Saudi Arabia vows to confront Houthi terrorist threat with ‘unwavering resolve’

A Saudi Royal Air Force jet takes off at an airbase in the south of the Kingdom in this March 25, 2019 photo. (SPA file)
Updated 13 June 2019
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Saudi Arabia vows to confront Houthi terrorist threat with ‘unwavering resolve’

  • Pledge comes after missile strike on civilian Abha Airport in which 26 people were injured
  • Deputy Defense Minister: ‘Appropriate measures will be taken to confront and deter these terrorist militias’

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia on Thursday vowed to take “appropriate” action to confront and deter attacks by Houthi militias in Yemen.

It came a day after 26 people, including women and children, were injured in a missile strike on the civilian Abha Airport in the south of the Kingdom, for which the Houthis claimed responsibility.

“We will confront the Houthi militias’ crimes with unwavering resolve,” said Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman. “Their targeting of a civilian airport exposes to the world the recklessness of Iran’s escalation and the danger it poses to regional security and stability.

“The targeting of Abha Airport by Iranian-backed Houthi militias, injuring innocent civilians of various nationalities, is a continuation of their immoral and criminal behavior that is in line with the malign behavior of their patrons. I pray for a quick recovery for the wounded.”

The Houthi militias fired 226 ballistic missiles toward Saudi Arabia between March 26, 2015 and June 10, 2019.

“Appropriate measures will be taken to confront and deter these terrorist militias,” said Prince Khalid. “We will stand against all those that aim to inflict harm on our security and interests, and we will continue to adhere to all international laws and norms to protect regional security and stability.

“For 40 years, the Iranian regime has been spreading chaos, death and destruction by sponsoring and financing terrorist organizations, including the Houthis. The Iranian regime is the only party in the region that has been pursuing reckless escalation, through the use of ballistic missiles and UAVS (unmanned aerial vehicles) to directly target civilian installations and innocent civilians.

“The continuation of the Iranian regime’s aggression and reckless escalation, whether directly or through its militias, will result in grave consequences. The international community must carry out its responsibility to avoid this outcome,” the minister added.

Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation authorities said operations and air traffic at Abha Airport had returned to normal by Thursday morning. Thousands of passengers pass through the airport each day.

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The missile strike was condemned by nations and officials around the world, with the US Embassy in Saudi Arabia denouncing it in the strongest terms as an attack that “targeted innocent civilians.”

The UAE said it was proof of attempts by the Houthis to “undermine regional security.” Bahrain said it “strongly condemned” the attack, describing it as a “terrorist and cowardly criminal act against innocent civilians.”

The day before the attack, a spokesman for the Houthi military warned that the group planned to target every airport in Saudi Arabia, and that the coming days would reveal “big surprises.”

A Houthi claim that it struck the airport with a sophisticated cruise missile was dismissed as “misinformation spread by Houthi media and Iranian social media,” by security analyst Dr. Theodore Karasik, a senior adviser at Gulf State Analytics in Washington, DC.

“The interception rate by Saudi PAC-3 air defense is extremely high,” he added. “But Iranian-supplied and supported Houthi drones are another matter; they deliver an explosive charge either on the target or above, raining down debris.”

The Houthis last month stepped up attacks following a lull last year ahead of UN-led peace efforts. The coalition has responded by carrying out air strikes on Houthi-held Sanaa.


Innovative Saudi cultural center showcases world-famous ‘The Scream’ artist’s exhibition

Updated 26 June 2019
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Innovative Saudi cultural center showcases world-famous ‘The Scream’ artist’s exhibition

  • 40 works by Edvard Munch go on display for first time in Middle East

DHAHRAN: A dynamic Saudi cultural center is to showcase the works of one of the world’s most famous painters in an exhibition-first for the Middle East.

Forty pieces by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, best known for his iconic “The Scream” painting, will go on public display at the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra).

The special exhibition, titled “Landscapes of the Soul,” is the latest in a series of high-profile cultural events to be staged at the showpiece exhibition in Dhahran.

Developed by Saudi Aramco with the aim of stimulating knowledge, creativity and cross-cultural engagement, Ithra’s theater, museum, exhibition hall and art gallery complex forms a key part of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform plan to promote culture and entertainment.

The Munch exhibition, which runs until Sept. 3, portrays the artist’s personal life experiences of misery, love, despair, loneliness and reflections of the soul, through his distinctive works.

“It is such an honor to host and introduce to Saudi Arabia, and indeed, the Middle East, the work of the world-renowned artist Edvard Munch,” Rania Biltagi, Ithra’s head of communications and partnership, told Arab News.

Munch’s (1863-1944) original exhibition has been located in Oslo, Norway since 1963, and the Saudi display is being staged in Ithra’s Great Hall in partnership with the Munch Museum in Norway.

As well as a lithograph version of his most famous painting “The Scream,” other works on show will include “Summer Night. The Voice,” 1894, “Self-Portrait,” 1895, and “The Sick Child,” 1896.

“A moment that stood out from the opening was when speaking to a couple visiting the exhibit, they mentioned that they were Norwegian and working in Saudi,” Biltagi said. “They explained that they had never had the chance to visit the Munch Museum in their homeland and what an unexpected pleasure it was to be able to see Munch’s work in Saudi.”

Biltagi added that the event epitomized the aim of Ithra in providing a platform to bring together cultures as well as people.

The center, featured in Time magazine’s list of the world’s top 100 places to visit, is a pioneer on the Kingdom’s culture and arts scene, organizing a variety of events, performances, programs and experiences to suit all ages and backgrounds. Previous exhibitions have included a focus on Saudi contemporary art, Leonardo da Vinci, and installations symbolizing creativity and innovation.