Riyadh book fair opens with Bahrain as guest of honor 

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Riyadh International Book Fair opened at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center with Bahrain being welcomed as this year’s guest of honor. (AN photo/Iqbal Hossain)
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Riyadh International Book Fair opened at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center with Bahrain being welcomed as this year’s guest of honor. (AN photo/Iqbal Hossain)
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Riyadh International Book Fair opened at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center with Bahrain being welcomed as this year’s guest of honor. (AN photo/Iqbal Hossain)
Updated 14 March 2019
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Riyadh book fair opens with Bahrain as guest of honor 

  • The ceremony was attended by Bahrain’s Minister of Culture Mai bint Mohammed Al-Khalifa
  • The fair will also host 200 cultural events

RIYADH: The Riyadh International Book Fair 2019, one of the region’s largest cultural events, opened at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center on Wednesday night.

Open to the public from Thursday, the 10-day event will run on the theme “The Book is the Gate of the Future.”

The deputy culture minister, Hamed bin Mohammed Fayez, gave the opening address, highlighting the importance of books for promoting Arab culture.

The ceremony was attended by Bahrain’s Minister of Culture Mai bint Mohammed Al-Khalifa, who praised the “deep-rooted ties established over the years” between the two kingdoms, and the importance of book fairs as platforms to showcase culture and talent.

Fayez and Khalifa presented prizes to a number of different authors and Saudi filmakers, as well as lead tributes to the life of the late Ghazi Al-Gosaibi, the Saudi politician, diplomat, poet and novelist who died in 2010.

A Bahraini pavilion will host 13 cultural events including poetry nights, seminars and children’s programs over the course of the fair. In total, more than 900 global publishing houses are set to participate, with 500,000 books and publications on display, and up to a million visitors expected to attend.

The fair will also host 200 cultural events sponsored by the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture in partnership with Saudi Aramco. They will include 62 seminars and cultural lectures, theater performances, interactive workshops and educational films.

Discounts on books of up to 70 percent are expected to tempt more bibliophiles to attend, as well as disability access and three signing stages, hosting 267 authors.

The fair has become a gathering point for readers, authors, and local and regional publishing houses. It provides a cultural bridge between the Arab and wider worlds, and a networking platform for publishers, writers, scholars and academic institutions. It will host a vast display of important works on Islam, history, medicine, law, science, technology and the media, as well as biographies, non-fiction and novels in Arabic, English, French, Turkish, Urdu and Spanish.


Houthi threat to holy sites in Makkah condemned

Updated 21 May 2019
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Houthi threat to holy sites in Makkah condemned

  • Iran-backed militias have no qualms about attacking the holiest place in Islam, says analyst
  • This is not the first time that Houthi militias have targeted Makkah, having fired on the city in July 2017

JEDDAH: The Royal Saudi Air Defense Forces intercepted and destroyed two missiles launched from Yemen by Iran-aligned Houthi militias on Monday. 

The missiles were reported to have been heading toward Makkah and Jeddah. 

A spokesman for the Arab Coalition said that the missiles were destroyed over Taif in the early morning, and that fragments from the first projectile had landed in Wadi Jalil, a valley that extends toward Makkah.

Residents in Jeddah told Arab News that they heard a loud blast early on Monday morning.

This is not the first time that Houthi militias have targeted Makkah, having fired on the city in July 2017.

Videos circulating on social media reportedly show the second missile being intercepted and destroyed in the skies over King Abdulaziz International Airport.

Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry denounced the Houthi attack and commended the Royal Saudi Air Defense Forces for their vigilance. 

Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a Riyadh-based Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar, said: “This isn’t the first time that the Houthis and their masters in Tehran have fired missiles close to the holy city of Makkah.” 

They have no qualms about attacking the holiest place in Islam, he added. 

“They care nothing for the sanctity of the holy month of Ramadan. What they did today, and what they did in the past, clearly reveal their sinister designs to strike at the heart of the Muslim world,” Al-Shehri said.

“Now is the time for all Muslim nations in the world to come to the defense of the holy land. Our sacred places are under attack from Iran, the Houthis and their militias,” he added.

“Mere condemnation won’t do. Iran and the Houthis have crossed a red line, and this calls for deterrent action against Tehran,” he said.

Yemen’s internationally recognized government also condemned the Houthis’ attempt to target Makkah, calling it “a full-fledged terrorist attack.”

Monday’s aggression came as Saudi Arabia warned that recent drone attacks against its oil-pumping stations by the Houthis will jeopardize UN peace efforts in Yemen and lead to further escalation in the region.

Abdallah Al-Mouallimi, Saudi ambassador to the UN, said “seven explosive drones” directed by the Houthis attacked pumping stations on May 14 in the cities of Dawadmi and Afif “on the east-west oil pipeline that transfers Saudi oil to Yanbu port and to the rest of the world.”

He urged UN Security Council members, in a letter circulated on Monday, “to disarm this terrorist militia in order to prevent the escalation of these attacks which increase regional tensions and raise the risks of a broader regional confrontation.”

Al-Shehri said Monday’s attack is a reminder to Muslim nations about the clear and present danger from Iran.  “Tehran timed the attack just as King Salman has called for a meeting in Makkah to discuss the threat from Iran to the Muslim world,” Al-Shehri said.

Saudi security forces have intercepted and destroyed 227 ballistic missiles launched by the Houthis at the Kingdom since 2015.