CAIRO: Lebanese armed forces broke into a house to free a child who was chained to window bars for 72 hours after facing alleged domestic abuse, according to local reports.
Authorities have arrested a woman in Juya, southern Lebanon, after receiving information accusing her of torturing her son.
In video footage that has gone viral, a group of Lebanese army officers can be seen kicking down an apartment door after no one responded.
They then proceed to search for the boy only to find him chained to bars on a window – which he shouted from to get help from passers-by in the street.
The video shows the child clearly distraught as security forces attempt to calm him as they try to cut him free from the chain.
Local reports say the mother is accused of torturing the boy during which it is understood she burned him in ‘sensitive areas of his body.’
The name of the victim has not been disclosed.
UN official lauds Saudi support in ‘saving day’ for Syrian refugees in Jordan, stabilizing Yemeni food security situation
Corinne Fleischer: ‘KSrelief has provided $1 billion since 2018 to our operations in Yemen – this makes a very, very important difference to the people in Yemen’
Corinne Fleischer: ‘I have been in some of these camps in Jordan, and the situation of these refugees is dire, and they can’t survive without having what the WFP provides them, with the help of KSrelief’
Updated 47 sec ago
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia had “saved the day” for Syrian refugees in Jordan and stabilized the food security situation in Yemen through its generous financial backing, a top UN aid official has said.
Corinne Fleischer, regional director of the World Food Program for the Middle East and North Africa, made her comments following a meeting in Riyadh with Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, the general supervisor of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief).
During talks at the center’s headquarters in the Saudi capital, the two officials discussed strengthening cooperation between KSrelief and the WFP to help fight hunger and poverty and assist countries in the MENA region to meet sustainable development goals.
In a press conference after the meeting, Fleischer said: “KSrelief has provided $1 billion since 2018 to our operations in Yemen. This makes a very, very important difference to the people in Yemen.
“And specifically, this year, thanks to the contribution of KSrelief, we were able to increase our assistance that we previously had to cut because of lack of funds, and we were able to bring it back to the same level for a large number of people.
“The impact of this has been very quick. We have seen that the food security situation of the people has stabilized as they have received full rations again.”
On the situation in Jordan, she added: “KSrelief has really saved our day in Jordan with the Syrian refugees. We were about to have to cut rations to about half the Syrian refugees we are supporting in Jordan. Thanks to the very generous contributions of KSrelief, we can actually continue at the same level.
“I have been in some of these camps and settlements in Jordan, and the situation of these refugees is dire, and they can’t survive without having what the World Food Program provides them, with the help of KSrelief.”
Lauding the center for its ongoing support for the WFP in the region, Fleischer said: “I’m really happy to be here, in this building, where I can finally see where our relationship with KSrelief has gone for years, has been strengthened for years, and has become more important for years.
“The Saudi Arabia government is a very important partner to the WFP, not only because they give us very important and vital contributions to our projects worldwide … but we are also deepening our relationship with KSrelief on drivers of food insecurity and how together we can tackle some of these drivers, bringing the expertise from both organizations together so that we can make a marked impact on people’s lives,” she added.
KSrelief, on behalf of Saudi Arabia, has implemented more than 600 food security sector projects around the world, many of them in partnership with the WFP.
Misk Art Week showcases artists from Saudi Arabia and international community
For its fifth year, Misk Art Institute’s annual event features several exhibitions exploring the nature of identity
Updated 30 sec ago
Rebecca Anne Proctor
RIYADH: Inside Riyadh’s Prince Faisal bin Fahd Arts Hall, multimedia artworks are displayed across the venue’s two floors on the theme of Takween, which means “form” in Arabic, and its relation to one’s identity.
As part of Misk Art Week’s fifth outing, taking place until Dec. 5, artists from Saudi Arabia, the Gulf, North Africa and the wider international community present art that questions identity — specifically how an individual’s social, historical and cultural origins influence their past, present and future.
From video works produced with AI to paintings, textile-based art and installations, the art on show aims, according to the Misk Art Institute, to offer a “critical platform for the creative community,” fostering cultural dialogue and intellectual exchange.
As visitors enter the hall, they are confronted by two dark figures by Saudi artist Filwa Nazer, made of black polyethylene industrial netting and titled The Other is Another Body (2021). The figures seem to guard the vibrantly colored wool-weave tapestry work hanging on a wall between them, titled Palm (1985), by American artist Sheila Hicks.
The works are part of Here, Now, the third in a series of the Misk Art Institute’s annual flagship exhibition, curated this time by British writer and curator Sacha Craddock alongside Misk’s assistant curators, Nora Algosaibi and Alia Ahmad Al-Saud.
The show, which features a mix of emerging and established artists and runs until Jan. 30, 2022, is the first in the Saudi capital to present works by both Saudi and international artists, including ones by well-known Saudi artists such as Manal Al-Dowayan’s abstract black and white work, I am Here (2016), Ayman Yossri Daydban’s Tree House (2019), and Sami Ali AlHossein’s colorful abstract figurative works on canvas. There is also a painting by renowned Sudanese painter Salah Elmur titled The Angry Singer (2015) and delicate floral drawings by Korean artist Young In Hong dating to 2009.
While without an overarching narrative, the show prompts the spectator to question, like the exhibition’s title, “why here and why now?” It encourages the visitor to reflect on the artworks and the nature of identity in a reflective, personal and subjective manner.
Upstairs is Under Construction, an exhibition of Misk Art Grant recipients who hail this year from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait and Algeria. The grant funds up to SR1 million ($266,632) and has been distributed among the nine participating artists and collectives.
Basma Al-Shathry, lead curator at Misk Art Institute, said: “This year’s Misk Art Grant exhibition, ‘Under Construction,’ explores how identity is perceived as an emblem of growth, continuity and endless iterations of cultural representation throughout history. It has been a delight to bring together artists and designers from both the Middle East and North Africa to address the theme as a process of development, repetition, distortion and incompleteness in a time of synthesis, understanding and promise for the future.”
The works on show also respond to the theme of identity while focusing on how identity can be perceived as a method for growth and renewal, as well as social and historical continuity, via the incorporation of cultural representations throughout history.
One of the most poignant works is by Emirati artist and designer Latifa Saeed’s Sand Room (2021), which presents an assembly of sand-encased glass panels in the form of a cube that one can enter to observe the desert sand sediments that she collected from construction sites around Dubai.
“My research and work is always about transformation, whether it be of a city or of one’s mentality,” Saeed told Arab News. “I began by building an archive of sand from Dubai because the sites from where I collected the sand we cannot visit anymore because they are now construction sites.
Saeed visited development sites in Dubai, and before the construction started she would collect sand from the area and label it accordingly. She now has more than 200 different types of sand from these areas.
“I am archiving, preserving and documenting the Dubai landscape, topography and the material itself,” she said.
Near to Saeed’s mesmerizing room of sand specimens is Emirati artist Afra Al-Dhaheri’s End of a School Braid (2021) — a large installation of twisted and backcombed off-white colored rope that hangs from the ceiling. In this piece Al-Dhaheri examines how hair can be seen as the keeper of memories, preserving not only time but cultural norms and heritage.
Bahraini artist Noor Alwan’s Sacred Spaces (2021), a series of hanging textile-based tapestry works, similarly seeks to preserve personal and collective memories. Growing up, she would watch her grandfather ritually draw hundreds of patterns on paper — a tradition that stemmed from his childhood and that immersed him in a meditative process of repetition. Alwan recalls his trance-like process of art creation and likens it to a shared Arab collective practice — with elements mirroring the mesmerizing geometric forms of Islamic art.
Moving into the rapidly developing digital landscape is an engaging work by Saudi artist Obaid Alsafi, titled Beyond Language (2021), in which a poem by the late revered Saudi poet Muhammad Al-Thubaiti Poetry (1952-2011), titled Salutation to the Master of the Arid Land, is transformed into a video work with sound via artificial intelligence. For the work, which captivates the viewer through its colorful abstract images — some seem like palm trees while others appear to be figures — Alsafi trained the AI through data collection and machine learning to understand poetry and produce visual representations of each verse with accompanying machine-made sound.
“The first form of art in the region and the way we connected with each other was through poetry,” Alsafi, an artist who studied computer science, told Arab News. “Al-Thubaiti, one of Saudi’s pioneer poets, changed the way that poetry was written and read. Everyone sees AI as robotic, but my vision, I want to see how we can make the machine more human so that it understands language, learn and develop artwork depending on the vision of the artist. I believe artists can use AI as a tool to develop their work.”
Lastly, there is the second iteration of works created in the Masaha residency program, located in the basement of the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Arts Hall.
The program, part of Misk Art Institute’s mission to support Saudi and international practitioners across the artistic disciplines in the research and production of new works via mentorship opportunities, can be viewed on the ground floor. Titled HOME: Being and Belonging, the works by 10 visual artists from the UK, Guatemala, Morocco, India, South Korea, and from across Saudi Arabia, examine questions of how an individual and collective sense of belonging and nostalgia for one’s culture and heritage stems from one’s socio-cultural and ethnic background. The works on show explore how our sense of belonging changes and transforms with time.
The residency offers international artists the opportunity to create work on site at Masaha over a three-month cycle. Many of the participating artists are showing their work for the first time in the Kingdom — demonstrating once again Misk Art Institute’s broader aims to expand Saudi Arabia’s cultural landscape through international creative dialogue.
Russia files court cases for fines on annual turnover of Google, Meta
Russia files court case against Google and Meta for failure to delete content that Moscow deems illegal
Updated 39 min 40 sec ago
MOSCOW: Russia’s state communications regulator Roskomnadzor has filed cases against US tech firms Google and Meta that could see fines imposed on their annual turnover in Russia, a Moscow court said on Friday.
Roskomnadzor in October threatened both Alphabet’s Google and Meta’s Facebook with fines based on a percentage of their annual turnover for a repeated failure to delete content that Moscow deems illegal.
Russian law allows for companies to be fined between 5 percent and 10 percent of annual turnover for repeated violations.
Moscow’s Tagansky District Court said court dates for both companies — neither of which immediately responded to a request for comment — were set for Dec. 24.
Russia has increased pressure on foreign tech companies as it seeks to assert greater control over the Internet, slowing down Twitter since March and routinely fining others for content violations.
Google has paid more than 32 million roubles in fines this year. Google, Twitter and Meta have significantly reduced the number of posts prohibited by Moscow on their platforms.
Russia last month demanded that 13 foreign and mostly US technology companies be officially represented on Russian soil by the end of 2021 or face possible restrictions or outright bans.
EU moots suspending asylum rights in Poland to end migrant crisis
The bloc has accused Belarus of manufacturing a crisis for political ends
13 people have died on the Belarus border due to freezing conditions
Updated 50 min 56 sec ago
LONDON: The EU is considering suspending some rights belonging to asylum seekers in countries bordering Belarus in an effort to end the ongoing migrant crisis.
Proposals put forward by the European Commission, the executive arm of the bloc, would allow for faster deportations and the detention of asylum seekers at the border for up to four months.
The plans are aimed at mitigating the political harm caused by large numbers of people attempting to enter Poland and other EU states from Belarus, in what Brussels describes as a crisis manufactured by Minsk.
The EU argues that Belarus has flown migrants in from the Middle East in order to put pressure on its northeastern border regions and manufacture political instability, with the onus of dealing with a large influx of migrants placed disproportionately on Poland, Lithuania and Latvia.
Belarus has denied those accusations, calling them absurd.
The three Belarus-bordering EU states have defended their approach of pushing migrants back without individually assessing their cases or granting them a realistic chance to claim asylum.
Rights groups say that 13 people have now died in the area due to the freezing conditions and that the practice violates EU rules and international humanitarian law.
Under the EU’s proposals, migrants would be permitted to claim asylum only at designated locations, such as border crossings.
National authorities would have a longer period of up to four weeks to register asylum applications and asylum seekers could be kept for up to 16 weeks at the border, losing a standing right to be held in more suitable centers inside the country.
The proposals are a further example of the EU tightening immigration rules since more than one million people arrived in 2015 — many of them fleeing the conflict in Syria — overwhelming the bloc and dividing member states over how to respond.
Immigration is among the most contentious intra-bloc issues for EU members, in part because regulation and geography mean that the burden of managing asylum applications and inward immigration falls disproportionately on Southern and Eastern countries — many of which are less wealthy than western states, such as France and Germany.
According to Lithuania’s interior ministry, around 10,000 migrants remain in Belarus, despite Minsk initiating removal flights for some.
Google delays mandatory return to office beyond Jan. 10
Google delays return to office indefinitely amid growing concerns over COVID-19 variant
Updated 49 min 43 sec ago
LONDON: Alphabet Inc’s Google said on Thursday it is indefinitely pushing back its January return-to-office plan globally amid growing concerns over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus and some resistance to company-mandated vaccinations.
Google in August had said it would expect workers to come in about three days a week from Jan. 10 at the earliest, ending its voluntary work-from-home policy.
On Thursday, Google executives told employees that the company would put off the deadline beyond that date. Insider first reported the news.
Google said the update was in line with its earlier guidance that a return to workplaces would begin no earlier than Jan. 10 and depend on local conditions.
Nearly 40 percent of US employees have come into an office in recent weeks, Google said, with higher percentages in other parts of the world.
But CNBC reported last week that hundreds of employees have protested the company’s vaccination mandate for those working on US government contracts.
Google was one of the first companies to ask its employees to work from home during the pandemic. It has about 85 offices across nearly 60 countries.
Europe has so far recorded 79 cases of the Omicron variant, first detected in southern Africa last month, the European Union’s public health agency said earlier on Thursday.