US condemns Houthi attack on Abha airport that injured 9

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Flight operations at Abha International Airport resumed following a Houthi attack on Tuesday. (AN photo by Faris Tairan)
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Flight operations at Abha International Airport resumed following a Houthi attack on Tuesday. (AN photo by Faris Tairan)
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Flight operations at Abha International Airport resumed following a Houthi attack on Tuesday. (AN photo by Faris Tairan)
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Flight operations at Abha International Airport resumed following a Houthi attack on Tuesday. (AN photo by Faris Tairan)
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Flight operations at Abha International Airport resumed following a Houthi attack on Tuesday. (AN photo by Faris Tairan)
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Flight operations at Abha International Airport resumed following a Houthi attack on Tuesday. (AN photo by Faris Tairan)
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Flight operations at Abha International Airport resumed following a Houthi attack on Tuesday. (AN photo by Faris Tairan)
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Flight operations at Abha International Airport resumed following a Houthi attack on Tuesday. (AN photo by Faris Tairan)
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Flight operations at Abha International Airport resumed following a Houthi attack on Tuesday. (AN photo by Faris Tairan)
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Flight operations at Abha International Airport resumed following a Houthi attack on Tuesday. (AN photo by Faris Tairan)
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Flight operations at Abha International Airport resumed following a Houthi attack on Tuesday. (AN photo by Faris Tairan)
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Flight operations at Abha International Airport resumed following a Houthi attack on Tuesday. (AN photo by Faris Tairan)
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Flight operations at Abha International Airport resumed following a Houthi attack on Tuesday. (AN photo by Faris Tairan)
Updated 03 July 2019
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US condemns Houthi attack on Abha airport that injured 9

  • Tuesday's Houthi attack on the airport took place shortly after midnight
  • This is the third time the airport has been targeted by the Yemen-based militia

RIYADH: Abha International Airport in Saudi Arabia’s Asir province has fully resumed operations following a drone attack by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia based in Yemen.

Arab coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said the attack by the Houthis had injured nine civilians — eight Saudis and one Indian citizen — all of whom are in stable condition in a hospital.

The US "strongly condemned" the strike - the third such attack in less than three weeks.

"These attacks are risking the lives of many and injuring innocent civilians," a State Department spokeswoman said. "We call for an immediate end to these violent actions, which only exacerbate the conflict in Yemen and deepen mistrust.

"We stand firmly with our Saudi partners in defending their borders against these continued threats by the Houthis, who rely on Iranian-made weapons and technology to carry out such attacks."
 

Former Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Dr. Ali Awadh Asseri, who was in Abha at the time, said: “I think this terrorist attack on civilians reflects their failure in this war — that’s why they are targeting civilians.

“It’s time for the international community to take action and for the UN to take necessary measures to punish Iran and stop it from doing such things.

“Such attacks will only reinforce our national unity and our national cohesion. The Houthi’s aim is to disturb our unity so it’s so sad that the target is a civilian target, but that’s the only thing they can do. But our people are safe and they will remain safe and strong to defeat anyone who tries to attack this country.”

Asseri added that the operation of the airport was not affected by the attack, and that flights were still coming in and out of the airport.

“This will not affect the tourism season in Abha and Asir, and people here are very solid; they have great faith in their leadership and their country,” he said.

Flight operations at Abha International Airport resumed following a Houthi attack on Tuesday. (AN photo by Faris Tairan)

Arab Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki said the fight against Houthis would continue, as they repeatedly violated international law by targeting civilians and civilian structures.

The militants claimed the attack through their own media, the spokesman added.

Hatem Al-Ahmad, a Syrian artist based in Abha, said that everything in the area was under control. “There is a festival underway beside the airport, and as far as I know it is going pretty well and welcoming a fair number of visitors every day.”

Egypt, Bahrain, the UAE and the US have all condemned the tactics of the Houthis in targeting civilians. The US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, John Abizaid, said: “We strongly condemn these acts of violence against innocent civilians. The Houthis must stop this — our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”

Tuesday’s attack is the third targeting the airport in the last four weeks, with the previous two taking place on June 23 and 12.

One person was killed in the second attack, and overall there have been 56 people injured.


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.