Arab coalition intercepts Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition intercepts Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia
A drone Emirati armed forces say were used by Houthis in Yemen in battles against the coalition forces led by the UAE and Saudi Arabia in Abu Dhabi on June 19, 2018. (File/AFP)
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Updated 06 June 2021

Arab coalition intercepts Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia

Arab coalition intercepts Houthi drone targeting Saudi Arabia
  • The drone was targeting Khamis Mushait
  • The Arab Parliament and the OIC, along with the UAE and Bahrain, strongly condemned the attack

RIYADH: The Arab coalition intercepted and destroyed late on Saturday a Houthi drone targeting Khamis Mushait south of Saudi Arabia, state TV Al-Ekhbariya reported.
We will take all necessary precautions to protect civilians as the Houthis continue to target them, the coalition added.
Last month, coalition air defenses intercepted an explosives-laden drone launched by Yemen’s Houthi militia toward Saudi Arabia late on Saturday, the alliance command center said.
In a statement carried by state TV Al-Ekhbariya, the coalition said the weaponized UAV was aimed at the southern Saudi city of Khamis Mushait along the border with Yemen.
It was the latest in a series of missile and drone attacks by the Iran-backed militia against Saudi Arabia since the Kingdom spearheaded a coalition to restore the UN-recognized government in 2015. 
Ignoring calls to support the peace negotiations being brokered by the UN, the militia has also refused to end its offensive in the city of Marib.

The Arab Parliament strongly condemned the repeated attempts of the Houthi militia to target Khamis Mushait.
Speaker Adel Al-Asoumi affirmed the Arab Parliament’s full support for the Kingdom in all measures it takes to protect its stability and national security and preserve the safety of its citizens.
Al-Asoumi warned of the danger of the continuation of these terrorist attacks, which are a blatant defiance to international law.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also strongly condemned the Houthi attempt to target civilians in Khamis Mushait 
Secretary-General Dr. Yousef Al-Othaimeen said the OIC “supports all measures taken by the coalition forces to deal with the terrorist practices of the Houthi militia to protect civilians and civilian objects, in accordance with international humanitarian law.”
The UAE and Bahrain also issued similar statements and urged the international community to take an immediate and decisive stance to stop these repeated acts targeting vital and civil facilities, the security of the Kingdom, energy supplies and global economic stability.
The UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said that “the continuation of these attacks in recent times is a dangerous escalation, and new evidence of these militias’ efforts to undermine security and stability in the region.”


Counter-extremism center Etidal calls for ‘proper reading of religious text’

Counter-extremism center Etidal calls for ‘proper reading of religious text’
Updated 4 min 15 sec ago

Counter-extremism center Etidal calls for ‘proper reading of religious text’

Counter-extremism center Etidal calls for ‘proper reading of religious text’
  • Says some extremist groups were “trying to embrace the texts to interpret them according to what they want”

RIYADH: Religious text must not be a “prisoner” to the interpretations of extremist groups, the secretary-general of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology (Etidal) has said.

Dr. Mansour Al-Shammari stressed that some extremist groups were “trying to embrace the texts to interpret them according to what they want” and he looked forward to an integration with specialized institutions to find a proper reading of these religious texts.

Al-Shammari's comments came in a press conference on Wednesday in Riyadh, in the presence of Jehangir Khan, director of the UN Center for Counter-Terrorism (UNCCT).

Al-Shammari said that Saudi Arabia spared no effort in supporting international efforts to combat extremist ideology and terrorism, believing that they are the main enemy of the development and stability of any society.

The success of development plans, he added, depended on the ability of countries to protect their capabilities and citizens from the dangers of this ideology.

HIGHLIGHT

Dr. Mansour Al-Shammari, the secretary-general of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, said that Saudi Arabia spared no effort in supporting international efforts to combat extremist ideology and terrorism, believing that they are the main enemy of the development and stability of any society.

He praised the UN’s efforts in combating terrorism, stressing Etidal’s keenness to exchange experiences to serve the common goals and strategies of Etidal and the UNCCT.

“Etidal’s and UNCCT’s partnership came after many meetings and fruitful efforts between the two parties,” said Al-Shammari, stressing that the goal was to reach projects on the ground.

He said that Etidal and UNCCT’s efforts had culminated in the signing of a joint memorandum of understanding last April. One objective was to cooperate in building international capacities to prevent violent extremism, and to combat the use of the Internet and social media platforms to spread extremist ideology and terrorist agenda.

“Etidal is working to expose the methods of extremist organizations in targeting young people, educating them about the dangers of this thought, and disproving the suspicions that the organizations exploit in their recruitment processes,” he said.

Al-Shammari added that Etidal was aware of the dangers of this way of thinking and of the organizations that employ all means to spread it, and they had developed specialized plans and strategies to refute such thought.

Additionally, Etidal had launched a number of initiatives to increase societal interaction with the center’s goals including: Moderate, refutation, research cooperation, university training and the Gather2 Initiative, which aims to raise awareness among people with hearing disabilities about the risks of extremism.

Khan praised Saudi Arabia’s cooperation with the international community in confronting extremism and protecting current and future societies and generations from its dangers, valuing the Kingdom’s efforts to cut off funding for terrorists.

He said that Etidal was a pillar of the UN’s strategy to combat terrorism, stressing that the issue of terrorism was “complicated,” and that the international community must be active and prepared to confront terrorists.

“Terrorism has no religion or homeland,” he said, noting the importance of developing anti-terror projects around the world. He warned that terrorists sought to influence young people in various forms such as video games.

 

Decoder

Etidal

Based in Riyadh, Etidal is the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology with a mission of fighting extremism. To do that, it seeks to identify such the root causes of such ideologies and address them using tools and technologies such as social networks and the Internet as well as other media outlets. Its membership is open to countries, organizations, or any participating entity.


Falcon breeding brings ancient hobby back to its old glory

Falcon breeding brings ancient hobby back to its old glory
Updated 32 min 47 sec ago

Falcon breeding brings ancient hobby back to its old glory

Falcon breeding brings ancient hobby back to its old glory
  • International Auction for Falcon Breeding Farms in Saudi Arabia aims to present top-tier falcons and breeding farms from around the world

JEDDAH: Over the past few decades, falconers in Saudi Arabia have emerged as pioneers in breeding and preservation as the wider falconry industry has grown exponentially since its humble Bedouin beginnings.

The Kingdom has a rich historical heritage and tradition of falconry. A common companion of a Bedouin traveler across the Arabian deserts, hunting with falcons was an integral part of the land for thousands of years as they helped provide nourishment for the weary traveler by catching prey. 

In 1920, renowned American ornithologist and expert on birds, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, published an article in the National Geographic Magazine entitled “Falconry, the Sport of Kings” and described it as a “beautiful and romantic sport.” 

“A hawk must be at once kind and fierce; it must be to stand the changes of climate of the owner’s country; it must be strong enough and swift enough to overtake and strike down its quarry, and intelligent enough to be able to unlearn much of its native knowledge,” Fuertes wrote in the article. 

Today, falconry is one of the most interesting and lucrative sports for Saudis and many others in the region.

But it is falcon breeding that has played a key role in bringing the ancient hobby back to its old glory. Historically, wild falcons were caught at a young age, preferably less than a year old, as it could take months to train them properly as breeding became a rising interest amongst falconers and conservationists in the 1960-70s. 

It became a lucrative hobby as only the fastest, most powerful, beautiful, and intelligent falcons were selected based on their distinct characteristics and bred through reputable breeders. But the selection process was not easy. Breeders will spend thousands of Saudi riyals just for training but selecting the best is an integral part of the breeding process. 

Understanding the history of the bird was paramount, according to vet and wildlife conservation expert, Albara Al-Othman, who has specialized in endangered species for the past 16 years.

“It is no easy feat,” Al-Othman told Arab News. “The falcon breed is selected depending on the purpose or use, either they will be used for hunting or for contests and each one has its own categories, rules, and requirements. In beauty contests, only purebreds are allowed whereas you can find the hybrids included in the racing category. 

“Falconry racing is one of the most exclusive sports and only the top birds can join. Breeding provides that for falconers.”

According to Al-Othman, it takes five years for the birds of prey to reach adulthood in order to start the breeding process and produce chicks as the mothers also play an important role.

HIGHLIGHT

In 1920, renowned American ornithologist and expert on birds, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, published an article in the National Geographic Magazine entitled ‘Falconry, the Sport of Kings’ and described it as a ‘beautiful and romantic sport.’

On Thursday, Saudi Arabia will host the inaugural International Auction for Falcon Breeding Farms at the Saudi Falcon Club (SFC) headquarters in Malham, north of the Kingdom’s capital Riyadh. The auction aims to present top-tier falcons from across the region along with some of the top breeding farms from around the world.

The auction will review the evolution of genetic biology and the process of falcon breeding that takes place on specialized farms. 

Protecting falcon species in the wild is more than just a lucrative business. They are often bred in captivity, which spearheaded a larger movement to protect some of the most vulnerable birds that are on the verge of being added to the endangered list. 

Al-Othman said that breeding plays a key role in preserving the numbers and the demand is high. 

“One potentially negative impact of the process would be the loss of the hybrid in the wild,” he said. “They can be quite aggressive if lost. The likelihood of that happening is rare but it is a risk.”

Last December, the SFC launched the first phase of their “Hadad” program, which aims to return falcons to their natural habitats. The program will be carried out in coordination with the Special Forces for Environmental Security, the National Center for Wildlife Development, and others. 

According to SFC, the birds will be monitored and their behavior studied.

“To ensure that falconers get the best out of a breed, the history of the selected bird is the most important factor as the stats count and are fundamental for the selection process,” Abdullah Shamrookh, a falconer with more than two decades of experience, said.

“The UAE, UK, Spain, and Holland are some of the top countries with breeding programs and the most famous would be crossbreeding between the Shaheen and purebred gyrfalcon. Known as Falco Peregrinus, they were selected for their speed and were very successful. It is one of the most amazing breeds found in any contest.”

Last year, a young wild Shaheen falcon, weighing 1.1 kilograms captured in Hafr Al-Batin, in the northeast of the Kingdom, was sold for more than $170,000. It was the most expensive sale of the breed, according to the SFC.

Shamrookh, who has vast experience in falconry, has started to compete in contests. As a falconer whose hobby is now turning professional, he has favored the Mountain Falco Peregrinus, known amongst falconers in the region as Al-Barbary (or the Barbary), even though it has not gained as much fame as its kin, the “Marine Falco Peregrinus.”

According to Shamrookh, falconers prefer bred falcons over wild ones as they are the ones that will likely win in contests and races. 

“The upcoming auction has been the talk of the town lately and is one of the biggest that will ever be,” he said.


Summer in Saudi Arabia: Historic Al-Shareef Museum in Taif offers a beautiful journey into the past

Summer in Saudi Arabia: Historic Al-Shareef Museum in Taif offers a beautiful journey into the past
Updated 56 min 46 sec ago

Summer in Saudi Arabia: Historic Al-Shareef Museum in Taif offers a beautiful journey into the past

Summer in Saudi Arabia: Historic Al-Shareef Museum in Taif offers a beautiful journey into the past
  • Museum owner has traveled across the Kingdom collecting various artifacts for the past 30 years

TAIF: Guests visiting the famous Al-Shareef Museum in Taif are transported back in time as the museum’s artifacts, furniture, and paintings take them on a journey to the olden days.

Visitors wandering around the halls of the privately owned museum get to learn about the history of the region over the past century, an experience complemented by information from specialized tour guides, who are licensed by the Saudi Tourism Authority (STA).

For more than 30 years, the owner of the museum has traveled across the Kingdom collecting various artifacts to place inside the facility, which features 6,000 square meters of floor space. 

The buildings were constructed out of old stone with jittering rain gutters that emerge from the rooftop. Visitors will also discover different wooden doors ornamented with iron frills, which give the buildings an architectural style of the past along with the lanterns that hang on each house to light up the museum alleys.

The museum’s market features gifts, antiques, and clothes which represent traditional folk costumes. In one corner of the market, a number of craftsmen, sculptors, carpenters, and tailors can be found working on various projects as they are always keen on offering souvenirs to visitors.

All of these unique features qualified Taif governorate to be among the 11 tourist destinations announced by the Saudi Tourism Authority through the “Visit Saudi Arabia” platform. The authority launched the Saudi Summer Program 2021 under the slogan “Our Summer, Your Mood,” from June 24 until the end of September.


Who’s Who: Ahmed Eisa Abu Amara, chief legal council at Saudi Arabia’s Council of Cooperative Health Insurance

Who’s Who: Ahmed Eisa Abu Amara, chief legal council at Saudi Arabia’s Council of Cooperative Health Insurance
Updated 05 August 2021

Who’s Who: Ahmed Eisa Abu Amara, chief legal council at Saudi Arabia’s Council of Cooperative Health Insurance

Who’s Who: Ahmed Eisa Abu Amara, chief legal council at Saudi Arabia’s Council of Cooperative Health Insurance

Ahmed Eisa Abu Amara has served as chief legal council at the Council of Cooperative Health Insurance since 2019.

In early 2019, he became general director of the General Department of Legal Affairs at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Development. In 2016, he became head of legal affairs for the Saudi Arabian Olympic Committee.

From 2007 to 2013, he worked as a senior legal consultant and senior insurance supervisor at the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA).

Since 2018, Amara has been an international arbitrator at the International Council of Arbitration in Lausanne, Switzerland. Also in 2018, he served as an associate lecturer in commercial law at Majmaah University.  

He is currently an arbitrator at the National Sports Arbitration Tribunal in Kuwait and at the Saudi Arbitration Center in Riyadh since 2020.

In January 2015, he was appointed honorary commissioner at the Louisiana Department of Insurance by Commissioner Jim Donelon.

In 2011, he received his master’s degree in law from the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He also received a bachelor’s degree in law from King Saud University in Riyadh.

Amara has acquired several diplomas in various fields, including a diploma in the management of Olympic sports institutions from the International Olympic Academy; an international insurance and reinsurance diploma from the Chartered Insurance Institute and Lloyd’s Market Association in London; and a diploma in real estate from Richland College, Texas.

In 2018, he enrolled in the Professional Development Program at Harvard University, studying courses on management and leadership.


Historic forum brings together Iraqi scholars in Makkah

Historic forum brings together Iraqi scholars in Makkah
Updated 05 August 2021

Historic forum brings together Iraqi scholars in Makkah

Historic forum brings together Iraqi scholars in Makkah
  • The Forum of the Iraqi Religious Scholars was organized by the Muslim World League (MWL)
  • MWL secretary-general said the Iraqi government has made huge steps to strengthen its country’s identity

MAKKAH: An international forum about valuing the role of Saudi Arabia in strengthening peaceful coexistence concluded on Wednesday by stressing unity and a unanimous position in rejecting the rhetoric of sectarianism, hatred, and clash.

Organized by the Muslim World League (MWL), the Forum of the Iraqi Religious Scholars in Makkah was held in the presence of senior Sunni and Shiite scholars.

The forum’s final statement stressed the need to activate the “Makkah Document” and open channels of constructive dialogue and positive communication among scholars so they can resolve issues and crises.

The final statement also recommended setting a body for cultural communication between sects that the Muslim societies consist of, in addition to a coordinating committee that brings together Iraqi religious scholars and MWL.

The forum stressed the need to confront religious extremism from all sources, in addition to strengthening means of rejecting the rhetoric of intellectual and cultural hatred in the Muslim world.

MWL secretary-general Sheikh Mohammed Al-Issa said that the Iraqi government has made huge steps to strengthen its country’s identity, adding that “in their meeting today, the Iraqi religious scholars have warned of the disease of sectarianism.”

In his inaugural speech, Al-Issa said: “Between Sunnis and Shiites, there is nothing but ideal fraternal understanding and coexistence, and cooperation and integration in the context of sincere compassion, while understanding the specificity of each sect within the same religion.”

Pshtiwan Sadiq Abdullah, minister of endowments and religious affairs in Kurdistan-Iraq, said his government did not spare any effort in building the new and progressive federal Iraq, and that it has contributed to drafting the constitution, which guaranteed the rights of all components.

He also said Kurdistan was — and still is — a safe haven as it enjoys peaceful coexistence and respect for all religions and sects.

Sheikh Ahmed Hassan Al-Taha, a chief scholar of the Iraqi Jurisprudence Council, praised the role of the Kingdom under the leadership of King Salman in strengthening regional and international peace while also thwarting extremism.

He cited the 2006 Makkah Document as the best evidence to stop the bloodshed in a wounded Iraq.

“Kurds were pioneers in seeking good despite the ethnic, religious and sectarian diversity, which made Kurdistan-Iraq a role model at all levels,” Sheikh Abdullah Said Waysi, the head of the Kurdistan Islamic Scholars Union, said.

He also said the efforts of the religious institutions in Kurdistan-Iraq revolve around strengthening the principle of communication and cooperation among all in Iraq, based on serving society and the interests of its citizens.

A delegation of senior Iraqi religious scholars arrived in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday evening to participate in the forum.