Gazelles reintroduced at Saudi Arabia's AlUla, could pave way for Arabian leopard

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Photo shows a young gazelle and its mother in Sharaan. (Supplied)
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Photo shows a gazelle in the Sharaan reserve. (Supplied)
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A photo showing a ranger on patrol in the Sharaan Natural Reserve. (supplied)
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The Sharaan area has been designated by RCU as a nature reserve. (supplied)
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Updated 04 June 2020

Gazelles reintroduced at Saudi Arabia's AlUla, could pave way for Arabian leopard

  • The RCU aims to restore the Sharaan Nature Reserves's ecosystem by reintroducing threatened species

JEDDAH: The first generation of native-born gazelles have taken their first wobbly steps within the mountains of Saudi Arabia’s AlUla region.
The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) aims to restore the region’s ecosystem and conserve its natural heritage by reintroducing threatened species in the Sharaan Nature Reserve.
Frank Rietkerk, Captive Breeding Manager at the RCU, said the moment was the first successful steps of the re-wilding of the AlUla region after decades of over-grazing and other human activity that had destabilized the fragile environment. 
“We’re delighted with this first generation of native-born gazelles here,” Rietkerk said, “signifying very early steps towards the potential re-birth of Sharaan as a complete, fully-functioning eco-system as it once was hundreds of years ago. 
“We’re still in the first stages, but we’ve had some crucial early successes, this new generation of gazelles, of course, but also re-establishing the vegetation they need to survive.” 
The Sharaan area has been designated by RCU as a nature reserve due to its extensive geological, topographical and environmental features. Its landscape is raw and untouched, with spectacular rock formations towering over flora, fauna, and visitors alike. 
But the development of Sharaan as a nature reserve is about more than supporting the gazelles, it also means restoring the complete ecosystem with a view to eventually reintroducing the elusive and critically endangered Arabian leopard. 
“We believe that the Arabian leopard was once well-established here as one of AlUla’s native species and its presence looms large in the area’s ancient history and even persists now in the popular imagination,” Rietkerk said. 
“Sadly, both hunting and the damage to the wider environment have caused their numbers to fall precipitously. We are now working to a five to 10 year timescale to reintroduce these majestic big cats.”


US court orders Iran to pay $879 million to 1996 Khobar bombing survivors

Updated 10 July 2020

US court orders Iran to pay $879 million to 1996 Khobar bombing survivors

  • The court ruled that the Iranian government directed and provided material for the attack
  • The Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia were housing US forces when it was bombed in 1996

DUBAI: A United States federal court held Iran responsible for the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia where US forces were housed, and ordered Tehran to pay $879 million to survivors. 

The Khobar Towers was a housing complex in the eastern city of Khobar, near the Abdulaziz Air Base and Saudi Aramco’s headquarters in Dhahran, that housed American servicemen working on Operation Southern Watch.

A truck bomb was detonated on June 25, 1996, near an eight-story building of the housing complex, which killed 19 US Air Force personnel and a Saudi national and wounded 498 others.

The court ruled that the Iranian government directed and provided material support to Hezbollah who detonated the 5,000-pound truck bomb, a Chicago law firm press release said. The attackers reportedly smuggled the explosives used in the attack from Lebanon. 


The lawsuit was brought under the terrorism exception of the US Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act by the 14 injured US airmen and 21 of their immediate family members.

The defendants in the case were listed as the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security.

 

 

“We will continue to seek to hold the Government of Iran accountable for this terrorist attack as long as is necessary,” said Adora Sauer, the lead attorney of MM LAW LLC.

US District Judge Beryl A. Howell found the defendants liable and awarded the plaintiffs $132 million for pain and suffering, as well as prejudgment interest, for a total compensatory damage award of $747 million and $132 million for punitive damages.


The court also said the plaintiffs are eligible for partial payments from the US Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Fund, which compensates American victims of acts of international terrorism with funds obtained from fines and forfeitures levied against companies caught illegally laundering money for sanctioned countries and persons. 

The attorneys also intend to pursue enforcement of the judgments through litigation intended to seize Iranian assets.

“The physical and psychological toll on our families has been extremely high, but this judgment is welcome news. More than 20 years on, we want the world to remember the evil that Iran did at the Khobar Towers. Through the work of our attorneys, we intend to do just that,” said Glenn Christie, a retired Air Force staff sergeant crew chief who was severely injured in the bombing.


“The massive explosion took so much from their minds and bodies on the day of the attack in 1996 and every day and night since then. They can now live with that balance justice provides,” according to John Urquhart of the Urquhart Law Firm, who also represents the bombing victims.