World condemns Houthis as US says Iran ‘clearly enabled’ Jeddah oil attack

Update World condemns Houthis as US says Iran ‘clearly enabled’ Jeddah oil attack
The attack caused a fire in two tanks at the North Jeddah oil facility on Friday. (AFP)
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Updated 27 March 2022

World condemns Houthis as US says Iran ‘clearly enabled’ Jeddah oil attack

World condemns Houthis as US says Iran ‘clearly enabled’ Jeddah oil attack
  • Calls for action against Houthi attacks on civilian targets
  • US pledges to work with Saudi Arabia to shore up defenses

RIYADH: Yemen’s Houthi militia were roundly condemned for an attack on a Saudi oil facility in Jeddah on Friday with the US implicating Iran for enabling the attack by supplying weapons to the group against international law.

“Unprovoked Houthi attacks against Saudi Aramco’s oil storage facilities in Jeddah as well as attacks against civil facilities in Jizan, Najran, and Dhahran are acts of terrorism aimed to prolong the suffering of the Yemeni people,” said Jake Sullivan, the US national security advisor.

He accused Iran of facilitating the group’s actions by supplying weapons, which are against UN rules.

“Today’s attacks, just like the attacks against water treatment plants and energy infrastructure on March 19 and 20, were clearly enabled by Iran in violation of UN Security Council resolutions prohibiting the import of weapons into Yemen,” he said in a statement on Friday.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US will work with the Kingdom to strengthen defenses “while also seeking to advance a durable end to the conflict, improve lives, and create the space for Yemenis to determine their own future collectively.”

“At a time when the parties should be focused on de-escalation and bringing needed life-saving relief to the Yemeni people ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, the Houthis continue their destructive behavior and reckless terrorist attacks striking civilian infrastructure.”

UN chief Antonio Guterres on Saturday called for “restraint” on all sides and to “urgently reach a negotiated settlement to end the conflict.”.

“The Secretary-General strongly condemns the recent escalation of the conflict in Yemen,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement Saturday.

The Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen said the fire in two tanks at the North Jeddah oil facility had been brought under control, and there were no casualties.

The Kingdom’s s civil defense said it has extinguished fires at two fuel storage tanks in Jeddah that were hit in the attack, state television reported on Saturday.

On Saturday morning, the coalition knocked down two drones over Yemeni territory that were on their way to the Kingdom. It said the launch location was an oil installation in Hodeidah, a city on the Red Sea coast. It also said that it carried out a strike in Sanaa.

Plumes of black smoke could be seen across Jeddah on Friday after the Houthi attack, a reminder of the Iran-backed group’s intent to destabilize international energy security. The militia, which seized the capital Sanaa in 2014 and continues to hold large parts of Yemen, has conducted regular attacks against civilian infrastructure in the Kingdom.

The Saudi-led coalition, which has been supporting the internationally recognized Yemeni government against the Houthis, has intercepted numerous drones and missiles in the past.

An attack in Jeddah on March 19 caused a fire at an Aramco distribution center. A day later, the coalition destroyed an explosive-laden boat near Hodeidah, thwarting an imminent attack on shipping in the vital international maritime route.




The attack on the Saudi Aramco oil facility has been widely condemned. (AFP)

Previous attacks have also targeted airports in the Kingdom, causing harm to civilians.

In February, 12 civilians were injured by a drone attack targeting Abha airport. In October, ten people where injured at King Abdulaziz Airport in the southern city of Jazan, with another 16 injured by falling shrapnel following an attack at the same airport last month.

The Houthi militia has increased attacks against Saudi energy installations in recent weeks as Iran seeks to revive a nuclear deal that would allow it to begin selling oil again amid increased international energy demand following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Saudi energy ministry reiterated that it cannot bear responsibility for any shortage of oil supplies to global markets, in light of continuing attacks against its facilities. The ministry said the international community needs to realize the role of Iran in supporting the Houthis to target oil and gas production sites.




The smoke from the attack could be seen from the track. “I smell burning - is it my car?” said F1 world champion Max Verstappen on his team radio. (Reuters)

In a letter to the UN Security Council on Friday, Saudi Arabia said it reserves the right to defend itself against Houthi aggression.

 

 


Princess Reema bint Bandar, Saudi ambassador to the US, tweeted: “The Iran backed terrorist Houthis continue to attack our civilians, infrastructure & energy facilities with Iranian made missiles & UAV’s with impunity. The international community must act against this aggression that targets innocent civilians and global energy supplies.”

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi condemned the attack on the Aramco facility during a call with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. El-Sisi said Egypt stands in solidarity with the Kingdom to confront hostilities.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who visited the Kingdom last week, tweeted: “I fully condemn the latest Houthi attack against critical sites in Saudi Arabia, including in Jeddah. These strikes put civilian lives at risk and must stop.” His foreign secretary, Liz Truss, called the “abhorrent” attack a continuation of recent terror acts by the Houthis and urged an “immediate halt to the violence.”

 

 

The European Union said attacks against cities and civilian infrastructure are unacceptable and must stop, and the latest hostilities increase the risk of further escalation of the Yemen conflict and undermines ongoing efforts to end the war.
“The EU reiterates its call on all sides to participate in the Yemeni-Yemeni talks, starting on Tuesday, 29 March, in Riyadh under the auspices of the Gulf Cooperation Council. The EU recalls its full support to the efforts of UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg,” said Peter Stabo, spokesman for EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

 


The UAE, which has also faced attacks by the Houthi militia in the past, condemn Friday’s attack and called on the international community to stand against the repeated acts of aggression, calling for the coalition’s work against the group to be supported.

France, who condemned the group’s attack in the “strongest terms,” said the acts, which threaten the security of Saudi Arabia and the stability of the region, must stop, urging the Houthis to constructively engage with the Yemeni peace initiative under the UN.

 




The Saudi energy ministry reiterated that it cannot bear responsibility for any shortage of oil supplies to global markets. (AFP)

Bahrain said it backed all measures Saudi Arabia “deems necessary to maintain its security and stability against these deliberate and systematic attacks that are inconsistent with international humanitarian law.”

Meanwhile, Kuwait condemned the attack, which it referred to as a 'cowardly terrorist attack' that not only affects Saudi Arabia's security and regional stability, but the global energy supply. 

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI sent a message of solidarity to King Salman, strongly condemning the attacks and reiterated his country’s full solidarity with the Kingdom.
Canada also condemned the attacks and called on the Houthis to negotiate, reject violence and cease all attacks.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett expressed his country's "sorrow" to Saudi Arabia following a wave of Yemen rebel attacks, in a rare public message to the country, with which it lacks formal ties.

"The State of Israel expresses its sorrow to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia after the horrific attack by the Iranian-backed Huthis," Bennett wrote on Twitter.


Sudan said the Houthi attack represented a dangerous escalation in the region and said it supports the Kingdom against anything that endangers its security.
Palestine, Algeria, Pakistan, Poland, and Mauritania also released similar statements condemning the attacks.
Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit said the attack poses a grave threat to security in the region and global energy supplies. He urged the international community to take a tougher stand against the Houthi terror and as well as their ongoing violation of humanitarian laws.

 

Muhammad bin Abdul Karim Al-Issa, head of the Muslim World League, said the organization stood in solidarity with the Kingdom to protect civilians on its land.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and subsequent sanctions imposed on Moscow have caused crude prices to soar. The war in Ukraine, which entered its second month this week, has seen the Kremlin see reduced interest for its gas and oil as customers sought to avoid falling foul of international sanctions against Russia.

The main backer of the Houthis, Iran, is aiming to resurrect a nuclear deal with world powers that was scrapped by former US President Donald Trump.

US President Joe Biden has pledged to renew the deal, displeasing allies in the region who believe it rewards Iran, who supports the Houthis with weapons, for its destabilizing activities across the Middle East.

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In Feb. 2021, Washington reversed Trump’s designation of the Houthi militia as a terrorist organization, but last month the UN Security Council stamped the group as terrorist.

Concern has also been growing among America’s regional allies that the US may remove Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from its blacklist of terrorist organizations as part of the nuclear deal.

The Revolutionary Guard control a business empire in Iran, as well as military and intelligence forces responsible for terrorist attacks throughout the world.

“The attempt to delist the IRGC as a terrorist organization is an insult to their victims and would ignore documented reality supported by unequivocal evidence,” said Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in a statement.




This is the second time Saudi Arabia is hosting the F1 Grand Prix in Jeddah. (AFP)

Talks on the nuclear deal, however, have now paused after Russia wanted an agreement to allow Iran to be exempt from the international sanctions on Moscow. The US said the two issues are unrelated.

A finalized agreement would once again see Iran able to sell its oil freely on international markets, who are hungry for more supply.

The country may have as many as 65 to 80 million oil barrels on stationary tankers, Bloomberg reported, citing data from intelligence solutions provider Kpler.

Saudi Arabia is hosting the F1 Grand Prix this weekend in Jeddah. Race-goers could see a plume of black smoke from the attack in the distance during afternoon practice.

“I smell burning - is it my car?” said world champion Max Verstappen on his team radio, as he appeared one of the first drivers to notice the fumes in the air.




Dark smoke can be seen at the site of the attack on Friday. (AFP)

Despite the drama of the first day, organizers said the race will go ahead as scheduled: “We are aware of the attack on the Aramco distribution station in Jeddah earlier this afternoon and remain in direct contact with the Saudi authorities,” promoter Saudi Motorsport Company said in a statement.

“The race weekend schedule will continue as planned. The safety and security of all our guests continues to be our main priority and we look forward to welcoming fans for a weekend of premium racing and entertainment.”

This is the second time the Kingdom is hosting the event in the Red Sea city.  The race on Dec. 5, 2021, was won by Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton after a dramatic stop-start contest with Dutchman Verstappen, who would later become world champion in the final race of the season, in Abu Dhabi.


Uzbekistan president meets with Organization of Islamic Cooperation head

Uzbekistan president meets with Organization of Islamic Cooperation head
Updated 18 August 2022

Uzbekistan president meets with Organization of Islamic Cooperation head

Uzbekistan president meets with Organization of Islamic Cooperation head
  • Officials discussed issues of interest, including supporting peace and security in the region and the world

RIYADH: The president of Uzbekistan met with the secretary-general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation during an official trip to the Kingdom on Thursday.

During the meeting, Shavkat Mirziyoyev praised Hissein Brahim Taha for leading the OIC’s efforts to promote joint Islamic action and consolidate the spirit of Islamic solidarity.

The president stressed that the organization receives special attention from his country’s government which is looking forward to strengthening cooperation with the OIC.

Taha expressed his appreciation for Uzbekistan’s role in the OIC and its efforts to support the activities of the organization and promote joint Islamic action through various initiatives.

He stressed the OIC’s keenness to enhance cooperation with Uzbekistan in all areas of common interest.

The two officials also discussed issues of common interest, including supporting peace and security in the region and the world and taking care of the interests of the organization and its member states.


Saudi beauty brands champion sustainable, cruelty-free values

Saudi beauty brands champion sustainable, cruelty-free values
Updated 18 August 2022

Saudi beauty brands champion sustainable, cruelty-free values

Saudi beauty brands champion sustainable, cruelty-free values
  • Muzon Ashgar, founder and manager of Saudi brand MZN Bodycare, put together her own recipes for natural skincare products and packaged them herself
  • Managing partner Mama’s Alchemy Dina Horanieh: We wanted to offer vegan options in the bodycare category in Saudi and the region, as there are very few brands that cater to the cause

RIYADH: Muzon Ashgar, founder and manager of Saudi brand MZN Bodycare, has always had an interest in natural skincare products, which she sourced from the US.

But after throwing a recreational “spa party” for friends a few years ago, she realized there was no need to look abroad to be ethically conscious.

Ashgar put together her own recipes for natural skincare products and packaged them herself. She went from giving the products away as gifts at her at-home spa to selling at local markets and events, eventually establishing her own company.

Now her cruelty-free and sustainable products can be found at major pharmacy chains, premium retailers, and spas across Saudi Arabia.

“We are impressed that most of our customers actually care about MZN being a sustainable brand. There is a remarkable awareness within our community of the benefits of buying sustainable local brands,” Ashgar told Arab News.

But this awareness was not always apparent, and is nonexistent in some communities.

A report by business consultancy Mordor Intelligence found that the major players in the Saudi beauty industry are non-cruelty-free firms, including Beiersdorf AG (parent company to brands such as Nivea and Labello) and Estee Lauder.

When a brand is not cruelty free, the company either conducts individual testing on animals itself, through their supplier, or through a third party.

Ranked top in the huge global market is Procter & Gamble, which holds brands such as Herbal Essences, Pantene, Olay and SK-II. The consumer giant recently announced its commitment to #BeCrueltyFree throughout its 19 companies, highlighting moves by the industry to become more sustainable.

Coming in third is Avon, a brand that is completely cruelty free. While Estee Lauder is not, some of the brands in its portfolio, including Smashbox and Too Faced, both popular with Saudi consumers, have cruelty-free certification by the US-based animal rights group PETA.

The issue becomes complicated because some brands cannot fully develop a cruelty-free approach because they sell products in countries that require animal testing by law, such as China. Pulling their supply from such countries would result in a huge revenue loss.

However, Saudi Arabia does not insist on animal testing for skincare and beauty products. This creates an easy market for local sustainable and vegan cosmetics to step up and answer the demand for those items.

Saudi environmentalist Zahra Alqatari told Arab News that there is only limited awareness of sustainability as an issue in the Kingdom.

“That makes demand for cruelty-free and sustainable beauty products low. As a result, the beauty industry continues to produce products that harm us, animals and the environment.” 

However, this is changing as local brands, such as MZN Bodycare, champion natural, vegan and cruelty-free products for the everyday consumer.

The brand, established in 2015, believes in using local plants to create environmentally friendly products.

“Our region is full of plantations that have amazing benefits like the moringa, olive oils, rose and lavender essential oils, and date seed powder and oils. We found through published research that those oils are very high in antioxidants and vitamins which are beneficial to the skin,” Ashgar told Arab News.

The company has seen a growing interest among Saudis in developing sustainable and environmentally friendly living habits.

“We actually had some customers ask for a ‘return packaging’ program from us, where we take back the used packaging and refill it for them. Some call us to verify the source of our raw materials and that we are actually a cruelty-free brand,” said Ashgar.

Another cruelty-free brand, Mama’s Alchemy, is based on veganism as a core value and motivator.

“We wanted to offer vegan options in the bodycare category in Saudi and the region, as there are very few brands that cater to the cause. We believe veganism plays a vital role in keeping our planet clean and reducing waste,” Dina Horanieh, the firm’s managing partner, told Arab News.

The brand founders went on the hunt for vegan body products for their personal use, but were unable to find any — so they made their own. Mama’s Alchemy caters not only to vegan consumers, but also anyone looking for clean and sustainable body products.

 “The response (from the Saudi public) has been heartwarming. We hope to see more local suppliers offering sustainable options. We are continuously working to offer more vegan and sustainable products,” said Horanieh.


Rescue team saves life of man lost in mountains

Rescue team saves life of man lost in mountains
Updated 18 August 2022

Rescue team saves life of man lost in mountains

Rescue team saves life of man lost in mountains
  • Family alerted police and volunteers to the plight of the missing Sudanese man, who was located just in time
  • The man was located by the Wassem Volunteer Team, which has specially-equipped cars and gliders for use in the Wadi Al-Dawasir area

RIYADH: A Sudanese man lost in the mountains near the town of Al-Khasra, 320 kilometers southwest of Riyadh, has been rescued by the Wassem Volunteer Team.

The team, which has specially-equipped cars and gliders for use in the Wadi Al-Dawasir area, launched a large search for the missing Sudanese, managing to find and rescue him before he succumbed to heat exhaustion or dehydration.

“We were contacted about the missing man by his family, who provided us with an official letter from the police, and we headed to the site. Thank God, within an hour, we found the man, who was in (a) bad condition, and he was rescued and taken to safety,” Abu Abbas, a member of the team, told Arab News.

“We can consider this a good day, because (in) some cases (people) are found dead, like (a case we had) yesterday.”

The Sudanese man was rescued by the Wassem Volunteer Team.

The story and videos of the search and rescue were shared by people on social media and through mainstream news outlets, prompting praise for the volunteers.

Abbas advised people who want to go to the mountains or desert to download navigation apps on smart devices that operate outside mobile networks via satellites before travelling.

The Wassem Volunteer Team uses gliders.

“Prior to any outing, especially one that takes place outside of the (mobile) network, the person needs to let his family know where he is going and how long he will be in the desert. Then he checks his vehicle and everything he needs. By extending the number of days as a precaution, he must also bring food and water for a longer period of time than he will be staying.”

The team of volunteers was established two years ago, and so far more than 120 missing or stranded people have been rescued with their help and the help of other volunteers in the area.


Ksrelief chief meets Omani former conjoined twins 15 years after their separation

Ksrelief chief meets Omani former conjoined twins 15 years after their separation
Updated 18 August 2022

Ksrelief chief meets Omani former conjoined twins 15 years after their separation

Ksrelief chief meets Omani former conjoined twins 15 years after their separation
  • Al-Rabeeah met with Safa and Marwa Muhammad bin Nasser Al-Jardani and their parents in Riyadh
  • The twins were successfully separated 15 years ago

RIYADH: The supervisor general of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center received on Wednesday a set of Omani former conjoined twins whom he operated on in 2007.

Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah met with Safa and Marwa Muhammad bin Nasser Al-Jardani and their parents at the KSrelief headquarters in Riyadh.

The twins underwent successful surgery to separate adhesions in their skulls, brain membranes, and intervening veins at King Abdulaziz Medical City in Riyadh fifteen years ago.

Al-Rabeeah said Saudi Arabia’s program to separate conjoined twins enjoys a high international status that would not be possible without the support of the Kingdom’s leadership.

The supervisor general of Ksrelief Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah talks to Omani former conjoined twins Safa and Marwa and their father in Riyadh. (SPA)

He added that the Kingdom has become specialized in performing complex surgical operations due to its advanced human and technical capabilities that make it a desired destination for anyone who requires treatment, whether from inside or outside Saudi Arabia.

He noted that the program embodies the humanity of the Kingdom, which transcends continents, borders and races to heal wounds and relieve human suffering.

The latest beneficiaries of the program are Yemeni twin girls Mawaddah and Rahma who were born conjoined at the lower chest and abdomen.

The baby girls from Aden were successfully separated in July.

The parents of the Omani twins expressed their gratitude to the Kingdom for facilitating the necessary efforts to separate and treat their daughters, adding that the kind gesture had had a great impact on their lives.


Saudi Heritage Commission to survey Red Sea for archeological finds

Saudi Heritage Commission to survey Red Sea for archeological finds
Updated 18 August 2022

Saudi Heritage Commission to survey Red Sea for archeological finds

Saudi Heritage Commission to survey Red Sea for archeological finds

JEDDAH: The Saudi Heritage Commission has announced that it will implement plans to survey and uncover buried heritage in the Red Sea in collaboration with the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, the King Abdulaziz University and the University of Naples in Italy.
The commission said that plans will include surveying the Red Sea waters, from Umluj to Ras Al-Sheikh Hamid, in search for archeological findings, a project that had initially begun on July 13 and will continue to Sept. 5.
The project has thus far monitored more than 25 specific locations along the survey path including the Ras Al-Sheikh Hamid, Duba, Al-Wajh and Umluj areas using sonars. The devices will retrieve underwater and mosaic maps as well as high-quality photographs of the areas.
Saudi Heritage Commission CEO Dr. Jasir Al-Herbish said that the announcement is in line with the commission’s policy to notify media agencies, the general public and those interested in archeology of plans and efforts made in collaboration with scientific institutions and international organizations to discover these historical sites.
Its goal with this initiative is to develop the field of archeological diving and share the results of the historical site surveys in order to educate the public about areas in the Red Sea that are rich with cultural heritage — and just as essential as archeological findings on dry land.
Al-Herbish highlighted the efforts that are already in progress, such as a specialized center for the protection of underwater cultural heritage in the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf.
He stressed that the waters of the Red Sea and the Arabian Gulf are still incubating many secrets about the Kingdom’s cultural heritage, and the center hopes it will contribute to discovering them.
Vice President and Senior Associate of KAUST Dr. Najah Ashry said: “We at KAUST Basic Laboratories are exploring the secrets of the Red Sea using advanced marine technologies and building advanced capabilities with our partners,” the Saudi Press Agency reported.
The Umluj shipwreck area was previously surveyed in a collaborative effort by the commission and an Italian team from the University of Naples in 2015 and 2016, which determined that the wreck dates back over 100 years.
Some of the survey findings included a mound of pottery next to the wreck, hundreds of high-quality Chinese porcelain pieces, a coconut shell and various metals.