Saudi police launch manhunt for Jeddah cemetery bomber

Saudi police launch manhunt for Jeddah cemetery bomber
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Saudi police close a street leading to a non-Muslim cemetery in Jeddah where a blast, on Nov. 11, 2020. (AFP)
Saudi police launch manhunt for Jeddah cemetery bomber
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Al-Ekhbariya TV channel showed footage of the area around the cemetery in Jeddah and said the situation was stable. (Al-Ekhbariya)
Saudi police launch manhunt for Jeddah cemetery bomber
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The governor of Jeddah checks up on the health of a Greek consulate employee who was wounded during an attack at a cemetery in Jeddah. (SPA)
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Updated 12 November 2020

Saudi police launch manhunt for Jeddah cemetery bomber

Saudi police launch manhunt for Jeddah cemetery bomber
  • Two hurt as blast targets foreign diplomats at annual war memorial event
  • Makkah region authorities described the incident at a cemetery in Jeddah as “cowardly”

JEDDAH: Saudi police launched a manhunt on Wednesday after a bomb blast targeted foreign diplomats attending a war memorial ceremony in Jeddah.

At least two people were injured when the device exploded at Khawajat cemetery during a speech by the French consul at the event commemorating the annual Armistice Day, which marks the end of the First World War.

“At the end of the speech we heard an explosion. We didn’t quite understand it at first, but we then realised that we were the target,” witness Nadia Chaaya told French television. “We were panicking and feared there could be a second explosion.”

A Saudi police officer and a Greek policeman who lives in the Kingdom suffered minor injuries from the blast. Saudi security forces immediately cordoned off the scene and blocked roads leading to the cemetery just south of the city center as an investigation began.

Makkah region authorities described the attack as “cowardly” and “unsuccessful,” and said that an employee of the Greek consulate and a Saudi security officer were injured during a Remembrance Day ceremony held by the French consulate in Jeddah.

A Saudi government source told Arab News the incident is being investigated and a report will be issued very soon.

The cemetery where the explosion took place is located in the south of the city near the downtown area of Jeddah. Supervision of the cemetery rotates annually between Western consulates.

"The annual ceremony commemorating the end of World War I at the non-Muslim cemetery in Jeddah, attended by several consulates, including that of France, was the target of an IED [improvised explosive device] attack this morning, which injured several people," France's foreign ministry said.

"The embassies that were involved in the commemoration ceremony condemn this cowardly attack, which is completely unjustified," the ministry added. 

“Such attacks on innocent people are shameful and entirely without justification," said a joint statement issued by the embassies of the five countries in attendance.

The French embassy in Riyadh urged its nationals in Saudi Arabia to exercise “extreme vigilance” since a security guard at its Jeddah consulate was stabbed on Oct. 29, the same day a knife-wielding man killed three people at a church in Nice in southern France.

In reaction to the incident, the UAE issued a statement condemning what it called a “cowardly attack,” adding that it stood in solidarity with and supported the Kingdom in any measure to preserve its security.

Egypt condemned the “brutal attack that targeted the cemetery in Jeddah” and said it supports Saudi Arabia with any measures the Kingdom takes to protect its security. 

The Embassies of France, Greece, Italy, the UK and the US, which were associated with Wednesday’s ceremony condemned the “cowardly” and unjustified attack. 

They also thanked the “brave Saudi first responders who assisted those at the scene” and pledged their support to “the Saudi authorities as they investigate this attack and prosecute its perpetrators.”

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Muslim World League (MWL) and the Arab Parliament also condemned the attack. 

MWL Secretary-General, Sheikh Dr. Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa said: “This cowardly and isolated attack only represents itself, and can only be committed by a spiteful criminal.” 

Al-Issa concluded by expressing his sincere prayers for those injured.

The French consulate in the UAE issued a statement Wednesday confirming several people had been wounded in the incident.

“Once again, France was the target of an attack during the commemorations of November 11, organized by the Consulate General of France, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. This attack left several wounded,” it said.

The French Embassy in the UAE said it was in close contact with the UAE authorities and that both remained “committed to ensuring a high level of stafety for our communities.”

The statement added that the Embassy and the Consulate General reiterated calls for people to show restraint and remain vigilant, especially when traveling, in particular in places visited by tourists and expatriate communities.

The Greek foreign ministry released a statement, saying: “We unequivocally condemn today’s terrorist attack, which targeted a ceremony at Jeddah’s non-Muslim cemetery commemorating the end of World War I. A Greek police officer who is serving at the Consulate General in Jeddah, and who was accompanying an employee of the Consulate General to the ceremony, was injured in the attack.




The governor of Jeddah checks up on the health of a Greek consulate employee who was wounded during the attack at a cemetery in Jeddah. (SPA)

“The police officer, who has been hospitalized, is in good health and out of danger. He has the support of the Consulate General and our Embassy in Riyadh, which remain in ongoing contact with the Saudi Arabian authorities. We wish him a speedy recovery.

“We also express our warm thanks to the Saudi Arabian authorities for the support and sympathy they showed from the very outset and for the efforts they are making to investigate the incident,” it added.

Djibouti’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Dya-Eddine Said Bamakhrama condemned the attack and wished those wounded a speedy recovery.  

“While we wish the wounded a speedy recovery, we affirm our absolute solidarity with Saudi Arabia against all cowardly terrorist acts that will not affect the great position of this glorious country,” Bamakhrama said. 

A statement by the EU delegation to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia expressed support and solidarity with the Kingdom and the countries whose representatives were present at the ceremony. 

“We join these countries in condemning such cowardly attack against innocent people attending a peaceful commemoration. We wish a prompt recovery to those who were injured. We thank the Saudi emergency services for their intervention at the scene and look forward to a prompt and thorough investigation of the incident and to the prosecution of its perpetrators,” the statement said.

The UK's Minister for the Middle East and North Africa James Cleverly said: “I have full confidence the Saudi authorities will investigate this attack and prosecute those responsible for this cowardly act.”


Confronting crimes against humanity is route to justice, Saudi official asserts at UN committee meeting

Confronting crimes against humanity is route to justice, Saudi official asserts at UN committee meeting
Updated 17 October 2021

Confronting crimes against humanity is route to justice, Saudi official asserts at UN committee meeting

Confronting crimes against humanity is route to justice, Saudi official asserts at UN committee meeting
  • Mission also reaffirms Kingdom's commitment to help fight illicil financial flow

NEW YORK: Saudi Arabia has reiterated that confronting crimes against humanity and combating impunity from punishment is a noble objective to achieve justice and the rule of law because such crimes are among the most dangerous crimes for the international community.

This came during a speech delivered by Nidaa Abu Ali, head of the legal committee in the Kingdom’s permanent delegation at the UN, at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly.

Abu Ali stressed the need to implement the principle of accountability and put an end to the impunity from punishment of the perpetrators of these crimes. She stressed the Kingdom’s support for justice following the international agreements signed within the framework of the UN Charter and international law.

Regarding draft articles related to crimes against humanity, she said the Kingdom stresses the need to avoid developing new definitions that might cause confusion in interpreting these terms.

In addition, she stressed the importance of unifying the definitions stated in the relevant draft convention such as slavery, torture and forced disappearance of persons, following the relevant international conventions.

Reem Al-Omair, chairperson of the Economic and Financial Committee at the Kingdom’s permanent delegation at the UN, affirmed Saudi Arabia’s commitment to international cooperation to combat illicit financial flows and promote good practices regarding the recovery of financial assets.

Speaking in a general discussion of macroeconomic policies, she said that the programs and initiatives of the Saudi Vision 2030 contributed to enhancing transparency, developing policies and procedures and filling gaps to contain corruption.

Al-Omair said the Kingdom is keen to harness its potential and resources in the service of humanitarian issues in cooperation with the UN, its agencies and organizations and the international community.

Saudi Arabia has reiterated that confronting crimes against humanity and combating impunity from punishment is a noble objective to achieve justice and the rule of law because such crimes are among the most dangerous crimes for the international community.

This came during a speech delivered by Nidaa Abu Ali, head of the legal committee in the Kingdom’s permanent delegation at the UN, at the 76th session of the UN General Assembly. Abu Ali stressed the need to implement the principle of accountability and put an end to the impunity from punishment of the perpetrators of these crimes. She stressed the Kingdom’s support for justice following the international agreements signed within the framework of the UN Charter and international law.

Regarding draft articles related to crimes against humanity, she said the Kingdom stresses the need to avoid developing new definitions that might cause confusion in interpreting these terms.

In addition, she stressed the importance of unifying the definitions stated in the relevant draft convention such as slavery, torture and forced disappearance of persons, following the relevant international conventions.

Reem Al-Omair, chairperson of the Economic and Financial Committee at the Kingdom’s permanent delegation at the UN, affirmed Saudi Arabia’s commitment to international cooperation to combat illicit financial flows and promote good practices regarding the recovery of financial assets.

Speaking in a general discussion of macroeconomic policies, she said that the programs and initiatives of the Saudi Vision 2030 contributed to enhancing transparency, developing policies and procedures and filling gaps to contain corruption.

Al-Omair said the Kingdom is keen to harness its potential and resources in the service of humanitarian issues in cooperation with the UN, its agencies and organizations and the international community.


Who’s Who: Fahad Al-Jalajel, Saudi Arabia’s new health minister

Who’s Who: Fahad Al-Jalajel, Saudi Arabia’s new health minister
Updated 17 October 2021

Who’s Who: Fahad Al-Jalajel, Saudi Arabia’s new health minister

Who’s Who: Fahad Al-Jalajel, Saudi Arabia’s new health minister

Fahad Al-Jalajel has been appointed Saudi Arabia’s health minister following a royal decree issued on Friday. He replaces Dr. Tawfiq Al-Rabia, who has been appointed minister of Hajj and Umrah.

Al-Jalajel was previously deputy health minister and had been in this role since 2016. He has been a member of the board of directors at the Saudi Red Crescent Authority since May 2017 and a member of the board of directors at the Saudi Food and Drug Authority since July that same year.

He is a member of the executive council of the country’s medical cities, was a council member at the Saudi General Authority for Competition from 2011 to 2018, and a member of the board of directors at Saudia from 2015 to 2017.

Al-Jalajel was a member of the board of directors at the Saudi Grains Authority from 2013 to 2017 and a member of the board of directors at the Human Resources Development Fund from 2011 to 2016.

He was a member of the board of directors at the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (now the Ministry of Investment) from 2014 to 2016 and a member of the board of directors at the Saudi Standards, Metrology and Quality Organization from 2012 to 2016.

Al-Jalajel was deputy minister for consumer protection at the Ministry of Commerce and Investment from 2011 to 2016 and was also chief information officer and ministerial advisor there.

He was a member of the Riyadh Regional Council from 2010 to 2012 and a member of the board of directors at the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage from 2010 to 2012.

He was a member of the Saudi Energy Efficiency Program, a member of the board of directors at the Jeddah Urban Development Company, and an IT director at SAGIA.

He has a master’s degree in computer and information sciences from St. Joseph’s University in the US. He completed an executive program at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from King Saud University.


Food security major objective of Saudi Vision 2030

Food security major objective of Saudi Vision 2030
Updated 17 October 2021

Food security major objective of Saudi Vision 2030

Food security major objective of Saudi Vision 2030
  • Eta’am food bank in KSA has given 100,464 food baskets to 82,653 needy families in Saudi Arabia as of Nov. 30, 2020

RIYADH: Food waste is one of the main issues threatening food security. Several studies have shown that the Kingdom wastes an average of 200-500 kg of food per capita. One of the key objectives of Vision 2030 is thus to implement food security strategies by preventing food waste.

World Food Day is celebrated annually and worldwide on Oct. 16 to commemorate the founding of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in 1945, which aims to eradicate hunger across the world.

In November 1979, a Hungarian Delegation led by former Hungarian Agriculture Minister Dr. Pal Romany suggested celebrating the day worldwide. It has since been observed every year in more than 150 countries, raising awareness on the issues behind poverty and hunger.

This year’s theme is “Safe food now for a healthy tomorrow.”

Saudi Arabia’s arid lands and scarce water sources limit it from supporting mass-scale agriculture. Other efforts must therefore be made to ensure food security, including scaling up the food system, improving food safety, reducing food waste, lowering food costs, addressing poverty, and promoting healthy dietary patterns, said Mohammed Shamsul Ola, an associate professor at the department of biochemistry, King Saud University, and an associate editor of Saudi Journal of Biological Science and Frontiers in Ophthalmology.

In Saudi Arabia as well as worldwide, approximately a third of food is wasted. This results in considerable economic loss and is detrimental to global food security, he added. 

The Saudi Grains Organization in 2019 reported that almost 33 percent of total food is lost or wasted, which equates to a value of SR12,980 million ($3.5 million) per annum. Most of this waste occurs at the retailer and consumer levels.

The Kingdom’s traditions of hospitality, festivals, and celebrations imply large serving quantities of food that are ultimately not eaten due to poorly planned meals in households and at social events in hotels and restaurants. Ola explained that consumers often order large quantities of food at restaurants but do not finish them. The leftovers end up in the trash.

“Given the global hunger crisis, wasting food is a waste of natural resources that hurts the ecosystem and biodiversity. Consumers should buy food according to a meal plan, adopt better storage methods, and recycle leftover foods. They must ask for a reduced portion of food in restaurants. Doing so, customers can play a vital part in reducing food waste, allowing food to be used for meals rather than ending up in landfills,” said the professor. 

He underlined that the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and other government agencies have made significant efforts to reduce food waste by fostering awareness and passing legislation prohibiting food waste, which has resulted in the establishment of various food charity groups and food banks to assist people in need.

Thousands of food banks have been formed worldwide to help those in need, including Eta’am in Saudi Arabia, which has successfully given 100,464 food baskets to 82,653 needy families in the Kingdom as of Nov. 30, 2020.

Winnow Solutions has also aided in the reduction of food waste in Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

The Savola World Program, in collaboration with Saudi Grains Organization and the Saudi Food Bank, has established many online awareness-raising activities, including Eta’am, to minimize food and household waste. In Saudi Arabia, there are roughly 40 food banks that provide door-to-door food collection and distribution services.

Saudi citizens are also taking significant steps to reduce waste and make food available to the poor, including placing large refrigerators in front of their homes and inviting neighbors to donate food.

“World Food Day is celebrated to highlight issues related to global food security and nutrition. According to the FAO, more than 720 million people were hungry in 2020,” Ola told Arab News.

“On this occasion of World Food Day, it is of paramount importance to increase awareness of the worldwide hunger crisis and the reasons behind it and to find solutions to address those issues.”


Saudis welcome COVID-19 rule changes on social gatherings

Saudis welcome COVID-19 rule changes on social gatherings
Updated 17 October 2021

Saudis welcome COVID-19 rule changes on social gatherings

Saudis welcome COVID-19 rule changes on social gatherings
  • Social distancing will no longer be mandatory at social gatherings or in public settings including transport, restaurants, and cinemas

JEDDAH: The generous Saudi spirit has been sorely missed because of COVID-19 restrictions. Weddings, social gatherings, and parties had capacity limits, at times they were banned altogether, due to the spread of the disease.

For the longest time, people felt what functions they were able to have were lifeless and lacking their usual energy because of the cap on numbers and other anti-coronavirus measures.

But with more than 20 million people fully vaccinated and the Kingdom’s immunization campaign continuing at pace, not to mention an Interior Ministry announcement of a change in the rules, gatherings and get-togethers will be making a comeback after more than 18 months of curbs and lockdowns.

The ministry said on Friday the decision was based on the recommendation of health authorities, with precautionary measures on attendance, face masks and social distancing changing from this Sunday, Oct. 17.

There was a sigh of relief from retired school principal Hamid Sadiq Al-Bakri upon hearing the announcement. He had already prepared everything for his son’s wedding party — with a limited number of guests — set to be held next week at one of Jeddah’s wedding halls.

“I feel I’m on top of the world after hearing this decision as it means that my country has succeeded in confronting the unseen enemy of coronavirus,” he told Arab News. “It also means that residents and citizens have been big supporters of the great efforts exerted by the government to mitigate the effects of the pandemic to the least possible levels.”

He said the decision would save him the embarrassment of inviting just a few close family members and even closer friends, as he could now invite as many people as he wanted to help him celebrate such a special occasion.

“We in Saudi Arabia feel happier when all friends and relatives attend our parties and social gatherings. The more guests we receive, the happier we are. The Arabic proverb says: ‘Paradise without people is not worth going to.’ Those who are keen to be with you at your best are those who truly appreciate you.”

Salem Al-Zahrani’s daughter married eight months ago and he had been distraught to see so few relatives attending the wedding.

“If it weren’t for the pandemic and the restricted numbers issued by the authorities, I would have invited over a hundred of my friends and relatives to attend my daughter’s wedding,” he told Arab News. “It is part of our culture that a bride is taken to her husband-to-be accompanied by as many relatives as possible. It is a source of pride to the young girl.”

He said he was lucky that his daughter was wise enough to understand the complexity of the global situation.

“The social fabric of the Saudis is very strong, and that is why we usually see big numbers celebrating a social event. During a wedding party, hosts normally offer the best food they can to honor the family of the girl and those invited.

“With the end of the restriction, Saudis will rejoice and get back to their normal social gatherings during which they can freely gather and happily rejoice. I’m certain they will be careful about their health.”

Face masks will no longer be mandatory in outdoor settings, except for certain specific locations including the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah.

Social distancing will no longer be mandatory at social gatherings or in public settings including transport, restaurants, and cinemas. Wedding halls will also be allowed to return full capacity.

The new rules only apply to those who have been fully vaccinated, which is around 20.6 million people.


Saudi scouts share their experiences with global peers

Saudi scouts share their experiences with global peers
Updated 17 October 2021

Saudi scouts share their experiences with global peers

Saudi scouts share their experiences with global peers

RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian Scout Association is participating in the International Jamboree on the Air and the International Jamboree on the Internet, the Saudi Press Agency reported. 

Members connected with fellow scouts around the world through radio, audio and digital chats, and Morse code.

The Saudi scouts conveyed their experience of supporting the UN’s most prominent international days for October.

They also presented the association’s contribution to achieving the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and the initiatives undertaken by them to serve the community.

The JOTA and JOTI take place each year in October and connect millions of young people around the world for a weekend of activities that promote friendship and global citizenship online.