Song Day brings Yemenis together despite war

In war-torn Taiz, people responded to the call for celebrating the Yemeni song by arranging a musical concert that brought together singers and jubilant fans. (Photos by Hamza Mustafa)
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In war-torn Taiz, people responded to the call for celebrating the Yemeni song by arranging a musical concert that brought together singers and jubilant fans. (Photos by Hamza Mustafa)
Song Day brings Yemenis together despite war
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In war-torn Taiz, people responded to the call for celebrating the Yemeni song by arranging a musical concert that brought together singers and jubilant fans. (Photos by Hamza Mustafa)
Song Day brings Yemenis together despite war
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Song Day brings Yemenis together despite war
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Updated 07 July 2021

Song Day brings Yemenis together despite war

In war-torn Taiz, people responded to the call for celebrating the Yemeni song by arranging a musical concert that brought together singers and jubilant fans. (Photos by Hamza Mustafa)
  • Some celebrate by sharing clips of themselves singing, dancing while doing daily chores
  • Yemen’s Ministry of Information, Tourism and Culture announced it would establish a museum for Yemeni music in the southern port city of Aden

ALEXANDIRIA: If war and politics have divided Yemen, songs and music have brought its people together.  

A group of Yemeni singers, musicians and activists have called upon Yemenis to mark July 1 as Yemeni Song Day to bring to life and protect traditional and modern Yemeni music.

“Following our keen interest in the Yemeni identity, heritage and culture, a group of friends, artists, poets, composers, activists and influencers decided to launch what we called Yemeni Song Day,” Yahya Anbah, a Yemeni singer said, calling on people from all walks of life to join the campaign.

The initiative drew positive responses as artists, celebrities, politicians and ordinary people shared their songs, turning social media into a massive online concert.

From the Houthi-held Sanaa to the government-controlled parts of Taiz, Yemenis arranged musical activities that attracted large gatherings. Local artists sang famous songs as their delighted fans danced.

In Sanaa, wearing traditional dress, Fatima Muthanna, a young singer, sang patriotic songs. On her Facebook page, which has more than 83,000 followers, she urged Yemenis to use music as a “weapon” to bring about peace in the war-torn country.

“Singing is our only outlet in this life. This microphone is my weapon and the weapon of every artist carrying the message of peace, love and affection,” she said.

In the southern city of Taiz, not far from the battlefield, the local office of the Ministry of Culture arranged a concert to celebrate, which brought together local singers to entertain the public.

Some Yemenis celebrated by sharing short clips of themselves singing and dancing while doing their daily household chores.

Alfat Al-Dubae, an activist, sang local songs while cooking food. “My voice is not beautiful, but this festival forces even those who cannot sing to sing,” she said on Facebook.

Some shared photos with famous singers, while others remembered dead singers such as the Yemeni-born Saudi national Abu Bakr Salem Belfkih.

Ahmed Fatehi, a Yemeni singer, composer and oud player, performed duets with others. Fatehi called upon Yemeni officials to honor veteran musicians and help poor families of dead singers.  

“The officials should express their gratitude to the pioneers of Yemeni music by visiting their families and giving them moral and financial assistance,” the singer told Arab News, adding that some old-timers died because they couldn’t afford medical treatment.

International cultural, educational and heritage organizations also participated in the campaign by sharing their funded programs for reviving Yemeni musical heritage.

The UNESCO office for the Gulf Cooperation Council and Yemen said on Twitter that the song “Al-Ghana Al-Sanaani” was listed as part of the world’s heritage in 2008, and that it was working with Yemen’s authorities to add more songs to the list.

The Saudi Development and Reconstruction Program for Yemen posted on Twitter: “Yemeni songs reflect the musical heritage and are a cultural marker of the people of Yemen. On #YemeniSongDay, we celebrate the melodies of the past and present-day Yemen.”

In addition to the war, Yemenis attributed the massive response to the festival to the growing moral policing of people by the Iran-backed Houthis.

The rebels have banned people from hiring singers for weddings and launched a crackdown on arts, models and actors.  

Tweeting from Sanaa, Khaled Al-Ruwaishan, a former minister of culture, said Yemenis challenged the Houthi’s repressive rules on arts and music by singing and observing Yemeni Song Day.

“They tried to ban singing in the countryside of Sanaa. The people responded by singing, and making a festival for it. What a response. Our people are alive and our soul is glowing despite all the sorrows,” the former minister said.

Yemen’s Ministry of Information, Tourism and Culture gave the campaign official recognition by announcing that July 1 would be recognized as the official Yemeni Song Day, and announced it would establish a museum for Yemeni music in the southern port city of Aden.

 


Egypt to receive AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson vaccines next week

Egypt to receive AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson vaccines next week
Updated 12 min 12 sec ago

Egypt to receive AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson vaccines next week

Egypt to receive AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson vaccines next week
  • Johnson & Johnson vaccine is being provided in cooperation with the African Union
  • As part of the health ministry's plan to expand the provision of vaccines, it is scheduled to receive the Pfizer vaccine later this month

CAIRO: Egyptian Minister of Health and Population Hala Zayed announced on Thursday the Egypt will receive shipments of AstraZeneca’s and Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccinations next week. The jabs will be distributed across the country, Zayed said.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is being provided in cooperation with the COVAX facility, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund, Khaled Mujahid, assistant minister of health, explained, while the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is being provided in cooperation with the African Union.

As part of the health ministry's plan to expand the provision of vaccines, it is also scheduled to receive the Pfizer vaccine later this month, and will distribute one million doses of the Sinovac vaccine over the next two weeks, Mujahid said.

Centers have been allocated to vaccinate those who want to travel abroad, he added, with 126 centers across the country equipped for data registration and the printing of certificates with QR codes.

He said vaccination reservations can be made through the ministry’s website and that an appointment for vaccination will be provided within 72 hours of registration.

Egypt has ordered around 120 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, and production of around a million doses of the Sinovac vaccine has already begun at Egypt's Holding Company for Biological Products and Vaccines (VACSERA) factory in preparation to begin vaccinating citizens in August.

VACSERA is scheduled to produce more than 200 million doses of the vaccine by the end of this year — enough to achieve the government’s goal of vaccinating 40 million citizens and allocating surplus doses for export to regional allies.


Egypt, Italy demand quick exit of mercenaries from Libya

Egypt, Italy demand quick exit of mercenaries from Libya
Updated 05 August 2021

Egypt, Italy demand quick exit of mercenaries from Libya

Egypt, Italy demand quick exit of mercenaries from Libya
  • Egypt and Italy say mercenary groups and foreign forces should leave Libya without delay
  • Egypt, Italy welcome opening of the coastal road between Sirte and Misrata

CAIRO: Egypt and Italy have demanded that foreign forces and mercenaries leave Libya without delay, and welcomed the opening of the coastal road between Sirte and Misrata.

This came during a phone call between Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio.

The two sides discussed several regional issues, especially the developments in Libya and Tunisia.

A statement by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said that Di Maio briefed Shoukry on the overall results of his recent visit to Libya and his meetings with various parties there.

It added that Shoukry stressed the importance of fulfilling the roadmap approved by the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum and UN Security Council Resolution 2570, regarding holding presidential and parliamentary elections on their scheduled date in December, with the need for all foreign forces and mercenaries to leave Libya immediately.

He also welcomed the step taken to open the coastal road between Sirte and Misrata.

Regarding Tunis, Shoukry stressed the importance of supporting stability and the legitimate aspirations of the people there, adding that Egypt stood in solidarity with all measures taken by President Qais Saeed to preserve the integrity of state institutions and overcome the delicate situation in the country.


Areas of Iraqi province lose power after attack on pylons

Areas of Iraqi province lose power after attack on pylons
Updated 05 August 2021

Areas of Iraqi province lose power after attack on pylons

Areas of Iraqi province lose power after attack on pylons
  • "Terrorist elements" using "explosive devices" carried out attacks on 13 pylons over the past 48 hours, said the electricity ministry
  • Provincial authorities distributed photos showing the damaged pylons

SAMARRA, Iraq: Iraq’s northern Salaheddin province was left partially without power after “terrorists” blew several pylons, the government said Thursday, as increasing attacks add to the strain on Iraq’s electricity network.
“Terrorist elements” using “explosive devices” carried out attacks on 13 pylons over the past 48 hours, the electricity ministry said in a statement.
Provincial authorities distributed photos showing the damaged pylons.
Several districts in Salaheddin have since been without power, including some neighborhoods in Samarra, one of the province’s largest cities, an AFP correspondent said.
Unclaimed attacks on Iraq’s electricity network have been increasing since the start of summer.
Authorities normally accuse “terrorists” of being behind the attacks, without identifying a particular group.
Oil-rich Iraq produces just 16,000 megawatts of power — far below the 24,000 megawatts needed, and even further from the expected future needs of a country whose population is set to double by 2050, according to the UN.
The country buys gas and electricity from neighboring Iran to supply about a third of its power sector, which has been worn down by years of conflict and poor maintenance, and is unable to meet the needs of the country’s 40 million population.
Last month, areas in the country’s south were plunged into darkness for several days after a series of similar attacks.
Around the same time, Iran briefly suspended its gas and electricity exports because of Iraq’s failure to pay a $6 billion energy debt.
The US blacklisted Iran’s energy industry in late 2018 as it ramped up sanctions, but has granted Baghdad a series of temporary waivers, hoping that Iraq would wean itself off Iranian energy.
The failure of Iraq’s power system is particularly acute in the baking hot summer months, often a time of social protest exacerbated by electricity shortages, when temperatures shoot past 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit).
Energy consultant Harry Istepanian said factors contributing to Iraq’s energy crisis included not only the Iranian export suspension but also a “lack of enough generation capacity and fuel supply, lack of maintenance of the existing generation units, high demand... high technical and commercial losses, vandalism and sabotage.”


Lebanon's Mikati says slow progress achieved toward forming government

Lebanon's Mikati says slow progress achieved toward forming government
Updated 05 August 2021

Lebanon's Mikati says slow progress achieved toward forming government

Lebanon's Mikati says slow progress achieved toward forming government

Lebanon's OPM designate Mikati says slow progress achieved toward forming government after meeting president.


Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz threatens Iran with military action

The comments by Benny Gantz (pictured) come as Israel meanwhile lobbies countries for action at the United Nations over last week’s attack on the oil tanker Mercer Street that killed two people. (Reuters/File Photo)
The comments by Benny Gantz (pictured) come as Israel meanwhile lobbies countries for action at the United Nations over last week’s attack on the oil tanker Mercer Street that killed two people. (Reuters/File Photo)
Updated 05 August 2021

Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz threatens Iran with military action

The comments by Benny Gantz (pictured) come as Israel meanwhile lobbies countries for action at the United Nations over last week’s attack on the oil tanker Mercer Street that killed two people. (Reuters/File Photo)
  • Gantz responded to whether Israel was prepared to attack Iran with a blunt “yes”

TEL AVIV: Israel’s defense minister warned Thursday that his country is prepared to strike Iran, issuing the threat against the Islamic Republic after a fatal drone strike on a oil tanker at sea that his nation blamed on Tehran.
The comments by Benny Gantz come as Israel meanwhile lobbies countries for action at the United Nations over last week’s attack on the oil tanker Mercer Street that killed two people. The tanker, struck off Oman in the Arabian Sea, is managed by a firm owned by an Israeli billionaire.
The US and the United Kingdom similarly blamed Iran for the attack, but no country has offered evidence or intelligence to support their claims. Iran, which along with its regional militia allies has launched similar drone attacks, has denied being involved.
Speaking to the news website Ynet, Gantz responded to whether Israel was prepared to attack Iran with a blunt “yes.”
“We are at a point where we need to take military action against Iran,” Gantz said. “The world needs to take action against Iran now.”
Iran did not immediately respond to Gantz’s comments. However, in a letter Wednesday to the UN Security Council, its chargé d’affaires in New York described Israel as “the main source of instability and insecurity in the Middle East and beyond for more than seven decades.”
“This regime has a long dark record in attacking commercial navigation and civilian ships,” Zahra Ershadi wrote. “In less than two years, this regime has attacked over 10 commercial vessels carrying oil and humanitarian goods destined to Syria.”
Ershadi’s comments refer to an ongoing shadow war being waged on Mideast waterways since 2019 that has seen both Iranian and Western-linked ships attacked.
Last week’s attack killed the vessel’s Romanian captain as well as a British crew member who worked for Ambrey, a maritime security firm. In a statement Thursday, Ambrey identified the victim as Adrian Underwood, a former soldier in the British Army who started at the firm as a maritime security officer in 2020 before becoming a team leader.
“We continue to be in contact with Adrian’s family to offer support at this sad and difficult time,” said John Thompson, Ambrey’s management director.
The attacks began a year after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, which saw Iran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. President Joe Biden has said he’s willing to rejoin the accord, but talks over salvaging the deal have stalled in Vienna.