UAE set to launch rover to the moon Wednesday

UAE set to launch rover to the moon Wednesday
Japan-based ispace inc. announced it had completed the integration of its HAKUTO-R Mission 1 lunar lander into the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. (Supplied)
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Updated 30 November 2022

UAE set to launch rover to the moon Wednesday

UAE set to launch rover to the moon Wednesday
  • Rashid rover will blast off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, tomorrow (Nov.30)
  • If lunar mission succeeds, the UAE will be the fourth country to land on moon

DUBAI: The UAE has completed the final preparations to launch its rover to the moon in the Arab world’s first lunar mission, it was announced on Tuesday.

Rashid rover will blast off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, US, on Wednesday, Nov. 30, embarking on a five-month journey to the moon.

In a statement, Japan-based ispace inc. announced it had completed the integration of its HAKUTO-R Mission 1 lunar lander into the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

“We are pleased to have finished the first phase of the Mission 1 with the final preparations before launch completed,” said Takeshi Hakamada, Founder and CEO of ispace.

“To do this, we utilized a design and development model that balanced reliability and low costs by employing proven technologies and components from around the world,” he added.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC) invited viewers from all over the world to watch the launch live at 12:39pm UAE time (GMT+4).

 

 

The rover will land on the “unexplored moon surface at Atlas Crater, on the southeastern outer edge of Mare Frigoris (“Sea of Cold”)” in April 2023, the center said.

“The target site criteria were carefully considered by the Emirates Lunar Mission Team, including the duration of continuous sun illumination and communication visibility from Earth,” the MBRSC said in a statement. Once launched, the integrated spacecraft will take a low-energy route to the moon rather than a direct approach.

If the lunar mission succeeds, the UAE will be the fourth country to land on the moon.

The 10kg Rashid rover will study the properties of lunar soil, mobility on the lunar surface, the petrography and geology of the moon, dust movement, and study surface plasma conditions and the moon’s photoelectron sheath.

It will send data and images back to Earth, using two high-resolution cameras: Microscopic, and thermal imaging ones, said the mission’s team.

The lunar mission was the latest of the UAE’s effort in space exploration. Earlier in February 2021, the UAE made history by landing its Hope probe to Mars, becoming the first Arab nation to launch an unmanned mission to the red planet.


Beirut blast victims’ relatives rally for embattled probe judge

Beirut blast victims’ relatives rally for embattled probe judge
Updated 33 sec ago

Beirut blast victims’ relatives rally for embattled probe judge

Beirut blast victims’ relatives rally for embattled probe judge
  • The recent developments have led to a standoff between the two judges, who each claim the other is breaking the law, crippling Lebanon’s judiciary
  • Willam Noun, spokesman for the families of the Beirut Port Blast victims, told Arab News: “It was an unexpected decision that we are not contented with”

BEIRUT: Scores of protesters clashed with riot police in Beirut on Thursday as they tried to break into the chief offices of Lebanon’s judiciary after officials moved to cripple the probe into the massive port explosion that wreaked havoc on the capital city in 2020.
Several demonstrators were wounded as police pushed back crowds from outside Beirut’s Palace of Justice, beating people with batons.
On Wednesday, Lebanon chief prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat ordered the release of all suspects detained in the investigation into the deadly port blast in Beirut, and filed charges against the judge leading the probe, Tarek Bitar.
Among those released was an American citizen whose detention without trial had drawn threats of sanctions from US officials, and who promptly left Lebanon, circumventing a travel ban.
Bitar on Monday resumed the investigation based on his legal interpretation, following a 13-month halt over legal challenges raised by politicians accused in the probe. He also charged more than a dozen senior political, judicial, and security officials, including Oueidat.
The recent developments have led to a standoff between the two judges, who each claim the other is breaking the law, crippling Lebanon’s judiciary, as the country’s cash-strapped institutions continue to decay.
Lebanon’s Higher Judicial Council failed to meet as scheduled on Thursday to discuss Bitar’s “judicial coup d’état.”
The council’s members said they avoided convening due to public pressure and MPs’ interference with the judiciary.
During Thursday’s protests, MPs were hit and a lawyer was handcuffed by security officers.
Hundreds of families of Beirut blast victims rallied near the Justice Palace to protest against a decision by the Higher Judicial Council to remove Bitar from the investigation. They expressed their anger at Oueidat, demanding his removal from the case and describing his move as “a scandal.”
Willam Noun, spokesman for the families of the Beirut Port Blast victims, told Arab News: “It was an unexpected decision that we are not contented with.
“We did not expect this absurdity. They are settling their scores with our martyrs’ blood.
“We prefer to find justice from our country’s judiciary, however, after what has happened, we call on an international investigation into the crime.”
Peter Bou Saeb, a brother of one of the victims, said: “We were shocked by the decision to release the detainees.
“This case has turned into a confrontation between us and the judiciary; Let them deal with the consequences.
The mother of victim Jack Baramakian, who held her son’s photo while weeping, said: “My son was guilty of being at home; We live opposite the explosion site, and seven of our neighbors died in our building. Who will do us justice?”
Families held banners demanding the “overthrow of the police regime,” stressing that “justice will happen” and “failing to speak up is a crime.”
They stood in solidarity with Bitar, who resumed his work despite the political disruption deterring his investigation into one of Lebanon’s biggest disasters.
Families called on the Higher Judicial Council to protect the course of the investigation and put an end to political pressure on Bitar that aims to implement the agenda of the political class.
They held the security agencies responsible for the safety of the judge as well as private documents relating to the case.
Some Reformist MPs joined the angry victims’ families and met caretaker Justice Minister Henri Khoury to discuss the move against Bitar.
The meeting devolved into a heated exchange and state security officers, who are duty-bound to protect the minister, restrained the MPs.
Angry protesters broke into the Ministry of Justice, throwing rocks and unlocking an access gate, allowing crowds to enter. However, riot police struck back by hitting demonstrators with batons, causing several injuries.
Lawyer and activist Wassef Harake was seen handcuffed and dragged by security officers inside the justice palace building.
MP Adib Abdel Massih told protesters that he was assaulted by security agents and had his phone seized.
MP Paula Yaacoubian said: “This is a lunatic asylum and justice is being evaded.”
MP Mark Daou said: “Oueidat’s move is a coup; This is not judicial work; it is political.” He denied that MPs interfered with the judiciary.
Among those released by Oueidat was Beirut Port head of security Mohammad Ziad Al-Ouf, a dual US Lebanese citizen.
According to security and judiciary sources, several Lebanese citizens received messages from the US warning that they will be subject to the Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act if fail to address the fate of American national Al-Ouf, who was detained without trial for two and a half years. “Arbitrary arrest rules apply to Al-Ouf and his file has reached Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, and currently awaits his signature,” the message said.
In the event that Blinken signs the file, sanctions will be imposed on the Lebanese state, and penalties will be imposed on those who interfered with the case, including judges and ministers.
Activist Nizar Zakka, who was wrongfully detained in Iranian prisons for years, tweeted: “US citizen Ziad Al-Ouf, freed from unlawful detention in Lebanon for more than two years, is thankfully on his way home to the US.
“He will finally be reunited with his family.”
A photo of Al-Ouf smiling onboard a plane next to his family circulated on Wednesday night shortly after his release.
Oueidat imposed a travel ban on detainees who were released, justifying his move to journalists on Thursday, saying: “Implementing a travel ban requires five hours.”


Iranian chess player refuses to film apology video for removing hijab

Iranian chess player refuses to film apology video for removing hijab
Updated 25 min 48 sec ago

Iranian chess player refuses to film apology video for removing hijab

Iranian chess player refuses to film apology video for removing hijab
  • Khadem was told to blame Western pressure for her decision to not wear the hijab during a tournament
  • Chess player hopes to break into the world’s top 10 from her new base in Spain

LONDON: An Iranian chess player who played in a tournament without a hijab told The Telegraph that she fled to Spain after refusing an order by Tehran to film an apology video.

Sara Khadem is the world’s 17th best female chess player and the first Iranian woman to become an international master.

A viral photograph of Khadem competing in a tournament in Kazakhstan without a head covering made her a symbol of the country’s ongoing anti-regime protests. 

The 25-year-old said she was told to blame her decision to not cover her head during the tournament on Western pressure.

“I wasn’t going to do that,” Khadem said.

Although she previously only covered her head at international tournaments during formal presentations and official photographs, she began to feel that it was hypocritical.

“This time, I felt that if I did as I was doing before, I would be disrespecting the people,” she said.

Khadem has been outspoken against her country’s government in recent years. In 2019, she expressed support for a young Iranian chess star who had refused to accept Tehran’s policy requiring players to forfeit matches against Israeli opponents.

In January 2020, Khadem announced her retirement from the national chess team in protest of Iran’s shooting down of a Ukrainian commercial plane, an incident that claimed the lives of 176 people. 

She also used hashtags to express solidarity with anti-regime protesters in the wake of Mahsa Amini’s death.

Khadem, who is still in Spain with her husband and son, says she misses her parents back home, whom she said she used to visit “almost every day.”

“I hope that I will be the only one held responsible for what I did,” she said.

“We feel very welcome in Spain, but we have left some of the most important things in life in Iran, so there are mixed feelings,” she added.

Khadem hopes to break into the world’s top 10 from her new base in Spain, but she also wants to represent Iran in tournaments as an individual player, The Telegraph reported.

“I’m a chess player. I’m not a political figure. As a chess player, I have some responsibilities towards what is happening around me, but chess is the first thing in my life. I don’t see myself as an activist,” she said.


UNESCO listing of Marib’s ancient sites delights Yemenis

UNESCO listing of Marib’s ancient sites delights Yemenis
Updated 55 min 58 sec ago

UNESCO listing of Marib’s ancient sites delights Yemenis

UNESCO listing of Marib’s ancient sites delights Yemenis
  • The UN body added the seven landmarks of the Ancient Kingdom of Saba in Marib to its World Heritage List
  • The seven archaeological sites that make up the site “bear witness to the rich Kingdom of Saba and its architectural, aesthetic and technological achievements”

AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: War-weary Yemenis are enjoying a rare moment of celebration after UNESCO added historic structures in the central province of Marib to its World Heritage Site list.
During an extraordinary session of the World Heritage Committee in Paris on Wednesday, the UN body added the seven landmarks of the Ancient Kingdom of Saba in Marib, as well as two other locations in Lebanon and Ukraine, to its World Heritage List and a list of the world’s endangered sites.
The decision brought a jubilant response from Yemeni officials, archaeologists and the general public.
“Congratulations to Marib, Yemen, and the Arabs for this significant cultural accomplishment, which was the result of three years of efforts on the ground and in the halls,” Mohammed Jumeh, Yemen’s permanent delegate to UNESCO, tweeted, praising the team of Yemeni and foreign specialists who worked for international recognition of the historic landmarks.
Muammar Al-Eryani, Yemen’s minister of information, culture and tourism, also congratulated Yemenis, local authorities and the ministry team that prepared the file, adding that there are now five Yemeni sites on the UNESCO list.
“Congratulation to Yemen and Marib governorate for UNESCO registering the antiquities of the ancient Kingdom of Saba in Marib on the World Heritage List, in the culmination of three-year of teamwork efforts of the ministry, local authority and Yemen’s permanent delegation at UNESCO,” El-Eryani wrote on Twitter.
He thanked Princess Haifa Al-Mogrin, Saudi Arabia’s permanent delegate at UNESCO and the session’s chairperson, for supporting the listing of Marib’s landmarks.
In a press release issued after the meeting, UNESCO said that the Landmarks of the Ancient Kingdom of Saba in Marib provide evidence of a powerful kingdom with a centralized and intelligent government that controlled incense routes across the Arabian Peninsula, and also had commercial influence in the Mediterranean and East Africa.
UNESCO said that the seven archaeological sites that make up the site “bear witness to the rich Kingdom of Saba and its architectural, aesthetic and technological achievements” from the 1st millennium B.C. to the arrival of Islam about 1,400 years ago.
Ali Tueaiman, a Yemeni archaeologist and leader of the team that compiled the nomination dossiers, told Arab News: “I am overjoyed. We worked on this case for three years, traveled to several countries, and sought the assistance of Arab and international specialists.
“Our file was persuasive. The Kingdom of Saba is the Yemeni civilization’s backbone and one of the most prominent ancient Arab kingdoms. The sites illustrate the depth of civilization across thousands of years.”
He said that the world, including UNESCO, will be responsible for the preservation and restoration of the Landmarks of the Ancient Kingdom of Saba sites following the international recognition.
However, other Yemeni specialists warned that fighting between Yemeni government troops and Iran-backed Houthis poses the greatest danger to the sites because of their proximity to the battlegrounds.
The Ancient City of Serwah, one of the seven classified monuments, is located in the disputed Serwah district, the scene of fierce fighting in the past two years following a Houthi assault on Marib city.
“The location of the site in the line of fire poses a significant threat to it, which may result in its partial or total destruction,” Riyadh Bakarmom, an archaeologist, told Arab News.
He said that worldwide acknowledgment of Marib’s sites might also tempt smugglers seeking to take advantage of any security lapses to steal valuable relics.
“Another risk is the excavation of historic sites and the smuggling of artifacts during times of chaos and war. There are some signs that certain ancient sites have been excavated in Marib,” Bakarmom said.


Kuwait building bridges of understanding with nations: Envoy to Spain

Kuwait building bridges of understanding with nations: Envoy to Spain
Updated 26 January 2023

Kuwait building bridges of understanding with nations: Envoy to Spain

Kuwait building bridges of understanding with nations: Envoy to Spain
  • Humanitarian support for international peace efforts ‘among basic features’ of Kuwaiti foreign policy
  • Kuwaiti ambassador hails deepening strength of relations with Spain in all areas

MADRID: Kuwait’s foreign policy was targeted at building bridges of understanding and promoting peace and stability in the Middle East and beyond, the Kuwaiti ambassador to Spain said.
Khalifa Al-Kharafi was speaking to the Kuwait News Agency on the sidelines of an annual reception hosted on Wednesday by Spain’s King Felipe VI for the diplomatic corps in Madrid.
The envoy said: “The humanitarian dimension and support to international peace efforts are among the basic features of Kuwait’s balanced foreign policy.”
Dealing with the crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Al-Kharafi pointed out that Kuwait had repeatedly called for a peaceful solution based on a commitment to international law and the UN Charter, and respect for the sovereignty of states.
“Kuwait dispatched relief aid for the Ukrainian people to alleviate their suffering from the conflict,” he added.
On relations with Spain, the ambassador said they were strengthening in all areas and the embassy in Madrid was always working to deepen mutually beneficial cooperation.
In his address, King Felipe VI highlighted Spain’s support for Ukraine and the need for allies to stand united in the face of “Russian aggression.”
The monarch noted that from the start of the conflict, Spain had backed Ukraine on bilateral and multilateral levels through the provision of military and humanitarian assistance in a bid to counter “the indiscriminate Russian attacks on the civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.”
He added that the response of Spain, the EU, and the international community was crucial in repelling “the Russian onslaught,” and reiterated his country’s condemnation of Moscow’s attack on Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The reception, hosted at Madrid’s Royal Palace, was attended by ambassadors, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Foreign Affairs Minister Jose Manuel Albares Bueno, and other dignitaries.


Saudi-supported symposium highlights dangers of Iran-backed Houthi ideologies in Yemen

Saudi-supported symposium highlights dangers of Iran-backed Houthi ideologies in Yemen
Updated 26 January 2023

Saudi-supported symposium highlights dangers of Iran-backed Houthi ideologies in Yemen

Saudi-supported symposium highlights dangers of Iran-backed Houthi ideologies in Yemen
  • Event attended by Yemeni scholars warned of threat posed by group to country’s cultural identity, beliefs
  • Delegates told awareness campaign would help promote resilience, national unity

TAIZ, Yemen: A Saudi-backed symposium aimed at raising awareness about the dangerous ideologies peddled by the Iran-backed Houthis, was recently held in Yemen.
Co-organized by the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affairs and the Yemini Ministry of Awqaf and Guidance the conference, titled “Houthis and Replicating Iranian Rituals … Risks and Duties,” was attended by scholars from throughout Yemen.
Held in Taiz, the meeting was designed to highlight the misguided ideas and practices of the Houthis and the threat they posed to the cultural identity and beliefs of the Yemini people, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday.
The focus of the symposium surrounded the risks of uprooting the sources of moderate ideology in Yemen and attempts by the militia group to localize Farsi sectarian rituals and practices.
Attention was also given to the importance of education and teachers, the promotion of moderate faith, and the role of media in instilling values and spotlighting Yemen’s centrist identity.
In addition, delegates discussed several issues regarding the Houthi movement’s attempt to destroy traditional Yemeni society and hijack its wealth and capabilities.
The Saudi ministry has been a key player in raising awareness about the Houthi threat to Yemen while promoting resilience and national unity.