Saudi Arabia to pay $500m for Yemen aid next week, says UN aid chief

Yemeni children study at a school receiving support from KSRelief. (SPA)
Updated 17 September 2019

Saudi Arabia to pay $500m for Yemen aid next week, says UN aid chief

  • The project aims to help cut the number of deaths and injuries caused to Yemenis by hidden explosive devices

UNITED NATIONS/RIYADH: UN aid chief Mark Lowcock said Saudi Arabia will pay $500 million to the world body next week to help fund its humanitarian response in Yemen.

Lowcock said Saudi Arabia planned to pay on Sept. 25 and that the UAE had also recently made a payment of $200 million.

1,980 mines cleared in Yemen

MASAM, the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center’s (KSRelief) project for clearing mines in Yemen, cleared 1,980 mines during the second week of September.

Experts extracted two antipersonnel mines, 332 anti-tank, 1,629 unexploded ordnance and 17 explosive devices. 

Since the beginning of the project, 89,761 landmines planted by the Iranian-backed Houthis have been cleared.

The project aims to help cut the number of deaths and injuries caused to Yemenis by hidden explosive devices.

The mines were randomly planted to target civilians, causing permanent injuries and chronic disabilities to children and the elderly among other victims.

The project aims to ensure current and future security for the Yemeni people and is one of several projects and initiatives provided by the Kingdom as part of its efforts to bring stability and development to the war-torn Middle Eastern country.

The KSRelief is carrying out several humanitarian projects in Yemen, which includes provision of food, health care, vocational training and education.

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.