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.


Three women go solo with artwork at Jeddah’s Athr Gallery

Three women go solo with artwork at Jeddah’s Athr Gallery
Updated 03 February 2023

Three women go solo with artwork at Jeddah’s Athr Gallery

Three women go solo with artwork at Jeddah’s Athr Gallery
  • Event comes as part of the inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale 2023 at the Western Hajj Terminal in Jeddah

JEDDAH: The Athr Gallery is showcasing three independently curated solo shows, sponsored by the Cultural Development Fund, until April.

The work of two Saudi nationals, Daniah Al-Saleh, Asma Bahmim, and one Kuwaiti national, Farah Behbehani, is being featured at the gallery.  

Al-Saleh’s show is titled “Keep Smiling,” which addresses the use of non-verbal symbols in modern communication in an increasingly digitized world.  “Our method of communication might have changed from a clay tablet to a smart tablet or smartphone. It seems that we as a society have accepted emojis as part of our daily life,” she told Arab News.

The work of two Saudi nationals, Daniah Al-Saleh, Asma Bahmim, and one Kuwaiti national, Farah Behbehani, is being featured at the gallery, which will be displayed until April. (Photo/Adnan Salem Mahdali)

“We have collectively evolved by using a digital version of hieroglyphics in the form of pictographic codes and emoticons that offers the recipient insights on the possible mood of the sender.

“It addresses the context of emojis and ubiquitousness and the usage of the pop culture and its usage of emojis in everyday text, everyday communication. In here, I’m questioning the use of emojis. Is it a sort of mask, is it sort of proxy for our emotion or mental state? Or does it really help in exploring our emotion and relating to the other — communicating better messages? I leave the answers to the viewer,” she said.

Bahmim’s work, titled “Fantasia: A World Between Reality and Imagination” is also attention-grabbing.

The work of two Saudi nationals, Daniah Al-Saleh, Asma Bahmim, and one Kuwaiti national, Farah Behbehani, is being featured at the gallery, which will be displayed until April. (Photo/Adnan Salem Mahdali)

Her work encapsulates the essence of the Islamic Arts Biennale spirit. She uses animals to generate fictional dialogues and highlights the importance of the tradition of storytelling.

“Fantasia was definitely a passion project for me. The medium and technicalities of it serve an essential role in the message I wanted to bring out, which was a culmination of a lifetime of exposure and research in storytelling,” Bahmim said of her solo show at ATHR.

“I wanted to bring to life the daydreams that crossed my mind going through a story in a book. I wanted the viewer to be lost in the fantasies, not just in the story but the backstory of the elements of these stories,” she told Arab News.

Farah Behbehani has been using Islamic cultural forms and Arabic words as inspiration. (Photo/Adnan Salem Mahdali)

Behbehani’s elegant work, transcending time and space, is aptly titled “And Make Me Light,” inspired by words that she has masterfully re-interpreted.

“The concept of the show is returning back to light through spirituality. One of my biggest works is based on a dua (prayer).”

“Basically for this entire poetic verse, I took the words of this verse and I incorporated it into the geometry design; each word has been transformed in square Kufic calligraphy to fit within the geometry of this work,” she told Arab News as her young son stood by, his eyes alight with pride.

Visitor appreciating Asma Bahmim’s Fantasia. (Photo/Adnan Salem Mahdali)

Behbehani has been using Islamic cultural forms and Arabic words as inspiration for decades.

Using Qur’anic verses, poetry and prose, her intricate calligraphic designs are enveloped into each of the seven administration buildings at Kuwait University.

The buildings served as “stoic structures” for her art as “an ephemeral play of light and shadow through a maze of letters that draw upon references from Islamic literature.”

The work of two Saudi nationals, Daniah Al-Saleh, Asma Bahmim, and one Kuwaiti national, Farah Behbehani, is being featured at the gallery, which will be displayed until April. (Photo/Adnan Salem Mahdali)

Behbehani’s exhibitions and shows are displayed both in the MENA region and worldwide. She is the author of the 2009 book “The Conference of the Birds,” based on the 12th-century Sufi allegorical poem. Her book interpreted the classic text through illustrations in Jali Diwani script.

Behbehani is also participating in the Islamic Arts Biennale this month with her “Path of Light” three-paneled kinetic piece, which was inspired by a poetic verse from writer Ahmed Shawi’s tribute to Prophet Muhammad.

The opening of the three solo shows comes as part of the inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale 2023 at the Western Hajj Terminal in Jeddah.

Athr gallery issued this statement exclusively for Arab News: “Our relationship with the Diriyah Biennale Foundation has been strong since the inception of the foundation and its first edition in 2021.

“Many artists have been showcased at the biennale, with artists such as Ahmed Mater being in both editions. In the current edition (Islamic Arts Biennale 2023), we have seven artists featured, again highlighting the diversity of our roster and their practices.”

“We have aligned with DBF to be included on their schedule and to have the openings of our exhibitions to coincide with the opening program of the biennale as a way to reinforce the importance of a holistic approach to supporting the arts.

“Athr has been established since 2009, and we are now glad that newly established entities like DBF and their activities amplify the efforts of the private sector.”

For more information on hours of operation and to book an appointment, visit Athr’s social media channels and the Diriyah Biennale page.

 


Saudi Arabia’s Ithra Art Prize 2023 open for submissions with $100,000 up for grabs

The prize ‘reaffirms Ithra’s commitment to developing the creative industries in Saudi Arabia.’. (Supplied)
The prize ‘reaffirms Ithra’s commitment to developing the creative industries in Saudi Arabia.’. (Supplied)
Updated 03 February 2023

Saudi Arabia’s Ithra Art Prize 2023 open for submissions with $100,000 up for grabs

The prize ‘reaffirms Ithra’s commitment to developing the creative industries in Saudi Arabia.’. (Supplied)
  • Award created by King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture now in its fifth edition
  • Artists from across Arab world have until April 1 to submit entries

DHAHRAN: Arab artists around the world are being invited to submit their proposals for the fifth edition of the Ithra Art Prize and the chance to win $100,000 to bring their idea to life.

Created by the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture, also known as Ithra, the competition is open to contemporary artists and art collectives from the 22 member nations of the Arab league.

Those are: Algeria, Bahrain, Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen. Non-native artists who have lived in one of these countries for at least 10 years are also eligible to apply.

The call for entries opened on Tuesday and closes on April 1. The winner will be announced on May 15 and the successful artwork will be unveiled in June as part of Ithra’s fifth anniversary celebrations. It will later become part of the center’s permanent art collection.

FASTFACTS

• Award created by King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture now in its fifth edition.

• Artists from across Arab world have until April 1 to submit entries.

Launched in 2017, the Ithra is one of the most prominent art grants in the world. All of the entries are considered and judged by a global panel of experts, comprising artists, curators, academics and art historians.

The first three editions of the prize were organized alongside Art Dubai, while last year’s winning entry was unveiled in collaboration with the Diriyah Biennale Foundation at the Kingdom’s inaugural biennale.

“The Ithra Art Prize reaffirms Ithra’s commitment to developing the creative industries in the Kingdom, the region and the wider world,” said Farah Abushullaih, head of museum at Ithra.

“As one of the largest art grants internationally, we support artists from and based in the Arab world to develop important and meaningful work.

“The Ithra Art Prize aims to inspire creative thought, broaden cultural horizons and enable talent while empowering the art ecosystem,” she added.

Past winners include UAE-based Ayman Zedani, whose spatial installation “Mem” took the inaugural prize, while London-based Daniah Al-Saleh won in 2019 with “Sawtam,” a digital, audio-visual presentation based on the phonemes of the Arabic language.

The third edition was won by Saudi-based Fahad bin Naif for his “Rakhm” installation, while Berlin-based Tunisian-Ukrainian artist Nadia Kaabi-Linke won in 2022 with “E Pluribus Unum — A Modern Fossil,” which takes a reflective look at the effects of the pandemic on the travel industry and how humanity measures progress and economic growth.

More information about Ithra and the competition is available via www.ithra.com.

 


Saudi employment forum draws huge crowds in Tabuk

Thousands of Saudi graduates participated in the forum. (SPA)
Thousands of Saudi graduates participated in the forum. (SPA)
Updated 03 February 2023

Saudi employment forum draws huge crowds in Tabuk

Thousands of Saudi graduates participated in the forum. (SPA)
  • The forum was in line with Saudi Arabia’s National Transformation Program and Vision 2030

TABUK: More than 15,000 graduates took part in a three-day employment forum at Tabuk University, which ended on Thursday.
The event, which attracted support from local and international companies, provided a platform for graduates in a range of disciplines from across the Kingdom to meet and talk with prospective employers.
The first of its kind for the university, the forum was in line with the country’s National Transformation Program and Vision 2030, and also sought to raise key issues about the environment and working practices.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s job numbers witnessed their strongest growth rate since January 2018, as non-oil companies witnessed a sharp expansion in business activity driven by robust market demand and business intake, according to a report.

 


Governor of Saudi Arabia’s Jazan region tours Al-Shaqiq Center in Al-Darb

Prince Mohammed bin Nasser visits in Al-Darb governorate. (Supplied)
Prince Mohammed bin Nasser visits in Al-Darb governorate. (Supplied)
Updated 03 February 2023

Governor of Saudi Arabia’s Jazan region tours Al-Shaqiq Center in Al-Darb

Prince Mohammed bin Nasser visits in Al-Darb governorate. (Supplied)
  • The governor visited investment opportunities in the tourism and entertainment fields

AL-SHAQIQ: Jazan Governor Prince Mohammed bin Nasser visited Al-Shaqiq Center in Al-Darb governorate to see new developments in its tourism and service industries.  

He visited the busy Northern Corniche of Al-Shaqiq beach and went over the municipal services for tourists and walkers.  

The governor visited investment opportunities in the tourism and entertainment fields, and inspected paintings at the corniche while being advised by Al-Shaqiq’s Mayor, Eng. Nasser Ateef.

 


US Mission expands interview waiver program for Saudis on tourist visa

US Mission expands interview waiver program for Saudis on tourist visa
Updated 03 February 2023

US Mission expands interview waiver program for Saudis on tourist visa

US Mission expands interview waiver program for Saudis on tourist visa
  • The US Mission to Saudi Arabia has resumed immigrant visa and nonimmigrant visa processing for all categories
  • Travelers can schedule appointments for the range of visa categories on-line

RIYADH: The US diplomatic missions in Saudi Arabia have announced an expansion of the waiver program for Saudi nationals from attending personal interviews to obtain US tourist visas.
“Good news for Saudi citizens: We are pleased to announce the expansion of the Tourist Visa Renewal Interview Waiver Program to include certain applicants who are 40 years of age or older or 17 years of age or younger,” tweeted the US Embassy in Riyadh.
Sharing more information on exemption eligibility, it said the US Mission to Saudi Arabia has resumed immigrant visa and nonimmigrant visa processing for all categories.
Travelers can schedule appointments for the range of visa categories on-line.
“While the Embassy and Consulates General aim to process cases as soon as practicable, backlogs developed during the COVID pandemic and limited capacity due to COVID-19 mitigation measures will result in longer wait times for appointments. If you have an urgent matter and need to travel immediately, please follow the guidance provided at http://www.ustraveldocs.com/sa to request an emergency appointment,” said a statement on the US Embassy website.
“We understand that many nonimmigrant visa applicants paid a visa application fee (known as the MRV fee) and are still waiting to schedule a visa interview. The US Mission will extend the validity of this MRV fee until Sept. 30, 2023, to allow all applicants who were unable to schedule an appointment as a result of the suspension of routine visa services an opportunity to schedule an appointment with the already paid fee,” it added.
The consular sections of the US Embassy in Riyadh and the consulate generals in Jeddah and Dhahran are responsible for providing visa services to those seeking to enter the US for a temporary period and for those wishing to take up indefinite or permanent residence in the US.
The US missions last January exempted Saudi nationals aged 50 and above from attending personal interviews to obtain tourist visas, saying: “The US Embassy and Consulate General are happy to announce that interview waivers are now available for Saudi citizens at least 50 years old renewing a tourist visa.
“The new interview waiver program will ease the visa process for thousands of Saudi citizens who qualify as well as free up visa appointments for many others at a time when international travel is beginning to return to normal levels,” it said, adding: “It is a sign of the importance and strength of the ties between the US and Saudi Arabia.”
Welcoming the announcement, Dr. Osama Ghanem Al-Obaidy, a professor of law at the Institute of Public Administration in Riyadh, told Arab News: “This waiver expansion announced by the US Embassy will further promote Saudi-US relations and make it easier to get a US tourist visa for those qualifying for such an exemption.”