International condemnation of Houthi attack on Saudi Arabia’s Abha airport

The missile hit the arrivals hall of Abha airport. (SPA)
Updated 13 June 2019
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International condemnation of Houthi attack on Saudi Arabia’s Abha airport

  • UAE said the act was proof of the Houthi militia’s attempts to undermine regional security
  • US Embassy in Saudi Arabia condemned in the strongest terms the Houthi militia attack which 'targeted innocent civilians'

RIYADH: Leaders from around the Arab world have condemned a Houthi missile attack on Saudi Arabia’s Abha International Airport.  

In the early hours of Wednesday, the Iranian-backed Houthi militia targeted the airport in southern Saudi Arabia, which injured 26 civilians, an Arab coalition spokesman said.

The UAE, in its condemnation of the attack, said the act was proof of the Houthi militia’s attempts to “undermine regional security.”

In a statement, the Emirati foreign ministry renewed its “full solidarity” with Saudi Arabia and said it “stands with Riyadh against any threat to the Kingdom’s security and stability.”

The UAE also renewed its support for all measures taken to combat extremism and Houthi terrorism to preserve the Kingdom’s security and the safety of its citizens and residents on its territory.

The ministry also wished the injured a speedy recovery.

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Houthi missile hits Saudi Arabia’s Abha airport injuring 26 people

TIMELINE: Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia

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Bahrain also said on Wednesday that it “strongly condemned” the attack, calling it a “terrorist and cowardly criminal act against innocent civilians.”

Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry expressed support with “the brotherly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” and affirmed “the need for a strong-willed international stand against Iran to stop it supporting these recurrent terrorist acts.”

Kuwait echoed Bahrain’s condemnation of the targeting, saying that the targeting was a “criminal attack” on innocent people.

The Amir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed expressed his and his country’s condemnation of the sinful terrorist act that targeted innocent lives and destabilized security and stability.

In a cable sent to King Salman, the amir reiterated Kuwait’s support for all measures taken by the Kingdom to confront terrorism and preserve its security.

The US Embassy in Saudi Arabia condemned in the strongest terms the Houthi militia attack which “targeted innocent civilians."


The US Mission in the Kingdom also issued a security alert and said the Embassy in Riyadh and the Consulates General in Jeddah and Dhahran are monitoring the situation.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon said the attack showed “new evidence” of Iran's malicious role in the region.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has also condemned the Houthi criminal act and called on all to similarly condemn the attack, Al-Arabiya TV reported. 

Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry said the attack on the Kingdom’s territory represented a “serious escalation.”

Egypt said it stands by Saudi Arabia following the attack, calling for an immediate halt to all attacks on Saudi territory, saying it will “defy any attempt to target” the Kingdom.

The Jordanian Foreign Ministry also condemned the “terrorist attack” on the airport, and that Jordan supports Saudi Arabia in all measures taken to preserve its security.

Speaker of the Arab Parliament Mishal bin Fahm Al-Salami denounced the attack. In a statement Al-Salami called on the UN Security Council to adopt a firm position to classify the Houthi militia as a terrorist group for its flagrant violation of international law.

He affirmed the Arab Parliament’s support for the Kingdom and the measures taken to address all threats to its security and stability and the safety of its citizens.

Pakistan also condemned the attack. “Pakistan reiterates its full support and solidarity with the brotherly Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against any threats to its security and territorial integrity,” a statement from the Foreign Office in Islamabad said. 

Ambassador of Djibouti to Saudi Arabia Dya-Eddin Said Bamakhrama said that his country condemned the aggression, which was a serious escalation of the conflict, and declared its solidarity with Saudi Arabia.

The legitimate Yemeni government said that the Houthis did not understand dialogue and diplomacy, and only understood the language of weapons and force. The Arab Coalition and the legitimate government had no choice but to resort to military options to end Houthi terrorism, the government’s spokesman Rajeh Badi said.

The attack follows an armed drone strike last month on two oil-pumping stations in Saudi Arabia. The Houthis have claimed responsibility for the attack.

Since the beginning of the four-year conflict, the Houthis have fired dozens of missiles into the Kingdom with most intercepted by the Saudi military. In recent weeks, tensions between warring parties have risen after the stalling of a UN-led peace deal.


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

Updated 20 July 2019
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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.


EVENTS WATCH

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.