Houthis torturing four abducted journalists, say families

The four Yemeni journalists abducted and imprisoned by the Houthi militia are shown in this combination images posted on Twitter on February 23 by Moammar Al-Eryani, Yemen's minister of Information, culture and tourism.
The four Yemeni journalists abducted and imprisoned by the Houthi militia are shown in this combination images posted on Twitter on February 23 by Moammar Al-Eryani, Yemen's minister of Information, culture and tourism.
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Updated 10 September 2021

Houthis torturing four abducted journalists, say families

Houthis torturing four abducted journalists, say families
  • Tawfiq Al-Mansouri, Abdul Khaleq Amran, Harith Hamid, and Akram Al-Walidi were among a group of 10 journalists abducted in 2015
  • Families learned from the former abductee that the Iran-backed rebels have intensified their mistreatment of the journalists over the past two months

AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: The Iran-backed Houthis tortured abducted Yemeni journalists, threw them into solitary confinement, denied them life-saving medical treatment, and banned them from contacting their families for the past two months, families said on Thursday.

Tawfiq Al-Mansouri, Abdul Khaleq Amran, Harith Hamid, and Akram Al-Walidi were among a group of 10 journalists abducted by the Houthis during a raid in the capital Sanaa in 2015.

The journalists were sentenced to death for their alleged collaboration with the Arab coalition and the internationally recognized government.

Six journalists were released during the latest major successful prisoner swap between the Houthis and the Yemeni government last year.

During the past few months, relatives told Arab News the Houthis’ treatment of the remaining journalists has worsened.

Abdullah Al-Mansouri said his brother —  journalist Tawfiq Al-Mansouri — has not contacted the family for the past two months and his captors refused to allow the family to give him medicine and money. 

“He has not contacted us since before Eid (July 20),” Abdullah Al-Mansouri said.

The families later learned from a former abductee that the Houthis have been brutally mistreated their siblings for the past two months.

“They imprisoned, tortured, and put them in solitary confinement. They took away their clothes and all their belongings and deprived them of everything,” said Al-Mansouri, who added that the family had no clue as to why the Houthis are torturing the journalists.

“The Houthis should be asked why they decided to resume abusing the journalists.”

The six freed journalists previously reported being subjected to the same level of torture by the Houthi captors inside different prisons in Sanaa. They urged the international community to pressure the Iran-backed rebels to release the four journalists who face the death penalty.

Relatives said Abu Shehab Al-Murtada, a brother of Abdulkader Al-Murtada, who is the head of the Houthi prisoner affairs committee, personally tortured the journalists or incited other captors to mistreat them.

Abdullah Al-Mansouri said his brother is suffering from heart problems, diabetes, kidney problems, and recent backbone pains due to torture.

“We bribe the Houthis to allow us to send him an injection every 20 days,” he said. “We do not know if he received them or not.”

The Houthis alleged prosecution and mistreatment of the journalists have sparked local and international outrage as rights groups called upon the militia to release them and stop harassing critics.

Also in Sanaa, relatives of Younis Abdul Sallam, a young Yemeni journalist who was abducted by the Houthis last month, said they have not been allowed to visit him or have been given an explanation as to why he was abducted.

“The Houthis obstinately refuse to allow us to visit him,” a relative told Arab News on condition of anonymity for fear of Houthi reprisal.

Meanwhile, Yemen's Information Minister Muammar Al-Eryani condemned the Houthi abduction of singer Youssef Al-Badji in Sanaa and the militia’s escalating crackdown on music.

“The Iran-backed Houthi militia abducted singer Youssef Al-Badji from his house in Sanaa in a systematic campaign to target art, pursue and attack artists, push dozens of them to flee outside the country, and prevent singing at weddings and public events and classify it as a taboo,” the minister said in a tweet.


UK bans ad showing girl eating cheese while hanging upside down

UK bans ad showing girl eating cheese while hanging upside down. (Shutterstock)
UK bans ad showing girl eating cheese while hanging upside down. (Shutterstock)
Updated 19 January 2022

UK bans ad showing girl eating cheese while hanging upside down

UK bans ad showing girl eating cheese while hanging upside down. (Shutterstock)
  • Mondelez said the ad was aimed at parents, and had been shown only on programming for adults

LONDON: Britain’s advertising regulator has banned a TV ad that showed a girl eating cheese while hanging upside down, saying it could promote behavior that could lead to choking.
The ad for Dairylea cheese, a brand of US snacks giant Mondelez, had been shown on British video-on-demand services in August last year.
It featured two girls, aged six and eight, hanging upside down from a soccer goalpost, discussing where food went when you hang upside down. One of the girls then ate a piece of Dairylea cheese.
The Advertising Standards Authority said children could try to emulate the girls, and one person had complained that a three-year-old relative had eaten food while hanging upside down after seeing the ad.
Mondelez said the ad was aimed at parents, and had been shown only on programming for adults. The girls were close enough to the ground to be safe from falling, and adults supervising them could be seen in the background. However, the ASA concluded these were not sufficient factors to reduce the risk of harm.


Former New York Post editor alleges harassment, retaliation

The Associated Press generally does not name people who say they’re a victim of sexual harassment, unless they speak publicly, as Gotthelf has done. (Shutterstock)
The Associated Press generally does not name people who say they’re a victim of sexual harassment, unless they speak publicly, as Gotthelf has done. (Shutterstock)
Updated 19 January 2022

Former New York Post editor alleges harassment, retaliation

The Associated Press generally does not name people who say they’re a victim of sexual harassment, unless they speak publicly, as Gotthelf has done. (Shutterstock)
  • Gotthelf said Allan’s harassment of her “peaked” in fall 2015 when she was the newspaper’s metro editor

NEW YORK: A New York Post editor whose departure was announced Tuesday alleged she was fired two months after revealing to an executive that former editor Col Allan had sexually harassed her.
The Post said any suggestion of wrongdoing related to Editor-in-Chief Keith Poole’s announcement of Michelle Gotthelf’s exit was meritless.
Poole, who Gotthelf said fired her in November after more than two decades at the Post, is a defendant in a lawsuit she filed Tuesday, along with Allan, the newspaper’s publishing company and corporate owner News Corp.
Gotthelf said Allan’s harassment of her “peaked” in fall 2015 when she was the newspaper’s metro editor. The two were having drinks after an editors’ dinner meeting when Allan said that “we should sleep together,” she said in the lawsuit.
She said Allan became hostile when she rejected his advances. She complained to her superiors and human resources, and alleged that Allan was forced to retire shortly thereafter.
He returned as a consultant in 2019, however. Gotthelf said their relationship remained tense, and she saw her influence and status in the newsroom erode. She said that in 2019, Allan ordered her to remove from the Post’s website a story about journalist E. Jean Carroll’s accusations that she had been raped by then-President Donald Trump. Trump denied the charges and the lawsuit said Allan claimed Carroll’s charges were baseless.
During a lunch meeting in November 2021 to discuss a soon-to-expire contract, Gotthelf said Poole asked her “what happened between you and Col?” She told him Allan had propositioned her.
She said Poole fired her “without cause” on Jan. 12.
“Any suggestion of wrongdoing related to the management changes announced today is meritless,” the Post and News Corp. said in a statement.
The Associated Press generally does not name people who say they’re a victim of sexual harassment, unless they speak publicly, as Gotthelf has done.


Filming of Hollywood movie ‘Kandahar’ in AlUla is a sign of things to come

The magical landscape of the ancient city and surrounding area in northwestern Saudi Arabia is increasingly attracting the attention of local and international filmmakers, thanks to its rich history and scenic splendor. (Supplied)
The magical landscape of the ancient city and surrounding area in northwestern Saudi Arabia is increasingly attracting the attention of local and international filmmakers, thanks to its rich history and scenic splendor. (Supplied)
Updated 19 January 2022

Filming of Hollywood movie ‘Kandahar’ in AlUla is a sign of things to come

The magical landscape of the ancient city and surrounding area in northwestern Saudi Arabia is increasingly attracting the attention of local and international filmmakers, thanks to its rich history and scenic splendor. (Supplied)
  • ‘If I get to show the world AlUla for the first time on this scale, I’m all in. It’s a dream come true; I love it,’ said ‘Kandahar’ director Ric Roman Waugh
  • ‘Saudi Arabia is coming together as a film community to show the wider world’ the country can host major productions, according to the head of Film AlUla

RIYADH: The director and executive producer of “Kandahar,” the first big-budget Hollywood movie to film extensively in AlUla in Saudi Arabia, are full of praise for the natural beauty of the area, and the efforts of Saudi authorities to establish it as a global filming location.
The magical landscape of the ancient city and surrounding area in northwestern Saudi Arabia is increasingly attracting the attention of local and international filmmakers, thanks to its rich history and scenic splendor.
To support this process, the Royal Commission for AlUla in 2020 established Film AlUla to attract and assist film and television productions from around the world. It is led by film commissioner Stephen Strachan, a veteran of the UK industry and a respected film producer in the Middle East and North Africa.
Strachan said he believes the Kingdom is setting the bar high for the region as it takes its first steps in film and TV production, and confirmed that there are plans to establish a studio in AlUla.
“Kandahar” stars Scottish actor Gerard Butler as a CIA operative stuck in hostile territory in Afghanistan. Filming in AlUla and 14 locations in Jeddah began in late November.
“Saudi Arabia is coming together as a film community to show the wider world that there are people on the ground who can look after a large film like ‘Kandahar,’” Stachan told Arab News. About 10 percent of the crew and extras working on the film were hired locally, he added.
The Saudi Film Commission and the Ministry of Culture offered the producers of “Kandahar” exceptional incentives to film in AlUla, Strachan said.
“We also scouted in Tabuk, Hail, Jeddah and Taif with the Ministry of Culture for three weeks to find the best locations, as Ric Roman Waugh, the director of Kandahar, was really keen to shoot in Saudi Arabia,” he added.
Waugh, whose previous films include 2019’s “Angel Has Fallen,” which also starred Butler, said that he knew he wanted to film in AlUla as soon as he saw photos of the area for the first time.
“When I came here I realized that the photos do no justice to this place and it is a breathtakingly beautiful place,” he told Arab News. “As a selfish filmmaker, if I get to show the world AlUla for the first time on this scale, I’m all in. It’s a dream come true; I love it.
“Coming here, in a place that doesn’t have the infrastructure, can have some challenges but it would never have happened without the partnership with the Saudis themselves, and how much they wanted to embrace what we are about.”
Waugh thanked the Royal Commission for AlUla and the Ministry of Culture for their help, dedication and patience while making this film.
“We brought over 25 nationalities to do this film,” he said. “We have Christians, Muslims, Hindus and agnostics who came here to be part of a melting pot, as we wanted to do it together and we would overcome any challenge thrown our way.”
Indian actor Ali Fazal, who plays a character called Kahil Nazir in “Kandahar,” said he and his wife were impressed by the sheer beauty of AlUla.
“I was fascinated by AlUla and when my wife came here she was baffled by the rocks and the landscapes,” he said. “We went to Hegra and other places and it was very cool. We will also go to Jeddah and Makkah to do Umrah.”
Scott LaStaiti, the executive producer of “Kandahar,” congratulated the Saudi authorities for the rapid development of AlUla.
“The Royal Commission for AlUla has a master plan for developing AlUla, and in some specific locations we shot in, like the Sultan Valley, … you think about the history of AlUla and who was standing here 3,000 years ago,” he said. “The beauty here has a lot to offer in terms of looks.”
“The incentives that Saudi Arabia and The Royal Commission of AlUla are offering are very attractive. I think that the commission, and Saudis in general, are very smart in the way they are rolling it out and I think it’s a way that’s going to attract a lot of films to be produced here.”
Prior to “Kandahar,” two other movies spent time filming on location in AlUla. “Cello,” is a horror movie written by Turki Al Sheikh, the chairman of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment Authority, and based on one of his novels. The English and Arabic language film, which stars veteran British actor Jeremy Irons, is about an aspiring musician who learns that the cost of his cello might be higher than he thought. It is due for release this year.
“Cherry,” directed by Anthony and Joe Russo and starring Spider-Man actor Tom Holland, tells the story of a disenfranchised young man from Ohio who goes from being a college dropout to an army medic in Iraq. He meets the love of his life, only to risk losing her through a series of bad decisions and challenging circumstances. It was released early last year.


CNN Arabic celebrates 20th anniversary

CNN Arabic celebrates 20th anniversary
Updated 18 January 2022

CNN Arabic celebrates 20th anniversary

CNN Arabic celebrates 20th anniversary
  • Network announces 3 multi-year partnerships to celebrate the milestone

CNN Arabic is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The Arabic edition of the international news network first went live in 2002 as a digital news service based out of Dubai Media City in the UAE, with the aim of telling stories for Arab audiences around the world.

The channel had its biggest year ever in 2021 in terms of daily audience numbers. The figure has grown by more than 150 percent in the last six years, according to Adobe Analytics. The network attributes this success to a healthy mix of mobile-first video, interactive and written news, delivered to Arabic-speaking digital audiences worldwide.

 

 

“When we launched CNN Arabic 20 years ago, I don’t think anyone envisaged the changes the world would go through over the following two decades,” said Rani Raad, president of CNN Worldwide Commercial.

“In that time, the role that the Arabic speaking world plays on the global geopolitical landscape has changed significantly, and the UAE, where CNN Arabic is based, has developed as a major strategic player in the global economy.”

The Arabic network also ranked as the number one news provider against competitors including Sky News, Al Arabiya and BBC Arabic, among others, according to an independent study of news consumers in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan and the US.

The same study found that the CNN Arabic was highly trusted, scoring more than three times the average trust rating. This is an achievement for the network at a time when overall trust in news remains low, with more than 50 percent of young Arabs not having much trust in any channel — be it TV and newspapers, or online portals and social media — as a source of news, according to the Arab Youth Survey 2021.

“The role of responsible and accurate news brands has become even more important in a world awash with misinformation, and we will continue to serve Arabic speaking audiences around the world with the news they need to inform the most important decisions in their lives,” said Raad.

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, CNN Arabic has formed three multi-year partnerships focusing on specific topics in the Arab world.

It has partnered with UN Women in the Arab States to develop and implement a strategy across editorial output, events and other projects, to support the acceleration of gender equality, financial inclusion and female employment throughout the Arab world.

It has also partnered with the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, which will see CNN Arabic upskill Arab youth over three years to enable them to succeed in the future of work, promote sustainability in the UAE and more.

Lastly, it has partnered with Sharjah Press Club to train young journalists over the next three years in various areas covering multimedia news and content production. The training will also include teaching teenagers about using social media and identifying misinformation.

“We are incredibly proud to have provided independent news with a global perspective to Arab audiences for 20 years now,” said Caroline Faraj, vice-president of Arabic services at CNN.

Faraj, who has led CNN Arabic since its inception and was named winner of the media category in the Arab Women of the Year Awards 2021, added: “However, we never want to stand still. As a digital news service from the very outset, it’s in our DNA to always evolve and experiment in order to remain relevant as people’s news habits continue to change.”


STARZPLAY live streams ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2022

STARZPLAY live streams ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2022
Updated 18 January 2022

STARZPLAY live streams ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2022

STARZPLAY live streams ICC U19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2022
  • Firm’s coverage of tournament builds on partnership with Etisalat

DUBAI: Regional streaming platform STARZPLAY has secured the rights for the International Cricket Council Under-19 Men’s Cricket World Cup 2022.

The deal follows the company’s recent strengthening of its partnership with Discovery, Inc. to offer GolfTV as an add-on channel.

Danny Bates, chief commercial officer at STARZPLAY, told Arab News: “Strengthening the live sports category is one of our top priorities and we have seen the popularity for the genre grow exponentially in the Middle East and North Africa region.”

Continuing its long-standing partnership with Etisalat, STARZPLAY will be streaming the U19 World Cup along with the UAE telecoms firm and will provide cricket fans access to all the live action taking place until Feb. 5.

Last year, STARZPLAY partnered with Etisalat, which won the rights from Star TV Network to broadcast the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021 across the MENA region.

Bates said: “We witnessed record-breaking growth in subscribers on our platform when we brought the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2021, which shows how our audience responds to content that is relevant for them.

“We want to further build on our live sports portfolio to offer the very best in live sports entertainment and look forward to bringing more such exciting games for our existing as well as potential subscribers,” he added.

The 14th edition of the U19 World Cup is being held for the first time in the West Indies, with 48 one-day international matches planned between the 16 participating teams.

Subscribers can access all cricket content via STARZPLAY’s CricLife and CricLife 2 channels. They can also subscribe to the PowerPlay package, available for 24.99 Emirati dirhams ($6.80).