Schools closed in parts of western Saudi Arabia on Tuesday due to sandstorm

Schools in the Makkah area and the Umm Al-Qura University are to remain closed on Tuesday. (File photo/Reuters)
Updated 12 February 2018

Schools closed in parts of western Saudi Arabia on Tuesday due to sandstorm

JEDDAH: Schools in parts of Saudi Arabia will be closed Tuesday due to bad weather, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported.
Schools in the Makkah and Madinah area will close, the local education board said, while Umm Al-Qura University will also be shut due to a sandstorm.
Whereas, educational authorities in Jeddah announced that schools will resume Tuesday in Jeddah, Rabigh and Khulais, stressing the importance of taking into account cases of asthma and chest diseases among students and all the staff.
Saudi Arabia’s General Directorate of Civil Defense earlier said that sandstorms had severely restricted visibility in various areas of Makkah province on Monday, including Jeddah, Makkah, Bahra, and Al-Jamoum, as well as neighboring parts of the region.
“There is a near-total lack of horizontal visibility all over Jeddah,” the National Center for Security Operations tweeted.
The authorities urged caution, particularly while driving, and stressed that residents of the affected areas should avoid lingering near scaffolding, lampposts, umbrellas, trees, billboards and construction sites.
The Meteorology and Environment authority expected the sandstorms to subside by 4 p.m. on Monday.
Meanwhile, Jeddah Islamic Port tweeted saying that the navigation movement stopped at 11:30 a.m. “due to the increased speed of southeast winds which exceeded 36 knots, and the lack of horizontal vision visibility.”
 


Pentagon chief visits Saudi Arabia as tensions simmer with Iran

Updated 26 min 30 sec ago

Pentagon chief visits Saudi Arabia as tensions simmer with Iran

  • The visit comes days after Pentagon said it was bolstering its forces in the Kingdom amid tensions with Iran
  • In October, the Pentagon said it was deploying new US troops to Saudi Arabia following attacks on Saudi oil plants

RIYADH: US Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday, with tensions simmering between the United States and Iran, and Russia seeking to increase its regional influence.
Al-Ekhbariyah television gave no details on the previously unannounced visit, which comes after Esper visited Afghanistan.
Esper is likely to meet King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on his first trip to the key Middle East ally since he took office this summer, a visit intended partly to reassure Riyadh over bilateral ties.

US-Iran tensions have risen to new highs since May 2018, when the Trump administration withdrew from a 2015 international nuclear accord with Tehran that put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of sanctions.
The United States has deployed military forces to Saudi Arabia to bolster the Kingdom’s defenses after an attack on oil sites last month.
The Sept. 14 attack knocked out two major processing facilities of state oil giant Aramco in Khurais and Abqaiq, roughly halving Saudi Arabia’s oil production.
Washington condemned the attacks as a “act of war” but neither the Saudis nor the United States have overtly retaliated.

Esper said that two fighter squadrons and additional missile defense batteries were being sent to Saudi Arabia, bringing to about 3,000 the total number of troops deployed there since last month.
Despite the additional troops, there are questions about the US commitment to allies in the region after Trump announced a sudden withdrawal from northeastern Syria, opening the door for Russia to increase its influence in the Middle East.
A senior US defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States still wanted to be seen as the partner of choice in the region and Russia was not as dependable, whether it be the level of training or the military equipment it can provide.
President Vladimir Putin signalled Moscow’s growing Middle East clout last week on his first visit to Saudi Arabia in over a decade, buoyed by Russian military gains in Syria, strong ties with Riyadh’s regional rivals and energy cooperation.
(With Reuters and AFP)