Trump hails ‘credible’ Saudi probe into Khashoggi’s death

The president spoke to the media at a defense roundtable in Arizona hours after Saudi Arabia claimed that Khashoggi. (AFP)
Updated 21 October 2018
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Trump hails ‘credible’ Saudi probe into Khashoggi’s death

  • Trump said that Saudi Arabia has been a great ally
  • The president said he wanted to talk to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on what to do next

JEDDAH: The preliminary results of Saudi Arabia’s investigation into the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi are “credible” and the arrest of 18 people in connection with the death is “a good first step,” US President Donald Trump said on Saturday.

Khashoggi died in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2 after a meeting there “devolved into a fistfight,” the Saudi public prosecutor said in a statement early on Saturday.

“The Kingdom expresses its deep regret at the painful developments that have taken place and stresses the commitment of the authorities … to bring the facts to the public, to hold all those involved accountable and bring them to justice,” the statement said.

Eighteen Saudis have been arrested and the investigation continues, the prosecutor said. In addition, several senior officials have been dismissed by royal decree, including deputy intelligence chief Ahmed Al-Asiri, and Saud Al-Qahtani, an adviser at the Royal Court.

King Salman also ordered the creation of a ministerial committee led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to restructure the General Intelligence Directorate.

Asked on Saturday if he thought Saudi Arabia’s findings were credible, Trump said: “I do. I do.” His next step would be to talk to Prince Mohammed, he said.

“Saudi Arabia has been a great ally, but what happened is unacceptable,” Trump said. The arrests were “a big first step. It’s only a first step, but it’s a big first step.”

Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen who lived in the US, disappeared on Oct. 2 after visiting the consulate to complete paperwork related to his divorce. Saudi Arabia and Turkey set up a joint team to investigate his disappearance. A team of Saudi investigators were sent to Istanbul and have been working on the case with Turkish detectives, who entered the consulate on Thursday.

The preliminary results of the Saudi inquiry were welcomed throughout the Arab and Muslim world. There were statements of support from the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and Palestine, along with the Saudi Council of Senior Scholars, the Muslim World League (MWL) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

“Saudi Arabia, represented by its leadership, was and still is a state of institutions based on justice and equity,” said the UAE Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. “The royal decisions and actions taken after this investigation reaffirm these values and established principles to ensure the application of law and justice.”

Egypt offered its condolences to Khashoggi’s family and said it was confident the investigation would reveal the truth. “Egypt sees that the brave decisions and actions taken by the Saudi king over this matter align with his majesty’s approach that respects the principles of law and the application of effective justice,” the Foreign Ministry said.

MWL Secretary-General Mohammed bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa said Saudi Arabia had handled the case “with transparent and fair approach derived from its Islamic constitution on which its system of government has been based ever since its establishment.”


Manganiyar musical experience connects Saudi Arabia with ancient India

Ithra takes visitors to the magical world of Manganiyar, an Indian folk music, in Dhahran on Wednesday. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 17 November 2018
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Manganiyar musical experience connects Saudi Arabia with ancient India

  • There were challenges, Abel said. “As an ‘intruder’ going to the Manganiyar not knowing fully what this kind of art is, in the beginning I had to learn so many things and try to understand the musicians and help them to understand me”

DHAHRAN: The King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Dhahran has been transporting its visitors to the magical world of the Manganiyar from Nov. 14-17. The Manganiyar is a timeless Indian orchestra originally born in the region of Rajasthan in north India, which has continued over many generations.
The basic song on which the show is based comes from a poem by the 17th-century Sufi poet, Bulleh Shah. The resulting folk music is an audio-visual feast that mixes light and voice and features more than 40 musicians in one performance.
The first Manganiyar show in Ithra was sold out.
“It was the first time in my life that inspiration dawned on me; it was like a heavenly gift,” Roysten Abel, the director of the musical show, told Arab News when he was asked how the band started their touring and performance journey.
“I was in Spain working as a street performer. One day I was resting and I heard wonderful music, which I thought was a dream. Then I realized that there were two musicians outside my room singing to wake me up. I then proposed the idea of forming this Manganiyar band,” Abel said.
Abel went to the Manganiyar’s hometown to create the band.
“I went to Rajasthan, auditioned almost 200 musicians and finally selected 50 to have our first show in 2006. Since then, if I ever listen to an old Manganiyar musician or a new one, I still weep because they haunt me with their singing.”
There were challenges, Abel said. “As an ‘intruder’ going to the Manganiyar not knowing fully what this kind of art is, in the beginning I had to learn so many things and try to understand the musicians and help them to understand me.”
Creating the performance and the harmony between the band members and the director took time.
“The musicians needed to know what this guy who is coming from outside wants? What is he going to make us do? Building the relationship took around a year and a half, and so it took us year and a half to build up the show.”
“I always say the Manganiyar selection was God’s gift to us because it was actually given to us and it runs on its own.”
Abel said that the Manganiyar show always sells out anywhere it goes due the experience it offers. “There has not been one show where we have not received a standing ovation.”
“We even performed in Hyde Park, Sydney, where nobody knew what to expect,” Abel said. “There were a good 10,000 people in the park, and when the show was over these 10,000 started clapping and even stayed for the second performance!”
Abel shared the band’s insights about their first visit to Saudi Arabia: “We were very curious to see how it was going to be received, but it turned out to be one of the best performances and the audience was thrilled. So, there’s always a lot of surprises and I tend to never expect. I just love to see what happens.”
Abel urged everyone to turn up and have their own experience of the Manganiyar. “People should all come and tell their friends to come, and live the show, because at the end of the day the show is not like any other music concert; it’s an experience of its own.”
Abel said that people’s responses to the show varied; some left in tears while others “jumped with joy.”
What matters to him, he said, is that people get the essence behind the show, which is love.