Strike force at Yemen border

Updated 13 May 2015

Strike force at Yemen border

Saudi Arabia announced on Monday that a strike force had arrived on the border with Yemen.
It happened as Yemen’s Houthi militia and the Saudi-led coalition forces traded heavy artillery and rocket fire in border areas on Monday, residents said, on the eve of a five-day humanitarian truce.
The Houthis said they fired Katyusha rockets and mortars on the Saudi cities of Jazan and Najran on Monday, after the Saudis hit Saada and Hajah provinces with more than 150 rockets.
Saudi planes also struck positions of the Iranian-allied Houthi group in the central city of Taiz and in the oil-producing Marib province east of the capital Sanaa.
A Pakistani expatriate died and four others including a Saudi child were wounded when a mortar launched by the Houthis fell on a school and house in Najran, said a spokesman of the Civil Defense in the region.
In Jazan, a Saudi died and four others including a citizen and three expatriates were wounded when another Houthi mortar fell on a residential area in Harth, said Maj. Yahya Abdullah Al-Qahtani, spokesman of the Civil Defense in Jazan.
The latest fatalities bring to 11 the death toll in Saudi Arabia since the Houthis began firing rockets and mortars over the border last week.
Civil Defense spokesman Ali Al-Shahrani told a local channel that the school and residential area in Najran came under fire at 7 a.m. on Monday.
A group of 17 international aid agencies said on Sunday that five days were not sufficient to provide relief to the country.
Meanwhile, a Moroccan F-16 fighter jet taking part in the anti-Houthi air campaign has gone missing, Morocco's armed forces said early Monday. The plane had been missing since 6 p.m. the previous day, a statement carried by the state news agency MAP said.
The pilot of a second jet has said he did not see pilot of the missing jet eject. The MAP statement said an investigation was under way into the whereabouts of the missing jet.
On Monday, Houthi militias broadcast a video they said was showing wreckage of the missing jet.

Saudi rural tourism recovers after months of forced isolation

Updated 11 July 2020

Saudi rural tourism recovers after months of forced isolation

  • Saudis turn to domestic traveling and flock to their nation’s cooler cities and rural areas

TAIF: As Saudi citizens turn to domestic tourism in the country’s summer resorts, adapting to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, rural areas have become targeted by local tourists wishing to get away from the soaring temperatures in most of the Kingdom’s cities.

Visitors are now choosing cold Saudi cities instead of Europe, which they are accustomed to visiting, such as Taif, Al-Baha, and Abha.

COVID-19 has postponed all plans to travel abroad, and attention has now focused on domestic tourism amid strict health protocols in parks, gardens and recreational areas.

Walid Al-Hamidi, vice president of the Tourism Development Council, confirmed to Arab News that Asir, with its facilities and attractions, was ready to receive summer visitors from across the country.

He said that under the directives of Asir's governor, who supervises all activities and events directly and constantly, many committees had been formed to prepare a successful summer tourism season, to optimize the opportunity and allow people to enjoy the exceptional ambiance of Asir.

“A comprehensive tourism plan was set up two years ago, which resulted in a successful Al-Soudah Season with the support of Asir’s Investment Authority,” Al-Hamidi added.

He noted that Asir’s directives aimed this year to build an exceptional tourism model that meets optimal health standards in dealing with COVID-19.

The model is supported by the “Nashama Asir” team — consisting of 4,000 volunteers — who have been trained for months and have all the necessary skills to make the season successful. Their work will continue until the end of the pandemic and throughout the summer.

“Everyone is ready at public facilities, gardens and parks, to serve tourists,” he said, adding “tourists coming from all the over the Kingdom will be welcomed with smiles, enhanced services, and warm welcomes.”

Dr. Sami Al-Obaidi, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Taif, told Arab News that the tourism sector was the economic backbone of any country or city.

He said that Taif was considered one of the most important tourist cities, given its many attractions  that made it top of any list of places to visit in the Kingdom.

“Suspending travel abroad, and limiting tourism … due to the coronavirus pandemic, makes us, as officials and citizens in Taif, well placed for a beautiful and safe tourism season for Taif’s citizens and visitors,” said Al-Obaidi.

“Meetings are held around the clock, headed by Saad Al-Maimouni, the governor of Taif, with the participation of the relevant authorities.”

He expected all sectors, especially tourism, hospitality and a few other businesses in Taif, to recover to some extent during this season, especially now tourists have already started flocking to the region, with numbers set to increase over the coming weeks.