Nov 042017
 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Saturday intercepted and destroyed a “ballistic missile” northeast of the capital Riyadh after it was launched from Yemen, state media reported. “Saudi Air Defense intercepts ballistic missile northeast of Riyadh,” Saudi state TV said. State-run news channel Al-Ekhbariya said the missile “was of limited size (and) no injuries or damage” were reported. Yemeni rebel missile shot down near Makkah The missile was destroyed near Riyadh’s King Khaled international airport, which was functioning normally, it added. Yemen’s Iran-backed Huthi rebels claimed they had fired the missile, targeting the airport, the Huthis’ Al-Masirah television said. Saudi Arabia’s southern neighbour Yemen has been torn apart by a war between the Saudi-backed government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi and Huthi rebels backed by Iran. Saudi Arabia agrees to buy Russian S-400 air defence system A Saudi-led coalition intervened in 2015 to prop up Hadi’s government after the Huthis seized the capital Sanaa. The rebels continue to hold much of the country. United Nations-backed talks have failed to broker a political settlement to end the fighting, which has left more than 8,600 people dead since the coalition intervened. Saudi Arabia says 3 civilians killed by missile fired from Yemen A cholera outbreak has claimed more than 2,100 lives in Yemen since April as hospitals struggle to secure supplies amid a coalition air and sea blockade. The United Nations has warned Yemen now stands on the brink of famine. The post Saudis intercept ‘ballistic missile’ fired by Huthi rebels near Riyadh appeared first [Read More…]

Nov 032017
 

HONG KONG: Global turmoil after seismic events such as Brexit and the election of President Donald Trump may push readers away from dystopian crime fiction to novels with a more comforting message, best-selling author Ian Rankin says. The Scottish writer has made millions penning dark tales of serial killers and murderous gangsters, but thinks the current bleak outlook for world affairs may be a catalyst for a shift in what readers look for in fiction. “I think this may happen – a move away from serial killers and bleak dystopian crime fiction towards something with a more comforting message,” Rankin tells AFP. Saudi Arabia pulls ‘indecent’ novel from bookstores “Maybe good will be seen to triumph and ordinary people will overcome crises in psychological crime novels,” he adds. It has been 30 years since Rankin first introduced his famous protagonist John Rebus in Knots & Crosses, where he is a Detective Sergeant investigating the Edinburgh Strangler, a serial killer who has been abducting young girls. As the brooding Rebus probed case after case involving shootings, prostitution, junkies and hit-and-runs, his books surged in popularity – and are now bestsellers on several continents. But Rankin believes troubled times in the real world could lead consumers to search for more light relief in fiction, pointing to the success of British writer Alexander McCall Smith, whose traditional mysteries set in Zimbabwe became popular after the 9/11 attacks in America. Ibne Khaldun Corner opens at NBF Rejecting gruesome crime in favour of exploring everyday problems, [Read More…]

Oct 272017
 
Saudi Arabia to establish factory turning palm, date waste into new products

Riyadh (OIC-UNA) � Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, the National Center for Palms and Dates, and the Saudi Technology Development and Investment Company (TAQNIA), studied plans to establish the biggest regional factory to benefit from palm, date and agriculture waste.This came during a meeting presided over by Ahmed bin Saleh Ayada, undersecretary for the ministry; Sulaiman Al-Khateeb, chairman of vegetable resources at the ministry; and Mohammed Al-Nueiran, president of the center, to study the establishment of the first regional factory to turn waste from palms and dates into products of economic value. According to Nueiran, it is planned to establish the factory near the Qassim region, the second largest main region producing palm and date waste in the Kingdom.The factory’s productive capacity is estimated at 300,000 tons per year of the transformed products that require 500,000 tons of palms, dates and agriculture product waste. He said that based on the study, the project is expected to create 2,000 direct and indirect new job opportunities across other production regions in Riyadh, Madinah, Al-Ahsa and other cities. The agriculture sector in the Kingdom produces over 1.7 million tons per year of palm, date and agricultural waste.Source: International Islamic News Agency Click for detailed story

Oct 212017
 
Tillerson Promotes Closer Iraq-Saudi Ties

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Sunday promoted improving ties between Saudi Arabia and Iraq as a way to counter Iran’s growing military assertiveness in the region.Tillerson, participating in the initial meeting of the Saudi Arabia-Iraq Coordination Committee in Riyadh, told Saudi King Salman and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi that their improving links showed “great potential.” He cited the August reopening of a major border crossing between the two countries and the resumption of direct flights between Baghdad and Riyadh.“Both represent the beginning of what we hope will be a series of even more tangible actions to improve relations and strengthen cooperation on a host of issues,” Tillerson said. “Your growing relationship between the kingdom and Iraq is vital to bolstering our collective security and prosperity and we take great interest in it.”The top U.S. diplomat said the United States is “grateful for this progress and urge you to expand this vital relationship for the stability of the region. The United States stands ready to support continued cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Iraq and we congratulate you.”Salman said, “We are facing in our region serious challenges in the form of extremism, terrorism as well as attempts to destabilize our countries. These attempts require our full attention. … We reaffirm our support for the unity and stability of our brother country of Iraq.”Abadi voiced his approval of “the thriving relations between our two brotherly countries. We are open and we want to move away from the past. The region [Read More…]

Oct 202017
 

WASHINGTON DC: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will pay his maiden visit to Pakistan this month during which he would discuss joint efforts against terrorism and expanding economic ties between the two countries, a State Department spokesperson announced on Thursday. The visit to Pakistan is part of Secretary Tillerson’s first visit to Asia, which will also take him to India, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Geneva, Spokesman Heather Nauert told a briefing at the State Department. “The secretary will meet with senior Pakistani leaders to discuss our continued bilateral cooperation, Pakistan’s critical role in the success of our South Asia strategy, and the expanding economic ties between our two countries,” the spokesperson said. She said the secretary was due to meet with the prime minister, foreign minister, and senior military officials to discuss joint efforts between Pakistan and the United States to fight terrorist groups that threaten regional peace and stability and how “Pakistan can support our effort to reach a peaceful solution in Afghanistan”. Secretary Tillerson’s visit to Islamabad follows the visit by Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif to Washington this month during which he met high US officials to discuss the US-Pakistan relations and the new South Asia strategy announced by President Trump in August. Responding to a question about the US-India ties and whether Washington would take side in issues between Pakistan and India like the cross-border firing across the Line of Control, the spokesperson said that the US had always been very cautious about addressing those issues, [Read More…]

Oct 062017
 

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz is on a four-day state visit to Russia along with his entourage of 1,500 people, a golden escalator and his own carpets, a person familiar with the matter said. On Wednesday, the 81-year-old king of the kingdom exited his plane out onto his golden escalator which malfunctioned halfway down and forced him to walk down rest of the way where his cavalcade of cars waited for him along with Russian police escorts. This is the first visit to Russia by a Saudi monarch and both the countries have already struck a deal on weapons’ sale and how to stabilise the oil market. Saudi Arabia lifts ban on internet phone calls Around 800 kilogrammes of food has been flown in by a Saudi plane that is travelling daily between Riyadh and Moscow to transport supplies, according to the person. “Members of the royal entourage also replaced some of the hotel staff with their own personnel, who know exactly how they like their coffee made,” he further added. King Salman even brought his own furniture along to the luxury hotels booked by the Saudi government for the visit. Other guests were asked to cancel their reservations and people who lived there permanently even moved out. Embassy statement: Saudis rejects ‘poor Haj arrangements’ claim “The entire hotel is booked through October 8 and isn’t open to the public,” said a doorman dressed in red livery. Even US presidents travel with large entourages that include a bullet proof limousine and [Read More…]

Oct 042017
 
Iran-Funded Center a Lifeline for Jakarta’s Marginalized Shia Minority

JAKARTA, INDONESIA The first month of the Islamic calendar, Muharram, is not a very big deal for most Indonesians, outside of New Year’s Day. But every night of Muharram since it started on Sept. 21, hundreds of Shia Muslims have come together at a tile-clad building in South Jakarta to ceremonially mourn the death of the prophet Muhammad’s grandson.They listen to a live or streaming sermon in Bahasa Indonesia or Farsi and pray, often tearfully.The mourning rites of Muharram are an important Shia tradition, but as Indonesia’s Shia minorities face growing intolerance, they have steadily lowered their profile. So this month’s nightly gatherings at the Islamic Cultural Center (ICC), which was built in 2002 with funding from Iran, are among the largest sites of Shia activity in the whole country.Over 99 percent of Indonesian Muslims belong to the Sunni denomination, but that belies Shia cultural influence in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country. (Sunni and Shia are the two major Muslim denominations, which diverged early in Islamic history over a debate on the rightful successors to the prophet.)Shia Islam may have been the first strain to reach Indonesia, through Arab traders who reached Aceh around the 12th century, and Shia traditions like veneration of the dead and visiting shrines are still observed in pockets across Indonesia, even by Sunnis.But most of Indonesia’s roughly one million Shia are concentrated in the Jakarta metro area, and the ICC is a nexus of their community.Iranian Outpost in IndonesiaICC, clad in blue and white ceramic [Read More…]

Sep 282017
 

RIYADH: Saudi women will be allowed to drive from the age of 18, a government spokesman said on Thursday, partially allaying speculation they could still face tighter controls than men when finally allowed behind the wheel. In a royal decree issued on Tuesday, King Salman bin Abdulaziz al Saud ordered an end by next year of the ban on women drivers, a tradition that has limited women’s mobility and been seen by rights activists as an emblem of their suppression. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world that bans women from driving. In historic move: Saudi Arabia allows women to drive The decree stipulated that the move must “apply and adhere to the necessary sharia standards”, but did not elaborate, sparking speculation that restrictions might include a higher minimum age or limited hours of the day. The king ordered a ministerial committee to report within 30 days on how to implement the new policy by June 24, 2018. Asked on al Arabiya TV about the minimum age for Saudi women, Interior Ministry spokesman Mansour al Turki said: “Eighteen years is the age at which a person can obtain a driver’s licence and drive a car in the kingdom.” ‘Doubts’ over Saudi order said to ease control on women United Nations human rights experts praised the ban’s removal as a major step towards women’s autonomy and independence, but urged the kingdom to do more to ensure gender equality. “We now encourage the government to repeal all remaining discriminatory laws,” two experts [Read More…]

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