Tropical storm threatens coastal cities of Oman, Yemen

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Dubbed Luban, the storm is expected to become a category 1 Tropical Cyclone within the next 12 hours. (Photo courtesy: met.gov.om)
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Dubbed Luban, the storm is expected to become a category 1 Tropical Cyclone within the next 12 hours. (Photo courtesy: met.gov.om)
Updated 09 October 2018
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Tropical storm threatens coastal cities of Oman, Yemen

  • Oman’s and Yemen’s Meteorology centers have released warnings on the tropical storm heading towards the Arabian Peninsula
  • Luban is currently over the Arabian Sea about 830 km away from Salalah city

DUBAI: The southern coastal cities of Oman and Yemen are bracing themselves for a battering as Tropical Storm Luban heads their way just months after Cyclone Mekunu left a path of destruction, killing 30 people and dozens more missing.
It is not clear what direction the storm will take, but if it hits Oman, forecasters say it will be as strong Cyclone Mekunu.

Both Oman’s and Yemen’s Meteorology centers have released warnings on the tropical storm heading towards the Arabian Peninsula.

Dubbed Luban, the storm is expected to become a category 1 Tropical Cyclone within the next 12 hours.

Luban is currently over the Arabian Sea about 830 km away from Salalah city, with surface wind speeds of 50 to 55 knots (93 to 102 kmph).

Oman’s Meteorology specialist, Hamood Al-Naabiya, told Arab News the coastal areas that would be affected will be the western coast of Dhofar governorate and the Gulf of Aden, passing north of UNESCO protected Socotra island.

Al-Naabiya said that once the speed of the winds exceeded 64 knots, Luban would be upgraded to a level one cyclone.

“This tropical storm seems to be heading towards the Gulf of Aden and if it does, the destructive effects will be less than the previous storm,” Al-Naabiya said, referencing Cyclone Mekunu.

“But if it came towards Oman, it will be similar to Cyclone Mekunu,” he added.

In May Cyclone Mekunu ripped through the Yemeni island of Socotra, causing severe flooding, and extensive damage including six ships that sank - four at sea. Flood waters washed away thousands of animals and cut electricity and communication lines. Cyclone Mekunu then moved onto Salalah where whole areas of beach were washed a way, as were roads, power cables and properties damaged.

At the end of the week Mekunu had left 30 people dead - including a 12-year-old girl in Oman, while dozens of others were missing.

A picture taken on May 26, 2018, shows a car stuck in a flooded street in the southern city of Salalah as the country prepares for landfall of Cyclone Mekunu. (AFP)

Yemen’s Civil Aviation and Meteorology Authority has said that Luban – which is moving at 11kmh - is expected to turn into a severe cyclone storm in the upcoming hours.

Warnings of severe sea winds have been issued to commercial ships in the area.

But despite the potential storm, Anwar Al-Shahri, a resident in Salalah who works in the hospitality industry said all remained calm in the tourist city.

“The weather is great, and tourists are still coming into the city, nothing has changed yet,” he said. 

While James Hewitson, general manager of the five-star hotel Al-Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara, told Arab News that although they were prepared, he did not think there was much to worry about. 

“It will probably just be like a British summer's day,” he said. 


Divided Arab economic summit: We must help suffering refugees

Updated 21 January 2019
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Divided Arab economic summit: We must help suffering refugees

  • Lebanese foreign minister Gebran Bassil called for 'effective solutions' for the return of Syrian refugees to their country
  • Summit also called for dialogue over growing tensions between Israel and Palestine

BEIRUT: The fourth Arab Economic and Social Development Summit was held in Beirut on Sunday, in an effort to, among other things, find ways to alleviate the suffering of refugees in the Middle East.

The summit, though attended by representatives from 20 Arab nations, was soured by the absence of most Arab heads of state, and was divided over several issues, including the absence of Syrian delegates, and a boycott by Libya.

The summit did, though, call for dialogue with the international community over growing tensions between Israel and Palestine.

Delegates expressed their support for the Palestinian people, and cited the “collective responsibility” of all parties towards maintaining the city of Jerusalem’s “Islamic and Christian identity.”

In a statement, the summit declared: “We reiterate Palestinian refugees’ rights of return and compensation, according to the UN General Assembly’s resolution 194 of 1948.”

Delegates also discussed at great length the need for international cooperation to support the growing digital economy across the region. They emphasized “the importance of building the necessary capacity” to benefit from the digital economy, and praised the initiative launched by the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, to create a sovereign investment fund to support the development of technology in the Gulf and the Middle East.

They urged all Arab nations to “support this initiative to strengthen the joint Arab economy,” and called on other Arab banks and funds to invest in it.

The summit also praised the role of small and medium businesses across the Arab world for their contribution to flourishing Arab economies, as well as the implementation of the Pan-Arab Renewable Energy Strategy 2030, to ensure power across the region becomes cleaner and more sustainable.

The summit was far from harmonious, though, with the Lebanese foreign minister, Gebran Bassil, addressing the hall to ask the international community “to assume its responsibilities by finding effective solutions for the return of Syrian refugees to their country.”

Bassil called on Arab nations and others to “shoulder the burden, honor their commitments and meet the refugees’ needs.”

There were also disputes over the attendance of the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, as well as the boycott by Libyan delegates.

“I am saddened because of the absence of the Libyan delegation, and by the circumstances that led to this point,” Arab League president, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said.

Lebanon’s president, Michel Aoun, echoed the words of his foreign minister, calling on the international community “to exert all efforts to provide the safe return of Syrian refugees to their country, and to present incentives so they can contribute to their country’s reconstruction.”

He proposed the establishment of an international Arab bank to help affected countries overcome the crisis, and invited established Arab funds to Beirut to discuss his proposals.

“I deplore the absence of other Arab presidents and kings, but each of them has his reason. Our union remains of great importance given that we will not be able to address the challenges facing our region and peoples, unless we agree on key issues,” Aoun said.

The next Arab Economic and Social Development Summit will be held in Mauritania in 2023.