Survivors of Houthi missile attack describe moment explosion ripped through Abha airport

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The Iran-aligned Houthi movement, which is locked in a war with the Arab coalition in Yemen, claimed responsibility for the attack on Abha Airport. (Screenshot/Twitter)
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Saudi security officers are seen at Saudi Arabia's Abha airport, after it was attacked by Yemen's Houthi group in Abha, Saudi Arabia June 13, 2019. (Reuters)
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A Saudi security officer walks past the Saudi Arabia's Abha airport, after it was attacked by Yemen's Houthi group in Abha, Saudi Arabia June 13, 2019. (Reuters)
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Workers fix the damages of Saudi Arabia's Abha airport, after it was attacked by Yemen's Houthi group in Abha, Saudi Arabia June 13, 2019. (Reuters)
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A picture taken during a guided tour with the Saudi military on June 13, 2019 shows a worker fixing inspecting the damage at Abha airport in the popular mountain resort of the same name in the southwest of Saudi Arabia, one day after a Yemeni rebel missile attack on the civil airport, wounding 26 civilians. (AFP)
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A picture taken during a guided tour with the Saudi military on June 13, 2019 shows a worker fixing inspecting the damage at Abha airport in the popular mountain resort of the same name in the southwest of Saudi Arabia, one day after a Houthi missile attack on the civil airport, wounding 26 civilians. (AFP)
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A picture taken during a guided tour with the Saudi military on June 13, 2019 shows workers fixing the damage at Abha airport in the popular mountain resort of the same name in the southwest of Saudi Arabia, one day after a Yemeni rebel missile attack on the civil airport, wounding 26 civilians. (AFP)
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Cars are parked in front of Abha airport in southwestern Saudi Arabia's mountainous resort, on June 12, 2019. (AFP)
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A Saudi Gulf airplane is seen at Saudi Arabia's Abha airport, after it was attacked by Yemen's Houthi group in Abha, Saudi Arabia June 13, 2019. (Reuters)
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A picture taken during a guided tour with the Saudi military on June 13, 2019 shows damage on the roof of Abha airport in the popular mountain resort of the same name in the southwest of Saudi Arabia, one day after a Houthi missile attack on the civil airport, wounding 26 civilians. (AFP)
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A sign on the side of a road leads the way to Abha airport in southwestern Saudi Arabia's mountainous resort, on June 12, 2019. (AFP)
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Workers fix the damages of Saudi Arabia's Abha airport, after it was attacked by Yemen's Houthi group in Abha, Saudi Arabia June 13, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 15 June 2019

Survivors of Houthi missile attack describe moment explosion ripped through Abha airport

  • The Houthis have for years targeted Saudi cities and infrastructure with drones and missiles
  • The strike on a civilian target inside Saudi Arabia came at a time of elevated tensions in the region between Iran and Gulf Arab allies of the United States

ABHA: As Nadia Assiri waited inside a regional Saudi Arabian airport for her sister to arrive from the capital Riyadh, an explosion threw her to the floor and ignited a fire.
Nearby, shrapnel tore through the arm and leg of another woman, Indian-national Um Karim, when a missile hit the arrivals hall of Abha airport where she had been sitting in the early hours of Wednesday morning after a night flight.
"While we were sitting we heard a noise and then saw fire and the blast threw me far," said Assiri, a 33-year-old Saudi.
Um Karim's son-in-law said that the explosion shook the car as the family came to pick her up. "I was scared there would be a second blast," he told Reuters.
The Houthis said a cruise missile strike destroyed the control tower.
The Iran-aligned Houthi movement, which is locked in a war with the Arab coalition in Yemen, claimed responsibility for the attack. The coalition said 26 people were hurt, including Saudi, Yemeni and Indian nationals.
The Coalition responded on Thursday with air strikes around the Houthi-held Yemeni capital Sanaa that it said targeted the group's military assets.
The Saudi airport that was struck, Abha, is about 200 km (125 miles) north of the border with Yemen. When media visited the airport on Thursday, it smelled of fresh paint. The flat bitumen roof of the arrivals hall had been patched up, but scorch marks could be seen.


The Houthis, who control Yemen's capital and the territory where most of the population lives, have for years targeted Saudi cities and infrastructure with drones and missiles, most of which have been intercepted by Saudi defence systems.
The strike on a civilian target inside Saudi Arabia came at a time of elevated tensions in the region between Iran and Gulf Arab allies of the United States.
"The fact that civilians have been injured (in Abha) puts additional pressure on the Saudis to respond to this attack. This just adds more fuel to the fire," said Jean-Marc Rickli, a defence expert at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy.
On Wednesday, the coalition said evidence indicated that Iran's Revolutionary Guards had supplied the Houthis with the weapon used in the Abha attack. The spokesman for the Arab coalition said on Thursday the fact the missiles were not intercepted did not mean there was a failure in Saudi defences.
Last month the Houthis claimed responsibility for an armed drone strike on two oil-pumping stations in Saudi Arabia, the first time they had struck the kingdom's oil infrastructure.
The coalition intervened in Yemen in 2015 to try to restore a government ousted from power in Sanaa by the Houthis.


Diriyah Gate to be a global, historical and cultural landmark

Updated 22 November 2019

Diriyah Gate to be a global, historical and cultural landmark

  • Diriyah is home to Al-Turaif District, built in 1744 and known as one of the largest clay cities in the world

DIRIYAH: With the establishment of the Diriyah Gate Development Authority (DGDA), the historical site of Diriyah will become one of the largest and most important international destinations.

The DGDA seeks to transform the site into a location to host activities and events aimed at exchanging historical and cultural knowledge through museums and venues spread throughout
Al-Turaif District.

 The DGDA aims to celebrate the people of Diriyah by telling their stories and demonstrating their social, cultural and historical the roots, as the cradle of the first Saudi state and a symbol of the beauty of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and
its people.

 Diriyah is home to Al-Turaif District, built in 1744 and known as one of the largest clay cities in the world. It was registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2010 — one of five Saudi sites listed.

Not far from Al-Turaif District is the historic Al-Bujairi District, which was a center for spreading science and knowledge during the prosperity of Diriyah, as the capital of the first Saudi state. 

Today it houses many commercial centers and cafes and is the perfect destination to experience Saudi cuisine.

One of the historical landmarks in Al-Turaif District is Salwa Palace, which is located in the northeastern part. It is the largest of its landmarks and spans over 10,000 square meters. It was founded by Imam Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed bin Saud in 1765, and is historically known as the home of the first royal family. 

The palace houses the Diriyah Museum, which presents the history and development of the first Saudi state through works of art, drawings, models and documentaries.

BACKGROUND

At the northern end of old Diriyah, the town of Ghusaybah sits atop of a plateau surrounded by the Hanifa Valley on three sides.

Salwa Palace forms an integrated architectural system with its residential, administrative, cultural and religious units.

 Al-Turaif District also includes the Imam Muhammad bin Saud Mosque, known as the Great Mosque or Al-Turaif Mosque. It is adjacent to Salwa Palace on the north side, and Imams used to lead Friday prayers there.

 To make movement between the mosque and the palace easier, Imam Saud bin Abdul Aziz built a bridge to connect them on the upper floor. The mosque houses a religious school to teach religious sciences. It was formerly the largest mosque in the Arabian Peninsula and was built to symbolize the strength and unity of the Saudi state.

 At the northern end of old Diriyah, the town of Ghusaybah sits atop of a plateau surrounded by the Hanifa Valley on three sides. It was settled by Mani’ Al-Muraydi, the oldest ancestor of the House of Saud, in the 15th century. 

Ghusaybah is a well-established location, carefully chosen for the establishment of the new governorate, and its location played a major role in the protection of Hajj convoys and trade passing through its areas of influence in Al-Arid region.

 Ghusaybah was the seat of an independent governorate before the founding of the first Saudi state. It provided protection for the northern gate of Diriyah during the campaign of Ibrahim Pasha in 1818.

 Samhan is one of the historical areas south of Ghusaybeh on a triangle overlooking the valley when it meets another tributary, the villages of Omran. It directly overlooks the districts of Qusayrin, Mrayih, and Al-Turaif. This location was important during the reign of Imam Mohammed bin Saud and his son Samhan, being a well-fortified site during the siege of Diriyah. It was selected by Imam Abdullah to be his defense headquarters.

 In the field of philanthropy, one may mention “Sabala Moudhi” which was founded by Imam Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed bin Saud, who made it a charitable endowment in the name of his mother, Moudhi bint Sultan bin Abi Wahtan, wife of Imam Mohammed bin Saud. 

It is located east of the Salwa Palace on the southeast of Al-Turaif District. It is a two-story building and was established to provide free accommodation for visitors coming to the city of Diriyah.