Saudi Border Guards chief calls for global action plan to combat maritime terrorism

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Some of the delegates are seen participating 10th international train-the-trainers course on combating threats in the maritime field that was held in Jeddah. (SPA)
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Some of the delegates are seen participating 10th international train-the-trainers course on combating threats in the maritime field that was held in Jeddah. (SPA)
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Some of the delegates are seen participating 10th international train-the-trainers course on combating threats in the maritime field that was held in Jeddah. (SPA)
Updated 02 July 2019

Saudi Border Guards chief calls for global action plan to combat maritime terrorism

  • UN urged to develop regional codes of conduct to counter threats against maritime transport and world economies

JEDDAH: The head of the Saudi Border Guards has called for an international agreement to combat the growing threat of maritime terrorism.

Opening a new training course in Jeddah on sea security, Gen. Awad bin Eid Al-Balawi said a global action plan was required in the wake of recent attacks on oil tankers and coastal installations in the region.

The director general of the Border Guards recommended that the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the UN agency responsible for regulating shipping, should develop regional codes of conduct and work toward the adoption of an international convention to counter terror crimes which posed a serious threat to maritime transport and world economies.

Under the patronage of the Kingdom’s Interior Minister Prince Abdul Aziz bin Saud bin Naif, Al-Balawi spoke as he inaugurated the 10th international train-the-trainers course on combating threats in the maritime field, being attended by 25 delegates from 18 countries.

Hosted by the Saudi Ministry of Interior, the course was being delivered in cooperation with the IMO at Mohammed bin Naif Academy for Maritime Science and Security Studies.

In his speech, Al-Balawi stressed the Saudi government’s backing of international and regional efforts to support strategic and operational measures to enhance maritime security and safety of navigation and shipping.

He said the Border Guards had held two workshops and a high-level ministerial conference which resulted in the Jeddah Amendments to the Code of Conduct 2017 on Combating Transnational Organized Crime, in addition to nine training courses benefiting 199 candidates from 28 signatory countries to the code, and other nations of the Yaoundé Code of Conduct for west and central Africa, and the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery (ReCAAP).

To improve maritime security, Al-Balawi said that the Border Guards had established the Jeddah Maritime Information Sharing Center (JMISC), a regional hub for the collection, exchange and analysis of data.

He added that criminal acts and maritime terrorism had taken a dangerous new course through the use of drones, unmanned aerial vehicles, booby-trapped boats and underwater threats, in a bid to disrupt the global economy.

He highlighted the recent targeting of oil tankers in the Sea of Oman and the Arabian Gulf, as well as attacks on vital coastal installations.

Al-Balawi told guests at the opening ceremony that the latest training course represented a continuation of the Kingdom’s cooperation and partnership with the IMO to support capacity building efforts and enhance the exchange of experiences. The train-the-trainer courses were aimed at developing participants’ knowledge, skills and capabilities in the field of maritime security.

He pointed out that the Ministry of Interior, represented by the Border Guards, would be staging more courses and workshops.

Kiruga Metchini, representative of the IMO’s secretary-general, thanked the government and people of Saudi Arabia for hosting the event, and said: “The Saudi government is a unique partner in the success of combating piracy and armed robbery against ships in the region.”

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

Updated 20 July 2019

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.


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.