Controversial columnist Abdel Bari Atwan defies UK government ban, expresses sympathy for Hamas

Atwan, who is originally Palestinian and came to UK on asylum, said he doesn’t care if his sympathy led him to jail and appeared to making hidden threats to the British government. (Screenshot)
Atwan, who is originally Palestinian and came to UK on asylum, said he doesn’t care if his sympathy led him to jail and appeared to making hidden threats to the British government. (Screenshot)
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Updated 20 November 2021

Controversial columnist Abdel Bari Atwan defies UK government ban, expresses sympathy for Hamas

Atwan, who is originally Palestinian and came to UK on asylum, said he doesn’t care if his sympathy led him to jail and appeared to making hidden threats to the British government. (Screenshot)
  • Once a UK asylum seeker, now Atwan blames Britain for plight of Palestinians, justifies terror acts

LONDON: Defiant British columnist Abdel Bari Atwan appeared blatantly in contempt of a new British ruling which designated Hamas as an outlawed Palestinian terror group. 

Atwan, who is originally Palestinian and came to UK on asylum, said he doesn’t care if his sympathy led him to jail and appeared to making hidden threats to the British government.

“You are fueling our misery, you are fueling our anger. Shame on you, as Brits you created the Palestinian crisis, the Palestinian cause. You are the ones who expelled us from our land. You are the one who issued the Balfour Declaration,” Atwan said in his video response to the law.

“Welcome to terrorism,” he added.

The law was passed yesterday by Home Secretary Priti Patel who said “Hamas has significant terrorist capability, including access to extensive and sophisticated weaponry, as well as terrorist training facilities.”

The organisation would be banned under the Terrorism Act and anyone expressing support for Hamas, flying its flag or arranging meetings for the organisation would be in breach of the law, the interior ministry confirmed. Patel is expected to present the change to parliament next week.

“I swear I wrote my will, I swear I am ready for this and know I am going to end up in prison,” the British-Palestinian editor wrote.

Known for his editorship of the London-based Al Quds Al Arabi newspaper, Atwan is now owner and publisher of the Rai Al Yawm website, which mainly revolves around his own controversial views regularly shared on YouTube. 

A long time resident of London, he is well known within Arab media circles. Having made his name working for the leading, moderate Saudi-owned Asharq Al Awsat before leaving to work at Al Quds. He is a regular commentator on Arab affairs on several British television and radio programs, and is often a guest on both main English language and Arabic services of BBC. 

While it is true that he is respected and idolized by some, Atwan’s views also made him many critics — particularly when comparing what he says in English versus what he argues in Arabic. 

Indeed, many observers criticized what they called the “Abdel Bari Atwan Syndrome” in the post 9/11 era. This was to indicate that he used to make anti-Al-Qaeda statements in English language media, but refer to the late terrorist leader Osama bin Laden as a “Sheikh” and a a resistance fighter during his repeated appearances on channels such as Al Jazeera Arabic. 

He once told Egypt’s ONtv TV channel in 2013 that bin Laden was “half a terrorist,” since his organization’s attacks against US forces in Saudi Arabia could not be considered terrorism.

“If you support the Palestinian resistance, you do not consider [Bin Laden’s attacks] terrorism. But if you are with America, Europe, and Israel, you do consider it terrorism,” Atwan said, adding that “It depends on your definition of terrorism.”

On another occasion Atwan said on Lebanese TV that if Iran attacked Israel he would “go to Trafalgar Square and dance with delight.”

More recently Atwan told Lebanese Hezbollah-affiliated news channel Al-Mayadeen that “They [Israel] know very well that what happened in Kabul Airport will repeat itself at Ben Gurion Airport,” before adding that they “should listen to the advice of [Hezbollah Secretary General] Hassan Nasrallah and start learning how to swim, because their only option will be Cyprus, their only option will be the Mediterranean Sea.”

Atwan wasn’t immediately available to comment, however, one former colleague of his at Asharq Al Awsat said “it was always a shame to see such a rare editorial talent being wasted in voicing support to terror groups.” 

“There is nothing wrong with calling for resisting occupation or the liberation of occupied Palestinian lands, but to endorse a designated terror group that deliberately fires missiles at innocent women and children is neither resistance nor journalism. Someone of his fine calibre should know better,” the former colleague concluded.


Sky News Arabia launches new Arabic-language digital platform

Sky News Arabia launches new Arabic-language digital platform
Updated 23 May 2022

Sky News Arabia launches new Arabic-language digital platform

Sky News Arabia launches new Arabic-language digital platform
  • SNABusiness.com will cover business and economic news and analysis

ABU DHABI: Sky News Arabia has launched a new Arabic-language digital platform SNABusiness.com, featuring breaking news, economic analysis and in-depth reporting.

The launch of the platform is in response to “consumer demand for objective and actionable economic intelligence and insights,” according to a company statement.

“The launch of SNAbusiness.com reflects Sky News Arabia’s commitment to provide our audiences with the economic news and analysis they need,” said Youssef Tsouri, head of news at Sky News Arabia.

He added: “We are witnessing an increasing demand for business news at a time when the whole world is in greater need of this genre of information.”

The digital publication will cover all topics relating to business and economy across industries including financial technology, energy and oil, tourism, real estate, agriculture and other sectors.

The website’s content will include diverse content types including reports, videos and exclusive interviews. SNABusiness.com aims to present complex data in an easy-to-understand manner through charts, infographics and digital videos.

Tsouri said: “Our aim is to provide fast and accurate reporting to our viewers and deliver our brand promise to be ‘your reliable source of economic information’.”


Disneyland’s new advert calls Arab audiences to Paris this summer

Disneyland’s new advert calls Arab audiences to Paris this summer
Updated 23 May 2022

Disneyland’s new advert calls Arab audiences to Paris this summer

Disneyland’s new advert calls Arab audiences to Paris this summer

DUBAI: Leading entertainment resort Disneyland Paris has released its first advert specifically for Arab audiences featuring Dubai-based influencer Sara Karrit.

Airing in the UAE and KSA, the advert is produced by Dubai-based local agency ArabyAds, and features Karrit sharing her dream of visiting Disneyland with her son on the occasion of the destination’s 30th anniversary.

Samira Tachfint, sales and marketing director at Disneyland Paris told Arab News: “Arab audiences, especially those based in the GCC, have always been a major part of our international audience base.

“There is a strong appetite among Emirati/GCC families for Disney destinations and at Disneyland Paris they have access to the ultimate magical experience just 6 hours away by air.”

A large number of Arab families visit every year, particularly during summer, said Tachfint. “Our bespoke luxury offerings and our ever-evolving entertainment encourage repeat visits.”

Disneyland Paris’ 30th-anniversary celebrations include Premier Access Ultimate, a digital service being launched this summer that will provide guests with one-time expedited access to 12 of the most popular attractions, in addition to new shows and experiences.

Tachfint said: “As we mark our 30th anniversary, we produced this ad to celebrate the connection we have forged with our GCC visitors over the past three decades. The ad, produced completely in the GCC and starring local talent, showcases how the magic of Disneyland Paris is alive for different generations and genders.”

Disneyland Paris is the most visited tourist destination in Europe — ahead of the Louvre and Eiffel Tower combined — with more than 16 million annual visitors, according to the company.


Netflix launches new collection and features on Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Netflix launches new collection and features on Global Accessibility Awareness Day
Updated 23 May 2022

Netflix launches new collection and features on Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Netflix launches new collection and features on Global Accessibility Awareness Day
  • “Celebrating Disability with Dimension” collection features 50+ shows and films about people with disabilities

DUBAI: Netflix is marking Global Accessibility Awareness Day (May 19) by launching a new collection, “Celebrating Disability with Dimension” that features over 50 shows and movies highlighting characters and stories about people living with disabilities.

The collection includes shows such as “Raising Dion,” “Special,” and “Atypical” and movies that include “The Fundamentals of Caring” and “Feel the Beat.”

“How we access stories has changed a lot,” said Heather Dowdy, Netflix’s director of product accessibility, in a blog post.

“Whether it’s video conference calls, texting, or the flashing doorbell, nowadays technology can build bridges to access for many people living with disabilities.”

Netflix is therefore expanding its language availability of Audio Descriptions (AD) and Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (SDH). These features will be made available across more of the streaming giant’s catalog in languages including Spanish, Portuguese, and French.

“For decades, your access to entertainment was determined by where you lived and what language you spoke, meaning that until recently people who needed AD or SDH could only enjoy a story if it was made in their local language,” said Dowdy.

“By increasing our SDH and AD language availability to over 20 languages, we hope to give all of our members the ability to see their lives reflected on screen, no matter where you’re from, what language you speak, or what abilities you have.”

Netflix will also display badges for shows and films that have AD and SDH on web and iOS, as well as host accessibility screenings in select countries around the world.

“With over 1 billion people living with disabilities globally, the opportunity to tell more inclusive stories and bond within our communities over storytelling is tremendous,” said Dowdy.


Saudi Arabia’s largest theater chain launches Muvi Studios

Saudi Arabia’s largest theater chain launches Muvi Studios
Updated 23 May 2022

Saudi Arabia’s largest theater chain launches Muvi Studios

Saudi Arabia’s largest theater chain launches Muvi Studios

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s leading theater operator Muvi Cinemas launched Muvi Studios on Monday, and appointed Saudi film industry pioneer Faisal Baltyuor as its CEO.

Muvi Studios will focus on developing both Saudi and Egyptian films for the Saudi public, concentrating on films for the big screen. 

Muvi Cinema announced this step as part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to build a stronger film industry since theaters reopened in 2018.

“I have been collaborating with Muvi Cinemas in various ways since it launched three years ago,” Baltyuor said. “Its growth in Saudi Arabia has been extraordinary. It has captured the imagination of the nation with 46 percent box office market share tapping into the pent-up demand for a globally inspired theater experience, complemented by local execution.

“Now, through the creation of Muvi Studios, we are intent on producing world class Arabic movies to entertain audiences in the Middle East and around the world,” he added.

“At the same time, this is another exciting development for the rapidly expanding Saudi film production sector, as the country evolves rapidly into a vibrant society.”

Formerly CEO of the Saudi Film Council, Baltyour also previously led an initiative with the Ministry of Culture to develop the Saudi film industry before founding the largest specialized Saudi film distribution company, CineWaves Film, in 2020. 

He is a board member of Manga Productions and holds several other roles in the Saudi film industry.

“The Middle East region, and especially Saudi Arabia, is witnessing a renaissance of its movie industry and we are excited to have Faisal onboard to lead the company into this new venture to develop Saudi and regional film content to the big screen,” Muvi Cinemas’ chief executive, Adon Quinn, said.  

“The cash we’re investing in Muvi Studios will be used to produce a slate of top-quality Arabic movies and we aim to release a minimum of three films within the next 12 months.”

Since its launch in February 2019, Muvi Cinemas has expanded to 22 locations across the Kingdom, operating 205 screens featuring the latest movie experiences, including Samsung Onyx, 4DX, ScreenX, Dolby Cinema and Xperience powered by CGS technology.


WEF unveils Global Collaboration Village to improve public-private cooperation

WEF unveils Global Collaboration Village to improve public-private cooperation
Updated 23 May 2022

WEF unveils Global Collaboration Village to improve public-private cooperation

WEF unveils Global Collaboration Village to improve public-private cooperation

DAVOS: An initiative to improve the functionality of the metaverse and increase public engagement within it was announced at the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Monday.

The Global Collaboration Village, which was launched in partnership with Accenture and Microsoft, will improve public-private cooperation, a WEF statement said.

The initiative will provide immersive spaces where stakeholders can convene, create and take action on critical global challenges, it added.

“The metaverse will influence the way people, governments, companies and society at large think, work, interact and communicate for the purpose of collectively addressing issues on the global agenda,” said Klaus Schwab, executive chairman of WEF. 

“The Global Collaboration Village will be an extension of the World Economic Forum’s public private platforms and in-person meetings and will provide a more open, more sustained and more comprehensive process for coming together,” he added.

Julie Sweet, Chairwoman and CEO of Accenture, said: “While the metaverse is only in its early days, it already holds great promise, not only for redefining how organizations work and interact but also for fostering effective public-private partnerships.”

According to the statement, WEF wants to be a pioneer within the metaverse space and bring together others to co-create within it.