

  • The MWL sent a team from its subsidiary, the International Association for Relief, Care and Development (IARCD)
  • IARCD was directed to conduct an urgent field assessment in Lombok to meet the needs of those affected by the earthquake

JEDDAH: The Muslim World League (MWL) dispatched a team on Wednesday to the Indonesian island of Lombok, which was struck by a powerful earthquake, resulting in heavy losses and destroying thousands of buildings.

The MWL sent a team from its subsidiary, the International Association for Relief, Care and Development (IARCD).

Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, secretary-general of the MWL, directed IARCD to conduct an urgent field assessment in Lombok to meet the needs of those affected by the earthquake.

Al-Issa stressed that MWL’s emergency humanitarian response plans relied on speed in reaching a disaster or crisis.

He said that many states and organizations recognized that MWL was one of the first to arrive at disasters, fulfilling its humanitarian duty toward those affected as well as its global mission to assist, without discrimination, those in need around the world.

The secretary-general of IARCD, Abdul Aziz Sarhan, confirmed that a field team was dispatched to the disaster area. “The field team is currently identifying the immediate needs of those affected by the earthquake, while the IARCD’s teams work through its different departments to provide necessary assistance according to a coherent priorities plan,” he said.

Sarhan  said: “The disaster was sudden and violent with a devastating impact on houses and properties,” he said. “Most of those whose houses were destroyed have taken refuge in tents or shacks near their destroyed homes or in shelters, whereas the wounded are being tended in field hospitals.”

He said that the roads blocked by the earthquake were a major obstacle to aid delivery. He said that the association ensured speed and accuracy in implementing care programs and short- and long-term humanitarian projects that served the needy and people affected by disasters.

Sarhan said that IARCD adopted fast-response plans to alleviate the suffering of displaced people and refugees around the world, giving special attention to vulnerable groups such as women and children.

Sudanese orphans

The MWL delivered fiscal appropriations earmarked for Sudanese orphans, through the World Relief, Welfare and Development Authority, in the presence of Musa Mohammed Ahmed, assistant to the Sudanese president, Ali bin Hassan Jafar, the Saudi Ambassador to Sudan, and various Sudanese senior officials.

Ahmed expressed gratitude to King Salman and the crown prince for taking care of Sudanese orphans, underlining that the Kingdom is the warm incubator and compassionate mother of orphans everywhere. 

He sent thanks from the Sudanese president to the MWL and the relief authority, for their gracious role in giving a hand to the needy orphans.

Ahmed also thanked the Saudi ambassador to Sudan for his role in cementing bilateral relations between the two countries, in all domains.

The Saudi envoy hailed the MWL and related agencies’ endeavors to provide more than 17,000 orphans and 8,000 orphans’ families with continuous aid throughout different regions of Sudan.

Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

Updated 20 July 2019

Saudis recall history’s greatest TV event: Apollo moon landing

  • The TV images beamed from 320,000km away in space left viewers astounded but happy
  • The TV coverage influenced thinking and attitudes in the Kingdom just like everywhere else

DUBAI: It was a sleepy afternoon in Saudi Arabia, just days before the end of the school vacation, and Saudis had their eyes glued to their TV sets as they waited for live coverage of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Before July 20, 1969, the idea of a human walking on the moon was the stuff of science fiction. However, almost overnight, sci-fi had turned into reality with a live broadcast showing American astronaut Neil Armstrong’s dramatic descent onto the empty lunar landscape.

Between science fiction and science fact, the live coverage of the lunar landing amounted to an unusual fusion of news and entertainment.

Saudi TV technicians bring the first live images of Neil Armstrong’s 1969 moon landing to
viewers around the Kingdom. (Supplied photo)

The historic images — beamed back to Earth more than 320,000 km away — left Saudi viewers astounded and confused, but mostly elated to be witnessing such an epoch-making event.

The event was covered live on television and radio stations in Saudi Arabia. Most Saudis and residents living in the Kingdom watched it on Saudi channels 1 and 3, owned by Saudi Aramco.

Hessah Al-Sobaie, a housewife from Al-Dawadmi, recalled watching the moon landing from her grandparents’ backyard as an 11-year-old.

“It felt weird watching a human walk on the moon,” she told Arab News. “I remember the endless questions I asked as a child.”

While most people were aware that going to the moon was risky, many Saudis believed that such a journey was impossible and all but unthinkable.


1. NASA’s Apollo 11 mission control room in Houston has been restored to its 1969 condition and regular tours
will be conducted by the Johnson Space Center.

2. NASA ‘Science Live’ will have a special edition on July 23 on board the aircraft carrier that recovered the Apollo 11 capsule.

3. A summer moon festival and family street fair will be held in Wapakoneta, Ohio, from July 17-20.

4. Downtown Houston’s Discovery green will host a free public screening of the ‘Apollo 11’ documentary, with an appearance by NASA astronaut Steve Bowen.

5. Amateur radio operators will host a series of events on July 20-21.

6. The US Space and Rocket Center is staging a special ‘Rockets on Parade’ exhibition.

The Apollo 11 mission prompted discussions across the Middle East over the reality of what people saw on their TV screens. Some Saudi scholars found it hard to believe their eyes.

“I watched it, and I clearly remember each and every detail of the coverage,” Hayat Al-Bokhari, 68, a retired school principal in Jeddah, said.

“My father, Abdul, was 56 at the time. He said the landing was faked. He couldn’t believe or accept that a human could go to the moon.”

Khaled Almasud, 70, a retired university lecturer, was a student in the US state of Oregon at the time of the mission. “Americans were stunned and over the moon, happy with their national achievement. But many Saudis like me were either in denial or insisting on more proof.”

Since the beginning of the 1960s, King Faisal had been rapidly transforming Saudi Arabia, inviting foreign-trained experts to help build a modern country with world-class infrastructure.

Billie Tanner, now 90, lived in the Kingdom for many years with her husband, Larry, and their two children, Laurie and Scott, aged six and four. The family had just arrived in Saudi Arabia and headed to the Aramco compound in Ras Tanura in the Eastern Province.

A screengrab of video of the first lunar landing beamed toward Earth and shown on television worldwide. 

“We were going through a culture shock,” she told Arab News. “I wasn’t thinking of the moon landing, but we heard about it on the news from Dhahran.

“My kids tried to see the astronauts on the moon with their binoculars and said they could see them walking around.”

The Apollo 11 spaceflight has become a milestone in the annals of human history and science. Since 1969 space exploration has greatly expanded man’s knowledge of the universe, far beyond Earth’s limits.

The captivating live coverage of the moon landing inspired millions of people around the world, profoundly influencing their thinking and attitudes.

The people of Saudi Arabia were no exception.