Saudi Arabia remains top supporter of Yemen, says envoy

Kingdom has provided direct support of $7.8 billion to Yemen since 2012, said Saudi Ambassador to Yemen Mohammed Al-Jaber. (AFP)
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Updated 03 June 2020

Saudi Arabia remains top supporter of Yemen, says envoy

  • Saudi Ambassador to Yemen Mohammed Al-Jaber said that the Kingdom topped the donor countries in response to the UN humanitarian plan for Yemen in 2018

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia, which co-hosted the UN pledging event on Tuesday, continues to remain the top supporter of the war-ravaged country with its $500 million pledge.

Commenting on the event, Saudi Ambassador to Yemen Mohammed Al-Jaber said it was a continuation of Saudi efforts to serve the Yemeni people at all fronts — humanitarian, economic, and development.

Saudi Arabia “is the biggest supporter of Yemen, with a total value of humanitarian and development aid amounting to about $17 billion,” he said.

Highlighting the humanitarian role of Saudi Arabia, the envoy said that the Kingdom topped the donor countries in response to the UN humanitarian plan for Yemen in 2018 with $500 million, $750 million in 2019, and is carrying out several humanitarian initiatives and programs through the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief).

Al-Jaber said: “Economically, the Kingdom has provided direct support of $7.8 billion to Yemen since 2012, where it supported the Central Bank of Yemen by depositing $3.2 billion (to keep it afloat), and oil derivatives worth $4.15 billion to operate power plants over several years, in addition to $435 million for the Social Welfare Fund.”

The Saudi ambassador said the Kingdom is also working through the Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen to implement 175 projects and initiatives including 45 in the education sector, 18 in the health sector, 20 in the energy sector, 30 related to water, 13 in the field of agriculture and fisheries, 23 in the transport sector, and 26 in the government buildings sector.”

HIGHLIGHTS

The Kingdom has provided direct support of $7.8 billion to Yemen since 2012.

Saudi Arabia has provided oil derivatives worth $4.15 billion to keep power plants operational in Yemen.

Saudi Arabia has also pledged $25 million to help Yemen fight the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Through the KSRelief, Saudi Arabia is carrying out several projects in different sectors of Yemen. One of the key projects is the establishment of a prosthetics center in Yemen’s Marib and Aden to help Yemeni civilians mutilated by the Iranian-backed Houthi militia.

Between January and April, 1,724 persons benefited from the center in Marib. 

Some 119 prosthetic limbs were fitted to 119 patients, 44 orthotic cosmetic limbs were fitted to 28 patients, and 181 prosthetic measurement services were implemented for 178 patients.

The KSRelief also provides dialysis solutions and other medications necessary for treating chronic diseases to Yemen.

The center provides urgent treatment for wounded and injured Yemenis in their country, and those for whom treatment is not possible in Yemen are transferred to Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region.


Saudi TikTok users weigh in on potential app ban

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Updated 12 July 2020

Saudi TikTok users weigh in on potential app ban

  • Due to pandemic, interest in the app skyrocketed as many users watch videos and try to recreate them while in quarantine

RIYADH: Chinese video platform TikTok is under fire once again, as rumors of the app being a tool used by the Chinese government to spy on users resurface online.

TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, is a video-sharing site similar to the now-defunct Vine, where users share short clips of themselves which can be altered using AI technology.
Lip-syncing along with a track, using filters, and adding special effects give users the chance to create short clips that can be shared and downloaded in several social media platforms.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, interest in the app skyrocketed as many users downloaded TikTok to watch videos and try to recreate them while in quarantine. The app has also gained significant popularity in the Middle East with influencers such as Saudi model Roz, UAE-based content creators Khalid and Salama, and Saudi top TikToker iimeeto, who recently celebrated reaching four million followers on the platform.
Rania Mohammed, a fourth year medical student at Dar AlUloom University in Riyadh, said that TikTok was “the only thing keeping her sane” as she struggled with the pressures of school and quarantine.
“As a med school student, my attention span and free time are both severely limited,” she told Arab News. “Taking a 15 minute break to watch silly TikToks has helped me keep motivated. The specific brand of humor on that app is the fastest way to make me laugh.”
Mai Alhumood, a government employee, said that she downloaded the app while she was bored and became “quickly addicted” to the platform’s fun short videos.
“People are so creative on TikTok, and the challenges that keep going viral are so interesting,” she told Arab News.
However, the app has long-suffered from accusations of spying and gathering users’ private information on behalf of the Chinese government, leading to both temporary and permanent bans in countries around the world.
Recently, it was reported that Amazon requested that employees remove the app from their smartphones in an email over “security risks.” The company later retracted its directive.
Saudi cybersecurity expert Abdullah Al-Jaber believed that concerns over the security of TikTok’s collected data stemmed from the app’s country of origin and its rules and regulations.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Following a provisional ban in April 2019, India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology banned TikTok permanently in June this year, along with 58 other Chinese apps. The ministry claimed that the apps were a ‘threat to the sovereignty and security of the country’ following a Himalayan border clash with Chinese troops in the disputed territory of Ladakh.

• Indonesia temporarily blocked TikTok in July 2018, citing public concern regarding ‘illegal content’ such as pornography and blasphemy. However, the app was unblocked following various changes from TikTok such as the opening of a government liaison office and implementing security mechanisms.

• Recently, the US became the third country to seriously consider banning the app, according to information from President Donald Trump’s administration. Trump also weighed in on a potential TikTok ban. He said that banning the app would be ‘punishing China for its response to the coronavirus.’

“TikTok collects data in a very similar way to US applications,” he told Arab News. “However the main concern is that the US has regulations and compliance that must be met when collecting customer data, such as GDPR data privacy regulation. In the case of TikTok, we don’t know as much about how the data is being used or stored because we don’t know their regulations.”
Following a provisional ban in April 2019, India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology banned TikTok permanently in June this year, along with 58 other Chinese apps. The ministry claimed that the apps were a “threat to the sovereignty and security of the country” following a Himalayan border clash with Chinese troops in the disputed territory of Ladakh.
Indonesia temporarily blocked TikTok in July 2018, citing public concern regarding “illegal content” such as pornography and blasphemy. However, the app was unblocked following various changes from TikTok such as the opening of a government liaison office and implementing security mechanisms.
Recently, the US became the third country to seriously consider banning the app, according to information from President Donald Trump’s administration.
Trump also weighed in on a potential TikTok ban. In an interview with Gray Television, Trump said that banning the app would be “punishing China for its response to the coronavirus.”
“Look, what happened with China with this virus, what they’ve done to this country and to the entire world is disgraceful,” he said.
While Saudi Arabia has yet to announce a ban of any kind of TikTok, local users and followers are trying to practice caution while using the app anyway.
Alhumood considered making videos on the platform, but dismissed the idea and only uses it to follow other people’s videos.
“I have ideas for it, sure, but I’d rather not take the risk. I don’t even have a username or a registered account, and that’s one of the better things about TikTok. I only have the app, but I can still watch all the videos without giving them my private information.”
Mohammed also said that she had no interest in creating videos herself, though she did have a registered account in order to comment on videos and keep track of her favorites.
However Al-Jaber said that, in his opinion, registering an account on TikTok did not necessarily pose more of a risk than using other social media.
“If you use Facebook or Twitter, it’s not much different than using TikTok,” he said.