Latvia crowned World Cosplay Summit champions at Gamers8

Latvia are crowned World Cosplay Summit champions at Gamers8. (SEF)
Latvia are crowned World Cosplay Summit champions at Gamers8. (SEF)
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Updated 30 August 2023
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Latvia crowned World Cosplay Summit champions at Gamers8

Latvia are crowned World Cosplay Summit champions at Gamers8. (SEF)
  • The winners overcame 166 from 45 countries to take top prize of $30,000v

RIYADH: Latvia have been crowned World Cosplay Summit champions at Gamers8: The Land of Heroes, earning the top prize of $30,000 from the competition’s $100,000 prize pool.

Latvia’s colorful efforts saw them triumph in a field of 45 countries and 166 people taking part in the event at Boulevard Riyadh City.

In a statement, Team Latvia said: “We can’t tell you how happy we are to win. Thank you so much.”

The eight-week Gamers8 festival concluded on Tuesday and will now be followed by the Next World Forum on Wednesday and Thursday.


Saudi Arabia welcomes ICJ ruling on Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories

Saudi Arabia welcomes ICJ ruling on Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories
Updated 8 min 47 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia welcomes ICJ ruling on Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories

Saudi Arabia welcomes ICJ ruling on Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories
  • The Kingdom calls for practical steps to reach a just solution to the Palestinian cause

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has welcomed a ruling by UN’s top court that Israel’s settlement policy on Palestinian territory breaks international law.
The Saudi foreign ministry said in a statement that the Kingdom welcomed the advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice and called for practical steps to reach a just solution to the Palestinian cause.
The World Court issued the judgment, which is non-binding, on Friday.
The court panel found “the transfer by Israel of settlers to the West Bank and Jerusalem as well as Israel’s maintenance of their presence, is contrary to article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”
The ruling comes against the backdrop of Israel’s devastating bombardment on Gaza, following the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants on Israeli settlements adjacent to the Palestinian enclave.
Israel captured the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem in 1967, but Palestinians consider the areas as integral part of a future independent state.
The Saudi Cabinet on Tuesday condemned the “continued genocidal massacres” against the Palestinian people amid Israel’s battle with Hamas in Gaza.
The Kingdom wants an independent state for the Palestinian people, encompassing the 1967 borders.
The US and regional players have been attempting to end the conflict in Gaza through a peace deal between Hamas and Israel, which would include the release of Israeli hostages and a form of lasting cessation of military activities.


Algeria places pro-democracy activists in pre-trial detention: lawyer

Algeria places pro-democracy activists in pre-trial detention: lawyer
Updated 20 July 2024
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Algeria places pro-democracy activists in pre-trial detention: lawyer

Algeria places pro-democracy activists in pre-trial detention: lawyer
  • UN Special Rapporteur Clement Voule called on Algeria to “address the climate of fear caused by a string of criminal charges”

ALGIERS: Eight Algerian activists from pro-democracy protests that toppled the country’s last president have been placed in pre-trial detention while six others were released under judicial supervision, one of their lawyers said Friday.
The activists were arrested between July 8 and 15 in Bejaia, some 220 kilometers (136 miles) east of the capital Algiers.
Mira Mokhnache, a university professor and human rights defender, along with seven other activists were placed in pre-trial detention on Thursday by an investigating judge at the Sidi M’Hamed court in downtown Algiers, according to lawyer Fetta Sadat.
The protest movement, known as Hirak, broke out in February 2019 and forced longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down two months later.
The movement continued to press for deep reforms, but it waned during the Covid pandemic.
The National Committee for the Release of Detainees (CNLD) said that among the eight convicted was a man who was released from prison last month after three years of imprisonment over ties to the pro-democracy protests.
A 16-year-old whistleblower who documented Algerian political prisons on his Facebook page was among those released under judicial supervision, according to Sadat.
Local media said the group was being prosecuted under a 2021 law amendment relating to “terrorism.”
Last year, a United Nations expert called for the repeal of the article that “broadened the definition of terrorism,” and urged Algerian authorities to pardon people convicted or detained over their involvement in the pro-democracy protests.
UN Special Rapporteur Clement Voule called on Algeria to “address the climate of fear caused by a string of criminal charges.”
Dozens of people are still detained in Algeria over links to Hirak or human rights activism, according to the National Committee for the Release of Detainees.
In February, rights watchdog Amnesty International said that five years after the protests erupted, Algerian authorities had “escalated their repression of peaceful dissent.”
“It is a tragedy that five years after brave Algerians took to the streets in their masses to demand political change and reforms, the authorities have continued to wage a chilling campaign of repression,” said Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa director, Heba Morayef.
The North African country is readying for presidential elections set to take place on September 7 as the incumbent President Abdelmadjid Tebboune remains its frontrunner.
 

 


Blast hits Iraq former paramilitaries depot: officials

Blast hits Iraq former paramilitaries depot: officials
Updated 20 July 2024
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Blast hits Iraq former paramilitaries depot: officials

Blast hits Iraq former paramilitaries depot: officials
  • A security source confirmed the blast, adding that it “occurred in a warehouse storing equipment that belongs to Hashed Al-Shaabi”

BAGHDAD: An explosion ripped through “logistics” warehouses belonging to former pro-Iran paramilitaries south of the Iraqi capital Baghdad on Thursday, officials said.
“At 7:00 p.m. (1600 GMT)... an explosion occurred in logistics warehouses belonging to the 42 Brigade... in the Yusufiyah area, south of Baghdad,” said the Hashed Al-Shaabi — an alliance of pro-Iranian former paramilitary groups now integrated into the regular army.
The cause of the blast was not immediately known, and the Hashed said it assigned a committee to investigate.
Firefighters were battling the blaze, it added in a statement.
A security source confirmed the blast, adding that it “occurred in a warehouse storing equipment that belongs to Hashed Al-Shaabi.”
A Hashed official said he did not rule out the possibility of an “air strike.”
In April, one person was killed and eight wounded in a blast at a military base housing Hashed groups in Babylon province, south of Baghdad.
An investigation found the blast was caused by munitions stored on-site, not by an air strike.
The Hashed Al-Shaabi is an integral part of the Iraqi security apparatus under the authority of the prime minister.
It includes some pro-Iran groups which have carried out dozens of attacks against US forces in Iraq and neighboring Syria.
The latest blast comes after two drones were launched on Tuesday against an Iraqi base used by US-led troops without causing any damage.
 

 


Israel threatens reprisals for deadly Yemen rebel drone strike

Israel threatens reprisals for deadly Yemen rebel drone strike
Updated 20 July 2024
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Israel threatens reprisals for deadly Yemen rebel drone strike

Israel threatens reprisals for deadly Yemen rebel drone strike
  • Israel has killed at least 38,848 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to data from the health ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory, where fighting raged on Friday

TEL AVIV: Israel threatened reprisals Friday after a drone claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels penetrated its vaunted air defenses and killed a civilian in a Tel Aviv apartment building near a US embassy annexe.
The attack drew condemnation from UN chief Antonio Guterres and an appeal for “maximum restraint” to avoid “further escalation in the region.”
The pre-dawn strike came hours before Israel suffered another blow, a ruling by the UN’s top court that its occupation of the Palestinian territories was “illegal” and needed to end as soon as possible.
The advisory opinion of The Hague-based International Court of Justice is not binding, but it comes amid mounting international condemnation of Israel’s handling of its war on Hamas in Gaza.
The office of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas hailed the court’s decision as “a victory for justice.” Hamas said it puts “the international system before the imperative of immediate action to end the occupation.”
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has overseen a major expansion of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, insisted: “The Jewish people are not occupiers in their own land.”
The Houthis are one of a number of Iran-backed armed groups around the Middle East that have claimed drone and missile attacks on Israel in retaliation for the Gaza war.
The group, which controls swathes of Yemen, including much of its Red Sea coast, has previously claimed attacks on Israeli cities including Ashdod, Haifa and Eilat, but Friday’s strike appears to be the first to breach Israel’s sophisticated air defenses.
The Houthis fired at Tel Aviv a “new drone called ‘Yafa’, which is capable of bypassing the enemy’s interception systems,” their spokesman Yahya Saree said.
An Israeli military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said a “very big drone that can travel long distances” was used in the 3:12 am (0012 GMT) attack.
He said the drone was detected but due to “human error” the alarm was not raised in time, and it slammed into an apartment building.
Military spokesman Daniel Hagari said Israel believed the drone used was Iranian-made and upgraded so it could reach Tel Aviv from Yemen — at least 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) away.
Medical services said one civilian was killed and four people suffered “relatively minor” injuries.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant vowed revenge.
“The security system will settle the score with all who try to harm the state of Israel, or sends terrorism against it, in a decisive and surprising manner,” he said in comments posted on social media platform X.

In grainy security camera footage, the buzz of what appeared to be the drone was followed by an explosion that shook the building and set off car alarms.
The blast occurred about 100 meters (yards) from a US embassy annexe, said an AFP journalist who saw broken windows along the street lined with apartment blocks.
“It woke me up because the vibration of the sound was like a 747 (jet) coming in,” said Kenneth Davis, an Israeli who was staying in a hotel opposite the building which was hit.
“And then the explosion... everything blew out in the room,” he told AFPTV.
Since November, the Houthis have also carried out dozens of drone and missile attacks on shipping in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden that they claim is Israeli-linked.
The United States and Britain launched a campaign of air strikes in January to deter the attacks on shipping.
The Gaza war was triggered by Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel which resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.
The militants also seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom are still in Gaza, including 42 the Israeli military says are dead.
Israel’s retaliatory campaign has killed at least 38,848 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to data from the health ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory, where fighting raged on Friday.

Residents said clashes were heard between Palestinian fighters and the Israeli army, with explosions and shelling in the Tal Al-Hawa district of Gaza City.
The war has destroyed much of Gaza’s housing and other infrastructure, leaving virtually the entire population displaced and short of food and drinking water.
Many are living in unsanitary conditions. Health authorities in Gaza and Israel said on Thursday that poliovirus had been detected in Gaza sewage samples.
The World Health Organization said on Friday that no cases of the highly infectious disease had been discovered in Gaza so far.
 

 


How Saudi Arabia and its Asian partners are driving green development ahead of COP29

How Saudi Arabia and its Asian partners are driving green development ahead of COP29
Updated 32 min 55 sec ago
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How Saudi Arabia and its Asian partners are driving green development ahead of COP29

How Saudi Arabia and its Asian partners are driving green development ahead of COP29
  • Asian nations share a common vision for climate action that does not hinder growth and prosperity
  • From the Saudi Green Initiative to Azerbaijan’s adoption of solar, Asia seeks harmony between humans and nature

QINGDAO, China: As one of the world’s largest economies and contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, China is seen as having a particular responsibility among nations to help address climate change and promote sustainable development.

As such, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization invited Asian countries to participate in a two-day Green Development Forum in Shandong earlier this month to discuss solutions for a greener future.

China’s President Xi Jinping has expressed his desire to strengthen cooperation with regional parties to work toward common social and economic development goals, while at the same time fostering harmonious coexistence between people and nature.

Representatives from various Asian countries attended the two-day Green Development Forum in Shandong, China, earlier this month to discuss solutions for a greener future. (Supplied)

Shen Yueyue, vice chair of the national committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and chair of the Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation Commission of the SCO, reiterated the need to foster this link between development and the environment.

“Development is development for all, and good development is green development,” Shen said in her keynote address at the forum, which was themed: “Joining hands in green development, together promoting harmony between humans and nature.”

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

Green development is a focus for many countries, including Saudi Arabia. Indeed, one of the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 reform agenda is ensuring sustainable practices in social and economic development.

Two such strategies launched by the Kingdom to promote green development and a low-carbon future are the Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative.

Together, these initiatives aim to increase vegetation cover in Saudi Arabia and across the region by planting billions of trees to mitigate the effects of climate change and to help slow the rise of global temperatures in line with the Kingdom’s net-zero commitments

Another regional state that is making green development a key priority is Iran.

During the SCO conference in Shandong’s port city of Qingdao, Ali Salajegheh, vice president and head of Iran’s Department of Environment, discussed his country’s commitment to fighting climate change.

One example of this is the country’s role in hosting the International Conference on Sand and Dust Storms in 2023.

Family picture of the participants of the Green Development Forum held in Shandong, China, earlier this month. (Supplied)

However, Salajegheh believes that addressing social and political issues is crucial to preventing a deepening of the environmental crisis in the region, including the need for economic stabilization and poverty reduction.

“Developing countries should make sure of their social and economic development as the main priority because the fight against poverty and the development of health and the provision of housing and energy is still for a significant part of the developing world considered a basic priority,” he said, according to Iran’s state news agency IRNA.

These efforts and more will be on the agenda at the 29th UN Climate Change Conference — COP29 — in Baku this November. In the run-up to this major event, host nation Azerbaijan has been working hard to achieve its green development goals.

DID YOUKNOW?

Azerbaijan’s capital Baku will host COP29 in November.

COP29 Presidency aims to raise ambition and enable action.

Baku is committed to developing the nation’s renewable energy potential.

Policies include tax breaks on electric vehicles and investment in education.

Although Azerbaijan is a major player in the global oil and gas industry, ranking 20th in the world for proven oil reserves, one of the key pillars of its green development strategy is the rapid expansion of renewable energy infrastructure.

The country has made significant changes to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, begin the transition to renewable energy, and participate in the global effort to combat climate change.

The 230MW Garadagh Solar Power Plant project in Azerbaijan. (AN photo by Haifa Alshammari)

In 2020, an agreement was signed between Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Energy and UAE firm Masdar to establish the country’s first solar energy facility — the 230-megawatt Garadagh Solar Power Plant.

The project occupies 550 hectares and currently boasts 570,000 bifacial photovoltaic panels, which capture the direct light of the sun and the reflection of sunlight from the ground.

Murad Sadikhov, the Garadagh Solar Power Plant’s country manager, told Arab News the facility has thus far achieved 24-gigawatt capacity. “But we have set a very ambitious goal to reach 100 GW by 2032,” he said.

Murad Sadikhov, country manager at The 230MW Garadagh Solar Power Plant project in Azerbaijan. (AN photo by Haifa Alshammari)

Alongside the implementation of renewable energy projects, Azerbaijan is also encouraging the public to shift from using fossil fuel-intensive vehicles to adopting green modes of transport.

“The government is promoting a green agenda, not only in terms of establishing generative capacity but also on the demand side,” said Sadikhov.

“They promote electrical vehicles. They started the electromobility master plan. They hired prominent consultants. They established new rules and legislations such as the tax relief for EVs and are promoting EVs for public transportation, trying to maximize the use of electric transportation.”

Significant strides have been made in tapping Azerbaijan's immense wind energy potential. The Azerbaijan 240 MW Wind Farm, for one, is being developed by Saudi Arabia's ACWA Power. 

Azerbaijan is also investing heavily in raising public awareness about environmentally friendly practices and training the next generation of sustainability professionals. “Most of the universities now have special programs for renewable energy,” said Sadikhov.

Although green development strategies have been adopted by several nations across Asia, experts and officials are keenly aware that more needs to be done to respond to the climate challenge without undermining social and economic development.