Saudi Arabia expresses support for humanitarian aid mechanism for Lebanon

Saudi Arabia expresses support for humanitarian aid mechanism for Lebanon
Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun receives Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Beirut Walid Bukhari at the Baabda Palace on Wednesday. (SPA)
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Updated 13 April 2022

Saudi Arabia expresses support for humanitarian aid mechanism for Lebanon

Saudi Arabia expresses support for humanitarian aid mechanism for Lebanon
  • Saudi envoy tells Lebanese president the Kingdom is “keen on helping the Lebanese people”
  • Walid Bukhari, Michel Aoun also discuss boosting bilateral ties

BEIRUT: Saudi Arabia has expressed its support for the people of Lebanon and its desire to bolster ties between the two nations following the return of its envoy to Beirut.

Walid Bukhari, the Saudi ambassador to Lebanon, told Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Wednesday that “the Kingdom is keen on helping the Lebanese people during difficult circumstances and strengthening relations between the two countries.”

According to the president’s media office, the two men discussed bilateral relations and Bukhari told Aoun about “the mechanism of the Saudi-French joint fund aimed at providing humanitarian support and achieving stability and development in Lebanon.”

Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Gulf states recalled their ambassadors from Lebanon in October in protest against insulting statements made by former Information Minister George Qordahi regarding the war in Yemen.

Bukhari last met Aoun in March 2021. That meeting took place after a failed attempt to form a government led by former Premier Saad Hariri and the exchange of accusations of disrupting the process between Hariri and Aoun.

Since returning to Beirut, Bukhari has held talks with religious authorities, current and former prime ministers and interior ministers, foreign diplomats and other politicians.

Kuwaiti Ambassador Abdul-Al Sulaiman Al-Qenaei has also returned to Beirut. He said after meeting Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Wednesday that “restoring diplomatic relations and the return of ambassadors indicate the success of the Kuwaiti initiative.”

He added that both Lebanon and the Gulf states had mutually agreed that their long history was above everything else and that “what happened is in the past and the return of ambassadors will lead to further rapprochement and cooperation that benefit the brotherly countries.”

Wednesday’s developments coincided with the 47th anniversary of the start of the civil war in Lebanon. Hariri tweeted: “The suffering of the Lebanese is repeated in different forms.”

Meanwhile, the joint parliamentary committees were unable to approve a draft Lebanese capital control law on Wednesday.

Ibrahim Kanaan, chair of the Finance and Budget Committee, said: “We are making amendments to the current draft.”

Politicians have failed to pass the law since 2019 when Lebanon descended into a financial crisis that has paralyzed its banking system and frozen depositors out of their US dollar accounts.

Formal capital controls are a policy recommendation of the International Monetary Fund, from which Lebanon hopes to secure an aid package.

Lawmaker Bilal Abdullah said the draft contained “defects and needs amendments.”

He told Arab News: “The conditions of the IMF are harsh … How will we face people if the flour and medicines are no longer subsidized? What is the point of competing for parliamentary seats in a bankrupt country?

“Some people are preventing any progress toward the country’s recovery plan. However, some are forgetting that the country is bankrupt, and we must not stop negotiations with the IMF.”

Pressure is mounting on last week’s preliminary agreement between an IMF team and Lebanese authorities to implement the fund’s conditions to prevent a complete financial collapse.

The Depositors Outcry Association protested in Beirut against the draft capital control law. Alaa Khorshid, its head, said: “We cannot accept the theft of our money followed by the enactment of a law to protect the thieves.”

In another development, the US Department of State’s report about human rights in Lebanon referred to reliable information about “serious political interference with the judiciary and judicial affairs and imposing severe restrictions on the freedom of expression and media, including violence, threats of violence, arrests, unjustified prosecutions against journalists, censorship and the existence of laws criminalizing defamation, severe restrictions on internet freedom and the forced return of refugees to a country where their lives or freedom are threatened.”

The report mentioned “the presence of serious high-level and widespread official corruption” and added that “government officials enjoyed a measure of impunity for human rights abuses, including evading or influencing judicial processes.”

The report also cited “unofficial detention facilities by the terrorist Hezbollah party and Palestinian militias.”


Bella Hadid expresses ‘sadness’ at growing up away from Palestinian roots

Bella Hadid expresses ‘sadness’ at growing up away from Palestinian roots
Updated 14 sec ago

Bella Hadid expresses ‘sadness’ at growing up away from Palestinian roots

Bella Hadid expresses ‘sadness’ at growing up away from Palestinian roots
  • Model opens up on her relationship with Muslim, Arab heritage ahead of acting debut in Hulu’s ‘Ramy’
  • Hadid has become a vocal campaigner at demos and on social media about the plight of Palestinian people

LONDON: The model Bella Hadid has spoken of her “sadness” that her “Muslim culture” was taken from her as a child following the divorce of her parents.

In an interview with GQ, ahead of her acting debut in the Hulu TV series “Ramy,” she said she had been “extracted” from her Palestinian father, real estate developer Mohamed Hadid, and his side of the family when her mother, Dutch model Yolanda Hadid, moved her and her siblings, Gigi and Anwar, from Washington, D.C. to Santa Barbara, California.

“I was with my Palestinian side (of the family) and I got extracted when we moved to California,” she said.

“I would have loved to grow up and be with my dad every day and studying and really being able to practice, just in general being able to live in a Muslim culture, but I wasn’t given that.”

Hadid, who was just four years old when she was forced to move, added she was the only Arab girl in her class at school in Santa Barbara and suffered racist discrimination.

“For so long I was missing that (Palestinian) part of me, and it made me really, really sad and lonely,” she said.

“Ramy” is a comedy-drama about a first-generation American Muslim, starring Hadid’s friend Ramy Youssef. She said the show had ignited her interest in discovering more about her Palestinian heritage and her faith.

She added that she “couldn’t handle” her emotions when crew members working on the show gave her a “Free Palestine” T-shirt as a gift.

“Growing up and being Arab, it was the first time that I’d ever been with like-minded people,” she said. “I was able to see myself.”

The 25-year-old star has become vociferous in her support for Palestine in recent years, attending protests and spreading awareness on social media.

In a post following a protest four years ago, she wrote: “It has always been #freepalestine. ALWAYS. I have a lot to say about this but for now, please read and educate yourself.

“This is not about religion. This is not about spewing hate on one or the other. This is about Israeli colonization, ethnic cleansing, military occupation and apartheid over the Palestinian people that has been going on for YEARS!”

Writing on Instagram after attending a protest in New York in 2021, she said: “The way my heart feels ... To be around this many beautiful, smart, respectful, loving, kind, and generous Palestinians all in one place ... It feels whole. We are a rare breed!”

In another post, following violence in Gaza later that year, she wrote: “You cannot allow yourself to be desensitized to watching human life being taken. Palestinian lives are the lives that will help change the world. And they are being taken from us by the second.”

In an Instagram post about her grandparents’ wedding in Palestine in 1941, she wrote: “I love my family, I love my heritage, I love Palestine.”

In the GQ interview, the model also opened up on issues surrounding body image and self-esteem. She said she had compared herself unfavorably to her older sister, and fellow model, Gigi, developed an eating disorder, and even been driven to plastic surgery at the age of only 14 years old when she had a nose job.

“I wish I had kept the nose of my ancestors,” she said as she reflected on the procedure. “I think I would have grown into it.”

She added: “I’ve had this impostor syndrome where people made me feel like I didn’t deserve any of this.

“People can say anything about how I look, about how I talk, about how I act. But in seven years I never missed a job, canceled a job, was late to a job. No one can ever say that I don’t work my a— off.”


Egypt church fire not deliberate: Probe

Egypt church fire not deliberate: Probe
Updated 18 August 2022

Egypt church fire not deliberate: Probe

Egypt church fire not deliberate: Probe
  • The public prosecution questioned 33 witnesses, including the 16 people injured

CAIRO: The fire that broke out in the Abu Sefein Church in Egypt on Sunday was not deliberate, according to an investigation by the public prosecution.
The cause of the fire, which killed 41 people, was a defect with an electric generator in the church after it was turned on due to a power outage.
The public prosecution questioned 33 witnesses, including the 16 people injured, who said they heard the sound of electric charges emanating from inside the church, and the fire broke out after that. Prosecutor General Hamada El-Sawy said the victims had died of smoke inhalation.


Coptic pope offers condolences over church fire

Coptic pope offers condolences over church fire
Updated 18 August 2022

Coptic pope offers condolences over church fire

Coptic pope offers condolences over church fire
  • Blaze in Egyptian city of Giza killed 41 people, injured 16
  • ‘We thank God for all those who contributed to containing this crisis’

CAIRO: The Egyptian people showed their genuine nature with regard to Sunday’s fire in Abu Sefein Church that killed 41 people and injured 16 in the city of Giza, said the pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Pope Tawadros II thanked everyone who contributed to containing the blaze, and offered condolences to the family of a priest who died.

“He was a beloved priest until his last breath, and we console the people of the church, both adults and children, knowing that they are with Christ, and that is very much better,” the pope said.

“We thank God for all those who contributed to containing this crisis, including the concerned agencies, officials, the people and neighbors.”

He said he is scheduled to meet in the next few days with the victims’ families, adding that Christian and Muslim communities in various countries have offered their condolences. The Interior Ministry said an electrical fault had caused the fire.


Russian ship carrying ‘plundered’ Ukraine grain reaches Syria: embassy

Russian ship carrying ‘plundered’ Ukraine grain reaches Syria: embassy
Updated 18 August 2022

Russian ship carrying ‘plundered’ Ukraine grain reaches Syria: embassy

Russian ship carrying ‘plundered’ Ukraine grain reaches Syria: embassy
  • "According to our information, SV KONSTANTIN has docked in Syria," the embassy said
  • It said the ship was carrying "grains that were plundered and illegally transported by the Russian occupation authorities"

BEIRUT: A Russian cargo ship allegedly carrying stolen Ukrainian grain has reached Syria, Kyiv’s embassy in Beirut said Thursday, the latest in a series of contested shipments arriving in the war-torn country.
“According to our information, SV KONSTANTIN has docked in Syria,” the embassy said in a statement to AFP.
It said the ship was carrying “grains that were plundered and illegally transported by the Russian occupation authorities,” adding that the vessel was initially destined for the Lebanese port of Tripoli.
Ukraine has repeatedly accused Russian forces of ransacking its grain warehouses since they invaded the country in late February.
The embassy’s statement came as another cargo ship carrying the first shipment of grain allowed to leave Ukraine under a UN-backed deal reportedly unloaded its cargo at the Syrian port of Tartus, which is managed by a Russian firm.
The Sierra Leone-flagged vessel Razoni was expected to arrive in Lebanon, but the shipment’s five-month delay prompted the Lebanese buyer to cancel the deal once the ship was already at sea, Ukrainian officials had said.
According to Samir Madani, co-founder of oil shipping monitoring website TankerTrackers.com, the vessel docked in Tartus earlier this week.
Satellite imagery appeared to show that the ship — which was carrying 26,000 tons of corn — was unloading its cargo, Madani tweeted on Thursday.
Earlier this month, a Syrian-flagged ship was briefly seized by Lebanese authorities following similar claims by the Ukrainian embassy that it was laden with stolen cargo.
Lebanon later released the Laodicea vessel after investigations failed to prove it carried stolen goods, drawing criticism from Kyiv’s embassy.
The Laodicea started unloading its cargo at Tartus on August 8, according to Syrian state media.
Syria is a staunch ally of Russia, which intervened in the country’s civil war in 2015 to support President Bashar Assad’s government.
Moscow has lent Damascus very limited amounts of financial aid, but it has supplied Syria with wheat as a form of assistance.
The Syrian government relies on Moscow for the bulk of its wheat imports.


Egyptian, Canadian ministers discuss cooperation

Egyptian, Canadian ministers discuss cooperation
Updated 18 August 2022

Egyptian, Canadian ministers discuss cooperation

Egyptian, Canadian ministers discuss cooperation
  • Sajjan said: “I was impressed by the Egyptian vision of empowering women.”

CAIRO: Nevin Al-Kabbaj, Egypt’s minister of social solidarity, met with Harjit Sajjan, Canada’s minister of international development, to discuss cooperation in various fields.
Al-Kabbaj reviewed her ministry’s programs and activities, including those focusing on the rights of women and the disabled.
Sajjan said: “I was impressed by the Egyptian vision of empowering women.”
Al-Kabbaj expressed her appreciation for the efforts of the Canadian Embassy and the Canadian Development Agency to support development in Egypt and her ministry’s economic-empowerment projects.