Love is in the air as Saudis enjoy a red Valentine

Saudis enjoyed a hassle-free Valentine's Day in Saudi Arabia.
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Updated 13 February 2020

Love is in the air as Saudis enjoy a red Valentine

JEDDAH: With fifty shades of red, local flower shops were celebrating the strong presence of red roses on Valentine’s Day on Tuesday in the absence of restrictions from the Committee of Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, also known as the religious police.
Saudis wishing to celebrate Valentine’s Day have been able to purchase roses, which in previous years had been confiscated from flower shops by members of the religious authorities.
Many flower shops in Jeddah, visited by Arab News, were selling roses and flowers, albeit with hiked prices. Custom-made Valentine boxes with flowers and balloons start from SR550.
Meanwhile, Al-Hayat daily reported similar sales in Al-Ahsa and other Saudi areas. However, some flower shopkeepers opted voluntarily not to sell roses to avoid trouble with the religious authorities. No shop owners reported any problems.
One florist in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, however, preferred to avoid highlighting this occasion.
“I will not sell red roses on this day, as the matter does not need a ban order,” one anonymous Riyadh florist told Al-Hayat. “We have experienced problems in the past and I am not willing to go through the same dilemma again.”
Saudis on social media celebrated the annual day of love by posting affectionate messages, while others insisted that they will not celebrate it citing ideological reasons. Some Saudis say the event is a pagan ritual and refuse to participate because they believe it is an act to imitate the west.
Humor and irony were the dominant theme on this occasion among locals who shared sarcastic tweets and videos on their social platforms.
Nader (@LeoNader) posted a video of a football match featuring his favorite sports team with the caption: “This is my Valentine.” While Hassan (@iiHM_) shared a picture of NETFLIX saying: “You are my Valentine.”
Another Twitter user (@Sho_Sho232) expressed her feelings on how the Haia (the commission) members are missed on such occasion.
“And this is how we discovered that no one gives Valentine’s Day any significance other than the Haia. Valentine’s Day lost its spirit without our clergies.”
Many Saudis said that love should be celebrated throughout the year, not only for one day. “We experience love in every detail on our day. One day is not enough to celebrate it,” tweeted (@memo44447).
And like everywhere else in the world, some single Saudis who complained about spending the occasion alone tweeted funny posts suggesting that their Valentine date is going to be a... shawarma sandwich! “Thanks to my shawarma it has never let me down.”

US court orders Iran to pay $879 million to 1996 Khobar bombing survivors

Updated 10 July 2020

US court orders Iran to pay $879 million to 1996 Khobar bombing survivors

  • The court ruled that the Iranian government directed and provided material for the attack
  • The Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia were housing US forces when it was bombed in 1996

DUBAI: A United States federal court held Iran responsible for the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia where US forces were housed, and ordered Tehran to pay $879 million to survivors. 

The Khobar Towers was a housing complex in the eastern city of Khobar, near the Abdulaziz Air Base and Saudi Aramco’s headquarters in Dhahran, that housed American servicemen working on Operation Southern Watch.

A truck bomb was detonated on June 25, 1996, near an eight-story building of the housing complex, which killed 19 US Air Force personnel and a Saudi national and wounded 498 others.

The court ruled that the Iranian government directed and provided material support to Hezbollah who detonated the 5,000-pound truck bomb, a Chicago law firm press release said. The attackers reportedly smuggled the explosives used in the attack from Lebanon. 

The lawsuit was brought under the terrorism exception of the US Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act by the 14 injured US airmen and 21 of their immediate family members.

The defendants in the case were listed as the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security.



“We will continue to seek to hold the Government of Iran accountable for this terrorist attack as long as is necessary,” said Adora Sauer, the lead attorney of MM LAW LLC.

US District Judge Beryl A. Howell found the defendants liable and awarded the plaintiffs $132 million for pain and suffering, as well as prejudgment interest, for a total compensatory damage award of $747 million and $132 million for punitive damages.

The court also said the plaintiffs are eligible for partial payments from the US Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, which compensates American victims of acts of international terrorism with funds obtained from fines and forfeitures levied against companies caught illegally laundering money for sanctioned countries and persons. 

The attorneys also intend to pursue enforcement of the judgments through litigation intended to seize Iranian assets.

“The physical and psychological toll on our families has been extremely high, but this judgment is welcome news. More than 20 years on, we want the world to remember the evil that Iran did at the Khobar Towers. Through the work of our attorneys, we intend to do just that,” said Glenn Christie, a retired Air Force staff sergeant crew chief who was severely injured in the bombing.

“The massive explosion took so much from their minds and bodies on the day of the attack in 1996 and every day and night since then. They can now live with that balance justice provides,” according to John Urquhart of the Urquhart Law Firm, who also represents the bombing victims.