US Central Command welcomes Saudi Arabia into global maritime coalition

Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie. (AFP)
Updated 21 September 2019

US Central Command welcomes Saudi Arabia into global maritime coalition

  • The Saudi move comes amid heightened tensions with Iran after a drone and missile attack at the weekend hit two key oil facilities in Saudi Arabia

WASHINGTON: The US Central Command has welcomed Saudi Arabia into a global maritime security coalition.
The American defense force said it appreciated the Kingdom’s decision to join the International Maritime Security Construct (IMSC) and expressed thanks for its active role in helping to preserve freedom of navigation, promote maritime security and de-escalate regional tensions.
Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie lauded Saudi Arabia’s lead on regional security matters and its commitment to preserving the free flow of commerce, which he described as a linchpin of the global economy.
“Threats to the freedom of navigation are an international problem requiring an international solution, and we are pleased that Saudi Arabia will be a part of that solution,” he added.
Saudi Arabia on Wednesday joined the US-led military coalition to secure the Middle East’s key waterways for shipping.
The coalition, which includes Australia, Bahrain, and the UK, was set up to counter threats to vessels after a string of attacks against ships entering and leaving the Arabian Gulf. It aims to protect commercial ships and provide safe navigation in an operational area covering the Strait of Hormuz, Bab Al-Mandab Strait, the Sea of Oman and the Arabian Gulf.
The Saudi move comes amid heightened tensions with Iran after a drone and missile attack at the weekend hit two key oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. The US has blamed Iran for the strikes along with a number of other attacks on shipping in or near the Strait of Hormuz in recent months.


Worshippers flock to reopened Prophet’s Mosque for Friday prayers

Updated 06 June 2020

Worshippers flock to reopened Prophet’s Mosque for Friday prayers

MADINAH: Hundreds of thousands of worshippers attended the first Friday prayers to be held at the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah since the gatherings were suspended to stop the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

The green light for the resumption of the prayer meetings came as part of a plan to gradually reopen the Kingdom’s mosques while ensuring worshippers and visitors adhered to preventive measures.

A ban on access to the Rawdah remained in place and only groups of worshippers numbering up to a maximum of 40 percent of the mosque’s capacity were being allowed entry.

Precautionary measures also included the allocation of specific doors for the entry of worshippers, the installation of thermal cameras, removal of all carpets so that prayers could be performed on the marble, sanitization of the mosque’s floors and courtyards, periodic opening of domes and canopies to ventilate the mosque, and the removal of Zamzam water containers.

The Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah will be closed after evening prayers and reopened one hour before dawn prayers. Parking lots will operate at 50 percent capacity and a media awareness campaign has been launched to highlight safety procedures at the holy site.

Medical teams have also been stationed at the main entrances to the mosque in cooperation with the Ministry of Health.

Elsewhere in the Kingdom, worshippers also flocked to perform Friday prayers at mosques amid strict health measures.

On May 31, Saudi authorities reopened all mosques for prayers, except in Makkah, as part of the Kingdom’s plan for a gradual return to normal life.

Last week the minister of Islamic affairs, dawah and guidance said that the country’s mosques were ready to welcome back worshippers, following his field trips to check that necessary preparations had been made.

All worshippers must still maintain a distance of 2 meters between rows, wear masks to enter a mosque, and Friday sermons and prayers have been limited to a maximum of 15 minutes.