US leads global condemnation of Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia

Slight damage to residential properties was caused after a Houthi ballistic missile targeting the Eastern Province was intercepted. (SPA)
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Slight damage to residential properties was caused after a Houthi ballistic missile targeting the Eastern Province was intercepted. (SPA)
Slight damage to residential properties was caused after a Houthi ballistic missile targeting the Eastern Province was intercepted. (SPA)
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Slight damage to residential properties was caused after a Houthi ballistic missile targeting the Eastern Province was intercepted. (SPA)
US leads global condemnation of Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia
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Slight damage to residential properties was caused after a Houthi ballistic missile targeting the Eastern Province was intercepted. (SPA)
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Updated 06 September 2021

US leads global condemnation of Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia

US leads global condemnation of Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia
  • Egypt expressed its support for the measures taken by Saudi Arabia to preserve its security and stability
  • Kuwait called for “swift and firm actions from the international community to stop these threats”

RIYADH: The US led on Sunday the global condemnation of a recent escalation in Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia.
The Houthi militia launched three ballistic missiles toward the Kingdom on Saturday, two targeting the southwestern cities of Najran and Jazan. A third missile was launched at Dammam in the Eastern Province. All were intercepted.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the attack, calling it “completely unacceptable” and saying “these attacks threaten the lives of the Kingdom’s residents, including more than 70,000 US citizens.”

He again urged the Houthis to agree to a comprehensive cease-fire immediately and to stop these cross-border attacks and attacks inside of Yemen, particularly their offensive on Marib, which is exacerbating the humanitarian crisis and prolonging the conflict.  
“The Houthis must begin working toward a peaceful, diplomatic solution under UN auspices to end this conflict,” Blinken added.
The US embassy in Riyadh also said it “categorically condemns the recent Houthi missile attack on the Eastern region of the Kingdom,” and said “attacking civilians is illegal and totally unacceptable.”
“Such attacks do not serve any legitimate military objectives, but rather prolong the conflict in Yemen,” a statement said. 
The US urged the Houthis to “immediately stop these senseless attacks and start working toward a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the conflict.”
“The United States remains committed to its long-term strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia, as well as its commitment to helping the Kingdom defend its people and territory,” the statement added. 
Falling debris from the missile that was shot down in the Eastern Province injured a boy and a girl in Dammam.
There was also light damage to 14 residential properties, coalition spokesman Brig. Gen. Turki Al-Maliki said.
The militia also launched several booby-trapped drones toward the Kingdom on Friday and Saturday.
The UK condemned the Houthi attacks and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “This is reckless behavior by the Houthis, facilitated by Iran, which threatens innocent civilians and hinders efforts toward regional stability.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation also condemned the attacks and praised the Kingdom’s air defense forces for intercepting them.
The Muslim World League said the attacks were “a dangerous barbaric escalation that constitutes a war crime.”
The league expressed its support for measures taken by the Kingdom to protect its security and ensure the safety of civilians.
The Arab Red Crescent and Red Cross Organization (ARCO) said that the repeated attacks on civilian facilities in the Kingdom and endangering civilians is a matter of concern, and it includes persistence, perseverance and defiance of the international community, and a disregard for international laws and norms.
“What civilian facilities in the Kingdom are exposed to and the violations of the principles of international humanitarian law, is at the same time a threat to global security, especially since a number of these drones are directed to areas that supply the world with oil, which is the backbone of everyday life,” said ARCO Secretary-General Dr. Saleh bin Hamad Al-Tuwaijri.
He added that the international community must fully assume its responsibilities, and move from denouncing and condemning to taking strict practical measures to stop these attacks, especially since the United Nations, the Security Council and other intergovernmental institutions possess the deterrent tools for these successive violations of civil and economic facilities in the Kingdom.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) condemned the attacks targeting the Eastern Province, Jazan and Najran, calling them a “flagrant violation of international norms and laws.”
Secretary-General Dr. Nayef Al-Hajraf reiterated the GCC states’ solidarity with Saudi Arabia against everything that targets its security, stability and territorial integrity, while also calling on the international community to take immediate and decisive measures.
”The UAE also strongly condemned the attacks and reiterated in a statement that “these systematic terror attacks by the Houthis reflect their blatant disregard for the international community and all international laws and norms.”
The country’s foreign ministry urged the international community to “take an immediate and decisive stance to stop these recurrent acts, which target critical infrastructure and threaten the security and stability of the Kingdom.”
It added that “the security of the UAE and that of Saudi Arabia are indivisible and any threat facing the Kingdom is considered a threat to the security and stability of the UAE.”
Kuwait also condemned the Houthi attacks in the “strongest terms” and said “the continuation and escalation of these hostile actions against the security of Saudi Arabia and regional stability are blatant violations of international law.”
The foreign ministry called for “swift and firm actions from the international community to stop these threats and hold perpetrators accountable.”
Qatar denounced the attacks and reiterated its firm position rejecting violence, criminal acts and acts of sabotage regardless of the motives.
Egypt strongly condemned the attacks and expressed “its support for the measures taken by Saudi Arabia to preserve its security, stability and territorial integrity in the face of these terrorist attacks, which represent a serious threat to security and stability in the region.”
Bahrain issued a similar statement and Jordan said “these terrorist acts and the targeting of innocent civilians, is contrary to all religious and humanitarian values, and aims to destabilize security and stability.”


First full Friday prayers at Two Holy Mosques

First full Friday prayers at Two Holy Mosques
Updated 23 October 2021

First full Friday prayers at Two Holy Mosques

First full Friday prayers at Two Holy Mosques
  • Worshippers return to holy cities as restrictions eased

MAKKAH: After more than a year and a half, Muslims worldwide were delighted to see Friday prayers at the Two Holy mosques return to full capacity.

Considered the two holiest sites in Islam, painful images of the mosques devoid of worshippers due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of 2020 affected Muslims everywhere, but particularly citizens of Makkah and Madinah.

“It’s a blessing, to walk in the mosque’s pathways and you’re surrounded by people again,” said Abdullah Mahdi, a private-sector worker and longtime resident of the holy city. “Though masked still, it doesn’t really matter, the place is alive with movement and worshippers again.

“It’s truly a sight to behold and to see the Grand Mosque’s courtyard around the Kaaba filled with people on the first Friday after the easing of the restrictions is a sign that it’ll be alright, God-willing.”

Last Saturday, the Ministry of Interior announced the easing of restrictions across the Kingdom, including those affecting the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, which are returning to full operations and capacity.

Deputy Secretary-General for the Affairs of the Grand Mosque Dr. Saad bin Mohammed Al-Muhaimid told Arab News that the Presidency of the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques had used all of their human and mechanical resources to implement the plan to return to full capacity.

FASTFACTS

• Last Saturday, the Ministry of Interior announced the easing of restrictions across the Kingdom, including those affecting the Grand Mosque in Makkah and the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, which are returning to full operations and capacity.

• Those working at the Two Holy Mosques had been asked to abide by and enforce the directives issued by the authorities concerned with fighting the coronavirus pandemic to ensure everyone’s safety.

“They did so through an integrated plan of capabilities and services that were harnessed to preserve the safety of the Grand Mosque’s visitors and facilitate the performance of their rites in a spiritual, safe and reassuring atmosphere,” he said.

“Based on the directives of the president of the General Presidency for the Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques, Sheikh Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Sudais, we have accelerated the pace of work and raised the level of readiness in an effort to provide the Grand Mosque’s visitors with better services and means of comfort.

“We have also doubled our efforts since we started implementing the plan to return to full capacity while achieving the highest-quality standards.”

The deputy secretary-general said that those working at the Two Holy Mosques had been asked to abide by and enforce the directives issued by the authorities concerned with fighting the coronavirus pandemic to ensure everyone’s safety.

The ministry and authorities stressed the importance of visitors adhering to the directives included in the Interior Ministry’s statement by wearing face masks at all times inside the Grand Mosque and booking their Umrah and prayer appointments through the official applications (Eatmarna and Tawakkalna).


Saudi Arabia’s carbon-rich mangroves are key to combating climate change

Saudi Arabia’s carbon-rich mangroves are key to combating climate change
Updated 23 October 2021

Saudi Arabia’s carbon-rich mangroves are key to combating climate change

Saudi Arabia’s carbon-rich mangroves are key to combating climate change
  • Mangrove forests are vital for climate change, as highly productive and biodiversity-rich inter-tidal forests sequester carbon faster than terrestrial forests
  • Saudi Green Initiative starts on Oct. 23-24 and aims to assert the country’s work to achieve change domestically and regionally regarding climate change

JEDDAH: Plans to establish Saudi Arabia’s first national mangrove park are underway to enhance the Kingdom’s efforts in environmental protection and tourism development through vast green spaces.

The plans were announced by the Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture. They are part of the ministry’s initiative to add more green spaces and national parks in the country, which currently has 27 national parks.

Mangroves are mainly found off the south-western waters in the Jizan region. They help to protect marine habitats, seagrass, coral reefs, and more from harmful runoffs from passing boats and human waste. 

They are known to residents of the Farasan Islands and Jizan as shura trees, and the area is frequented by residents and visitors all year round.

To further protect mangrove forests, the ministry planted more than 875,000 mangrove trees in the southern regions of the Red Sea coast. 

The first is in a location dubbed Bahar1 and is near the cultural village south of Jizan city where 440,000 trees were planted. There were 435,000 mangrove trees planted in Bahar2 in the town of Al-Sawarmah.

Greenhouse gases drive climate change. 

Mangrove forests are vital for climate change, as highly productive and biodiversity-rich inter-tidal forests sequester carbon faster than terrestrial forests. The more CO2 the mangroves capture, the faster the greenhouse gases are removed from the atmosphere. The distinctive ecosystems also protect shores and can help prevent direct damage in case of storms.

More than a quarter of the world’s mangroves have been lost over the past decade due to artificial intrusions.

The Saudi Green Initiative starts on Oct. 23-24 and aims to assert the country’s work to achieve change domestically and regionally regarding climate change, to build a better future, and improve the quality of life. The country has made significant efforts to protect the environment and mitigate the effects of climate change. Reducing carbon emissions is crucial to slow the impact of climate change and restore environmental balance. 

Ten billion trees will be planted throughout the Kingdom to transform the desert into green land and rehabilitate 40 million hectares of land in the upcoming decades.


Diriyah, Jewel of the Kingdom: DGDA tour guides shine at Expo Dubai Saudi Pavilion

Diriyah, Jewel of the Kingdom: DGDA tour guides shine at Expo Dubai Saudi Pavilion
Updated 23 October 2021

Diriyah, Jewel of the Kingdom: DGDA tour guides shine at Expo Dubai Saudi Pavilion

Diriyah, Jewel of the Kingdom: DGDA tour guides shine at Expo Dubai Saudi Pavilion

Diriyah Gate Development Authority’s talented tour guides are working hard at the Saudi Pavilion during Expo 2020 Dubai to share the history of Diriyah, the birthplace of the Kingdom, the land of kings and heroes where it all began.

The DGDA is proud that seven of the guides from its talented team are currently in Dubai to support the Saudi Pavilion, help drive the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, and represent the spirit of Saudi youth.

The pavilion reflects the Kingdom’s past, present and shared future. It soars five stories high, covering an area the equivalent of two football fields, making it the second-largest at the event after the UAE pavilion.

Thanks to its dazzling design features that beam multicolored bursts of light over the surrounding areas, including 8,000 LED floor lights and the world’s largest digital mirror screen, visitors will enjoy a different experience each time they stop by. It is a design that honors four main themes: the Saudi people, the nation’s heritage, opportunity and nature.

The DGDA tour guides will be working in the pavilion for the duration of Expo 2020 Dubai, sharing with visitors the amazing history and culture of the Kingdom, and Diriyah in particular. Their duties include leading public tours of the entire pavilion, guiding school tours, looking after VIP guests and groups, and training the temporary staff and interns working at the pavilion.

Their extensive training in Diriyah has prepared them well for their participation in Expo 2020 Dubai, and their involvement is a unique recognition of their talent, knowledge and passion.

Rahaf Alharbi, one of DGDA’s rising stars and a passionate tour guide at the Saudi Pavilion, said: “It is a great honor for me to be here at Expo 2020 Dubai to represent Saudi Arabia and to tell the world about Diriyah’s rich history. I am looking forward to the whole world learning about the birthplace of the Kingdom, with its unique history and culture. I am proud to be part of this team and truly enjoy the new experiences we can make here.”

The DGDA is leading the transformation of Diriyah into Saudi Arabia’s foremost historical, cultural and lifestyle destination. The authority was established in July 2017 to preserve Diriyah’s history, celebrate its community, and develop the historic UNESCO World Heritage site of At-Turaif into one of the world’s greatest gathering places, at the heart of Saudi Arabian culture and heritage.

The protection and preservation of Saudi history and culture, including the stories of the nation’s forefathers and its physical heritage, is a key pillar of the work of the DGDA. It is running an extensive program to train specialist tour guides to share the rich history of the birthplace of Saudi Arabia. This training can last months or even years, during which trainees are taught about the Kingdom’s history, archaeology and hospitality.


Saudi Arabia’s chief of general staff receives commander of US Central Command

Saudi Arabia’s chief of general staff receives commander of US Central Command
Updated 23 October 2021

Saudi Arabia’s chief of general staff receives commander of US Central Command

Saudi Arabia’s chief of general staff receives commander of US Central Command

RIYADH: Air Chief Marshal Fayyadh bin Hamed Al Ruwaili, chief of the general staff of the Saudi Arabian Armed Forces, received Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., commander of US Central Command, and the accompanying US delegation at King Salman Air Base.

During the meeting they discussed aspects of cooperation between the two countries, especially in the defense sector, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

They reviewed the importance of strengthening military cooperation and also discussed issues of common interest with regards to regional security and stability.

The meeting was also attended by a number of senior officers from both sides.


New era of afforestation takes flight in Saudi Arabia

New era of afforestation takes flight in Saudi Arabia
Updated 23 October 2021

New era of afforestation takes flight in Saudi Arabia

New era of afforestation takes flight in Saudi Arabia
  • Campaign to use drones for seed distribution over an area of 2 million square meters launched

RIYADH: Birds have always been a significant factor in the lifecycle of plants through their ability to transport seeds to new locations by unintentionally carrying them on their wings or claws.  

Today marks the beginning of a new era of afforestation as the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Natural Reserve in Saudi Arabia launched a new seed distribution project that will utilize drones instead of relying on birds. It is in line with the Kingdom’s Green Initiative announced earlier this year by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The campaign aims to meet the initiative’s goals and confirms that Saudi Arabia is serious about enriching the country’s natural environment.

“The afforestation campaign will use drones to spread seasonal seeds over an area of 2 million square meters, creating a qualitative leap in the path of afforestation used in the Kingdom,” the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Natural Reserve told Arab News in a statement on Friday. 

According to the reserve, the drones will distribute the seeds in substantial amounts over areas where rainwater accumulates to ensure that the seeds are watered naturally, seasonally, and annually.  

The reserve is working to keep up with the latest international technologies and innovations linked to irrigation and seed disposal processes while working to adopt factors that serve the environment and guarantee sustainability in plant cultivation and afforestation techniques.  

According to the reserve’s statement: “The use of drones, characterized by the presence of high-resolution cameras, contributes to monitoring the health of the plants and providing quick treatments to preserve them in case they are exposed to health risks. 

“It will also follow up on the health of the soil and the conditions of agricultural areas. The utilization of artificial intelligence techniques will, additionally, serve to study and analyze seasonal patterns of plants through the use of unique algorithms and software.”

HIGHLIGHT

Today marks the beginning of a new era of afforestation as the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Natural Reserve in Saudi Arabia launched a new seed distribution project that will utilize drones instead of relying on birds. It is in line with the Kingdom’s Green Initiative announced earlier this year by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Representatives from the local community, along with government agencies and volunteers also attended the launch, Eng. Mohammed Al Shaalan, the CEO of the Royal Natural Reserve, said.

“Today, the Kingdom is leading a global movement towards protecting the environment, promoting sustainability, and launching continuous initiatives towards afforestation and the establishment of a green environment,” Al Shaalan said.

“We will strive to keep up with this goal publicized by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and are working hard to defy the obstacle of time by applying the best standards and techniques in developing the reserve and assisting the environment.”

Manzer H. Siddiqui, an associate professor at the botany department at King Saud University, also praised the campaign. 

“This is a much-appreciated campaign towards afforestation and green initiative for environment protection,” he told Arab News.

Siddiqui said the citizens’ participation in preserving the environment is one of the most successful ways to reach green sustainability. 

The Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Natural Reserve, previously known as the Al Taysiyah Natural Reserve, was founded in 2018 by a royal order to provide an organized and systemic approach to preserving and maintaining the area.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the “Saudi Green” and the “Middle East Green” initiatives in April to help protect nature and overcome environmental challenges.

These Initiatives aim to chart a path for Saudi Arabia and the region in protecting the planet by clearly defining an ambitious road map that rallies the region and significantly contributes to achieving global targets in confronting climate change.

The Kingdom will work through the Saudi Green Initiative to raise vegetation cover, reduce carbon emissions, preserve marine life, while also combating pollution and land degradation. The ambitious initiative includes the planting of 10 billion trees within the Kingdom in the upcoming decades.

The Saudi Green Initiative also aims to reduce carbon emissions by more than 4 percent of global contributions through a renewable energy program that will generate 50 percent of the Kingdom’s energy from renewables by 2030.