KSRelief chief: Yemeni ports under legitimate control open to aid

KSRelief General Supervisor Abdullah Al-Rabeeah addresses a high-level meeting in Rome on Friday. (SPA)
Updated 18 November 2017

KSRelief chief: Yemeni ports under legitimate control open to aid

ROME: Yemeni ports under the control of the legitimate government can receive humanitarian aid, Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), has said.
Al-Rabeeah said that the Kingdom had offered the Saudi Port of Jazan to be used along with other ports to help the flow of humanitarian aid into Yemen.
Al-Rabeeah, who is at a high-level meeting in Rome for the Partnership for Permanent Peace in Yemen, condemned the 16 attacks of Houthi militias against UN and other relief organizations during 2015-2017, which involved murder, kidnapping, imprisonment and closure of offices, as well as extortion and looting.
The Houthi militias had closed ports and offices of international organizations working in Yemen and seized 65 ships, 124 relief convoys, and 628 aid shipments. He said the Houthi militias were targeting residential areas, humanitarian aid and humanitarian workers.
Al-Rabeeah said that the UN and international community should do more to hold militias accountable for hampering humanitarian work, and for their targeting of civilians and use of children in war crimes. Houthi militias had recruited more than 20,000 Yemeni children, according to human rights organizations. He said that the Kingdom was rehabilitating 2,000 children who were previously recruited by the militias.
Al-Rabeeah said that total aid provided by the Kingdom to Yemen from April 2015 to October 2017 reached $8.27 billion, noting that (KSRelief) delivered aid used airdrops of food and medical aid in the city of Taiz to break the blockade of the militias.
KSRelief delivered 161 projects in Yemen through 86 local and international partners. These projects included food security, nutrition, shelters, social support, and environmental sanitation.
Al-Rabeeah said that KSRelief was particularly interested in programs helping women and children, and ran 148 such programs in Yemen. KSRelief work covered 80 projects in education, protection, food security, health, nutrition, water, environmental sanitation, and personal hygiene.
Al-Rabeeah said that the Kingdom had been working to limit the spread of cholera in Yemen. It donated more than $76 million to the Yemeni Ministry of Public Health and Population, the WHO, and UNICEF. KSRelief sent a convoy carrying more than 550,000 tons of medical equipment to Yemeni regions to fight the epidemic. The rate of recovery, he said, had reached 99.5 percent, which meant many organizations could close Cholera treatment centers in some areas.
He also called on UN and humanitarian organizations in Yemen to decentralize their humanitarian efforts and avoid opening their headquarters in one city only.


Akiba Cafe: Your manga escape in Saudi Arabia

Visitors to the cafe can order their drinks and browse Akiba’s collection for free at diner-style tables, or enjoy their experience solo as they catch up on their favorite manga tales. (AN photo by Huda Bashatah)
Updated 10 August 2020

Akiba Cafe: Your manga escape in Saudi Arabia

  • Jeddah destination provides a taste of Japan with anime, comics, desserts and films

JEDDAH: Japanese comic books, known as manga, have captured the hearts of some Saudis so much that a 31-year-old citizen decided to give the genre’s fans a specialist Jeddah cafe so that they can pursue their passion as well as meet others who share it.

Akiba Cafe is the brainchild of Mohammed Saeed Baghlaf, an urban planning engineer who spent over a year living in Japan after graduating from college in the US and was working on a project for Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics.
Manga cafes can be found in most cities across Japan. They are a place where people can spend hours reading manga, and they are also considered to be a cultural space where people can relax and have conversations about manga.
He was inspired by the concept of manga cafes while he was in Japan, and took notice of the growing love for manga in the Kingdom. As an urban planner, he was able to grasp the Japanese concept and implement it in Saudi Arabia with a few tweaks and changes to suit the local audience.
“Manga cafés are all over Japan, albeit executed differently,” Baghlaf told Arab News. “They’re a little like internet cafés where people can spend the night. Of course, recreating that here doesn’t go along with our culture and traditions, so we recreated the concept in a way that accommodates that.”

Signature drinks
Akiba has only been open for a few months but, by the time Arab News visited the manga hotspot, people have already been flocking to the cafe to try out its signature drinks and read their favorite comics.

We have contracted a company in Tokyo to get the rights for a bunch of shows and, after many discussions, we get to air an episode an hour after it airs in Japan with Arabic subtitles for our customers.

Mohammed Saeed Baghlaf, Urban planning engineer

Friends and families can be seen relaxing together on the ground floor flicking through the pages of a comic book, or delving into a more accessible e-reading option as manga is still in short supply in Saudi Arabia.
Visitors to the cafe can order their drinks and browse Akiba’s collection for free at diner-style tables, or enjoy their experience solo as they catch up on their favorite manga tales.
Akiba also airs popular anime and animated films throughout the day, uploading their schedule on their Twitter and Instagram pages.
Baghlaf is an avid gamer, but watching anime and reading manga is definitely on his list of favorite things to do. Keeping up with popular stories also helps him to figure out what manga volumes to acquire and which anime films to screen.
The urban planning engineer noticed the Kingdom’s approach in linking many objectives in the Vision 2030 reform plan to entertainment and, as cafes continue to draw large crowds in Saudi Arabia, he felt encouraged about going for Akiba.
“Specialty cafes are very popular here nowadays, so how am I going to be special? I went for a manga or anime cafe,” he said.
The cafe’s target audience are those who are interested in specialty coffee, manga and anime. For people with a sweet tooth there are Japanese desserts on offer, including cheesecake.

BACKGROUND

• Akiba Cafe is the brainchild of Mohammed Saeed Baghlaf, an urban planning engineer.

• He spent over a year living in Japan after graduating from college in the US and was working on a project for Tokyo’s 2020 Olympics.

• He was inspired by the concept of manga cafes while he was in Japan, and took notice of the growing love for manga in Saudi Arabia.

• The name Akiba comes from Akihabara, a popular area in Tokyo that is a hub for anime, gaming and electronics retailers.

• It also has specialty cafes throughout its busy maze of streets.

• Mohammed Saeed Baghlaf wants to support local talent by initiating artist nights at Akiba so that people can come and get sketches and put local manga on display for readers to discover.

Baghlaf has to make frequent trips to Japan to discuss screening rights with creators in Tokyo. “We’ve contracted a company in Tokyo to get the rights for a bunch of shows and, after many discussions, we get to air an episode an hour after it airs in Japan with Arabic subtitles for our customers.”
Due to the deals Baghlaf has made with distributors, he receives the episodes prior to their airing date to green-light them in terms of translation accuracy and censorship, in order not to air anything that goes against the Kingdom’s culture.
The same goes for manga. “I would bring in a story with 70-something volumes and, out of those, one book could end up with something inappropriate and I’d have to shelve the whole series.”


Baghlaf believes that the market for Japanese storytelling is massive in Saudi Arabia and continues to grow each day.
“It’s definitely popular and it’s why you see major events happening like Comic Con and Anime Expo, which I’ve been to myself with 200,000 others. It was so crowded,” he said.

Friendship
The Saudis have grown up with Japanese stories for decades, as well as slapstick US cartoons such as Tom and Jerry and the Loony Tunes that lack storytelling or arcs, according to Baghlaf. The Japanese stories have taught generations of Saudis about friendship, brotherhood, integrity and how to deal with others.
“There’s also a huge likeness between Japanese and Arabic culture. Within families, respecting those older than you whether through language, which has levels of formality where elders deserve the most respectable form when talked to and they have a lot of respect for familial bonds as well.”
The cafe owner revealed that the name Akiba comes from Akihabara, a popular area in Tokyo that is a hub for anime, gaming and electronics retailers. It also has specialty cafes throughout its busy maze of streets.
Baghlaf wants to support local talent by initiating artist nights at Akiba so that people can come and get sketches and put local manga on display for readers to discover.