Family, friends mourn young Saudi student killed in Florida apartment

Yasser Abualfaraj, second from left, with his classmates in Miami, Florida. (Facebook)
Updated 11 October 2018
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Family, friends mourn young Saudi student killed in Florida apartment

  • The body of Yasser Abualfaraj, 23, was discovered by his roommate on Sunday in a building opposite the University of Miami
  • Police announced a reward of $3,000 for anyone who can provide information that helps in the investigation

LONDON/JEDDAH: Family and friends of a young Saudi student were in mourning on Wednesday after he was found murdered in his apartment in Miami, Florida. 

The body of Yasser Abualfaraj, 23, was discovered by his roommate on Sunday in a building opposite the University of Miami, where he was studying architecture.

Police have issued a photofit image of a young man seen in the area in the early hours of Sunday, who is wanted for “questioning only.”

“It’s an open investigation and we are working to find any witnesses who may have heard or seen anything at the time,” Det. Chris Thomas of Miami-Dade Police Department told Arab News.

He said the cause of death was unknown and the motive for the murder was unclear. The “investigation is still in the early stages,” Thomas added. 

The police announced a reward of $3,000 for anyone who can provide information that helps in the investigation.

The young man’s fellow students held a vigil in his memory on Monday, and architecture classes were cancelled as a mark of respect.

The Saudi Embassy in Washington said it was aware of the incident and was following the investigation, while providing all necessary support to the family.

Zainab Alsaihati, president of the Saudi Student Association at the University of Miami, said Abualfaraj was “always friendly to new students and helped them with joining clubs and activities. He got involved in volunteering campaigns like cleaning public spaces after Hurricane Irma.”

Abualfaraj’s friend, Mohammed Al-Shawa, told Arab News: “He was a kind, funny and loyal friend. If you knew him well, you would know how much of a good friend he is… I see him as my brother.”


Saudi sources deny ‘unsubstantiated’ reports of permitting alcohol

Updated 16 June 2019
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Saudi sources deny ‘unsubstantiated’ reports of permitting alcohol

  • “The leadership has made it clear from day one; it is simply not happening,”SCTH source tells Arab News
  • The SCTH is responsible for licensing and rating hotels and restaurants

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has no plans to allow the sale or public consumption of alcohol, a senior government source has told Arab News.

The official with access to relevant decision-makers categorically denied “unsubstantiated” media reports in some international and regional news outlets.

“If you read the fake news, you will notice it is all based on hearsay and tweets by accounts known to have a questionable agenda when talking about the Kingdom,” he said.

“As the country moves forward with its reform plans, we expect much speculation and attempts by critics to hold us back. And while people are allowed to speculate and criticize, their speculation should not be treated as the truth.”

A second source at the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) also denied such reports. “The leadership has made it clear from day one; it is simply not happening,” he told Arab News. “I have not heard of any plans to allow alcohol in major cities, free zones or new projects.”

The SCTH is responsible for licensing and rating hotels and restaurants. Any plans for the sale or consumption of alcohol would have to go through the commission for implementation. 

Saudi Arabia has witnessed substantial social reforms over the past three years, such as the curbing of the previously unchecked power of the religious police, reopening cinemas and allowing women to drive.

There has also been a major shift on previously prohibited public entertainment and gender mixing. International artists including Mariah Carey, Yanni, Andrea Bocelli, Enrique Iglesias and Black Eyed Peas have all performed.

Tourism projects have included pop-up versions of international restaurants such as Signor Sassi, Nusr-Et and Nobu. None has served alcohol.

“Officials have repeatedly said all changes were and will always be in line with Islamic teachings and traditions,” the senior source told Arab News.